Guido - Orchestral Lab (Punch Drunk)
Trust Punch Drunk to bring us music from Bristol's freshest underground talent. This one's a kinda throw-back sound from one of Joker's grimey mates. As the title suggests, it's brimming with big orchestral arrangements of an unselfconsciously synthetic variety, shot through with the kind of raw squarewave riffs I haven't heard since Grime's instrumental 'golden age' a few years back. The strongest comparison I can think of is DJ Oddz in his prime (before he found God) - cinematic and emotional. Flipside "U Make Me Feel" continues the theme but with a moodier feel and the addition of a pulsing trancey undercurrent. I dig.
Various Production - Without You/Hole In My Memory
Occasionally Various send me links to new tunes, and these are the latest examples. "Without You" has a really odd, disjointed groove with high levels of 'feminine pressure' whilst the other one features Gerry Mitchell's grim Northern monologue. Both very different but continuing to prove that Various are still experimenting in the margins to good effect. Check their website for news and streams.
Subeena - Call It Anger/Dot - Longitude (Imminent)
Digital-only release from the label formally known as Immigrant. Subeena's track is a meaty 909 stomper, 4/4 stylee, full of jittery synth-pulses and melodic hooks, but also a subtle undercurrent of atmospheric fx. Dot's "Longitude" has more of a breakstep flava with it's dense layers of looped percussion. The loops are quite loosely syncopated, giving the track quite an organic 'live' feel. A tidy little two-tracker, which presumably you can buy on the 'net somewhere...
Search & Destroy/Toasty - Remixes (Hotflush)
I can still remember playing-out Loefah's remix of "Candyfloss" at Dubloaded when it first came out, to a packed room with N-Type, Skream and Chef watching approvingly from the wings. Ahhh...those were the days. Well, looks like Hotflush have seen fit to give it a re-issue and rightly so, as it's probably one of the great defining examples of Loefah's signature sound. Flip-over for a new refix of Toasty's "The Knowledge" (one of those tunes that just won't die) from Untold, which ramps-up the pressure whilst remaining respectful to the structure of the original.
Untold - Sweat (Hotflush)
And here's Untold once again, cutting-loose with a solo release. The A-side is maybe a bit too 'progressive/functional' breaks for my taste. It's pretty dull, actually. But the b-side "Dante" is much better with more of a 2-step swing on the beats and some sweet dubby chords.
Pangaea - Bear Witness (Hotflush)
Hessle Audio's Pangaea moonlighting on Hotflush with the kind of deep, thoughtful vibes we've come to expect. Actually, the lead track is almost too thoughtful...not much going on really...what do you say about it? 'Useful mix-material'? The flip-side "Mosaix" has a lot more going for it - stealthy and urgent with vague 2-step groove, warped double-bass, vocal snatches and a beautifully spooked pad-sound. Yeah, definitely another one where the b-side pisses over the a-side. Am I starting to see a pattern emerging on Hotflush here...?
Various - The Limpet (Couchblip)
Intriguing 4-tracker from Couchblip, perhaps wisely kicking-off with a track from established producer Boxcutter, in dreamy abstract mood on "Jaywalk". But then comes the completely bonkers "Araty" by Kadah-Vresky (who??!), which is a wild mash-up of dub, hip-hop drill-n-bass and spazzed-out editing with a dash of Raymond Scott. Funckarma's "FictionStub" keeps it weird with fizzing oscillator riffs bubbling under a half-step riddim with messed-up stream of consciousness vocals, and Herrmut Lobby brings thing to a satisfying conclusion with the relatively sane atmospheric stepper "Birds". Tip!
Threnody - No Hype EP (UK Trends)
First release from long-term soldier Threnody's new label, and it sounds like the man's on a mission from God. Opening track "Baghdad Street" features percussion loops and atmospheres sampled from the streets of Istanbul, giving a strong eastern flava to this restless, intense track. "To Have You" brings us firmly back to the UK, with a dark techy garage sound of the kind you used to hear on early Souljah or Hotflush records. Love it! Final track "Hype Hype" is an incredible 10 minute-long journey of relentlessly busy drum rolls, pumping sub-bass and endless cascading synth/trumpet melodies. Recommended!!
23Hz & Numeastro - Zumo (2nd Drop)
Excellent production levels on this release, and some really nice touches, but the overall feel on this and the flip "Fantasmas VIP" is a bit...old and tired. I used to get sent tonnes of demo tracks with drums just like these two or three years ago and frankly I don't wanna hear anymore in my life right now. But hey, don't let me put you off...
Rossi B & Luca - Jah No Dead (Soul Motive)
Now this is more like it - proper fucking dark garage from the El-B/Burial nether-zone - truly the sound of ghosts in the machine. Love it love it love it! Though funnily enough the flipside track by El-B himself is a fairly pedestrian (though undoubtedly tight) piano/breakbeat workout that once again fails to enthuse me to his new material. But for the Rossii B track alone you need this record, which should be out around the end of March.
Forensics - The Horror & The Glory (Digital Sin)
Another day, another Forensics promo. This one's a six-track cd-r that continues to mine those distinctive depths of dark, undancable dance music for social misfits and damaged bass-addicts. I like "Comfort Blanket" best - as the title suggests it has just that little bit of reassurance and hope in an otherwise nightmarish soundtrack world. Mind you, I must admit I think "All To Waste" sounds bloody lovely in an entirely different way with it's eerie and unsettling washes of melodic texture - one of Krys' best so far. I'm feeling the Horror, though the Glory eludes me. More info at Digital Sin Myspace.