SINGLES / EPS
10. SURKIN & TODD EDWARDS - I WANT YOU BACK
(SOUND PELLEGRINO - SNP032)
For the third installment of Sound Pellegrino’s Crossover series, in which they match up producers from different scenes together on a musical project, they team up house legend Todd Edwards with French producer Surkin in what turns out to be the perfect collaboration. On title track ‘I Want You Back’ Edward’s soulful vocals ride Surkin’s glistening instrumental, getting down on some glossy R&B action while on ‘This Way’ and ‘Mighty Love’ they share production duties, finding an infectious midway point that flickers with the inimitable characteristics of each on two surefire dance floor winners.
9. VARIOUS - KEYSOUND ALLSTARS VOL.1
(KEYSOUND - LDN031)
Blackdown welcomes a raft of fresh talent to his Keysound label with the first volume in the new ‘Allstars’ series, offering up a varied four-track platter. Up first, young Manchester-based producer and Hyperdub alumni Walton delivers ‘Cool It VIP’, a grime-sampling UK Funky riddim replete with brash strings and gunshots that shakes and hits in just the right measures. Gremino contributes ‘Rupi VIP’, a sparse 8-bar affair with an energizing and unpredictable edge that twists and turns through its five and a half minute duration. Visionist’s long-awaited ‘Come In’ is a stuttering slice of 808 ingenuity that proves well worth the wait while Vibezin completes the package with ‘A Little Higher’, an esoteric, otherworldly vision of UKG that wields plenty of swing.
8. MANNI DEE - SHIFTING EP
(HIT AND HOPE - HNH008)
Currently the subject of a lot of excitement, Manni Dee’s debut outing on wax for the Brighton-based Hit & Hope label is a firm substantiation of the young producer’s talents. Featuring three slices of hard hitting 4x4 experimentation, the ‘Shifting’ EP sees him carving out a distinct take on the current 130bpm explosion. Title track ‘Shifting’ dives straight into the darkness working a grinding percussive route absorbed into a bed of scratchy, ominous atmospheres. Up next ‘Viaduct’ is enveloped in animated rhythmic devices as it rolls unstoppably onwards, while ‘Sympathy Pass’ is the standout here injecting the first ounce of colour into the EP as it plays off the harsh drum snap again taut, whirring arpeggios. Also the focus of a lot of attention of late James Fox rounds off the EP with a remix of ‘Shifting’ taking it into deeper, more seductive territory.
7. BOBBY CHAMPS - DRAG QUEEN
(PICTURES - PICT013)
Having opened his account for Pictures Music to pretty much unanimous praise, Bobby Champs is following his debut ‘Moonlight’ EP with new three-track effort ‘Drag Queen’. Picking up where he left off, the new EP showcases a refined production nous that retains all the raw bite of ‘Moonlight’. The title track is a weird proposition but one that turns out to be very effective; riding a rigid 4x4 shuffle, the synths crawl and wobble their way through the track, getting right under its skin as they peak and trough without ever relieving the tension. ‘Latte’ returns to more propulsive territory building a solid, jacking groove while the piano shimmies fluidly around the track’s backbone whereas ‘Charlie’ goes straight for the jugular with its pounding kicks, scattershot clicks and pitched down vocal chant of ‘Selling drugs, doing drugs’.
6. PJAM - GAS ft. BIG NARSTIE
(BEAT CAMP - BEATCAMP001)
Pioneering grime producer PJam continues his ascent back to the forefront of the grime scene with the launch of his new label, Beat Camp. For the debut release, the North London based producer teams up with long time collaborator Big Narstie on ‘Gas’, with the instrumental also included in the package. PJam delivers a dark, haunting instrumental with razor sharp 808 percussion and smooth, swooping synths coloured by the creeping fx while Big Narstie rides the beat in inimitably off-beat style with his slurred flow, uncompromising lyrics and call-to-arms chorus.
5. SD LAIKA - VECTORS
(LOST CODES - LC:001)
Having quickly made his mark as a producer in his own right with his vital take on grime, Visionist has now turned his hand to championing other newcomers with the launch of his new label, Lost Codes. Here the fledgling imprint is inaugurated by a fascinatingly leftfield grime EP from American beatmaker SD Laika. The six-track EP, which features a remix from Visionist himself, explores a warped, visceral vision of grime that while being a challenging listen is also a very rewarding one. From the shuddering static of opener ‘I Feel Cold’ the EP never really veers from its path, winding through the ominous lurch of ‘Creepy Crawling’ to the straight up onslaught of ‘Tropic Of Cancer’. This is certainly not for the faint hearted, but then grime isn’t supposed to be.
4. LEWIS JAMES - HEAVY ROMANCE
(RAID SYSTEM - RSD005)
Far from a newcomer to production and with a handful of production credits to his name, Lewis James’ first official release comes in the form of the ‘Heavy Romance’ EP for Broken Haze and XLII’s Raid System imprint. ‘Everything’ lays down the guantlet writhing through four minutes of looping guitar licks, heaving beats, lush soundscapes and chopped vocals without ever settling in any one place for long enough to ease up. ‘Peroxide Blonde’ is a more linear proposition although no less exciting, bounding forward on a wave or tumbling bass notes and incisive 8-bit melodies. ‘Only Me’ is softer round its edges, rewiring melodies out of chopped up vocals over neck-snap beats and plunging waves of bass while ‘Your Hands (remix...)’ lends a more poignant finesse to his productions, riding out the EP on a deeper note.
3. OM UNIT - AEOLIAN
(CIVIL MUSIC - CIV038)
Taking a break from the collaborative Dream Continuum project and his increasingly regular remix duties, shapeshifting beat scientist Om Unit returns for his third EP on the burgeoning Civil Music label with four cuts of commanding electronic futurism. The two bookends to the EP, ‘Ulysses’ and ‘Slowfast Matrix’, explore a more expansive take on the footwork influence that has informed his recent releases paring skittering percussion with a lush melodic touch and spiralling depth. ‘Dark Sunrise’ featuring Tamara Bless’ then takes the pace down, channeling dubstep’s deeper inflections in to a hard bounce. ‘Fumes’ and ‘Lightworkers Call’ featuring Kromestar heading into bumping hip hop territory while retaining some of that smoky malaise that runs throughout the EP.
2. FANTASTIC MR FOX - POWER
(BLACK ACRE - ACRE035X)
Eschewing the normal breathing space between releases, Fantastic Mr Fox returns to Black Acre following the outstanding ‘San’en’ EP with a strictly limited edition one-sided vinyl release. ‘Power’ may well be the track that finally gets him the attention he deserves. Working in the most linear form you will have heard yet, this recent staple of his DJ sets sees him approaching house from his inimitably skewed viewpoint. Driven by beautifully light-footed percussion, sweet synths and deep subs cushion the track as one of the most infectious vocals you are likely to hear all year floats through the track. As masterfully crafted and elegant as we have come to expect from the media-shy producer, this is one that you can expect to hear for a long time to come.
1. BLOOM - QUARTZ
(GOBSTOPPER - GOB005)
Dublin-based newcomer has laid down the guantlet with his debut release on Mr. Mitch’s Gobstopper label. Letting gun shots ricochet through the track’s tumbling percussion, he allows it to splinter into a million incisive shards that cut through the mix with equal brutality. With its stinging bass pulses, warping square-wave synths and a couple of screws loose ‘Quartz’ is manic, deranged and totally enthralling. At once relishing in grime in its most fierce, sonically guttural form and exploring its more abstract possibilities, Bloom distils the idiosyncratic genius of grime at its most potent. Starkey and Slackk complete the package with two re-imaginings of the original. Supercharging the synths with some of grime’s operatic grandeur, the militaristic swing of the drums, deep subs and smashing glass power Starkey’s tough 8-bar rework while Slackk irons out the rhythmic kinks and flailing synths channeling them into a hyperkinetic rhythm track that channels his ongoing fascination with footwork.
BEST OF THE REST:
ALIZZZ - LOUD EP
(MOFOHIFI RECORDS - MFH073)
On his new ‘Loud’ EP Spanish producer Alizzz explores a gloriously kaleidoscopic world of ebullient boogie beats.
VISION - ONE
(BIG DADA - BDDNL212)
Parisian duo VISION deliver a two-part masterclass in raw and uncompromising four-to-the-floor business for Big Dada.
JULIEN MIER - WHEN WILL YOU WAKE UP?
(KING DELUXE - KING013)
The latest release on the ever on-point King Deluxe label is this beautifully fragile and evocative five track EP from Julien Mier.
FALTY DL - HARDCOURAGE
(NINJA TUNE - ZEN12321)
Dusty house par excellence from the prolific Drew Lustman on his new home, Ninja Tune.
SENTEL - SHUT YOUR EYES EP
(GRANHOLME - GHM-004)
More fresh, futuristic and twisted dance floor material from the Granholme label, this time courtesy of Polish producer Sentel.
3. BLACK ACRE PRESENTS REBUILDS
(BLACK ACRE - ACRECOMP001)
Now five years old, the Bristol-based Black Acre label is in rude health. Continuing tirelessly on its mission to deliver a bounty of diverse and forward-thinking treats, their latest project is a tidily package collection of remixes that the label has put out over the years. With a tracklist that boasts Boddika remixing Hyetal, John Talabot remixing Blue Daisy and Lukid remixing Memotone, the compilation is the perfect reminder of just how deep their roster goes and a great opportunity to re-acquaint yourselves with some of the many gems hidden away on b-sides in their discography.
2. GREEEN LINEZ - THINGS THAT FADE
(DISKOTOPIA - DSKCD002)
Following the release of their first label compilation, the Tokyo-based Diskotopia imprint continue to pick up the pace with their first album courtesy of Greeen Linez, the collaborative project between Chris Greenberg and Matt Lyne AKA A Taut Line. Unabashed in the absorption of its influences, ‘Things That Fade’ forgoes any pretension for pure escapist fun. Amalgamating the saccharine sugar rush of 90s R&B and dance music with a sleazy funk underbelly, ‘Things That Fade’ blends these nostalgic influences with an exciting production edge that pulls it out of the past and breathes new and unexpected life into it.
1. TEENGIRL FANTASY - TRACER
(R&S RECORDS - RS1208LP)
Back in 2012 the debut album from Teengirl Fantasy was welcomed with open arms, receiving widespread acclaim for its exploration of a lush, hazy vision of house. Now having teamed up with R&S Records they are back with sophomore effort ‘Tracer’, and armed with a newfound clarity and focus to their sound. Featuring a number of vocal contributions from Panda Bear, Romanthony, Laurel Halo and Kelela, the album succinctly touches upon the more direct melodic sensibilities of pop and R&B as well as house and techno in their most accomplished work to date.
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