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Reviewed this week
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With their influences ranging from chart-baiting house music to skippy garage and deeper moods, Nu Era stride forth on their debut single for Four40 as representatives of the West Midlands scene. "Give It All" screams crossover appeal with its canny mix of vocals, strings and chords precision placed for maximum ear-worming, while the "Bass Mix" brings a much ruder underground twist on the track. "Came Into My Life" rides a more electro influenced beat but keeps the cheerful melodic elements and chipmunk vocal slices present and correct, leaving it to "Source" to bring a techno edge to proceedings with its nasty synth line and strict 4/4 jack.
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With a diverse sound established off some fine drops on Critical, Warm Communications and Blu Mar Ten Music, its little surprise that Stray's 2013 Matchsticks bow on Exit proved so damn popular with the D&B heads. A return to Exit is most welcome then, and the four tracks on this Chatterbox EP demonstrate Jonathan Fogel's getting to the point where his productions as Stray are becoming untouchable! "Award Tour" is perhaps the straightest cut here, little to do with the Tribe classic of the same name but a righteous dancefloor stepper in its own right and Stray takes it in some interesting directions from here. "Eazy Boy" is marauding, bass heavy hip hop replete with massacred pitched vocals, whilst the deftly edited, classic jungle vibes of the title track ensure it's possibly the highlight of this release. You can easily visualise D Bridge pulling for the final track "Fragile" so it's little surprise to hear he's already been supporting this release along with the likes of Om Unit and Machine Drum.
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Oh hello, some fresh Djrum material from Felix Manuel on 2nd Drop here and it's the first of two separate releases from the producer put out this week. Essentially Manuel's first original music since last year's debut album Seven Lies, 2nd Drop are presenting The Miracle and Ode collectively as a third Djrum "suite" for the label following the previously issued Mountains and Watermark 12"s. The Miracle reminds you just how ambitious Manuel can be as a producer with the fifteen minute track spreading its wings across two halves, and moving gracefully between DJ Krush-style hip hop and intricate drum and bass programming.
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London bass night and label Church return with their first offering of 2014 and the first original material from resident Apes. Putting into practice the methods learnt on a bunch of remixes for Church, "Two Thousand Six" finds Apes ploughing the kind of weighty, heavily swung techno that is so popular right now, and is complemented well by the warmth and subtlety brought to the table on Chaos In The CDB's subsequent remix. If the main track is all about immediacy and power, then the other Apes original "Cold Love" shows a calmer side to his production palette, and is notable for some orgasmic male vocal sampling. Fellow Churchman Seb Wildblood ends proceedings with a doleful, melodically driven remix of "Cold Love".
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Falty DL's Brooklyn-based label Blueberry steps up with a new offering from hitherto unknown producer Luke Warm, whose style of production makes a snug fit with his label boss' own plush broken beat style. "Daydreamin'" snakes through Vibert-style sampling fun and games while keeping a suitably whimsical tone to the track through its choice of chords and harmonies. "Brockley Spears" is a more extrovert breakbeat funk roller, working plenty of old-skool hip hop cuts into the mix and making for a tidy party worker. "Instant Vibe" takes some definite influence from Wagon Christ style synth lines, while the funky groove is certainly not far that peppy brand of Ninja Tune beats. "Party Piece" rounds the EP off with some rude bass dominating the mix of loose and limber drum licks.
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22 year-old Finnish producer Somepoe has already graduated from the Red Bull Music Academy in New York, has had a string of hot singles and guest mixed on Radio1. He doesn't mess about, and here on the Leave The House EP, neither do his tunes. Bass is the order of the day, but often playful like the sped up RnB munchkin vocals on the loop heavy "Baby HA". Elsewhere the title track shows us his penchant for deep sultry house and "Places" fuses trippy house and '90s swing vibes perfectly, although Nightwave also nails with his roof raisin' jackin' bassline remix.
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Pinch's new vessel for the darker side of the dance officially cements its existence with this sturdy compilation that draws on a limited cast of characters for a focused lecture on how to keep things icy and heavy in the splintered dubstep scene. Acre brings industrial tones and jungle breaks to bear in spartan environments, while Ipman channels murky techno and gnarly sound design to vicious and paranoid ends. Batu's offerings follow on neatly from his Dnuos Ytivil appearance and Elmono brings some more colourful elements into oddly moody environments, while Pinch's own efforts find him taking his sound into playfully eerie headspaces that should freak out the dance admirably.
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Nodding to the resurgence of dark and edgy grime, Rinse snap up this EP from Celestial Trax which makes a more bold interpretation of the icy subtleties of Wen and co. "No More" treads on nervy string stabs and gun shot samples that dart around the mix with that agoraphobic amount of space that typifies the newer strains of the genre. "Wax Forest" moves away from gritty urbanisms towards a more esoteric, electronica influenced soundworld, but without losing the concurrent atmospheric tones from the opening track. "Blockx" meanwhile gets crafty with a snappy rhythm and some tense string notes, while "Sinner" lets a little trap influence loom over the drums, and "Sutekh" settles for the most dank and oppressive of vibes on the whole EP. "A Cross" brings a wry finish to proceedings with an approximation of jungle tropes completely repositioned in the curious world that Celestial Trax inhabits.
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Our favourite bassboy Fantastic Mr Fox returns to London's Black Acre label with a superb head-nodding two-tracker. With releases on some of the UK's most respected dance imprints, including the ever-impressive Hemlock Recordings, Mr Fox has his own way of doing things - rough, glitchy house-tinged bombs coated in a thick layer of London grime. "On My Own" features the sensual vocals of Denai Moore over a slow and sparse arrangement of kicks and grizzly low-end. It's an end of the night kind of tune, a meditative sway of beats and licks to lift your mind and soul. "Broke" is somewhat more geared-up and ripe for the swaggerin' - nutty 808 cowbells ride incessantly over chopped vocal samples and stumbling kick-drums. Stick that one in the dance and see what happens...
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With the Wari EP, this self-proclaimed beat maker from South London has delivered his most accomplished release yet. Spanning four tracks, the EP covers a wide range of exotic moods from across the globe, chiefly Africa, fusing Afrobeat, deep organic house and jazzy hip-hop in an intoxicating haze.
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Burgeoning half-step D&B producer Epilleptech steps up to Terra Null with this immersive EP of psychoactive rhythms and pulses that carry the torch from the Autonomic days. "Nyctophobia" does a fine job of dirtying up its basslines while all around patter crisp drum lines and spooky atmospherics, before "Natural Selection" heads into a more overtly unhinged head space that revolves around an existential speech sample. "Peru" goes down its own path into intricate percussive lines with a tribal twist about them, both spiritual and menacing in the same bar, and then "Premonition" delivers the finishing blow with a slow-paced lurch leaving all the more room for the bass to growl out.
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Sonz Of Mecha co-creator King Yoof has contributed to the breaks and bass scene since its earliest stages of formation. Proving he's still got the punch he slapped with back in the day, here he teams up with soul-stirring vocalist Ronnie Blue and tip-top toaster Mr Williamz for an emphatic, sing-along D&B sermon that skips and sizzles with sun-kissed charm. Remix-wise all styles are covered: dubby house skankage (Gold Dubs & Nushu), slamming D&B (Toronto Is Broken), jacking 4/4 garage (Capitol 1212), heads down tech bubbles (Oscar Luweez) and dub-flecked dancehall stompage (King Yoof's own Stepper version). Each soundboy has nailed their remix with precision - show them some love today.
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Launching their new collaborative series, Fade To Mind turn to two New Jersey upstarts to throwdown some suitably alien party heat with plenty of rude swagger in amongst the freaky mechanics of the tracks. "The Bitch" features Miss Jay laying down some sultry lines in vocal attitude, only to be chopped up and messed with by the men at the controls, which ties in nicely with the spartan beat and twisted FX that propel the track along. "Werk'd It" has a similar focus on stripped down production and a select spread of stabs and samples that sound raw in the empty space they fire off in. In keeping with the Fade To Mind ethos, this is a release that manages to be futuristic and totally unpretentious in one fell swoop.
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Routine rowdy joker of the bass-driven electronica scene, Otto Von Schirach is never one to bore you with his music, and so it is on this short but sweet two-tracker for Monkeytown. "Tipo Tropical" unsurprisingly features plenty of sun-baked calypso styles in amongst the silly vocal turns and gut-punching b-lines, but for all the comedy in the track it's utterly deadly in its execution, making a fine tribute to Miami bass (and Knightrider) in the process. "La Plancha" has a more hyped-up tempo, but no less nonsense worked into its bones. The animal sounds alone keep things decidedly ridiculous, but then you were never hoping for some sensible and serious music from this cat right?
Exclusives
STRAY - Chatterbox EP (Exit)
MIKEQ/DJ SLIINK - Mind To Mind: MikeQ & DJ Sliink (Fade To Mind)
SOMEPOE - Leave The House (Sounds Of Sumo)
Exclusives
FANTASTIC MR FOX - On My Own (Black Acre)
BEN HAUKE - Wari EP (Melodica Recordings)
TOURIST - Patterns (Method)
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