Vaun's emotional, highly musical blend of bass music reaches a new high as he delivers an epic six-track opus on Mindstep. Coming on strong like fellow Bristolian countryman Phaeleh, he treads a fine line between dancefloor weight and life soundtracking future-minded soul. Highlights include the dreamy, star-gazing almost Massive Attack-like "Sidelines" with Sarah Zed, the smoky Soulectionesque spoken word pressure of "Knowledge" and the wondrous beatless beauty of "One Touch". Vaun's skills and creativity are becoming more and more apparent by the release. Highly recommended.
Is it us or are Bacon getting tastier and tastier with every release? The same can be said for emerging Croatian producer 207, too; with previous on Badmood and Indigo, here we find him stepping up to Sparxy's porky imprint with a series of unrelentingly heavy slabs of contemporary dubstep. The title track is total naked menace as snake-like kickdrums rattle and his under a series of deep breath textures. Elsewhere "Acylon" flips to a steppy and ghostly 90BPM vibe, "Active" goes straight for the jugular with crisp punctuated kick militancy and Ohmtrix takes his Zeiph status to new levels with total remix subversion. Sinfully good.
It's been some six years since renowned misery guys Kevin Martin won plaudits for London Zoo, a typically dark, intense and aggressive full-length that showcased his unique ability to blend dubstep, grime, dancehall and dub techno textures into nightmarish new shapes. Angels & Devils, his belated follow-up, is intriguingly different. While the second half of the set is blessed with plenty of robust, floor-friendly riddims (each blessed with vocals from a range of impressive collaborators), the first half is an altogether more downbeat affair. In fact, it's these moments - the droning, dub-inflected ambience of "Pandi" and the bluesy, soundscape dub-soul of "Save Me" - that hit home hardest.
Deep dark, future-focussed madness from Bristol's darkest partnership Asa and Sorrow. "Legendary" has been doing the rounds with a select few heads for a while now with its bubbling bass undulations, sharp Eski beats, synth-string stabs and cut up grime vocals, fusing to create a physical bomb that is guaranteed to cause chaos. The rest of the EP stands up to the duo's near-legendary status, too: "Untitled" carefully balances harmonic vocal textures and groaning bass attitude, "Titan" is undiluted grime drama as it pings you across the dance with cheery aggression and "Shook" flickers and flutters with dynamic choppy mischief and a mean soft skank.
With the previous collaborative benchmark set high from the massive "September Sun" and their remix of Plastician's "Hard Graft", N-Type and Surge compound their premium partnership once again with this massive five-tracker. Every track is total galvanised darkness; from the paranoid pads and disgustingly thick bass/kick drive on "Katnip" to the almost Detroitian arpeggios, mangled grimy rhyme and spiked out acid line of "Clobber" via the dramatic rips and sneers of the EP title track, it's clear Surge and N-Type complement each other incredibly well.
With previous damage caused on Imperial Audio, UK bass conjurer Arkwright steps over to Gaze Ill and Don D's ever-impressive Cue Line. And he does so with no less than five tracks. There's a distinctly tribal twang to each of the cuts: "Kwata"'s linear percussive assault sets the tone perfectly well as we're thrusted into the sludgy sub grumbles of "Settle", the widescreen pads and densely layered drum sounds of "Living" and the off-kilter lollops and flickers of "Level Head". Looking for more funk and less tribal? Head for the switch-flipping techy 4/4 and b-boy scratch madness of "Nosalis".
Bizzle's physical fist-pump signature reaches a new level as his rari workout develops from Snapchat bants to a cultural phenomenon. Bringing us all up to speed on his enthusiasm for sports, the dench instructor runs us through the motions over a heady EDM riff. In case there's any doubt about Bizzle's latest craze (and there really shouldn't be) fellow denchmen JME and Tempa T authenticate his instructions in their own inimitable way. Pumping.
What a cool way to celebrate half a decade of dark dance dynamics. Not just a cool reminder of Paradise Lost's contribution and dedication to the scene, but a subtle way of showing that their b-sides are just as important, timeless and essential as their A-sides. Highlights can be found in every direction across the 26 tracks but here are a few for starters: the demonic guitar chugs on "Titanium" (which actually sound like they could be from the metal band Paradise Lost!), the thick dream-weaving atmospheres and trippiness of "Elephant Walk", the jugular-slicing riff of "Cuttin" and the loopy vocal insanity of "Guardian"... we could go on all day here. Dig deep and you'll find many more highlights. Here's to another five years!
Just over a year since the release of his debut on Local Action, Baltimore's Lil Jabba is back with six new bombs in the shape of GuLLY. Always one for fusing horror vibes with the deeper end of footwork, this new mini LP keeps the neg vibes comin'. Highlights include the doomy trap opener "Grotto Anthem", the sci-fi synthwork of "Spur" and "Flexin (Jabba's Cut)" which sees a scattershot high-end fire fight above fizzy synth swirls and swishes. Never has being creeped out felt so good.
Cue Line co-founder and all-round Danish dub demon Gaze Ill steps up to Iron Shirt for a four-pack of momentous darkness. The first thing that strikes you about the title track is the tightly sprung subby kicks that play the consummate bouncy ball beneath heavy pressure pads, creating a natural groove with carefully placed minimal elements. Deeper again we hit "Detached" where an array of bass textures await; from the more bulbous bubbles to nastier tears and sneers, they ooze from the speakers while a solid drum arrangement ploughs through the sad atmospherics. Elsewhere "Superior" tells a tale of cavernous dynamics as the elastic bass twists itself in every direction. Finally we hit "Saturate": Perhaps the most dancefloor tuned of the set, this more than lives up to its name. Just crank up your sub and listen to that low-end.
Paragon isn't messing around on this one. Not that he's messed around on anything he's done on other labels such as 31 and Samurai. With its immense textures and sheet metal elements, "Normal People" is likely to scare most of its namesake, and is not to be treated lightly in any way! "Lowest Common Denominator" is slightly more conventional thank its synapse-snapping sub/step dynamic while "Ugly" is very much groove focussed; a paranoid riff swings back and forth over a mechanical, thunderous halfstep developing momentum with every spooked out pads and riser. Deeply dark, wholly original and genuinely forward thinking. You won't feel normal for a while after hearing these.
Proof - as if we need it - that bass music has a long, long way to go before it runs out of ideas, as here Las has created five reasons why contemporary dub still inspires, motivates and captures the imagination. The strange, trippy riff on the title track summarises this consummately, as does the rich mischievous dub bubbles of "Pirates". Further on we hit the more dancefloor aimed "Lesson" as the rich tribal rhythm paves the way for some ace vocal sample abuse and a bassline that lollops so hard it might damage your needle. "Temper" plays the perfect role of grand finale: powered by a paranoid palpitating sub bass and doubled up kicks, we're suddenly stopped in our tracks by a stunning classical piano refrain. Game changers, the lot of them.
Deep, dark and dangerous: Aussie newcomer Portal makes his debut on Phantom Hertz with three brooding compositions that ooze atmosphere and space while retaining all important pace. The trick is development; no track ever sits still, elements twist and turn with subtlety throughout. Great examples of this are the processed hand drums and twinkle gradually throughout "Trauma" and the thunder-like drive of the drums on the subby, eerie "Lost Within". Drop this and cause dancefloor trauma in an instant.
There has been a great run of new talent popping up on R&S lately, with Shanghai Den being a notable example, and now Alma Construct debuts here to drop a selection of lo-fi studies peppered with influences from techno to hip hop. There are some distinctive forces at work behind these tunes, not least on the decidedly unhinged and magnificently realised "Deer Drink From The River", while "Imagine Them" comes on strong with a snappy bounce that wouldn't sound out of place on Music Has The Right To Children, albeit expressed with less sleepy synth tones. It's a sterling effort that leaves one wondering what's around the corner for this hitherto unknown beatsmith.