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COMPILATION OF THE MONTH
BRAiNMATHs Volume 1 (Ramp Recordings)
A look at the names included here – Zomby, James Blake, Untold, Roska, SBTRKT, Brackles – may make you wonder why, despite 50 releases in seven years, the Ramp label isn’t better known. But a quick listen will reveal the main reason: everyone here is operating with the ‘weird’ levels turned up to 11. That’s no bad thing, though. Whether it’s Blake getting ambient, SBTRKT rolling out glitches and crackles, Roska’s Bakongo alter ego going broken beat or Untold’s mind-melting percussion and bleep jam, the freaky hyper-creativity demonstrates exactly how Ramp, though operating in the shadows, has helped keep UK bass fresh over the years.
TUNE OF THE MONTH
Brasil (Svetlana Industries)
Meet Brey, whose first EP is one of the strongest debuts we’ve heard in ages. ‘Brasil’s four tracks bounce around the boundaries of bass, stopping off at hard-hitting UK funky, raw, percussive dubstep, stoned Madvillain-style hip hop and slinky, speaker-smashing two-step, all underpinned by solid rhythmic sensibilities and plenty of psychedelic flourishes. A vital, imaginative take on the genres du jour.
Tactics EP (LNUK)
Last Japan skews the shape of bass music with this EP, the title track rolling at 135bpm, combining the ten-ton throb of dubstep with the sinuous percussive moves of UK funky. Then there’s ‘Ambush’, a spectral ode to jungle that summons the spirit of free parties
past. Check this for some of the young Londoner’s best work yet.
All Night (Pictures Music)
Pictures Music has a habit of unearthing promising young producers, and this debut 12” from Bobby Champs is no different. It features three slices of booty-slamming techno that weigh in at the tough end of bass music. Muscular, acidy and slightly deranged, these will make or break a dancefloor at 5am.
Distal feat DJ Rashad
Stuck Up Money (Well Rounded Individuals)
Distal comes correct with quality 150bpm+ bangers. ‘Stuck Up Money’, his collaboration with DJ Rashad, is a slammin’ juke workout with a swagged-out Lil Flip sample that won’t leave your head for days. Then there’s the mutant rave meltdown of ‘Behold The Jungle’ and ‘Short And Sweet’, where beastly amens, helter-skelter synths, chipmunk vocals and puerile basslines collide. Awesome.
Torus EP (Sonic Router Records)
A magical debut EP from Torus marks the first release on Sonic Router Records, a label from the esteemed website of the same name. Six downtempo beats are included, a mix of field recordings, synthetic textures and low-end vibrations that sound like cotton wool clouds drifting across a bright blue sky. Very, very nice.
Reworkz EP (Planet Mu)
Machinedrum meets Om Unit for an outstanding new project that fuses obsessions with footwork and old-skool rave. Three fantastically fun tracks are included, all built on precision-engineered but super-frenetic beat patterns and loaded with euphoric neon chords, bastardised amen breaks and hype ragga vocals. It’s a killer mash-up that’ll light up any dance.
Waiting for You EP (Soul Motive)
Bristol’s Soul Motive has long been a watchword for unique, classy productions, and newcomers Isola Dusk continue that with these three dreamy, mournful tracks with soft female vocals reflecting on love and loss. Peak-time bangers they are not, but the exquisite electronic detail and musicality make them completely addictive.
Belgian duo GoldFFinch are everywhere right now, with releases on Numbers, Airflex Labs, 877 and now Saigon. This is not their most distinctive, by any means, but the clattering percussion and driving bass make sure their shuffling house grooves are rock-solid DJ tools to keep butts shaking.
French Kiss/Dead/Get Away (Subdepth)
Rossi B is one of the greatest DJs in grime/dubstep, and rather under-appreciated as a producer. His new guise sees him dipping into bassy electro/garage/house rhythms, with a hint of rolling ‘138 Trek’-style breakstep too, in ‘Get Away’. The vibe is old-skool, but each track bubbles with freshness and some serious sweat-inducing energy.
Function Open EP (Diskotopia)
The Japan-based Diskotopia label has snuck up on us as a home for brilliant genre collisions, without a duff release yet. Here, Mau’Lin provides three rugged, out-there tribal grooves with hefty subs, while the remixes turn the title track into quirky deep house (Jack Dixon), Detroity techno (Am Rhein) and – brilliantly – an 80s soul slow jam (Greeen Linez).
Champion feat Princess Nyah
Princess Nyah’s ‘Frontline’ (with Ill Blu) was one of the first and best UK funky anthems, but she’s never matched it... until now. Champion’s heavy, jungle-influenced sound is as distinctive as ever, and perfectly underpins her moody song. A typically loony-toons Terror Danjah & D.O.K. remix spices things up further. Killer release.
Belgica Esta Picao! (Lowup)
The greatest thing about moombahton is how wide open its possiblities still are for different influences. The original track here features a South American cumbia groove and some completely addictive melodies, while the remixes keep it super funky and – in the case of Max le Daron’s version – slow it down to a thoroughly sexy pace.