Review: This first album on Kode9's deeply-respected Hyperdub label comes from the mysterious Burial, who carves out a sound which sends the dormant slinky syncopations of UK garage, via radio interference, into a padded cell of cushioned, muffled bass, passing through clouds of Pole's dense crackle dub en route. 'Burial' - the album - explores a tangential, parallel dimension of the growing dubstep ouevre, using sounds set in a near-future South London submerged underwater. You can never tell if the crackle is the burning static off pirate radio transmissions, or the tropical downpour of the city outside, taking its loud-quiet aesthetic neither from the latest digital glitch software nor a mere nostalgia for vinyl's intrinsic physicality. In their sometimes suffocating melancholy, most of these tracks seem to yearn for drowned lovers, as haunted echoed voices breeze in and out, on roads to and from other times. The smouldering desire of 'Distant Lights' is cooled only by the percussive ice-sharp slicing of blades and jets of hot air blowing from the bass. Listen also for a fleeting appearance from Hyperdub's resident vocalist, the Spaceape, unravelling his cryptobiography. 'Burial' is a renegade signal from other frequencies, a tidal wave of seductive low-impact noise submerging all but the crispest syncopations, and is well on course to be universally welcomed as the standard-bearer for creative vision built upon the grime and dubstep blueprint.
Review: It's the Dizzee album many of us have been waiting over 10 years for. Forthright, heavy, inventive and barbed with incisive observations and wry humour. Don't expect many big sing-alongs, don't come crying for big pop cameos, Dizzee has returned to his outpost in 'da corner' and honed some of the most provocative tracks of his career. Highlights include the orchestral theatrics of "I Ain't Gonna Lie", the flute-snapping "Ghost" and the pure venom of "Sick A Dis". The futuristic, bass-heavy beats carved by the likes of Valentino Khan, Cardo and Paul Salva ensure Dizzee rides in style.
D Double E - "How I Like It" (feat JME, Wiley, Chip, Lethal Bizzle & Baseman - remix)
Dizzee Rascal - "Wot U Gonna Do?"
Dpaz On The Map - "Mini Valet"
Skepta - "No Security"
Review: This time last year, Elijah and Skilliam joined forces to mix an on-point summary of the previous 12 months in grime. The mix CD was a roaring success, so they've come together once more to showcase the best grime tracks of 2017. Whether you're a relative novice or an old head, there's no denying the quality of the duo's selections. As bass-heavy and punchy as you'd expect, the mix moves between cuts from high profile scene veterans - think Skepta, Wiley, Dizzee, Jammz and D Double E - and fresher underground talents. Throughout, Elijah and Skilliam skillfully showcase grime's continued evolution, throwing in dancefloor slammers that borrow heavily from the tropical-tinged, up-tempo rhythms of UK funky and the bouncy shuffle of '90s UK garage.
6 Million Stories (feat Kate Tempest, Bionic, Scott Garcia & Bangzy)
The Mission (feat Zu & Bangzy)
Toast (feat Izzie Gibbs, Dizmack & Alix Perez)
The Sauce (feat Black Josh & Ivy Lab)
Crash & Burn (feat Lord Laville & Bangzy)
Blood In The Sink (feat Kojey Radical & Bangzy)
Bosh (feat Marcello Spooks & Bangzy)
Waved (feat Flux Pavilion Black Josh & OG Maco)
24-7 (feat Feed Me)
Visitations (feat Scorsayzee & Hyroglifics)
Vultures (feat Josh Bevan & Dag Nabbit)
Standard (feat Rag "N" Bone Man & Bangzy)
Review: One of the heaviest, fire-stoked albums of the year returns in deluxe form. Metropolis and Vulgatron are sounding sharper, wittier and aggier than ever while the beats are powered up by some of the most respected and forward thinking artists in the game from Feed Me to Bangzy, Flux Pavilion to Alix Perez. A full spectrum assault that flexes from cyborg b-boy ("Flashback") cinematic panic ("The Mission") hazy introspective soul ("Crash & Burn") to come to bed 24th century R&B ("Bosh"), Foreign Beggars went categorically in on this. Jump on this if you missed the first time around.
Lee 'Scratch' Perry - "Exercising" (Horsepower remix)
Review: Notorious dubstep progenitors, the once eight-strong, now four man Horsepower collective return to the airwaves ten years since they first emerged from the murky depths of Croydon in 2000. Benny Ill, the long-serving lynchpin of the group, teams up with Nassis, Lev Jnr and Jay King for the third Horsepower album, Quest For The Sonic Bounty. Much has been written on their enduring legacy and the recent re-emergence of Horsepower Productions after a five year hiatus has reminded us all of dubstep's origins at a time when perhaps we most needed to be reminded. From listening to cuts from the album such as "22 and "Water", you can see these genes passed on into the DNA of Skream's Human Traffic sampling "Rutten" and the work of Benga, Mala, Coki and more. Elsewhere the beautiful, atmospheric intro, crisp percussion and dubbed out soundscape of entree "Rain" sets the tone for the journey, with ricocheting beats recoiling from the sheer pressure of the bass. A moody malaise seems to hover in the background throughout the album which is strangely enthralling. Quest For The Sonic Bounty reaffirms once again, that Horsepower remain one of the most important and genre defining acts of our generation. A must have album to add to your collection.
Mungo's Hi Fi - "Rules Of The Dance" (feat Charlie P - JD remix)
Lamont & Boofy - "Walkin' Round Ere"
Gantz - "Temple Meads"
Ishan Sound & Rider Shafique - "Highest VIP"
Boofy - "LVX93"
Pinch & Kahn - "Send Out"
Jamakabi - "Hot It Up" (Kahn & Neek remix)
Jook - "Juice"
TMSV - "Shallow Breath"
OBF - "Ram Dance"
The Bug - "Fuckaz" (feat Spaceape)
Youngstar - "Bongo" (Kahn & Neek remix)
Kahn & Neek - "Acting The Goat"
Gemmy - "The Set Up"
Hi5Ghost - "Scorpion's Mask"
Young H - "We A Talk" (feat Dread MC & Rider Shafique - Ishan Sound remix)
Lemzly Dale - "No Long Talk" (Kahn & Neek remix)
Commodo - "S Is For Snakes"
Kahn & Neek - "Damascu"
Jabu - "Hungry Ghosts" (feat Chester Giles)
VMOS & Boofy - "Dial Ton"
Sir Spyro - "Topper Top" (feat Teddy Bruckshot, Lady Chann & Killa P - Kahn & Neek remix)
Kode9 & The Spaceape - "Ghost Town"
Review: The 90th installment of the long-running FabricLive series comes from Kahn & Neek, AKA Young Echno members Joe McGann and Sam Barrett. The 28-track mix-up is naturally heavy on material from friends and collaborators (Jabu, Pinch, Ishan Sound, Gemmy etc.), plus a swathe of their own productions and remixes. It offers a whirlwind tour of the Bristol duo's influences and inspirations, taking in paranoid, dubbed-out ambience, stoned trip-hop, sub-bothering grime, post-dubstep intensity, hard-to-define madness (Gantz's brilliant "Temple Meads"), dancefloor-burning ragga revisions, and mutant, wide-eyed post-R&B (the fantastic "Dial Ton" by VMOS and Boofy). In other words, it perfectly encapsulates the duo's club-rocking DJ sets, not to mention where Bristol's bass scene is right now.
Review: Veteran grime star and rap giant Kano uses the hoodie as a symbolic crux throughout his sixth album. It's an item of clothing often associated with criminality and errant youths, but here he re-casts it as a form of protection for young black men who have a wide range of racial and societal pressures to deal with. It makes for a politically charged album with shiny electronica next to stark and prickly beats, melancholic pianos and minimal garage rhythms. A musically expansive work that crosses many styles and scenes, but remains united by Kano's ever impassioned deliveries.
Scott Garcia X Kurupt FM - "It's A Kuruption Ting"
Sunship - "Try Me Out (Let Me Lick It)"
DJ Zinc - "138 Trek"
Wookie - "Down On Me"
DJ Luck & MC Neat - "A Little Bit Of Luck"
DJ Dee Kline - "I Don't Smoke"
Agent X - "Decoy"
SIA - "Little Man" (Exemen remix)
Youngstar - "Pulse X"
Ross Young & RB - "Smooth Operator" (Kurupt FM remix)
One Waz Nice - "Messin Around" (Wideboys remix)
E.S Dubs - "Standard Hoodlum Issue"
Kurupt FM - "Suttin Like That"
XTC - "Functions On The Low"
Breakage - "Hard" (feat Newham Generals & David Rodigan - Kurupt FM dubplate)
Wiley - "Eskimo"
Jon E Cash - "Cash Beat AKA : Hoods-Up-Dub"
Cage & Danny Weed - "Creeper"
Dizee Rascal - "Ho"
Platinum 45 - "Oi" (feat More Fire Crew)
Wiley - "Igloo"
Jammin - "Go D"
Kurupt FM - "Get Out The Way" (Spooky remix - bonus track)
Review: Brentford's finest pirate radio crew turned BBC sitcom stars have finally made it onto CD. For those familiar with the ebb and flow of their acclaimed People Just Do Nothing series, The Lost Tape is something of a treat. Presented as a non-step Korupt FM broadcast complete with Chabuddy G intro, skewed Steves mixing and rhymes from Grindah and DJ Beats, it's a memorable romp through the history of British garage and grime with a few exclusives and never-before-heard tracks thrown in. Stylistically, it's eerily reminiscent of many pirate radio mixtapes from back-in-the-day - which, of course, is the idea - but with the added bonus of laugh-out-loud moments amongst the scene anthems from Sunship, Wookie, DJ Zinc, Youngstar, Wiley, Dizzee and the boys themselves.
Review: Given dubstep's evolution of late, it can be difficult to find anything fresh. On this latest volume of Tempa's Dubstep Allstars series, scene veterans Silkie and Quest attempt to resolve this poser by joining the dots between the sound's past, present and future. So, there are bursts of roughness and the odd dubwise roller, but for the most part Dubstep Allstars 9 is a lesson in the deep, soulful and jazz-flecked end of the style. Most of the cuts come from Silkie and Quest's combined back catalogue, as well as the slick fodder put out by Mala on his Deep Medi imprint. That's not a criticism, though; by mining such a relatively narrow seam of material, the duo ensures that the mix has a smooth coherence that makes it hypnotically addictive.
Review: Three years on from his last album, Skepta's profile has never been higher. Whereas he was once an underground hero railing against anti-grime sentiments and the misunderstanding of his art, he's now an international star with a string of guest spots on gargantuan US hip-hop hits to his name. Expectancy is high, then, for "Ignorance Is Bliss". Happily, we can confirm it's another strong set. His lyrics continue to bristle with intensity, while his flow and vocal delivery remain as distinctive as ever. As for the beats, they're heavy and punchy, variously doffing a cap to chart-bothering hip-hop, sleazy trip and distorted, sub-heavy grime. In other words, he may be a star, but Skepta's records remain as real as ever.
Review: Zomby returns to Hyperdub with his first album in three years, trailed in high profile fashion by the Burial collaboration "Sweetz." That particular tune is one of Ultra's headline attractions, alongside eyebrow-raising collaborations with Darkstar, Banshee and Rezzett. What really impresses, though, is the skewed, left-of-centre nature of the mask-wearing producer's heavy, post-grime rhythms, sparse but sparkling synth work, and the breathlessly cut-up R&B vocals dotted throughout the set. Interestingly, there are subtle nods towards new wave synth-pop, ghetto-tech, spacey ambient and alien IDM, making Ultra Zomby's most intriguing and consistently on-point album to date.