Review: Lafayette, Louisiana, may not be particularly associated with the bowel-bothering sub-bass and ricocheting drum hits of dubstep. Nevertheless, it's home to Bukkha, a producer whose floor-friendly dubstep releases are shot through with high-grade dub reggae influences. "Ruling Sound", featuring the slick and soulful vocals of Junior Dread, is a perfect example. It's effectively a dubstep/steppers reggae fusion, and a very good one at that. The producer's love of original dub can be heard loud and clear on the accompanying "Ruling Dub", which beefs up the sub-bass whilst ramping up the reverb, delay and tape echo. The flipside TMSV Remix, which boasts crunchier, jungle-influenced breakbeats and even weightier sub-bass, is also pretty nifty.
Review: Chestplate and Artikal = Chestikal. If that doesn't already grab your attention then the fact that it's Distance and J:Kenzo on two massive collabos and the tunes are every bit as smoking, spacious and sick as you'd like them to be most certainly will. "The Offering" is a pure swaggering jam with rasping, distorted basslines striking through anything and everything in their wake. "Dhyana" offers sublime contrast with a much deeper, smokier blend of mystical atmospheres, roomy drums and an eerie eastern call that will have your skin up in so many goosebumps you might just grow feathers. Big up your chestikals.
Review: Undoubtedly one of the most successful Australian operations of recent times, Future Classic have shown a willingness to step beyond the realm of disco-flecked house with their investment in the creative talents of Flume. The sickeningly young Sydney based beatmaker first came to the fore with a contribution to Anna Lunoe's well received debut EP on the FC label earlier this year, and Sleepless precedes the release of a full debut album later this year. "Sleepless" is a confident debut, chopping out a woozy melange of luscious pads, pitch shifted vocals and dreamy synth patterns over a killer mid tempo head nodders beat. Oh and you can't go wrong with remixes from Midland and Shlomo can you?
Review: The first new material since his self-titled album in September 2012, Kenzo goes all-in on this immense Tempa four-tracker. "Cause & Effect" is a slurring, slo-mo psychedelic workout with eerie, ominous pads and anvil-like beats. "Ricochet" lives up to its name with a tight ping-pong polyrhythm that quickly builds momentum before taking a deep, steady breath on the halfsteps. "Enter Valarak" is the darkest cut of the pack thanks to swaggering dragon tempo that blows smoke out of its clogged bass nostrils. "Bloodlines" completes the set with tight weaves of percussion, off-kilter loops and trippy dubbed out jungle bleeps. Tracing dubstep's bloodlines back to its soundsystem roots, Kenzo truly deserves the 'classicist' title the press have recently given him.
Review: Fresh from his excursions with Jubei on Metalheadz, J Kenzo returns with two more distinctive sonic spells. "Magneto" is a rumbling halfstep behemoth; slurring bass, a dark pitched down vocal loop and a savage low-end groove, it reminds us why we all fell in love with Tempa sound in the first place. "TVR" is even more interesting; rolling on a low-swung, shuffling breakbeat, there's a techno sensibility to the loops and incessant groove. Carrying all the classic J Kenzo hallmarks while pushing him in a wholly new direction, this will go down as a pivotal release for Kenzo.
Review: Following his heavyweight EP on Thirtyone, J:Kenzo continues the D&B flavour on his own Artikal imprint. While the jungle he peddled on Doc Scott's imprint was slippery and minimal, "Intalek" is much more rugged and dense with rattling breaks saturated in pulsating bass. Meanwhile on the B "Revan" takes us back to Kenzo's roots with a rolling, percussion-heavy dubstep jam that rolls with tonnes of energy. A really strong release to conclude a great year for Artikal.
Review: Hello is the serious burns unit? Yes it's Juno Records here, we've been in direct contact with J Kenzo's latest Artikal 12" and have lost several layers of skin. Get an ambulance right away you say? Just after we've listened to this a few more times... "Battlefield" twitches a ruddy sub that bounces around beneath big system horns and a strident energetic drum groove. "Zbantu Shake" is a much more stripped back stepper that's all wooden kicks, trippy flute flurries and ladles of thick treacle subs. Soundboy killing material.
Review: Destination South Korea for this bouncy halfstep jam; J Path has composed a muscular homage to dubstep's deep side while ensuring a strong sense of funk within the bass and skank pattern. Remix-wise it's all about the UK as Steppas boss Alpha Steppa fuzzes up the blend with nuances of distortion and a far-away melodica blasts. Two fine versions, one solid 10". Let the threshing commence!
Review: Back in 2016, Leo James stepped up to deliver the debut 12" on J.Sparrow's Navy Cut imprint. Here he returns to the label for the first time since, and this time he's got soul-soaked reggae vocalist J Appiah in tow (an artist last spotted lending his honeyed tones to a house record by Damian Lazarus). The vibe here is slow, sensual and emotional, with atmosphere taking precedence over any notion of appeasing peak-time dancefloors. That's a good thing, though, because "Struggle" - a deep, smoky dub-soul cut rich in delay-laden reggae instrumentation, weighty bass and heart-aching vocals from Appiah - is sublime. There's more of a dancefloor feel to the similarly dubbed-out and heartfelt "Lost & Found", with a rhythmic shuffle that's slightly closer to house than stereotypical dubstep.
Review: Berlin-based operation Leisure System score a big hit with this, their fourth release, premiering the partnership of Jimmy Edgar and Machinedrum in a holy matrimony of refined modern electronics. Opening track "In Her City" has the sheen of Edgar all over it, but the ravey chops have a Machinedrum cheek to them. What's most striking though is that as a whole, the result is wonderfully fresh. On the clipped funk-dream-pop mash-up of "Sin Love With You", or the jagged intricate wiggle of "Meu", this is the sound of two artists meeting perfectly in the middle without any battle of egos and instead creating an excellent new whole.
Review: Dropping that purple funk like only he knows how, Joker is back on Kapsize for another bout of pimped out steppers laden with synths and a strong whiff of boogie. Opening track "Zim Zimma" proudly rips out some hair metal guitar licks over dramatic piano stabs, and even chucks a jungle break into the mix towards the end of the tune. "Gully Side" is more devoutly aggressive in its demeanour, grinding on a mid-range buzz and a slim line beat of just a few key parts sharply honed for guaranteed floor-flattening. "Handz Up" has a cheeky dose of trance worked into the emotive chord progressions, while the beat even sneaks into 4/4 in places before switching back into a steppy stance. "Newham Generals" rounds off the EP with the lairiest of all the tracks, channelling all the strengths of the previous tracks into one bold and bashy beast of a track.
Review: The recent announcement from XL that Jamie Smith from The xx has indeed completed a remix album to complement I'm New Here, Gil Scott Heron's critically acclaimed return to form was met with a unanimous "mate, we know!" Despite the label's best efforts at stonewalling the news, Jamie's been including tracks in mixtapes for the best part of six months. "NY Is Killing Me" marks a delightful taste of what to expect when We're New Here arrives next February. Jamie xx flips the original's dusted off kilter diwali twist for something that sounds oh so now, stretching Gil's bluesy incantations over a backdrop of nagging melodic stabs and bouncing sub bass. The half step shudder that leads the way is augmented by haunting diva shrieks towards the glorious climactic introduction a plinking procession of marimbas. Truly special and bodes well for the full album as well as The xx beatsmith's EP for NMBRS.
Review: Having been the subject of pleasant comparison for many years, Swindle and Joker finally get on the collaboration tip with this crucial platter for the Butterz label. Apparently the genesis for both tracks here dates back to the pair coming together for a headline b2b set at Butterz 3rd Birthday party in Bristol and we'd like to think it's the start of a long lasting studio relationship. The heavily funked lead cut "Let It Be Known" is all about those vividly bright purple synth lines and the superbly epic bass drops and general swagger, whilst Swindle's rhythmic deftness really comes to the fore on the flipside bumper "Minors".
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