There's so much new talent emerging in the bass music scene right now selecting just ten for this list was no easy task, but here, in alphabetical order, are our top ten bass producers to look out for in 2012.
Artifact is another producer from the South West who is starting to make people stand up and take notice. Following a couple of digital releases, his first physical release is dropping on Deadplate this month and feels like his proper introduction into the fold, one which will undoubtedly put his name firmly on the map. Archaic Line and Deserted show a rhythmic mastery and deft melodic touch that immediately raise the tracks above those of a lot of his contemporaries. Sitting loosely around house foundations, the bass-led drive and skittering percussion belie heavier sonic touchstones – early dubstep and grime come to mind – that give his tracks a unique edge on the dancefloor, jumping out from the tide of inoffensive house that characterised most of 2011.
Having just released their debut EP (the outstanding Offkey EP on Tube10) towards the end of last year, the Blackwax duo are already garnering plenty of plaudits. Informed by the full spectrum of the UK's rich heritage in underground electronic music, their dark, rugged productions are built to shake soundsystems. From the chopped breaks and rhythmic intricacies of jungle to the sonic power of grime right up until the upfront dance floor propulsion of UK funky in its morphing strands, Blackwax embody the experimentalism and pure power that these genres have pioneered. Already getting support from like-minded contemporaries such as Visionist, Dark Sky and Epworth, they are currently working on their next EP, and it will be exciting to see where this year takes them.
At just 18, Graphics, pictured above, is already starting to make something of a name for himself. The second half of 2011 saw him garnering serious attention following quality releases on Well Rounded Individuals, Granholme and GetMe! Not settling on any predictable sound or formula, his tracks jump around touching upon elements of house, techno, garage and electronica while always boasting intricately crafted detail and progressive arrangements. The Mama Grizzlies single out on Jesse Rose's Made To Play label on January 27 should serve to boost him further into the limelight yet. What is most exciting about Graphics is that you get the feeling that he still hasn't found his stride yet. Hopefully 2012 will have some of those answers.
Palace may be a new name to some, but you can most definitely expect to be hearing more from him soon. The young producer has already carved a sound that is all his own, referencing an untapped array of influences that bolster his tough tracks. He has just dropped the Mandy / Armageddon single on Unknown To The Unknown which has already been getting support from the likes of Fantastic Mr Fox, Hudson Mohawke and Mumdance. His tracks amalgamate the glacial sonics of classic eski productions with a dark 2-step shuffle and the bump of bassline's darkest recesses. With more releases in the pipeline for 2012, he is most definitely one to watch out for this year.
Pedestrian's recent release Hei Poa on Push & Run was one of the outstanding singles of this year. Bringing a melodic delicacy and emotional poignancy to the constructs of dance music, he makes tracks that journey beyond the confines of the dancefloor. Letting organic layers of texture and atmospheres pull against the electronics, Pedestrian crafts a sound that is as nuanced as it is arresting. Recent remixes of Emelie Sandé and Tropics have served to further confirm this with Pedestrian's lush treatment of the originals. With new releases in the works for a couple of labels, expect to be hearing a lot more from him in 2012.
At just 17, Pedro 123 is possibly the youngest of all the artists here, but don't let that fool you into any preconceptions because he is also possibly the producer here with the most unique sound. When you hear one of his tracks you will know it! With a sound that references classic grime productions and new school bass music in equal parts, his sparse tracks are built for those stop-you-in-your-tracks moments in the dance. Often jarring and never predictable, his leftfield vision of grime is starting to gain a lot of support. Remixes of Trim, Numan, MIK and, most recently, Sines have showcased some of what he can do. With an EP set for release on B.Yrslf Division later this year, it sounds like this is just the start for the young producer.
2011 was a good year for grime. While ex-proponents continued to peddle a watered down version to a mainstream that was craving urban music, focus shifted back to producers in the scene (thanks in no small part to the Butterz label). One of the most exciting producers to emerge from this new generation of grime artists is Preditah. Relatively unknown at the start of the year, his rapid ascent through the grime scene is only matched by the impact of his productions. EPs on Stay Fresh and Earth 616 as well as remixes of Trim and Marger amongst others have showcased his dark, synth heavy productions.
Tessela has been bubbling on the underground for a little while now, his name popping up in mixes and name-checked in interviews with increasing regularity. Building support for his robust, heavily percussive productions. His release for All City last summer was a bold statement of intent. In terms of individual style and straight up dancefloor impact, he is up their with the best and will no doubt be winning over fans of Pearson Sound, Blawan, Randomer et al. With another impressive release coming on Punch Drunk imminently in the form of the searing D Jane / Channel this year, it looks like he is finally set to start getting the attention he fully deserves.
Visionist's fresh brand of deadly 808 bass music has made him a name to watch, and one listen to his releases on 92 Points, Left_Blank and the Tokyo-based Diskotopia imprint will be all the explanation you need. His scattershot rhythms, coarse vocal samples and eerie atmospheres bear the unique mark of a producer crafting his own sound and this will undoubtedly win him the attention he rightfully deserves. The hypnotic, breathless draw of his rhythmic construction is what really puts him ahead of the pack. A series of free giveaways in the run up to Christmas had the blogosphere alight with chatter about his nebulous grime productions, standing him in good stead for the new year. With further releases scheduled on Blackdown's Keysound Recordings label and Oneman's burgeoning 502 imprint, his stock is undoubtedly going to continue rising.
Okay, so this isn't one producer, but the Young Echo collective from Bristol houses a number of this year's most exciting prospects. The group made up of Zhou, Kahn, El Kid, Vessel, Jabu, Baba Yaga and B-Lam are unwilling to attach themselves to any one scene or sound, pushing some of the most refreshing and original underground bass music around at the moment for labels like Punch Drunk (Zhou, Kahn), Left_Blank (Vessel, El Kid), Astro:Dynamics (Vessel, El Kid, Zhou) and more. Re-igniting the excitement to be found within 140 bpm, as well as exploring house, techno and some more leftfield electronica, it is there open-minded and forward-thinking approach that has started turning heads. With Vessel having just signed to Tri Angle, Kahn's release schedule picking up pace and the collective as a whole making their mark, 2012 is set to be a good year for them.
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