Review: Emergent chameleons Letherette are making quite a splash following their initial appearances on Ho Tep and Brownswood, and they deliver their first EP for Ninja Tune with an assured tone to their hybrid sound. At times sounding positively housey and at others locked into a fractured kind of groove, the overwhelming feeling is one of savvy pop music that reaches for all the right kind of signifiers to hold weight with the underground without fearing to embrace song structures and brief moments of anthemic bombast. There is a largely downtempo feel to Featurette even when the tracks are a touch more lively, but it binds the EP together smartly to offer a cohesive group that appeal on many different levels.
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: Previously spotted on Boomarm Nation, Turkish bass experimentalists make their debut on Innamind's Blacklist imprint with four of the nuttiest, most far-out tracks you'll hear this season. Sitting somewhere between Modeselektor and Squarepusher but with dubbier roots, highlights include the tripped out harmonic headiness of "Heavy Machyn Gun" and "Phix", the slo-mo white knuckle ride with fellow Turk Gantz. Off the planetary hook.
Review: For their debut 12", freshly minted label Reflektion Tapes has pulled off something of a coup by signing up Von D, a storied producer who has released killer material on such imprints as Apron, Trojan Audio, Sub Freq and Black Acre. On this outing, the Frenchman showcases a pair of collaborative tracks. On the A you'll find "Dub Compulsion", a deliciously soulful, organic sounding hook-up with Deep Medi and Eglo sort Mizz Beats. While the crispy beats and bassline and suitably heavy, it's the wavering vocal samples and sparkling keys that really catch the ear. Former Diagrams man Mr Lager lends a hand on side two's "Some Other Place", a deep space fusion of delay-laden percussion hits, ultra-deep bass and swirling, intergalactic atmospherics.
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: 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: 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: Callum "Paleman" Lee is one of Swamp 81's most decorated artists, having released a string of well-regarded 12" singles for the hyped, bass-obsessed imprint. Yrs Ago is his third EP for the label's 81 offshoot, and sees him joining the dots between techno, post-dubstep bass music, and angular electronica. The title track sets the tone, with robotic voices, creepy electronics and smooth sub-bass riding a metallic, broken techno groove. Flipside "Animus" is a marginally more melodic affair, with spacey chords and bubbling arpeggio lines riding a punchy electro rhythm. Both tracks are naturally rather heavy, and undoubtedly amongst the producer's strongest work to date.
Review: If every record in The Weevil Neighbourhood acts as a location or hub within its community, this is the town hall. The nucleus from which all information and threads of consistency spread, it's where it began: 2011 with two robust, technoid dubby fusions that owe as much to Croydon as they do Detroit. The two came as a whole and have remained both in demand and breath-taking ever since. Still sounding contemporary and fresh, this is a timely reissue of a timeless release.
Review: Dubkasm's digi-dub roots dig deep into the early 90s. Boosted into the future by fellow Bristolians Pinch, Appleblim and Headhunter, here we find them declaring "Victory" with this instantly show-stopping horn-heavy skanker. Laced with space and complete with myriad versions, a fine balance of meditative bass and mind-blowing sonic creativity is at play throughout. Those with a penchant for the abyss-levels of dub science should jump straight on "Verse IV". Hear that stretched horn sound and you'll soon understand why it's been sub-titled "Raw Piece". Victory is yours!
Review: Two massive Pinch classics taken on by the mighty Kromestar; need we say more? Pinch's 2010 speaker shredder "The Boxer" gets an absolute fouling with epic distortion on the bass and swaggering drums. It's so heavy it's been on dub for at least two years. Flip for Kromestar's take on Pinch's 2011 Deep Medi murker "Swish" as it's given a bullet proof suit of armour ready for any militant war scenario. Both absolutely destroy the dance.
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: Where to place Weevil Neighbourhood? Is this dub techno? Perhaps. Dubstep? Maybe. Drum and bass? Sometimes. Experimental? Yes: in the truest sense of the word. It draws from all these aforementioned styles and more, resulting in the formation of a reclusive German label breaking the framework of many electronic music genres wide open. The title-track from Anthone's second EP for the label is where the dub techno suggestion comes from thanks to its caustic chord sequences, only there's flashes of dubstep beat designs and loose drum and bass textures similar to what can be heard on Felix K's Flowers Of Destruction. On the flip, "Lungs" is instrumental and live feeling. In parts it sounds like a band playing, while in others you can here the work of samplers looping, and when combined, it offers an industrial soundscape that's like merging some of the darker rock and metal stylings from Sex Tags No Amfibia with Regis' Sandra Electronics project, only reduced to the point of almost being ambient.
Review: Sukh Knight on White Peach. The stars really have aligned on this one. White Peach's penchant for innovative newness and Sukh's nose for rolling funk that's rooted in the late 2000s style while never looking nostalgic or like its covering old ground: you already know how good this is. "Beast" is the deeper roller of the pair with its pneumatic, well-oiled rhythm flowing like lava and the bass purring beneath. "Nightcrawler" is an instant banger with its ruffage sandpaper riff providing dry gully slaps and cheeky grime bass ping-pongs on the ones and fours. Classic Sukh. Classic White Peach.
Review: There seems to be a bit of a narrative here on Phrex's second Dubtopia release. Previously, Version bossman Orson had given us "Life Gamble". Now he's on his "Last Chance", and it's every bit as foreboding as you'd expect the final roll of the dice to be - menacing, pensive and lined with venomous acid. Bern's Phrex is experiencing a similar situation; while he previously told us about "Vectors In The Sky", he's now warning us of "Colliding Clouds" to the tune of quivering, tightly weaved top lines, trippy dub echoes and loose soft drums underpinned by a voluptuous rolling sub groove.
Review: Following last summer's scorching anonymous first CV white label "War / Fan Dem Off", RDG's label returns with another mysterious never-to-be-repressed doublet. Fittingly cold and wintry for this time of year, both "Sly" and the much-coveted "Teardrop" are taken to glacial places. Deep, smoky, spacious and foggy, both cuts burn long smouldering fires both at home and in the dance. Grab them while they're ice cold.
Review: It's been a while since we last heard from Kerem Sevincli AKA Iskeletor, an Istanbul-based beat-maker and bass-loving experimentalist who last featured on Tektosag way back in 2013. His return to the imprint boasts a trio of tracks on one-side, with an attractive, etched illustration on the other. He begins with "Afromax", a two-minute flurry of chopped experimental hip-hop beats, mangled bicycle bell and nuts-and-bolts percussion and wonky, shape-shifting electronics. Gantz Seytan remixes, cannily emphasizing the wonkiness of the beats on an outer-space excursion that's near hallucinatory in its twisted, slow motion approach. To round things off, Sevincli offers up his rework of Grup Ses cut "Mimar", re-casting it as a dystopian, ever-changing experimental beatscape rich in redlined sounds and epileptic drumbeats.
Review: Keeping it loose as we wade into a new year, Encrypted Audio ask Japan's Karnage back for more faraway jams. As with previous outings together, it's an enveloping sea of shades ranging from the woozily bent and cascading tones of "Leaper" that almost slime off the beats to the bleary flute loop that's mangled with precision levels of uplift on "Mysticism". In between we have the industrial strength "SOL" which sounds like a steel foundry melted into a waveform. Powerful.
Review: Longstanding Innamind representative Mikael sparks up our inner freaks once more with two system-primed sub smashers. "Wildfire" see-saws on a pivot-like atonal riff over a lolloping sub/kick flow and big splash rimshots while "Lintumies" is a spacier jam where stretched outer-space aesthetics play games with your head and the bass keeps kicking you out of orbit.
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: Scrub A Dub dub, two men in a tub. They're called Rapture 4D and newcomer Ruda and they're making some pretty stinking noises. "Hubble Flow Dub" transmits messages to the furthest corners of the cosmic over a rumpy-pumpy bass riff while "Left Hand Path" celebrates all the southpaws of the land with an eerie theramin-led bleep mosaic. Flip for two Rapture originals as "Skylab" takes us right down under the earth's crust with its swampy, gloopy flow and textures and "Kosmos Redshift" closes us on a freaky space jazz trip. Scrub's up!
Review: Up there with Swindle and Joker, dubstep's funkiest OG Silkie returns to Deep Medi with three more sublime grooves. Broken, cheery, just a little cheeky and swooning with switches, each of these cuts rattles and bashes with Silkie's signature west- coast-meets-UKG-in-a-long-dark-Croydon-tunnel melting pot: "Impervious" flips from orchestral epic to dreamy flutters before dropping into 80s horn funk with mischief while "Reevea" is Silkie in classic "Poltergeist" mode. Finally "Egyptian March" is straight out of Indiana Jones. A jittering snake charmer that has you going from nought to rolling under stone doors and grabbing your hat in 10 seconds. Silkie you absolute don.
Review: Having recently notched up 100 releases, Tectonic begins a new era by offering up a suitably weighty collaborative release from Peng Sound regular Ishan Sound. On side A, the Young Echo member joins forces with Hodge - owner of the nicest hair in techno - for the deep and dreamy dubstep shuffle of "C5", where fluid riffs dance above a blazed but powerful beat. Muttley lends a hand on flipside cut "Still Smoking", an altogether livelier and more aggressive - if still suitably deep and hazy - 140 BPM workout that comes complete with stabbing, grime style riffs and some serious subsonic bass.