02 January 2006



Bass Clef - Welcome To Echo Chamber (dub)
DJ Distance - Taipan (Boka)
Cogent - Sundayz (dub)
Mark One - Tomb Raider (Southside Dubstars)
Shackleton - Majestic Visions (Skull Disco)
L-Wiz - Girlfriend (Dub Police/Storming)
Loefah - Root (DMZ)
Search & Destroy - Mark Of The Beast (Combat Wax)
Warlock - Full Tilt (Rag & Bone)
DJ Charmzy - Banger (Black Ops/L.D. Cats)
DJ Mondie - Pull Up Dat VIP (Foot In The Door)
Mr Keys - Merkin (Southside)
Forsaken - Smerins (dub)

The second release from Skull Disco arrived on Christmas Eve - yaay!!! Another excellently presented package, with side A featuring Shackleton's "Majestic Visions", a fantastic arrangement of middle-eastern melodies and dramatic percussion revealing Sam's love of traditional Turkish and Ethiopian music, underpinned by an irresistibly lithe sub-bassline. The vinyl's beautifully mastered too - you can really feel all the extreme frequencies dancing around the audio spectrum and there's such a strong sense of space and weight- a real treat for all you soundheadz. Magnificent! Side AA is Appleblim's "Cheat I" and "Girder", both of which I've been listening to on MP3 for months, but great to hear the full sound at last. Release date for this is 15th January, but you can hear a bit of "Majestic Visions" on this month's GutterFM show, which I recorded earlier today (see below). The Skull Disco experience is coming to Bristol later this month, when Appleblim and Shackleton take over the second room at Noir (Blue Mountain club) on the 27th. I definitely intend to be there!

Other featured music includes a track from Swedish dubstepper L-Wiz, who's debut three-tracker on new Storming offshoot label Dub Police is pure quality - full of exotic, ethnodelic soundmatter and heavyweight beats 'n' bass. I tried e-mailing Storming to find out a bit more about L-Wiz and future plans for Dub Police, but no response yet. Another essential release is the new Boka 12 inch from DJ Distance, featuring "Fallen", his most overtly dubby production yet, coupled with "Taipan", which utilizes what is quickly becoming the classic Distance guttural, distorted bass-riff sound. Deadly! Then there's Mark One's latest three-tracker for Southside Dubstars. Mark's also playing Bristol this month at Ruffneck Discotek, but it looks like I'm gonna have to miss it again! Fuck!! I'm having real bad luck with the Ruffneck nights recently - they keep falling on really awkward nights for me. It's starting to really piss me off!

There's a few more exclusive, unsigned tunes featured too, kicking-off with the sublime sound of Bass Clef. This is the work of Bristol-based producer Ralph Thomas, who has previously worked under the name RLF. Ralph sent me a six-track cd-r of his latest work, including "Welcome To Echo Chamber", a wonderful slice of warped dub dynamics, plus a couple of others that are apparently coming out on New York label Sound ink in the near future. There's also the possibility of a self-released 12 inch too. Broadly working within the dubstep template, Ralph adds elements of mutant dancehall( "Nailbomb"), Amen breakage ("King Of Stokes Croft") , snatches of operatic vocals ("Opera Riddim") and sliced-up soundtracky string sections combined with minimalist bass-quiver beats on "The Pembury Riddim". Definitely one to watch out for!

Also making his GutterFM debut is Northants-based James Phelan aka Cogent, another producer who, after coming from a d'n'b background, has been slowing down the bpms and working with the rhythmic space of dubstep during the past year or so. His productions are impressively tight and structured, featuring mutated jazz horns ("Vindi"), fierce bass-distortion rollers like "Stash", plus "Sundayz" - a burnished symphony for clipped percussion, jagged bass and ambient drone that made a big impression on me when I heard ThinKing spin it at Subloaded II a while back. Obviously you won't get the same soundsystem-injected intensity from this little 64kbps mix (which you're probably streaming through crappy little PC speakers!) , but hopefully it'll give you some indication of the quality of Cogent's work. Apparently he's negotiating with a couple of labels for potential release, but nothing firm at the time of writing.

It's a welcome return for another Bristolian producer, Pete Bubonic aka Forsaken, who handed me a cd-r of his latest demos when we linked up at Dubloaded last month. Although Pete's main focus is on complex polyrhythmic percussion loops, I like it best when he gets more stripped-back and spacious, like on opener "Taiko Riddim", a seething cauldron of whiplash beats and pummeling one-note bass stabs with slivers of celestial flute, deep oriental gongs and rustic guitar figures weaving through the mix. The sound of Grime gone native. Even better is "Smerins" with it's plangent, swelling horn section (presumably sampled from, or inspired by, the Bristol-based jazz/dub/funk/ska band Smerins Anti-Social Club?! - check out their trippy, highly original dub remake of the Dr. Who theme) and moody staccato strings creating a formidably expressive soundtrack that, once it's in your head, is difficult to shake off! Surely 2006 will be Pete's breakthrough year?

I've got a whole bunch of other interesting unsigned material stockpiled at Gutter HQ, but you'll have to wait till next time to hear some of those!

some cool booksCouldn't wrap this post up without mentioning a couple more Xmas presents. I rarely buy new books, usually just second-hand things I find in charity shops, etc. But I always drop not-too-subtle hints about all the reading material I'm hoping to get in my stocking. This year I got two! Firstly, the Blissblogger in his guise as professional author and scholar Simon Reynolds brings us the essential "Rip It Up And Start Again", a detailed account of the postpunk music scene from 1978-84, which is a real page-turner. I'm gonna be writing a bit more about this when I've finished it - I'm currently halfway through chapter thirteen which looks at the San Francisco scene that revolved around groups like Factrix, Chrome and Tuxedomoon - an area of particular interest and inspiration to me. I've hardly been on the internet at all since I got this book, so don't be surprised if you don't hear anything else from me for a few more days....

I also got "The Ambient Century" by Mark Pendergast ('from Mahler to Moby - the evolution of sound in the electronic age') which was published a couple of years ago. I've barely looked at that one yet, and I expect it'll be more something to 'dip-in to' occasionally rather than reading from start to finish, but it's a useful reference book that'll look nice on the shelf next to things like David Toop's "Ocean Of Sound", Thom Holmes' "Electronic And Experimental Music" and "The A-Z Of Analogue Synthesisers" by Peter Forrest. A good music blogger needs his reference manuals!

Oh, and one more thing...thanks to all the Dubstep forum members who voted for Gutterbreakz in the end of year polls. I was amazed to come top in the Best Blog category, and get a respectable second place for Best Website too. Cheers! It's good to know that a few people out there seem to get a kick out of this blog. I was also pleased to see that Gutterbreakz just scraped into Eye Weekly's 'Top Five Music Blogs' list, after noticing that I was getting a lot of referrals from their website. That's pretty surprising when you consider how specialist this blog is. Anyway, that's my ego well and truly massaged for a while - what a great start to 2006!!