Review: "Stableface", one of the standout tracks from Lithuanian producer Eleven Tigers' debut album "Clouds Are Mountains" found itself pride of place on this 12" release from Soul Motive. Opening with an extended intro of cracked Burial-like atmospherics, the track soon gains a life of its own with its minimal 2-step beat and cracked vocal samples, complete with the kind of intricate melodicism of Four Tet. On the flip side Bristol's Peverelist turns in a fine reworking of the track. Taking the already sparse original and extending its panoramic reach even further, he concentrates on the micro qualities of the rhythms, opens up huge holes in the original's deft tapestry and creates a masterful reworking which brings out the dubstep within its DNA.
Review: Since launching in 2014, Portland's ZamZam Sounds imprint has offered up a string of beautifully packaged seven-inch singles from a mixture of big hitters and rising stars from the global bass music scene. Their latest missive comes from Dayzero, a Japanese dubstep producer best known for his outings on Wheel & Deal, Sentry and, most recently, Vomitspit. The two tracks here are weighty, intergalactic and otherworldly, mixing dub style rhythms with the kind of angular, razor-sharp sub-bass motifs more often associated with dancefloor dubstep. Both cuts are quality, though it's rolling A-side "Orbit Dub" - all lolloping dub beats, wobble bass, metallic effects and paranoid aural textures - that really stands out.
Review: Peng Sound revisit their highly sought after debut release. Just shy of two years old, it still rattles and hums with authentic dub warmth and drama. Gorgon Sound's original bubbles with bouncy heat as the bass modulations spring off the double-up kicks. Dubkasm's version is equally alluring as we're invited into a much wider space where guitar shots and other melodic elements are entwined into the mix. One timeless composition, two killer versions, if you weren't lucky enough to grab this first time round, you know what to do!
Review: James Blake's debut album is undoubtedly one of 2011's most keenly awaited releases, and its arrival via his own (major label funded) Atlas imprint ensures their is no lull in momentum for a producer who enjoyed a watershed 2010 with releases on Hessle Audio and R&S. The results here differ wildly from his previous sonic excursions - gone are the shimmering R&B soaked melodies of "CMYK" and the sheer experimentalism of the Klavierwerke EP, which saw the young Londoner depart from the confines of the dancefloor and enter a realm where there was only a passing reference to rhythm-based music. Instead we are treated to Blake's own yearning, raw voice, delicate pianos and an underlying sense of melancholy. Ubiquitous single "Limit To Your love" and the crackly sonic terrain evoked on "The Wilhelm Scream" are among the most immediately pleasing moments, but there is much to explore here. It's a fascinating opus and surely the catalyst to a long and fruitful career at the top.
Review: Dub maestro Mala joins forces with prominent British writer, dub poet and Rastafarian Benjamin Zephaniah and Natty for this heavy hitting, hand-stamped 12". "I'm a bad man anyway, this is my sound" says Zephaniah with real passion as spaced out pads and delicate chords soften his battle cry, and his musings on the black man's struggle, righteousness and Rastafarianism play out in absorbing fashion. Best believe this one is going to become a real cult favourite, not least because of the exceptional sound design and sense of space inherent in any Mala tune.
Review: At long last, Von D makes his Deep Medi debut and he's packing some serious Egyptian-Greek wisdom for the ride. We kick off with "Chestlick", a tune that lives up to its name with thick sludgy waves of low-end dynamics oozing out of the speakers. It's followed by the EP title track "Hermetica". Featuring the vocals of Sinerise, there's a deeper sense of contemplation as the wonky loose beats swagger with dubby hypnosis and all manner of trippy layers. Finally Von D signs out with "Symbolism". Tapping into the traditional dub style with consummate ease, it's the sound of Von D delivering an EP we've been eager to see for a long, long time. Salute.
We A Talk (feat Dread MC & Rider Shafique - remix) (4:38)
We A Talk (instrumental remix) (4:39)
Review: Talk is cheap but these sounds are rich. A big moment from Ishan Sound as he lays down the smokiest of steppers beneath Dread MC and Rider Shafique. A true graveyard creeper loaded with enough feels to get the undead raising their lighters, it's one of the biggest 140 moments this side of lockdown. The vibes continue with a crisp instrumental and the sharper instrumental bumper "Red". Power sounds. Less talk, more listening.
Review: Hyperdub kick off the vinyl side to their ten-year celebrations with this weighty four-tracker from some of the leading lights from the label's story. Mala is in a strident mood with "Expected, Level 10" carrying through that extra touch of melody from the Mala In Cuba LP. DVA cuts loose with the leftfield scattershot groove of "Technical Difficulties", reveling in tonal experimentation and jagged rhythmic flair to a stunning end. Still locked into the sci-fi trap tangent that characterised Severant, Kuedo turns out the haunting "Mtzpn" and Helix pops up for a remix of Kode9's "Xingfu Lu" that strips down to bare essentials with a little starlit soul rubbed into the framework.
Review: Epoch returns! And he's packing some of his rarest steez since "Soundboy Abduction". All air raid sirens, trippy widescreen basses and a scientific spoken word all comprise to form a brutal wall of sound slo-mo drama on "V1" while "Roacher" bubbles with a technoid sense of playfulness and unpredictability. Finally "Rib Cage" takes the surreal sensations to even higher levels with a melting intro, nagging hi-end percussion and the strangest harmonic strings ever to grace an Innamind release. Truly singular.
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: While he's offered up the occasional remix, William "Burial" Bevan has been rather quiet of late. In fact, this two-tracker marks his first original material for almost two years. Lead cut "Claustro" is an unexpectedly up-tempo dancefloor affair - a sweet and sticky chunk of future-garage that sees Bevan wrap sugary female vocal snippets, spacey chords and bubbly analogue electronics around snappy two-step beats - drenched in vinyl crackle and tape hiss - and a rock solid bassline. It will raise a few eyebrows given his previous work but nevertheless sounds like a summer anthem in waiting. Bevan returns to familiar territory on flipside cut "State Forest", a ghostly, field recording-laden ambient excursion where pedal steel style motifs slowly rise above opaque electronics.
Review: Since 2015, deep dubstep explorer Corin Bornoff AKA Karma has put out one EP a year. This year's was delayed, it seems, but it has finally appeared - just as 2018 is wheezing its' last, scarlet-faced breath. Opener "Bluefoot" was arguably worth the wait, though. Built around a skewed but still stepping, reggae-fired dubstep "ridim", the track shuffles along on a wave of hushed shakers, ultra-deep sub-bass and intergalactic dub-wise effects. Over on the flipside, "Choose Life" is surprisingly positive, with Bornoff wrapping ear-catching synthesizer melodies, alien electronics and UK steppas style bass around a punchy drum track.
Review: It's been another banger of a year for Ricky Kalsi with a string of releases on his own Nebula imprint plus the likes of Dream Eater, Rotpot and Green King Cuts. Here he makes a very rare appearance on N-Type's Wheel & Deal with two more dark juggernauts. "Bad Trip" cracks open the heavens before the melted bassline oozes out and rains pure prang. "Rolling Skies" continues the theme of heavy weather as Kromey and the bossman go toe-to-toe in an intense game of militant funk. Bad to the bone.
Review: It's hard to think of a DJ with the global profile of Nina Kraviz who runs a label as underground and innovative as trip. The latest comes from Shadowax, who has previously contributed to the label's compilations but now makes her full label debut. Unlike much of the frantic and frenetic material trip has dealt with in the past, this EP slows the tempos and explores more moody and hypnotic techno. Opener "Nikolai Reptile" is a super slow motion and dub rhythm with searching synth lines gently riding up and down the scale, while "Ochen" recalls the icy minimal perfection of Daniel Bell. "What About Me" has spoken word mutterings and paranoid, pressurised kicks that hurry you along and lastly "Mortal Talking" is a flurry of hyper-speed drums and synth loops to fully flip you out.
Review: 1985 don Perez gets back on the 140 ruffage and once again it's carnage. Swaggering, moody and unlike anything anyone else is doing, each cut bites with grilled menace. "Ravana" is all about the slow motion chainsaw harmonics, "Lifeline" is just raw subby hench stenchism, "Post-Mortem" stings with much more of a trippier, waspy edge before "Ends" finishes the business with a series of subverted rave and techno elements with Headland. Impeccable as always.
Review: Last year Burial and the Bug joined forces as Flame 1, delivering an in-demand EP on the latter's Pressure label featuring two sizable slabs of industrial strength soundsystem science. Here they return as Flame 2, once again offering up a pair of weighty dancefloor excursions. A-side "Dive" is a loud and claustrophobic affair, as the duo wraps dystopian dub bass and sparse, mutilated post-drill rhythms in layers of apocalyptic aural textures and mind-altering dub techno style processed noise. Flipside "Rain" is arguably more suitable for dancefloor plays and sees the esteemed twosome combine pulverizing sub-bass heaviness with dancehall style drums that come smothered in mind-melting effects and paranoia-inducing aural smoke.
Review: Bristol-based badman Borai has been quietly issuing some of the city's most immense club wreckers for many years now, sometimes in partnership with October, and sometimes flying solo (as on the crucial Anybody From London for Hotline Recordings). Here he's inaugurating Higher Level with some absolute dance slayers, kicking off with the mammoth pitched-down drum funk and gut-wrenching bass of "Razor" before switching stance for the dreamier but no less rowdy "Predators." Both cuts are a masterclass in classic breakbeat science, delivering the foundational UK sound with panache that sets these weapons far apart from the rest of the pack.
Review: Classical violinist / low-end-murker Opus returns to his White Peach family with this four track treat after a few exemplary outings on the likes of Chestplate and Simply Deep. "This Damn Feeling" takes the lead and sets the mood with drama. Its big boom bass and tight spine sitar twangs are followed by a full menu of ideas and explorations. "Day & Age" wriggles with that high end harmonic we all fell in love with in 2008 before twinkling arpeggios bring on the goosebumps like you'd never believe. Flip for more goodies... "Ghost" takes us to the Upside Down with its toxic waste bass and icy vocal shots before "Renegade" concludes the EP on a dank, sludgy one. This damn EP!
Review: Bristol label Peng Sound return to Rise, the Gorgon Sound EP released earlier this year with a fresh dose of versions from the Dubkasm crew that will satisfy every self respecting soundsystem operator out there. All four cuts from Kahn and Neek's release have been reworked and renamed by Dubkasm, who utilise their legendary soundtrac CM440 mixing console, carefully channelling the track's signals through chains of spring reverb, tape delays and specially crafted effects modulators. Dubkasm's DJ Stryda and Digistep have done an excellent job of plunging the Gorgon Sound even deeper into the realms of dub culture and the version theme extends to the artwork too with Tape Echo reworking the cover from the Gorgon Sound EP with equally impressive results
Review: Three releases deep, each one an absolute peach: Youngsta's Sentry label has been total fire so far. Kicking off with dBridge, then Nomine, now the label take us to New Zealand for its third outing as Akcept takes the controls and proceeds to drive on both sides of the road; "Dreader Than Dread" is an epic bounce back 10 years with its brazenly funk horns and rolling chubby bass groove while "Howl" is a lot more spaced out, starker, late night jam with a fatty sub line that should come with a health warning. Stay alert.
Review: He's back... Riding on the crest of his near-majestic collaboration with Subscape for UKF's UKF10 series this spring The Others flips the switch once again with two dark designs on the consistently on-point Sentry. Revealing much ruff corners of his underbelly, we kick off with "Shaolin", a track that's powered by agruff sandpaper funk bassline and warped, skewed Japanese strings. It's followed by "Feedback" where every shade of The Others we love is whipped up in a blender; an epic intro, a gritty bassline, off-beat funk and sudden shards of light breaking through as the track progresses. After a few release-light years, it seems The Others has really and truly got the bug again. More please.
Review: Last spotted on Artikal a little way back in December 2018 with the powerful "Systematic" EP, the deep trio LSN return to J:Kenzo's imprint with four more beguiling explorations. "AI" is loose, woozy and rolls with some fantastically off-grid breaks, "Spirit Dub" is a steppy odyssey waiting to crack heads while "Machine" is moody, muggy number with more loose kicks, wandering keytar leads and stacks for space for the space-bound vocals. Finally we hit the funkiest cut of the collection: "Breakin'". Dreamy, sleazy and guaranteed to take you to faraway places. Celebrate to automate.
Review: Felix Ruocco aka Deadcrow hails from The Hague, n the Netherlands, which is mostly associated with rip-snorting electro. He is a master of the dub, however, and now makes his debut on Artikal with a killer two tracker that has already been tearing up dubstep dancehalls. Opener "Scrape" has a real sense of character with its playful lead echoing a classic top line, while the reggae drums below are finished with a truly contemporary aesthetic. "Concrete" is all steel drums, wobbling low end and happy guitar riffs for sunny climes.
Review: Fresh Sector 7, Bristol's Drone makes his debut on V.I.V.E.K's System Sound with two smoking slabs of bass weight. "Amphibious" funks up the radar for a bleep excursion through the swampiest of textures with only a trippy riser and noir spoken word. Flip for "Lucid Dreams" where things take a creepier undertone thanks to the cavernous space, waterdrops, roomy switchy kicks, pranged out reverse manoeuvres and a sub as thick as marmite. Immense.
Review: We're not sure who Leftlow is/are but anything with the System stamp of approval passes all necessary filters. Especially when the lead track whisks you straight back to 2006 with the squelchiest hook this side of "Cluedub"'s dub dungeon and a sub grumpier than thunder. "Boa" is a little more contemporary in its minimal Rotterdam style. Strange, stripped back and sprung with a peculiar bounce that's as addictive as it is trippy, with its soft, subtle kick it's a genuinely unique piece of 140 craft. For good measure Skeptical swings by for a knock out remix of "Cluedub" where even more flabby low end gets baked in the mix. Don't get left out.
Review: Fresh from tidy 2019 EPs on Sector 7 Sounds and System Music, Drone returns to the latter label with his first missive of 2020. There's plenty of highlights stretched across the EP's two slabs of wax, with our favourites including the creepy mix of deep dubstep rhythms and Autechre style melodies that is "20 K", the slow-burn headiness of "Flooded" - where picturesque watery melodies ride a skeletal beat and vibrating sub-bass - and the aggressive late night dancefloor paranoia of "Fear". SP:MC provides a tasty rework of that cut, focusing the action on a crunchier rhythm track and pulverising waves of distorted analogue bass.
Review: Yes! It's high time Youngsta featured on his own label and it's happening right here with "Progress". Laying down a creepy graveyard groove laced with all precision balance of funk, space and swampiness, it's the perfect beat for Killa P and Long Range to do their thing. Extolling the virtues of hard hustling, investment and caring for those closest, both P and the Long man go in as hard as the track itself with some wholesome food for thought on life directions. "Progress" yourself today...