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Reviewed this week
Hello is the serious burns unit? Yes it's Juno Records here, we've been in direct contact with J Kenzo's latest Artikal release and have lost several layers of skin. Get an ambulance right away you say? Just after we've listened to this a few more times! "Battlefield" twitches a ruddy sub that bounces around beneath big system horns and a strident energetic drum groove. "Zbantu Shake" is a much more stripped back stepper that's all wooden kicks, trippy flute flurries and ladles of thick treacle subs. Soundboy killing material.
When it comes to dubstep and its pioneers, people always drop the same names: Mala, Skream, Youngsta etc etc. But, there's another name that has been around since the FWD golden days. That name is Distance. Like many others who were involved in the scene's foundations, Distance has preferred to remain in the shadows, away from DJ booths, and firmly on his mixing board in the studio. If we're talking labels, he'd done 'em all - Hotflush, Planet Mu...the list goes on. Pinch's Tectonic feels like the perfect place to drop his new LP, especially because it strays way beyond the usual confinements of dubstep, and into whole new categories. From juke to bassline, and even techno, Dynamis is an album for lovers of the bass form. If that's your kink, this piece of work has got all the ingredients to satisfy your every need. Twisted basslines, haphazard beat flexes, and even some mashup lyricism. Sink your teeth, innit.
Scene sergeant Youngsta returns with his first full release in years. Tag-teaming with rising producer Cimm, the vibe is deep, roomy and constructed with a stately, unhurried alien funk. Every element considered and fine-tuned both tracks take us deep into a meditative mindset without ever pressing the snooze button: "Split Minds" rolls with bass tones so warm they almost bounce while "Redshift" takes us into an even dubbier pasture with some great attention paid to the sporadic rhythm elements. Beautiful.
Daryl Nurse aka Youngster is not cite often enough when we talk about grime, dubstep, and the evolution of both these genres. But, the UK bass scientist is very much up there on our list, and we're big into his sound from the early 2000's. Out on White Peach this week is a reissue of his '02 bombshell "Bongo", a raw and minimalistic bass stepper with a wild set of cowbells, stop-start rhythms and a nasty, unforgiving bassline for the heads. That's not all, though; there's three remixes to sink your teeth into: Hi5Ghost chucks in an added layer of slicing percussion sounds for total damage, Deep Medi associates Kahn & Neek slow the whole groove down to their singular, cerebral levels, and Impey drops his broken gunshot riddim version, aptly called the 66668 Bar remix. Fire!
An artist known for abstract and tough music, Policy's debut Southpoint solo release doesn't disappoint. Known for his frogger-style label hopping, he lands on Southpoint for these latest treats, of which there are three. Darkness is the key vibe here, with "Slink" kicking things off with distressed film dialogue samples and brooding stop-start drum patterns and a sinister bass buzz. Elsewhere "Boca Sweep" hints at witch-house doom and dreamy synths, whilst "Battered Trumpet" flits between bassy garage bounce and fuzzy ghetto bounce. Noble, meanwhile drops a remix full of scattershot rhythms, whilst Glume swerves into smoother instrumental hip-hop territory.
It's the third chapter of the Boxed series, which means new and refreshing bass cuts from a whole selection of new faces on the block. We know little about these youngsters, so let's just cut to the chase: Mr Mitch's "Friend Of Mine" flutters its half-step beats to a vast, distorted pool of sonics and vocal samples; "Mashman pt2" by As If Kid goes for a single-minded grime approach thanks to its traditional, London swamp-bass; JT The Goon delivers noxious levels of low frequencies around the tune's Eastern tones; Sirpixalot ties this episode of Boxed off with the pacman-grime vibes of "All In One VIP". Heavy gear.
The unpredictable and, wholly inimitable, Ghost House label drops its thirteenth release so far, and it's a downright blinder in every sense of the word. Newcomer Natsirk is the man to drop chilly, deranged bass vibes on us here, and he's got four otherworldly cuts to prove it. "Cosmic" literally sounds spectral, a cold and sinister array of melodies locked into a frosty groove, and "Artillery" also manages to lat down some tenebrous ghost bass with its humming gunshot of low frequencies. "Magpie" gives the grime-dubstep strings a whole new meaning thanks, but it's "Shadow" which gets all the reds from us on this little killer of an EP - imagine proto-dubstep circa '02 with just that right amount of curbside, grime swagger to its beats. Yes, yes.
First and foremost, Trends should be introduced in relation to his Mean Streets label. He's running a tight operation there and, if you're into your bad-tempered dubstep, it's certainly a label to be tuned into. He makes frequent appearances elsewhere, however, and this new EP for the Hardrive imprint is him all over. "Blood Shed", for instance, is a natural creeper, the sort of big, bad and stomping bass machine-gun with a menacing injection of low hertz; "Red Stripe Riddim" is similarly twisted and cavernous in its approach, but the tempo is much speedier here, and it's as if the entire tune has been given a shot of adrenaline and, well, a few Red Stripes. "Oxygen" takes things down a peg, offering a sleazy, liquid-like bass rhythm that manages to fuse bass, strings and beats together with the upmost ease and flair.
You might recall Flowdan from his recent album, Distaster Piece, but the man's style and swagger has probably been imprinted in your subconscious thanks to his part in the infamous Roll Deep cartel. The man was one of the group's long-term vocalists but, over the last few years, he's been concentrating on his own productions. This extended EP focusses on his "Grime" tune, a dancehall-flavoured gunshot riddim with plenty of aggy vocals and blaring percussion shots, but you also get an original mix of the deep and murky "Groundhog Day", a lo-fi tune with the Animai's vocals sounding more like street poetry than grime. There's a sinister remix of "Horror Show Style" from Shades, a proper bass attack that brings us back to circa '03, followed by a more tribalistic version from Telemachus. Cop it and you also get a selection of instrumental mixes, along with some juicy acappellas - hold tight!
HRMX's output has come mainly via the After Hour Audio crew, but these two new bass jugglers appear courtesy of the fledgling yet firmly on-point Sure Slate label. In fact, "Ieda" is one of our favourite bass nuggets this week; apart from the warm, placid harmonics cycling the groove, we love HRMX's use of the jungle breaks here because it reminds us of the early 00's broken beat scene in all its glory - jazzy, teched-up vibes that cut straight to the core. "Simplo" is a different sort of beast, but the artist's clever use of breaks is still very much part of the tune, and what we have is a glorious, dubwise stepper with plenty of tribalistic charm. TIP!
The Deep Heads label and London's Ash Walker have become synonymous with deep, mindful bass music that constantly pushes the boundaries of the genre. Having said that, this new EP feels even more singular than usual, and we can really hear Walker trying his best to merge a wide spectrum of styles, influences and sounds together into two tracks. The fact of the matter is that it works. "Dark Hour" is largely genreless and, if this was 1997, the tune would almost certainly be classified as 'balearic' due to its cool, moody lounge vibe, and break-driven mid-tempo beats - a real beauty. "Glacier" is similarly laid-back, but things are more jazzy here, and there is a deeper, less party-ready atmosphere that pushes Ash Walker way beyond the dance floor. Warmly recommended.
Flux Pavilion and Doctor P aren't messing around with Circus this year. Now flanked by a whole new league of exciting talent, while its main protagonists remain as innovative as ever, "Beats & Pieces Vol 2" is the latest premium dispatch: Dutch demon Frankie Nuts adds a little funk to his angular dubstep operations, Yultron switches up the halftime drama with an energy and playfulness that will slay dubstep and D&B floors while CRaymak gets busy on a contemporised 16 Bit style riff dynamic with added piano evangelism. Elsewhere Crissy Criss's Dead Exit revitalised "Soundboy Killer" with added skank VIP fun and up-and-coming Bristol badman Orby fuses Bobby Tank-style rainbow electro musicality with hair-raising bass gulliness. What a package.
SEVEN - Rebellium Pt 1 (Uprise Audio) - exclusive 17-10-2016
EBB/EMBARGO/LOWQUID/BOKEH/AKCEPT/HEADLAND - Averted Vision Vol 2 (Averted Vision) - exclusive 21-10-2016
YOUNGSTAR - Bongo (Remixes) (White Peach)
NATSIRK - Cosmic EP (Ghost House)
TRENDS - Blood Shed EP (Hardrive)
FLOWDAN - Grime (Tru Thoughts)
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