Review: Is there ever a time when a Skeptical EP isn't welcome? Bringing the heavyweight depths direct from the North, "Imperial" shows a definite progression in his sound from his more minimal productions. Although space plays a big role in his work even still, there's a dizzying heartbeat of bass waveforms in flux in the title track, stripped bare in "Playground Chat" and used in devastating blows in "Delusions of Grandeur" behind warped effects. Final tune "Instant Reflex" brings back more of his jittery percussion to leave you feeling a bit tweaky.
Review: Samurai continue to unleash more of Tokyo Prose's debut album Presence onto vinyl. In this case, the wax is beautiful blue and white. Both "16 Bar Cycles" and "Common Ground" show TP's abilities outside of the 170 bracket; dreamy beats that defy categorisation, they're two of the highlights of the album. These leftfield excursions are countered neatly by the washy, warm rolls of "All Things" and the sweet skips and lush piano strokes of the Zoe Klinck-fronted "Kidman". Each track a peach; Presence just keeps on giving.
Sam Binga & Deft - "Steppin" (feat Redders) (2:45)
Review: Binga and Redders join forces once again for a unique hybrid of digi-dub, dancehall and D&B. "Tek Nah Chat" is spacey, gritty and primed for the dance as both characters' unique styles complement each other with physical rawness that no other producer/MC combo can boast (with, perhaps, the exception of Phizzy and Strategy) Further on we get all tripped out by the bending toplines and woozy synths of "Elastic", we get pranged out by the late night future grime "Steppin" and get thrusted back to the oldest of schools with the rampant jungle homage "Chasic". Not a dull moment, Binga is in a league of his own right now.
Review: You read it correctly, the Jungle Cakes series has reached Volume 32, and to celebrate, Defkline has produced for us two mighty fine slices of jungle riddims and spiced up classic vocals. In "Tempo" a kaleidoscope of tropical sounds wash over a big bouncing bassline, while a drop reveals the ragga heart of the tune before building to dizzying breakneck speed again. On the flip, "Magnificent" harks back to the ruffneck '80s, where shufflin' rhythms were the way to move. Add some ballsy breaks and there's a brand new way to scuff up them Dr Martens. Everybody skank!
Review: After a few years away from the scene, Zero T has returned to remind us who's the boss. Up there with Calibre and Break; his productions rattle with effortless funk and soul while exposing enough dark underbelly to appeal to fans of the harder sound. Hence this appearance on Metalheadz with Beta 2. "Election" is a growling, grunting roller with a simple-but-deadly bass lick while "What's Wrong" flips for a slower tempo halftime slinky session that nods deftly at the very early days of dubstep when UKG took a turn for the dark. For balance Beta 2 goes solo "The Edge". A bulbous roller a la late 90s Moving Fusion, watch out for those strings... When they come in, they'll sweep you off your feet.
Review: Gridlok steps up to Virus with two powerful tech packages. The Codebreaker-fronted bruiser "The Call" is dense with paranoid bass textures that ricochet back and forth while "Bitcreep" is a lean and guttural floor-scuffer with a bassline so brutal you'll get a black eye just reading this description. Uncompromising, dark and heavier than a convoy of elephants, both cuts will cause serious dancefloor eruptions.
Review: Last seen collaborating with Need For Mirrors and HLZ on a single for Warm Communications, Swedish-born, London-based producer Mikal returns to Metalheadz for one solo cut and two team-ups. Solo track "Where They At" is full of Mikal's trademark bounce, a sparse, atmospheric production with jungle-inspired rhythm fragments darting off invisible surfaces in an irresistible manner. "The Chosen" sees him join forces with Nymfo for something a little more driving, as evil subs push things forward, while RIOT gets involved on "Control Of People", a slow-fast heavy hitter with crushing bass drops. You shouldn't need any proof that Metalheadz is still leading the way, but if you do then this should do the trick.
Review: Long revered as one of the oddballs of the scene, Inside:Info has repeatedly relished the opportunity to get truly down and dirty with his spliced and diced creations. "Mushroom" though, is something else. Ripped to pieces and stitched back together by the barest vibrophone sample and a chilling sustained synth, it's heavy, then softly-softly and completely mental in equal measure. "The Plains" offers a refreshing look at Paul's incomparable ear for a delicate hook. Softer and sweeter but no less instantly arresting, the sharpness and clarity of his production shines through on the huge drums and wavering bassline. It's so different, which is exactly why you need it.
Review: Wow! Spirit isn't messing around here: "VIP Dial" is naturally a VIP revamp of his 2006 track "Redial" (which was actually a mash up of previous tracks "Calling Card" and "Dial Up") and it's blazing so many guns you need a licence to drop this legally. In the interest of balance, "Cobra" contrasts the tearing nastiness of the A-side with smoky jazz elements and a stark, dark Doc Scott dynamic that's ripped with minimal muscle. No arguments: this is essential.
Review: After many one-off 12"s and compilation appearances on the label, AI finally deliver an entire Metalheadz EP. And it's flexing every which way but loose... Alluring contrast abounds from the off as the opener "Frozen" (with long-term vocal compatriot Steo) oozes soul while "Deadly Melody" is straight of the badboy bassline bible. Deeper again we're dumbstruck with deep delight as Lenzman adds a new dynamic to "What You Had" while "My Soul" rockets us straight into the furthest realms of the cosmos with only a soaring vocal to keep us strapped in. You won't forget "Forgotten Truths" in a hurry.
Review: As argumentative as it sounds, we can say from the off that Klute got it wrong with the title of this release. It's totally not what we expected to hear from the head of Commercial Suicide as his first release of 2015, but then again who ever said "I love it when things stay exactly the same"? It's a melodic and tastalisingly tuneful delve into a more harmonious Klute domain, with "You Won't Like It" mixing tasty, techy bass rumbling with a disarmingly delicate melody. "Rays"'s beautiful hook bubbles and rolls over old school drums and finally "Be Good To The Ones (You Love)" finishes off the lush and dare we say it, lovely theme...albeit with a deeply addictive bassline. Guaranteed - you will like it.
Review: As one of the most exciting new talents to come out of London over the past 12 months, Xanadu has been championed by a list of game-topping artists so long we really don't have time to list them. Needless to say, this LP has been eagerly slapped out of Dom & Roland Productions' hands before the cover art was even dry. Figuratively speaking. It's a blend of experimental beats and dark, determined basslines whipping up different worlds of texture and colour at a breakneck pace. Taking inspiration from sound design giants such as Aphex Twin and Amon Tobin as well as from the drum & bass elite, this is an album well worth seeking out. Have your mind expanded.
Review: Following last year's "Back / Sunshine", Quarantine bossman Fierce teams up with Zero T for another devious double header. "See Through" is a dark roller with two worm-like basslines the writhe and lash at each other beneath an array of unnerving FX and occasional percussive rolls. "Gaslight" is straight up mid 90s business. So dirty, the skid marks of hardcore can still be seen through the murky, dense drums; it will melt the iciest of junglist's hearts.
Review: A strictly Russian affair; Occulti deliver a walloping double header from two exciting native players. Impish's "Sky" rattles and rolls with a waspish bassline and thundering beats that are so tight the bright light of the emotional synths surge through with millisecond mischief. Cutworks's "Top Floor" is more of a future jazz exercise with gently lolloping Calibre-esque string elements and a vibe so warm you could easily be convinced this came from Brazil. In a word: Naughty.