Review: Rising 140 sculptor Samba proudly presents his own label 26.RAIN. Following a whole string of heavily supported releases on the likes of System Music, Deep, Dark & Dangerous and Encrypted, the label is a new outlet for a fresh synth-led fusion style he's been developing gradually. Deep, musical, not shy of an 808 or a two-step or two, there's a touch of UKG, wave and trap deep across both sides. "Acecloud" is the big neon dreamer of the duo while "Cookies" crumbles a little more delicately and introspectively. An excellent launch release, we're saving our rainy day money for 002.
Review: AKO welcome long-timer Madcap. Oxford-based and on the scene for a good 20 years, he's been slowly building up a powerful arsenal on the likes of Good Looking, Soul Deep, Fokuz and many more for the last 10+ years. With the backing of Stretch, on his fast-developing 10" label AKO 10, this is one of the biggest moves yet. "Out Of Reach" is big and breezy deep jungle, loaded with space for the pianos to smoulder and the echoed vocals to waft majestically in and out of the mix. Flip for "Sunshine Dub" where you'll feel you've heard it all before... In the best possible way. Don't sleep on this one, it's a cheeky one.
Review: Barefoot Beats is a series of EPs released on Mareh Music, a record label based in Sao Paulo whose people are also the curators of the Mareh music festival in Boipeba - a remote island in Bahia. For their label's ninth edition, Rio de Janeiro's Joutro Mundo (Midnight Riot/Outra) delivers an edit of a lovely neon-lit boogie down number on "Revele", while on the flip the man from New York City Jkriv (Razor-N-Tape) gets a deep, soulful and life-affirming number into the mix with "Povo De Zambi".
Review: Transhumanism is a collective of Dutch producers who first met on the dance-floor at Dave Clarke's Whip It party at Melkweg in Amsterdam, so that will give you a reliable indicator of their sound: it's brash, serrated electro that fires your synapses and awakens your every sense. Juan Atkins and Helena Hauff have been dropping it all summer and it's easy to see why. There is strobe lit action from Slaves Of Sinus, walls of high intensity sound from RXmode, rave tinged stuff from W1b0 and a more throwback jam from TFHats to round out a high impact EP.
Review: It's now been two decades since Gallic producer Joan-Mael Peneau first donned the Maelstrom alias for the very first time. He's been in particularly fine form of late, offering up essential EPs on Cultivated Electronics, Central Processing Unit and Private Persons. Here he makes his debut on Craigie Knowes' hard-wired techno and electro offshoot C-Know-Evil with a formidably tough two-track offering. A-side "Spasm" is a riotous fusion of metallic percussion hits, high-octane electro drums, doom-laden acid lines and bass so raw and intense it was probably made in Scotland from girders. He opts for an even more doom-laden techno sound on fizzing flipside "Turbulence", wrapping increasingly intense electronic motifs around a surging rhythm track.
Review: Church's latest release - a rather tasty, two-track ten-inch single - comes courtesy of South London sorts DJ Malcolm and Dabriel Garius. A-side "Lulo", a jazzy deep house cut smothered in expansive piano solos, dreamy synth chords and sampled female vocals, is particularly potent, with the duo expertly layering up the percussion to give the track a sun-kissed, carnival-friendly feel. Flipside "Guava" displays a similar jazz influence, with the duo trading electric piano and trumpet solos over elastic synth bass and swinging, semi-broken deep house grooves. It's what we imagine a contemporary collaboration between Phil Asher and 2000Black boys Dego and Kaidi Tatham would sound like, which is high praise indeed.
Review: The well-established drum & bass label Circle Vision continues with its often mysterious, uncredited white label series. This third instalment comes under the Circle Vision alias, which could be one person, loads of people or whatever else. What we do know is that "Hollow" bangs - frazzled bass zips about under big jungle breaks, with sci-fi pads bringing a sense of futurism to this bassbin bothering banger. "Tings In Boots" hits just as hard with raved up, strobe lit chords and some brilliantly old school sub-bass. Dark, raw, physical, it is pure dancing music of the highest order.
Review: Sleeper man Alex Fox debuted the GRAMZ alias earlier in the year via a two-track 12" on Sentry Records built around paranoid sonic textures, serious bass-weight and rolling 140 BPM beats. For this 10" outing on Crucial, Fox has taken a deeper approach, ratcheting up the smoky atmosphere while retaining sizeable low-end pressure. "Joken" and flipside "Get Them Bags" are hazy, ultra-deep dubstep workouts, with both doffing a cap towards hip-hop and grime (check out the manipulated MC vocal samples on the latter, in particular), as well as the crackling sonic textures of Burial. "Joken" rolls along nicely while remaining pleasingly subdued, while "Get Them Bags" has a little more sonic strut. Both, though, are excellent.
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.