No introductions necessary: Suburban Base shaped and fuelled rave music as knew it. Uncle Dugs documents, celebrates and champions rave music as know it. On this quarter-century retrospective Dugs brings everyone up to speed as he moves through the 90s and, in turn, the development of hardcore into jungle and drum & bass. 50 seminal tracks deep, from Remarc's soundclash slewing "RIP" to Marvellous Cain's jungle blueprint "Hitman" via Q Bass and E Type's early explorations into synthesis on "Hardcore Will Never Die" and formative junglism from DJ Hype, our affable Uncle continues to join the dots with the past and the future with supreme levels of detail and knowledge.
Ireland's king of the sample, Johnny Pluse is rarely heard without the backing of his Stormtroopers Of Love crew. Here however, he kicks off the year by bravely going it alone for solo album "Lasers 17". Heavily indebted to the early 90s hip hop stylings of Beastie Boys and/or Cypress Hill, tunes like "Don't' Be So Dramatic" and "Its Some Craic" charge out of the gates in a furious flurry of turntablist cuts and breaks. Elsewhere highlights include the electro attack of "We Need More Lasers" and the surprising feelgood anthem "Drinkin In The Sun".
It may have its critics, but there is no doubting that early 90s US house records had a profound influence on underground dance music in recent years. This is audible on the latest release from J Choirboy. Speculation is rife that this is another pseudonym for Rene 'Shed' Pawlowiz - and certainly the title track has a similar feeling to the Wax releases. But irrespective of who is behind this EP, there is no doubt that it is early contender for record of the year. On "Full Effect", joyous piano keys crash in over a stomping groove and repetitive vocals are spliced up into a stutter. It's a different story on "Lights Down", where hoover samples shriek over gargantuan break beats, but it'll be hard to beat "Full Effect".
If ever there were a Great British Bass Off, master baker Cakeboy would win hands down. Here he presents two new layers of musical sponge, gelled together with some top musical cream and jam. "Weapons" mixes old skool synths with manic ADHD breaks and build-ups. "Rockin'" lays the subby icing on good and thick over scattershot breakbeats, cowbells and frenzied crunchy funk. The timer's rung, the cake's cooled down, time to get stuck in.
Grid Division is all about the party breaks, nothing fancy (expect when it comes to turntablist skills of course!) and this latest release is a perfect example of what to expect form this artist in general. "Fish Taco" mixes 70s wah-wah funk and soul with 80s style go-go beats for maximum hands-in-the-air fun. Elsewhere "Slapjack!" is a veritable orgy of retro slap bass freakiness and "Get Up" is cut up and choppy boogie at its finest. My Pet Monster also contributes to two cuts: the tough and breaky "In Da House" and the blues guitar-led dance-rocker "Dip Stick". Cool stuff!
Canada's self-proclaimed puryevors of 'strange sexy music', Peep This, are a duo that pushes definitions of bass to their limits. Here they drop their second release for the Hot Cakes imprint, a one-track attack dubbed "Shakti". The label was utterly bowled over when it heard this futuristic laser-funk jam - inflected with lighters-in-the-air Asian melodies and breakdowns - and you will be too. It's a truly immense production and no festival will be safe from this bomb!
London's Gutter Gutter Records is run by bass luminary Deekline and is home to all sorts of bass chaos. Newly welcomed to the fold, Meiosa now steps up to deliver some fire with this two-track debut. First up "Ruffians" steps up with some 130bpm attitude: all sparse, scattershot beats and floaty warped pads. "Kadeima" meanwhile is all about the wobble bass lines, scratchy 4 x 4 beats and chopped upped samples. Heavy-duty gear.
Rave. It never really died? This EP from Australia's Micah Black and Philly Blunt certainly proves it by covering all the key vibes of the days when zillions of kids would get out of their minds in a field somewhere, illuminated by lasers and motivated by chemically-fuelled, and frankly insane, beats. "Break Of Dawn" features euphoric synth stabs, soulful vocals and thumping breakbeats. Autotelic get deep and melancholic fusing contemporary trap beats with a subby hum. Lastly Freerange DJs supply the most 90s of all the mixes - with scattershot DnB beats, horror movie synth melodies and saucer-eyed pads.