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ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Unrelenting Force (Steppas)
Regular readers will know we are supporters of globe-trotting producer Alpha Steppa – and this project, with his dad and aunt, aka UK roots ’n’ dub veterans Alpha & Omega, makes him a serious player in the soundsystem world. Featuring vocalists from as far afield as Ireland and Korea over 11 tracks plus dub versions, these all feature 4/4 ‘steppers’ rhythms, traditional digital dub instrumental sounds and subtle electronic ornaments, but mix perfectly into dubstep sets, their bass tones hitting as hard as any high-tech wobble. Add some history to your mix!
TUNE OF THE MONTH
Dolphin (Aquatic Lab)
Those of you who enjoyed the liquid tracks on Kromestar & Jay 5ive’s recent double-pack for Deep Medi should check the lead track on Cluekid’s ‘Dolphin’ EP. It’s simply blissful, a certified roller perfect for proper deep moments during a set. It also makes for truly lush headphone listening. The bassline is a work of art, making you feel weightless, while drifting piano keys and cheeky New Age pipes give off a sumptuous vibe. This is one for the collection, something that’ll make you remember the good times in years to come.
Galgamex/Lieutenant Cold/Monogatari/Her (Keep Deep)
There’s something of DMZ circa 2007 about West Country producer Seraph’s sound – indeed, his recent ‘Vile/Dread’ EP and the lead track here owe a lot to Coki’s gurgling madness – but each track has new and weird twists to it, and an incredible amount going on. The technoid vibes of ‘Lieutenant Cold’ are our favourite, but the James Blakey ‘Her’ and orientalist ‘Monogatari’ are very special too.
Late Night Blues (feat Rider Shafique)/Dread (Deep Medi)
Dubwise tendencies have been missing from dubstep lately. It seems like the heady reek of the chalice has been replaced by the icy drip of the dungeon, so it’s great to hear Kahn constructing some astonishing foundation sounds. The half-step of ‘Late Night Blues’ feat Rider Shafique is simply unstoppable and ‘Dread’ is a straight-up dub stomper, all tumbling woodblock beats, ethereal chants and swooshing FX. It’s tunes like this that are keeping dubstep vital.
Matt Black EP (StayFresh Entertainment)
Like so many Midlands producers, Swifta Beater has form in the bassline scene, which has clearly added a serious helping of dancefloor nous to his grime beats. The seven tracks here feature rich strings and pianos, snippets of soul vocals, buzzing bass and beats that bounce, bounce, bounce and BOUNCE. Slung into any 140 set these will get crowds moving, stat!
We Make it Work! (Four40)
Another Brummie release but here the grime’s just in the vocals, while the backing is the darkest, most viciously wheezing half-step dubstep we’ve heard in a good while: no wonder Skream & Benga are supporting. There’s a killer garage remix from the don dada El-B and a sinister trap beat from DMC champion DJ Cable – and even if you don’t like MCs, the instrumentals of the original and El-B versions are dynamite, too.
MRK1 feat Doctor
Drop Bass/Judgement (H.E.N.C.H.)
The H.E.N.C.H. label and Manchester vet MRK1 have between them been responsible for some of our favourite high-energy tracks over the years, and this, featuring Jamaican-born MC Doctor, is unsurprisingly rowdy stuff. ‘Drop Bass’ is an almost hard house-style 4/4 banger that goes in hard from the top; ‘Judgement’ is darker, with a non-stop roar of bass and trap-style drums. Rough, and indeed tough.
Wer Remixes (Krmelec)
Czech producer ANS’s 2007 EP on Studio Rockers pre-empted the current ‘dungeon sound’ – in fact it was even called ‘dungeon’! This huge remix package touches on that, but there’s also amazing drum-heavy action, more roughneck bass sounds and even acid dubstep, as well as various flavours of bassy house, electro and dark ambient. A great sampler of some serious talents.
Youngsta comes correct with a double A-side that goes way deep. As you might expect, he’s crafted two weapons that could slot easily into his DJ sets: ‘Poseidon’ strikes the perfect equilibrium between super crisp percussion and orb-like bass, while ‘Destruction’ lashes out a little more with trails of distortion and a kick that sounds like a boulder rolling down the
side of a mountain.
Gears Of Grime EP Preditah Music
There’s one producer who’s popping off in grime right now and it’s Preditah. His tunes are getting rinsed on the radio and in the dance, and each is a banger. Take ‘Gears Of Grime’; there’s a high chance you’ll have heard one of the eight tracks bouncing around somewhere by now. There’s the buzzing, belching ‘Nosy Parker’ (VIP), the gully slink of ‘Sword’ and ‘Rubicon’ and ‘Skank’, which explodes with dizzy hype. All good, basically.
Bang Ya Door/Kickstart (Chestplate)
Chestplate comes good once again with a Razor Rekta double-A side. If you’ve been keeping tabs on Distance and the gang then you know what’s in store. ‘Bang Ya Door’ and ‘Kickstart’ both sound like an electrical power plant going into meltdown, a cascade of zaps, earth-shattering thuds and pure doom. Digital version comes with ‘Taurus’, which carries on the high-voltage vibe.
S.T.I.L.L D.E.A.D. (GM Sounds)
This is a really cool six-track EP that takes in clapped-out, digi dub, dancehall and hip hop. Taking obvious cues from the Jahtari label and the ‘Invasion Of The Mysteron Killer Sounds’ comp, D.E.A.D. takes roots music and funnels it through crappy computer equipment to create hefty, ungodly jams with a viscous, pixelated edge. Like Tron on bath salts, which is unnerving but strangely satisfying.