Established in 2012, Artikal Music UK is a record label with a difference. The ethos of the label leans heavily on Dubstep’s roots, with an emphasis on vinyl presses for each release. Artikal still nods to the current scene with a fresh perspective by providing bonus digital tracks, embracing a new wave of online Dubstep lovers. They have released artists such as Perverse, Truth, Killawatt & Core, Genetix, Sleeper, Ipman, TMSV, Thelem and EshOne, more than proving their worth as a label to watch. Artikal is committed to representing the UK Bass music scene, and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.
Taking over the JunoDownload Dubstep page with their newest release 'The Compilation', Artikal faces towards the future rather than looking back with a stunning collection of 14 unreleased and previously unheard tracks, from the likes of TMSV, label-head J:Kenzo, Thelem and American dubstep shaman EshOne amongst others. Artikal Music is proud to deliver a compilation that serves not a nostalgic retrospective, but showcases what the label does best, which is delivering up-to-the-minute thundering dubstep tunes by a unique selection of artists from all corners of the globe.
We've got the lowdown on the release from J:Kenzo himself, a very special mix, and even an exclusive free downloadable track which is not to be missed trust us!
Artikal is one of the most popular dubstep labels in the scene but some fans may not be aware that you are one of the joint founders. Can you tell us a little bit about how the label came about?
The label was started in January 2012. There was a track called 'Alone in the Darkness' (ARTKL001) which myself and Mosaix produced together. The track was getting a lot of interest around that time and we decided to put it out on our own. At this time I was getting sent a lot of quality music, which I felt deserved to be released so we decided to make the label an outlet for quality deep underground sounds.
Your name is synonymous with the deeper sound of Dubstep, have you always made this style of music or is your current signature sound something that took a lot of experimentation and development?
It’s been natural. I just make music that I'm feeling and the deeper edge suits my taste.
Can you tell us a little bit about the Artikal Compilation release; how long did it take for the release to come fruition and the thinking behind compiling the release?
This is our first compilation project, and it’s out now. It has been 9-10 months of hard work from the team and I to make this happen. This is a big step for us as a label and we have some great artists involved in the project. The compilation consists of 14 tracks from 12 different artists covering a whole heap of styles. We have been releasing music for over 2 years now and I’ve been playing a lot of the tracks from the compilation in my sets. I just felt it was the right time to release a larger project.
The dubstep scene has gone through a massive transition over the past few years, where do you see the scene heading in the future?
We have headed into the unknown, dubstep has shown that it is still relevant even after the money and commercial side of things have been and gone. It’s always been an underground sound and the passion from those who are involved in the scene is still as strong as ever.
Artikal always seems to have prioritised vinyl and digital in equal measure. Was this your original intention? What is your preference when gigging?
We have always seen the two formats as equal. Vinyl has been a big part of my life since I was a kid. It’s a blessing that the scene still has a huge fanbase of Vinyl DJs and collectors. Gig-wise I mostly play digital now especially when travelling but I still buy Vinyl and cut Dubplates.
You are very kindly giving away a track from the label as part of the takeover. A track that quite frankly you could be selling, and also a track that represents a change in style (well certainly bpm). Can you give us a little background on the track and why you decided to give this away?
This is a remix I did of one of my favourite tracks from the back catalogue - Truth's 'Babylon London'. The original track reflected exactly what the label is about and I wanted to give my spin on it. The tempo is upped but the vibe is still the same, building the boundaries between dubstep and drum & bass. It has had support from dBridge & Calibre as well as Youngsta and Loxy. I decided to give it away as a thank you to all who have supported the label.
You have a huge label tour of North America on the horizon can you give us a little insight into what fans can expect?
That’s correct - we are heading out there for the first ever Artikal Music UK Tour. Thelem, EshOne, Sleeper and myself have 14 shows lined up all over North America. Every artist involved will be bringing their own unique style to the table.
Are you excited to be touring North America ? What are your thoughts on the scene there?
It is a great place to play, every show is different. The scene in North America has become a vital part of Dubstep. The fans and promoters know exactly where this music came from and embrace it to the fullest.
OK last question, a bit of a final thoughts request. What are your plans for yourself and the label in 2015 and which upcoming artists do you feel we should be keeping an ear out for?
We are going to continue what we are doing and release quality music into 2015. There are some great projects lined up for the future which I am looking forward to. Keep your ears out for more music from Thelem, TMSV and EshOne.
For some upbeat, vocal driven dub for the club OBF delivers the riddims to fill a dancefloor. Highlights include the smooth Beyonce-like flow of "Ladies Anthem", while for the men there's the ragga of "Style & Fashion". Taking a break from vocals there's "Who's Bad", a track which would fit neatly into a Crookers DJ set, while the title-track, "Wild", is whimsical stroll through futuristic dub rooted in old school values.
Whether it's as a performer, a producer or a label head honcho, J:Kenzo has never done things by halves, so Artikal's debut long player was always going to be special. 15 exclusive cuts from the label's talented family and friends, this collection of contributions doesn't just document where bass music is at, but where it's heading. Each track is a highlight in itself, but it's cuts like the slinky hypnotic groove and cosmic congas of TMSV's "Scorpion", Sleeper's star-gazing, dub-drenched sub science of "Coxsone Dub", Skeptical's lesson minimalism and aggy restraint ("Skavenger") and Eshone's treacle-like dirge "Qualia" that really represent the depth, scope and vision of Artikal. Designed for the dance, arranged so well it works as an entire listening experience, Artikal don't do things by halves.
The Moonshine Recordings crew return with another platter that matters, brandishing a double drop of skank up business to nice up any dancefloor. "Cool Me Off" finds Murda and Tuffist providing the perfect digi dub minor key bed for Roots and Rose to lay down their heartfelt harmonies. Junglists will flip for the B where Murda goes on a solo flex to add his Chopstick Dub twist with amen-rattling precision. One listen and you'll find this an appropriately titled slab; you will need to cool off after dropping this!
Drum & bass heads and French junglists will be more than familiar with deep bass duo Kantyze. With previous on the forward-thinking likes of IM:LTD and Suspect Device, their sonic signature has always been one that's lent itself to the odd tempo or groove fluctuation. Here they prove as much with their FKOF debut. Four tracks of dynamic dark design, they've taken the best elements of drum & bass (drama, pace, unpredictability) and applied them to a deeper framework. "Chokey" is a sea of enveloping synth washes and mournful strings, "Bring The Core" is a loopy lesson in techno-minded minimalism and "Digital Reality" is a carnal call to action, all rapid and dramatic. Finally we hit "Ruff". With classic time-stretched jungle vocals and snares, soaring atmospheric textures and deep space sensations, it belies its name with equal measures of smooth. Beautiful.
It's as good as a debut outing here for Nurve, who gets snapped up to Tectonic after just one previous airing on the Pinch b2b Mumdance mix that surfaced earlier in 2014. In line with Pinch's current explorations into dark strains somewhere between his foundational dubstep and gnarly techno, "Wrong Number" strikes a positive chord with all the nastiest elements. "Clik Clak" gets busy with the sound design and some advanced arranging, keeping space and flexibility in the mix even with a dizzying amount of sonic details. There's plenty of the hardcore continuum to be enjoyed across this release, even as the production levels reach to the most wild ends of the electronica spectrum.
This EP finds Kevin Martin zooming in on some of the themes of Angels & Demons, the long awaited new LP from The Bug, naturally showing a diverse approach across the spectrum of his dread-filled half-step swagger. Two versions of "Void" drape themselves across the first side in a heavy-lidded fog of distant melodics, static interference and restrained beat business, while on the flip "Black Wasp" likewise takes two strung out routes through submerged menace and laconic grace. Like a sharp slap about the chops, side three finds Manga spitting out a monolithic grime performance over "Function", while Daddy Freddy is on side four with a perfectly devilish turn on "Blaow".
Having appeared on Tsunami, Mindstep, Subway, Bassclash, Rottun and a whole more labels, German dankmeister Herr Boogie now gets ugly on Lutetia Dubz... "Invasion" is all about the subs that hum a heavy melody beneath stately gurgles and swaggering halfsteps. "Seen" switches the vibe for something altogether more punishing and rhythmic as kicks hammer the main message home in the steppiest way possible. "Chasing The Dream" ends on a trippy note as Boogie and Fused Forces deftly tinker with a tripletty swing, gradually delivering an array of far-away, star-gazing elements. Cold but not icy, deep but directed. This is one of Mr Boogie's finest releases to date.
Foundation Audio founder Chad Dubz steps up with his debut album. And, as you'd expect, it's a document of daring dark design. From the moment the anvil-like kicks of opener "Transcending" punctuate with precision, you know you're in for a treat. Deeper into the narrative, cuts such as a "Shaka" and "Dark Ones" tell ominous stories of minor key jungle-minded mischief while cuts such as "Stay" bellow with such a moodiness and such bulbous bass detail that you have to stop and catch your breathe. Further into the blend again we hit cuts like "Witnessed" where dungeon-destined spaciousness plays the lead role, showing the Chad knows the genre and his craft with an intimacy most artists dream of. Debut albums don't come any clearer. Any further questions should be directed to Chad directly...
Noir by name, noir by nature, Montana-based Piecemeal has created a crystalline body of bass music work. "The Price Of Victory" is a barbed beatless piece of ominous ambience that will work perfectly as an agenda-setting intro for any mix. The title track itself takes us into 130 territories on a cleverly incomplete two-step riddim. "To Be Honest" delves deeper into cross-pollination as Piecemeal helps us imagine what Leftfield would sound like if they started now thanks to a sinewy dynamic and some majestic vocal sample manipulation. "Dead Eyes" finishes this set with darkest message yet as Jordan Perkic tips his hat to the likes of Cobain and Gahan with immersive and meditative results.
Modern Ruin ain't messing... Having launched in August with a full album, they now follow it up with this daring audio adventure from Leeds-based footworker Sarantis. Taking the Chicago genre into fresh pastures, tracks like the "Highway" fuse the distorted, acidic bass more often seen in dubstep or electro derived tracks but applied in a way that makes complete sense. Paying homage to the label itself, Sarantis's label-homage "Modern Ruin" develops this idea further with a twisted skank and pneumatic kick that manages to resonate with both dancehall and techno schools of thought. The 4/4 switch on "I Want To Know", meanwhile, will genuinely sweep you off your feet. Unique.
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.
The artfully titled Ninja Tune Traktion EP finds the storied label dip into their vast archives to offer Traktor DJs exclusive stems to help convolute their sets with a range of obscure sounds and classics. For some basslines and synths to throw over drums or percussion the Bogus Order Reorder of Falty DL's "Atlantis" is an obvious choice, as can be said about the snares and hyperactive synths of the Spacelab remix to Starkey's "Blood Roses". The manner in which Seiji messed with that classic synth riff to Coldcut & Hexstatic's "Timber" ensures his remix can always be left as is, and for something more melodic and liquid funky there's the chiming and remixed sounds of DJ Food's "Dark Lady".
MoJoe and Chemist RNS release their first full EP and each track is such a stern lesson in instrumental grime heaviness Grime Disciple has compared them to war dubs. We kick off with the title track. All double kicks and bass hits that pour over the drums so fast they pour over each side, it's a mesmerising mess of low end messages. "2099" is a future-focused shot of sharpness; Eski-beats at full effect, it's just as much garage or breakbeat as it is grime. "Moon Base" tells a dark tale of alien invasions over the jugular-punching break and ominous subs while we climax with the demonic tones and far-away drum spaciousness of "No Guy Test". Hungry? You won't be once you've feasted on these.
Iron Shirt introduces us to brand new producer Steven Lorenz. Ensuring his entrance is felt by anyone who's so much as looked at a speaker once in their lifetime, "Dune" is a driving slab of low-end paranoia. Controlled by a palpitating bedrock bass that hums rigidly, rising on the fills, we're presented with an array of percussive elements that fly across the stereoscope with a wry sense of unpredictability. As far as entry tracks go, this is right up there. Remix-wise Tallan adds a broader, more isolating sense of space, Outbound twist the vibe to focus on a purring metallic bass tone while Morrison take us right back to the dungeon with a slimy, pensive cut that's entrenched in deep dub rudiments. Awesome.
Rewind: it's the summer of 2012 and Kiwi duo Truth make their Artikal debut with a weeping, mournful paranoia piece "Babylon London". It becomes a deep dubstep anthem of the season. Back to the future: Artikal founder J:Kenzo flips the vibe for a 172 jungle makeover. Maintaining the cries and soars of the original, but adding a whole new sense of energy and activity in the drums and basses, it's an exemplary lesson in contemporisation. Massive.