Review: After a string of searing bass bubblers on Platform, Bulgarian beat collective Basscatz barge their way onto Abyssal Audio's sturdy stage with three iced out gems. We kick off with a demonic collaboration with Cooh under his Balkansky alias. With pads wheezing with the Devil's breath and death toll hammering beats, it's a vicious mission statement that takes no prisoners. Further on we're pinged back and forth with metronomic mischief as the tribal rhythm and tech hook of "Uprising" twist and turn with intricate detail. Finally we hit "On A Mission", a heady cut that smelts down the funk of two-step with the industrial strength heaviness of halfstep to create a unique hybrid that's strong enough to melt any dancefloor.
Review: Fresh from dropping a near-immaculate FKOF EP late last year, Frenchman Darj gets busy on Abyssal Audio. We warm up with "Nemesis", a deeply spacious exercise in cathedral dynamics it works as the perfect agenda-setting opener. Further on "No Other Way" drives us down the darkest highway with no headlights; foggy, mysterious and laced with nuances of paranoid danger, it sets the scene for the darkest track of the pack. "Two Faces" is straight out of Hans Zimmer's nightmares; devilishly dramatic, it's all about the creepy chord changes and sudden plunge into cavernous chaos midway. Keep your enemies close, and your "Nemesis" even closer...
Review: Colorado kid DMVU lets rip on Abyssal with four detailed designs: "10 Gram Zoot" is an ominous creeper, all spacious beats and bass tones so dank you need to clean your ears (and lungs) after. "Tough" is a meaner stepper with a rhythm that's made out of really interesting found sounds and unique processes. "Unity Vibe" is much more of a grumbler with classic dub techniques and motifs at play on drum sounds and a bassline that's positioned so well it sounds like it smothers you from behind. "Verb" finishes the originals with the heaviest message of the EP; raw kicks hammer nails into the dance under a bed of echoes and otherworldly sounds. For added measure Deceit has taken the EP title track down 20 BPM on the remix flex. A perfect tonic to the rampant darkness elsewhere, this one's for the after party. Or maybe even the hotel lobby.
Review: Dutch dub dude Dubbacle doffs his cap to the past with a salute to formative, genre-shaping event FWD>>. The result is a sweet, jazzy skanker that's reminiscent of a young Skream's deeper work. "Back To The Future" retains the authentic dub elements with a dramatic horn riff that's straight out of the King Tubby playbook while "Tear It Up" plays the bad guy of the story; all sweaty, sleazy and swaggering. Finally we hit "Soundboy Ballin' Out"... A bulbous chubby roller with big soundsystem vocals, it's prime for any shape, size or sub-genre of dubstep set. Go on, try it.
Review: FKOF-approved duo DYAD make their Abyssal debut with two stunning slices of contemporary deepness. "Fenris" is a sonic warrior charge; the beats chug with unstoppable relentlessness and the bass tears menacingly while the synths build gradually with a bold sense of triumph: this will do nothing but elevate on every play. "Legion", meanwhile, ploughs through the atmosphere with more of icy dynamic as several layers of bass roar for your attention over crisp cold synths. Massive.
Review: Sometimes the title says everything you need without evening listening. Especially if you're already aware of the heavyweight work Matrix has done previously. "Big Guns" shoots with just as much deadly precision as you'd want it to. There's more in the chamber, too... "Cotton Mill" is a scratchy, shuffling roller galvanised with a hypnotic ricochet effect on the percussion, "Ego Death" is a tribal-minded 4/4 stomper with great use of a spoken word sample and a firing flex into half-time while "Roll" is the biggest bang of the shoot-out thanks to its elephantine steppy riddim and sheet-metal FX. Lock and load, fire on sight... Each one of these cuts will shred a floor in seconds.
Review: Young Belgian upstart Nigia makes his Abyssal debut with a beautiful five track document; it's a deep meditative affair from the off as the stretched strings moan and wheeze mournfully on the opener "Above Clouds". Deeper again "Heart of The System" drives us into the heart of the dance with a hypnotic percussive rhythm and pulsating sub while "Time Machine" follows suit but with cathedral level echoes and reverberation. Those looking for more of a techno-like insistency to their dub should pay attention to the persistent plods of "Time" before we climax with a meditative herb homage "Rastafari". A highly accomplished label debut.
Review: Noir by name, noir by nature, Montana-based Piecemeal has created a crystalline body of bass music work. "The Price Of Victory" is a barbed beatless piece of ominous ambience that will work perfectly as an agenda-setting intro for any mix. The title track itself takes us into 130 territories on a cleverly incomplete two-step riddim. "To Be Honest" delves deeper into cross-pollination as Piecemeal helps us imagine what Leftfield would sound like if they started now thanks to a sinewy dynamic and some majestic vocal sample manipulation. "Dead Eyes" finishes this set with darkest message yet as Jordan Perkic tips his hat to the likes of Cobain and Gahan with immersive and meditative results.
Review: Fresh talent from Nottingham's dubstep faction, Reaction steps forward with a tight trio of the subby vibers that each tell their own distinct tale. The title track is a slinky, resonant wriggler with galvanised polyrhythms that flicker and fluctuate under sheet metal bass rips. "Educate", meanwhile, is a bed of wasps, ripping and zipping like live electricity over a tripped out spacious halfstep. Ensuring the full spectrum and breadth of his skills is felt throughout the release, "Air Soul" is a much lighter, summer-tinged lick that runs a fine line in acoustic guitar. Guaranteed to get a good Reaction.
Review: Some serious South Welsh sonic sludge right here, as Cardiff-based Sovex returns to his motherland's finest bass imprint with two breath-taking originals. "Voices" rides a treacle-thick sub line that purrs beneath a subtle breathy vocal. Careful now; those purrs quickly turn in growls throughout. "Submerged", meanwhile, is even thicker in dynamic as we flip from spares dynamics to a well textured rhythm and bass arrangement. Laced with some touching minor key chords, Sovex has created an unnerving sense of atmosphere throughout. Complete with two killer remixes from Dark Harmonics and Spacedrome, Abyssal have pull out every stop on this. Don't sleep on it.
Review: UK vs Italy: Step-A-Side, The Hooderz and Weaze collide to create "Hustle". With a rolling array of drum textures and Q&A rhythms, there's an unrelenting drama that twists and turns throughout. Those who prefer things a little darker should jump on Lowryder's remix where a more spacious bass mutters a menacing gurgle. Finally we hit "Sabotage". This time Lowryder joins the fray as the five-strong team cook up a moody, muddy fusion of Kenzo-flavoured alien bass and crisp naked beats. Icy vibes.
Review: Guttural dungeon ragga Talabun style.... Fresh from appearing on Truth's latest Firepower EP, here Abyssal secure him his first full EP with a crack team of the darkest dubsteppers. Peppering the stark, creepy, sub-saturated sonics with his smoky, near-demonic growl, highlights include the gravelly whispers in the dense fog of "Nocturnal", the interesting vocal rhythms of "Juju" and the voyage into the darkest corners of the psyche on "Wicked." While certain styles of MCing appear a little homogenous this day in age, Talabun's tales are told with raw, unfettered unicity.