Review: Chestplate and Artikal = Chestikal. If that doesn't already grab your attention then the fact that it's Distance and J:Kenzo on two massive collabos and the tunes are every bit as smoking, spacious and sick as you'd like them to be most certainly will. "The Offering" is a pure swaggering jam with rasping, distorted basslines striking through anything and everything in their wake. "Dhyana" offers sublime contrast with a much deeper, smokier blend of mystical atmospheres, roomy drums and an eerie eastern call that will have your skin up in so many goosebumps you might just grow feathers. Big up your chestikals.
Review: Champion of dark, tough and considered dubstep, Distance provides the latest instalment in the much loved Dubstep Allstars mix series. It's fairly typical fare from the Chestplate boss man, with tough steady rhythms underpinned by that particularly distorted kind of bassline. There are a number of highlights, most notably Commodo's "Surveillance" which has a rolling break woven into the mix. Cyrus' "Looking Back" also impresses as it purrs away with a gorgeously warm, rich synth line. The biggest surprise is probably Distance's own remix of trance bods Above & Beyond. It's certainly as 'big room' as you'd ever imagine Distance getting!
Review: A split release from the Tuba imprint, with Britain's J Kenzo sharing the honours with San Francisco's The Spit Brothers. Having an exceptional year so far, with big releases like "Stomp", "Tropic Thunda" and "Ruckus" already under his belt, J Kenzo carries on the good form with the moody dub of "Nocturnal Feelings" - a starkly bare dubstep/UKF fusion with some evil stutter bass and urgent percussion hits keeping things nice and driving for the floor. The Spit Brothers' "Beg To Differ" comes in on a very similar vibe, with woozy textures and a halting, threadbare beat leaving plenty of space in the mix and giving it an enjoyably sinister slant. Two very deep and very cool tunes indeed.
Review: 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.
Review: J Kenzo returns to Tempa for a third round of heady dubstep of the old school variety. Using the standard dubstep toolkit to create something that is more than the sum of its parts, "Invaderz" is paranoid stuff, creating an oppressive atmosphere with its lurching bass. "Depth Charge" is more of the same finely sculpted half-step, with a searing bass that gets right under your skin.
Review: Ahead of the massive Architects Volume 1 album, featuring some of Artikal's most innovative creators, bossman Kenzo drops his first original since last year's jungle damagers on ThirtyOne. "Cross Polarity" sees an endlessly shifting bassline slipping and sliding between evolving drum patterns before diving naked into a deep pool of ageless elements that's deeper than a late night whiskey with Hawkin. A taste of things to come and a reminder of why J:Kenzo is an absolute monster at the controls.
Review: Dubstep is well and truly back into the conversation when it comes to popular UK underground music. Over the last few years J:Kenzo has cemented himself as one of the UK's top names through his own releases, his regular appearances on Rinse.FM and the heading up of the infamous Artikal Music imprint. Here we see him return to the fray with two absolute belters. On the A-Side we have 'Shark Eye', a gritty monster that has been highly anticipated for release for a long time. On the flip we hear a super swingy piece of electronic sound design entitled 'Asutoraru' which makes a great accompaniment! If he continues on this type of form, 2018 is looking to be a very exciting year for Mr Kenzo.
Review: Now many have guessed that this one has been in the works for a while, but that makes us no less excited to unveil this tasty new album projct from J:Kenzo, who returns to his home imprint of Artikal Music for 'Taygeta Code'. From start to finish, the album is a true exploration into electronic music, primarily of course focussed around 140BPM. It's got bass pressure on 'Desired State', it's got acidic originality on 'Hoodwinked', it's even got a weighty guest vocal from the legendary Flowdan who returns on Kenzo's Darkside VIP mix of 'Like A Hawk'. This is an excellent showcasing of J:Kenzo's ability within a crowded dubstep scene.
Review: This is a release we were dying to get our teeth stuck into as the legendary Artikal Music imprint welcomes home J:Kenzo for a fantastic new single, alongside the man himself: Flowdan. The pair join forces for a wicked new creation which takes the name of 'Like A Hawk'. You can tell that this is a track that has been created to send the raves into a frenzy, as J provides a stunning steppers backdrop, over which we hear the legendary vocal presence of Flowdan let loose, with classic, gritty lyricism and aggy flow patterns. The release also comes complete with a J:Kenzo 'Darkside' VIP, which sends the track even further into a new dimension.
Review: It's hard to think of a time when Jubei wasn't ubiquitous. Truth be told, it wasn't until 2010 that his blend of crisp, popping percussion and bubbling bass got widely accepted by the general D&B consciousness, but now here we are. Releasing on home label Metalheadz, this double-sider takes no chances from the outset, pushing straight in with old-school cinematic waves of colour between big, bold clouts of finely-tuned percussion. Working with J Kenzo on the flip, expect deeper dubstep sounds with a techy twist. Nicely does it.
Review: For this mighty selection, we see Mystic State land on the incredibly impressive Artikal Music imprint for another absolute shellout, this time consisting of two tasty solo pieces and two corking collaborations. The title track 'Tomahawk' makes the most of a twisted, eastern-sounding string line, pressed between moogy bass plucks and crispy percussive elements to match. Next up, the VIP mix of Hemisphere is unleashed, jam packed with neurotic bass twists and sharp drum patterns. We then move into the remixes, as the legendary J:Kenzo joins the party for the sub-heavy expressions of 'Competition', before JFO's additional input on 'Cuatro' wraps the EP up with some serious sauce.
Review: We've been waiting for this since Doc Scott fired up his old ThirtyOne machine just over a year ago. A 24-track collection of stone cold exclusives, this bucks any expectations of the label and its remit and celebrates the very best creativity in all shades of drum & bass. Littered with the best names in the game (Calibre, Nucleus & Paradox, Bungle, Loxy & Resound, Scar, Marcus Intalex and many many more), each cut pushes the bass and riddim envelope with stark, uncompromised creativity and production muscle. The ultimate document of where the best D&B is at, this is nothing short of essential.
Review: Whether it's as a performer, a producer or a label head honcho, J:Kenzo has never done things by halves, so Artikal's debut long player was always going to be special. 15 exclusive cuts from the label's talented family and friends, this collection of contributions doesn't just document where bass music is at, but where it's heading. Each track is a highlight in itself, but it's cuts like the slinky hypnotic groove and cosmic congas of TMSV's "Scorpion", Sleeper's star-gazing, dub-drenched sub science of "Coxsone Dub", Skeptical's lesson minimalism and aggy restraint ("Skavenger") and Eshone's treacle-like dirge "Qualia" that really represent the depth, scope and vision of Artikal. Designed for the dance, arranged so well it works as an entire listening experience, Artikal don't do things by halves.
DJ Madd - "The Life You Chose" (Distance remix) - (4:38) 140 BPM
Stinkahbell - "Film Noir" - (5:37) 140 BPM
Sleeper & Thelem - "Arrakis" - (5:15) 140 BPM
Kryptic Minds - "The Divide" - (5:32)
Various - "This Is Dubstep 2013" (continuous DJ mix - part 1) - (1:13:24) 140 BPM
Various - "This Is Dubstep 2013" (continuous DJ mix - part 2) - (1:09:30) 140 BPM
Review: Sixth in the series, This Is Dubstep is one of the more comprehensive, on-point series the scene has given us (ie: many!) Across the 40 tracks every single shade is covered; from rave-tinged (Noisia's remix of "Smack My Bitch Up") to all-out technicolour bass (Drumsound & Bassline Smith), This Is Dubstep 2013 pays respect to all corners of the dance - including the really far-out experimentations of Mala and his Cuban project. With exclusives such as V.I.V.E.K's "Barcelona" and Killawatt's "Single Entity" thrown in for good measure, this isn't just a summary of today's dubstep; it's a slice of the future too.
Review: No other label can rep dubstep like Tempa. Many would argue it was the first label to truly herald and nourish the sound. Here they explore their vaults and dust off some of the most genre-defining, idiosyncratic tracks that have helped shape the phenomenon we know today. From SPMC's paranoid murker from 2008 "Trust Nobody" to a whole series of Skream sessions such as "WTF", "Wibbler" and "Vacillate", the collection is a reminder of how influential Tempa has been, how talented their roster has always been and, most importantly, how slamming and stimulating dubstep can be when nourished and developed by the right label. Recognise.
Review: As January nears its bitter end, it seems this the time to release mega compilation albums. AEI, the company behind Get Darker, UKF and D&B Arena unveil their next project: Get Darker Presents: This Is Dubstep 2012. And what an album it is. Bringing in all the flavours of contemporary dubstep, it succeeds in providing a sweeping panorama of an increasingly fractionalized scene. From the deeper sounds of Author, VIVEK, Kryptic Minds, Icicle & Distance and Phaeleh, through material from scene pioneers such as Horsepower Productions, Skream and Benga, to the more aggressive sounds of Gemini, Flux Pavillion, 16 Bit and Nero, it's all covered. A brilliant "who's who" of dubstep in 2012 - highly recommended.
Review: Reviewed By Duploc:
Today we're inspecting the construction site of Artikal Music UK's next project. Founder J:Kenzo employed eleven professional and highly skilled architects to carefully design, build and create a handcrafted compilation full of music he admires. As J:Kenzo explains: "The tracks included were filtered through from artists that have previously released on Artikal or have some connection with myself either being played on my Rinse FM shows or live sets". Considering the quality of each and every track, only two years of fabrication to finish off this product is remarkably short. Volume One of "The Architects" reflects J:Kenzo's refined taste in dubstep and drum and bass. On the 2 x 12" record, you'll find some absolute masterpieces from amongst others D-Operation Drop, Causa, Compa, Argo, DubDiggerz and J:Kenzo himself. The Architects' series, a yearly showcase filled with content from the label's artists plus VIP and remixes as well as bringing through new talent, will make the foundations of dubstep shake undoubtedly.
Review: Let's just list the amount of stone cold bass OGs on this collection: Krust, dBridge, Om Unit, Danny Scrilla, V.I.V.E.K, Von D, Moresounds, AU, Oris Jay & Chris Innersound and whole load more of soundsystem culture's most innovative craftsman working at the deepest levels of the low end coalface all feature on this immense and forward thinking document. Including the curator Amit himself. Every track is a highlight, each one and abyssal, immersive experience but essential highlights include the toxic bass bounces of Moresounds' "They Can't Handle It", the 23rd century UKG of Oris and Chris's "They Can't Handle It" and Krust's big screen masterpiece "Escape From Finland". Amit deserves a holiday. Or a massive trophy. Or both. Bass compilations don't get much bigger than this.
Review: 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.
Review: Om Unit takes it to the bridge once again. His label's first V/A collection since its evergreen Cosmology Sessions in 2017, it's another vast plane ripe in sonic depths and textures from some of the most left-minded, boundary-fusing captains in the bass game. Featuring two crucial link-ups from the bossman himself with two kindred spirits Djrum and Synkro plus a whole cosmic cornucopia of voyages from the likes of Danny Scrilla, J:Kenzo, Vromm and stacks more, every track is a highlight in its own beguiling way. No label flares with the same levels of dark vitality, there's more than enough for our brains to chew on right here.