Review: Scottish artist Aether emerges from the ether with some of his most spell-binding material to date. Twinkling, evocative and hazy, there's a dreamlike theme as the narrative runs throughout and we're taken down lullaby lane with woozy and wondrous results. From the startling sunrise soul of the first encounter to the poignant, lingering final goodbye, Aether's sonic imagery and consistency makes this more of a mini album than an EP. Utterly beautiful.
Review: New Zealand dubsmith Akcept hops over the Pacific with a plate of two halves; "Teachings" takes us back to the foundations for root cause analysis. Unfathomably deep, warm and tailored for fine tuned systems, it's a quintessential lesson in dub science. Meanwhile on the B "Going Round In Circles" flips the coin for something just as dubby but a lot more dancefloor. As teased by many of his mixes, Akcept's penchant for dub techno is just as strong as his love for roots... Something that's more than clear when you hear this record.
Review: Three releases deep, each one an absolute peach: Youngsta's Sentry label has been total fire so far. Kicking off with dBridge, then Nomine, now the label take us to New Zealand for its third outing as Akcept takes the controls and proceeds to drive on both sides of the road; "Dreader Than Dread" is an epic bounce back 10 years with its brazenly funk horns and rolling chubby bass groove while "Howl" is a lot more spaced out, starker, late night jam with a fatty sub line that should come with a health warning. Stay alert.
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: 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: 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: This one has been floating around for a while amongst a select few and they're as eerie, creepy and high in tension as its title suggests. "Bram Stoker" is based around a taut violin string line that raises the pressure and atmosphere as more elements such as the warm kick drums and added symphonic affects weave their way into the mix. On the flip, "Dracula" goes straight for the bite with neck snap beats, junglised subs and a sharp grime jilt to the momentum. Blood-suckingly good.
Review: Last spotted on Boka shotting "22 Ounces", Chad Dubz now returns to find us all fully fledged "Addicts" awaiting our next Bristol fix. The lead track is at once bouncy and subdued with a heavy pressure and filter on the riff fluctuations. "Out Of Here" gets us on the first train to rehab city, its tricky percussive rolls and deep space slowly cleansing our souls before "Teachings In Wub" diverts us with scholarly wobble-whipped subterfuge. The final stage of our program takes us deep into the wilderness to find ourselves; "Iggy's Castle" leaves us on a mystic finale, all cobweb sonics and strange shadows. Moreish.
Review: Like a many Britons, Chad Dubz doesn't have much time for Prime Minister Theresa May, who was, at the time of writing, still just about clinging on to her job. He's not only included a demonic painting of the "Maybot" as a "Reptilian Bitch" (his words, not ours) on the record's centre labels, but also made a thrillingly angular and heavy dubstep smasher as a kind of artistic two-fingered salute. LSN's flipside remix of the title track ratchets up the distorted analogue bass and mind-altering electronics, while also adding some suitably exasperated and sweary vocal samples. Elsewhere, "Wob" is a deep stepper powered by a gargantuan wobble bassline, while "Rollin'" not only does exactly what it says on the tin, but also includes the EP's deepest, heaviest bassline.
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: The cavendish crusaders are at it again. And this time they're rolling out the barrels with full V/A power. Chad Dubz opens with the provocatively titled "Pricks", all sludgy, swampy and twisted while Karnage & Dayzero up the energy with a dramatic symphonic loopy nod to the far east on "No One" while Guesswerk close the show with the long awaited "Persian Dub". On dub for a good couple of years, this gravel throated swinger has been doing the business for a select amount of DJs for some time. Now it's finally yours. From Bristol with fruit. Tuck in and be quick about it.
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: Following last year's "Contours", Nottingham duo Congi return to Fent Plates with more raw emotion. Once again with another five track feast that reflects their deepest, widest range to date. Across the EP we're immersed in tangible textures and feelings ranging from the cinematic piano laced two step of the title track to sludgy lofi hip hop of "Too Much" by way of the outer planetary R&B of the finale "Like The Seasons". Genuinely beguiling.
Review: The promise of Cooly G's releases for Hyperdub et al turns into maddening anticipation as the first taste of her forthcoming album sneaks out months ahead of the game! First up it's "Landscapes", co-produced with Simbad, and utterly devastating in its use of simple elements for maximum effect. A broken beat ticks steadily away under glossy, undulating streams of pads while Cooly herself enchants with her Neneh Cherry style vocal delivery. "It's Serious" on the flipside sees Cooly linking up with certified house legend Karizma for a more chunky, beat-driven offering that will slay floors in the same way that Altered Natives' "Rass Out" did some years back.
Review: Japanese junglist Ishio Dai presses up another Effective96 heavyweight handstamped white. Harnessing the magic of Skatalite's Jonny Moore on both sides, "Mirage" takes us deep into his own cloudy atmospheric universe upon a rolling jazz-minded drum arrangement while "Island Dub" strips everything right back to the crucial constituent parts to allow each rhythmic and dubbed element to sing. Singular.