Sunday, December 26, 2010

Hard Ass Sessions Volume IV

1. Martelo vs Canblaster – Cannibal
2. Dubbel Dutch – Dead Pool
3. Seiji – Buzzcut
4. Savage Skulls & French Fries – Marawa

Lean and deadly ruff house rinsers from the motley crew of Martelo vs Canblaster, Dubbel Dutch, Seiji and Savage Skulls & French Fries. There's some dancefloor heat right here, from the doomy crunk meets crooked House flex of 'Cannibal' to the swooping subs and twysted Bubblin' dip of 'Marawa'. The ever-ready Dubbel Dutch unit drives out the teasin' bleep 'n bounce of 'Dead Pool' and the revitalised Seiji goes in all frisky with 'Buzcut' made for those who require some space on the 'floor. Total winners for the Night Slugs lovers and up-to-the-minute ravers!

Altered Natives - No Mortgage EP

A1 The Rain
A2 Heavenly Melodies
B1 No Mortgage
B2 Voyage

Also known as Danny Native, Altered Natives had a busier 2010 than just about anybody—and if 2010 is going to be remembered as anything, it will be as a busy year. Dropping a defining album, loads of standalone 12-inches and a clutch of MP3s to SoundCloud, he's a great example of the way that London-centered bass has thrown up not only amazing records and a lively template that musically has benefited a lot of what surrounds it, but also a lot of artists with distinct touches. It can take time to sort them out, but Altered Natives comes on straightaway—especially impressive given that more so than a dense commingling of current bass's various inputs like so many others (think of the crossing referents of Lone, Girl Unit or F), he tends to shuffle between fairly well-defined genres. Mastering the whole for him means mastering the parts.

The No Mortgage EP features four soulful house tracks: two vocal sample numbers on the A, two instrumentals on the B. It's not kaleidoscopic—that's for albums. But it's joyous in a way that's easy to approximate but harder to make seem effortless, ingrained. Take "Heavenly Melodies," featuring a lightly cut-up gospel-choir sample: "I'll think about it," over and over. It's a big revolving backdrop, like in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, and it works perfectly as both a pastiche of early '90s Nu Groove and a starry-eyed right-now track in its own right. "The Rain" radically alters an Ann Peebles vocal sample (taking a gruff woman and turning her to a vulnerable man) over something you could hear DJ Funk want to speed up. "No Mortgage" is sunset piano house with a basic keyboard solo; it sounds like someone's satisfied set-closer. And "Voyage" dusts off some Italo synths with elegant restraint. It's a decent place to

Krystal Klear / Arethis - Green Silver / Rugged Angels

a. Krystal Klear - Green Silver
b. Arethis - Rugged Angels

Cooly G's Dub Organizer label flexes some serious vinyl muscle with deadly yet divergent cuts from Krystal Klear and Arethis. Hanging on a Boogie tip, Hoya:Hoya resident and renowned electrofunk master Krystal Klear drops the heat-seeking vibes of 'Greensilver', the kind of scorching soul track we could imagine Foot Patrol controlling the floor to down at the Moss Side leisure centre on a saturday night in '86, only given a lick of subbass and some buffed-up synth gloss for 2010. The vibes quickly get more urgent on the flip with 'Rugged Angel' from North Carolina's Arethis, switching to international future garage mode with a superbly restless 2-stepper built from potent techno stabs and the kind of quicksilver syncopation that takes no prisoners. For rude girl/bad boy DJs only!

Hizatron - HZA EP

01] Telescope Dope
02] Executive Ball Scratcher
03] Klondyke

Melodic IDM/Tech-House fusions from Nottingham's Hizatron, a contemporary of Spamchop and the Blunted Robots crew. 'Telescope Dope' operates on the A-side, a hurky-jerky tech-house wiggler with bobbling kicks and surging synthline tricks borrowed from Mnml techno. 'Executive Ball Scratcher' gets a bit groovier, melding twinkling electro-marimba type sounds reminding of Caribou or the Border Community lot, mixed with ruffled Garage House patterns before 'Klondyke' contorts itself into a febrile ball of twitching percussion and discordant, morphing synthlines with a clever arrangement emerging from the

Bakey Ustl - EP 1

01] A Tender Place
02] Nose Candy
03] Heroin

Floor-killing House music from Firecracker's new sublabel, dropping the hugely in-demand heat of Bakey Ustl's 'A Tender Places'. This cut has been receiving much attention of late in the sets of Jackmaster, Ben UFO and Joy Orbison, sounding like some crazy scientist with a Dance Mania addiction splicing Soundhack and Moodymann just for the hell of it. We've not heard a House record this deranged all year, and it's on clear vinyl with a very special cut to boot. Kudos! Flip it and you'll find the slightly more simmering vibes of 'Nose Candy'. Together with the limited edition, screen-printed artwork and Japanese plastic sleeve, this is every bit the connoisseur's wet dream - pressed up in strictly limited numbers so act

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Coki - Urban Ethics

01: Shock It
02: Old Hope
03: Serious
04: Intergalactic
05: Robotnik
06: Animal
07: It

At long last Coki ‘s "Urban Ethics" triple LP finally drops. A natural sequel to the recent Mala-produced monster "Return II Space", "Urban Ethics" is the other side of the same Digital Mystikz coin. Where Mala offers the deepest seismic dub cuts, Coki delivers something altogether tougher. Opening cut "Shock It" leads the way with the kind of atmospheric intro and Scything buzzsaw bass drop that will knock the dancefloor sideways. "Old Hope" and "Serious" dip into Mala territory, proving that Coki has a rootical side as well - these are heavyweight jams that would sound fresh on the dreadest sound systems. "Intergalactic" mashes the two, mixing roots horns and a neck-snap riddim, while "Robotnik" and "Animal" have 'nasty' written all over them - not for the faint hearted! Last but not least is the disorientating "It" - spliced beats, killer bass and something nasty lurking in the fug of ganja

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Breton - Counter Balance EP

01. RDI
02. Counter Balance
03. December
04. Pop Death
05. Hours Away

Hemlock have a habit of thrusting highly impressive new artists upon the world - think James Blake, Untold, or Fantastic Mr Fox. London's Breton are the latest in line, emerging fully formed with a sound that's equal parts post-dubstep, rakish indie bloke vocals and Big Dada-style leftfield HipHop. Their five track 'Counter Balance EP' has already won favour with er, Coldplay's Chris Martin, and is set to achieve much acclaim going into 2011. The minimal framework of African guitar, crisp halfstep drums and ethereal cockney vox in 'RDI' hints at something on the edge of dubstep, while the rest of the EP is driven by moody HipHop beats, with the highlight of 'December' clearly primed for bigger things. Can you smell major labels or is it just us?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sidwho? - I Do The Night

A1 I Do The Night
B1 I Do The Night (Session Victim Dub)

Adelaide-based producer Sidwho?'s second Future Classic 12-inch of 2010, "I Do Night," might, at first, appear to rank as his most subdued number yet, but thanks to some nifty drum programming it ends up as a snappy piece of indie disco. The low 120s are where the multi-instrumentalist has drawn the most acclaim—his 2009 "Vote Bowie for President" was picked up by a slew of slo-mo house and disco DJs—and continues to excel. This time around, the analogue haze that has characterised much of Sidwho?'s solo productions doesn't stick around for too long, resulting in a more refined and cleaner sound. As a result, the jilted percussive-focus of this A-side lends itself to a slightly more robust time slot than your usual Sidwho? fare.

On the flip, Session Victim have been enlisted to provide a dub. The result is a pleasant house excursion, where the pair introduce an intermittent midrange filter while drawing out the original's vocals. The morphing bassline and delicate synth melody combine well, but it doesn't quite match the workability of Sidwho?'s crisp drums and dramatic

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nebraska - Four For Four EP

1 This Is The Way
2 Bar Story
3 Ras El Hanout
4 Arrondissement

Four brand new tracks of filtered, disco-infected and funked up deep house music from Nebraska. 'this Is the Way' starts the jam with heady, filtered disco loops, while 'Bar Story' finds a heavier bass-driven groove with a sublimely tempered euphoria. 'Ras El Hanout' is an infectious display of edit mastery, guaranteed to please lovers of Trus'me or even Soundhack, and he tips out on the shimmering late night aura of 'Arrondissement'. Another crowd pleaser from Rush Hour, fans of Rick Wilhite, Trus'me, or Shake should check this!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Das Racist - Shut Up, Dude

01. Whos That Brooown
02. You Oughta Know
03. Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell
04. Rainbow in the Dark
05. Fake Patios
06. Nutmeg
07. Shorty Said Gordon Voidwell Remix
08. Chicken and Meat
09. I Dont Owe Nobody Shit
10. Ek Shaneesh
11. Hugo Chavez
12. I Dont Want to Deal with Those Monsters
13. Don Dada
14. One Dollar Can
15. Coochie Dip City
16. Deep Ass Shit Youll Get It When Youre High
17. Shut Up Dude

When you first heard "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell", did you wonder what a full-length Das Racist album would sound like? Did you even think they were capable of an album at all? Maybe you expected a whole mixtape filled with bewildered yelling about name brands on some postmodern Fatboy Slim shit, or one of those hipster-rap records filled with a bunch of half-serious post-crunk/booty bass homages. But if you were a bit more curious, maybe you went to their MySpace page and heard the elaborate reference-fest "Rainbow in the Dark" and a deconstruction of co-opted dancehall dialect called "Fake Patois" and caught on to something deeper. Maybe you started wondering if they were a bit less trivial than you suspected.

As it turns out, "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" has as much to do with the whole of Shut Up, Dude as the Beastie Boys' "Cooky Puss" does to the referential overload of Paul's Boutique. Das Racist's Brooklyn-buzz affiliations and humorous bent might mislead you into thinking it's an exercise in cheap laffs for people who don't take rap seriously, but this album feels a lot more like the irreverent hip-hop fanboy mania of ego trip magazine than smarmy genre tourism.

Himanshu Kumar Suri aka "Heems" and Victor Vazquez have something elaborate going on, toying with and subverting the rules of hip-hop lyricism even as they pay them respect. "Who's That? Brooown!" uses A Tribe Called Quest's well-worn "Scenario" as a reference point, but Heems mutters his callbacks to Busta Rhymes' verse in a sleepily cocky voice that sounds like the exact opposite of Busta's off-the-charts energy. The repetition and recursiveness that made "Combination" so polarizing crop up in odd places; one otherwise-complex line in "Ek Shaneesh" simply ends "drinkin' beer, drinkin' beer/ prolly drinkin' some more beer" before teasing an obvious Tears for Fears-referencing internal rhyme that never actually comes. Familiar hit-sourced hooks are self-sabotaged with trailed-off mumbling (the Juelz Santana-sourced, Billy Joel-jacking "You Oughta Know"), the spiritual presence of Bob Marley is called into the not-so-lofty service of soundtracking their tribute to dollar cans of iced tea, and they actually named one of their tracks "Deep Ass Shit (You'll Get It When You're High)" as a rib-jabbing mission statement. (No points in guessing which prolific Oxnard-based underground producer gets his beat used for that one.)

If they were just fucking around, those gags would wear off and leave you with nothing but a series of smug hey-get-it? nudges. But Heems and Victor are serious enough about coming up with memorable lines that they come across like some kind of lyrical stealth operatives. The fact that they often go from water-treading repetition to intricately built phraseology mid-verse is a great riff in itself. One of the shortest and simplest lines on the album is one of the cleverest-- "W.E.B. DuBois/ We be da boys," from "Hugo Chavez"-- but there are also moments where you're left wondering how they could make so many unexpected linguistic connections look so easy. Their go-hard rampage on "Nutmeg" is 1990s-reared, cipher-honed style gone berserk, turning a funhouse mirror on Ghostface's finest moment of abstract pyrotechnics, as it starts with the unlikely couplet "Queens Boulevard/ Kierkegaard" and gets even more dizzyingly ridiculous from there.

Granted, there's a certain information-overload college-student bent to their humor, evident in cross-genre namedrops like "Richard Hell Rell" or the mentions of Tao Lin and "and Dinesh DiSouza. But Das Racist push past mere signifying to come across as straight-up literates with a way of making cultural studies out of entertainment and vice-versa. Several lyrics take offhand references to Bollywood stars and Cuban sandwiches and extrapolate stream-of-consciousness ethnographies out of them, while "Shorty Said (Gordon Voidwell Remix)" draws out punchlines and commentary about identification by listing all the racially divergent celebrities that women supposedly claim Victor and Heems resemble (Egyptian Lover; Amitabh Bachchan; Slash without his hat). Das Racist approach this idea of otherness in a way that feels both playful and provocative, asserting their identities in a way that both reinforces their individuality and goofs on their stereotypes. And if it hits a certain nerve, it's probably the same one that got tweaked by the sociological b-boy stoner comedy precedent of "Chappelle's Show". Fast-food hipster-rap, my ass-- these dudes are the

Sound Stream - All Night

A1 All Night
B1 Tease Me
B2 Deeper love

We knew it was coming, we just didn't know it would take this long. It's been well over a year since Tama Sumo closed her Panorama Bar mix CD with "All Night," prompting speculation that a fifth instalment to Sound Stream's definitive series of cut-up disco-house was soon on its way. After all but vanishing from memory, its official release now feels like an unexpected tax rebate.

There are no surprises here: all three tracks are like any other previously released. But it's hard to think of a producer currently who slices, dices and loops in the same devastatingly effective manner as Frank Timm. The lead track on this record is a fine example of his approach: take one bar of disco with shiny Rhodes chords, loop it, hold that tension, drop a large house chug, save a moment of melodic breakdown for decoration. The simple technique has become iconic and that's why his records are indispensable. Of course, "Tease Me" and "Deeper Love" are cut with familiar scissors, although the respective, loungier string-centric and wah-wah loops aren't as likely to perk up a flagging dance floor in the same way as the thumb-slap bass on "All Night" certainly

Starkey - Space Traitor Vol. 1

1. Robot Hands
2. Playing With Fire
3. Holodeck
4. Paradise
5. Lenses
6. Robot Hands (Egyptrixx Remix)
7. Robot Hands (Kaiser Remix)
8. Paradise (Rudi Zygadlo Remix)
9. Paradise (ARP.101 Remix)
10. Paradise (+verb Remix)
11. Playing With Fire (Ital Tek Remix)
12. Space Traitor Vol. 1 (Short Story)

Chunky bundle from Starkey, combining his 'Space Traitor EP' 12" with a CD of remixes from Egyptrixx, Kaiser, Rudi Zygadlo, ARP101, and Ital Tek. These are some of his first new productions since the 'Ear Drums And Black Holes' LP dropped at the other end of the year, firing out the lurid rave ruffige of 'Robot Hands' and the mad grimey string slashes of 'Holodeck' plus a laidback moment with regular vocalist Anneka. The CD also includes his exclusive 'Lenses', next to the slippin' cyber Funky remix of 'Robot Hands' by Egyptrixx and a splendidly screwed and agitated Wonky revision of 'Paradise' by Arp101. Perhaps most impressive of all is Ital Tek's dread-filled sci-fi-step version of 'Playing With Fire'. Heavy

Eliphino - Undivided Whole EP

01 You'll Know
02 L.F. (I Know)
03 Condensation
04 I Just Can't

Four tracks of well-studied Garage/House manoeuvres from Eliphino. On the A-side he burns up the Joy Orbison-indebted 'You'll Know' next to the loose and smudged shuffler 'L.F (I Know)'. On the flip 'Condensation' sounds like a drowsy Speed Garage track and 'I Just Can't' finds its flex in screwed Garage at a 115bpm pace. Fans of XXXY, Illum Sphere or Martyn should join the

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pariah - Safehouses

01. The Slump
02. Prism
03. Railroad
04. Crossed Out
05. C-Beams
06. Safehouses

Do you still get docked points for being derivative when you better the source material? London's Pariah made his name on a soul-fueled 12-inch for legendary techno label R&S, two tracks that were impressively well-produced but didn't exactly break the mold. His R&S follow-up is something much bigger, a double EP that subsumes the diverse world of UK bass music into one glossy package but does little to expand or build on its borrowed foundations.

Pariah is nothing more than a recycler and polisher of dubstep trends, a problem highlighted by opening track "The Slump," which literally sounds like it was built from sounds taken from other producers. Those metallic rimshots are from Mount Kimbie's "Vertical," and stabbing bass and trickling percussion nicked from any number of Ramadanman productions. By the same token, "Crossed Out," subsists on the same euphorically smooth ascension and perfectly-polished vocal samples as so many other "Hyph Mngo"-soundalikes. It's far from daringly original, but Pariah's pads are so liquid smooth, the vocals so perfectly positioned, the drums just the right amount of springy, it's impossible not to get pulled into his enveloping and immersive soundscapes.

Occasionally Pariah stumbles onto something unique, as with "Railroad," the EP's shortest but most vibrant track. Starting off as a typical Burial invocation, 8-bit clouds roll in and overwhelm the track in liquid computer funk. The brewing storm threatens ominous destruction, manifesting itself in brief eruptions of junglist breaks as every element sloshes and careens in what feels like suspended chaos. But it's a contained chaos held firmly between Pariah's surprisingly expert hands, and his measured control of every sound and melodic motif means that the result is emotionally overwhelming rather than claustrophobic. Similarly, the oddball "C-Beams" focuses on a lurching piano that attempts to maintain momentum wading through an unpredictable beat, with seemingly little regard for conventional rhythm.

A universalist in a scene obsessed with highly-specific individuality, Pariah's production values are higher than most, and his focus on emotion and expression means that his considerable potential extends far beyond the dubstep community. To someone who doesn't keep up with every record to trickle out of every prominent dubstep imprint, these may even sound like revelatory tracks. Judging from the rainy atmosphere of "Safehouses," Pariah is just as concerned with reaching beyond the realm of dubstep. The near-ambient track is a bold move on a release format usually reserved for dance floor-oriented tracks, and while it's not particularly groundbreaking, its suffocated melodies are deeply affecting.

And therein lies Pariah's true talent: The key to enjoying Safehouses is turning your thoughts off and just enjoying the impeccably-produced music. That's not to imply that this is dumb music (it's not), but such beautifully evocative sounds deserve undivided attention, no matter their context. In forcing us to do that, maybe Pariah has already achieved some ultimate, transcendent success. Or maybe not. At any rate, he's on to