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Reviewed this week
Bristol's bass supremacy is under threat from Sheffield's formidable Project Allout, who have literally gone all out by rounding up 21 heavyweight jams to prove it. With such heavy ammo who is foolish enough to try and resist? Not us, and if we really had to pick, some of our favourites would be Adam Mac's doomy, empty rainy street vibes on the haunting "Cold Side", the accelerated, pinged up, soulful 4 x 4 banger "Deep" by Deadbeat UK and the percussive dancehall infused synth bass monster, "Likkie Vibez" by Juzlo. The Allout revolution, don't fight it, feel it!
Bristol-based bass enthusiast Sorrow has a reputation as a "moody electronic outsider", at least musically speaking. While this latest EP on his Shinigrim imprint is, predictably, more than a little on the baked side, the young producer mostly steers clear of pitch-black paranoia. Opener "Stockyards" boasts clean, punchy percussion and throbbing sub-bass, but feels breezy rather than stiflingly humid. The same could be said about the swinging, dub-wise "Projekts", while "Pirate Banter" makes great use of ricocheting dub samples and a booming, pitched-down soundsystem "riddim". Even "Arisen", with its' manipulated R&B vocal samples and foreboding bass drops, is relatively cheery.
Gentrification is quite a thing. East London might be full of middle class types fetishising '60s Brutalist buildings like Goldfinger's Balfron Tower. But original resident, and former Roll Deep MC, Flowdan (aka Marc Veira) has something to say about it too. Veira grow up by this tower and to him it's a 'Disaster Piece' from a grim place rather than a masterpiece. This album is his most personal and over this 12 track 'melodic grime symphony', he opens up about a hard knock life that he (and pals like Tinchy Stryder, Manga and Animai) knows better than most.
Oh gosh... Having shaken and stirred Wu Tang Clan and Pink Floyd already this year, 6Blocc now gets stuck into a big old pile of Portishead. Maintaining the Bristol band's icy, introspective, deep burning barbed soul throughout, his twists and turns are well considered and highly respectful; the additional vocal textures and digidub bass to "Glory Box", the Full Cycle flare of his jungle mix of "It Could Be Sweet", the Final Conflict style 1990 breaks on "Machine Gun", the sub aquatic halfsteppery of "Mysterons", the feather-ruffling drums on "Wandering Star"... 6Blocc has dissected each tune to re-position its magic for a new generation. You'd be a Dummy not to check them (not sorry).
Following his mates Sly One and Bromley, SOBAD fam Distro makes his debut with the on-point beat splicers Punks. With the help of My Nu Leng affiliate Dread MC "The Drum" sets the message clear: big thumps and uncompromised weight. "Killdem" takes us even deeper into the dance with 22nd century jungle blend of stuttering drums and iced out atmospheres. "Stomp" shuts up shop with grime undertones and tech overtones. Serious breaks horse power.
Ayman Rostom has really taken to The Maghreban, with a succession of singles for Versatile and his own Zoot label that have shown him fully capable of bringing his sampling talents to the realm of house, disco and techno. The latest missive from The Maghreban comes on Black Acre, a label Rostom has previous with after that superb library music LP as Dr. Zygote a few years back. Two tracks deep, Lose It presents all that we love about The Maghreban; the title track sees a classic "girl I'm starting to lose it" phrase lifted off an early jungle classic from Boogie Times Tribe assembled with a monstrous analogue bassline and plenty of feverish effects tweaking in the mix. "Wrong Move" is just as smart, delving into the darkest depths of rugged breakbeat science.
Portland, Oregon's Phantom Hertz label wheels out its first in a new series of compilations brimming with digi dub badness. It follows other long players from L Nix, FJH and a collection of High Dude remixes, with this collection presenting a 10-track heavy cartridge of bass-weighted ammunition. Lowryder, Repulsion's bit-graded "Teleport" and Ether's torn and chewed "Where The Wicked Storm" deliver some techier-stepped tunes, while heavier, lurching dubs comes from L Nix's "Wormhole", Dead Noise System's "Deus Ex Machina" and Hashkey's "D MA" with its post-dubstep vibe. Dark and snarling.
It's only Jax's second EP to date, but already the producer has instilled a sense of security on our behalf; the young bass producer sounds confident behind the mixing desk and totally capable of carving effective swings of mutant bass. "Cloak" is a pure UK hybrid, never veering too close to fully fledged dubstep, but still retaining a militant, driving sort of step that'll go down with utter ease in any bass rave. "Switchable" is deeper, murkier and more abrasive in its tone, where the bass stabs are sharp and devastating instead dog being warm and meditative.
Long-standing Estonian beat carver Bisweed has cooked up two seriously sweet treats right here. Both generous on the piano and soul dynamics, both cuts are too weighty and widescreen to be filed under the 'deep' banner... "Baby" oozes some class with its humanoid harmony sample swooning us into the night while "Fay" leads on a more dominant jazz piano sample that gradually unfolds into scrumptious summer stepper. Gourmet Beats have gone and got themselves a new head chef right about now.
Here's a meeting of truly forward thinking minds, with Belgian post-trance wunderkind SKY H1 delivering the Motion EP on Visionist's Codes imprint. First heard on the Bala Club's trendsetting recent compilation, this young prodigy is someone we're going to hear a lot more of and she delivers six tracks that have helped her 'deal with...emotions that I couldn't express otherwise' and they will probably do the same for you too. Highlights include the Holy Other-esque airborne witch house of "Air", the Grimes style sedated RnB of "Land" and the mutated emo-pop of "I Think I Am". Breathtaking.
Roska's Kicks & Snares label branches out more and more every time we hear a new release form the label, but this new EP by the young Harry Judda is a stroke of masterclass. "War Bonnet" is a magnetic tech-house banger, the sort of tune you see people lining up to ask the DJ what it is and where it's from; there's nothing complicated to it, it's just a deeply effective slice of four-to-the-floor. The Roska remix deviates away from house but the tune itself is a pounding killer of a bass tune, boasting one of the best baselines we've heard from the man. What an EP - highly recommended!
Foundation Audio is more of a hub for new and innovative bass talent, rather than a label with a single, unifying agenda. Newcomer Gleb Choutov is recruited for the label's 23rd outing, and this guy instantly gets his point across thanks to four sweltering licks of low frequencies. "Restlicht" is a jagged pool of square waves and brittle, decomposing drums, but "Subwerk" finds a more concrete shape thanks to its dubwise bassline riding low. "Fensterios" unfolds its glitchy percussion over deep, meditative sonics, and "Neuschnee" ups the tempo by unleashing cavernous moulds of bass amid fluttering drums and echoing percussion. Big tings.
Endgame has released some pretty killer music on some pretty killer labels thus far, but this new EP for London's legendary Hyperdub is a step up. That is not to say that the music he released before was any less good than these three bangers, but this is Hyperdub-approved, as we're sure you'll understand. "Felony Riddim" sets the scene for an EP that is trapped in its own singular web of bass, a raw and adventurous style that is hard to describe due to its multi-faceted nature and aggregation of sounds. If you're into juke, grime, bassline and dubstep, then this will tick all the boxes because it merely uses those genres as a blueprint for something much darker and more cerebral.
Noble by name, gnarly by nature; Southpoint's latest fam member lays down a delightfully angular stepper with a precision kick/snare arrangement and fine-tuned tubular bass tones. Ideal for instrumental grime DJs or MCs looking for beat to vibe on. Remix highlights include Dubzta's string twist, Distinkt's stripped back paranoia jam, KXVU's rifle-like double ups and drum chops and Drax's wave pool splashdown.
Bristol badman Kahlil returns to Hench with two more thugged out bass bombs. "I'm Ready" flexes with big dog growls, atonal bass spirals and sweet switches into smooth hip hop before dropping back into the madness. "Radiant" is all about the bassline. Stretched inside out with a unique texture and underpinned by an animated tripletty backbone, it's an instant riot from the long-time Hench affiliate.
Exclusives
SORROW - Arisen (Shinigrim) - exclusive 26-07-2016
FLOWDAN - Disaster Piece (Tru Thoughts)
PORTISDUB - Portisdub (DIgital 6) - exclusive 31-12-2016
Exclusives
VARIOUS - Project Allout Records Volume 1 (Project allout) - exclusive 31-12-2016
JAX - Cloak (Sure State) - exclusive 31-12-2019
GLEB CHOUTOV - Neubauten (Foundation Audio) - exclusive 31-12-2016
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