Review: Hessle Audio's emergence from hibernation in 2012 really has seen the label release some of the most extraordinary music of its life, and this EP from Bandshell might top the lot. Tapping into the grainy, murky sound world of the like of STL, Shed and Actress, this record explores strange rhythms constantly on the verge of breaking out into a frenzy. The title track is comprised of little more than rattling percussion and dense, fizzy bass, while "Rise 'Em" places a jungle breakbeat atop a mucky hum. On the flip, "Metzger" takes the vibe of classic dubstep and fills it with subtle melodies and clipped snares, but "Dog Sweater" is the real killer - a homage to soundsystem culture whose threadbare rhythms are the only thing to stop you being dragged into the track's viscous centre. Make no mistake, this is a serious new talent.
Review: Fresh in the chem trails of his Bandulu release, the inimitable Bengal Sound crash lands back into our psyches with his disarming, not-of-this-world take on 140 music. "Young Skeleton" arrives just in time for Halloween, scaring the dickens out of us with its warped humanised tones, dusty atmospheres and distant chimes. "Coroners" takes us from the graveyard to the morgue... But with these hazy arpeggiated trinkles and eerie shimmers are we stepping towards the light or simply waking up? That's for you to work out.
Review: Bandulu strike again! This time with fellow kindred system spirit Bengal Sound. Two more totally disarming, otherworldly experiments, if you've just returned from Outlook then you'll already know what damage these are causing. "Never Mind" warms up with graveyard stroll before opening up into a strange shimmering organ riff that doesn't quite sound as if it's made on this planet. "Short Stay" meanwhile twists up the percussion and drum arrangements, making them almost breathe with trippy toxicity and a wooziness you just can't find in any other style of music. One of a kind and already teased out a few months ago. This new batch won't last long.
Review: It was only a matter of time before Boofy landed on Pinch's Tectonic. Both Bristol. Both magnetised to the fringes. Both responsible for untold low end hurters like these... "Back In The Box" is a heavy pressure cut with pneumatic kicks and ominous stretched brass textures while "Herbie" is a highly strung piece that's stripped back to just drums, subs and an eerie faltering lead and builds and twists when you least expect it. Flip for the churchy chords and rattled percussion of "In My Head" before "Perfunktion" closes with jazzier chords and a stone cold steppy kick arrangement. Classic Boofs.
Review: It's time to step into the Bristol shadows with Sector 7 once again as label co-runner Boofy invites Young Echo to the fray for two instrumental grime / dub hybrids. "Roll The Dice" pelvises with its dense subs and shimmering atmospheric textures while shattering trap snare roll and a mystic melody and skippy drum arrangement flicker in and out of the foreground. "Cane Sword" is a little more on the pure grime tip with some superb drum momentum, breathless atmospheres and cool samples that skid to a halt when you least expect them. Roll again...
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: Dropping a searing double pack of 10" badness ahead of the forthcoming Angels & Devils album, The Bug is back in business with some apocalyptic gutter bass of the highest order. "Freakshow" matches the leering delivery of Danny Brown with the sinister croon of King Midas Sound's Kiki Hitomi over a horn-laden trap swagger to devastating effect. "Louder" pits Flowdan in the depths of a nauseating half-step march, while "Dirty" takes the London MC into a barrage of equally nerve-jangling drum rattles and alarm-clanging stabs. Long-time Bug collaborator Daddy Freddy rolls up his sleeves for "Kill Them", anchoring the dread stomp with a fearsome growl as anthemic as it is nihilistic.
Review: Aside from having a stellar catalogue of releases that span from labels like Reflex to Hyperdub, Kevin Martin's The Bug project has been a foundational pillar of the UK dubstep and bass scene. if there has always been one producer to take things one step further and challenge the dance with each new tune, it's most certainly this producer. No wonder he's been releasing music on Ninja Tune for ages, and that he's back on the label now with this new EP. "Box" features revered grime MC D Double E on the mic, and the collaboration between the two results in utter carnage, a visceral grime banger backed by The Bug's twisted concoctions of beats and bass; check the instrumental, too. "Iceman" is a similar sort of curbside killer, this time with Riko Dan on the vocals, and followed by that gnarly instrumental cut...oof!
Review: After a decidedly silent 2013 Burial is back on Hyperdub with a new single that points to pastures new for the stealthy producer. "Rival Dealer" is sure to polarize opinion as it takes a positively unexpected route into hardcore breaks, static interference, all manner of oddball speech samples, diversions and switches in dynamics, and a willfully grainy production finish that borders on punk. Depending on where you choose to dive into the ten-minute track the experience could be very different; experiencing it in full is nothing short of a rollercoaster. "Hiders" too is full of surprises, more indebted to pop balladry than anything remotely garage related, and the emotive croon and swooning piano is only magnified by a Yazoo-esque drum stomp at the midway point. "Come Down To Us" is equally heartfelt, all slow release vocals and languid chords yet constantly fractured at the edges, with yet more surprising turns of bombast waiting in the wings over thirteen minutes.
Review: Repress alert! Wednesday: Hyperdub announce a new three track release from enigmatic producer Burial - his first solo work in four years. Thursday: Said records arrive on Juno doorstep. How's that for service (and secrecy)! The news came just a matter of days after the producer's collaboration with Radiohead front man Thom Yorke and Four Tet arrived on record shelves across the UK and promptly sold out amidst a frenzy of hype. There are three new tracks on offer here, namely "Street Halo", "NYC" and "Stolen Dog". First up "Street Halo" showcases the classic Burial sound; subterranean bass gurgles, trademark clicking beats and barely-there vocal snatches. A sweet childlike vocal pervades the sonic mist on "NYC" while "Stolen Dog" closes out with ethereal vocal harmonies buried deep beneath vinyl crackle. Stunning.
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: 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: The Dream Eater crew have got the munchies again and it's another all-star feast featuring some of the label's most forward-thinking beat splicers. Teetering on the trippiest peripheries of instrumental grime, highlights include the seasick rolling breaks and disassociated humanised twangs of Kotei's "BUN", BThorough's vital rainbow-razzled pipe blaster "Flutter" and Filthy Gears' monstrous trappist drama slammer "Peace Treaty". Happy nightmares.
Review: Volume Six of Tempa Allstars collects contributions from some of the underground music scene's pioneers and leading lights Skream. "Rollin' Kicks" begins the EP with a tapping drumbeat and a Breakage hued sonic palette (circa "Open Up") which is a million miles away from Magnetic Man. D&B-turned-dubstep minimalist Icicle steps up with "Anything". Crisp, acerbic breaks feature heavily, perfectly calculated beats and a futuristic touch. Falty DL adds a funky touch with "Sunday" as chirpy bleeps and bellows of bass underpin the fidgeting rhythms here, with notable sunny, upbeat vibes in the synth work. Benga injects a dose of humour with the ticking percussive lisp and robotic chant of "I Come From London" driving things along into a hypnotic state of sentiency. SBTRKTs "Sleep In Tokyo" is all broken, funked up beats, warm keys and delicately textured rhythms. Alix Perez brings the EP to a close with "Metric". Deep, atmospheric crackling, crisp SFX and rumbling subs roll along with dark menace. A superb finale to one of the finest releases in the Tempa Allstars series so far.
Review: Deep grime instrumentals; few labels are doing it like Oil Gang. The clue's in the title - the tight-knit London crew are dealing strictly in sinister, seeping, dark, slick sounds. This one's even darker than usual as Spooky drops the aggro and goes straight in with the deep dagger dynamics. All stealth-like and creepy, "Low Rider" isn't a track you want on your headphones walking home through the wrong postcode at night. Boylan ups the energy with a stampier twist the rhythm and a dramatic riff croaking from the humanized bass tones. Badness.
Review: Having first collaborated on Oil Gang two years ago, Trends & Boylan have developed a heavyweight reputation across the 140 territories and here they take things to a whole new level with their debut album Bedlam. The title says it all; fork-tongued grime, savage beats and a rollcall of MC titans. From the previous Riko-fronted single "Kreuger" to the neck snap two step of "Crack Ya Back" and the absolute gutter operatics of "The Eye", the whole 12 track trip swathes through the grime / dubstep axis with menace and confidence. Time to cause some bedlam.
Review: One of the most prominent and on-point dubstep labels to emerge in recent years, Youngsta's Sentry hits new peaks with their first V/A album. The full set will include the likes of Argo, Taso, Sukh Knight, Mr K, LSN, Nomine, Opus and many more contemporary low end visionaries. And it kicks off right here with a truly international collective; Truth, Caspa, Bukez Finezt, Onhell. From New Zealand to Cali via Germany and UK, all vibes are explored here... Cosmic swagger on Truth's "Simulation Theory", paranoid gravity-defying deepness on Caspa's "Anyone Else" and proper Mozart-flavoured 808 mischief from Bukez Finezt. Onhell brings this remarkable syndication to a close with the wavey, poignant "Sun Ra". Bring on the whole album.
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: Seven years have passed since Burial first stopped us dead in our tracks with this universally acclaimed second album.. Sounding so different, so removed and far away from anything else, it changed the game entirely - and created a whole school of imitators in its wake. Now repressed by Hyperdub, this is a rare opportunity to grab it on fresh wax. Even if you have this on other formats in your collection, the dusty weight and chasmic crackles sound so much better on vinyl.