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Reviewed this week
Doncaster's foremost expert on all things rave, Mella Dee, steps up for the latest release on DEXT. He's got a hard act to follow after 'that' Hodge remix of Callahan on the previous DEXT missive, but Mella Dee proves he's more than up for the challenge with this Deep Soul single. Indeed DEXT are calling it his strongest fusion of house, techno and jungle yet and we can't really find any cause to disagree. The title track sets a thunderous tone, throwing down a crucial melange of filtered amens, chopped-up vocals and Reece bass lines that will grip hold of your affections immediately. From here, Mella veers off into straight up jacking house territory on "Universal", whilst "Circular" is there for the heads down crew. Sandwiched inbetween is a rather moody refix of the title track from Endian.
Undisputed godfathers of UK dubstep Horsepower Productions are back with another full length; their first in 12 years since 2004's To The Rescue LP. As Tempa themselves put it succinctly: "Crooks, Crime & Corruption" draws from numerous facets of the UK underground and further afield in order to take you on a compelling, wholly immersive journey. Highlights include "Justify" featuring Harry Keyworth which sounds like Jah Wobble versus Ry Cooder, the deep spiritual house of "Bak 2 NY" or "Kurisoity 6" and the business as usual, street level bass therapy as heard on the raw "Change" or the pure fire junglist anthem "Criminally Insane".
Midlands bass duo, Hybrid Theory, were only recently up in the dock on trial for their murderously killer low-end frequencies. Seems that they must have got off on a technicality as they are already back out and ready to offend again. This new split single features two typically uncompromising productions. "Fatality" features knife-sharp hi-hats, buzz saw bass and positively lethal drops a plenty. "The Edge" meanwhile boasts skippy breakbeats, merciless bass bounce and even some string samples just to shake things up a little.
Bad boy bass man Phrixus is back with mighty fury on Sounds Of Sumo, and he's open for business as usual, rolling out the punches and the low-frequency weight. This seven-tracker has everything you'd possibly want from a UK bass release, with the majority of the tunes dipping and diving in and out of pseudo grime sways, peaks of house and even a little wobble step in the low-end. Remixes come from Kiri, Croft and Fritz Carlton.
UK imprint Punks Music is home to Stanton Warriors, Plump DJs and Sly-One. Now it's the turn of Welsh bass producer Aloka with "K1" with its haunting and reverb drenched low end facing off with a smashing Amen breakbeat and dark strings: gothic bass anyone? "K2" is more minimal but definitely more uplifting, but still has that absolutely intense bass sound contrasted by some sexy vocals. This is the underground sound of UK breaks for sure!
Destination Chicago; Teklife affiliate and TOG crew founder Jalen makes his EP debut via Leeds-based Good Street. Showcasing a broad style within the footwork format, he's laid out a spread generous enough to fill the fattest uptempo selector. From the Detroitian stabs of "CPU" and the woozy, subverted 4/4 soul of "Beehive" by way of the swoony jazz sample of "Golden", Jalen's windy city heritage seeps through every groove with authenticity. Hearty wholesome footwork, cooked for the soul.
Last spotted messing with the Wu, 6Blocc takes us even further back in time for his own dub side of the moon. A true Floydian odyssey rebooted for the modern bass lover, subtly is the name of 6Blocc's game: the paranoid, way-ahead-of-its-time "Run" gets a lick of 303 and swinging breakbeat, "Speak" retains all its dreamy majesty while the iconic moans and cries of "Sky" are stretched out from midnight fumble to 24-hour marathon. Elsewhere the till-chiming riff of "Money" is smothered in blankets of sub while "Colour" is galvanised with a classic Dig Your Own Hole era big beat. To some this may err on heresy, but to others this is a trip like no other. See you on the other side.
Grime with a touch of UK funky; "Storm" whips up the best elements of both genres as the icy pads and strong mic command of Nico Lindsay provide the grime aesthetic while the full charge rolling beats provide an almost tribal dynamic to the groove that's somewhere between house, garage and funky. With added version presence, this is likely to go a very long way.
It's an all-Australian takeover on Tempa for their 107th release, coming through in the shape of Cliques, Sydney's Hamish Dixon and George Nicholas. "Dotted", the title track, is a fistful of rolling kick drums and scattered percussion, all coated in a fine layer of minimalistic bleeping - a new and min-melting strain of UK-flavoured techno with a definite stutter; mastermind Dro Carey (TTT) remixes the track into a stompier, more cinematic bruiser with a vividly odd kind f flex in classic Carey style. "Untitled" goes for a steppers rhythm beneath solitary pads and aqueous melodies, while "8Th" ups the ante and delivers a nasty, menacing groove to get your head bouncing in pigeon-mode. Recommended!
Nigeria's Owiny Sigoma Band have come through over the years thanks to Gilles Peterson's Brownswood label, and you really gotta give it to these guys - they know how to rock up the place with their country's rich funk and dance heritage. "(Nairobi) Too Hot" is a little stroke of genius amid our charts, a drum-centric groove that flows to perfection thanks to the help of the band's cautious vocal injections, and although this sounds vintage on the whole, there's plenty of fresh and contemporary sounds in there. DJ Khalab rewires the original into a house hybrid, a gnarly dance joint with a spiky bass and wicked Roland percussion bleeps.
Copenhagen's Shield is one of the few out there still properly experimenting with drum&bass, and alongside the likes of Alix Perez, we would classify him as a purveyor of the minimal-edged for of the genre. "Bmy Flava" nods its heavy kick-bass to and fro amid woozy waves of melodies, while "March Of Giants" sounds like a Noisia tune that's been slowed right down thanks to a dose of heavy tranquillisers. "Fools" is more aggressive thanks to the presence of noxious wobble bass amid its percussive steps, and "Straight Forward" is more of a classic hip-hop joint with a little more umph in its underbelly, sounding like it could be about to explode at any moment.
The fifth single on Bloc's offshoot label comes from Facta, who follows up strong EPs on Idle Hands, Tempa and his own Wisdom Teeth imprint with another fine collection of cuts. "Alsatian" is a fine electro roller, with the Bristol-based producer peppering a metallic rhythm track with serious electronic blips and sparse, intergalactic melody lines. Beneath delivers a more atmospheric, dubstep-influenced rework full of fuzzy textures, wonky noises and serious sub-bass pressure, before Facta rounds off the EP with the snappy drum machine handclaps, early '90s bleeps and post-dubstep rhythms of "Scotch Mist".
Until now, Martin Kemp's highly corrosive shades of bass have appeared exclusively for the wayward-thinking Frijsfo Beats label, but he's ready to expand and diffuse his production skills onto new territories, coming through on Sans Absence like an absolute pro. "After The Night" is a hybrid through and through, mashing up a wonky tribal percussion with washed-out effects and hollow sonics, and "Fix" seems like the natural prolongation of this style, except that the beat flex is now more stable and floor-minded. "Aztec" packs a tighter break roll at its core, chucking in a subtle dose of pseudo grime bleeps, and "No Charisma" finishes the bottle by stumbling its curbside manner further into inebriation.
Here we have a truly international release with South Africa's Okzharp (aka Gervase Gordon of LV fame) teaming up with Manchester's Samrai (Swing Ting). For the Gated EP they've collaborated with various singers with interesting results. Citied by their own label as being a 'pivotal record' at their Keysound Sessions parties, the instrumental "Gated" fuses evocative trance synths with a dancehall fervour that just perfectly works. Elsewhere the tune gets tweaked in different directions - Specialist Moss adds some classic reggae mic action, Ruffest leads a cool Afro-house angle and Shokryme wraps things up with a welcomingly eccentric delivery.
Badman and bad-ass bass producer Gage returns to the Crazylegs stable with six dastardly slices of machine-gun funk, and he's getting faster and nastier every time we hear form him. "Turbulence" is more of a bass-weighted noise tune than a dance banger - and we love it - while "Talon's Reach" contains more of a beat flex in its spine and some killer hardcore rave stabs; "Gruellin" sounds like the inside of an engine that's about to explode, and "Hyphema" is the sort of grime they listen to on Saturn - the cream of the crop in here and a massive tip! "Rochester Way" fires its percussion stabs away amid detuned keys and, lastly, "Oxleas At Night" pushes all boundaries and delivers a ticking time-bomb of a gutter track for the heads. Get to know.
The inimitable SVBKVLT is one of the only labels out there that is making grime music as it should be heard; none of this pseudo bass and quasi house, just the real gear aimed at getting your head nodding up and down in the car - shotgun, preferably. Kai Luen is a newcomer to the scene, but we're sure that we'll be hearing him soon and often given how masterful his skills on the mixing desk seem to be with these ten stone-cold killers. "The Hollow Ghost" itself contains all the elements of classic grime joints by the likes of Plastician, while others like "LA 92" or strive down headier paths, sometimes landing on hints of hip-hop or Burial-like percussion excursions. The real shit.
Taken from their third anniversary album Tessellations, Houndstooth remind us of four of the many hitman hurters they delivered earlier this year. Special Request's "Live From Alpha Centauri" is a straight up junglist romp conjured in the way only he knows how. Akkord's "Vector" dips into a very similar (champion) sound palette but does so at a much slower, starker pace. Marquis keeps us back at the foundation era with a seismic slab of acid house while Second Storey closes the show on a wonked out sci-fi note with a UR-level funkfest "Elephant Ride". Beautiful.
Emergent bass wizards Juakali and Secret Angel Gel are up on the smokin' Top Billin with a new scorcher, the aptly coined "Rule The Night". Bursting through with a devious slew of Jamaican-minded vocals, it's a classic steppers bass tune to raise the levels on the dancehall and cause a likkle bit a fury. There's a remix from Nobel, who strips things down and works the percussion and kicks in deeper to form more of a 4/4 groove, and a dub, washed-out version from ErrorrE - perhaps the tune of the EP, and one that is certainly aimed at the corner dwellers..
Although Celestial Trax hails from the belly of NYC, the artist was first picked up by London's infamous Rinse a while ago, and now by the young and bold Purple Tape Pedigree. It's no surprise, however, as a tune like "Together" stands alone in terms of originality, and is a thoroughly refreshing slice of bass-weight for those looking for their next fix. "Bleed Wiv Me" is softer in terms of melodies but the cut still hits hard with its slicing drums, while "Secrets" heads down the surrealist path thanks to its stop-start glitch-beats, and "Bodily" finishes on an utterly beatless and sinister choir of church voices. Wild and fresh.
Oi! That badman AT is up on Project Allout blud! Get to know! The neo grime fantasist drops four rough and ready bangers that carry the UK bass heritage to higher grounds. Title track "Bulldog" is a badass, curb side jungle cut for the heads, while "Proper Stuff" goes more sci-fi on those rave stabs, "The Spy" lurks in the corner behind the speakers with a bit of redeye going through its core, and "Robin Hood" pumps out the classic UK grime trumpet for the big win. Heavy duty gear.
Exclusives
YAK - Yak Cjaw003 (Circular Jaw)
MARTIN KEMP - Martin Kemp (Sans Absence)
ALFRED ENGLISH - Piston EP (Infinite Machine)
Exclusives
CLIQUES - Dotted (Tempa)
FACTA - Alsatian/Scotch Mist (Bloc)
SHIELD - My Flava EP (20/20 LDN Recordings)
Celestial Trax DJ Chart
Samrai DJ Chart
Pharaoh K DJ Chart
GAZE ILL DJ Chart
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