This is a significant moment in the development of Michael "Huxley" Dodson. Following six years building his reputation via a constant trickle of singles, the London-based producer has finally delivered a debut album. It's a little more expansive and varied than many of his singles, and variously touches on many of his regular inspirations - UK garage, deep house and bumping techno, in particular - as well as some he's not previously explored (see the pitched-down rave breaks of "Give 2 U" and the "Circles"-ish liquid D&B of "MXR"). The result is a polished, floor-friendly set that impressively straddles the line between club tracks and home listening fodder.
Reading's Jook 10 is getting better at this album thing - it took ages for his debut album Darkside to arrive, and now the follow up, Contraversial, is here just one year later. Skill-wise, his spelling may be controversial, but certainly not his production techniques and here we get 10 impressive examples of them. Highlights include the tropical-keyboard-falling-down-the-stairs eccentricity of "How Come", the apocalyptic voodoo garage of "Feelings" and the slammin' speed garage bounce of "Fuse".
West Midlands finest, Nu Era, are back on their preferred label, Four 40, for more forays into the bass music universe. Their wide range of influences is again showcased here, so we get booming, badd ass, night cruiser trap on "Red Box", deep, sumptuous and off-kilter jazzy swing step on "Runaway" and wobble-heavy feelgood piano house on EP closer, "Have You".
Always concerned with keeping dubstep and its subsidiary styles marching ahead into fertile new ground, Keysound operatives Dusk + Blackdown have an interesting twist to this new "EP", which offers up four new tracks, four remixes and two mix recordings as a stock take of where everything is at in bass music right now. The new material finds the rhythms moving in limber and playful ways, while the melodic content stays gritty and moody, even if the LV-esque synth blasts of the title track shed some colour on the surroundings. There's a healthy thread of grime and all manner of rave signifiers woven into "Peng One Two", and some more wild experimetation on "Epic Jam", and then the remixes fling out in equally eclectic configurations. For top shelf bass mutations across the board, you can do no wrong here.
Brand new to Black Butter, Sam Sure lays down a beautiful bed of dreamy sonic synthesis and proceeds to coat it with his distinctive yearning vocals and sharp wordplay. Perfect timing for cuffing season, it's fantastic smooching material. Remix-wise Shadow Child ups the ante with a little cheeky low-end, DVWLX inject a steppy future-garage style drum flavour and Jaded do an awesome impression of Sasha with a lavish rolling house blend that nods deftly at prog's best features. We're sure this will be a unanimous autumn anthem.
Black Butter know a thing or two about uncovering new talent and with Wayward they've struck gold again. Ugestu is their debut EP, but this London duo already reveal a maturity beyond their years through its six tracks. There is a hazy Balearic vibe throughout, but standouts include the sunkissed wash splashes and distant bass of "Reverie", the sleek and low electro-funk of "Hurricane" and the brittle future-soul-step of the title track.
Brighton's future soul duo Anushka recently dropped their debut album, Broken Circuit, to great acclaim. Now they're back with a new single and album highlight, "Atom Bomb". Deep sensual and jazzy, with scattershot beats and heavily harmonised vocals, the original is a beguiling slice of modern urban soul. There are some great mixes too including NameBrandSound's seductive slo-mo footwork rework, as well as their own VIP mix which adds a dubbier vibe to proceedings.
The fourth in the Hot series sees Rushmore flirt with bass, techno and footwork - often within the same track. "Paladium" sets the tone for the release, with tight, syncopated drums and a stepping rhythm underscoring instant stabs. "Highroad" features similar rattling rhythms, but it sounds like Rushmore is channelling late 90s Dr Dre as the groove is infused with chilling strings. After that, things start to get chaotic; "NPG" features more of the same rattling rhythms and buzz-saw riffs, while "Silent Melody" returns to the smoked out, chilling sounds of "Highroad" - this time populated by ghostly voices - and "She Wants" finishes with brittle, glassy percussion and breathy vocal tones.
Twisted dancehall vibes fresh from Liverpool, as Lucent teams up with Rubi Dan for a steppy shock-out that positively demands outrageous skanking behaviour. For added measure Lucent also teams up with Tomb Crew for a collaborative remix where Rubi's vocals get buried by a smouldering bouncy bass hook. Further on Klient Weight take "X-Rated" down a dark techno alley and turn it into a savage 4/4 bass-battered affair. Looking for more of a straight-up jack attack? Head for "Tunnel Vision". An uncompromising stomper with sinewy bass melodies, it's a kindly contemporised nod at the material Herve and Switch were serving up about seven years ago. Finally, Rico Tubbs jumps in on the remix flex with an old school homage, all time-stretched vocals, speed garage sirens and fractured amen angularities.
Things sound positively regal over at Local Action this week with the orchestral pomp and ceremony of emergent Irish producer Shriekin. Taking the rhythmic backdrop and plastic strings of grime, Jack Sheehan has whipped up some remarkably advanced tracks that positively overflow with imaginative ideas. "Cat's Eyes" in particular is a rich and slightly mad elegy of parping string hits and cheeky bass, while "Snowy Island Breaks" makes things ruffer without dimming the plush melodic touches and high definition sound. "Temple 2" shimmers and shines with twinkling arpeggios and crushing half step beats, and "Steel Ships" nudges off into more thoughtful territory without losing that starry-eyed energy.
MokuJin steps up with a killer new LP - all focussed on the "AM / PM" track - on his home label, Blaq. The dude hasn't released on many other labels, but everything he's made is pure fire from start to finish. Ranging from deep, sweltering bass music to garage swings and more, Mokujin is fast becoming a name in the UK game. The track features Mr.Brainz and there's a whopping six versions of it in this tight little package. Our choice cuts are the Berlin mix for its shuffling percussion, and the Future Garage mix because it's both funky and totally freaky at the same time. If you're into your garage, this is the spot this week!
Lit City Trax is on fire as of late; with the likes of Lisbon's DJ Marfox, DJ Spinn and Traxman on their roster, they truly are the specialists in representing the fusion of classic and emerging dance sounds from around the globe. This latest EP by newcomer Saga is another fine slice of high-tek funk, and it's great to see that they're also good at spotting new talent. The title track is a grimey, snare-heavy warehouse stomper, and it's a perfect representation of what's to come on the rest of the tracks: gritty, sci-fi-filtered beats and badass basslines. Another winner from the label, and recommended to fans of the current Bristolian wave.
William Arcane is no ordinary electronic music producer - his background as a songwriter has helped him instil a more solid structure to his tracks. Here he returns to Pictures Music with a fine four-tracker under the name of Reckless. The title track is a glorious midway between house and pop, where Arcane's floaty synths turn the danceable into the euphoric. The remaining three tracks follow in a similar vein - mixing the meditative together with the wild - but it's the near beatless "Sunfades" which is bound to seduce you from the word go.
Hailing from the Netherlands, Animal are a duo who produces soulful indie-tronica by "crushing refined synths with acoustic and electronic samples". And to think most people just play their instruments, how very passe. Intended to tell a story about the paradox between loneliness and light, the Lights EP contains four stunningly produced tracks: the eerie, Thomas Newman-esque piano lament of "Intro", the ghostly whispers of "Lights", the scattered, fuzzy shuffle of "Falling Down" and the enchanting, almost conventional, downtempo synth ballad of "Spotless Mind". Ice cool.
Breaking through this summer with their debut EP Glass Body, the cosmic wall-of-sound duo SAS now undergo some drastic remix treatments to the point the tracks are almost unrecognisable. The ethereal cries of "Halo Heart" are subverted into a mid 90s techno/prog roller by Lucy and the densely textured elements of "All Our Beasts" are underpinned by Gang Gang Dance's quirky bleep breaks twist. Further on the muffled, barbed euphoria of "Glass Body" gets a complete acid attack from Gabe Gurnsey while "Black Birds" gets the subtlest reversion by Maria Minerva as the vocal is maintained as the centre stage focus, and the beats and loopy hook give the track more dancefloor appeal.
Wayne H has traditionally released collaborative singles with the likes of Matt D and Official Nancy, but here he mans up and goes on a rogue solo mission with "Face Crunch". It's as uncompromising as ever - all haunted wobble undulations married to a snappy 4x4 frame. Boom!