Reviewed this week
2017 has been an incredible year for Zha's White Peach imprint, with a plethora of high profile releases hitting stores at regular intervals. The latest in this impeccable line comes from Bristol's own; Bengal Sound. The title track is a work of art, with heavily swung mysterious eastern sounding samples and rolling hi hats taking the lead. We move quickly from that to dubstep fueled artillery with '2 Worlds' which focusses on tremendously heavy sub frequencies and unpredictably skippy drum arrangements. The EP continues with the dubstep theme as we move onto the B-side with 'Silence Soundboy'. This one is pleasingly reminiscent of early DMZ releases, bringing the combination of subs and space out to play. Finally we wrap up with the haunting dub-infused arrangement of 'Pablo'. This one is ghastly, with plenty of percussive and melodic vibrancy lurking just below the swampy surface. This one is definitely another winner from the seemingly unstoppable White Peach brand!
Don Mclean could learn a trick or two from New Zealand's Headland; you could drive a Chevy (or any other brand of motor vehicle) up this "Levy" all day long and it all never go dry. A true marching tune that gradually rises in intensity without ever losing its stately pace, it's the type of tune that was tailored for nights like System or DJs like Amit. Elsewhere we get seasick with the trippy glitches on "Seen" before going all-out darkside with the haunted humanisations on the foreboding "Cold Warning". Seriously heavy duty stuff as always from Headland. Man's having his pie and eating it right now.
Noisia's Division crew fire up the Partial machine for another time-bending trip into future beats. The third outing this year, the focus remains firmly on the most unconventional, provocative and forward-thinking ideas and sounds. Gullier than a night out in a sanctuary with the director of the RSPB, fusion highlights range from Noer The Boy's twisted broken glass bass scrapes on "Quarters" to the toxic distorted bass, wild drum shatters and sub-aquatic technoid murmers of "Shapeless Husk" via Samba's warped lolloping drums and spooked harmonics on "Blister". 100% unique and forward-thinking, few labels are investing in the beat game's most creative quarters as dedicatedly and progressively as Division.
Bad to the bone... Following his remarkable fusions with Earth earlier this year, the Bug continues to flex his finest collaborative muscles with two dirty, paranoid grime cuts. Flowdan takes the lead with an autobiographical tale over a cosmic dirge that palpitates with industrial rawness. Next up: Killa P and Irah who get savage over a sizzling reese bassline that builds and smoulders with intensity of a Hardware night at The End in 2005. Complete with two riddims, this is The Bug at his most direct and dangerous and ready for the dance.
Sirius' call from the Dubtribu massive comes only after one prior appearance, but his bass-heavy percussion riddims are clearly enough to satisfy the tastes of most head honchos. Alpha Canis Majoris, a stellar constellation, is five tracks of all-out dread, bouncing like slabs of metal. "Henna" is all about the subs, wide and destructive, "Depth" is a classic sort of bass stumbler, while "I.O.U" unleashes some much needed wobbling in the rave, and "Danger" goes for a grime throwback that sounds a little like early-days Skreamism - "Level The Vibes" staggers its minimal beats and percussion over detuned samples and cerebral strains of harmonics.
Call the cops. Crimes! is back on Vandal and he's raising absolute ruddy hell. From the moment those spiralling synths do a medieval dance around your senses on "Hevee" you know there's some serious warrants out for his arrest. With its ravey detuned twist "Fuqusound" is all about the trespassing into more neighbouring genres than you knew possible, "Witchside" is a proper joyride for a brawl two towns over while "95" is an open and shut case of pure regicide as majestic tones get flipped into a loosely-shaken pool of wobbly gully. Make no mistakes, Crimes! is a lifer. Let's hope they never find the key.
Man like KXVU returns to Simply Deep for his first full label EP and he's packing the classical tones. "Guinevere" is all about the orchestration and variation as various instruments layer and strip back over a sprightly melody. Grand but not garish, it's one for the big dreamers and full steamers. Other highlights include the Joker-style walkabout bassline and pipe-blazing melodic flourishes of "Lancealot" while "Artorius Castus" is the ultimate finale fight sequence in the Roman drama of your life. A real Ben Hurrter, you might say. Throw in remixes from Opus (sub-oceanic trippy tropical) and Hamdi (24th century trap) and you've got yourself a killer collection. Baroque and roll.
Durkle Disco, a Bristol based haven where grime, garage, hip-hop and dubstep would no long be placed in separate genre boxes. In 2011 Durkle Disco was created so these musical cousins could mingle and merge and become they're own, uncategorized sound. Paying equal respect to both producers and MCs, the label has become an unstoppable force in the world of bass. 'So Sicka' sounds like a Burial album double dropped, all the eerie atmospherics remain with a cold sense of hollowness, but there's an intense brooding buildup of energy. Emotions are heightened and there's a harsh clarity to the hard clashing drums which forces you the listen intently to each and every word spat. The 'Near' remix is has an itchy, glitchy feel with a lot more sound filling the soundscape, while the 'Mani Festo x Denham' remix has an odd stripped back aggressive house vibe that we haven't experienced before.
Where he's been we don't quite know, but all that matters now is that after three year Subscape is back. Mallet is big room 'dubstep' you can image mosh pits forming when this one drops, with hard hitting, harsh drums, weird sci-fi synth and plenty of space this on 'Ease the Pain' is Frankenstien track, taking snippets of grime, house and dubstep and stitching them together in an uncomfortable but completely satisfying fashion.
As far as active legendary producers go within the Grime scene, there aren't many with the same high level of consistency as Silencer. Fresh off the back of his super popular 'Butcher' EP, he teams up with the electric energy of Maxsta on 'Black Mask'. Silencer goes to work to provide a dark and thunderous instrumental backing for Maxsta to run riot over with his skippy vocal patterns and uniquely creative grasp of multisyllabic patterns whilst describing some of the dark events of his past and present. It's dark, weighty and an instant must for grime DJ's nationwide.
Low End Activist touches down on Frists Wentink's ever-impressive Bobby Donny imprint with a very special guest; Roll Deep alumni Trim. Flexing his smoky, spacious sermon with clarity over loose-limbed two-steps and wobbled-out sub, it's the ideal jam to take us strutting into the bleak winter. Remix-wise Cassius Select murk up the mix with time-defying warpedness while Frits shows us the light at the end of the tunnel with an remix that's coded with subtle flurries of hope. All corners covered.
Crown Jules is the up and coming North London based grime label founded by producer J Beatz, also known to his mum as Jason Jules. Now the imprint introduces the somewhat illusive, Sware, who if his two word artist bio is correct is a 'grime producer'. 'Irish Don' is ram jammed with quick moving reverberated synths and bass, the quick snaps between beat and open space make the track seem almost aggressive. 'The End' is slow moving and has a creepy house atmospherics, but the track is made fun with its blobby bouncing sub. The distinguishing feature of 'We Got Amm' is its foggy, echoing shroud which masks the whole track in a sense of paranoia, you won't be prepared for the onslaught of automatic gunshots. 'Lava' takes the sounds oldschool, with wobbling, warped subs and a simple space laden beat.
Exclusives
SPEC - I Feel Sick (Uprise Audio)
VOODOO CHILLI feat RHIA - My Heart (Cheap Thrills)
KRONODIGGER - ENC015 (Encrypted Audio)