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Reviewed this week
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Back after an absence of well over a year, the deep and moody Proxima is back in bass business, this time courtesy of Rinse. The beats are still around the 140 mark and the mood is still deep: "Trapped" kicks things off with some dark alleyway vibes - all shifty beats and general eeriness, "Fate" soon picks up the pace with some seriously anxious drum patterns and sweaty-palms-synth-pads and lastly the EP's heaviest track, "Fallout", is full of taut, writhing mechanical snarls. Still sinister, still fresh!
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Jim Coles has previously spoken about this second Om Unit full length being "a nod to the sound" of his "teenage self". Given the fact that he's rediscovered his jungle and hip hop roots in recent years, it's an accurate description. The fact that he's also mined Goldie's sample archive to help create the sound of Inversion is also telling. While it's not a straightforward jungle set - there are plenty of wonky moments, skewed downtempo interludes, footwork influences and trips into expansive IDMterritory - the skittish breaks, foreboding noises and murky textures all scream classic D&B. It adds a little spice to an already excellent set, delivering a range forward-thinking tracks with their roots firmly in the past.
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It's been a rapid rise for Paleman, conquering Swamp 81 in a short space of time and getting snapped up for remixes by all manner of respected entities, and here Calum Lee kicks up the dust on 81 with the anthemic parp of "Beezeldub". With those plastic horn blasts calling out, any dance worth its salt is going to lose its proverbials, and that's before the stripped and weighty core of the track kicks in. It's a cut perfectly toned and buffed for maximum club response, and it sits in a neat contrast to the more esoteric fare of "Newun". Where the lead track demands attention from the off, this second jam snakes in with a tricky rhythm and plenty of oddball, dubby effects for a more subtle and largely percussive effect.
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On 2012's Luxury Problems, Andy Stott delivered his most rewarding work yet - an impeccable exploration of the twin attractions of lightness and darkness that was near impossible to pigeonhole. Faith In Strangers, that album's belated follow-up, is similarly minded. Peppered with audible references to his many inspirations - field recordings, found sounds, dub techno, IDM, ambient, post-dubstep and trip-hop, in particular - it's a set that quietly drifts between sludgy dreaminess and pin-sharp late night horror. As such, it's an inspired set, with Stott's use of odd instrumentation and the evocative vocals of Alison Skidmore significantly enhancing the experience.
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In a final move within the sprawling vision of his Vapor City project, Travis Stewart offers up another albums worth of material that ties in to the online community he sought to create with the release of the initial album. It's everything you would hope for from additional Machinedrum material, melding soft and gentle melodic elements with razor sharp drum programming, bubbling footwork percussive tones, and enough playful ideas to keep things warm and inviting. There are some ruder moments, as in the bass rubbing throwdown "B Patient", but then there are some outright folky inflections such as the plucked guitar on "More Than Friends". Always surprising and never repeating himself, Machinedrum nails it once again.
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Straight out of Norway with a spread of online releases behind him, Drippin sidles up to Lit City Trax with a sound clearly enamoured with the UK club strains spelt out by the likes of Night Slugs and LuckyMe. "Waterfall" could certainly swing with the best of them, capturing a little of Visionist's spooky charm without going quite so far into the nether regions. The haunting chimes carry through on to "Kyoto", which works a few trap elements into the mix, before "Air Jordans" ramps up the percussion and strips back the synths for an intense and craftily constructed electro workout. "Memory Foam" seems to distill a healthy balance of both approaches, but "IDONO" turns up the intensity with a peak time sensibility that should absolutely wreck the dance.
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The newly founded Heretic imprint launches its catalogue with a collaborative effort by its main clan members in the form of a compilation. We don't know much about the respective artists, but what we can tell you is that they sure know how to construct some filthy UK bangers. Blame FR sets the gears into motion with "Fall Down", a rickety two-step number reminiscent of Hessle Audio's output. Harushi Clan's "Zulu" is a deeper, bass-pummelling number for the heads, Cloaka and Boxwork enter the dub territory on "Talk Some" thanks to some deranged horns, Barla's "Untitled" tune is the straightest lick yet and could go down a storm in any techno set and Circo's "Taxi" chucks in a seriously fat wobble bass amid minimalistic percussion and sci-fi atmospherics. Killer.
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Having previously emerged with a 12" release on Bad Taste and a download on Secret Songs, Druid Cloak now steps up to deliver a new release for Apothecary Compositions fusing a whole range of styles from grime to footwork via a predilection for spooky imagery. "Wraithborne Falls" comes to life with orchestral bombast before whipping into a rapid-fire melee of sample triggering, while "Quills" is a slower if no less lively cut with a touch of trap in its rhythmic structure. The dramatic strings come on heavy throughout the min album, stringing together a variety of tempos to make for a cohesive and rather haunting release.
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Who's tried to attempt Lucid's finger 'Heartagram' and failed miserably? Well, we reckon its Photoshopped anyway and that's our excuse. More easily attempted is listening to the record, which features four excellent, otherworldly synth jams. The title track is all delirious trance stabs, pitched vocals samples and build ups, "Pops 2" is an electronic ricochet grinder, "Pops 1" dips into doomy trap territory and "Galant" is all warped synth motifs and carnival snares, but we're still wondering what Richelle's input is.
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Label homeboy Curtis B teams up with Agent K on the bass-fuelled Drop The World label for a one-track banger. "Hit You Wit It" is nothin' but a club driller, where the vocal samples rise and build into one of those drops that's guaranteed to cause quite the stir in the dance. Once the track gets going however, it's a mesmerising mashup of different styles and influences, where a footwork approach to percussion blends seamlessly with heavy, half-time beats and a wide spectrum of grimed-out bleeps.
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With its psychedelic retro 3-D graphics, the sleeve of Vespertown's new single reveals a '90s vibe that only continues with the music. No bad thing of course as the '90s are very much in vogue right now, and to be honest a lot of new producers are frankly improving on many underdeveloped ideas from that era. "King George" sounds like Ginuwine's sci-fi R&B run through a digital blender, whilst "Sugar Rush" is more your hyped up Teddy Riley style swing (albeit broken into a million pieces and put back together in the wrong order).
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THE CRANE - Critical Hit EP (Skrufix)
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