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Reviewed this week
What a year it's been for US deep bass imprint Version Collective. Exactly a year ago their inaugural Certified Organic collection lit a raging fire of smouldering singles and, most recently, a remarkable album by Sweepa. Now comes the sequel... Once again it's a far-ranging exploration that takes in some truly unique perspectives with highlights such as the discordant metallic strings of Lilti's remix of "Womple", the delicious didgeridoo-style bass weirdness of Basiclee's "Voyage Dub", the gully croaks and slaps of Drew's Theory's defiant "Nonsense & Knowledge" and the industrial strength drum textures and springy sub of Mr K's "Damage". Another serious statement of intent and showcase of exciting, forward-thinking dub talent, Version Collective are staring down the barrel of another exciting sonically innovative year.
Already under heavy vinyl pressure, Deep Heads sister-stable OTE finally unleash three more definitive cuts from Manchester's finest, Biome. Each track exploring a different corner of the dance.. "Turn" is the theme tune to a sci-fi tragedy that's yet to be written. Evocative and charged with rolling drama, there's a real narrative to rolling groove and momentum. "Remembrance" takes a step back for more of a deep tech perspective before we tap out with the cascading breakbeat rolls of "Niagra". A hurricane of emotional pads wrap around subtle rave influences to create a timeless floor-burner that unites all corners. Serious business, as always from Biome.
A/T/O/S stands for A Taste Of Struggle, and it's safe to say that Amos and Truenoys have certainly put their backs into this project. The duo were originally picked up by Mala back on 2014, and haven't looked back ever since. This is their second LP to date and, much like their debut, it touches upon many different elements of the enlarged dubstep continuum. There's plenty of tunes on here that'll liven up any dance, but this is very much a pensive and meditative bass affair. Much in line with Mala's pioneering 'deep' dubstep, it's clear that the Deep Medi head honcho has foud some new, young, and like-minded talents to carry on his dynasty.
Zha's White Peach Records now present the Ice Chirps EP by Shudan, following up his Arctic Games EP. He turns the heat up a notch with four wonderful grime tunes here. First up "Neko Riddim" incorporates some lush Oriental music influences before he unleashes the rip-snorting bassline fury at street level. "Amaterasu" is more wonky, straight ahead grime business with rapid fire, trap hi-hats and bouncy horn leads comin' right at ya! Finally, the title track goes for some kind of hyperaware and contorted take on pop music (much the PC Music crew are known to do) with an interesting take on lo-end dynamics, merging with yet more Oriental aesthetics and lush ambience. Wicked sound design happening here!
Continuously excavating talent from the darkest depths of dubspace, Encrypted Audio maintain the heat seat of Argo's 2017 opener with this ludicrously loose four-piece. Everything about "Cough" startles and discomforts - the droning strings, the strange drums, the trembling hook; it all works together with alarming results. "Mercurial" takes the space concept even further with enough room to fit entire fleets of buses between the kicks while "No Escape" tips at modern classical techniques with its textures before a smoky 808 eases itself into the fray. Finally "Artesh" looks east for alluring, cosmic inspiration. Heady stuff.
Three time DMC Champion, BBC 1Xtra Resident and multi award-winning DJ Cable returns. The 'super dope mixtape maker' brings it courtesy of his own Triangulum Recordings with the Ancients EP and as the name may suggest: these are some really spiritual and esoteric insights into the UK bass sound. "Aztec Riddim" rolls deep with its low-end theory steeped in Amazonian aesthetics, while "Inca Riddim" follows in suit with its immaculate polyrhythms that will truly lead you into the exotic. "Olmec Riddim" is the same kind of bass driven tribal techno that Arthur Smith aka Grain (aka Artwork) was smashing out in the late nineties and had us really impressed
Encrypted aren't messing around in 2017 are they? Following key releases from Ghast, Trop, Rygby, DMVU and Argo comes abyss veteran Karnage. Last spotted on FKOK via DayZero's EP, here we find in well-oiled rolling mode as "Zaoichi" cascades further and further into itself with loopy introversion. "Model 29" steps back to refocus on a much starker, classic bass riff, with all the right dub hallmarks and skies of space between the elements, this was designed for one thing only: smashing systems. "Killswitch", meanwhile, is tailored for smashing bodies.... a real menacing mechanical funk is at play as strong themes of techno run throughout. "Mokko" provides essential counterpoint with its wonderfully wobbly sub and big breeze pads that enter mid way. Full spectrum.
Cardiff-based producer Stagga is a man who likes to experiment with extremely low levels of hertz, and his material for the Fat Fridge label is becoming synonymous with quality and style. He's back with an extended EP, seven cuts of delightfully pungent dance mutations that have difficulty in being labelled and/or categorised under one banner. Take "Jenny", for instance, a tune that could appeal to the grime headz, dubstep fanboys, and even those branching out into tribal-led African dance infusions; "New Gun" is a mother stunner, an eerie bass riddim with a noticeable leftfield swagger to its groove, while "Trip Switch" shakes up the EP by launching a heavy, unforgiving wobble attack in the most stupendous of bro-step fashions. If you're into the enlarged bass game, then this is your drug.
Longstanding New World Audio merker Shandy cracks open three tins of fizzy fire on us with the fittingly titled "Vintage Grime" collection. "Horizon" sets the scene with string-sprung drama. Unashamedly steppy, it's an instant flashback to 2001. "Coincide" joins the dots with dubstep with its hazy tones and low-slow groove. Finally "Projection" is an all-out space hopper with a broadsword bassline, neck-snapping beats and delicate pianos. True to the craft.
Multi-personality man of the moment: Swedger (AKA Ardeer AKA Skagden) steps over to Project Allout for a deliciously wavey slice of instrumental grime. Flexing melodic muscles, none of his rich low-end is lost as we fly through his dreamy almost Oil Gang or Terrorhythm style narrative. As always with Project Allout, remixes hit every spot from every corner: Dubzta gets his tropical pipes out, Cleaverhype plays ping-pong with trippy ricochets and gully switches, Dutty Tingz inject worlds of roominess into the groove while Hexy busses up more of a growl in the bass and strings in the feels. Supersized.
Exclusives
BIOME - View From The Edge EP (On The Edge)
SWEDGER - Marigold EP (Project Allout) - exclusive 31-12-2017
SHUDAN - Ice Chirps EP (Explicit) (White Peach)
Exclusives
A/T/O/S - Outboxed (Deep Medi Musik)
VARIOUS - Certified Organic 2 Pt 1 (Version Collective)
DJ CABLE - The Ancients (Triangulum Recordings) - exclusive 25-02-2017
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