Dead Noise System - "Deus Ex Machina" - (5:42) 140 BPM
Ether - "Where The Wicked Swarm" - (4:36) 93 BPM
Review: Portland, Oregon's Phantom Hertz label wheels out its first in a new series of compilations brimming with digi dub badness. It follows other long players from L Nix, FJH and a collection of High Dude remixes, with this collection presenting a 10-track heavy cartridge of bass-weighted ammunition. Lowryder, Repulsion's bit-graded "Teleport" and Ether's torn and chewed "Where The Wicked Storm" deliver some techier-stepped tunes, while heavier, lurching dubs comes from L Nix's "Wormhole", Dead Noise System's "Deus Ex Machina" and Hashkey's "D MA" with its post-dubstep vibe. Dark and snarling.
Review: So far, the shadowy FJH has only felt in EP's and has appeared on a wide number of different imprints dealing in stepping bass rhythms. Moreover, he hasn't released any albums as of yet, so this is his debut and it comes on the excellent Phantom Hertz label. You have over fourteen tunes to salivate over here, and there isn't a filler in site, this is all masterfully executed percussion beating at its best, ranging from more smooth, docile patterns, to darker and more ethereal grooves fit for any sort of bass dance floor. Heavy stuff, check it!
Review: According to their SoundCloud page, Kantyze are comprised of Igor and Fred from Tours in France and have "been making the finest bass music since 2005": There we have it! This is deep dubstep bass therapy; submit to the power of the low frequency on tracks such the exotic percussion workout "Blackboard Dub" (this one's very atmospheric too!), "Criminal Bass" lives up to its name on this street level dose of future-shock. And of course "Liberation Frequency" which goes out all guns blazing on this deconstructed future-junglist steppa.
Review: Canadian bass smith L Nix delivers his first originals since his album Lost Crypt. "Champion Sound" is a tight weave of ghostly designs and sorrowful sentiments with the vocal sample paying respect to the original rave anthem that it takes its name from. Those looking for more club-focussed pieces should jump straight onto the sharp steps, energetic drum edits and guttural bass of "Money" while those looking for something deep, spacey and cosmic should jump on the authentic dub tones of "The Future". Champion.
Review: According to his SoundCloud profile, Portland, Oregon's B1T CRUNCH3R is a producer, composer, sound engineer and founder of the American label Gradient Audio. This time appearing on local imprint Phantom Hertz, which is equally dedicated to to subterranean sounds of the rainy northwestern city. First track "IO" is dystopian sub level futurism from a post apocalyptic time. The intense sub bass therapy of "Callisto" is supported by some seriously sinister atmospherics and is one paranoid headtrip if we ever heard one. Finally "Europa" gets some washes of emotive pads into the mix over some intricate rhythm programming and pulsating low end frequencies, which he's proven quite competent in executing by now.
Review: Although Holland isn't always associated to the dubstep scene, No/Sa has opened our ears to the amount of great stuff that's coming out of the Netherlands. He returns to Phantom Hertz Recordings for his encore, and with him he brings the cavernous, mind-bending frequencies of "C64", a subtle dubstep sweller filled with deep atmospherics. "Final Moments" follows on from the opener by adding in a heavier dose of kicks to the bass puddle, and "Tortured" sees No/Sa offer what could be his best tune yet, a tight, imperceptible groove fuelled with hazardous amounts of bass.
Review: Parisian low end purveyor High Dude unleashed this toxic, sludge-fest way back at the start of 2015. It's already enjoyed some serious version science from 6Blocc, now it's in the hands of eight competition-winning upstarts. Each comes with its own unique flavour: Skaar plays with harmonics, Master Balance gets busy on the polyrhythmic drums OverNose adds chilling chords and an overall graveyard finish, Kardium adds a fresh layer of trippy sound designs, Low-K brings us up to D&B speed, Ghosthack switches the bass for something much more menacing, Sektor 122 gets creepy with haunted moans and shadowy switches while Gleb Choutov gives 'Abstract' its most abstract version of the pack with a spaced out near-beatless rendition. Each remix an original piece in its own right; the future of bass music is fine hands if these next-gen candidates get their way.
Review: Canadian depth-plunger Levi Nicoll unleashes his third artist album... And, working as tight, consistent narrative and a powerful collection of dancefloor tracks, it's arguably his best body of work to date. Business from the off, ignition tracks such as monk chanting wall-melter "Ancient" and harrowed, spacious beat and waspy bassline-fronted "Lost Crypt" ensure your attention is arrested and maintained throughout the entire journey. Deeper into the journey you'll strike shakedown gold on the breaky wobbler "Roily", you'll get glitchy and twitchy on the techno-tastic "Troglodyte" and fly to the furthest edges of the cosmos on "Moonbeams". Complete with a full mix of the album to boot (just to prove how well each cut works together), Levi's roots have never dug so deep. Stunning.
Review: And the mighty Organik brought minimal sounds and maximum vibes to DJ Variant's all-knowing precision and pace and so the Thunder Roll EP was born. Fierce and dark, "Thunder Roll" itself plays with the minimal but in Matt Deco's remix, a tribal beat and deep pads build out a darkened sky for the tune to play under, creating atmosphere, texture and life from those initial spartan beats. The Widdler opts for a filthier version, heading darker still, warping vocals and creating new depths to swirl down into. "Fade" is the perfect closer, offering a crisp, techier sound, still dark but much more dangerous.
Review: Dutch demon NO/SA steps over to Phantom Hertz for his first full EP. If you've been following his output on Four:Twenty or heard his remix of Truth, you'll know how deep this one goes already... "Systems" is built around icy pads as palpitating kicks troop through the sludge and waspy designs squirm amid the mix. "No Pulse" is darker and deeper again; all droney, sticky subs so thick they almost smother the drums. Finally we hit "Kosher", a much brighter affair that sits somewhere between future garage and dubstep thanks to its spacious groove and delicate musicality.
Review: Zip Sound bossman lurches over to Phantom Hertz for a cheeky three track session. And the results are every bit as deep and dangerous as you'd want them to be. "Into Flames" waves and weaves with a classic minor key arpeggio before dropping into a bassline so well positioned and naturally loose, it almost sounds like slap bass... Especially when the skanks come in. "Can't Be Alone" is a much deeper, cavernous affair where the emphasis is on the dense layers of synths and pads and the kicks almost seem superfluous. Lastly we hit "Broken Ends". Wholly floor-focused with crisp drums and minimal bass tones, it's not dissimilar to the work of Seven or Distance.
Review: With a devilishly dark discography and a track called "Dystopia", only a drunk clown could mistake the message Infra is giving out here: paranoia, gloom and general ominousness are all at play as stark spatial pads wheeze and wail and a stuttering bassline grizzles and scratches over broadly positioned kicks. The real star of the show is the almost elastic sub that stretches and purrs beneath the icy dynamics. Deep dubstep doesn't get any bolder. Hungry for a more uptempo foreboding forecast? Jump on the 170 refix for a slice of end-of-the-world jungle naughtiness.
Review: Who knew Creep N00m was a cosmonaut in his spare time? We certainly didn't, but the outer planetary sound designs on "Attack From Space" are so authentic that we can't come to any other conclusion. Our intrepid Russian explorer hasn't just checked his socials in at deep space either; "Amazon" is a direct rain forest romp and the hard, sheet metal slams and bangs of "Radical" sound like there was recorded in a steel mill. Elsewhere we get crazy-jazzy on the firing broken beat badness of "Mood Indigo" and unleash our spiritual side on "The Buddha". Complete with a VIP of last year's "Midnight", this EP more than lives up to its title.
Review: Seattle-based Press has nothing to apologise about. Besides, perhaps, the fact he's left it the best part of a year between his last original outings. "Sorry About That" certainly makes up for lost time as it swoons with barbed, emotive chords led by strings that conjure up the vibes of Culprate or KOAN Sound's latest material. "Life" is more of a techier affair thanks to its militant marching beat and relentless bass grumbles and mechanical textures. Two tracks, two wholly disparate modern dubstep stories, whatever Press is apologising for, it's completely accepted.
Review: As the heat still bubbles from "Kami" earlier this year, Vax returns to PHR with a feisty five tracker. It's business from get-go as "Lobetrotter" adds time signature gravitas to the EP title... All tribal triplet rhythms, it's an instant slinker. Dig deeper for lolloping bad dream drones ("Once"), sludgy, slug-like percussion creativity ("Nuclear Family"), paranoid angular acid ("Babble On") and reflective, immersive chill material ("Ashes"). All styles covered, all corners explored, Vax is much more than triple threat.
Review: With a rich history of soundsystems and collaborations behind him, Subversia understands the necessary dynamics required to really hit hard with bass music. These three tracks are proof. "Rust" comes with a bassline that's so distorted, thick and curmudgeonly, it's got similar properties to that of a dark metal riff played live. "Solitude" shows his deeper side with big dream pads and twinkling arpeggios anchored by tightly knitted kick drums. Finally we hit "Emerge", rolling with Hollywood level action and drama, if robots start taking over any time soon, they'll be doing it to this soundtrack.
Review: Hailing from Lecce in Italy, Hashkey has clearly been dieting on only the strictest of dubstep drip lines from the UK, with a sound that could fit into the sets of any spinner in the DMZ fold with its spacious production, moody bass and careful balancing of dirt and dexterity. Sidling up to Phantom Hertz with a confident three-tracker, the vibe on Project Monarch remains intact throughout as icy pads linger behind growling bass tones that glitter with the studio sheen of tech step D&B, even as they lurch around the 140 bpm blueprint. "Co.Ward" is the most restrained beast of the lot, while "MK Ultra" should fulfill all hair-raising needs any dubstep true-skoolers have out there.
Review: Cleveland-based dungeon master Rasper graduates with honours from his spatial awareness masters degree in bass university with this immense trio of oceanic depth charges: The slick minimal "BioRelease" is all about the metronomic hypnosis hook and caveman-like sample on the fourth beat. "Tella" continues the lean look with added classic dub reverb techniques while "Endure" takes us into the darker side of the dance with a chubbier - but still very restrained - bass texture. The dubstep game is a marathon, not a sprint... We all need some "Endurance" power.
Review: Fresh from a steady stream of FKOF hype and support, Vax comes correct once again with this Phantom Hertz double header. "Kami" is all about the sub bubbles that ricochets across the spectrum with trap-like tenacity. "Trigger Warning" follows suit with an even chubbier low end. A great example of how stripped back beats don't have to mean and slim-line, you can file this under muscular minimalism. Yet another solid treat from Vax; while some producers choose to sweep up the competition, Vax simply hoovers it!
Review: Estonian bass baron Felix has carved a unique name for himself over the last year or so with a pedigree in both breakbeat and dubstep. While the two scenes were very much entwined back in the day (thanks to artists such as Tayo and Freq Nasty) they've seemed pretty disparate of late...until now. Here Felix joins the dots by way of thick sludgy halfstep ("Ritual"), classic Botchit-style sheet metal bass grit ("Skank") and icy, star-gazing subverted soul that stars down the barrel of a dungeon gun... But no one dares to pull the trigger. Smoking.
Review: Japanese freshman Dayzero makes his entrance with two unfathomably deep dubstep joints on Phantom Hertz. "100000" surges forward with iced-out, cosmic pads and a slow, swaggering kick/snare combo that's constantly evolving and pulling itself back. "Unexplored" is all about the densely weaved hand drums that double up over each other to create a hypnotic energy and pace that's not dissimilar to that of a Truth or Kenzo cut. Comparisons don't get much stronger. Neither do debut releases.
Review: Sweaty, sludgy business: Bordeaux badman High Dude returns with three dynamics slices of deepness that all cellar dwellers should take note of. "Abduct" is all about the mourning bassline; soaking wet and amorphous, it's as dark as you can get without needing counselling. Dig deeper for the title track "Alchemy". Coded with trippy drum patterns and even trippier atmospheres, it's the type of track you'd drop if you wanted to completely spin your floor on its axis. Finally we hit "Wraith". A total vibe-flipper, here HD shows us he's just as capable at 170BPM as he is 140. Skippy beats, soulful subs and warm pads. This is what liquid sounds like in the apocalyptic future.
Review: Orbatak's L Nix follows up his 2011 album BFG with a sophomore set that consummately develops his repertoire, extends his breadth and ultimately reminds us how talented he his. As you'd expect from the album title, there's plenty of scope for gully filth such as the sinewy low end gurgles on "Badman", the ugly warbles on "Bass Ghost" and the alien moans and tears of "187 Dub Street". But the overall message here is one of depth and hidden layers, such as the misty soul and lingering keys of the opener "Murky" and the optimistic pads and vocal sample of "Dead Memories". Bad to the bone; the more you listen, the more you'll find.
Review: Deep, dark and dangerous: Aussie newcomer Portal makes his debut on Phantom Hertz with three brooding compositions that ooze atmosphere and space while retaining all important pace. The trick is development; no track ever sits still, elements twist and turn with subtlety throughout. Great examples of this are the processed hand drums and twinkle gradually throughout "Trauma" and the thunder-like drive of the drums on the subby, eerie "Lost Within". Drop this and cause dancefloor trauma in an instant.
Review: Three dank and dingy originals and one respectfully dark remix - if you like it deep and slimy, you've come to the right place. The title track is a real creeper; full of halfstep sludge, kicking at the shackle-like pads, it's a paranoid fusion that will hench a floor at 20 paces. "Abyss" gets the same reaction but via an unrelenting 4/4 groove that pounds through thick mystic atmospheres and elements. "Kingpin" is the heaviest of the set. Naked sub business with anchor-like kicks and well placed hand drums, there's a confident sense of stately space throughout. Remix-wise Konvex quadruples up the kicks to create an exciting dub techno groove that will find favour with the likes of Regis and Mills as much as it will dubstep DJs. Don't torment yourself - grab this now.
Review: Canadian dub evangelist Levi Nicoll (aka L Nix) has stuck with Phantom Hertz for another release, newie "Wake Up". Despite the title, these two tracks as slow, intricate headnodders designed for a more contemplative listener. Beautifully constructed, the title track features gentle, shimmering sound effects and mournful pads married to a dubby reggae jam. "Hostage" on the other hand features myriad scuttling micro beats, throbbing bottom end and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it Run DMC sample.
Review: Following extensive releases on KFR, Moscow-based Creep N00m jumps aboard the good ship Phantom Hertz for a quartet of truly unique bass gems. "Swing" sets the tone with processed funk guitars tailored deep into the riddim and a jazzed-out break that oozes flute power. "Bluff Factor" continues the organic motif with sweet trumpet parps that mirror the jaunty drum arrangement and dramatic synth-horn stabs. "Pursuit" is much more minimal in its make-up where a bellowing sub, snake-like LFOs and heartbeat kicks create a hypnotic effect throughout. "Cyberton" completes the set with authentic dub cheer. Well-measured with bounced-out sub shots and ricocheting snare licks, it's yet another example of Creep's creative abilities. It don't mean a thing if you ain't got this "Swing"!