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: 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: 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: Bandulu strike again! This time with fellow kindred system spirit Bengal Sound. Two more totally disarming, otherworldly experiments, if you've just returned from Outlook then you'll already know what damage these are causing. "Never Mind" warms up with graveyard stroll before opening up into a strange shimmering organ riff that doesn't quite sound as if it's made on this planet. "Short Stay" meanwhile twists up the percussion and drum arrangements, making them almost breathe with trippy toxicity and a wooziness you just can't find in any other style of music. One of a kind and already teased out a few months ago. This new batch won't last long.
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: 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: ** REPRESS ALERT ** Given that his sound has now been referenced, copied and bastardised by countless imitators, is testament to Burial's enduring appeal that the announcement of a new EP on a Sunday in Febuary was enough to shake the online music press out of their collective stupors. As an EP it more than stands up to his previous work, and it may even be better than last year's Street Halo EP - where the brilliance of the title track left the EP quite top-heavy, there's no such complaints on Kindred. If UK garage was the touchpoint for his earlier releases, this EP sees Burial further developing a sound that has few obvious points of comparison, whether it's the savage, gnarled bassline of the title track, or the shambling house of "Loner", characterized by its hollowed out arpeggio and ambient crackle. But it's "Ashtray Wasp" that provides the most breathtaking moment, seeing the producer using the distinct musical language he's created and bringing confident melodic elements into play. Of course such descriptions seem trivial when trying to describe this EP - even for Burial it's far beyond what his peers and imitators could ever imagine making.
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: 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: 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 cuts on Gourmet and Trusik, Osaka's City1 makes his debut on Subaltern with three more reasons to keep him radar-locked. Hurling us into the mix with no warning, "Speak Out" takes the lead with Japanese steel licks and fire tongue truths from Rider Shafique before "Koroga" oozes its way in pursuit. All wet and wobbly, it's 2007 all over again but with a wily sense of direction that never sits still. "Zee" closes the EP in true pranged-out fashion. Off-key, warped and a grumpy bassline that harrumphs for days, if you need any more reasons to keep tabs on City1 just lift the needle and play again.
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.
Dark Harmonics & Otz - "Voidwalker" (J Kenzo remix) (5:05)
Track 4 (4:14)
Review: Vinyl-only business from the FKOF crew: Sheffield's Dark Harmonics and Subaltern's Otz team up for the incendiary "Voidwalker". Creepier than a graveyard picnic, it's all in the strange misty textures and powerful sense of tension before the flabbiest of subs kick in and the fun begins. Remix wise J:Kenzo does them proud with a similarly tense twist that's based around hard swaggering kicks and more eerie and bad dream textures. Elsewhere Dark Harmonics throws down a crucial solo. Brilliantly entitled "Fucking Spiders", it's an outstanding piece of 23rd century funk with all the right room and gloom we've come to expect from him. Creepy crawly.
Review: Have a word... Youngsta's launched a brand new vinyl-only label and DBridge launches it. Need we say more? Both "Fashion Dread" and "Digital Dread" are Darren White at his darkest and most stately - elephantine production, moody and misty and ultimately soaked in beautifully warm bass, both cuts have been doing the rounds on dubs for almost two years and have been in demand since Youngsta debuted them. Simply massive. Get on these quickly.
Review: It's 2019 and Chestplate bossman Distance is well and truly woke. Dropping his first officials since his outing on J:Kenzo's Artikal last spring, the whole four tracker is a pungent trip back to the stinker golden age. Rough funk, distorted and tailored strictly to kick the living peanuts out of the crowd, each cut is Distance doing what he does best. From the psychedelic dirge of "Awaken" right through to the orchestral darkness of "Settling Scores", Distance isn't mucking around here. Neither should you.
Review: Toronto's Distinct Motive returns to Truth's triple D stable with four more outright stinkers. Opener "Radar" has been huge for those lucky enough to have it on dub; all infectious and bleepy but not overly so while "Itchy Fingers" grizzles and grunts with a loose but savage groove. Deeper (and darker) into the EP we hit the 2007 feels of "Loose Pimp" while "Crazy" closes with a little nod towards to the instrumental grime motifs; all string plucks, glacial feels and smoking 808s. One for the radar.