Bass Music . Future Beats . Nu Garage


Genre pick of the week Cover of Hyperdub 10.2 by Various Artists.
After Hyperdub's first compilation of 10th anniversary dancefloor heaters, ‘Hyperdub 10.2’ features some of the label's best songs of the last five years or so. Hyperdub is often associated with dark and brooding instrumental music, however, this mid-summer collection sheds some sunlight over that dread filled reputation, showcasing an underrated cast of talented songwriters, vocalists and producers. The album is laced with brand new cuts from Kode9, Cooly G, Morgan Zarate feauring. Eska and Ghostface Killah, Jessy Lanza, Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland, and DVA featuring Zaki Ibrahim. Ranging from melancholy R&B, garage, funk, footwork and icy pop, ‘10.2’ covers this overlooked side of the label's back catalogue.

The album opens with Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland’s grime lullaby 'Signal 2012', one of their final collaborations, moving into Burial's dubbed-out R&B on 'Shell Of Light' from his seminal album 'Untrue', and Jessy Lanza's stand-out cut '5785021', before sliding into the digi dub meets R & B slow jam of South London's Cooly G with 'Obsessed'. King Britt features next, with his Fhloston Paradigm project, on the deeply emotive 'Never Defeated’ featuring Rachel Claudio. After their collaboration on his 'Pretty Ugly' album, DVA is joined again by South African singer Zaki Ibrahim with their brand new summery mutant garage track 'Solid'. Dam Funk jumps on Ikonika's funk bomb ‘Mr. Cake’, adding a fun, party vocal. Continuing the ‘80s funk vibe is Morgan Zarate and Roses Gabor's ice cold Prince-influenced 'Pusher Taker', the lead track from his 2013 EP. Jessy Lanza contributes some more sparkling R&B with the brand new 'You and Me', followed by another track from Morgan Zarate, a lost dub featuring the soulful Eska and Wu Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah. The tempo raises in the final stretch of the album with DVA's and Fatima's collaboration 'Just Vybe', Terror Danjah & Meleka's shimmering R&G cut 'You Make Me Feel' and the 160 bpm soul of the late DJ Rashad's 'Only One' from his acclaimed 'Double Cup' album. The CD closes with the lo-fi, bashy mutation of Kode9 & copeland's 'Lies Lies'. 10.2 calls on Hyperdub's sirens to balance the moody energy of 10.1 with fourteen slices of hyper soul. Let them lead you astray.

Actress continues to keep us on our toes here at Piccadilly, dropping another limited EP with no forewarning much to our postman's chagrin. Much like 2013's "Grey Over Blue" EP, "Xoul" arrives with no information, sporting a sleeve and label as black as Kubrick's monolith. Since "Ghettoville" found Cunningham in tranqued out heroin house form, I'm guessing this continues in the same vein, playing at a stately 33rpm. "Xoul" emerges from a hiss and fizz of scratchy white noise like a lullaby from a dystopic future. The ozone layer's gone and nuclear war has reduced the planet to an arid plane of scorched earth. The chirps and tweets of the rainforest fauna have been replaced by the electrostatic feedback, and battered electroncis are the only form of sound. Actress picks up the pace a little on the "Dark Chamber" variation, and rearranges the parts into a spot welded collage of industrial filth and qualude house fug. Disorientating and danceable, this mix has taken all the drugs in world at once. And just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder, Cunningham flips the track into reverse for the second half. I need a sit down and thankfully the "Xoul Particles" mix is there to offer a soothing bed of ambience for me to rest on. With the more abrasive elements of the track reduced to a mere murmur, there's plenty of time to fall into the hypnotic melody. Now, although lazy comparisons should be avoided, the similarities with "Drukqs" are as high an honour as I can bestow. If "Particles" was Cunningham's "Dreamscape", then "Pharoah Moon Rising" is the soundtrack to a particularly grim nightmare. While unnatural hats hiss away marking the time, a growling bassline snakes away in the depths creating a tone of true menace. A plaintiff clarinet holds long and reedy notes above the synthetic rumble as Actress soundtracks the paranoia and tension of a futuristic film noir. Another remarkable release from Darren J Cunningham; if he keeps going at this rate they'll be no boundaries left. 

17 Steps is the new record label from UK act Dusky, aka Nick Harriman and Alfie Granger-Howell. This storming inaugural release leads with a unique title track that represents Dusky's hybrid approach to production perfectly. Drawing on dark, hypnotic melodies that reference classic jungle vibes, soulful vocal samples, and tough, intricate grooves, "Love Taking Over" also hits with a gritty percussive edge; making for a fresh and distinctly Dusky production. Second track 'Inta' connects even more directly with Dusky's formative jungle and rave influences growing up in London - taking its title and key sample from the classic 'Inta' by Grooverider's Inta Warriors alias. Archetypal of Dusky's genre-merging approach, "Inta" blends sub heavy bass pulses with dark synths and vintage rave motifs to form an unflinching and heavy dancefloor sound. Completing the EP in style, 'Expectations' is a track that has been on heavy rotation in Dusky's DJ sets over the year. A tough, no nonsense, floor burning house jam, "Expectations" instantly strikes a groove with its simple bass line and quirky jazz-inspired lead. Again summoning dark, D&B-inspired bass on its cavernous breakdown, "Expectations" is loaded with the texture and detail that Dusky are renowned.

American born but Helsinki based soulful chanteuse Nicole Willis, drops a red hot 12" featuring varied remixes of tracks from her acclaimed LP "Soul Makeover". "Siesta" is one of the slower, more sultry tracks from the LP, and on this DJ pleasing wax, it gets two fresh new mixes courtesy of Roberto Rodriguez, hubby Jimi Tenor, Iceland's GusGus and Temple of Soul.

Finnish house master Rodriguez transforms the nice and easy album track into a soulful and deep house mover with big pads, an infectious bassline and gugrling synths. Rodriguez keeps it real by sampling the ride from the original and rearranging it to give the track a live MAW vibe. Temple Of Soul take a completely different tack, weaving Willis' gorgeous vocals into the swelter of an exotic groove before hitting the switch on a frenetic DnB drum track. More surprises abound on the flip with two remixes of "Heed the Sign". The first mix comes from Finland's premier spaceman and husband to Ms. Willis, Jimi Tenor, who drops a great mid tempo acid house rework that screams Hacienda, with its 303 gurgle, synth strings and brass, and a melody nicked from a New Order track. Iceland's GusGus drop by to close the EP out with a laid back groove perfect for the summer, featuring great guitar work from Chris Dawkin's and the hottest sax solo you'll hear this year.

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