An essential new Tectonic drops here, the fourth in their ten inch plate series, and with barely weeks until their crucial Tectonic plates 2cd lands, pressures are mounting. Hijak shows that the label’s roots are like family, for Hijak is in fact none other than Skream’s elder brother of Inta Natty fame - an original junglist crew which also featured Bailey and Grooverider! Mister Fleming is evidently comfy with the break, lovely round drums spooked by the necessarily nightmareish strings, with awesome bass dragged through the dirt. Huge tune. Flip for Armour, an adoptive guise for Roly from Vex’d showing if it were possible, that bristolians are becoming even darker in their predilections. Increasingly drawn to the chaotic drone spaces and dark corners, “iron man” hoves into view gradually, like the enormous ocean liner siren which will initially shred your head in a dance situation.
Impeccably effective Mosca moves on Numbers, his debut for the label, and - it’s hard to believe - only his 2nd solo single to date! It’s now nearly two years since the London-based producer kick-started the Night Slugs label with his ‘Square One’ ace, and in the meantime he’s continued to establish a reputation as one of the capital’s finest selectors, running everything from Bashment to Techno in his beloved DJ sets while notching up celebrated remixes of Four Tet and T. Williams, among others. For this outing he’s in lean and mean 4/4 mode, finding his crux betwixt Bassline Garage and loved-up ’90s House vibes for ‘Done Me Wrong’, and again with the deft skip ‘n parry of ‘Bax’ and its rudeboy East London warehouse flavours.
Due to ridiculous demand from a ravenous dubstep audience, Hyperdub finally do the right thing and issue 3 of the best tracks from the now legendary Burial album, with the added bonus of a hot bashment remix of ‘distant lights’ from label head Kode 9. The remix of ‘distant lights’ morphs the original’s blissed melodrama into a usefully squelchy hot stepper, optimized for maximum club effect, rectifying a common gripe for many lesser skilled DJs that Burial’s material just isn’t mixable (practice mate!). The real good stuff comes with the original mix of ‘distant lights’, the instantly recognisable opener to many heads soundtrack to the summer, cruising into sight with a bilious bassline, pregnant with rarified mood altering substance only found in the most particular compositions. The vinyl cut here only adding to its towering majesty, each crackle and snare bite amplified for full effect. The same applies to the much needed vinyl cut of ‘pirates’ on the flip, whose initial bass drop hits twice as deep as the CD version, precipitating the irresistably swung steppers rhythm writhing about sacred spaces populated with spectral MCs and bassbin emissions of raves gone by. Taking us to his final resting place, ‘gutted’ emotes a mournful sentiment, perhaps best spun at a wake when all the dancers can muster is a heads down shuffle in honour of the dearly departed. In lieu of any new Burial material in the near future, this will have to satiate your appetite for now, but needless to say, this should leave you feeling fat as f*ck.
The title cut here is an immense underground tune, mercury bass styles, quicksilver minimal rimshots - a tempo redolent of a possessed drive out of the city. Weakhearts may find it just a little too dark - we’re just simply blown away by the exhilaration this music provides, a whole new dimension of dub. “Southern Comfort” again has an almost liquid feel, but wields an enhanced and brutal bass presence, the hi-hats are choppier, messier and this lends a disorientating feel to the delayed pyrotechnics taking place somehwere above and inside your head. ‘Broken home’ is perhaps closest to the half-speed mesmeria of ‘Sign of the Dub’ from the first ten inch, a delightful lick of dancehall vocal, more for melodic purposes than anything else, and a heavily muted trumpet sounding for all the world like miles. The most other-worldy tune ushers in a percussive shaker with chasm deep breakdowns ‘Nite Train’ is tougher then you ever expect - providing a great counterpoint to the female vocal and echoing mayhem of effects.
A dark rolling monster, spaced out and sparse with a chest rattling sub and minimal percussion. Benton’s signature industrial basses sear through the darkness giving you more cutting edge half step, a sound originally coined by Youngsta in 2004. This has been battered exclusively by Youngsta, N-Type, Distance.
J:Kezo lands his 2nd 12” on Tempa with a vocal assist from Rod Azlan. ‘Ruffhouse’ is a bassbin worrying halfstepper in the most classic sense; range-finding subbass and disciplined, halfsteppin’ 808 drums with deeply moody atmosphere. Flipside features the convulsive ElectroDub flux of ‘Therapy’, all prodding dub chords and fluid, double-time drum programming for the steppers.
Hot on the heels of his lovely 12” for MoM, Synkro serves three tracks of lush ambient Techno electronics for Styrax. ‘Presence’ suffuses the A-side with a blissed-out 4/4 roller buoyed by convective Reese bass and kissed by convective, effervescent atmospheres to sooth yer bonce. Flipside, the beatless ‘Question’ appears shades away from the 4th world cyber-jungle ambience of the recent Oneohtrix Point Never album, swooning to the sounds of simulated fauna and beautiful, widescreen synth pads. ‘Memory’ completes the set with with a tantalising 2-step reduction, all flickering, mercurial syncopation and plangent keys reminding of John Beltran.
Polish DJ/producer Mateusz Miller a.k.a. Radikal Guru has that old school dub vibe that’s so hard to find these days. Starting his career with a trip-hop and jungle sound back in 2004, he experimented over the past few years with genres like dub and dubstep. A series of vinyls he put out via UK-based label Dubbed Out made him popular in European circles; he continues to put out demos and got radio play in the years to follow. More recently, he put out his Kali EP on Moonshine Recordings. It features three bassed-out tracks for your aural delight.
The Far East assassin drops his most substantial work yet for Deep Medi. The lead cut features legendary JA vocalist Max Romeo on one of Goth Trad’s sweeter riddims, but there’s still enough menace and bass weight to hold it down in any of the bigger dances. The rest is back to meaner business, from the hard rolling Techno vibes of ‘Sublimation’ to the fluctuating double time flex of ‘Falling Leaf’ and the Coki-style, wile-out rave pressure of ‘Itinerant Priest’.
Dbridge’s first full solo 12” of 2011 is a suitably special effort for Skream’s Disfigured Dubz label. These aren’t necessarily dancefloor tracks - that’s not to say they couldn’t be skilfully used in the right moment - but they are exquisite bits of modern UK Bass music. A-side is ‘City Of Lost Souls’, a melancholy minimal stepper’s rhythm suffused with gliding pads and a heart-breaking central motif lifted from a pivotal scene in Dbridge’s ongoing internal sci-fi odyssey. Flipside is ‘Discord’, a knowing melodic nod to Ae’s majestic ‘Dropp’ augmented by flickering, pointillist D&B patterns. Really lovely.
One of Naken Lunch’s favourite Instra:mental tunes is ‘Vicodin’ (originally released with ‘Let’s Talk’), and now it gets a makeover by techno producers Skudge. Check this track; even the waveform looks fuckin’ dark! Skudge warp it into something between dubstep and house but with all the downer-rhythm that really makes this track. Along with the remix there’s more from Boddika in ‘Grand Prix’. Short and sweet little hypnotic bounce track with serious dancability. Definitely a double header for those who like their dubstep on a tech-house tip!