Review: Atlas' debut on Keysound comes as no surprise whatsoever and, in fact, we were expecting to see someone of hi calibre pop up on the label. "Solitude" is a little work of art, a deep and enthralling web of bass and wide-eyed synths that bring to mind the start of something new fantastic, and it also fall neatly into the sparse folds of low frequencies present on the sonic massage that is "On The Cusp". "Alone In A Timespan" is all icy synths drone twisting carried forwards by a heavy percussion muscle, while "Calm" switches the mood and drops a heavy groove over masterfully executed licks of bass and melodies. Big tip right here.
Review: Beneath arrived on the scene earlier this year with two self-released white labels showcasing his unique strain of dark UK funky, and quickly won a number of high profile admirers. One was Keysound's Martin Clark, who has tapped him up for this superb six track EP. Traces of early Horsepower Productions can be heard in its combination of late garage and early dubstep rhythms, as can the early productions of Youngsta, creating a sub-heavy set of percussive rollers taking as much from the current strain of techno & grime fusions as UKF. "Prangin" goes in with a deeply tribal vibe, "Wonz" is filled with angular rhythms and Shackleton style atmospherics, and "Tribulation" even has the subtle Eastern tones of Pinch's "Qawwali", but the most striking track has to be Beneath's remix of Ballistiq Beats' "Concrete Jungle", proving that his productions absolutely shine with some classic grime flow.
Review: The endlessly talented Blackdown is back on the feverishly gracious Keysound imprint for a new batch of bass-driven, high-tech dance cuts. This time, however, it's a multi-mix affair, where our man Blackdown lays down four versions of the "Keysound Sessions Anthem". The Feverish Weightless mix opens with an Optical-style fold of mutant bass engulfing the barren slices of percussion floating in mid-air, followed by the more kinetic Technorollage mix, where a hint of 4/4 is injected amid the groove's rugged and improvisational beat structure. The original cut sounds like a strain of dubstep that could have easily been conceived by the UK's legendary jungle pioneers thanks to its subtle hints of break science, while the 8bar version takes us all the way to grimesville, and ties this EP off with a grizzly tone of voice.
Review: Keysound are proud to announce the third installment in their Rollage sub-series. This EP is from Blackdown, with Dusk joining on co-production duties. "C-troit" is a name revived from a lost, unfinished track by Blackdown in the very earliest years of dubstep. A hybrid of the names Croydon and Detroit, it's a heuristic for the place between Greater London's bass-led music and the halcyon synths of early Detroit techno. Now that there's a growing body of dark, 130bpm-ish rollage, from within the Keysound camp and crews beyond: the EP seeks to throw warm light into the shadows, with the tracks "Godlike Power", "Clueless ft Dusk" and "Halcyon Skies (Rollage mix)." The EP's closing cut "The Greatest Concert (RIP PMC)" was written by Blackdown in the days immediately following the passing of his father. The tracks in the Rollage series are designed to be mixed together as one flow.
Review: Blackdown's output for the Keysound imprint is responsible for some of the most breath-taking shades of bass available on the market right now, and it's thanks to artists like these that the scene is pushing ahead into fresh new corners of the electronic spectrum. None of the tunes on this new album, Those Moments, ever risk sounding too stale or obvious - there is a constant state of surprise and wonder at the helm. Like the works of Burial in the mid 00's, this is a very personal take on grime culture, blending and chopping low frequencies with all sorts of field recordings; "Those Moments" itself is awonderfully balanced bit of spoken word, surrounded by drones and synths, while others like "Halcyon Skies" are a perfect representation of how far one can stretch the bass formula - pushing into far into the ether. Highly recommended.
Review: With two EPs on Local Action and Keysound already under his belt, Damu here delivers his debut long player for the latter imprint. As you would expect from a label as on point as Keysound, Damu brings something unique to the table with his brand of UK funky, combining expertly sampled R&B vocals and neon synths. But it's the after-hours vibe and organic rhythms that permeate his productions which really stands out, particularly in the complex and shimmering melodies of "Breathless" and piercing melancholy of "Don't Cry In My Bed". Most impressively however, is the range of genres and tempos which Damu turns his hand to; "Maths Is Fine for Some" evokes the swampy techno of Andy Stott, whilst "Waterfall of Light" and "Plasm" call to mind the freeform juke template of Machinedrum. Essential stuff.
Review: Key sound affiliate Damu is back on the label with a scorching two-tracker that sees the artist develop a more comprehensive approach to his sonic landscapes, and one that isn't immediately tied down to the dance floor. "Off The Spectrum", in fact, is a wonderful companion to a DJ set, whether that be as an opener, or even roaming loose on a third deck; its beatless demeanour is full of life and colour thanks to the kinetic motion of its elements. "Point & Line To Plane", on the other hand, takes a much more aggressive approach, turing the tranquility of the A-side into a distorted frenzy, a wild and unpredictable whirlpool of sounds. Don't sleep on it..!
Review: Blazing a promising trail with his neon-lit funky styles, Damu delivers this four track selection to Keysound with an undeniable effervescence in his demeanour. The synths are surely the key players in these tracks, not least on the upbeat clarion call of "Ridin". Anyone who caught the sunkissed charms of the Oriol album on Planet Mu will find plenty of melodic satisfaction to enjoy here, albeit in a more steppy setting. As the EP progresses the weirdness creeps in, culminating to a brilliant end with the unhinged pitch-bending of "Karolina's Magic J", which will definitely appeal to your inner freak.
Review: Dos McGouran also goes by the name of Detboi, an alias he uses when he's in the mood to make dark, grimey street music with a hardcore edge. His latest curveball is shaped into a four-tracker for the singular Keysound label, home to a wide selection of underground bass music including some of Beneath's first productions, and Blackdown among others. "Scatter" cuts straight to the chase with its breaks, huge bursts of mutant bass and stop-start groove; "Guve Love" is deeper and slower but nonetheless grizzly in its sonic selection; "Shots" goes for a tribal approach and successfully blends an old-school subbass with more minimal melodies; "Pin Point" ties things off with another twist of neo hardcore, brimming with breaks and charisma.
Review: The raunchy Keysound label know how to drop some noxious 'bass' vibes on our charts, and they pretty much do so with a new artist each and every week. DJ Sincliar is the newbie this time, but by the sounds of his drums and snares, he very much knows what the f*** is up! "Ricky" takes us back to '03, a stripped-down grime attack of a tune that would have made the likes of Plastician very happy...and probably still would; large folds of mutant bass leak out of every space in this track, and we can safely say that this one is a proper blaster. "Gunman What", as the title suggests, is all artillery but, instead of using bullets, DJ Sinclair uses the classic grime blueprint to get his point across. Yessir!
Amen Ra - "Essence Investigation" - (6:36) 136 BPM
No Fixed Abode - "Indian Street Slang" - (4:59) 136 BPM
Review: Despite the somewhat questionable use of a sample from The Matrix kicking things off, the third installment of the LHF series on Keysound is a remarkable revitalizing of original dubstep ethics. Double Helix crafts an utterly perfect mood of edgy paranoia on "LDN", where intricate rhythms echo out in ample space while whispers of jungle flirt in the background. Amen Ra keeps the bar high on "Essence Investigation", as the half-step swagger does battle with occasional flurries of breaks and melodies. No Fixed Abode pushes things even further out into sparse rhythm and Indian folk elements, and just like that, dubstep sounds like the most exciting music in the universe again.
Review: Always concerned with keeping dubstep and its subsidiary styles marching ahead into fertile new ground, Keysound operatives Dusk + Blackdown have an interesting twist to this new "EP", which offers up four new tracks, four remixes and two mix recordings as a stock take of where everything is at in bass music right now. The new material finds the rhythms moving in limber and playful ways, while the melodic content stays gritty and moody, even if the LV-esque synth blasts of the title track shed some colour on the surroundings. There's a healthy thread of grime and all manner of rave signifiers woven into "Peng One Two", and some more wild experimetation on "Epic Jam", and then the remixes fling out in equally eclectic configurations. For top shelf bass mutations across the board, you can do no wrong here.
Review: Dusk and Blackdown have been operating on the progressive end of the dubstep spectrum for some time, having released their first material way back in 2005. Desaflex, their second full-length, continues where previous sets left off, offering a deep but surprisingly floor-friendly take on dubstep. Taking influences from a variety of sources - IDM, electronica, garage and UK funky, most obviously - they offer-up a series of well-polished but pleasingly analogue-sounding cuts full of energy and, most importantly, good ideas. At times, their brand of finely tuned bass-tronica sounds like early Black Dog with a dubstep pulse, at others like a futurist outing to Croydon. Throughout, it's a delightful listen.
Review: It's been a long time since Dusk & Blackdown committed themselves to a release proper, and they're doing so now on their own Keysound imprint. Kicking off with "High Road", which features a guest contribution from Burial, the atmosphere is a spooky one that employs smatterings of mournful vocal over a pacey rhythm and an immersive tapestry of sounds and samples that keep the track dynamic and ever-engaging despite its surface minimalism. "Focus VIP" is a more forthright affair, still drenched in drama but with a propulsive groove and lashings of strings, rousing details and a mean Reese bass line. That leaves it "Ex-Swing" to chuck the beat out of leftfield in a snappy 2-step reduction that maximizes on stop-start impact at the end of each bar.
Review: With 2011 being Keysound's most prolific year to date, the label enters 2012 with a fantastic EP from two of the label's old hands, Dusk and Kowton. Utilising a clipped UK Funky beat and restless sub with symphonic ambience, Dusk's "Fraction" expertly channels its rhythmic intensity, while Kowton's rework highlights the production's darker corners, utilising sinister melodies and collage-like movie samples to nightmarish effect. Kowton's "Looking At You" is up next; taking a brittle Destiny's Child sample as its main hook, it manages to sidestep the problems usually associated with contemporary R&B sampling by keeping its melodic elements to a minimum, concentrating on shackled garage rhythms and a growling undercurrent of bass. It's more overtly contemporary than his recent material for [Naked Lunch] and Idle Hands, but still has all the unmistakable hallmarks of his unique sound.
Review: There's something rather intriguing and exciting about this EP from newcomer Etch. Like much of Keysound's recent output, Old Skool Methods consists largely of bass tunes clocking in around 130 BPM, with clandestine rhythms, murky basslines and snapping snares that come accompanied by the kind of wide-eyed, early jungle nostalgia that should appeal to both youngsters and old heads alike. "Hybrid" sets out the formula, pitching a sparse but powerful, speaker-rattling bassline against jaunty rhythms, rave piano stabs, deep atmopsherics and classic vocal samples. J-One collaboration "Sounds" sits somewhere between dubstep and classic two-step, while "Sphynx" rolls along on a wave of "Pacific 808" chords and old skool rhythms. With its pitched-down jungle breaks and paranoid mood, "Lost Methods" is pretty tasty, too.
Review: Bringing forth fresh talent at a dizzying rate, Dusk & Blackdown's imprint steps up with another sterling four-tracker of forward-thinking bass music that keeps the vibe of dubstep alive just as it points to new avenues. Etch is fearsomely limber on "Scattah", wielding rudest jungle tropes on a half-step lurch with a wonderful injection of horror soundtrack tension that brings all the darkside incantations you could hope for. Walton has a touch more pep in his own collage that drops a snappy garage mentality with a breakbeat roll, while the bass rub cries out for a powerful stack of subs to test. Visionist taps into the exotic climes that the LHF collective explored so adeptly, clashing melodies against each other without hesitation, and Fresh Paul takes the creatively maligned purple sound and runs it into a far more inviting cocktail of emotionally ambiguous and devilishly produced fare.
Review: Joe Taylor aka JT The Goon is part of the neo-grime movement, and it was only a matter time before we'd hear his beats on the sublime Keysound imprint - home to the likes of Beneath, Kowton, Logos, Wen and many other bass experimenters. "Oil On Ice" sounds exactly like its title implies, a slow-paced bundle of drunken beats surrounded by delicate swarms of grimey synths. There's three extra versions of the tune, too: Version 1 ups the tempo and drops a juke beat over the same liquid synths, version 2 staggers between garage and two-step, while Version 3 is the closest thing to techno on here, albeit broken and swung-out.
Review: Kellen303 is a Brooklyn based DJ and producer who is Transit.fm co-founder and self-described word of mouth badman - a music junkie who appears here for the London-based dubstep label Keysound ,owned by Dusk and Blackdown. From the stripped back drum and bass deconstruction of "Planet X" to the bleak urban landscapes as described by Bronx based Afro-Dominicano MC Rainey on "Spy Glass" - you can see why this talented producer's dark sound appealed to this usually UK-centric label. The rapid-fire drum attack of the fiercely orchestrated "Big Shot" is also worthy of mention. All in all a unique hybrid, with tracks that are inspired by goth rock/industrial, footwork and vogue music.
Review: It has only taken Lamont two years to climb the ladder of success, a successful run of EP's which have no taken him to the the excellent Keysound, via the large and in charge Computer Integrated Audio. There's two mixes to "Death Slide", the first featuring the vocals of Grim Sickers, and it can only be described as being a leftfield UK hip hop tune; the dub mix strips it all back to lazy, staggering groove with a minimal edge. "In The Field" carries on the grime vibe thanks to Nico Lindsay's cold rhymes, but the beat is even more twisted, driven even further out into space; the Devil mix, as the name suggests, is nothing short of far-out.
One Door Isn't Enough (feat No Fixed Abode) - (5:21) 89 BPM
Wet Harmonic - (3:22) 133 BPM
Mud And Root - (3:51) 133 BPM
Triumph - (4:03) 63 BPM
Natural Boost - (4:36) 134 BPM
Review: Keysound collective LHF update the unique legacy left by their debut opus Keepers Of The Light with another intriguing journey into new sonic shadows. The moment the cathedral stretches and ghostly tones of opener "Gateway" light the touch paper, you know this fire will keep your soul toasty. Subverting scenic sights along the way, the journey takes us on a trip through UK funky graveyard ("Surrender"), sludgy double-decade-deep trip-hop ("Yielding"), a skippy lo-fi synth odyssey that one might boldly describe as emotional juke ("Entrapment") and raw, tribal drum shamanism ("Mud And Root"). Comparisons could be made with the likes of Modeselektor, UR, Massive Attack and even Hot Chip's earliest work but it's best described as LHF. A troupe who are truly in a league of their own. Stunning.
Review: Amen Ra, Double Helix, No Fixed Abode, Low Density Matter, Octaviour, Escobar Seasons, Solar Man and Lumin Project realign as LHF for their first release since their debut album on Keysound back in 2012. Featuring the distinct talents of jungle stalwarts Ragga Twins, this four track EP picks up on the numerical series that first announced LHF to the world back in 2011. The Ragga Twins vocals were not newly recorded however, instead unearthed "from an unlikely source dating back many years" with the Hackney jungle pioneers later granting LHF permission to use them. The resultant four tracks on From The Edge are as dark and rolling as they come with final cut "Street Wise" a standout.
Review: With the series of 12" s garnering ever more praise among dubstep purists, Keysound capitalise on the appreciation of the LHF collective and issue forth a whole album's worth of material under the appropriate title Keepers Of The Light. The reason the crew is heralded is not because of some stout insistence on making endless monochrome 2003 style dubstep, but because the vitality the genre poses at its best is evident throughout their output. There's a heavy focus on Indian classical samples in many of the tracks which harks back to Dusk & Blackdown's Margins Music, but really the whopping 26 track selection is pushing a brand of freshness in a half-step context which is all their own.
Review: Despite first surfacing on a split release with former Kowton alias Narcossist on Mindset back in 2008, there has been just a faint murmur of activity from James 'Logos' Parker since then, but now he comes correct with a long player on Keysound that should turn a healthy amount of heads with its ostentatious mixture of found sound, celestial synth work and grimy bass acrobatics. While that might sound like a difficult mixture to fathom, when filtered through the minimalist gauze that Parker has employed as an arrangement device it comes off some truly immersive music. There are nods to video games in some of the samples that crop up, whilst all manner of audacious sounds get repositioned as rhythmic devices, but the primary focus here is on tense atmospheres lingering in a suspended animation between different forms of 21st century music. It's sci-fi music of the highest order, and as such is highly recommended.
Review: Genre mashing production unit LV have enjoyed a fruitful partnership with British Nigerian vocalist Josh Idehen since first colliding on the 38 EP for Keysound Recordings back in 2010. Having flirted with Hyperdub for the release of 2012's Sebenza LP, LV and Joshua return to their spiritual home Keysound for third LP Islands. Whereas previous long players have seen LV manipulate Idehen's vocals, Islands finds Joshua given centre stage and lyrically exploring themes such as "murder, desperate loneliness, obsessions and sexually-unfulfilling nights out". Despite this new approach, Islands is a very confident album, with LV's arrangements perfectly complementing the tone Idehen takes with each track. "Talk Trim" and "Make It Count" are particular highlights.
Review: There were two tracks on LV's Message To Bears destined to get the masses grinning and raving, and now they've committed those two tracks to a surefire single package. "Northern Line" could almost be written off as pure novelty, were the production behind it not so sharp and addictive. The bouncy rhythm employs a sumptuous range of duelling percussion, while the synth stabs through the mix to keep things skipping forwards. On the flip, "Primary Colours" bolsters a stabbing rave hook with a rolling break and plenty of classic "yeah, whoop!" samples, while the growling sub anchors the kitsch surface elements.
Review: After heavy support on their Rinse FM show over several years, Keysound Recordings are proud the announce an EP from Lyeform aka Ben McCarthy an experimental electronic artist from London with an emphasis on bass and precision drum programming. His expansive sound incorporates cutting edge sound design whilst remaining within the broad structure of UK genres. An up and coming presence on the club circuit, In 2015 he launched Void Space Records, to focus on releasing raw club music, with a 12' from Bristol based producer Riffs. The dreamy and mesmerising "Dead Angel" finally sees the light of day after its premiere on Rinse FM last year, as does the jagged and hypnotic bleep-fest of "Things Betwixed".
Review: First arriving in 2016 by minting Mo:za?ek Music with a white label drop in 2016 called Stigma - with that much loved Rusty 3 Star Remix - Space Between The Stars provides the artist with a second release for Dusk and Blackdown's Keysound label. The artist's debut album, that follows the Things Betwixt 12" from 2017, perceivably continues the artist's expression of liminality. The album takes in a bevy of genres, colours and inspirations, ranging from the progressive and heavy synths heard in "Ruins" with its jazzy sequencing, to the Roly Porter styled explosions of "Cold Was The Night". Its title track is equally rave but with more of a focus towards the dancefloor, while there's no denying the emotional, ambient and kisses of white noise in the piano-laden "Waking Life".
Review: In the aftermath of Moleskin closing out the 2013 Keysound compilation This Is How We Roll with a slab of emotive grime, the UK producer has experienced something of a breakthrough to be a major voice in contemporary grime. The Goon Club Allstars collective that Moleskin is part of has a real star in the making in the shape of MssingNo whilst his own self-titled release for the label is up their with this year's best. A full debut on Keysound had to happen sooner or later and the three track Satis House expands on the approach of his prior label contribution. All were written between 2011 and 2014, a time when "illusion and fantasy" were key themes in his work and Moleskin had withdrawn from the clubbing circuit, with the results taking on a more cinematic tone, albeit one realised in the hyper-defined world of Jam City.
Review: Signing up to Keysound after past appearances on Tectonic amongst others, Mumdance and Logos bring their fresh perspective on fractured rhythms that come on like a distant echo of what dubstep started all those years ago. "In Reverse PIV" comes on positively avant-garde with its reversed percussion and highly strung pads, while "Turrican 2" decimates drum machine house tropes with a wrecking ball of bass and plenty of stop-start action. "Wut It Do" taps into the vanguard of hardcore revivalism and brings a hip hop cut-up slant to proceedings, and then "Truth" splays out in an entirely different direction made up slow, scattered drums and wistful strings. It's as singular a collection of bass music as you're likely to hear any time soon.
Review: Here we have a truly international release with South Africa's Okzharp (aka Gervase Gordon of LV fame) teaming up with Manchester's Samrai (Swing Ting). For the Gated EP they've collaborated with various singers with interesting results. Citied by their own label as being a 'pivotal record' at their Keysound Sessions parties, the instrumental "Gated" fuses evocative trance synths with a dancehall fervour that just perfectly works. Elsewhere the tune gets tweaked in different directions - Specialist Moss adds some classic reggae mic action, Ruffest leads a cool Afro-house angle and Shokryme wraps things up with a welcomingly eccentric delivery.