Reviewed this week
In 1990 rave legends Rat Pack sang 'I can feel another rush coming on...' While no one can prove this, we suspect they were singing about this absolute stamp sesh from Belgian bump thumper Basstripper. Laced with a trippy vocal texture, a shimmering synth texture on the breakdown and a sizzling hot coal bassline, it's definitely worth singing (and dancing) about. Rat Pack never sang about extreme weather but don't let that stop you from hammering "Typhoon". Switchy, bouncy and once again coded with some pretty trippy textures, Basstripper nails it once again.
The man on road AKA Aries is a jungle legend in just about every corner of the UK, his touring with Kelvin 373 is legendary and from all accounts he's the nicest man alive. His album last year was spectacular and now he's back with this, a single featuring remixes from T>I and Unkut who are two producers with serious pedigree. 'Get Some More' is on the upbeat, funky side of the jungle spectrum and it features a gorgeous vocal line and some wicked sampling. The T>I remix essentially takes that and flips it into a dark, pulsating roller with serious brooding undertones and a genuine sense of evil locked away in its depths. Unkut keeps the jungle vibe but injects some more power into its low-frequency notes, making a nice spin on the original. Sick ep and one with something for everyone.
Kanine was one of the breakout acts of 2018, his tune The Shadows dropped in 2017 but propelled him into the big leagues the following year. He has an instantly recognisable style but one which feeds off the current boom in D&B of snarling, jump-up influenced rollers that sound absolutely amazing through a sound system. 'Dubplate Soldier' is his latest, from a forthcoming Elevate Audio compilation, and it packs a huge punch. Beginning with those classic head-nodding drums, the tune quickly flips into a gargantuan pulse of raw low-frequency energy and industrial-sounding grates and groans. One for the Instagram story.
Bangers for breakfast, stinkers for tea... No matter what time you link up with Leaf, he's always cooking up something chronic and full flavoured. Take "Goat", a wonky, creaky weirdo of a tune, that comes complete with a little animal magic. Take those loose and spacious Die-style breaks on "Run The Riddim". Take those evocative, eerie Oriental strings on "Lucky House Grin". Take the rubber ball bass and necksnap bounce of "Hold Up", the croaky toad bass of "Save Meh" and the pranged out sci-fi funk of "Conscious State". In fact take the whole lot because it really doesn't get much better than this. Leaf is killing it right now.
Randall doesn't mess around, so you already know LJHigh is making the right noises just by the very virtue of being on Mac 2. But then you press play and realise this Coventry newcomer doesn't mess around either; the title track "Magic" is an insanely obese roller with a sub so wobbly you consider calling it an ambulance and it's back by three other crucial buzzes; "Scorpion" rattles and stings like an old Bingo Beats record, "Denial" has more of a twisted techy edge with a sultry vocal purring over the top while "Submersed" closes the EP on a creepy note. All waspy in the bassline, subtle in the uplift and percussively perky, it leaves us hanging for more. Don't get high... Get LJHigh.
Fokuz Recordings consistently release some of the best compilation albums around. Their pool of artists is so diverse and so top quality that an assortment of their work is always going to be special, especially when they bring in outside talent like Break and Zero T. Collaborations 2 is what is says on the tin: remixes and other collaborative projects and blimey, it's good stuff. Joakuim's '8am Roller' is the perfect example, a deft piece of piano-based smoothness that rolls out to your heart's content with sultry results, an instant classic of liquid-sized proportions. The Break remix is a welcome addition, as is the steppy yet soulful Zero T remix of Ben Carlos. Another very, very good selection of cuts from the always sublime Fokuz crew.
AC13 is an upcoming artist who is slowly making waves, with a recent feature over on Soulvent Records and a string of sick free downloads on Onyx Recordings. Now, he's landing one of his first original singles and it's a fatty, with two slices of heavy stacks and dark tones that have clearly been heavily influenced by the current sounds of the likes of Serum etc. 'Sensation' uses a classic sample to lure you in with the temptations of familiarity, before flipping to vibe on its head with a deep, growling and subby stepper that fluctuates all over the place with satisfying precision. The flip uses a similar slash identical bass sound but moves the arrangement around, to devastating effect. This guy is one to watch.
The first "Masterworks Legends" compilation saw label boss Danny Worrall giving digital debuts to a whole host of previously vinyl-only cuts. We're not sure whether he's taken the same approach this time round, but the quality of the material remains pleasingly high. Beginning with Dr Packer's hot-to-trot revision of Kiu D's Blaxploitation disco workout "Dynamite", Worrall offers up a swathe of hypnotic, disco-tinged house head-nodders (Ooft's "I Am Love" being a glassy-eyed standout), tasty '80s electrofunk revisions (Woodhead, The Silver Rider, Coutel, his own '80s Child project), thumping disco club cuts (Natasha Kitty Kat, Kiu D, James Rod, Ponchartrain) and sparkling nu-disco box jams (Gradient Logic). If you're looking for more tried-and-tested treats to pep up your sets, you should add this to your cart right now.
Remix time! Walking Dead switch up the stems with a straight up swap between two of its key protagonists. Eazy takes on D-Nasty's "Kapo" first; maintaining that addictive riff, he dives in with big groaning textures on the bass making it feel like it's being dropped on you from a space centre. D-Nasty returns the favour by taking "Time To Kill" to even more murderous plains than it already existed. Croaky.
Ballin' for a little Brawlin'? Look no further as the heavyweight label recruits another epic far-flung V/A collection. First up is a Belgium vs Latvian bounce off as Basstripper and Kenji go mental over a rubber ball bassline. Next we head to Scotland for a gritty tubular burn up from Refrecta while Deuce goes below the belt with a flabby bass swamp stepper "Sudden Death". Last but not least Brighton's Horizon signs the deal off with another bouncy groaner; the happy twanging "Get Down". Glitchin' ain't easy...
Total Science and Jubei releasing a joint single on Metalheadz is about as legendary a combination as you can get, isn't it? The three artists have shaken their heads together and come out with a classic old-school release that relies on a thick sense of rough vibrancy in all areas of production. You can feel the history on this one. 'Reality Check' is the roller of the single and boy, you really can't beat the weight of the drum sounds on this one and the percussion is the main attraction here: rough and ready to roll. 'Redemption' is steppier and more breaksy but no less fluid, with a groaning pulse of a back end and a rave-influenced synth line which contrasts beautifully with the lows. The boys are back.
Stillz is back and oh boy, this release is absolutely top notch. For anyone out there who likes their rollers dark and dirty yet precise and engineered with quality in mind, you'll be into this release. With three originals and a remix by Sensitive, this release is just bursting with quality and if we ran a label, we'd certainly be writing these names down for the future. The title track excels in its simplicity, with all the work being done in a simple yet devastating drum pattern and its relationship to top-notch bit of back end work. The other cuts follow this pattern: stunningly solid drums, fat basslines and arrangements rooted in simplicity, allowing the small details to shine. Wicked release.
Subway Soundz, despite their name perhaps have connotations of footlong sandwiches, manage to put out some of the dirtiest beats in the game. Masker is holding up that mantle with this single, a double-sided weapon with an urban-edge. 'Reflections' featuring Kash is arguably the stronger of the two if only because it has such a satisfyingly solid drum line underpinning it, Kash's menacing vocals inject the urban edge mentioned above and then the drop finished it all off - absolutely sick tune. 'Call Their Bluff' is more along Souped Up lines with its catchy melody and simple arrangement - one of the serum fans.
SL8R aka Connor is one of Manchester's fastest rising 170 talents, a man with an eye for not funny posts on Facebook but also some seriously serious beats. Previously residing over on the darker, more neuro influenced side of the spectrum, he's recently been showing off a penchant for diversity and this single on V sub-label Chronic is a perfect exemplification of that. 'Digbeth Warehouse' is a classic set of Manny vibes and Manny attitudes, a no-nonsense roller that wobbles more than a groom on his wedding day and a track which seems certain to get heads nodding up and down the nation. The flip is of a similar yet slightly more restrained nature and, whilst unlikely to get pulses racing quite as fast, compliments the A-side well and shows off the evolution of SL8R's production prowess. Yes mate!
Mefjus' second album - Manifest - came out last year and was one of the biggest releases of the year, with every inch of the release absolutely dripping with insane sound design and characteristically frenzied tones. The man himself is currently releasing his forthcoming remix album as a series of singles and this is the latest, a double-sided display of technical prowess from Break and Misanthrop. Break's remix of 'Uneasy' is typically top-notch, those Break drums rattle and shake as per usual and the complex simplicity with which he arranges his basslines ties the knot on a hard-hitting piece of work. Misanthrop's contribution is more frenzied yet somehow even more precise, it's synth stabs and jagged edges tear and fold over and over, turning the original into a strange yet improved version of itself. We can't wait for the full album.
As far as dubstep releases go, White Peach have unlocked a gem here as they bring forth one of the most highly anticipated collaboratory 140 projects in recent times. We are truly blessed to hear this four track polypheme come together, as we begin our journey down under with super sidechains and eastern inspired melodies of 'Buried', alongside 'Ghidorah'. Next up, 'Hatchet' wheels into view, stacked with arpeggiated energies and broad Arabic string harmonies, before 'Pariah's spooky textures are let loose for track three. Finally, we finish up with a real kick as 'Tusk' unleashes an array of hypnotic melodies and grizzly sub textures, perfect for setting the dance alight.
Sprechen's latest release is something of a doozy, all told. It comes from font-of-all-musical-knowledge and top notch DJ Bill Brewster, who shares four killer cuts from his personal stash of re-edits. It really is all killer, no filler, with "Love Hard" - a brilliant revision of a spacey, throbbing, tongue-in-cheek classic that dispenses with almost all of the most familiar bits and concentrates on the track's sleazy groove and intergalactic synths - hitting home particularly hard. Opener "Carpet Warehouse" offers more spacey synths, camp vocals and killer grooves, while "SOS" is a near perfect revision of a low-slung, post punk-era dub disco obscurity. Speaking of post-punk era goodness, we'd suggest checking out EP closer "Wide Awake Club", which could well be the strongest edit on a very strong collection of reworks.
V Recordings slide into their 25th year with another Sao Paulo salute as Simplification returns to the label with four absolute stunners; "Analogy" is a pneumatic stepper with crisp punctuated drums and a vibe that nods to the "Untitled Horn" vibe. "Venus" continues the dark cosmic feels as fellow Sao Paulians L-Side join the moody, spacious fray. Elsewhere "Hold On" slips into something slower as we're shown how things are done with space-age 140 breaks while "Free Me" shuts us all down with a swaggering, riff buzzer, all electrified, waspish and devilishly funky. Hold tight.
Heist's annual "Round Up" release, in which label artists remix each other, is becoming something of a tradition. This fifth volume is, of course, every bit as essential as its predecessors. All six tracks hit the spot, though we're particularly enjoying the bumpin', bass-heavy and driving take on Hugo Mari's deep and bluesy "Change Ur Ways" by label chiefs Detroit Swindle, not to mention Adriyano's effortlessly celebratory and swinging revision of the Swindlers' own "Cut U Loose". Elsewhere, Hugo Mari brilliantly joins the dots between tribal house and tactile, loved-up grooves on a stellar rework of Alma Negra's "This Is The Place", while the Kassian revision of Pitto's "You Treat Me Like A Fool" sounds like a 21st century update of Todd Edwards' legendary remix of St Germain's "Alabama Blues".
First out as a 12-inch only release in 2017, this three-tracker from Nebraska, AKA UK producer Alistair Gibbs, packs funked-up fun by the trunkload. 'Drill Deep' has a looping "deep within it" male vocal sample, brass fanfares, a full-phat bassline and soaring Philly strings. 'Instant Pressure' is a hazy, lazy affair that centres around a muffled, throbbing bassline and chunks of the vocal from Jhelisa Anderson's 'Friendly Pressure' (albeit without the "bada-bada-ba" bit), and finally 'Keep On Keepin' On' is a sumptuous midtempo disco-funker that could've beamed straight in from 1975, complete with full female vocal about suffering in the ghetto.