Review: The seventh volume in Beat Machine's ongoing "Swinging Flavors" series of singles arrives on vibrant turquoise vinyl. This time round, it's a relatively new artist at the controls: Breaka, whose debut 12" on Holding Hands tickled our fancy earlier in the year. Happily, "Damn Hot" lives up to its title, brilliantly joining the dots between the snappy drum machine snares, cut up vocal samples and incessant hustle of Chicago Juke, the crunchy breakbeat since of old school jungle, and the futurist intent of contemporary drum and bass. It's really rather good, all told, with Danny Scrilla's flipside remix - a spacey fusion of intergalactic synthesizer melodies and ruffneck early '90s jungle tropes - also hitting the sweet spot.
Review: With praise for his wonderfully leftfield but formidably floor-friendly "Ever Orbit" EP on Exit still ringing in his ears, Alex Godoy AKA Itoa pitches up on Italian imprint Beat Machine Records. Appearing on a 7" single - a rarity for a D&B release - "Strange Attractor" sees Godoy wrap indigenous Amazonian flute lines, madcap electronics, metallic percussion noises and creepy strings around a punchy, revivalist jungle rhythm. Long-serving bass-head Sully provides the flipside remix, stripping the cut back to the bare bones (think booming bass, sharply edited mid'90s jungle beats, and those haunting flute style melodies) with impressive results.
Review: Detroitian beatsmith, Platinum Pied Piper and Tiny Hearts founder Waajeed flips from Jeedo to Jeedeci for this unique slice of space-aged hip-hop. Fusing elements of juke, trap, techno and classic 90s R&B to great effect, both versions carefully balance the stark out-there beats with the soft harmonies and rich chords of the R&B sample. Fans of anything that's been delivered on DJ Shadow's Liquid Amber will be all over this.
Review: Last seen lining the Freestyle antics of Morgan Geist's latest project The Galleria on the excellent Calling Card 12" on Environ, Jessy Lanza returns to Hyperdub for a record that pairs her up with the Teklife crew. A superb vocalist, Lanza excels when matched with the rolling snares, crisp kicks and thick bass provided by DJ Spinn and Taso resulting in "You Never Show Your Love" sounding every bit like a modern R&B classic. It's accompanied by a Teklife remix which retains the mood whilst adding some Footwork flex into the mixer (the late DJ Rashad was involved in the production of this too). To close out the record, Hyperdub have slipped in Bambounou's excellent drum heavy remix of Lanza's "F*ck Diamond" which originally featured on one of the label's anniversary compilations last year.
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 London-based Modern Ruin Records label arrives with a mission statement to showcase some of the most talented and innovative artists making moves on the juke and footwork scenes around the world, and the label's first EP gets things off to an incredibly strong start. Pawn kicks off with "Do U", a dancefloor destroyer melding footwork textures with punishing D&B-influenced rhythms and bass, while The Renegades' "The Warmup" offers a jazzier number which places deft amen breaks throughout. On the flip, Sideswipe's "Be With U" offers a gospel-influenced, funky take on footwork with its vintage sample, but it's Vorres' "One Of These Old Days" that takes the crown, with delicate 808 rhythms fluttering across more soulful vocals. Essential stuff from a label to watch.
Review: Schockglatze is a long standing collaboration between artists working across several disciplines. With audio-visual performances, band projects and international exhibitions thus far, they have been causing a stir within the art and music worlds. Spank has already collaborated with a range of acclaimed vocalists, including Warrior Queen, Sensational and Christoph Waltz. As a competent producer, he forms the solid basis for the studio productions of Schockglatze. Nik Nowak has attracted international attention with his mobile sound sculptures and worked with Chicago footwork pioneers like (the late) DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn as well as Kevin Martin aka The Bug. Graphic artist, VJ and video director Moritz Stumm aka Ultramoodem brings to the project an 'inimitable rhythmicity' while creating a singular technique of audio-visual effects: the aesthetic of which has become a signature style of the collective.
Review: Skubi steps into the limelight with his debut release for Modern Ruin, an imprint reserved strictly for the finest in footwork killers. "Brain Music" is basically a modern hip-hop lick with cavernous low-ends and that familiar juke vocal stutter. The same goes for "Wet", a relatively darker, dreamier sort of affair. Remixes comes from none other than Slick Shoota and House Of Black Lanterns, the former opting for a jungle swing while the latter twists and funks that juke into an even nuttier bundle of drums and percussion. Large.
Review: Stepping up with his second album for 50 Weapons, Addison Groove is once again mining the rhythmic excitement of juke and footwork and working it into his blue-hued melodic headspace. Standout vocal cut '"Just You" is a prime example of the upbeat flavour across the album, while "11th" matches the plush harmonies with moodier switch-ups, and "The Spirit Level" drops the tempo into a house bump that lends itself to the illustrious synth sweeps. Typically though the beats are in that twitchy middle ground between dubstep and footwork, leaving plenty of space for razor-sharp constructions and dazzling edits as best demonstrated on the dynamic acid roll of "Space Apples". Chaos abounds on the B Side where Developer's frantic side is shown via "Promiscuous" whilst the tightly wound "Pulstar" is quite hypnotic.
Review: 50 Weapons indulge Tony Williams's expansive take on current dance culture as Addison Groove. Put simply, Transistor Rhythm looks gorgeous, with design heavily indebted to Williams' clear passion for the Roland 808 and the tracks spread gloriously across two slabs of thick vinyl (there's an even beefier 3xLP version out too!). Musically, Transistor Rhythm explores the same areas of crisp, finely sculpted rhythms that have graced Swamp 81 and 3024 in recent times, with the smart sample usage on tracks such as "Night To Remember" complemented by a clutch of guest spots.
Review: The second release on the Teklife label sees the latest album-length journey through footwork from collective mainstay DJ Earl. Obey artist Shepard Fairey provides the retina-searing artwork for Open Your Eyes and the music within leaves as much, if not more, of a lasting impression on the senses. Alongside contributions from fellow Teklife artists MoonDoctor, DJ Manny, Taso and DJ Taye, perhaps the most surprising individual involved in Open Your Eyes is Oneohtrix Point Never, aka Daniel Lopatin, who features on three of the album's tracks as well as being credited on mixing duties. After the celebration of DJ Rashad's legacy that launched Teklife, this second release sees the collective's position at the forefront of the footwork movement further reaffirmed.
DJ Rashad/DJ Spin/Taso - "Roll Up That Loud" (3:37)
DJ Rashad/Gant-Man - "Get Fuk'd Up" (3:01)
DJ Rashad/DJ Manny/DJ Spin - "Let's Roll Out" (3:48)
Microglobe/Machinedrum - "High On Hope" (4:13)
DJ Rashad/DJ Phil - "Come Close" (4:25)
DJ Rashad/DJ Earl - "Wear Her Pussy Out" (3:53)
DJ Rashad/DJ Spinn - "Oh God" (4:51)
DJ Rashad/Gant-Man/DJ Manny - "Ratchet City" (3:02)
DJ Rashad/Dj Taye - "Get You Burnt" (4:22)
DJ Rashad/Tripletrain/DJ Spin - "Pass That" (3:14)
DJ Rashad/Boylan/DJ Manny - "Tony Montana" (2:51)
DJ Rashad/DJ Tre - "Yeah We Do This" (4:49)
DJ Rashad/Traxman - "Lost Worlds" (3:38)
DJ Rashad/DJ Spinn/DJ Paypal (RSP) - "Do You Wanna B Mine" (5:26)
DJ Rashad/DJ Manny - "Roll A Tree" (4:49)
Review: This debut release from footwork crew Teklife's label sees them pay tribute to DJ Rashad, the late, great innovator who passed away in the spring of 2014. Afterlife gathers together a collection of DJ Rashad tracks co-produced by Rashad's close friends and associates, including DJ Spinn, Traxman, DJ Manny and more. As the label themselves state, this 14 track album really conveys the wealth of musical influences and knowledge Rashad possessed with soul, hip-hop, house, techno and many more all brought together at 160 BPM. "Afterlife is our tribute to our friend and our inspiration. Rest In Peace DJ Rashad," Teklife write. Enough said. A must for all fans of Rashad.
Review: It seems fitting that the hundredth and final volume in the "FabricLive" mix series should also be its most hotly anticipated. Coming from heavyweight heroes Kode9 and Burial - whose previous back-to-back mix for Mary-Anne Hobbs' show eight years ago has reached near mythical status. The album is a wonderfully full-throttle and mixed-up affair, with the shadowy bass lieutenants giddily flitting between quick-fire sections focusing on South African gqom, footwork, Juke, vintage hardcore, early jungle and more contemporary dancefloor experimentalism, each broken up by typically blazed and paranoid ambient interludes and the occasional surprise selection. There's a lot going on throughout, but that only adds to the fun. In other words, it's a triumphant finale to a landmark mix series.