Four slabs of thoroughbred soundsystem dubstep from Londoner Alive on Dubtribu: "Stepping" sets the tone with its molten low-end creating an ultimately funky, slippery experience, "Murda" follows and is more on the straight-up dungeon business flex with big dubby echoes on the stabs and rim shots. "Native Wolf" develops both themes with a rolling drum arrangement and a vocal textures that becomes an overwhelming foggy lead element before the buried, muddied skanks break through the thick mists. Finally we hit "Sensi Dub". A lighter exploration of contemporary dub, the reflective light shimmers from every processed guitar strum while the strings ooze cinematic drama with subtle but persistent charm. Complete with a VIP of "Native Wolf", this ticks myriad boxes.
Over two years of solid, low-end ploughman banquets, Krease's USV come correct with their debut compilation. Rather than bombard us with past echoes or unnecessary fluff, they've curated eight brand new originals from some of the label's (and the deeper side of the scene's) most respected players. Each contributor thinking, looking and behaving as future as possible, the whole collection is a document on dubstep's perennial creative potential when conjured in the right hands: Gaze Ill's rolling techno chimes on "Vertical", Chad Dubz's broad-drum spaciousness on "Class A", Krease's cosmic star-gazing synths and gutter-licking bassline on "TruStep" are just three examples of Under Surveillance's constant search for newness in the shadows
Following their official debut with Oldgold, Sure State up the ante with a two-track bass tornado from Cincinnati-based Sub:Lvl affiliate Kaiten. "Poltergeist" is well measured slice of darkness laced with deep breath textures, ghostly synthetic stretches and a lava bassline that refuses to sit still. "Righteous Dub" takes us deeper into the night with a bassline-focused groove and DJ Madd-style dub vocal echoes piercing the dense low end fog with vibrancy. Another solid release from a label that's shaping up with serious sonic promise.
Danish dub dons Surfase celebrate their 25th release with a walloping 24-track refresh session that brings everyone up to speed on two years of monthly dispatches. All their decorated contributors are present and correct: RDG, G Double, Gaze Ill, Subtle Mind and many more. Highlights include the swooning strings and rattling drums of Server's "Boxing", Subreacher's chest-crushing bass wobbler "The Machine" and RDG's insanity work out "It's All In Your Mind". It's not in your mind, though... This is as real as it gets. Here's to another 25 killer releases.
The third instalment of Hotflush's compilation series drops and it's a seven year flashback to the label's most fractured, far-minded roots as Scuba's label explores their foundations on the fringes of bass and left sided echelons of dubstep. Cuts like Jamie Vex'd's almost p-funk level of bullishness on "Twitch", the loose jazz drums of Elemental's "Sparkle", even looser jazz horns of Jazzsteppa's still-filthy "Two" and Si Begg's baggy, bulbous rhythm on "Angel" represent Hotflush's consistent surges past the very forefront of the once-burgeoning genre, joining the dots and helping make sense of the stern techno cityscapes the label constructs today.
Warp Scotsman Rustie gets epic on this sudden one-tracker. Its vibrancy and technicolour flavour shouldn't surprise in the slightest but the unfettered epicity of the hook is his boldest yet. Giving the EDM guys a run for their money, he shows us how big riffs and euphoria are done from his perspective. Massive in every sense.
Far-out visions from NYC; Sobie returns with two beautiful pieces of deepness. "Will Power" uses a poignant spoken word sample as the doorway into a dark, spacious world full of whirring and whirling designs that have been crafted with the due diligence and detail we've come to expect from Sobie. "Hollow" takes us deeper into his world as the smooth subs become a lot more sinewy and electrified like pulses, buzzing away under lavish jazzy chords and stumbling beats that develop momentum with every bar. For added refreshment take a sip from Morning High's remix; adding brighter pads and more kicks, it flips the original will full respect. Another essential Zip Sounds saga.
Spooky develops his relationship with progressive US grime flagbearers Slit Jockey furthermore with a tasty portrait of timeless bass. Full bounce material over a halftime rhythm, the low end licks like an over-familiar puppy, leaving no area dry. As fruity as its name suggests, "Peach Melba" will satisfy the heartiest of dubstep appetites.
Mean Street bossman Trends lays down two contrasting examples of his abilities with precision: "Pump It Up" is a straight up nod to UKG's boldest era with vicious two-steps and a powerful funk sample that will unite everyone in a five mile radius. "Virus", meanwhile, is an all-out emotional affair with rich strings, touching chord changes and a smoky halftime beat all tied together with a waspy acid sine. Stunning.
Emerging London duo Tomb step up with a fruity Greenmoney mission... And, like all the best fruit bowls, they mean multi-flavoured business from the off. "Grapes" is a nagging bassline-led groove that's reminiscent of Spooky's work but with less UKG and triplet influences, "Kiwis" is essentially bleep techno wearing a dubstep tracksuit while "Cherries" is a wonderfully clattering house hybrid driven by big live drums and expertly diced vocals. Finally we hit "Mangoes", a Jamie xx style sleazy beats jam, all spacey, smouldering and soaked in processed vocal rhythm devices. Nutritious.
Last spotted on Deep Heads back in February with his loose, classic dub-minded remix of Zeb & Rowl's "All That You Are", Ash Walker takes the honour of being the first artist to release a full EP on the London label. His sound lends itself to the extended playing format (or album, even) as we're treated to an odyssey of organic attitude: from the lolloping bass and yearning melodica of "Round The Twist" to the dreamy flow of Segilola's vocals on "Bamboo Circus" by way of the sweet brushed drums and far-away early-Bonoboist pianos on "They Do Not Know Yet", Ash Walker is a kind reminder of dubstep's natural roots and its relation to a much broader world of organic music.
Got a lighter? Then get ready to raise it. Haven't got a lighter? Start smoking... Koven most certainly are with this brand new EP. Stadium bass enriched in emotion, Max and Katie showcase their broadest abilities across four tracks here: the smouldering halfstep yearns of "From The Start", the bright, breezy Kove-like D&B tones of "One's Own", the Olympic-level lover's theme "Get This Right" and the slower, swinging ebbs and flows and orchestral dynamics of "Lasting"... Each cut comprising their widest screen portrait to date. Essential for those special tingly moments every good set necessitates.
Publically spirited soundboy Civiliansound lets rip with a full-spectrum five-piece on Sublimated: "Blue Notes" is all about the lonely pianos floating like flotsam on oceanic sub waves while "Warrior" develops the rootsy colours of the US producer's canvas with a rolling groove that's primed with a beautiful fretless bass lick. Deeper into the journey we hit "Bring It Down", a spacious syncopated-rhythm jam where the drums and pads tell two different tales that intertwine as the groove develops and "Soothsayer" which is straight-up digidub delight thanks to its steppy drums and tightly plucked skanks. Finally we hit "Dusk Till Dawn" a drum homage that positions our full emphasis on the percussive spectrum before thundercloud pads roll in and bring heavy sonic weather to the rhythmic landscape. Nothing to be blue about here.