'The Source', from London-based Leda Stray, is one of those tracks you'll hear in the dance and instantly be trying to ident with the DJ, like one of those irritating people you never thought you'd turn out to be. It's all about the sample: "I don't know anyone who's been doing this since 1999 — except me", the relentless funky-influenced four-four drum-work and the jaunty b-line bravado. On the flip, 'Misdirection' blends sparkle-eyed diva vox with killa tribal percussion and an ultra-smooth helping of bassline destruction, as if the lead track hadn't already done enough to sit rigidly in your sets for months.
Low Pitched Records
London newcomer Dephex steps up with a stylish double header that's bound to get him noticed.'Bust' is a spiky, brooding slice of underground breakbeat, all darkling synth licks, rugged atmospheric percussion and rude low-end, while four-four workout 'Impulse' sets out all smooth and intelligent via classy little synth stabs — then hits us with the insouciant b-line pressure on the drop.
Hot Cakes Bass
This is just rude. UK badman Albzzy goes in hard with silky yet muscular ghetto bass attitude on 'The Gyaldem' before repeating the trick with aplomb on AA-side 'The Hunt', featuring a sick little vocal lick from Patch Ed. A brace of heavy, minimalistic rollers to bring the real heads out of the shadows and onto the dancefloor.
'Nissi Beach EP'
The bass music enigma that is Ghstghstghst comes correct with a double dose of proper old skool fyah. 'New York 99' throws down rude b-line attitude, a looped, atonal vocal lick straight from the tale end of the last century, massive crashes and thumping drum-work, while 'Joyryder' conjures up a soundsystem garage vibe with heavily swung breakbeats and a blend of offkey percussive synth riffs with deep Reece bass and occasional smatterings of half-heard hype man vocal. Classic sounds from a face of the future.
Who said UK bass had to be all dark, brooding and mysterious? Southampton's Pelikann steps up with a trio of raw but rambunctious bangers that should keep everyone smiling in the dance. 'Shakedown' is all burlesque rap samples, scatter-shot garagey breakbeats and over-the-top synth stabs, while 'Calm It' goes for an Eastern vibe, sending down twisted bass motifs to compete with unusual percussive drops and a gorgeously unsettling synth breakdown. Finally, 'Badboy Sound' fires up the big guns and destroys the rave with a madcap kick and clap riddim topped off with roughouse ragga stylings, bruising distorted 808 bass stabs and lashings of spacey, video game-style synthwork.
'Spin The Dubplate EP'
Second To None
Second To None kingpins Vital Techniques rabbit punch us to the kidneys with a quartet of heavy, heavy cuts settled firmly on a UK bass and grime axis. 'Spin The Dubplate' featuring MC Pean, and 'Mucky' are all northern four-four bovver boy attitude, while 'Cloud 9' plumps for a Reece-fuelled breakbeat garage workout. Finally, Manchester-based man-of-the-moment Hypho steps up with a remix of the title track, plumping for a moody half-time reworking with plenty of trademark dubbed out atmospherics.
'Sub Slayers 50'
Jay Cunning's Sub Slayers imprint looked set to carry all before it at the height of the future jungle explosion. But while artists like Skream, Redlight and Shy FX fired out bomb after bomb of 140bpm breakbeats between 2009 and 2011, none of them stuck around to see the sound coalesce into anything resembling an actual scene. Eclecticism was the order of the day, rather than beat patterns, and that remains pretty much the case six or seven years on. Still, the label's 50th release, featuring VIP versions of some of the top Sub Slayers tracks of all time, is a welcome reminder of its enduring quality. King Yoof's 'Back To Hackney' retains all its reggae-fuelled urban energy, Toronto Is Broken's 'Spirit Song' loses none of its ethereal beauty (even at a new 170bpm tempo) and Wizard's 'Phenomenon One' is still a brutal smack in the face of a track. If Sub Slayers' next 50 releases approach anything like this level of quality, the imprint could well have a future beyond the long-dead scene that spawned it.