Back after an absence of well over a year, the deep and moody Proxima is back in bass business, this time courtesy of Rinse. The beats are still around the 140 mark and the mood is still deep: "Trapped" kicks things off with some dark alleyway vibes - all shifty beats and general eeriness, "Fate" soon picks up the pace with some seriously anxious drum patterns and sweaty-palms-synth-pads and lastly the EP's heaviest track, "Fallout", is full of taut, writhing mechanical snarls. Still sinister, still fresh!
On his first release for Deep Medi Musik this year, Commodo taps up JME for a mean lyrical flow over the top of a typically monstrous production, making a perfect dubstep / grime crossover track in the process. JME has a blast pointing back to classic reference points from Kano and Wiley and many more in his conscious MC turn, while Commodo's beat prowls in the background with that exotic charm that has always marked out his style from the rest of the pack. There's a hooky chorus and plenty of grand stabs, and for those who just want the tune the instrumental is bundled in as well. The fact that the beat stands up on its own without any trouble says a lot about Commodo's studio prowess, which is no doubt why he continues to be a mainstay on Mala's label.
Always committed to providing a platform to the boundary pushers in the London bassweight continuum, Keysound serves up another choice collection that draws on regular contributors and fresh faces for a range of styles that all hang together neatly under the Keysound banner. Logos provides a little ambient reflection, while label bosses Dusk + Blackdown head into stripped down malice on "Wot Do You Mean?! (Dub)". Wen is even more minimalistic on "It's A Lot", while Facta eschews his usual punchy fare for a lilting melodic piece entitled "Quince". Ballistiq Beats gets a tidy garage re-rub from Sully, and Etch drifts off into dreamlike breakbeat. At every turn this compilation oozes class, showing there's much more to all these artists than straight up sub-busters.
UK beat maverick Mr Dubz touches down once again on the Project Allout imprint with four new slices of penetrating speed garage. "Losing It", as the name suggests, is a nutty blend of shuffling percussion and raucous, twisted basslines, while "Sekkle" is tough little grime monster for the head-nodders. "Bwoi Fi Dead" is another heavy half-time monster complete with all sorts of dread vocal shops, while "Ready Fi War" takes us back to the early-to-mid noughties when grime and hard-hitting wobble-step were being mashed up left, right and centre.
Trashbat has smashed 2014 to pieces with his MindStep releases, and we reckon this is his best yet. Showcasing his broadest sounds throughout, we range from deep dungeon-bound murkage on "Realness" to smoky future soul of "Scale & Tusk" (where Sarah Zad doesn't sound too far away from a young Ms Badu). Elsewhere we get heavily meditative by the spacious arrangement of "Gold Fire" and get drenched by the big Detroit synth sprays of "Moist Beat". Six tracks of originality, each one exploring a different shade of bass, may Trashbat continue smashing for a long time to come.
Relative newcomer Sub Basics steps up to Tuba with a serious six-track report on the state of his creative health. The result? He's fighting fit and ready to demonstrate some discerning darkness with crystalline clarity. Highlights on this deep and deadly document include the precision positioned percussion on "Khora", the naked drum jungle homage "Shadow" and the breath-taking jazz pianos on "Sub Basics". Forward-thinking throughout, we're anticipating plenty more next level bass business from Sub Basics as he develops.
Increasingly sparring in the studio and on the decks, Bristol bods Hodge and Facta consummate their partnership with this release for Rinse that highlights two very different but equally essential cuts. "Spheres Of Costa Rica" riffs on a distant and enchanting hook of traditional vocal and places it in the midst of a spooky house framework rich with melodic percussive hits and plenty of low-end heft. "Visions" meanwhile takes a more moody route into oppressive industrial scrapes and dubby treatments to make a thoroughly contemporary hybrid belter that holds back as much as it releases. It's an assured release that plays on the strengths of both producers and points the way for more cool and deadly dance killers to come.
Dub Police's MyStyle mix series has become a force to be reckoned with in dubstep, an annual showcase from some of their most exciting artists, each outing appears deeper, more involving and widescreen than the last. The Others has clearly gone to town here with a whole heap of his productions and collaborations. For mix lovers this is a must; 28 tracks all seamed together tightly, it explores the darkest corners of the scene with a brave boldness. Those looking for individual tracks will also be pleased to see the likes of Icicle's techno-like industrial VIP "Need A Job", Sleeper's disturbing "Civil War" and Thelem's tripped out mind-twister "Haunted Harmonics". Stylish, sonically arresting and consummately accomplished, The Others has represented himself with serious skills right here.
UK vs Italy: Step-A-Side, The Hooderz and Weaze collide to create "Hustle". With a rolling array of drum textures and Q&A rhythms, there's an unrelenting drama that twists and turns throughout. Those who prefer things a little darker should jump on Lowryder's remix where a more spacious bass mutters a menacing gurgle. Finally we hit "Sabotage". This time Lowryder joins the fray as the five-strong team cook up a moody, muddy fusion of Kenzo-flavoured alien bass and crisp naked beats. Icy vibes.
Two powerful pieces of sub science from the Cue-Line co-boss Gaze Ill. "Blue Enough" is a paranoid space jam, all tripped out with heavily processed vocal echoes and a drawn out gurgling low end mutters. "Mounted", meanwhile, is an exciting example of minimal being done right: One whomping bass hook, spacious snares, a warm kick and various percussive cameos are all that's needed to reach total subversion immersion. Daring business.
Newham General D Double E gets busy on "Lovely Jubbly". Playful tale telling with trademark London drama, Double spits spatter themselves over a fractious grime beat that wriggles with wasp-like arpeggios. As with all the best grime cuts, the instrumental stands tall on its own - as does the acappella for those with a penchant for DJ creativity. Lovely and indeed jubbly.
For their second EP for Little Rascal records, Australian heroes Jilted Hoodz present a trip into what they describe as "future jungle". In the case of "Atomic Spectre (Future Jungle)", that means classic '90s tech-step beats pitched down to breakbeat tempo, with creepy pianos, sludgy bass, classic choral samples and thrusting dread bass liberally peppered atop. It's a curious concoction, but strangely attractive. Flip for "Atomic Spectre (Dub)", a delay-heavy trip into late night dubstep territory with paranoid effects, discordant vocal samples and intense computer vocals aplenty. It's a little less hectic than the (admittedly blazed) A-side, but no less pungent.
Given that Caspa has previously described his 500 album as an attempt "not to compromise", you'd expect this second digital sampler to be packed to the rafters with no-holds-barred, in-your-face gear. Certainly, opener "War Drum (Done Talkin')" - featuring the distinctive vocals of reggae toaster $pyda - is pretty robust, with sirens, wobbly sub and military drum rolls adding extra energy to a surging, dancefloor-friendly dubstep groove. The slower, string-laden - but no less punchy - "80s Kid" offers a little relief, before "March of the Marionettes" takes us deep into the realms of stoned late night paranoia. Finally, "Tales of the Unexpected" comes on like a grandiose fusion of soaring movie themes, EDM and tightly programmed dancefloor dubstep.
There's no stopping Midlands bass duo Hybrid Theory right now, what with their Four40 label putting out its first artist compilation and yet another big club anthem in the shape of "That's What It Is". What it is, is a scalpel-sharp trap-hop jam with heavy bass and undertones of grime courtesy of some spitfire MCing by Trilla. There's also some different edits and an instrumental included, with the "Heavy Radio Edit" which is anxiously sparse and riddled with the shrill delivery of Lady Leshurr.
Italian producer and 808-aficionado Aquadrop joins Top Billin with a bass-heavy track featuring vocals by Rayna. With releases on Mad Decent, Main Course and Seclusiasis, and the likes of Diplo, Flosstradamus, Baauer constantly spinning his tracks, Aquadrop's reputation stands before him, and he doesn't disappoint. Mango-sweet and full of hot, tropical vibes, "Bloko Bloko" kicks off in a dancehall style before dropping down deep to a severe bassline pounding set to shake thousands of asses. Remixes in this pack come from Philly's street bass kings Starkey and Dev79, tropical ghettomaster Douster and Australian newcomer Gucci Boo The Ghost Producer, all adding their individual twists to this tasty little cocktail. Party like it's Christmas in July!
London duo Ghost Writerz (Jimmy Screech & Sleepy Time Ghost) have been making a lot of noise lately with their unique form of 'sound system music'. Here they drop a special remix of "Back It Up", courtesy of label mate Ed West. A personal favourite of theirs, this mix takes things on a grime tip, with West taking us on a laser-heavy tropical dancehall journey that has already been rinsed by the likes of Toddla T. Boom!
Who's tried to attempt Lucid's finger 'Heartagram' and failed miserably? Well, we reckon its Photoshopped anyway and that's our excuse. More easily attempted is listening to the record, which features four excellent, otherworldly synth jams. The title track is all delirious trance stabs, pitched vocals samples and build ups, "Pops 2" is an electronic ricochet grinder, "Pops 1" dips into doomy trap territory and "Galant" is all warped synth motifs and carnival snares, but we're still wondering what Richelle's input is.
Kontext comes correct with his first album since 2009's Dissociate. He starts off with one of the best album intros we've heard all year; on "Nameless Things With No Memory" a Twilight Zone sample establishes the paranoid, existential, are-we-even-here framework with allure and more than enough mystique to lock you in. As we dig deeper into the Russian producer's mindset we're treated to a rich bounty of dynamics; the deep space rolling tech of "Time Travels In His Sleep", the harrowed horror cinematics of "Refracted Man", the eerie Detroit-style machine wheezes and slurs of "Garlic Bubblegum", the infectious bubbles of 4/4 house cut "Moon Whispers" - the list goes on. Dispersing his sound into all the right corners, while maintaining a keen eye on consistency and clarity, Kontext has created a stunning dub document that offers more and more on every listen.