Review: White Peach's admirable Peach Bits series, which draws together previously unreleased gems from the label's growing roster of artists, has reached its fifth volume. While previous volumes have largely aimed squarely at the dancefloor, this edition is more eclectic in outlook. Compare, for example, the paranoid, exotic darkness of Kaido's deep dubstep rattler "Kennedy Bridge" and the Eastern mysticism - via the Spanish Riviera - of Zha's "Without", which pairs gentle dubstep rhythms with lilting Japanese melody lines and flamenco guitar flourishes. Or, for that matter, the drowsy, post-rock-meets-dubstep haze of Fallow and Alex Compton's "String Assassin", and the blissfully exotic, almost Balearic melodies of Nakes' thrillingly positive dubstep shuffler "Moksha".
Review: Rarefied bring Sibla & Zygos together on this positively stinking piece of wax. Neither party a stranger to the label, and both armed with a particularly prominent sense of wonk and grit, the result is a triptych of grizzlers that will melt the pants of every member in the dance. "The Path" is pure electricity whomping back and forth, oozing over the kicks. "Haunted" is pure static, rusty chimes and occasional screams before the toxic bassline bites its way into the blend a little later than usual. "Sigil" closes the show with more of a rolling groove, hypnotic vocals and more beautifully pranged out textures. Rarefied bang on the money once again.
Review: Now packing a four label punch, White Peach/Fent Plates/Yellow Flowers bossman ZHA is also behind Naan, a label for his own persy explorations. Following his launch release earlier this year come two more eastern accented adventures; "Losing You" is a breathtaking piece of work as it carries a mournful sarangi, rolling hang drums and deep ominous synth tones to dark and dangerous corners of your mind. "Uncomfortable" maintains the mood with loosely plucked sarod twangs wrapping themselves around a stately swaggering halftime arrangement that doubles up on the fill with mean results. Bread of heaven.
Review: White Peach / Fent Plates bossman Zha returns with another delicious naan platter. "Mumbai" is like a spicy roti - crisp in its flavour, a pepper packing punch in the twisted shehnai blasts and scorched bass grunts. "The Tale Of She" is more of a puran poli. Deep, sweet flavours but don't think you won't have anything to chew or digest; there's a lingering wholesomeness running through the whole dish. Best served warm and with friends.
Review: Punch Drunk present another hitherto unfamiliar name in the form of Zhou, reminding you just what made dubstep so alluring in its infancy. The gorgeous chords which form the centrepoint of "I Remain" come on dark and exotic at once, while the devastatingly simple beat rolls and bumps with understated ripples of percussion. "Noburu" on the flip is a far more daring affair, as distant drones and low-end textures rumble in beatless space. For a first release on a prominent label limited to two tracks, it's an artist with utmost conviction that opts to fill a side with a few minutes of textural ambience. Highly recommended.
Review: Zhou's Punch Drunk debut back in 2011 was on of the darkest records to come out of Bristol since the demise of Skull Disco; although they've been active with various Young Echo related side projects since, this full return for the duo has been long awaited. Featuring tasty full sleeve designed by Tape Echo's Alex Digard, the single contains two takes on the same kind of classic West Country dub dread; "Locust Tree" takes terrifying atmospherics and powerful zombie halfstep rhythms that sounds like Shackleton's early material stripped of its flesh and left nothing but clattering bones, while "Locust Dub" takes much of the same backdrop and fills it in with more of a steppas rhythm and pulsing low end. The only criticism we can draw of this is that it makes you wish Zhou could produce more - essential.
Review: Canadian producer Zodiac (nee Jeremy Rose) was allegedly uncredited for his production on a record by The Weeknd, but now returns (fully credited) with his own EP for Jacques Greene's Vase label. What we get is five slices of exquisitely produced 'cerebral-hop', if you will. "GirlGirlGirl", basically takes an early 90s R&B sample and slows it right down, getting to a real grind pace, before draping it in silk sheets of seductive synths. "Come" is a bleepy, sleepy, slow jam with a Maxwell-style vocal from Jesse Boykins III. "Loss Config" is an unusual instrumental featuring a classical piano motif and "138", with its hands-in-the-air melodies and lilting beats, ends things on high. Classy stuff!
Review: Instalment # 2 of Hyperdub's rapid-fire assault on 2008 continues to mine the same rich bleep seam which kicked off with Kode9's remixes of 'Find My Way' and 'Skeng', rolled on through Quarta 330 and marks time right now with Ikonika. This latest release, 'Mush', bloods another pair of selectors fresh to the label; both Zomby and the on-fire Glaswegian producer Rustie. They have built up a dedicated following based on a string of off-key productions, with the ferric-oxide-like one hailed in a recent post on Dubstep Forum as "Autechre fighting Four Tet while grime and dubstep make bets in the background". Their first Hyperdub outing is headlined by Zomby's epic bleep symphony 'Mu5h' (yes, with a 5), a dramatic and melodic 8bit stepper, while the new retooling of 'Spliff Dub' - one of the scene's biggest tracks in the last 12 months - claims equal honours on the flip. Where Zomby's original followed on from the classic 1980s 'Sleng Teng' school of digital dancehall, Rustie's glitched version scuttles along with wonky denatured percussion, jiggy groove, speaker busting bass, blaring synths and a chopped-up vocal instructing you how to 'keep the evil away'.
Review: Woof! Hyperdub bring together two of the most recognisable and enigmatic artists of recent times on this 10", as Zomby and Burial square down ahead of the former's new album for the label. Zomby's Ultra LP is undoubtedly one of this year's most anticipated albums and "Sweetz" suggests it may be a very moody affair indeed. Whilst rooted in UK dance, Zomby and Burial do look elsewhere for inspiration too. Just under seven minutes long, "Sweetz" veers through various sub-heavy soundscapes with intermittent rhythmic patters and a distinctive looped vocal sample whose pitch changes with dramatic effect.
Review: Grab a blanket or a big coat; this one's cold... Following his well-received "Future" EP on Foundation (and releases on the likes of Encrypted and Indigo Movement), Zygos delivers two more pulsating, floor-focussed constructions. "Shivering" will rippled your skin to its bones with the cascading paranoid textures trickling down a wholly wet groove. "Gwari" steps even deeper into the dance with a rolling drum arrangement, palpitating basses, tight percussion and eerie pipes that fuses with serious hypnosis. Both Zygos and Rarefied are making serious statements here.
Review: Belgian ice king Zygos dents the Unity discog with two crucial pieces of bass weight. "Kanuri" is a powerful minimal prowler that, with the help of some subtle psycho stabs, builds into a dramatic centrepiece. Flip for "Shutdown", a track that lives up to its name with a technoid rampancy that refuses to quit as a gritty kick drives the percussive layers with edge and momentum. It doesn't get more hypnotic than this.
Review: It's been a great year for Belgian basssmith Zygos. Having kicked off the year on Chad Dubz Foundation with the "Future" EP and appearing on Encrypted, Rarefied and Subaltern throughout the year, he now ends 2017 with another precision sub-low serenade. "Erf" is the creeper of the set, all foggy and graveyard stomping, "Nostromo" is the emotional moment with a swooning slo-mo Q&A that's pregnant in hope while "Agite" plays the consummate cosmic piece with sci-fi flurries zipping back and forth over a loosely-hemmed drum arrangement. Finally "Dwaas" ends on a motely note as Zygos teams up with Tosti for a sense-rattling finale where the percussion is scattered over the bass in a funky cascading way. Time to fly.
Review: One of the earliest acts to appear on Rarefied, Belgium's darkest dubstep wizard Zygos returns with three more beguiling constructs. "SFG" ignites the fires with an intoxicating mystic flare and traditional Greek instruments, "Forward" plays the consummate graveyard creeper of the EP, all icy and foreboding but driven with some expert rolling rhythm work before "Late Night Escort" takes us home and tucks us in under shrouds of bluesy harmonics.
Review: Heavy rotation: Belgium badman Zygos returns to Foundation Audio with a full range of sounds. Three tracks, three vibes: opener "Rotation" is just as much of a techno jam as it is a dubstep track, all rolling motion and layers of percussion, "Sick As A Dog" brings the graveyard ghetto vibes, all spooky pads, groaning bass and rattlesnake snare rolls while "Tumble Dub" closes business on much more of a traditional halftime swagger vibe but with a mechanical hook that lives up to its name. Loopy business. Zygos always smashes it.
Review: The original enfant terrible of the bass music world is back with a new album, marking his second long player for 4AD with a sprawling opus of more than 30 skits and skirmishes daubed in his trademark colourful sonic scrawl. There is plenty here that reminds you of the early days of the producer's emergence when dubstep was a younger beast, from the spacious "Horrid" to the measured arpeggios of "Pray For Me", but you'll also find more intricate musings such as the dynamic and dramatic "Memories". Hype abounds on the creepy Funky of "VI-XI", while "Overdose" launches enthusiastically into a jungle tear out. At any given turn, you'll find yourself surprised, lurched from a serene mood into a manic one, only to be tempered again. There's a staggering range of ideas and styles to comprehend here, but would you want it any other way from one of electronic music's most outspoken upstarts?
Review: The original enfant terrible of the bass music world marks his second long player for 4AD with a sprawling opus of more than 30 skits and skirmishes daubed in his trademark colourful sonic scrawl. There is plenty here that reminds you of the early days of the producer's emergence when dubstep was a younger beast, from the spacious "Horrid" to the measured arpeggios of "Pray For Me", but you'll also find more intricate musings such as the dynamic and dramatic "Memories". Hype abounds on the creepy Funky of "VI-XI", while "Overdose" launches enthusiastically into a jungle tear out. At any given turn, you'll find yourself surprised, lurched from a serene mood into a manic one, only to be tempered again. There's a staggering range of ideas and styles to comprehend here, but would you want it any other way from one of electronic music's most outspoken upstarts?
Review: The eccentric Rudi Zygadlo has always been one of Planet Mu's more interesting acts, but he seems to be getting even more fascinating as the years roll by. His particular USP - vivid pop music that mines a near-bottomless well of influences - allows him great freedom to go in any direction he wishes. Taking the stuccato rhythms of dubstep as a starting point, Tragicomedies finds him romping through woozy and often intensely colourful pop songs that variously touch on '80s synth-funk, R&B, glitch-hop, fuzzy electro and strange electro-folk. There are strings, vintage synths, middle-eastern instruments and Lord knows what else. It's hard to describe, to be honest, but it's pretty darn good.