Review: The cavendish crusaders are at it again. And this time they're rolling out the barrels with full V/A power. Chad Dubz opens with the provocatively titled "Pricks", all sludgy, swampy and twisted while Karnage & Dayzero up the energy with a dramatic symphonic loopy nod to the far east on "No One" while Guesswerk close the show with the long awaited "Persian Dub". On dub for a good couple of years, this gravel throated swinger has been doing the business for a select amount of DJs for some time. Now it's finally yours. From Bristol with fruit. Tuck in and be quick about it.
Review: Keeping it loose as we wade into a new year, Encrypted Audio ask Japan's Karnage back for more faraway jams. As with previous outings together, it's an enveloping sea of shades ranging from the woozily bent and cascading tones of "Leaper" that almost slime off the beats to the bleary flute loop that's mangled with precision levels of uplift on "Mysticism". In between we have the industrial strength "SOL" which sounds like a steel foundry melted into a waveform. Powerful.
Review: Manchester's Kiel lays down some serious ice on brand new label Prism. "Range Road" takes us out to M16 with no way home. "Who You Hang With" is all about the abyssal bass plunges and symphonic stabs. Laced with an infectious vocal loop, it's a steamy blend of grime, trap and ghetto crying for some raw bars. Creeped-out, eerie and sprung with tension than to its smidgeon of wavy sci-fi, this is a fine statement for instrumental grime in 2018.
Review: Both an intriguing and very cool release on Hyperdub, Philly producer King Britt surfaces after a long absence with this new project that goes beyond his traditionally lush and funky nu-jazz and broken beat releases into a darker and chillier place. The Gary Numan-meets-Prince spank of "Chasing Rainbows" is a great starter, while the off-the-wall drum programming of "The Chase" and the filmic swathe of "Lilloo's Seduction" show a breadth of talent that can only come from being in the game for 15 years plus.
Review: Sukh Knight on White Peach. The stars really have aligned on this one. White Peach's penchant for innovative newness and Sukh's nose for rolling funk that's rooted in the late 2000s style while never looking nostalgic or like its covering old ground: you already know how good this is. "Beast" is the deeper roller of the pair with its pneumatic, well-oiled rhythm flowing like lava and the bass purring beneath. "Nightcrawler" is an instant banger with its ruffage sandpaper riff providing dry gully slaps and cheeky grime bass ping-pongs on the ones and fours. Classic Sukh. Classic White Peach.
Review: Following his recent collaboration with Sepia on Wheel & Deal, Chonkmob's Koma gets busy on Encrypted with three dastardly originals. "Moonlight" is murky and all fogged out with devilish tendencies while "Uncle Sullivan" takes a trappist approach with its lavish lead strikes creating drama on every up and down. "Deep In The Crease" (with Dalek One) is all about the hip hop breaks, gritty sleaze, off beat samples and sweary cockney. Need a more trippiness? Jump on Murk's remix.
Review: Chonk Mob familia Koma joins the gang at White Peach with this far-out four-piece that showcases his broadest and most considered range. "Arrival" sets the scene with big cinematic pads, arpeggiated pipes and a mood that gets deeper and darker the more you stride into it. "Missing Amsterdam", meanwhile, shows a calmer Koma as we mooch to poignant chimes in the most contemplative way. Finally, the bashy steel drum twister "Tasteful" plays the consummate pudding course as Koma and fellow Chonkster Rygby serve up the final course of this exceptional feast. Koma back soon.
Review: Following its high impact launch with Sh?m last year, new London label Romulus kickstart a new year with a crisp eastern design from Kotei and a fat stack of high grade versions. Building on the crispness of recent outings on Boxed, Dream Eater and Southpoint, "Ichi" is a glacial misty stepper measured with serious restraint and cavernous dynamics. Remix wise Glume & Phoswsa tank up some chest pressing 808 kicks, Dakun cooks up some remarkable harmonics in the tubular basses, MOREOFUS adds a little wave twist in the top synth while JFO closes the show with a jugular gunned two step. All corners covered.
Review: Kromie the homie brings the heat we've been hoping for since he previewed it in 2013; the sizzling, screaming, 1.21 gigawatt voltage bassline monster "Gravity". Every bit as heavy as its name suggests, it's Kromestar at his most venomous (and arguably very best). Flip for his ever satisfying game of contrast as "First Kind" switches to Ricky's equally satisfying deep side. All smouldering subs and cavernous space. An absolutely outstanding piece of 140 wax right here, Isaac Newton ya dun know!
Review: Last year, Dream Eater Records offered up a "versus" release boasting weighty and intoxicating cuts from both Kromestar and Ironsoul. It was something of a success, so they've decided to repeat the exercise. Kromestar handles side A, wrapping fuzzy, grime style beats and pulverizing bass in fluttering flutes, heady synth strings and dreamy chords. Ironsoul takes a totally different approach on flipside cut "Temper", an off-kilter chunk of wonky dubstep/grime fusion full of buzzing, echoing riffs, mind-altering electronics and sub-bass pressure. It's rhythmically curious, but that's undoubtedly part of the track's seductive late-night allure.
Review: Hyperdub kick off the vinyl side to their ten-year celebrations with this weighty four-tracker from some of the leading lights from the label's story. Mala is in a strident mood with "Expected, Level 10" carrying through that extra touch of melody from the Mala In Cuba LP. DVA cuts loose with the leftfield scattershot groove of "Technical Difficulties", reveling in tonal experimentation and jagged rhythmic flair to a stunning end. Still locked into the sci-fi trap tangent that characterised Severant, Kuedo turns out the haunting "Mtzpn" and Helix pops up for a remix of Kode9's "Xingfu Lu" that strips down to bare essentials with a little starlit soul rubbed into the framework.
Review: The Dream Eater crew have got the munchies again and it's another all-star feast featuring some of the label's most forward-thinking beat splicers. Teetering on the trippiest peripheries of instrumental grime, highlights include the seasick rolling breaks and disassociated humanised twangs of Kotei's "BUN", BThorough's vital rainbow-razzled pipe blaster "Flutter" and Filthy Gears' monstrous trappist drama slammer "Peace Treaty". Happy nightmares.
Review: Confession time... Kaiju's slick, innovative consistency is translated into album form with a concept that actually works. Seven sins, seven tracks - each one resembling their title in one way or another. "Envy" sees Jack Gates pouring out his heart, "Greed" groans and croaks like the last man standing at a banquet battle while the gully-grunting "Pride" struts with its head held so high it's almost in the clouds. "Sloth", as you'd expect, is a much slower, spacier, deeper creeper with cavernous room around each percussive element while "Gluttony" shows off the duo's ability by squeezing in almost too many ideas and fresh textures. Finally, "Wrath" lashes out with hard-hitting snare vengeance and "Lust" brings the show to a sweet, soft-focus close with Riya and Total Science providing the perfect deep dream textures. Sinfully good.
Review: Veteran grime star and rap giant Kano uses the hoodie as a symbolic crux throughout his sixth album. It's an item of clothing often associated with criminality and errant youths, but here he re-casts it as a form of protection for young black men who have a wide range of racial and societal pressures to deal with. It makes for a politically charged album with shiny electronica next to stark and prickly beats, melancholic pianos and minimal garage rhythms. A musically expansive work that crosses many styles and scenes, but remains united by Kano's ever impassioned deliveries.
Review: Nine years deep and still sounding as future as ever, Kode9 and The Spaceape's first album is historic in so many different directions... It's the first ever Hyperdub album, Kode9's sonic scope and barbed soundscapes and Spaceape's paranoid poetry and rhythmic narratives complement and tailor each other in a way no other dubstep-related producer and MC have ever sounded (before and since), the beats remain a unique, diverse, creative dynamic almost a decade later... And, sadly, the late Spaceape's stories now come laden with added portent poignancy. All proceeds from this reissue go to Stephen Samuel Gordon's family; if you haven't got this on vinyl you know what to do.
Review: Jamie Vex'd returns to his Kuedo project after several years working both underground and commercial sector as an engineer, sound designer and composer. His return couldn't have happened soon enough. "Slow Knife" is anchored by a strong sense of score-like sci-fi throughout as tracks such as the spectrum creeping alien trains of "Slow Knife" and the smouldering twangs and pensive vibrations of "Love Theme" create a dense, sense-blurring narrative. Elsewhere Jamie finds time to escape into raw futuristic soul ("In Your Sleep"), wry broken beat dancefloor procession ("Floating Forest") and overwhelmingly immersive sound design ("Broken Fox") This is just the tip of a sonic iceberg that will take many exciting listens to get acquainted with.