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07 Mar 11
Review: Darren Cunningham returns to the business of releasing records for the first time since his superlative 2010 long player, Splazsh. Releasing on Instra:mental's NonPlus for the second time, almost a year to the day since his first release on the imprint, Actress drops two tracks of his idiosyncratic brand of his muggy electronica. The thick compression and hazy, undulating Detroit chords on "Harrier ATTK" sees Cunningham once again succeed in creating a dense soundscape in which deft samples and effects-laden instrumentation throb and pulse almost of their own accord. "Gershwin" is by comparison more sketch-like in quality, shorter in length with fuzzy, muffled electro drum programming flung around with reckless abandon beneath dreamy yet distorted and sometimes overbearing synths. For anyone who is a certified Actress fan, this is a no brainer - for the rest of you, we suggest you indulge in this pronto and discover what the fuss is about.
12 Jul 10
14 Jun 10
Played by: Juno Recommends Drum & Bass, Juno Recommends Dubstep, Juno Recommends Leftfield, Instra:mental
Review: Instra:mental's Nonplus imprint are set to unleash US based producer ASC's debut album, Nothing Is Certain next month but first deliver a three track taster of this highly anticipated LP. "Phobos" sets industrial noises and sparse, dramatic tones as its backdrop but entwines electronic grooves and micro samples over the top to create his unusual but wholly captivating sound. "Oort Cloud" drops out into some cosmic, downtempo atmospheres of weightless space before "Matter of Time" explores wind-like sounds and melodies, deep oceans of bass and his intriguing use of Oriental sounding percussion. Once listen to this will have you holding your breath for July's LP.
27 Aug 12
Review: Now exclusively helmed by Boddika now that his Instra:mental cohort Jon Convex has moved on with his own Convex Industries imprint, Nonplus enters a new phase of its existence. Those worried that the change in management will mean a dip in quality should rest easy however, as the veteran Canadian producer Basic Soul Unit is tapped up for one of his best releases to date. There's no bells and whistles with these tracks; "Swept Up" revolves around a raw breakbeat and rugged analogue one-note bassline, giving way to a wash of pulsating filtered chords and deep melody, while "Mindstorm" utilises muffled percussion and a sludgy but frenzied acid line, but there's no denying the craftsmanship on display. Not many producers can create techno that's satisfyingly deep and has industrial rhythmic tendencies, but this release positively nails it.
28 Mar 11
Review: No sooner have we recovered our vocabulary skills from waxing lyrical about the Instra:mental album sampler which followed Boddika's crucial induction to the Swamp81 range of excellence, and Al Bleek drops this! "You Tell Me" will be familiar to patrons of the Boiler Room in recent months, with everyone from Oneman to Pearson Sound delighting in the inherent sonic creepiness of the track. Typically intricate beat programming lays the foundations for an increasingly fractured synth lines that split with schizoid volatility as the track progresses. Totally unique music from Mr Bleek! "Breezin'" forms a nice contrast to the crazed eeriness of "You Tell Me", all crunchy woodblock rhythms, haunting vocal refrains and floating synth lines wrapped in a devilish acid bass finish.
11 Feb 13
Played by: Paul Mac, Nowakowski, Diplo, Juno Recommends Techno, Aka Tell (A.g.trio), Rivet, Trevor Benz, Cosby (Car Crash Set)
Review: The first of two samplers heralding the forthcoming Nonplus label compilation Think and Change arrives bearing two heavy hitting tracks not to be found on the compilation proper. First up, Boddika & Joy Orbison's Sunklo hit "Mercy" gets the VIP treatment from Boddika; the result is a peak time tool which strips the original down to its barest components but still maintains the juggernaut-like quality of the original. It's joined by a fresh Kassem Mosse track in the form of "Broken Patterns", a typically tough production from the Bosse which combines and endlessly stomping 4/4 rhythm with cascading string plucks and rattling synth textures.
21 Nov 11
UK Funky/UK Garage
Review: Nonplus continue to confound all with their esoteric approach to curation with the debut record from Doubleheart, a collaborative project between Optimo's JD Twitch and bass pioneer Neil Landstrumm. In a year of strong releases from the label, it easily stands out as one of their best; "Salsa" utilises brittle mechanical congas as the rhythmic backbone for the track, but it's the massively oscillating bass and sirens that really make it, being simultaneously huge but also restrained enough to prevent it falling into typical bass tropes. "Ache" meanwhile takes things down a notch with a housier tempo and thick bass slabs which threaten to go into full on acid at times. But it's the echoing vocal fragments and rhythm guitar that fascinate most, joining the dots between the obvious influence of Jamaican dub and contemporary bass.
07 May 12
Review: It seems like you can't move at the moment for erstwhile drum & bass producers experimenting with techno forms, and on this release it's the turn of George Levings, better known to most as Commix, though arriving on Boddika's Nonplus label it isn't quite techno in the strict sense of the word. "Birdhouse" certainly displays some of the rolling rhythmic tendencies and atmospherics of his more familiar genre, but its 130bpm thump has as much in common with Blawan's brooding industrial clatter in tone than anything out of the Metalheadz handbook. The much more languid "DBPLT01" on the other hand lets itself open out slowly like an inky blackness spreading throughout clean water, creating a sinister and all encompassing murk which echoes Kassem Mosse's releases on the same label. In short, another genre smashing essential from Nonplus.
11 Apr 11
Review: Alex Green and Damon Kirkham's debut album has been a long time coming. It follows an action-packed decade that's seen them morph from drum & bass punishers to dubstep fusionists and, more recently, bass music experimentalists. With such experience behind them, it's perhaps no surprise that Resolution 653 is an eclectic set. What's more surprising is the expansiveness of their approach. Within the album's 13 tracks lies glass-clear electronic futurism, brain-warping acid tracks, murky dusbtep, slo-mo 4/4 sweetness, hard edged electro bounce, off-kilter IDM and, naturally, 140 BPM bass bangers. As a summary of where British bass music's at in 2011, it's unsurpassed.
21 Mar 11
Review: Nonplus allow us a peek at what the forthcoming Instra:mental album will sound like and on the evidence of these two tracks it's going to be quite rowdy indeed! "Thomp" was perhaps named in honour of the sensation that hits you as soon as the truly evil juke rhythm finds its place amidst the bass heavy industrial mist. Embellished by loose rackets of percussion, it is a thrilling example of how Instra:mental are always looking to flip the sonic script. Up next is 'When I Dip", a trip into the swift retro electro territory Addison Groove recently explored on Swamp 81, with a brilliant vocal sample battling it out with rough futurist vibes over crisp 808 rhythms.
07 Sep 09
11 Jan 10
01 Aug 11
Played by: Shadow Dancer
Review: After making his debut on Martyn's 3024 imprint, Mr. Convex brings it on home to Nonplus and throws down some more of that grinding electro nastiness. "Radar" starts on a false pretense of strung-out pleasantries before a dirty old bassline bowls in to push and shove with the sizzling beats. It's superb stuff, but "Vacuum States" just about pips it with a more rolling, breakbeat fuelled groove. It's when the first half of the track melts away that things get interesting, tapping into that vintage Braindance feel that has made all the Instra:mental affiliated output of late so much fun.
26 Sep 11
Review: It seems like every time Kassem Mosse puts out a record it contains a surprise. Just when fans of his Workshop releases thought that they had found the creator of the ultimate raw and creaky house groove, Mosse goes and releases wiry acid on Omar S' FXHE as Gunnar Wendel or hooks up with Instra:mental's Nonplus label to become the latest darling of UK bass. Unsurprisingly then, this latest release for Nonplus shows yet another side to the maverick German producer. The title track is the most conventional arrangement here, its acid line droning over heavy claps and a tracky rhythm. "GS02" shows a darker side to Mosse's house work, its stripped back arrangement belching forth malevolent bass licks and eerie synth lines that mysteriously disappear as quickly as they appear, while '"Inswanna" comes across as a middle ground between his house and bass productions. A repetitive stab rides over a bassline that weaves its way in and out of stepping drums, creating one of the most haunting pieces Mosse has made to date. The real surprise however is left until last. "Sleepworking" is so unlike anything he has made that this writer had to double take. Essentially an electro track, the heavy, oppressive bass and shuffling 808s provide the basis for the kind of creeping, niggling acid line last heard on Wagon Christ's Phat Lab Nightmare.
25 Apr 11
Review: Mildly mysterious London trio LOL are an odd proposition. Their sound, in particular, is hard to pin down, coming on like a trip-hop head's take on dubstep-pop after an hour or two in the studio with Instra:Mental. At times, this debut album is mournful and introspective (the guitar-laden "Dare Me", the swirling "VHS"), at others forceful and mildly threatening ("Hello Hell", "Pinch Me"). It's also occasionally scratchily upbeat ("Squeeze Me"), and sometimes sounds like a 21st century bass head's take on Moloko ("Faze Me", "Quarter Life Crisis"). At first, this fusion of styles and influences is slightly unsettling, but Me Me will quickly grow on you. It's certainly a promising debut.
07 Nov 11
Played by: Kid Who
Review: After his excellent Wonderkidd 12", Lowtec returns to Nonplus with three fully realised cuts of wayward grooves. "Coldred" leads the charge with a fairly minimal demeanour underpinned by a disco-esque bassline, before gently bubbling arpeggios fill in the gaps. "Darrynane" however staggers from the off, with clattering beats so loosely arranged as to splinter apart altogether. "Twizel" is possibly the strongest offering, pitching some prime Workshop percussive echoes in amongst dreamy pads and piano hints for six minutes of pristine, eyes-closed, meditative transcendence. For unusual but carefully delivered house music, Lowtec never fails to hit the spot.
25 Feb 13
Review: Building anticipation for the Think & Change compilation, Nonplus present another sampler of tracks not to be found on the compilation proper, and in the case of SCB and Basic Soul Unit, it's very much techno. Ploughing big room dynamics into a bleak and hostile soundscape like only he knows how, Scuba is on fearsome form as he returns to his SCB alias with "Dissipate", letting a slowly rising synth hurtle towards tomorrow, buoyed by a sturdy undercarriage of kick drums. Basic Soul Unit instead opts for an outsider approach, letting vaporous blasts form percussion and the groove to fall at a funny angle. Don't worry though, there's a trusty 303 bubbling away in the middle of the choppy waves.
25 Jul 11
Review: "Exothermic Reaction" has been floating round for around 18 months now without release, perhaps due to Skream's involvement with Magnetic Man. Whatever your feelings on his poppier side project, this release is one of his best under his solo name for a while. The title track has a particularly alienating melodic quality, reminiscent of his classic "Midnight Request Line", but with a more slow building structure, lumbering bass and whip crack snares. Accompanying track "Future Funkizm" is the complete antithesis to "Exothermic Reaction" and every bit as bright as the title suggests. Featuring a neon bassline and synths that sounds almost Daft Punk-esque, Skream weaves this futuristic palette around some seriously tight grooves.
01 Oct 12
Played by: Paul Mac, Joachim Spieth (Affin), Shadow Dancer, Abnormal Boyz, Juno Recommends Techno, Sean Danke
Review: Following strong 4/4 outings from Endian and Basic Soul Unit already on Nonplus this year, Boddika's imprint looks to Sweden for its next release, with one of Skudge's rare appearances outside of their own imprint. Lead track "Fingers" is as simple as techno gets, as peak time chords filter through a strong 909 kick in a fashion reminiscent of Shed's most effective Equalized moments. "Vessel" meanwhile is a more slow burning affair, building up its mechanistic arpeggio over swelling analogue pads and stray claps, combining classic Detroit sci-fi moods with a Berghain scale.
28 Jun 10
Review: Appearing on D Bridge & Instra:mental's acclaimed Autonomic mix for fabriclive, signing to Hotflush, and running a series of successful record labels with long term partner ASC is no mean feat. But that's exactly what Vaccine's done. The bittersweet "Ochre" is full of echoing, anguished male vocals and a poignant intensity. The preoccupation with synaesthesia that we've seen with Joker, Gemmy, Guido and Ital Tek continues once again here, and it's a murky, mustard, earthy hue this time. "Cascade Failure", a more mellow, melodic and contemplative cut, with evocative synths and samples, sees things get even more entrenched in the human psyche and feelings of consciousness. It shows Vaccine is not just a versatile and talented producer, but also very much on top of her game.
11 Mar 13
Played by: Paul Mac, Spec., Alkalino, Juno Recommends Techno, Pablo Contraband (Disco Deviant), Simonlebon, Menorah, Resident Advisor, Cosby (Car Crash Set), Larssen, Jt86, Eats Everything, Dapayk Solo
Review: The Boddika-helmed Nonplus unveil Think & Change, the label's first compilation and what a way to mark such an event. Calling on a cast of the great and the good of contemporary techno and bass music, Think & Change arrives sporting some thirteen tracks, a statement of how far Nonplus has come since its emergence in 2009 as an outlet for the Autonomic family of artists, gradually mutating into a more wide ranging approach, with material from Actress, Kassem Mosse and Basic Soul Unit ensuring a reputation as one of the most respected labels in the bass music diaspora. The highlights on this compilation are many, but you should be checking Four Tet's contribution "For These Times" (easily his best, least fussy club track to date) "Bad Chicago" from Martyn, and Kassem Mosse's excellent "Broken Patterns".