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: Joey Negro's Z Records have a remarkable knack for knocking out vintage compilation after vintage compilation. Here though, they've really discovered a rare niche of unmined gold courtesy of Nuphonic's David Hill who acts as selector. As Hill explains "gospel music has often followed trends in secular music" and this album captures 24 attempts of gospel getting on the disco and boogie trains. Highlights include the hiNRG longing of "I Need You", the electro-soul of "Love Is The Message" and the piano & strings frenzy of "Awake O Zion".
Review: The rule of three... In maths it describes the way of finding a number in the same ratio to a given number as exists between two other given numbers. In writing it's a structuring principal that leads to a more effective message of punchline. In drum & bass it means a sick new EP on Total Science's CIA. Ironically it's a from a duo and it's four tracks long but that hasn't stopped the Bristol pair running amok through the styles; the bubbling, Bingo Bass style funk of "So Addicted", the creepy graveyard funk of "Ghouls", the spine-melting break-ravaged "Bounty" and the tunnelling dubby synths of "Rule Of Three". Rules are made to be broken.
Review: Joey Negro's Soul Of Disco series has always been a great source of forgotten disco gems for those who like their dance music rich, stringy and soulful. This third two-disc selection from the Z Records boss is no different. For disco diggers, there's plenty to enjoy, be it the rich, horn-drenched instrumental grooves of Board Of Directors' "Hanging Tough", the raw, clavinet groove of Loi's "Body Contact" or the wobbly synth bass and perfect percussion of Phenomenal's "One Two Three". With a smattering of bonus re-edits from Joey Negro himself for those who like their grooves a bit more DJ-friendly, The Soul Of Disco 3 is nigh on essential.
Review: This second full-length from London-based producer Soloman 'Silkie' Rose - the follow-up to 2009's City Limits Volume 1 - further develops a deep and melodic take on dubstep that should appeal far beyond the genre's underground stronghold. With bright melodies, jazz chords, ear-catching synths, sampled horn stabs and future garage style vocal cuts aplenty, City Limits Volume 2 has far more in common with, say, the far-thinking two-step exploits of Phuturistix or Hospital Records' genre-bending Outpatients series than most dubstep full-lengths. But it's these qualities that make it such a rewarding, enjoyable and essential release.
Review: Oh gosh. Total Science ante up for the summer with this exceptional V/A EP on their CIA imprint. Kicking off with a crucial new remix of their classic "Nosher" by their new hybrid gang comprising themselves, DLR and Hydro, full breadth and variation abounds as we dip into the gilded soul of Zero T & Phase's "Talk To Me", the gnarled grizzles and dubby danger of their own "Devil's Gate" with Scar member Script and the grand finale; a heavyweight purring roller from two of the most respected newcomers in the game right now: Ill Truth and SATL. Each one a persy for different chapters of the night, any further information is classified.
Review: New Zealand trio Truth come up with a superlative contribution to one of the premiere dubstep labels, Deep Medi Musik. In the same vein as DMZ, Kryptic Minds et al, "Amnesia" is a half-stepping nightmare vision full of psychological twists, vintage film samples, ominous atmospherics and crackling SFX. Perfectly poised, it maintains the intrigue right until the end, unerring in approach. "International" on the other hand, kicks off with a more jovial tone, featuring rattling breaks, xylophone beats and curious jungle flavours, the rallying reggae sample calling out above the beats. A fantastic release and an essential for die hard dubstep fans.
Review: Truth steps up with two superlative half-stepping riddims on the Tempa imprint, which really put the dub back into dubstep. First up is the evocatively entitled "Dreams" featuring a gloriously enticing wailing vocal from Yayne in the intro. We are sucked into the main tune as if hypnotized by the warm, murmuring bassline and clip clop beats and bubbling SFX. "Last Time" continues in a similarly dark and mysterious vein, but with more snapping snares, clipped sounds, rolling atmospherics and an insistent drive throughout the track. Utterly excellent from start to finish.
Review: Mala's Deep Medi Musik imprint hasn't put a foot wrong in 2011 with some weighty relentless steppahs from VIVEK and Tunnidge getting the collective thumbs up from the Juno review staff. The label maintains the momentum here - finally unleashing the VIP version of Truth's 09 pressure "Fatman"! Fatalist dread vibes abound though it's the crushing weight of the sub bass that truly captivate. Truth complements this update with "Dreams Never Come True" which churns through heavily chopped machine rhythms and left of centre sampledelica with dizzying ease - making for a track that is probably difficult to dance to, but easy to appreciate!
Review: Stepping away from their diligent Deep Dark Dangerous development, Truth return to the mother label with four seismic slabs of sub-soaked deepness. "Jade Helm" is a wandering swagger jam that's given character and life from subtle chime trembles, "Sound Killah" is one of those mid-track game changers when the bassline suddenly switches up with real pensive menace. "With Us" marches forth into a stark dystopian future, our scant feelings of hope raising as the drum rolls really tense up on the breakdown. Finally we hit the EP's title track; a rolling, percussion-heavy cut laced with ghostly prayer horns and shimmering skanks. Superb.
Review: Not content with absolutely smashing the game with their Deep Dark & Dangerous label this year, Truth return to one of their strongest spiritual homes: Deep Medi Music. Naturally they're packing some serious sentiments: "Lion" is a pounding roller that chugs with an industrial strength toxic bassline and demonic call from Teklife's Taso. "Messages" flips the situation for a much lighter, mystical and spatial exploration with fluttering break echoes and unhurried, yearning chords. Finally we're knocked seasick by the slobbering kicks and boa-like bass of "Ruffneck" which doesn't so much as live to up to its name but sets a new benchmark in dangerous, knife-edge ruffneckism. Powerful frequencies.
Review: For this awesome project, the team at Strictly Breaks have got together an absolute gem of a roster to put together a show stopping 25 track breakbeat compilation. Traversing the entire breadth of an already widened genre, we hear everything from the heavily soul inspired 'The Prophet' from Glover Crockett And Glover to the more directly blues orientated 'Maverick Woman Blues' from Moloch. Our favourites right from the beginning have to include the rock n roll rhythms of Cooking On 3 Burners with 'Real Life Baby' and of course the heavily percussive based compositional creations of 'Hurt & Fire' from Franco Crescenzo.
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: More vintage sampled classics from the crew who do it best, Strictly Breaks. This time round they're concentrating on obscure '70s soul joints that all ended up being sampled left, right and centre. As always these albums work simply as solid collections of good songs too, highlights including the Otis Redding-style Southern RnB jam of "I Tried It And I Liked It", the brassy cop show swagger of "Butter Nut" and the amazingly-titled "Fondle Rock".
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.
Review: Sentry Records has put together some serious releases over the last few years, showcasing the latest and greatest in dubstep and its surrounding genres. We are therefore introduced to and absolutely storming compilation here as we reel off bangers from the likes of dubstep legends such as Caspa, Truth, Sukh Knight, Youngsta and more. For us, the highlights of this incredible compilation are quite clear, kicking off with the stunning production of 'Judas' from Nomine, who brings forward his uniquely metallic sound design on mass. Another absolute heater we couldn't forget is the spooky yet satisfying 'Crocodile' from Dayzero, packed with wicked drum flavours and haunted overtones.
Review: They say that the devil has all the best music, but some would say that Immoral have him well and truly beat. Here they present 16 of them, with highlights of these fresh cuts including the ominous synthwork on "Shake That Ass" by Dark Truth, the buzzy low end thrust of "The Heist" by DJ Jayne and the tropical laser-fest "Three Sided" by LDFR. Lucifer who again?
Review: Following on from last year's incredibly popular instalment, Shogun Audio have brought back Point of Origin for a third time. This series emphasises the rolling, minimal-ish side of the scene from some younger, more hungry producers and boy, is it a good formula. Exemplifying this is Revaux with 'Ibex', probably the nastiest tune on the album and arguably the best, as its crunching bass tabs inject fantastic groove. Rizzle and Malaky add something more sultry with 'Solstice' and 'Requiem', the former focusing on the vocals of Sydney whilst the latter opts for a more instrumental roll-out. Gerra & Stone represent the old guard amongst the newbies, holding up their end with a growling amalgamation of low-frequency force. This is an exquisite album of D&B, with every corner covered and every flavour recognizable - special props going to Shogun for supporting new talent as well.
Review: Straight outta Toulouse! Vandal Records celebrate 15 years with this serious statement: 17 tracks of some of the most forefront, innovative and exciting drum & bass from an on-point selection of trusted lifers and the most exciting new-gen names in the game. Highlights can be found on pretty much every track but you'd be mad not to check Rizzle's evocative and eerie "Ether", Was A Be & Synth Ethics' high voltage "Roughmouth", Nymfo's tense groaner "Semantics" or the twisted techno-like stab-whirlwind "Semantics". And that's just the tip of this on-point D&B iceberg. Some anniversary albums celebrate the past; this celebrates Vandal's future.
Review: Here, digital DJs get a rare chance to own a slew of previously vinyl-only plates from Mala's Medi Musik imprint. Deep Medi Releases 3 continues the format of its two predecessors, including cuts from 12" singles released in 2008 and 2009. For fans of good quality dubstep, it's well worth a look. While there's the odd intense dancefloor wobbler (Goth-Trad's busy "Saturn", Skream's "The Shinein"), there's also plenty of depth, melody and beauty amongst the trademark low-end pulse. Look out in particular for a pair of luscious, emotion-rich cuts from Quest, a pleasing bleep-fest from Truth, and Clouds' brilliantly far-sighted "Protecting Hands" - here available in two stunning mixes.
Review: Brooklyn-based bass dealers Tuba blow their sub trumpet with a rich collection that spans their impressive history so far. Ranging from the meditative steps and jazz shimmers of Subreacher's "Future Target" to the techy breakbeats, sub-soaked steps and dreamy breakdown of D-Operation Drop's "Origami" via the ghostly, cavernous resonance of Below's self-title nightmare soundtrack, Tuba have curated a fine selection that represents their clear and confident contributions to the ever morphing and mutating dubstep sound. If you've not picked up on any of these yet, now is most certainly the time!
Review: What a release this is. Coming from the vaults of Break, it's unsurprising that Symmetry's summer compilation has turned out to be such a standout collection of tracks, I mean just look at that tracklist: Lenzman, LSB, Break and more. Break's 'I Need You' has been doing the rounds in mixes and sets for a little while now and it's great to see it released, the simplicity of the sample and structure is shows that less can often be more and Break is the king of finding that balance. Lenzman's remix of Ill Truth's In My Soul is a well-made rework of an already fantastic original, its revamped drums injecting the Amsterdam flavour. Again, simple is best and this release proves that.