Fresh from developing their Blacklist project, Innamind return their focus to the mother label with a collabo joint of heavyweight proportions. From the sleazy live bass lollops and dancefloor creeper sensations of "Outlaw", you know you're in for a treat. Other highlights include "Farout", where strange mid-range bass tones skip playfully around a heavily textured vocal sample, and "Drumspeak", where immense layers of percussion and rhythms are stitched with serious attention to detail. Powerful.
Moonshine's manoeuvres in the deep continue to impress with this highly accomplished collaborative remix album. A throwback to their original Steppin' Forward album - released March 2014 - the Jamaican label have given each contributor the parts to a fellow label mate's tune and asked them to get creative. The results are as consistent and progressive as the original. Every track is a highlight but stand-out essentials include the bubblesome digidub of Bukkha's juicy switch on Tuff & Powa's "Outlaw Music", Adam Prescott's sinewy shakedown of RSD's "Know U 2" and the foamy subs and wriggling melodica on Roommate's version of Alpha Steppa's "Shinkansen".
Well over a year has passed since Deep Heads' inaugural Deep Heads Dubstep collection so the London label are making up for lost time by recruiting Bristol's ever-awesome Phaeleh for selection and blending duties. The result is a sprawling 32 track saga that digs deep into both the label and the genre's psyche. Ranging from classics such as Submo's 2010 vocal gem "Sunshine" to Phaeleh's own universally uniting remix of Hatti Vatti's "You" by way of show-stopping burners such as N Dread's kick-heavy two-step shimmy-shaker "Wonderful" and Reso's star-gazing mechanical roller "Hemisphere", it's yet another essential compendium from one bass music's most reliable, forward-thinking labels.
Distance returns with a sentiment every single one of us can sign up to. He's not all chats, either; "Long Live The Groove" is a swaggering, sweaty slab of swinging bass music that develops momentum on every bar. Really juicy, funky stuff, there's a reason this has been kept on dub for so long. "Can You (Dub)" follows, and it's all about the drums. Fine-tuned and polished, there's a sense of liquid movement to the rhythm as strange designs and eerie cries drive deep into your ears. Finally we hit "Straight Up". The name says it all; a moody bass hook that doesn't quit, toxic subs and a weighty halftime drum arrangement... It's straight up badness, as you'd expect from the Chestplate bossman.
Dutch dub dude Dubbacle doffs his cap to the past with a salute to formative, genre-shaping event FWD>>. The result is a sweet, jazzy skanker that's reminiscent of a young Skream's deeper work. "Back To The Future" retains the authentic dub elements with a dramatic horn riff that's straight out of the King Tubby playbook while "Tear It Up" plays the bad guy of the story; all sweaty, sleazy and swaggering. Finally we hit "Soundboy Ballin' Out"... A bulbous chubby roller with big soundsystem vocals, it's prime for any shape, size or sub-genre of dubstep set. Go on, try it.
New Zealand sub selectionists Iron Shirt come correct with another floor-melting compendium of forward-thinking dubstep creations. Delivered three years after their debut collection, this set unites the label's most familiar faces with brand new family members as we poke, prod and provoke the darkest corners of bass music's underbelly. From the swampy lollops and soaring vocals of Arkwright's "Avalon" to Tallan's synth-struck, star-gazing "See Them" to the abstract drum structure and mesmerising sound design of Mute's "Predator", each track is testament to Iron Shirt's curatorial strengths and future-focused vision.
Rising London fusionists RVRSL invite Brighton-based bubbler Max Mudie to the fray... And he's brought along a well known friend; Hatcha. The result ("Scrabble") is a techy, aggy, loopy slab of future-proof bass with a bite much harder than its bark. Elsewhere we hit minimal steppy gnarliness a la Icicle ("Attic"), techno-minded loopiness ("Outlier") and industrial strength gravel bass a la Moody Good ("Cold"). The super-spatial dynamics and head-bending deep sea carnival breakdown on "Island" is also an enlightening listen. Genuinely forward-thinking and exciting material.
Zip Sound bossman lurches over to Phantom Hertz for a cheeky three track session. And the results are every bit as deep and dangerous as you'd want them to be. "Into Flames" waves and weaves with a classic minor key arpeggio before dropping into a bassline so well positioned and naturally loose, it almost sounds like slap bass... Especially when the skanks come in. "Can't Be Alone" is a much deeper, cavernous affair where the emphasis is on the dense layers of synths and pads and the kicks almost seem superfluous. Lastly we hit "Broken Ends". Wholly floor-focused with crisp drums and minimal bass tones, it's not dissimilar to the work of Seven or Distance.
Dust off your air violins! Nomis is back and he's pushing a little culture upon us with "Theatre". Minimal orchestral with toxic subs, it's exactly the type of culture we find enlightening. "Parade" and "Feelings" both continue the message of depth, sombreness and organic instrumentation but on spacious two-step flexes a la Phaeleh. Finally we hit remix city with a slower and synth-heavy shake-up of "Theatre" from Arma. On point.