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: Gnischrew's label hits its third outing with Bristol's Chad Dubz. Maintaining the meditative theme from previous Sub Audio outings, Dubz opens with "Wisdom" wherein a whole barrel of space funk is ripped open and the skanks are so textured you feel you get lost inside them. "Stuck In The Loop" plays the consummate foil as the Bristol producer takes us on a much more paranoid, tunnelling trip. And if that's not enough, man of the moment Hebbe provides a killer remix for good measure. Be wise.
Review: Surprisingly, it's been almost two years since we last heard from sometime Vinyl Vigilance and Monsters Music producer Nova. Happily the artist is in fine form on "Whisper In The Wind", which marks his first outing on Tribe 12 Music. The tone is expertly set via the title track, a deliciously deep, weighty and undulating chunk of smoky dancefloor dubstep full of bubbling wobble bass, Rastaman vocal snippets and suspenseful chords. Over on the flip, "Bruce Highway" is creepy, clandestine and otherworldly - all ultra-deep dubstep rhythms and Burial style aural textures - while "Genie's Wish" is a chiming chunk of alien bass science. Rock solid stuff.
Review: Earlier in the year, South African rising star Escapism Refuge delivered a debut album laden with deep sub-bass, heady aural textures and killer dancefloor rhythms. There's plenty more atmospheric, rumbling fare on offer on the producer's latest three-track EP, too, with the focus is naturally on "Wet Wipes". While the original version, featured on the B-side, delivers an attractive fusion of drifting, Arabic-sounding vocal samples, undulating music box melodies and crispy dubstep rhythms, it's Biome's cinematic, synth-laden A-side revision that's really getting us hot under the collar. Also impressive is bonus cut "Don't Mind Me", where ambient chords and head-in-the-clouds melodies rise above a skewed-but-punchy rhythm track.
Review: It's about time! Berlin-based badman Ill K returns with his first release in two years, and the wait is most definitely worth it. Three stinking cuts ranging from dubstep to hardcore, "Warp 6" takes the lead and brings us all up to speed with its rolling breaks, cathedral-sized bassline and ethereal tones. Two hefty collaborations follow; "Ninja Technique" sees Chad Dubz joining the fray for a stern-and-spacious mechanical funk tear-up while "Walking Home" (feat. Koobas) flips the 140 feels into a savage breakbeat workout. Watch out for the classic GQ sample and be careful where you park your car next time.
Review: Schockglatze is a long standing collaboration between artists working across several disciplines. With audio-visual performances, band projects and international exhibitions thus far, they have been causing a stir within the art and music worlds. Spank has already collaborated with a range of acclaimed vocalists, including Warrior Queen, Sensational and Christoph Waltz. As a competent producer, he forms the solid basis for the studio productions of Schockglatze. Nik Nowak has attracted international attention with his mobile sound sculptures and worked with Chicago footwork pioneers like (the late) DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn as well as Kevin Martin aka The Bug. Graphic artist, VJ and video director Moritz Stumm aka Ultramoodem brings to the project an 'inimitable rhythmicity' while creating a singular technique of audio-visual effects: the aesthetic of which has become a signature style of the collective.
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: Having soared us through the dense black marsh earlier this year, Portuguese deepsmith 3WA takes us through even swampier, intense territories with this Crucial debut. "Viagem" is like stepping into a deep boggy cave where the drips from the stalactites get heavier and the ground swallows you like quicksand. "Encanto" then hauls your keister out of there with insistent hang drum percussion and rolling kicks before blowing you dry with powerful flutes and pipes. Charmed.
Review: Tripsmith OG, The Widdler continues to spin his strange sonic webs across the 140 landscape. This time making his debut on Sleeper's Crucial, it's another strange and eerie bassline brew from the New Jersey producer. "Venting" dusts off the pipes and blasts them over a wobbled-out and slimy dungeon aesthetics, "Out There" hits with much more of a grumpier decay bassline and a sombre, mildly pranged out tone thanks to those strange sirens in the background. "Magnetic" closes the show with Smilodon on collab duties. Woozy and warped, these beats are so off-grid they've made their own compost toilets and drink rain water. Deliciously far out.
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: Let's get to Rumble! Previously spotted rinsing jungle vibes on Liondub, Rumble returns to Dub Sector with five fugly creations. All spacy, trippy and full of bizarre textures and expertly dug spoken word samples highlights include the leftfield Mars-exploring freak out "Water Martian", the cantankerous ricochet harmonics on "Provoked" and the loose-limbed funk of the title track. The odd finale "Illusion" is a right little head-bender, too.
Review: Fragrant frequencies from New Zealand: newcomer Scent makes his official 12" debut on soundsystem celebrating Aussie imprint Modern Hypnosis with two beguiling modern dub cuts. First up is the pneumatic stamper "Trax" where the prominent beat patterns are offset by a slightly off beat warped stab to create a fun but focused marching sensation. "Just A Dream" plays the consummate foil as Scent takes us much deeper into his psyche by way of slo-mo sci-fi drums and swooning, star gazing chords. Beautiful.
Review: Versa returns to his Atone imprint with more classic dub explorations. "Transcending Space & Dub" sets the parameters with springy, trippy ease; it's warped and so roomy you could lose yourself inside it for days. "Saint" hits with more of a traditional dub warmth countered by the melancholy of the French horns. Finally "Snowfox" is a creeper just as its name suggests. Nodding much more towards dub techno, once again Versa lays down a little hypnosis trickery before the melodica takes the lead and adds a whole other story. Grab this while you can.
Review: Ol' Pushy's getting freaky on the Omega 3 oils again. "Too Much Tuna" is the sound of satiation, all woozy and satisfied with dreamy arpeggios, otherworldly clicks and pops and a gentle but stern bassline heartbeat. Dig deeper into the feast for a wonked out tripletty chat with little green men on "Martians", a bleepy bewilderment on the strange slides and glides of "Reptoid" and an unapologetic kick in the circuits with the grunting, frazzled "Computer Takeover". Turn on, tuna in, do not drop out.
Review: And the winner of the best rhetorical question of the day goes to Are You Gunna Hold It Down? Blatantly we are when the sounds are this heavy. 002 for the label now, once again it's very cheeky white label business, fully anonymous in the credit department and the vibes are set extremely high. "The Woods" is an oil pneumatic machine, the likes of which you'd expect to hear on Osiris while "Stumble" hits on two sides; the ghostly graveyard overtones and that flabby old bassline undertone. Think Distance and you're in the right sonic ballpark.
Review: Blimey, if this isn't major meeting of musical Midas minds then we don't know what is. Alter Echo, E3 and Headland all collaborating with legendary dub flautist Diggory Kenrick. "Temple Duel" sets the scene in deep underground chambers, untouched by the sun. Reverb space is our only guide and ritual combat is the only way out as we make our way through subsonic 808 bass foundations, a near-industrial mid-range bass guitar groove, stiff snares, stick-fighting percussion and Diggory's torchlight melody. A truly fluid hypnotic narrative that arcs through the dark, if you're looking for an even foggier route flip for "Temple Dub" where the torch is extinguished and you have nothing but your sonic wits to take you home. Only Diggory knows if you make alive or not...
Review: Versa on System; it's a match made in dub heaven. Slower than the usual club-ready output V.I.V.E.K's label has often been known for, these are perfect home listening for the current lockdown era as Versa goes in deep; "Temple Song" is all about the subtle loopy insistencies while "Breakthrough" sinks us even deeper into our chair with its minimal ingredients providing maximum immersion. Finally "Biosphere" ushers in the kicks for a warm and rolling dub techno escapade. Stunning.
Review: Sleeper and Youngsta together on three concrete jams; you already know how heavy these are going to be. "Systematic Error" takes the lead with a sinister acid narrative that bubbles ominously before the bleeps rise to an ultimate euphoric stand off. "Hello" takes things to a much deeper, stripped back playground giving the ricocheting radar and big belly bass fills stacks of room to frolic. Finally "Iridescence" brings in the synths and brass for an emotional finale. Crucial and powerful pieces of work from two scene dons once again living up to their name.
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: After launching with a Headland release last year, Subtle stride forth with another exciting talent from New Zealand for your radar: Ebb. "Surface Tension" is an absolute steam roller of a jam with the bassline unfolding its flabs over and over until you're covered in slimy low-end fat. "Bokkei" raises the prang stakes a little with minor key strikes and a more aggressive rolling bassline that doesn't so much as unfold but KO punch its way through the mix. Subtle? Sublime more like.
Review: Basic Rhythm alter ego East Man returns to his Hi Tek imprint with his second anti gum-flapping manifesto. Rough, sludgy, oppressive; "Jaws" is a stripped back to the bulbous bare essentials. Just a warm 808 bass/kick and snare hits, weaving and bobbing with heavy hypnosis. Flip for "Border Clash" where strange bee's nest textures buzz between the bass hits and shattered percussive hits. Paranoid, confusing, heavy. Dark times inspire dark tunes.
Review: YES! We'd been waiting on this collaboration from UK start vocalist Wiley and shadowy electronic pioneer Zomby for a long time now, and it's about time it's landed on our shelves. "Step 2001" is a straight-up grime piece, a clicking, twisted groove made up of darting hi-hats and pacman sounds; you know when they say "they don't make them like they used to!"? Well, this doesn't apply here, as it's a serious head-dive back into the early noughties scene. There's also an instrumental version for maximum damage.
Review: Etch and Nico Lindsay make good musical bedfellows; the former's spacious left-footed soundscapes providing plenty of room for Nico's narrative, evolving lyrical style, they're kindred spirits linked by a glacial sense of adventure and refusal to compromise. Opener "Don't Wanna Know" kicks the doors down with force. Rough and switchy, there's a pulsing 2002 feel to both the step and flow while "Predator Vs Prey (Toxin)" takes us on a much swampier, weirded out trip that buns everything but survival. Finally, Tranq Sinatra joins the fray for an urgent finale where fast-tongue tales from Nico are backed from Tranq harmonies and another iced riddim from Etch. Cold.
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