Review: Roska dusts off his rare Bakongo alias for a trip down Livity street with three technoid excursions. Every bit as sci-fi as they are bashy; opener "Momoweb" lights the touch-paper with angular android skittishness, ping-ponging back and forth as though Modeselektor have been given the keys to UK funky tank. "Disposition" twirls with a flourishing reverse loop and steppy hi-hats in a way that wouldn't go amiss in a Rolando set, while "Goulbap" closes on a more stripped back bashment trip, all creepy and laced with decaying harmonics. Goulishly good.
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: Having shot into the limelight in 2012 with a 12" on Hessle Audio followed up by an outing on Liberation Technologies, Bandshell has since been on covert operations largely centred around releasing his music himself via Bandcamp. Now he's extended that practice into the B.S.Hell label, providing a physical presence to his wayward experimentation on the fringes of bass music. It's a sound that naturally aligns with the likes of Batu and Laksa, but also defiantly makes its own statement as well. With five tracks of distinctive drum science and textural voodoo to indulge in, this is a welcome return to wax for a thrilling, self-motivated producer.
Review: Sometime Arcola artist Basic Rhythm returns to action via a fine four-track missive on Hypercolour's rave-inspired little sister, Sneaker Social Club. As you might expect, he's hit the mark once again via a quartet of cuts that gleefully blur the boundaries between a myriad of bass-music styles. We're particularly enjoying the broken computer style electronics, scattergun drums and discordant sci-fi sounds of "Too Nuff" and the Actress style madness of "London Warehouse", though we could also make a case for the sludgy vocal samples, post-dubstep pulse and weighty sub of "Ready Again" and slightly more melodious "New Style". In other words, it's a very strong EP.
Review: His first new material as Basic Rhythm since his 2017 album The Basics, the London artist known as East Man steps over to Warp offshoot Arcola for two heady dancefloor slap-abouts. "Dough Boy" is a beautiful magpie of a track that comprises classic jungle pads, a naughty LFO style bassline and Art Of Noise-style talking keyboard notes while "Can't You See" slows the rave right down and strips the vibe right back to its emotional, naked essentials. With an EP on Sneakers Social Club coming up soon too, it's a great time to be a Basic Rhythm fan right now.
Review: Basic Rhythm's second appearance on Planet Mu plots a path from hardcore to footwork via jungle in devastating fashion. The A side houses the kinetic "2 Da Core" with mashed up vocal samples and crunchy drums into a bass heavy bomb, followed by "Get Up" with its hazy vocal samples and fat bass which comes together into a weird and wonderful rhythm. RP Boo's remixes are rather few and far between but we're treated to one here that is icy and skeletal, with echoing hits ringing out over impossibly deep sub bass. "Nah Ramp" is a destructive final offering with off grid clatter and lurching drums keeping you in a spin.
Review: It's been a while since Blackest Ever Black turned the key in their A14 machine but it's clearly in working order as Beneath takes us for late night drive through the murkiest of bass/techno/breakbeat hinterlands. "Cloudy" is a sludgy, warped jam that would sound just as good in an Om Unit set as it would a Radioactiveman selection. For a little more grunt flip for the stripped back and rolling "Outsource" where the industrial strength drums suddenly get wrapped up in a short series of pure chord uplift. Hardboiled just as A14 likes to cook them; let's hope both parties don't leave it so long next time...
Review: Cong Burn made a mighty splash with its first release, clearly flaunting the kind of wares you'd expect to hear from Livity Sound alumni or other such esteemed techno renegades. The second installment is no slouch either, featuring a new cast of crooked creators offering up their wares for the modern mutant dancefloor. BFTT has a weighty low end thrum powering "Public/Private", while Lack takes things in a scuffed and nimble direction. Chekov pushes out into more experimental pastures with the broken beats and displaced sound design of "Celeste" and Howes creates a wonderful strain of mystical deep house for darkened souls. Each one of these tracks is loaded with flair and personality, yards ahead of your average generic knock offs and presenting something with real merit to the convoluted world of dance music.
Review: Big Hands, big heart, big ideas; Milan man now based in London Andrea Bonalumi blesses us with his biggest release to date on Beat Machine. Fractured, frazzled and fried in future innovation, we're blindsided by the offbeat bubbles on "Prequel" and shunted and stuttered by disco freakery on "More Than Love". Elsewhere the title track boils things down to a much sludgier, warped and weird shuffle, "Tensegrity" reimagines rave for a modern day jilted generation while "Kick Blood" kicks us down a twisted UKG rabbit hole. "Blood" concludes this extensive extended player both in its breakbeat original form and gun-toting instrumental grime take from Walton. Big.
Review: The seventh volume in Beat Machine's ongoing "Swinging Flavors" series of singles arrives on vibrant turquoise vinyl. This time round, it's a relatively new artist at the controls: Breaka, whose debut 12" on Holding Hands tickled our fancy earlier in the year. Happily, "Damn Hot" lives up to its title, brilliantly joining the dots between the snappy drum machine snares, cut up vocal samples and incessant hustle of Chicago Juke, the crunchy breakbeat since of old school jungle, and the futurist intent of contemporary drum and bass. It's really rather good, all told, with Danny Scrilla's flipside remix - a spacey fusion of intergalactic synthesizer melodies and ruffneck early '90s jungle tropes - also hitting the sweet spot.
Review: Grid bunning, convention shunning heaviness of the highest order right here from BTG bossman Bulu as he offers a lesser spotted solo EP. Well, we say solo but of course his mate and all round super G Etch is along for the ride for "Collide". An outer planetary stepper with trippy tendrils and a DJ Trace style ricochet bassline, it's joined by Bulu's own cosmic basher "Fiyah", a divine space age breakbeat remix from J Shadow, and a bumping turbo jungle shake up from Itoa. All essential; in this case if you don't play with fiyah, you're gonna get burnt...
Review: Burial's first multiple-track release since "Rival Dealer" three years ago: "Young Death" takes the lead with weave of deep, scratchy and evocative human textures while soulful vocal shards yearn and flutter over soft faraway beats. "Nightmarket" takes an even more introspective meander through the shadowy unknown with fractured arpeggios, distant whispers and thick graininess that envelops almost overwhelmingly. As forward, unusual and unique as ever, Burial remains in a league of his own. Limited.
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 bassheads Lurka and Batu have long been friends, so its little surprise to see them join forces for a collaborative effort on the former's freshly minted Fringe White label. The untitled track lurking (sorry) on the A-side is an analogue affair built around heavy sub bass, metallic rhythms and flashes of vintage Motor City electronics, as if the duo has reinvented Yorkshire bleep for the broken techno generation. Flip for a metronomic 4/4 slammer with subtle UK funky influences (particularly in the mutilated, Serato's-gone-mental melodies), and a sparser, more electro influenced cut that bounces, bobs and weaves impressively.
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: Alex Banks has endured something of a stop-start career, first hitting record shelves in 2007 under the Munk 777 alias before finally returning - largely as a renowned DJ and remixer - a couple of years back. Here the Brighton producer finally fulfils his early promise with an excellent debut album for Modeselektor's Monkeytown Records. Illuminate sits somewhere between grandiose post-dubstep, sinewy string-laden deep house, jazz-flecked techno, murky glitch-hop and folksy electronica, with grandiose dancefloor moments (the gloriously rushing "Inititate") nestling side by side with woozier, more introspective pieces (the Bonobo-goes-electronic jazz of "Lights"). Immaculately produced and impressively atmospheric throughout, it's the sort of debut album that should propel Banks towards the upper echelons of electronic music.
Review: Little is still known about Butterfred besides the fact that their melting pot can withstand a lot of ingredients and influences. From lo-fi hip hop to grime to dancehall to UKG to bass to Detroit to bare naked experimentalism, the flavours are tangible. They also seem to be pretty prolific as this is the second album in less than a year. And, just like LP 1, it's a beguiling, far-reaching experience that spans from the broken b-boy grunts of "Make It Work" and "Now You Know" to the glacial slo-mo techno of "Magnesium" and the oceanic bliss of "Shove It". Vast and stark; we can believe it's Butterfred.
Review: It seems fitting that the hundredth and final volume in the "FabricLive" mix series should also be its most hotly anticipated. Coming from heavyweight heroes Kode9 and Burial - whose previous back-to-back mix for Mary-Anne Hobbs' show eight years ago has reached near mythical status. The album is a wonderfully full-throttle and mixed-up affair, with the shadowy bass lieutenants giddily flitting between quick-fire sections focusing on South African gqom, footwork, Juke, vintage hardcore, early jungle and more contemporary dancefloor experimentalism, each broken up by typically blazed and paranoid ambient interludes and the occasional surprise selection. There's a lot going on throughout, but that only adds to the fun. In other words, it's a triumphant finale to a landmark mix series.