Press Release: VA - The Compilation [ARTKLP001]
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PURCHASE: BANDCAMP / REDEYE / JUNODOWNLOAD / ITUNES
01. J:Kenzo (feat. Collinjah) - Straight Defeat
02. Thelem - Foul Play
03. TMSV - Scorpion
04. Biome - Solstice
05. Sleeper - Coxsone Dub
06. TMSV - The Cosmonaut (Thelem Remix)
07. Skeptical - Skavenger
08. Perverse - Subcontinent
09. EshOne - Qualia
10. Thelem - Shottaz (TMSV Remix)
11. D-Operation Drop - Sheba
12. Mercy & B9 - Butterfly Kick
13. J:Kenzo & Matty G - Flatline
14. Truth - Questions
Release date: October 6th, 2014
Unlike most compilations, Artikal faces towards the future rather than looking back with a stunning collection of 14 unreleased and previously unheard tracks, from the likes of TMSV, label-head J:Kenzo, Thelem and American dubstep shaman EshOne amongst others. Established in 2012, the label is fast approaching 14 releases and is developing an ever-growing fan base.
This album is filled to the brim with meditative rollers to low-slung club bangers, which are sure to spark up the interest of any dubstep aficionado and any DJ worth his stack of plates to continually draw for these tunes for years to come. The Artikal Music UK Compilation will be available in multiple formats, including a limited run of CDs, 2 x 12” Vinyl and a digital bundle including a continuous DJ mix.
Opening with a statement, J:Kenzo invites Dancehall veteran Collinjah to drop a lyrical furore over the industrial synths and haunting keys on the apocalyptic march of ‘Straight Defeat’. Meanwhile, a salvo of neoteric aesthetics and hypnotic textures on Thelem’s ‘Foul Play’ are a nod to the label’s exploration of kaleidoscopic sound design.
Amongst the category of low-end bangers, Artikal recruits D&B stalwart Skeptical, Manchester native Biome, west-coast dubstep kingpins Matty G and Eshone, and Tempa heavyweights Truth to go straight for the throat. Tracks like ‘Solstice’, ‘Skavenger’, ‘Qualia’, ’Flatline’ (a J:Kenzo & Matty G collaboration), and ‘Questions’ come armed with bass-lines that burrow miles deep within the Earth’s core, while toughened percussion chips away at any last minute resistance to invigorate the dance.
Not to disappoint the more introspective dubsteppers, Artikal gives some well deserved breathing space to riddims like ‘Sheba’ by Italian group D-Operation Drop, TMSV’s ‘Scorpion’ along with his battery percussion re-work of Thelem’s ‘Shottaz’, and the garage-influenced reggae skip and swing of Mercy & B9’s ‘Butterfly Kick’ which floats like its namesake, but is guaranteed to cave in its fair share of speaker cones.
Finally, secret DJ weapons like Sleeper’s ‘Coxsone Dub’, Thelem’s remix of TMSV’s ‘The Cosmonaut’ and Perverse’s ‘Subcontinent’ round out this well curated compilation and will drive any dance into a frenzy, begging for a rewind in a matter of seconds.
Artikal Music is proud to deliver a compilation that serves not a nostalgic retrospective, but showcases what the label does best, which is delivering up-to-the-minute thundering dubstep tunes by a unique selection of artists from all corners of the globe. This compilation will firmly secure Artikal’s position in the world of dubstep and serve as a testament to the progression of a sound, which is thriving more than ever on a global scale.
Jake / Alastair.
Review: Tempa Allstars Vol. 7 [TEMPA094]
WEN • ALEX COULTON • INNASOUND • BATU • AXH • PERVERSE || TEMPA
PURCHASE: VINYL / DIGITAL
A1. Wen - Push Back
B1. Alex Coulton - Equilibrium
B2. Innasound - Step Fourth
C1. Batu - Ghosted
D1. AxH - Nano
D2. Perverse - Jacobin
Release date: September 22nd, 2014
After a four year hiatus, founding label Tempa bestows the goodies to a slavering public with the seventh installment of their scene-scanning Allstars series. Volume Seven doesn’t disappoint, dropping six big tracks that follow the thread that labels like Swamp, Keysound, Cold and Livity Sound have mined in wake of dubstep’s retreat back towards murkier territory where the scrap parts and leftover DNA of dubstep litter the highway. Focusing more towards that interzone, Volume Seven features the wunderkind Wen, Cold Recordings Batu, and Livity Sound agitator Alex Coulton which deliver rolling, dread infused tribalist workouts that, in all frankness, have blown the past couple Tempa releases clear out of the water. True to their roots, Tempa also delivers three spacious, sub-loaded halfsteppers inna Yunx style that thud and stomp with rude authority by Innasound, New Zealand’s Peverse and one of the few US producers doing dubstep justice, AxH.
Starting us off right is Wen’s surprisingly delicate and touching ‘Push Back’. Taking a side step from his more grime influenced LP ‘Signals’, ‘Push Back’ with scene-setting synth work that soar and swell like a piece of classical music. However, what emerges is a loose and jittery garage framework that is almost too bone-dry for Wen, that is until the latter portion of ‘Push Back’ in which the teary eyed, 4 AM synths engulf the soundscape. Dubby sonic magick is applied with a surgeon’s hand to the the garage skeleton, while underneath the bass heaves and pulses in tandem that is both system shaking but slinky enough to wriggle your booty. Second to the plate is Alex Coulton’s ‘Equilibrium’. The Livity Sound cohort mines that familiar vein that LS follows - careful attention to sound design, cool poise and thundering bassweight. Icy symbols and dub sirens crack the veil to set us up for those deliciously hip syncing conga hits that’ll will drive any floor into a slobbering mass in seconds. The voices of the elder rastas scan the night sky bringing Old Testament brimstone and fire. In contrast to his releases on Livity Sound’s sister/sub label Dnous Ytivil, ‘Equilibrium’ adopts a much more conservative rhythmic structure, or rather a more house/techno template, utilizing eye-ball vibrating 4x4 detonations to bludgeon anyone into dancing.
Recent Yunx and J:Kenzo favorite Innasound ups the tempo to 140bpm with ‘Step Fourth’ as we reach the halfway point in Allstars Volume Seven. Tunes like the aforementioned track, ‘Reach Out’, and ‘Elliptic’ have cropped up in sets by Yunx and Kenzo alike. It’s not hard to see why they draw for Innasound’s riddims. Molded by Tempa’s classicist modus operandi, ‘Step Fourth’ roars and snarls with crisp like Sprite percussion and lumbering Brontosaurus bassweight. Rasta prayers float through the warm, saccharine Jamaican air, while clipped 808 percs bob and weave in between dungeon growls that are standard operating procedure for any track that Yunx rinses. That being said, there is this latent techy-ness to ‘Step Fourth’ that makes it stand-out a tad more in the sea of these kinda riddims. I can see it becoming a favorite DJ of mine (and hopefully yours as well) in the near future. Meanwhile, Batu’s ‘Ghosted’ returns us towards that swamp. Give attention towards the humid and slightly dissonant micro tonal atmospheres that swirl around the head, making clear thinking harder. Wasting now time, ‘Ghosted’ rolls with a garage like swing built upon off set shoulder rolling bass pulses and crisp slap-back snares that pops like bubbles that appear to be made out of rebar. Horns, or what sound like horns, great sepulchral omens swell and crawl from the crypt just as the the Old Gods will do someday. Watch out for the second drop, with the wriggling worm-like quivers in the second half, which strangely come off like mutant Pulse-X lazer blasts.
Upping the last breathes of Volume Seven to 140 is AxH’s ‘Nano’. Alongside the Elk Shaman EshOne, AxH is the amongst the few US producers who are doing dubstep justice here in the states. His simultaneously future primitive style - a blend of Blade Runner melodies and penchant for hard hitting tribal flourishes. Here in ‘Nano’ leans more towards the gritty world-cities of Gibson’s Neuromancer and the impending singularity of Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age. Armed with bio-mechanical bass rushes, ‘Nano’ is large and in-charge. A cyber melody swims around the soundfield as the sample speaks of “tiny, mysterious organisms”, perhaps the voice foretells the coming ubiquity of nano bio-mechanical technology. Tastefully poised percs dance around the heaving mass of nano-robots that form ‘Nano’. Last but not least, New Zealand’s other great 140 export, Perverse round off Allstars Seven with ‘Jacobin’. Opened with cowbells, bass growls from dubspace, and arcing star gazing synth work, a utterance commands us to have “faith within the future”. Dismal sub-bass tunnels it’s way towards the center of the Earth. Slowly emerging into a steppa inna Yunx style that bounces with a chip on it’s shoulder. The mid-range distortion adds a nice touch that really fills out the soundfield while the synths become gases and pour themselves between the gaps and spaces in between the sub blows. Much like Innasound’s ‘Step Fourth’, there is this implicit techy-ness that underlies ‘Jacobin’ with its quick silver flourishes of interesting percussion, and like ‘Step Fourth’ I can seeing this becoming a favorite DJ tool that will offer countless mixing possibilities and interesting bass permutations in a three deck blend context.
I can simply conclude with one word. Instabag. That’s it. Just do it. Go to your local record store, or Juno, or Redeye Records and buy it. Seriously, if you don’t you must be mad. I cannot urge you enough to snag these slabs of wax. Go, now! I say this because of the strength of all these tunes, they all could stand as singles, not one track in here is lacking or found wanting with this critic. Hell buy two copies so you can mix all the tunes together uninterrupted. I’m done trying to convince you otherwise.
Review: DJ Madd - I-N-I / Burnin Dance / Gunshot Riddim [RNF003]
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PURCHASE: VINYL / DIGITAL
B1. Burnin Dance
B2. Gunshot Riddim
Release date: September 22nd, 2014
Last time we heard a homegrown transmission from DJ Madd’s reggae inflected label, Roots & Future, was way way way back in August 2013 with ‘Homeland / Follow Dub’. Fast forward to 2014 and the crop of labels with reggae DNA in their blood that have filled the void and created quite the competition. Perhaps DJ Madd was a tad precognizant. Fear not lions, DJ Madd returns with the third slab of wax for his label and it’s a doozy that’ll hit you in the lungs the way hi-grade sensi does.
Pon di A-side ‘I-N-I’ utters its message of intent about creating “music to play on the soundsystem”. The voices of rasta ghosts from deep dubspace are spread liberally across the entirety of the thuddering, niyabinghi inflected romper. Quick steppin’ percs and obeah synths add some dread to whole construct as dub sirens refract into the themselves in Fibonacci fractals. Wheezing organ stabs, dubbed horns, and space echoed melodica motifs are thrown into the thick gumbo of ‘I-N-I’ – splashing and splattering their way about, adding melodic color. Tasteful dungeon growls that luckily are few and far between enough to not muck up the rest of the riddim and give some teeth to the volcanic hill duppy that shake the branches of trees and howl in the night. And to top it off, a plummeting sub-line that’ll wriggle your intestines if you stand to close to the speaker.
Thick reggae guitar chops and a repeated mantra of ‘gunshot gunshot gunshot gunshot’ open the aptly titled ‘Gunshot Riddim’. Heavily hi-pass filtered hi-hats inna King Tubby style are a delightful production trip. A steppa-indebted rhythm framework soon emerges, coming armed with Jah lightning and thunder fi Babylon. Thick cow hide congas toughen the rather sparse and tumbling percussion, however the vocal mantra returns from dubspace bringing along with it a head-warping flanged synth line that unravels your DNA. The steppa riddim resumes and carries us along with it, uncaring if we like it or not.
Finally, DJ Madd saves the floor wrecking ‘Burnin Dance’ for last. Like a zulu warrior, ‘Burnin Dance’ is armed with spring-loaded snare cracks that fall back into themselves, creating a really interesting psychedelic effect that was born from the streets of Kingston where murder happened upon the steps of a colonial residence without a moment’s hesitance. Carnival organs urge our feet to cavort in union as the speaker cones crack under the weight of the b-line. Rastaman toasting command us that “when the fiyah starts, put it out inna dance.” The floor is warm from the feet of the dancer’s relentless stomping and skanking. The air is warm too, thick and hazy with spliff smoke. Flecks of niyabinghi and conga intermingle like sensi and rum in the blood. ‘Burnin Dance’ leads us to it’s ultimate plan of utter dance floor abandon, a burning dance.
DJ Madd’s third installment of his Roots & Future label is another gem of reggae-inspired dubstep and you should definitely cop it. I would/am. Ok, now with that being said (I hope this doesn’t turn into an op-ed), the increasing presence of reggae inspired labels and tunes floating around atm is a double edged sword. On the one hand, its a way of paying homage to the roots, and on the other hand it inundates the scene with too many samey sounds - this whole argument cropped up when dungeon became a thing - increasingly the only worthy 140 vinyl to purchase has been increasingly of the reggae persuasion. I foresee many vinyl DJ’s constantly playing the same songs, mixes beginning to sound the same, you can’t tell the DJs apart, etc etc. I just fear for the scene like an over-protected mother. I just want to see a variety of influences, some experimentation, some risking-taking back in the scene is all.
Review: Cliques - Chro / Chro (Wen Remix) [LAB016]
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PURCHASE: VINYL / DIGITAL
B. Chro (Wen Remix)
Release date: September 15th, 2014
To be frank, I am not familiar with who Cliques are. They may be newcomers, they may be incognito heavy hitters, I just don’t know. However in the 16th installment of Aquatic Lab transmissions, Cliques raves in the hypnotic tribal affair of ‘Chro’ and is punctuated with a pleasingly depressed, psychotropic remix by the wunderkind Wen. Both possess there own rhythmic strengths, yet the Wen remix wins out in the end due its bass-bin blowing sub pressure and more adventurous sonics.
In the original mix of ‘Chro’, Cliques deploy bleary and starry-eyed grime synths to arc the nightline of a future city. A ghostly, time-stretched voice wails out from dubspace following it’s natural course in between the wet alleys and neon burned brick walls. Dry percs indebted to El-B or early Pangaea swing with gusto and come armed with some tasteful dubbed out flourishes to darken the dance a tad. Over the course of ‘Chro’ the 2-step morphs with the subtle additions of tribal rhythmic pivots. To top it off, it’s all glazed acrossed a soca-infused plummeting b-line that’ll wiggle your bottom.
Down below, Wen reinforces the sub pressure with pitbull snarls and Pulse-X lazer cannon detonations. While the star-gazing synths are taken down a pitch or two to darken things up, its the more throughly dubby effects that are liberally applied to the percussion that create that off-putting haunted house vibe. Wen’s characteristic use of vocal snippets and other head-wrecking FX add to the already sepulchral proceedings. Turning the 2-step rhythmic foundation on it’s head, Wen loosens the ‘itchiness’ of the original, allowing enough space for the bass to do its work across a barely there grime inflected crossbreed with garage. Imagine the original mix of ‘Chro’ locked in cryo-sleep on a derelict spaceship and you’ve got some approximation of how the Wen refix sounds.
All in all, it’s a strong release by Cliques that’s perfect to slip in between that Wen & Parris plate that came out on Tempa a few weeks ago as well as stuff that’s coming out of the Cold Recordings camp and furthermore anything 130bpm or below that follows dubstep’s ideological aesthetic of dread-infused sound-scaping. I’ll be sure to keep my eyes open and ears to the ground more closely next time around.
Review: Nomine - Nomine’s Chant EP [TEMPA093]
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PURCHASE: VINYL / DIGITAL
A1. Nomine’s Chant
Release date: September 8th, 2014
Nomine’s fourth and perhaps most enchanting 12” to-date lands on Tempa just as summer draws to a close and the festive celebrations at Outlook are sealed on a high. Unveiling more of his shadowy enigma, Nomine continues to make special appearances at Youngsta’s Contact events captivating his audience with a hypnotic sound system experience. At the centre of these sonic transmissions lie three compositions which carve out vast spaces for mind and body to wander.
Beautifully executed on the lead track, ‘Nomine’s Chant’ is not your average dancefloor number but an example of how maximised space can build a majestic piece of music fabricated around exotic melodies and subliminal details. Either play it as a set opener or closer, or as an interim between heavier tracks, ‘Nomine’s Chant’ will subdue you with its vocal mantra gracefully flowing through the soundscape of strings and pulses of sub-bass.
Nomine returns to the more traditional half-step structures on ‘Ninjah’ which can catch you off guard like its namesake. Adopting his trademark echo-drenched samples and murky synths, ‘Ninjah’ creeps through the bamboo flute soundfield before lurching forward on a tide of ethereal bass movement and toughened metallic percussion.
To round-off this meticulously curated record, Nomine once again enters the 120-130 bpm territory with a sleeky dub techno club track packed with style and groove. Reflecting the compulsive formula of ‘128.1’ and ‘Mindfulness’, ‘Syncopator’ is built on a balanced framework of neoteric aesthetics and rich melodic chords.
Nomine’s sound has been a true sensory experience and an audacious exploration of the 140 template. He’s ability to balance melody and space with club dynamics gives him extensive depth to build adventurous music expressed upon a foundation of experimental sound design. His four records encapsulate a body of work which set the pretext for his highly anticipated forthcoming album, a project which could potentially be one of the most interesting takes on underground bass music.
Press Release: D-Operation Drop - Body Rock / Sufferah [LIONCHG008]
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PRE-ORDER: BANDCAMP / REDEYE
A1. Body Rock
Release date: August 18th, 2014
The six man collective that is D-Operation Drop return for a second outing on Lion Charge, this time expanding the sound palette for a more ecstatic techno dub approach.
The A side ‘Body Rock’ is a rolling barrage of intricate drum work, swollen electro riffage recoiled around a four-on-the-floor bass charge and of course pulsating dub shots for good measure.
The 4x4 electro dub arrangements now synonymous with Lion Charge are in full effect on the flip. The B side ‘Sufferah’ is a steppers’ workout fusing dreaded bass movement with a swirl of digi-dub aesthetics, rhapsodic textures and invigorating snare patterns.
Featuring: Von D
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VON D HAS RELEASED HIS 2ND ALBUM ‘POSITIVE ENERGY’
Photo credit: Ali Mousavi
Everybody’s favourite Frenchman steps up to the mark for our next feature mix. His second LP ‘Positive Energy’ recently released on ‘Lutetia Dubz’ is a glowing reflection of the soulful side of dubstep which he has become well known for. After giving it a first listen, it’s clear that Von D is in a happy place. Inspired by his travels around the world, the album is a sonic testimony of a man enjoying life to the fullest, harnessing new experiences and ideas and translating them into majestic pieces of music. It’s a tough act to follow up the first album yet Von D shines through with a superb collection of deep-rooted rhythms soaked in blissful euphoria, just in time for summer. For a man who has been relatively ignored by his own countrymen, ‘Positive Energy’ lands at a time where the underground scene in France, notably Paris and Lyon is picking up and reaching new ears. The turnout to his album launch party drew in over 900 people, a figure which Von D would’ve never expected. But he deserves it. Already at work on his next EP, his drive and work ethic to exceed himself is unquestionable. For this reason, I was committed to include Von D to our exclusive ‘Featuring’ series and show some support of our own. Along with an engaging interview, he’s contributed a colourful mix as a testament to where he stands musically.
Paris! You are soon to be spoilt by our friends at Exploration Music. They are throwing a huge party over 4 days and 3 nights between Thursday Aug 14th - Sunday Aug 17th @ La Plage et le Club de Glazart. Lineup includes Youngsta, Δkkord, Presha, Naibu and many other established and up & coming talents (30 in total). All the information can be found on the event page re tickets and further festival details. Not to be missed.
Review: Indiji - Darknet / Shake The Foundations [UA007]
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B. Shake The Foundations
Release date: July 28th, 2014
Uprise Audio steps forward into summer 2014 with a debut EP from one of a few newly signed artists to the UA family. Waltford, UK based producer Indiji comes correct with two dense subsonic steppers, crafted to appease the soundsystem enthusiast and DJ alike. ‘Darknet’ and ‘Shake The Foundations’ follow up from Indiji’s ‘Machine Dread’ single included earlier in the year on UA’s Live From The Future Extended Edition LP. Both tunes aim to disperse a familiar dubstep sound, in doing so, these tracks deliver with formidable structure and production quality, defining Indiji as a clear-cut ‘must watch’ in the coming years.
'Darknet' chimes in at almost seven minutes in duration, not a short tune by any means. This track commences into an eerie synthetic atmosphere. A brief sample asks the listener “You’re not afraid of the dark are you?” immediately following the hook an immense pressurized bassline pumps through breaking the silence of the intro. I really enjoy mixing this style of kick pattern - a staggered kick with the definitive ‘snare on the second beat’ creates a solid sense of movement, and offers the DJ many options when blending with other music. Personally, tunes like this are at the top of my playlist as they offer me a tremendous amount of blending potential, having elements that would stand between another tune, yet defining its’ self in the mix. 'Darknet' progresses with subtle accentuations in the percussion. These subtleties as slight as they are, add to the flow of the track across its’ entirety. The sub bass in this tune really delivers full pressure. I enjoyed the movement in the low-end frequencies through out this one, it really harvests a dance floor oriented sound. Indiji was sure to supply the proper dose of mid range growls and grunts, showcasing an attitude he can call his own.
The flipside, ‘Shake The Foundations’ is my pick of the two. This track’s vocal hook sets precedence on the bass weight that is to follow the drop. This one encapsulates all the elements that I enjoy in a tune: distorted / warped vocal sampling, solid movement in the percussion, balanced mid range growls, ample bass pressure and a sense of attitude that harnesses the attention of an audience. ‘Shake The Foundation’ resonates with atmosphere and space, with a brilliant synth melody lingering behind the firm drum line and steppy movement of the sub bass. Trippy vocal clips permeate through the tune periodically, giving a voice to this otherwise vocal-less tune. Indiji’s use of melody in this tune is subtle, almost atmospheric, yet I admire the prominence that melody has as I listen through the track. I have begun to appreciate more so his atmospheres and percussion, and look forward to what future music he is set to release.
These two tracks are ideal components for a ‘deep dubstep’ enthusiast as they are concrete representations of dubstep that hasn’t lost its’ roots. While there is a stalemate within electronic music surrounding a lack of innovation, a track can progress and develop through out, building upon drum elements and atmosphere, switching time signatures and evolving the bass lines. I feel as if some listeners find dubstep to be a tad rigid or repetitive but I urge the listener to put them in a playlist and mix them with other tunes they are feeling. These two from Indiji are heavy hitting tracks that can surely devestate a dance. I can attest to this. I really enjoyed listening / playing these over the last couple of months. And I encourage you to check them out. Big shout out to Caan (Indiji), Edward Seven and to the entire Uprise Audio family. I anticipate the future of this catalogue. The artists involved with this label / collective are incredibly motivated to show the world what good dubstep sounds like.
Review: Vax - Chaotic Neutral / Hexerei [PH024]
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PURCHASE: BANDCAMP / DIGITAL-TUNES / ITUNES
01. Chaotic Neutral
Release date: August 4th, 2014
Portland based digi-label Phantom Hertz drops two techno-influenced heads down rollers by the Philadelphia badman Vax. Slowly inching his way back to that 140 template from his forays and dabbling with DnB rhythmic structures, Vax doesn’t disappoint (as if he could) and we here at TRUSIK absolutely love the tunes Vax is cranking out atm. PH024 is no exception, as Vax keeps up his Killawatt-like production pace in the form of ‘Chaotic Neutral’ and ‘Hexerei’ and all stars, signs, and augers point to an increasingly bright future. Label bosses across the pond take notice. Seriously.
Up first on the A side is ‘Chaotic Neutral’. This one has been floating around as a dub for some time now - doing the rounds in countless sets from American DJs like Conscious Pilot and Lurch (who has cut Vax to acetate) to name few. Tape hiss is grafted onto gently filtered kicks as ‘Chaotic Neutral’ cracks its way through dubspace. All of a sudden, loose and swinging 2-steppy drums start to make your shoulders samba and your dancing shoes to groove. Underneath the swing and skip, an undulating sub swells and beefs the kicks to make any speaker-box rock. Congas and bongos become layered atop the garage percs, creating a loping quality that mesmerizes and hypnotizes - conjuring images of the Hyades, the Pleiades and Aldebaran. As our star bodies edge closer towards the Seven Sisters sacrificing the bull, our form shifts from solid to gaseous, atom by atom we become undone, the space between all of us grows wider as a fluctuating, corrosive synth engulfs your astral self, fusing into the bipolymer strands your DNA. Soon the forward lean of the sub and the needling synth intertwine with the garage percussion to form a multi-tentacled riddim that pulls you ever closer toward Carcosa.
Meanwhile on the flip, ‘Hexerei’ is all micro-processed flecks of drums harnessed to a pneumatic b-line that quivers the rib-cage and will drive any soundbwoy into a frenzy. Paranoid snatches of breath flow from the center of dubspace to darken the dance up. Rhythmelodic bongos splash color on the monochrome grey that constitutes ‘Hexerei’ and will wear out those dancing shoes if you aren’t careful. Forgoing any decrease or ratcheting down of dancefloor energy, Vax peels away the dust of the drums and leaves the sub to plummet further down to the core of the Earth. The hot air escapes - what sounds like screams or gasps float toward the surface. The bongos realign themselves and ‘Hexerei’ continues to roll inward toward the center.
It’s the brilliantly simple stuff like the absence of a traditional ‘scene-setting’ breakdown that makes Vax such an interesting producer. His tunes aren’t reliant on samples to set the mood nor any flashy studio-trickery. His tunes are more like meat and potatoes, hearty and filling. They re-affirm why you fell in love with dubstep - for the bass and the drums and Vax does both in spades. Their strength comes from their simple urge to make you move. Labels both across the pond and here in the states should prick up their ears a bit more and pay attention to Vax, he is surely deserving of larger attention.
Review: Leon Switch - Deadlock / Persepolisia [CHST033]
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PURCHASE: VINYL / DIGITAL (LINKS SOON)
+ Lelyss [DIGITAL ONLY]
Release date: July 28th, 2014
After some hiatus due in part to the break-up of Kryptic Minds, Leon Switch finally returns, and returns in a big way with three heavy system shakers for Chestplate. While Si has transformed into Monic and shifted Osiris - one of the first new wave labels to push the post-brostep explosion of minimal dubstep, towards a more industrial, technoid vein - Leon sticks to his guns, crafting ‘Can’t Sleep’ era Kryptic Minds esque riddims that remind us what made Kryptic Minds so crucial and refreshing after countless Transformers-inspired wobble fests and constant pissing contests about who could make the biggest drop. That being said, what we are left with are what seem to be three KM songs and not Leon Switch tracks if that makes sense. They remind the ears too similarly to Kryptic Minds tracks. Granted, Mr. Switch was 1 half of KM, so it’s safe to assume that KM/Leon Switch are part and parcel, however say you were inna dance and heard any one of these beats, you’d probably think to yourself “Oh shit, a new KM dub!”. With my nit-picking aside, each track is guaranteed to shatter the dance floor and by no means let my opinion dissuade you from copping the wax.
'Deadlock' is marked by a booming voice on the definition of terrorism and on the tactics of population control via violence and coercion. Soon it fades to be marked by a LFO assault of swirling and twirling mid-range growls that menace and glisten like shark teeth. Cold hi-hats slice while an iron snare cracks ribs. Dubspace atmospherics haze across the soundfield as the growls subside. Anvil strength subs reinforce the lumbering hulk of 'Deadlock' but other than that, there isn't much else to it. It's sure to go off inna dance but it feels a bit by the numbers. Meanwhile, 'Persepolisia' glows open with 3am fog swirling above streetlamps. All sense of beauty is smashed with an almost 'The Fifth' like riff. The riff is more tasteful that 'Deadlock'. By which I mean that it's sparser and there is more room for sub-gymnastics for the speakers to do. But like 'Deadlock' before it there really isn't much substance (pardon the pun) to 'Persepolisia'. Both tracks simply move forward with dungeon wubs and not much else.
My personal favorite is ‘Lelyss’. Coming off like those more technoid ‘Can’t Sleep’ era tracks like ‘Fade to Nothing’ or ‘1000 Lost Cities’, ‘Lelyss’ floats with a refracted melody that gentle morphs from dull to sharp, preparing the air for a pneumatic pummeling of sub-bass frequencies. Not so heavily relying on a strictly half-time rhythmic structure, ‘Lelyss’ is a perfect mid-set pace setter so you can have to time to search your bag for those heavy hitters. Scissoring hi-hats reinforce the techno DNA of the riddim as hypnotic sonar blips ala ‘The Divide’ scan the outer reaches of dubspace for signals from Jah. Tasteful neuro-licks equip the sub sonics with some much needed bite and snarl. It’s a brilliant balance of light and dark that is probably the most fully realized track when compared to ‘Deadlock’ or ‘Persepolisia’.
All in all, Leon Switch’s first outing since KM’s demise is an underwhelming one, given the strength of Switch’s back discography. It’s disappointing to see a producer mine old tropes, especially ones that he himself created. Perhaps if this was released back in 2009 or 2010 it may have been stronger but too much time has passed since those first crucial KM dubstep tracks where released before Osiris went techno. Chestplate033 falls flat against the strand of time, relying too much on old tropes to get the dance moving and not moving forward sonically. Let’s hope Leon Switch can find new footing and surprise us with his next release.
Review: Wen & Parris - Caught / Collide [TEMPA091]
WEN: SOUNDCLOUD • DISCOGS • FACEBOOK • TWITTER
PARRIS: SOUNDCLOUD • DISCOGS • TWITTER
PURCHASE: VINYL / DIGITAL
Release date: June 23rd, 2014
As of late #MinimalMondays has freshened up a bit with Yunx dipping into swampier territories. Old classics like ‘Swims’ and up to date 130 adds some swing after the departure of famed MC Toast. ‘Official’ recent moves have appeared with Nomine’s dub/tech/house soundscape of ‘Mindfulness’ off his ‘Enma / Zen Circle’ release. For the latest offering from perennial taste-maker Tempa, Keysound darlings, Wen and Parris team up for Tempa’s continued flirtation with slower tempos and lots of low slung bass. ‘Caught’ and ‘Collide’ come armed with spacious, zero-g atmospherics, future - tribal percussion, and b-lines rooted in the system tradition in aspects of weight while armed with a slinky, noir shuffle. Both are perfect and respectable DJ tools for the more exploratory dub-heads amongst us. Tempa seems to be finally seeing what darker 130 bass labels ala Pinch’s Cold Recordings or Keysound have been pushing for quite some time.
'Caught' slithers and coils around a bleeping melodic phrase, almost with a woodblock-like timbre. Eski swipes grime up the clinical, sterile atmosphere of space as a self-encircling vocal plays and dances around your head with the simple, childish words “you've been caught”. Spliced and reconstituted like a fine amen break, the vocal morphs and takes new forms. Loose toms jingle across a shambling rhythmic structure with tumbling sub-weight that it sure to put a quality rig through the paces. For how dark the beat is, Wen & Parris maintain a sense of fun and playfulness with interesting percussive flourishes that really add some character overall. It's a mongrel track that contains the necessary ingredients reminiscent of those early 2011 Swamp81 shows where every tune became an instant classic.
Going in on a more serious, meditative tip on the flip with ‘Collide’. Geared with watery hi-hats that emerge from the vacuum of space, ‘Collide’ possess more slink and a Beneath-like rolling quality to it. It’s tribalist kinks and subtly sexy breathy vocals caress whereas the bass ripples through bodies. Barely there, ghostly sonar blips scan the dance for signs of life as if the dancers where turned into something inhuman. Everything is ripped apart, leaving the mists of deep space to gather around a voice (possibly David Carradine) speaking on the masochism of man. The sample seems chopped or edited in some way that gives it an uneasy and vaguely threatening menace to it, as if it can see your soul around the edges of your eyes.
From the looks of it, Tempa is slowly inching its way towards the direction the numerous labels like Osiris, Keysound, and Cold Recordings have - finding the inky, black paranoid 130 tunes amongst the hordes of more bright tech-house/deep house/any other kind of house that has flooded dance floors across the world. Hopefully they keep mining this sound as the past couple of releases by Tempa have been, in all accounts, sonically conservative leaning towards traditional half-time dubstep. Both ‘Caught’ and ‘Collide’ shake Tempa out of this rut and are sure to be in the bags of the more forward thinking dubsteppers.