Review: No other label can rep dubstep like Tempa. Many would argue it was the first label to truly herald and nourish the sound. Here they explore their vaults and dust off some of the most genre-defining, idiosyncratic tracks that have helped shape the phenomenon we know today. From SPMC's paranoid murker from 2008 "Trust Nobody" to a whole series of Skream sessions such as "WTF", "Wibbler" and "Vacillate", the collection is a reminder of how influential Tempa has been, how talented their roster has always been and, most importantly, how slamming and stimulating dubstep can be when nourished and developed by the right label. Recognise.
Review: West London's Soap Dodgers return with another single containing two tracks of their particular blend of cinematic dubstep. Title track "Ill Minded" marries snarling dubstep basslines with melancholic Sci-Fi synths and retro audio samples, while B-side "Contact" is much more sparse and percussive. With regular appearances on Rinse FM and Kiss 100 and hype from the likes of Skream, this EP will keep the pressure on until the genre-defying duo deliver their debut album on Wheel & Deal Records in early 2013.
Review: J Kenzo returns to Tempa for a third round of heady dubstep of the old school variety. Using the standard dubstep toolkit to create something that is more than the sum of its parts, "Invaderz" is paranoid stuff, creating an oppressive atmosphere with its lurching bass. "Depth Charge" is more of the same finely sculpted half-step, with a searing bass that gets right under your skin.
Review: Consequence's debut for the ever-reliable Tempa comprises of a couple of razor sharp, on point half-step cuts. "Injunction" builds gradually from a stripped back intro of a smacking snare drum and glowering atmospherics into an ominous main part, replete with breathy vocal, bubbling subs and an eerie gloom, becoming almost tribal towards the end. The accompanying "Chamber Music" is just as hypnotic with its hushed chanting, speckled beats and throbbing bass. This is music for the heads, no question.
Review: Truth steps up with two superlative half-stepping riddims on the Tempa imprint, which really put the dub back into dubstep. First up is the evocatively entitled "Dreams" featuring a gloriously enticing wailing vocal from Yayne in the intro. We are sucked into the main tune as if hypnotized by the warm, murmuring bassline and clip clop beats and bubbling SFX. "Last Time" continues in a similarly dark and mysterious vein, but with more snapping snares, clipped sounds, rolling atmospherics and an insistent drive throughout the track. Utterly excellent from start to finish.
Review: Usually known for D&B on labels such as SGN:LTD and Renegade, Proxima drops his tempos and receives the Tempa treatment. Two huge escapades into time and deep, deep space, title track "Formal Junction" shows Proxima's flare for flux as the rhythm morphs from pensive halfstep to skippy riddim with the help of just one element, and light can be found by the momentary hug from a startling synth. "Grunge", up next, lives up to its name as sludgy textures and strange guttural, digital groans weave their way around the ever-mutating beats and dubbed out rim-shots. Recognise the darkness.
Review: Dubstep overlord Skream finally offers up the next instalment in his long running "Skreamizm" series, his first since 2009. While last year's Outside The Box LP allowed him to experiment with varying genres and tempos, this six tracker sees him knocking out the anthems with consummate ease. "Xmas Day Swagger" is a dancefloor banger, simplicity itself while "Indistinct" brings a shuffling beat and an Eastern vocal. "Tweedle Dee, Tweedle DUMB!" featuring Trim will appeal to the grime heads and "Abstruse" and "Snarled" are stripped back head nodders. EP closer "FNKONOMIKA" is a blissful minimal D&B track which oozes sheer class.
Review: J Kenzo makes an appearance on the lauded and legendary Tempa imprint with these two tough little tracks, which display heaps of character and genre-defining skill. "Ruffhouse" sees Kenzo team up with Rod Azlan for an intriguing journey, dominated by bleepy synth melody and low-slung bongo drum for the first minute, before dropping into a classic mid-noughties dubstep burner with hypnotic bass and weighty soundscape. "Therapy" is reminiscent of some of Pinch and the Tectonic crew's more experimental work, with a techno twinge, fidgeting beats, a Benga & Coki bleep and plenty of unique character to set it apart from the rest.
Review: Making his debut on Tempa, multi talented MC, producer and one third of the Code 3 collective, SP:MC steps up with a couple of killer cuts on the legendary London imprint. "Oh My Gosh" is a slow paced, super sleuth of a track with low slung, undulating bassline, gently hissing hi-hats and clipped breaks with a retro edge. It harks back to the early days of dubstep, with a hint of Benga in there. Title track "Hunted" is another gnarly cut, with gritty, warping b-line, paranoid SFX adding further menace to the already darkened soundscape. Well worth checking!
Review: Veterans of the dubstep scene Dub War return to the fray after a nine year gap on the legendary Tempa label. Otherwise known as Benny Ill (Horsepower Productions) and Bill Robin (Rebel HiFi) these two stalwarts have reunited in the studio to deliver this long awaited release and it's a worthy follow up to their 2001 outing "Murderous Style". Lead track "The Funky Deal" is a twisted 4/4 mash up of buzzing bass and rocking drums. Flipside "To The Depths" does exactly what it says on the tin and takes us on a watery halfstep excursion. A welcome return.
Review: Horsepower issue forth what one can only assume is some old material they've been sat on. Like a ray of funky sunshine amidst the foggy murk of what they spawned, the downright freshness of the tracks on The Lost Tapes is so bright it blinds your ears. "Boogaloo" shuffles with a micro-house kind of freakiness, as quirky key stabs and vocal grunts bounce off the razor-sharp hats. "Landslide Remix" rocks the subs hard and keeps the beats slender, while "What We Do" ups the ante in terms of pace and detail. Who are we kidding, every track is absolute gold from masters of the 2-step scene.
Review: Champion of dark, tough and considered dubstep, Distance provides the latest instalment in the much loved Dubstep Allstars mix series. It's fairly typical fare from the Chestplate boss man, with tough steady rhythms underpinned by that particularly distorted kind of bassline. There are a number of highlights, most notably Commodo's "Surveillance" which has a rolling break woven into the mix. Cyrus' "Looking Back" also impresses as it purrs away with a gorgeously warm, rich synth line. The biggest surprise is probably Distance's own remix of trance bods Above & Beyond. It's certainly as 'big room' as you'd ever imagine Distance getting!
Review: Tempa drop remix package from Skream's 2010 all conquering Outside The Box album in the shape of the awesome "Where You Should Be". Whilst the track features the vocal talents of Sam Frank, they are so heavily subjected to vocoder that his lyrics meld into the spiralling array of keyboard hooks and twilight tinged arpeggiated synth lines - with suitably woozy results. Digital Soundboy boss and all round legend Shy FX drops a killer remix which starts with the Mtume "Juicy" riddim before switching to more familiar rolling junglist pressure ably assisted by some sweet additional female vocals. Watch out for that half time drop! Other remixes come from Laidback Luke, Seiji and Jack Beats, rounding off a solid release.
Review: New signing J Kenzo marks the 56th release for Youngsta's legendary Tempa label. Unsurprisingly, it's a typically dark and dubbed out offering from the more cerebral side of dubstep. Title track "The Roteks" kicks off with a hovering sense of uncertainty, with faint industrial shivers and a warping bassline. A quasi-scientific sounding vocal sample heralds the movement into the main tune, which features blustering kicks, snapping snares and bellowing bass. "Protected" moves from the post-apocalyptic sounds of the intro into a half-step roller with plenty of appeal for fans of Kryptic Minds, Distance and DMZ.
Review: Coki makes a welcomed return to the airwaves after a three-year hiatus. Yes, it's been a whole three years since THAT seminal collab with Benga ("Night") in 2008 and a further two years more since his last solo venture - "Tortured / Shattered" - in 2006. Coki flips things on the proverbial lid here with a couple of quirky cuts; first up "Boomba" pairs shaking sub bass wobbles with lacerating lasso whips, a curious harpsichord melody, abstract rhythms and glorious Joker style synth work. This is complimented by "Carbon Aliens" - a lurching halfstep monster with gurgling SFX and smashing drum kicks that will bring the fear of god into you.
Review: Oh Benga. Where do we begin? Emerging from the depths of Croydon in the early noughties, Benga has been a pioneer and pivotal lynchpin in the ever-burgeoning dubstep movement. His previous albums, Newstep and Diary Of An Afro Warrior remain amongst the most influential long players of the genre's history, alongside commercial crossover collab with Coki, "Night" and a slew of other high profile releases on labels such as Tempa, Tectonic, Hotflush and Planet Mu. Firmly cementing his reputation as one of the scene's most pre-eminent figures, Benga brings us "Phaze One" - the first in a series of EPs on the seminal Tempa imprint. Bookmarked by the delightfully named "Baltimore Clap" and "No Bra, No Panties," the EP kicks off with jittering, dark riddims and aggressive slapstick, breathy tones. As digital bonuses, "Transform" - another bleepy bad one, and the aforementioned cheeky sampling, dancehall-esque "No Bra, No Panties" - conclude the EP with a resounding two fingers in the face. Great stuff.