Reviewed this week
As a movement, 1Forty has been seriously impressive since it's conception, consistently putting together impactful releases across both grime and bass. This four track compilation comes as their second in the bass criteria, featuring some serious stormers. We kick off with Sammy Virji's prized wobbler 'Punctuation' before dipping into the lethal growling reeses of Arridim's 'Pirate Radio'. Following this we roll into 'Your Booty', a skippy stuttered dancefloor mauler from Spectrum before rounding off the EP in style as Odd Nature steps forward for 'Battle', a real 4x4 speaker rattler.
Bass doesn't get any better - or warmer - than on the unfailingly on-point Low Pitched imprint, home to some of the best UK breaks and garage in our modern times. They're back on our charts this week, bringing through some utter heat with this new compilation, the wicked Spookz Presents. There's all sorts of banging percussion and piff low frequencies being fired in all directions, including a sublime piece of steppers grime called "Narrow Dust" by Tyrant, along with an endless deluge of dread from the likes of Jook10, Select, Steady State, and Spook himself. If you're looking for a lesson in bass-weight then look no further than this leviathan.
Ozwald touches down on Chow Down for the label's third EP to date, making this also the artist's this release since his debut last year. The vibe here is very much on a 'hybrid' tip, mashing up UK styles with a suave touch, never shy to push the boundaries of grime to their edges. The title track "Money Tree" is a wacky broken beat number with a funky, jazzed-out edge, but the sounds of "Juju" have a lot more in common with early era two-step. "Speaker Bugs" is a fast-paced, teched-out number that adds techno to the already buzzing mix, while "Grinding Tribe" goes on a mad, baseline-house kinda flex, sounding like garage, house and two-step all mixed up into one fiery cocktail. Banging!
Rizzla (real name Brian Friedberg) is a DJ and producer based in Somerville, Massachusetts. His debut album come courtesy of Los Angeles bass heroes Fade To Mind and follows up 2015's Iron Cages - and it has sure been worth the wait. From the jagged and angular exoticism of first teaser "Chainsaw" released a couple of months back, to the bassed-up and bombastic texturisations of "Black Eye" and the pop-inflected bounce of "Be A Boy" (feat. Odile Myrtil) - all in all it is definitely a return to form from this talented producer.
Following his inclusion on Tectonic's landmark 100th release - Riko Dan's 'Hard Food' EP, Sam Walton presents a full length for them. Of all the dubplates in label boss Pinch's record bag over the last few years, the ones that he has selected the most often have Walton's name scribbled on the sleeve apparently. A unique creative statement by the young Mancunian producer, Pinch is very proud to release Black Lotus: which is evident of the 26 year old's 'true talent.
There's no denying the fact the America's Main Course label is now a hotspot for the very best in UK post-step...and our intention is, indeed, to be loose with that terminology as much of the output is made up of non-genre bass experiments - which we dig the most! Newcomer Garneau is the perfect new addition to their catalogue thanks to the producer's ingenious sonic constructions. "Old School", as the name suggests, opens up on a modern rendition of UK hardcore, made more fluid from Garneau's ear, with both "Shake" and "UH" smashing out more fat beats and bleep-centric sounds. "Wants" and "Deep" add an ulterior vibe of joy and decadence via off-beat grooves filtered through a sci-fi vision of the warehouse...
Everybody's favourite post ironic hipster from Split returns to Abjure's Balkan Kolektiv imprint with a feisty four pack of cut up fire; "No Way To Go" plays a mean and moody halftime hustle before breaking into a scatty chop show, "Still Alive" is a no-messing jungle freak out while "Take Me" goes deep and pulverising with a plunging bass tone and Fracture style vocal shreds. Finally we hit the tripped out reverse orchestral melts of "Imma Kill You Man" for a big far murderous crescendo. Happily ever "After"...
Much like Throwing Shade, the sounds of Berlin's Catnapp have a tendency to blend electronic and r&b in fine style. Neo-pop could go some way in explaining it, but we like to talk in technical terms, and the fact that Monkeytown Records have snapped her up is enough for us to feel safe about the prospects of some reliable bass-weight. In fact, although "No Cover" can be enjoyed as a harmless pop tune, almost hummable in its sway and vocal mannerisms, there resides a wicked gust of bass underneath its wings, while "Easy" much more poignantly stars its position as a cold-cut slice of bass music, twisting and falling apart amid harsh beats and distorted vocals from Catnapp herself.
Apart from a trio of self-released EPs, Los-Angeles artist Astronautica has remained loyal - and relevant - to the Alpha Pup imprint. This here is Edrina K. Martinez's fifth outing on the label, coming through in the form of a remix EP that reinterprets her recent LP, Gemini. There's her own version of "Palm Springs", this one being even hazier than the original and a lot more dance-centric, followed by Gypsy Mamba's remix of "*69", a wonderfully off-kilter rendition of the already twisted original - a true example of bass innovation. Toy Light also remixes "Palm Springs", producing what is essentially an ambient-dub version of the original track, and Elusive's take on "PNW" can only be described as deep house for the euphoric. A wonderfully diverse EP from Alpha Pup.
It's Oroboro's debut EP that has landed on the excellent Decisions imprint this week, and it's marked with the pure hybrid-ism that has made UK dance music so important on the world stage. "Heart Valve", for example, is a blend of noxious, futuristic d&b, trance, and something more on the two-step end of the scale, while "Life Drain" fires its breaks off to a cacophonous gust of beats, and "Armed Concrete" chops the beats off in half leaving behind a trail of monstrous bass and aqueous synths. Sci-fi rollin'!
Jack Dunning aka Untold's Pennyroyal continues with a slamming EP from Zeki, the new alias for a familiar and prolific UK producer. Four cuts of ruffian grime/techno hybrids clocking in at 140 BPM. Built to enjoy or deploy loud at your favourite dance. From the wonky bounce of the fittingly titled "Goofy", the sinister minimalism of "Good Friday" and the hypnotic/tunnelling textures of "Organism" - these are some truly intense perspectives on UK music. Following up some great releases after a long hiatus by Guy Andrews, Mylar and J. Tijn.
There is little which Brandon Coleman cannot do, especially when it comes to anything remotely to do with the piano and jazz. The unpredictable producer has only released one album under his name, 2015's Self Taught, so this new single for Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder feels like the right move at the right time. "Giant Feelings" features Patrice Quinn and Techdizzle on the 1s and 2s, with the trio all coming together with a deep, mystical excursion that manages to cross many boundaries within the jazz framework, both rich in beats and movement but also placid enough to make you float high up above the clouds. Excellent stuff.
Los Angeles based bass producer Mershak is up next on French label Jelly Bean Farm - following up some terrific releases by them from the likes of Truska, Sensei and Aerotonin. The artist known to his mother as John Bosson delivers some more low end theories that have landed him releases on tastemaker labels like Surfase and Encrypted Audio. Industry is an extended EP featuring six mighty tracks from the darkside. From the industrial strength groove of "Apochondriac" that sits somewhere between electro, EBM and experimental techno, the UK electro-bass influence of "Technical" calling to mind legends like Bass Junkie & Dexorcist or the funky breaks of "Behind Them" breaking things up with something a bit more light hearted - but still very much serious!
This terrific new EP from Inkke (who helms the label's monthly Rinse FM show) is inpsired by his time living between Glasgow and New York. With previous EPs on Red Bull Studio, Local Action and FWDK Mixtape, the producer known as Russell Paterson to his Mum serves up some impressive modern bass perspectives on the Lil Plasma EP. From the wonky offworld futurism of the title track, the hyperaware and stuttering groove of "Rome" (that's sure heavy enough on the low end) and the smacked out/spooky pulsations of "Incense" proving that Paterson is one of the most exciting talents in UK music at present.
Next up on UK legend Matthew Herbert's new diffusion imprint - it's all about The Drips. The compilation brings the swing and sampling of water to 'produce a soaking wet dancefloor.' Herbert himself provides some superb microhouse on the trippy "The Swamp", Cosmo Sheldrake takes a slight departure from his usual multi-instrumentalist live-looping avant-folk on the bouncy blip, blurp bleep of "Splosh" and Bahraini born, French / US bred and now Edinburgh dwelling Yann Seznec delivers the bombastic "Droplets".
A soundtrack for lazy summer days here courtesy of four hot artists on O*RS - run by Leipzig based DJ and producer Filburt, with Berlin based graphic designer Florian Seidel since 2011. Pandaro aka Bastian Kunau of Chemnitz serves up the emotive acid of "And Then I Knew", Mainz based Daniel Agema & Torso go half-time on the downbeat neoclassical vibe of "Havarie" and Nuremberg's Patrick Jahn goes deep into the cosmos on the psychedelic slo-mo disco of "Paradeasy".
Dehousy is sometimes described as a house producer, but this categorisation is only true in the broadest sense. As "Break", one of the tracks on his new release demonstrates, the French DJ takes a broad, free-wheeling approach to dance music. The result is an irresistibly funky, drum-heavy workout that takes in hypnotic chants, gut-busting bass and centres on a stepping rhythm. "Stage 2" is similarly vivid, with Dehousy throwing Middle Eastern chants and organic percussion into an arrangement that veers from stepping into 4/4s. Rounding off this fine release is Addison Groove's frenetic take on the title track.
Tokyo imprint Diskotopia comes through with some dusty EBM acid from newcomer Messiah Syndrome, a young producer who is all about the post-modernist dance flex. "Your Whole Style" is a banging, hypnotic swarm of hard-edged 303 craziness, loaded and charged with a dark-core bass that has something in common with the d&b sound of the late 90s; "Roses XVI" is no lesser evil, spewing out a similarly bad-tempered techno roll with a distinctive industrial edge. Killahs!
Guido Productions is the alias of Guy Middleton of Bristol, United Kingdom. He heads up State Of Joy in addition to having released on top labels like Punch Drunk and Tectonic. The Unknown EP features some fierce and futuristic expressions in UK bass music. From the abstract beat theory of "Babu Lamu" the sublime title track with its exotic instrumentation and "Would Oud Mind" a jagged grove that is certainly heavy on the low end side of things. For the uninitiated, we would also highly recommened his previous Onward EP, also on State Of Joy.
Altered Roads is the new label of Etch aka Zak Brashill of Bristol. He's again looking down different avenues in terms of sonic diversity, tempo and functionality with disregard for preconception. From the space time continuum of "Lost Orbit" (Chrome Drum VIP), the jagged and angular groove of "Beggars Belief' (which is a distant cousin of Etch's 2015 release on Wisdom Teeth 'Toxin") plus the dusty and bombastic breaks of "Paging Dr. Octagon" creating a feeling of tension and suspense - this is perfect mood lighting for early evening dancefloors.
Exclusives
INKKE - Lil Plasma EP (LuckyMe)
BRANDON COLEMAN - Giant Feelings (Brainfeeder)
PANDARO/DANIEL AGEMA & TORSO/THE MICRONAUT/PATRICK JAHN - Karolina (O*RS)
Exclusives
RAHSAAN NOVA - The Lost Afrikan (Duality Research)
GUIDO - Unknown (State Of Joy)
ETCH - Altered Roads Vol 2 (Altered Roads)
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