Monday, September 8, 2008

What's good in the hood

So I haven't been posting much lately, but I have been getting a ton of really great music lately, so I thought I would share my thoughts and reviews on some killer dubsteppish tunes. New stuff on Immerse, Subsolo, 7even Records, Soul Motive, Bare Dubs, Hessle Audio, Revolve:r and a little fresh dub review action as well.

Kontext - Falling to Weightlessness / Aeromonarchs Attacks - (Immerse Records)

Following up a string of interesting releases, Bristol's Immerse Records hits the sweet spot with this crackly, minimal, techno-tinged monster of an EP. Kontext comes screaming in out of nowhere with "Falling to Weightlessness". Crackles and a shuffled up beat complement spacious synths and a rumbling bassline that will sit nicely in the deeper dubstep sets, as well as the satisfy the more adventurous techno DJs. "Aeromonarchs Attacks" keeps the crackle and the shuffle, but pulls the beat back for a more laid back feel while still keeping the forward momentum. Lots of space, weird background wibbles and some deep bass drops make for yet another killer tune. Massive first release from someone I am sure we will be hearing plenty more from soon (with his second release already out on Immerse, that's a guarantee).

A Made Up Sound - Next / Density - (Subsolo)

Dave Huisman (aka 2562) first caught my attention last year with his stunning remix of techno dubmeister Shed's "Masque", and since then has just knocked em out of the park with every release. Mashing together the rhythmic variations of broken beat,with the deep synth washes of Detroit, and tossing in subbass that will knock your socks off, his sound has proven that dubstep doesn't have to be slow, and that techno doesn't have to have a straight 4 to the floor beat. "Next" bounces along with syncopated beats and rock solid bass pulses, dotting the beats with deep synth hits and leading into some crazy wacked out metallic chirps along the way. Mental. "Density" hits right off the bat with a nod to Basic Channel depths and opposing rhythmic bits and pieces, with a funky little clap that gives it a funky shuffle to keep your ass moving. Seriously, this guy has not missed the mark yet. Tough, but deep beats and bass to give the dancefloor a little challenge.

Martyn & Marcus Intalex - After Seven - (Revolve:r)

While Martyn has made quite the mark lately with his lush dubstep-oriented tunes, this is the first time we have seen him and fellow drum and bass stalwart Marcus Intalex team up on the dubstep tip. And what a collaboration it is. Head directly to "JW On A Good Night" for a super jazzy dub roller standout. Standup bass augmented by the deeper end of the frequency spectrum, panned wood percussion bits and subtle rhythmic synth bits, breaking into a gorgeous melodic bit in the middle. I can't get enough of this one. The title track is more standard Martyn fare with echoed synths and some acidic drips and drops, while "Storm Watch" eschews the normal kick-snare pattern in favor of a deep growling bassline and a funky drum pattern that keeps the 140bpm push while retaining the laidback 70bpm bassline feel. When the guitar/piano bit comes in, it all turns into pure sex music. Not your standard "dubstep" fare, but then I expected nothing less from these two dons of deep production.

Forsaken - Into The Sunset (feat. Mr Jo) / Last Saloon Swagger (feat. Joker & Ben Blackmore) - (Soul Motive)

Wow. Without a doubt, the second release on Soul Motive showcases some of the most creative sounds to emerge from dubstep in recent history. It may sound hyperbolic, but I would rate this as one of the top releases of 2008 thus far. This EP is like a spaghetti western if the horses were robots and the sixshooter was a laser pistol. Mr Jo's excellent harmonica skills (and one of those robot horses whinnying) start us off right with "Into The Sunset", playing off a standup bassline, an energetic kick pattern and frenetic woodblock percussion. When the guitars and harmonica meld into a spectacular breakdown, if the hairs on the back of your neck don't stand straight up as the bassline slides back in, well...I can't help you. Stunning. Just when you think it can't get any better, the tinkling piano intro and tavern conversation of "Last Saloon Swagger" rolls into the searing bastard child of Portishead and Ennio Morricone, drunk on whiskey and bass, and wrapped up in a blanket of blunted backbeats. Add in lazy guitars lightly dusted over a twisting bassline, and you have an example of dubstep pushing past its roots and becoming a whole 'nother monster entirely. Breathtaking.

BONUS: For an amusing story about the cover of the Forsaken release, go here.

J:Kenzo presents: Konnek Deep - The Vapours / Funky Biscuit - (Bare Dubs)

Barefiles creator Deapoh gives us the sixth release on his Bare Dubs imprint, staying off the beaten track in the process. Konnek Deep, whose release on Sonic Boom UK keeps the funk alive in dubstep, makes his mark on this excellent two tracker. You can hear the hip hop influences in "The Vapours", with its 808 percussion and slow drive halfstep beat. A staccato vocal sample and deep organ sounds atop a SICK sub sub sub bass, coupled with flanged out hi hats and conga bits keeps it minimal but will rattle any soundsystem worth its salt. It's the flip, though, that really does it for me. What happens when house meets dubstep? "Funky Biscuit" is what happens. Taking it 4 to the floor, and playing a funky bassline off of synth stabs, backed by an acidy organ wibble floating around in the background, by the time the break hits, and you're faced with that acid organ wibble gone mad, you wish you could just stay there for a while. But it's time to jack as the beat marches on into conga percussion and bootyshakin'. If you think the dancefloor needs to be less of a sausage party, and more people shakin' their asses gettin' down...drop this one and watch the steam rise.

F - Icon / Phase One - (7even)

French label 7even Records burst onto the scene last year with a sound straddling the line between deep Detroit techno and dubstep, and in 4 releases has become a serious contender in the high quality stakes. Newcomer F turns in two gorgeous tunes, with "Icon" being my current "go to" track. Detroit has never stopped influencing electronic music of all genres, and you can hear it in the metallic synth stabs, rolling over a broken beat synced with a lovely deep bass. When the atmospherics come in, it's heavenly. "Phase One" pulls back into a more halfstep feeling beat, without falling into the boring "boom clack" that has plagued dubstep beatmakers for a couple years now. There is a lot going on the background of this one, but it still manages to sound spacious and uncluttered, wrapping a rolling synth pattern around a syrupy bass, weaving its way in and out of clicky crackles and random sounds injecting themselves into the works and then fading out to make room for a hypnotic synthline. Big debut release from the mysterious F.

Pangea - Router / You & I - (Hessle Audio)

It's a common misnomer that dubstep is so named because of the dub/reggae influence, but its roots are in 2 step garage, and the current resurgence of the 2 step swing, melded with the depth of dub is a welcome counterpoint to the overly aggressive direction that has been taken in the last year. "Router" keeps the skippy beats and the rolling bass, then gives us the ghost of garage with lush vocals, dubbed out into the stratosphere. Add in some funky percussion, and if this doesn't get the dancefloor moving, I am not sure what will. "You & I" comes correct with a pounding bassline run, topped with more swung out beats and spectral vocals, keeping the funk and sounding like the soundtrack for a melancholy summer day. Gorgeous sounds taking it back to the roots, while still pushing the sound forward.

DUBPLATE HIGHLIGHT: Phaeleh (feat. Ngaio) - Fire

Urban Scrumping label head Phaeleh turns in an aptly named tune with his massive floorfiller "Fire". Vocalist Ngaio throws down some soulful vocals over a bassline that envelops you in sonic warmth and seismic wub. Ostensibly halfstep beats are given momentum by the bassline and the cut up breaks underpinning it all. You will be singing this one to yourself for WEEKS. Promise.


Elijah said...

soul motive 001 is still banging

benmighty said...

heya shiva thanks a ton for the recommendations - i hope you know the old school techno massive in kansas city loves ya still, so come on over and give us some of these deep beats!

you know fstz on and dubstepforum can make it happen and if he's occupied let me know and i'll find a way to get it together myself!