When it comes to dubstep and its pioneers, people always drop the same names: Mala, Skream, Youngsta etc etc. But, there's another name that has been around since the FWD golden days. That name is Distance. Like many others who were involved in the scene's foundations, Distance has preferred to remain in the shadows, away from DJ booths, and firmly on his mixing board in the studio. If we're talking labels, he'd done 'em all - Hotflush, Planet Mu...the list goes on. Pinch's Tectonic feels like the perfect place to drop his new LP, especially because it strays way beyond the usual confinements of dubstep, and into whole new categories. From juke to bassline, and even techno, Dynamis is an album for lovers of the bass form. If that's your kink, this piece of work has got all the ingredients to satisfy your every need. Twisted basslines, haphazard beat flexes, and even some mashup lyricism. Sink your teeth, innit.
DJ Madd is one of the few artists who is still consistently innovating the dubstep genre, and keeping things forward-minded. That's because he's never tied himself down to the genre too tightly and, instead, has managed to be branded under the more wide-eyed 'future dub' tag. This isn't his doing, it's simply the fact that his sound is deep, chimerical and always in a state of flux. He returns to Roots & Future with "Shinobi", a dark and brooding slice of bass science that is powered by a series of sounds and and samples for Japanese samurai B-movies. and whose militaristic swarm of beats is followed by the more broken percussive patterns of "Sound Executor". "NYC Badman" takes a turn for the unexpected, down a path made of raw drum machine patterns, echoing waves of sound and a general look-and-feel that recalls the dubbier end of the bass spectrum, whereas "Soundboy Elimination" gives us more intricate beat folds, more badass bass, and that singular DJ Madd dread.
Om Unit returns after the summer's techno session on Idle Hands, hitting hard with his second "Torchlight" EP of the year. It's every bit as deep, diverse and experimental as you'd want it to be. And it features none other than Krust as the lavish 80s synths and dense layers of "Underground Cinema" ensure the EP's soul truly is in motion. "Fuzzd An Soup" retains a certain sense of classic jungle magic with its tight infectious hang drum patterns and textures. "Lightbody Transfer" is the complete switch with its sedate, torpid kicks and underwater atmosphere while "The Mirror" sit somewhere in between; precision drones and light-footed drums that flicker with restrained amen menace on the fills. This is really good.
Whether it be house, tech-minded house, or house-leaning bass excursions, the Artifice label have impressed us with their recent run of form. This is, in part, because they've managed to surface new talents out of thin air; this new EP by newcomer Squane is exactly what we've come to expect from these guys, and it ticks all the boxes in terms of sonic diversity. "Totemic" is a pounding, tribalistic drum-dance that stands alone and untested, a true club shaker that'll get the head-nodders moving. "Affliction" is more on the dubstep end of things, and delivers a fine tech-house groove. The former is remixed by Troy Gunner into a slow, shape-shifting mutant of a track, while Hypho revamps the latter by stripping it down entirely, and adding in a burst of juke percussion for good measure.
SMOAD - a brand new allegiance between two New Movement regulars Smokey Bubblin' B and Mind Of A Dragon. Together they've fused their sounds to create two wickedly contrasting pieces of UKG. "Mess Around" is all badboy breakbeat brockage a la Special Request while "Only One" is a beautifully loopy 4x4 chugger with all the right soulful elements. Remix-wise Celladore gets busy on a Rico Tubbs style 135 stomping bass house bash-up while DJD powers up with a naughty pair of northern strutters that wouldn't go amiss in a TQD bar fight.
Kevin McAuley is certainly affiliated with a generation of pioneering UK Bass producers who have since moved into the techno realm. With previous releases on Hemlock, Hessle Audio and Hotflush, his origins have definitely remained a strong aspect of his style ever since. On the In Drum Play LP, he can be heard dabbling in obtuse and disjointed low end theories such as on "Bulb In Zinc" or "Let It In" while there are some inventive takes on techno; such as on the dynamic opener "Rotor Soap" or the adrenalised stomper "More Is More To Burn". For us, the highlights were "One By One" (where his take on breakbeat techno would make the likes Shed or Stenny stand up and notice) and the oddball body basher "Skips Desk".
877 Records are a British outfit who specialise in the more bass-heavy end of the tech-house game and, along with labels like Black Butter, these guys are single-handedly taking on the bigger boys like Swamp 81. That's because each one of these EPs is a total killer on the dance floor, and this latest collaborative effort by Allmostt and company is effective and absolutely screaming to get mixed up on a pair of CDJs. "Vowels" sees Allmostt himself drop some snare-driven house on us like a pile of bricks, and this is followed by the more wonky, disjointed groove of "Juice Box", alongside Pelikann. Our man teams up with Lace on "Blendr", and here we have something a little different, a more swamped-out kind house tune that uses its few elements to create a full and penetrating DJ tool, but "WB2" has to be the EPs oddest and most daring tune, where Allmostt and Kodu lay down some utterly filthy vibes that recall the techno of Boddika and Jon Convex. Killah!
It's the third chapter of the Boxed series, which means new and refreshing bass cuts from a whole selection of new faces on the block. We know little about these youngsters, so let's just cut to the chase: Mr Mitch's "Friend Of Mine" flutters its half-step beats to a vast, distorted pool of sonics and vocal samples; "Mashman pt2" by As If Kid goes for a single-minded grime approach thanks to its traditional, London swamp-bass; JT The Goon delivers noxious levels of low frequencies around the tune's Eastern tones; Sirpixalot ties this episode of Boxed off with the pacman-grime vibes of "All In One VIP". Heavy gear.
Young H rushes through the place like a man on a mission, and 877 Records is there to contain the hazardous levels of low frequencie that this man is capable of whipping up. "Strip Again" is the tune, and Dread MC is the man to guide its hybrid framework with some utter vocal truth; pulling in all sorts of influences, from jungle to grime, and even old-school acid house, this is a tune capable of satisfying even the most demanding of bass junkie - those rave stabs! There's a remix from Murder He Wrote off the back of it, and the man manages to twist up the groove good and proper, injecting a fine level of garage power to an already blasting piece of UK dance music. TIP!
The raunchy Keysound label know how to drop some noxious 'bass' vibes on our charts, and they pretty much do so with a new artist each and every week. DJ Sincliar is the newbie this time, but by the sounds of his drums and snares, he very much knows what the f*** is up! "Ricky" takes us back to '03, a stripped-down grime attack of a tune that would have made the likes of Plastician very happy...and probably still would; large folds of mutant bass leak out of every space in this track, and we can safely say that this one is a proper blaster. "Gunman What", as the title suggests, is all artillery but, instead of using bullets, DJ Sinclair uses the classic grime blueprint to get his point across. Yessir!
New York native, Jubilee, steps on on Dre Skull's Sixpack label with the highly anticipated new album, After Hours. The reason for the excitement around this album, though, is that is has more in common with South Florida than the east-side of the United States; Jubilee makes it clear that this is all about laid-back 808s, soca, dancehall, and the rest of the material that makes Southern America such a singular environment when it comes to dance music. From the electro swing of "Stingray Shuffle", to the bashment flavour of "Wine Up", or the heritage Miami bass of cuts like "Spa Day" and "Bass Supply", this LP is the perfect companion to a daytime party on the shores of the Southern Atlantic and, although we're miles away from that in rainy old England, we can definitely vibe to what Jubilee's cooked up. Recommended.
From the same crew who gave us "Benidorm Sexting", Ria Ekin springs into step with another unique footwork fusion. Melting down Iberian traditional instrumentation and vocals over some of the darkest beats and trap rhythms this side of the law, tracks like "Una Buleria" and "Una Vez Sone" tear your head off with their twisted dynamics while cuts like "Se Va El Invierno" ride a much sleazier, smokier trap trip. Remix-wise junglists should get straight on the Nikes remix of "Luce En Tu Cara Morena" while the BSN Posse provide for those who love a real graveyard dark-out to their sounds. We know we do.
Some tasty, extra special treat this week from the likes of Caspa and Rusko - anthem alert, right here! There is no point introducing these two, given their invaluable contribution to the dubstep scene since its early days, but what we should say is that it feels like a special surprise to have them together again, ripping bars to pieces like they used to back in the day. "Riddem Again" is a fast, aggressive bass stepper that sound more like a grime offshoot than it does dubstep, and "Whiplash" carries the same sort of hybrid framework, except here the groove is comparatively more broken and guided by a swagger-ready injection of gunshot lyrics. "Cup Of Peace" sounds like an ode to the duo's dub/reggae roots, a slow, drunken kind of tune that sways from left to right with that inimitable Jamaican haze that has characterised much of the dubstep sound over the years. They're back and in business.
Lisbon's Lit City Trax label is gaining consistent traction on our charts, pulling in all sorts of listeners and DJ thanks to its varied, wide-eyed approach to dance music; recent outing from Principe's DJ Marfox and the legendary Rashad, for example, have certainly shed a light on the vast potential of this label. Syer B comes through with his second release to date, and his very first for the label, but the title tune "Mushrooms" is already perfectly on-point in terms of fitting in with the label. The tune is dark, murky and guided by a subtle grime sound that looks beyond the safety of the formula created by pioneers like Plastician. "Troll" comes in from a similar angle, except that here the bass is a lot heavier, and more reminiscent of the early days of FWD at Plastic People. You could say that this will be very appealing to fans of the early dubstep sound.
All good things come to an end, and Dave Huismans has decided that his A Made Up Sound label will go out on a high. Collecting all of the tracks from its nine releases in one place affords an opportunity to see how diverse the A Made Up Sound is - despite the fact that it largely operates within the jittery broken beat framework that the Dutch producer has made his own. From the noisy tones of "Havoc" Huismans navigates his way through the garage swing of "Crisis", the bleep techno-fuelled "Bygones" and the queasy bass of "Synrix". It's a fitting farewell to one of electronic music's most singular labels.
USA bass scientist, Distal, came to our attention with an album for Pinch's Tectonic back in 2012, and it's safe to say that neither he or us have ever looked back since. The producer has become an important player in the contemporary, post-dubstep scene, and that's because he never sticks to the same formula when concocting electronic beats; the variety of styles and influences that emanate from his tunes are constantly impressive. This new EP for Infinite Machine is a great example of his diversity as an artist: "Reebok Blood" is pretty much beatless and, instead of using loud drums as his tool, Distal manages to create form and rhythm out of broken, distorted sonics; "Hostage Track", on the other hand, is a pure hybrid track, mashing up elements of jungle, grime, and even a little bit of Chicago house in its samples. Big up!
Gervase Gordon aka Okzharp has already appeared on Hyperdub before; the artist came through with an unscrupulously future-minded 'bass' EP last year, a release that we thought sat perfectly well within the general Hyperdub sound. He's back after an appearance for Keysound, and he's joined by the vocal talents of Manthe Ribane across these four tunes. "Teleported" proceeds to drop some pure tribal vibes on us, and the tune feels like the soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic film set in Africa in the year 2050; a sublime start to this newfound collaboration, and we recommend this EP for that tune alone. "B U" and "Maybe This" are a cunning reinterpretation of grime seen through the eyes of American soul and blues, while "Piki Piki" is ventures into what we like to call post-r&b; careful now, we don't that is a genre in itself, but rather a great description for what this track sounds like to our ears.