all record reviews published in the latest issue from autumn 2008
The Reverend reviews:
Counterstrike – From Beyond the Grave EP – Algorythm Recordings (Algo 003)
“If you can’t keep up don’t step up.” The dark side of drum n bass has been on top form recently with artists like Limewax and SPL creating a wave of vicious tunes in the last year or so. Counterstrike join forces here on ‘Killing Machine’ with Limewax and SPL. But it’s there own tunes ‘Draco’ and ‘Maniac’ that really set this EP off. Ferocious floor-shakers both.
Limewax – Scars on the Horizon EP – TechFreakLP 002
Buy it – you get ten tracks for your money – and play it really loud in an inappropriate place, maybe a winebar. Claustrophobic, “You’re all going to die”, the syncopated beat that just won’t settle down, unsettling fear, pummelling beats. But then listen to ‘God’, listen to how it opens, a lesson in stripped down, spine-tingling nastiness. ‘Raptor’ also packs a serious punch! Destructive tunes. Very good indeed.
Visionary (feat. Peter Ranking) – Around the World/Tempest – Dance Rock 002
Brilliant Tune. Brilliant mix by Visionary. “My people they are suffering all around the world…suicide bombing, people are dying…high class greed and corruption…living in the world is not easy.” Peter Ranking sings out on the rollout. So good this one. There’s a more laid back ‘liquid’ mix of this by T-Power on another label but this one is the one!
Bombdogs/Blackmass Plastics/Krude – TheFinal Release –
Audio Illusion (AIR 3020)
Three differently-paced tunes here from the Deadsilence camp. ‘This is London’ by Bombdogs kicks off at 175bpm. Dirty beats, background noises like a factory, spiked with acid, gabba-like bass drums. Yes, this is London! Invigorating stuff. On the other side is ‘Speak in Hell’ by Blackmass Plastics running at 155bpm. A broken machine, a confusion of spoken letters, a crunching breakbeat and a careful construction that holds back the drop and lets the tension build. And finally on this ‘Final Release’ is ‘Us Computers’ by Krude (165bpm). A cleaner electro beat here but the same edgy darkside atmosphere as the others. It’s all machine music. That’s the last from Audio Illusions but certainly not the last from any of these artists.
Skream – The Album –
Tempa LP 008
Now I like Skream because the reggae is such an obvious influence. Also you get wobbling bass and little else. Warbling, booming, almighty BASS. From the early Warp stuff to jungle to squelching drum n bass and now this stuff. Dubstep. It’s clean cut. The bigger the soundsystem the more sense it’s going to make. You can get the album on CD but you should get it on vinyl because it’s got a better bass response. Nine tracks. Well worth it.
Limewax – Scars on the horizon – TechFreak LP2
Limewax has gradually built a reputation for having helped reinvigorate a somewhat ailing DnB scene. Operating somewhere between ultra hard DnB and breakcore, Limewax injected some much needed intensity, fusing hard beats and, for the DnB scene at least, unsually noisy aspects with power and energy. Slated for release for over a year, this LP collects together some of Limewax’s dubs that have been doing damage over the last 18 months or so. A lot of tunes didn’t make the cut; Agent orange, Dirty human, Evolution, although Bomb will be released later on Freak backed with the heavy and much newer Icicle. The 10 that did are split over 5 plates along with the obligatory dodgy Freak artwork. For me this LP works best when it’s at its most broken and aggressive, and becomes less interesting when trying to adhere to a normalised DnB structure. Tracks like Slaves with its punchy bass, energetic breaks and occasional surprising, hardcore 4/4 moments; Seed, intensifying a detuned reece with massive pitched-down amens and pulsing overdriven bass; Screamwar, rinsing broken beats over running 808s; God, reprogramming amen fills over distorted offbeat bass stabs; and Raptor, introing with haunting bell synths before smashing massive kicks and well edited amens together. Perhaps at times overusing horror movie samples and the moment seemingly ubiquitous male UUH!, but making up for it with dynamic break sequences and loud powerful production. Big release!
V/A – No Bad Sector –
Dirty Needles 03
4 cuts of grimy two step, electro and half-speed beats from Blackmass Plastics label. The big tunes come from Blackmass and the Crooked Man with their rough rhythms of warped bass, snares slicing through every third beat and haunting pads. Heavy dancefloor pressure!
New label from the Peace-Off family tapping into the potential of the grimy/dubstep sound. This first release sees Black Ham aka Rotator and DTL aka Drop the Lime go tete a tete. Both take a heavyweight approach. Black Ham compressing the beats and bass to the max, running things deeper, while DTL on the flip takes on a more skanking, breakstep sound, slowing things down from his previous breakcore incarnation, pushing up the raw lowend and injecting some rave memories and sounding all the better for it.
Amit – Never ending – Commercial Suicide LP05
Amit has released a steady stream of dubstep influenced, bass heavy DnB for labels such as Metalheadz, Function and Bingo – recently being presented as an ‘underground icon’ by the gushing Mary Ann Hobbes to the BBC Radio 1 audience. His first long player comes as a mixture of interesting bass heavy, haunting, sidestepping beats, less good Aphex Twin ambient works type drivel and then there’s the frankly bizarre Swastika. This track received a huge response when it first started getting played out, presumably because of its reasonably hard sound and militant beat structure: Swastika is based around a repetitive minimal rhythm of slightly overdriven kicks and pitched down amen snares. As the track flows along a number of vocal tags are cut and pasted; beginning with people and gradually adding and mixing up the words: government, truth, conspiracy, depression, dreams, feel, dictator and fascist. Amit has made vague political allusions before with tracks titles such as Gaza strip and Immigrants and his use of the word Swastika seems to have been given equally little attention; either glossed over with the idea that this symbol is thousands of years old, a ridiculous argument that completely ignores relevance to Western Europe’s history, past and present, or dismissed by those who believe it’s possible to separate music and politics, again a spurious argument that ignores the political implications bound up in every action and non-action. Any use of Nazi imagery has to be accompanied with a very clear explanation and this is just not the case here; Amit almost seems to want to encourage ambiguity. It would be interesting to know exactly what Amit’s intention was with this track. He seems to be making the kind of boring comment found with nauseating regularity among various media, where ‘insert Western political leader here’ is denounced as dictatorial and fascist and one or all of the following government agencies CIA/MI5/Mossad are implicated along with the Rotary Club as being the real shadowy rulers of the world. Attempting to equate the actions of current Western governments with those of the Third Reich clearly serves to lessen the seriousness of the laters crimes, preclude serious engagement with contemporary issues and direct attention away from possible sources of contemporary fascism. Although this kind of comment says more about the reactionary nature of popular leftist discourse, it also says something about the ease with which such comment can be presented in contemporary dance music and go critically unchallenged.
Since this review Amit has gone on to release a 12” entitled ‘Suicide Bomber’ with no kind of explanation that I am aware of and again to high acclaim and huge DJ support.
Bastard Child 01
New project born from the union of Dylan and Saint Gein and intended solely for collaborations. This a big first release featuring Dylan and Skitty on one side with Disguised as an angel of light and Dylan and Limewax’s Cleansed by a nightmare on the flip. Dylan v Skitty equals doom in the dancehall; powerful halfspeed beats driven by moody synths and crisp snares. Dylan v Limewax: huge distorted kick induced mayhem and cut up breaks that’s destined to be a future classic. A wicked addition to the freak family. First 500 come as an Ltd edition picture disc.
Indivisible Force – Obscene 13
Full Spectrum Warrior – Tech Itch 46
60,000 Thoughts/The Unspoken – Soothsayer 06
Excellence/Twisted – Algorhythm 05
Deathwish – Soothsayer 08
Edge of the Cliff – Intransigent 08
Ion Storm/Unpardonable deeds – Lost Soul 02
Tunnel Vision/End of Days – Barcode BWARE01 (white label)
After years of cracking beats apart and infecting them with a harsh sci-fi edge, the DnB world has finally caught up with Current Value. Although releasing tunes for more than 10 years, the majority for Position Chrome in its first manifestation and the rest through smaller German labels such as the now defunct Don-Q, Klang Kreig and Phantomnoise, the general perception that DnB not made in the UK was in some way inferior left him largely ignored. Two 12s for Soothsayer and a split with Kid Kryptic released as a collaboration between Theoretic and Soothsayer gave a wider audience a taste of what he was capable of, but it was the incredible Indivisible Force, only just released, that consolidated an appetite for his particular brand of midi breaks, snares and bass and consequently led to a slew of releases throughout 2006. While the massive phased bass and spastic breaks of Indivisible force were still being hammered on dub, two further strong releases for Tech Itch, Full Spectrum Warrior and 60,000 thoughts/The Unspoken for Soothsayer began promoing. Using a similar format of long intros that eventually lead to an onslaught of sharp reprogrammed breaks, super compressed bass and cutting snares twisting through variations and switchups, Current Value continued to show how complicated beats can still devastate dancefloors. While listeners waited for Obscene to work through its release schedule, more twisted beats surfaced: German label Intransigent put out the heavy, reece driven Edge of the Cliff (unfortunately backed with some dodgy trance vocal type business); US label Algorythm released Excellence, with its distorted 909 driven bassline and pitched down snares, backed with the (not very) Twisted. Into 2007 and three releases have already appeared, one for SPL’s new label Lost Soul featuring the heavy Ion Storm, a split with Dub One via Soothsayer featuring Deathwish and finally a 12 for Barcode featuring Tunnel Vision and End of Days. Killer stuff.
DJ Hidden –
Radio Silence/Dust Element – Fear 04
The US label that put out some of the early DJ Hidden classics, including the massive Empty Streets on Fear 02, is reactivated under new management. According to Hidden’s website, Radio Silence is an older track that he had many requests to release. It’s a dark minimal, rolling stepper with a haunting repetitive groove of twisted bass; nice, clean and loud production but not reaching anything like the intensity of the earlier fear releases.
For me this release is all about Preacherman. After a long twisted cinematic intro incorporating snatches of Requiem for a Dream, Dylan and Raiden run some serious sidestepping beats. Seemingly influenced by the recent Digital/Amit style of dubstepping at around 170bpm, where snares slice every third and thunderous bass rattles away as ML King preaches over the top. Dangerous.
Roughcut – Rastaman – Dubwize 04
Big party tune from Roughcut featuring the lyrics of (I think) Capelton over huge Dillinja style distorted 808s and loud well produced breaks. Nothing radical but very well executed and smashes the dance every time.
Submerged – Servant (Tech Itch Rmx) –
Ohm Resistance 20K OHM
Massive remix from Tech Itch cutting back on the break dynamics and increasing the bass pressure creating a twisting oppressive atmosphere of fierce overdriven reece, gut wrenching subs and relentless compressed amens.
DJ Hidden – Painted Stage/Literal evil – Killing Sheep 03
DJ Hidden’s second release for Killing Sheep, following the killer opening for the label, reviewed in Datacide 9, with more deranged seriously overdriven bass, well executed break edits and cinematic backdrops.
Paul Blackout –
Fkn-Mtlhds/Legions of the dead
Killing Sheep 04
Killing Sheep is quickly shaping up to be a reliable source of heavy drum and bass, although their fuck everything except dark drum and bass attitude is starting to become a little tedious. This release has both massive and equally disastrous moments. Fkn-Mtlhds, apparently eagerly awaited, according to the promo blurb, is for me a boring excursion into metal riffs over breaks. On the other hand, Legions of the Dead kicks, well, half kicks. After the long, slightly annoying, trancey intro we are treated to lo-fi breaks being smashed with heavy distorted kicks and massive caustic bass. Unfortunately during another long breakdown the trance melody reappears and is back again later after the second drop rendering what could have been a wicked track pretty much unplayable.
Noize Creator –
Ltd Box 02
Box set repressing Active Underground 3 + 4 plus two unreleased cuts. After Noize Creator released Ambush 12, for me his tracks were given a new lease of life and the best outlet for this caustic breakcore was AU. One of the few artists in my view that actually makes breakcore. Although precision break chopping is not his strong point he produces harsh, mixable tunes and recognises the need for serious low end frequencies if you want to rock the floor. Well worth picking up if you missed these tunes the first time round.
B-Key – Envious Eyes/The Ungrateful – TI 44
Long, heavy, post techstep tracks from one of the most underrated artists in the heavy DnB scene. Flip straight to The ungrateful for an epic slice of darkstep, expertly brutalisng a Tech Itch amen with gritty, phasing bass sweeps and heavy sub stabs gradually getting more deranged as we get closer to the label.
Split Horizon –
Those with long memories may remember in the mid 90s a previous Void that initially self-released dark industrial broken beats inspired by the mover, SNS and other twisted beats. The protagonists, lured by major label money, emerged from the Void after only two releases, transformed into Siren and Blade, signed to Matador and then…well, presumably they disappeared back into the Void after only few more releases. It would be nice to think that they unearthed a couple of tracks and decided to self-release again but as this release hails from Detroit it seems unlikely. The new Void picks up on the mid 90s era of broken hardcore and gives us two long cuts of pounding, fractured, overdriven beats. It’s good to see another label investigating what has become very much a marginalised area of experimentation. Although not as advanced as say some of the recent Hekate Soundsystem productions, it will be interesting to see how this new label develops.
DTL – Bad Girls – Totter 14
UR for the two-step/breakstep generation? As if X-101 and Dr Kevorkian were going back to back on Rinse FM. Serious, heavy duty rasping bass and freaky two-step cut-ups on the title track: bad girls. One of the strongest releases so far on Warlock’s Rag and Bone label.
(Black Hoe Recordings)
Excellent 14 tracker from Budapests Ekaros , carving a niche in the many faceted stone of X-step. A proper darkside ride making no dodgy detours on the way. Monolithic half steppers like ‘Hunter’ roll out along side more upbeat pieces like ‘The Devil’ and the twitchy synaptic snaps of ‘Hell No’ and ‘Bass Train’. The tunes all work together well as an album but the majority of the tracks are playable in their own right and would do well if on vinyl. At the moment it is a free download available thru Ekaros’ myspace page which is a pretty awesome offer and someone should really release a double pack of the best tunes. Highly recommended.
DJ M2J/MR Mumbles-Various forthcoming (Side Show Recordings)
Sunday afternoon regular on SubFM.com and Dirty Needles artist M2J, is about to launch his new label Side Show Recordings and the first couple of releases are gonna be monstrous. Whether ‘Odd Socks’ or ‘Kop This’ comes out first doesn’t really matter cos they are both heavy as lead and are without a doubt his strongest material yet .Both are proper slices of bassline trickery and really do defy categorisation but are definitely moving dancefloors. The b sides are massive too, if ‘The Return of Davros’ is anything to go by.
Bionics-Dubcore EP (Studio Rockers)
Combat Recordings and Dirty Needles regular Scan One shows up in his Bionics Alter ego for this fine 3 tracker on actual real vinyl! The A side title track ‘Dubcore’ is exactly what it says on the can; tight halfstep chopped to bits with classic mentasms and rolling amens, with a cool extended arrangement with plenty of twists and turns. The b-side kicks off with ‘Feistydub’ a minimal rolling stepper with enough industrial swagger and evil intent to keep it properly on track. Finally B2 ‘Kafka’ is an aptly named claustrophobic little chamber of isolating frequencies and SFX. A solid release worth tracking down.
DOT & Subeena –Chemical Waste/Circular (Immigrant Recordings 002)
The London based Immigrants second outing continues the forward looking agenda set by last years excellent debut. Along with co promoting premier underground South London Dubstep session ‘Platform One’ at Corsica studios, Subeena has been pushing her sound forward over the past year. The fluid multilayered percussive drive of ‘Circular’ has such a deep loose funkiness to it that it feels like it is falling out of the speakers. Its groove unfolds over a shifting arrangement that drags your mind in and out of sync in a cool disorientating way, the natural percussion giving it a drive that whilst not super hard still has a rough edge.
In contrast to the real world sound palette employed by Subeena, DOT weighs in with an industrialised clonking roll out, propelled by doubled up kicks and reflex action bass, with some nasty post apocalyptic SFX and pads winding in and out of the mix. As with the flipside emphasis is on rhythm and groove development. rather than a ‘1st drop ,2nd drop and roll ’til the end’ cliché. The Immigrant crew are to be commended for putting out solid deep musical tracks that are going to transcend the genre boundaries certain people have an interest in creating.
Available now on vinyl and highly recommended.
Eustachian & The Teknoist – Pillaged & Plundered
(Ad Noiseam 94)
The most recent Ad Noiseam vinyl release is a good example of transgressing breakcore with other sound structures. The Teknoist (Mike Hayward) creates two solid hard dnb tracks with broken sequences making his contributions more layered than some of the now standard sound on Freak Recordings, etc. Eustachian (John Roche and Anthony Welter) from San Francisco of Fathme Records produce a grindcore metal and breakcore mixture – four short tracks that perhaps leave something to be desired – but good for those djs looking to mix breakcore and more metal, grindcore elements together. Their napalm death remix “smear campaign” may please some listeners.
Vinyl, Terror & Horror – Vinyl, Terror and Horror 3
This picture disc shows the turntable constructions out of which the multi-layered sounds are produced. Complex structured noise, scratches, grinds, industrial melodics, ambient soundscapes. Other releases are all highly recommended for their dark beauty including the 7” Vinyl, Terror and Horror 2, and the clear 12” “Nightmare Lullabies” Vinyl, Terror and Horror 1.
V/A – Mutagen –
Void demonstrates the importance of place by bringing together collaborators from around the Ann Arbor and Detroit, Michigan area who have been involved with the from the gut dance parties and activities. Selector Catalog (Reject Records) track ‘fun’ has a positive upbeat feeling that contrasts to Blaerg’s track of hyper-edited fast beats that seem to grate against the underlying melodic synth line. Side a finishes successfully with Aversion’s (Mode of Proof) ‘komuso’, which gets better with every listening. Mood and feeling chance with the Redrot’s ‘untamed’ (b1) featuring his signature distorted vocals and industrial and noise driven beats. Metria’s track ‘tap water’ flows well – slow distorted industrial rhythms. The collaboration 12” concludes with Split Horizon’s “Void Detroit” highlighting his ever developing musical production skills and innovative rhythmic structures – textured and layered.
Diskore – Up There/Virulence –
The label Void hailing from Detroit is the outlet for musicians and artists associated with From the Gut. Diskore’s (darkmatter soundsystem) inverted graffiti designs are hand silk screened on the cover of this 2 tracker 12”. The extended melodic intro of “up there” crescendos into a splintered broken beat finale. “Virulence,” true to its name, is a hyper-edited industrial dance floor stormer – wicked! Look for more collaboration between Diskore and Void soon.
Split Horizon – u/t – Void 001
Excellent first release by Split Horizon melding industrial elements with advanced technoid melodies on his Void label (scratch in is Shift 001). Played at 45 rpm, side A features rolling drum kicks that are extremely hard-hitting constructed around industrial ambiences and other twisted sounds. Side B mixes Split horizon’s history of Detroit techno, idm and power electronics into a distorted, slow-grooved melodic track that develops gradually in structure and direction. Void promises a diverse array of sounds and formats bringing together American producers from around the country in a collective effort to push ideas and activism. Soon out will be Void Tactical Media, the sister label to Void releasing only 12” vinyl, the first release being collaborative effort between Split Horizon and J-Stat.
Vile Enginez – Cycadelic/Tool
(Sub/Version 013 WL)
Imminent release expected for this totally fuckked record – a mind trip through devilish labyrinths of a myriad of sound constructions. Vile Enginez, hailing for Basel, CH, has produced his most innovative and complex record yet – and look for his next Zhark Intl. release sometime in the future. Taking up the Sub/version project of twisting drum n bass and smashing up whatever has become standard for the genre, Vile Enginez makes a bizarre creation that clearly demonstrates his masterful production and technical skills. “Cycadelic” might be best described as creating the feeling of a black magic trip spurned on by female power gone mad – this is a track that will push everyone on the dance floor to extremes. “Tool” works perfectly with the dynamic of “Cycadelic” making a forceful totality of this 12” (played at 33 rpm). Hard-hitting beats, crazed ambiences, distorted full powered bass and rhythmic complexities abound – empowered proletarian forces will be out on the street creating a new world. 10/10, one of the best records to be released in 2008!
V/A: Parazit – YB 70-16 2×12”
Co-released as monkey tool 08, the long hiatus of harsh vinyl releases on YB 70 is now over. Luckily CD releases still continued to be manufactured after the last vinyl being Yb70-03 by John Dark that followed YB70-07 Hecate’s Capricorn Connectrix. The first edition of the Parazit CD compilation (released in late 2005) included tracks by Hecate and Base Force One, but for the second version of the CD Parazit released in late 2007 these tracks were deleted and new ones by Ripit, Kirdec and Zotz were added. This vinyl release has the same tracks (but in different order) as the second CD version. Parazit delivers everything and more than we could hope for – 10 Onnance (A2) sets the sound of the compilation with down-tempo grinding friction while La Peste’s (A4) intricately edited sound collage creates a rhythmic dance feel. The flip side starts with a fast tempo dancefloor track by Element Abuses followed by Ebola’s (B2) satisfyingly harsh and noisy EBM oriented contribution. Matt Fraktion’s broken beat ‘the devil’ demonstrates what’s missing a lot these days in ‘breakcore,’ and side B is wrapped up as a satisfying whole with Iszoloscope. Sobchak (C1) delivers an innovative glitchy soundscape replete with evocative otherwordly noises, while Ingler (C2) disappoints with his choice of video game sounds, but Subskan (C3) creates a fucked up, choppy track that veers from abstraction to broken dancefloor potentials, and Zotz (C4) concludes with his signature sound. Side D lacks the cohesion of the other sides but nevertheless delivers some great tracks. Elektroplasma (D1) makes us wish for future vinyl releases, followed by Ripit’s and Kirdec’s more experimental sounds, concluding with Imminent’s (D4) hyper noise beat pounding track that leaves the listener demolished by the end. Excellent!
Defence – Military Standard –
New label out of Russia, this 10” features two tracks of grinding, industrial rhythms definitely in the vein of older ant-zen releases. A1 ‘ops normal’ is the most interesting track, while b1 ‘submerging’ is a bit too repetitive in its simple construction. Unfortunately, the mastering and cut are a bit lacking thus a fuller sound is missing. Other unreleased tracks on his myspace are more promising than those on the 10”, so we look forward to continued vinyl releases.
Crack Beats 01
Excellent first release on the label from the
Netherlands, which is also home to the Crack Beats parties. This is a record perfect for the dancefloor – fast, broken up beats with a hybrid hardcore-breakcore feel. B2 ‘branded’ veers from slower breakdowns to mashed up frenzy.
Electromeca – Brutal Funk EP –
Reminiscent of the much played Riddim 10” (Casse Tête), Electromeca produces another excellent record. Never lacking in propelling forward his signature sound, Electromeca chops up beats, sounds and textures in a frenetic mix with funky, break beat elements. What’s great about Electromeca is the ‘noisy’ cacophony produced by his beat constructions.
Zombieflesheater – Zombiefleshtheater – Sonic Belligeranza 07
Brutality at its best! A storming release by Zombieflesheater full of distorted amen-breaks, abusive noise and bizarre vocal samples. A2 features raga vocals while A3 frenetically mixes screeching sirens and guitars riffs and A4 is a descent into noise hell. Side B continues the exploration into the even more varied and extreme. Check!
Xanopticon: Alembic (V/A Remixes) –
Released in mid-2007 on red 12” vinyl with a grotesquely imaginative cover, this American label delivers another excellent record after the great box set ‘Jagoff Uprising’ (2 12”s + 2 cds). Dj Hidden’s track starts with some dodgey melodies but soon bypasses that problematic with hard-hitting dnb reconstruction of Xanopticon’s ‘symptom’ (from Thac0 01). Abelcain tears everything apart with his complex editing and structure – a devilish reinterpretation of ‘stormtower’ (from Mutant Sniper 03). The B side starts with Duran Duran Duran’s remix of ‘tinw’ (from Mirex 08) that is for the dance floor is you can keep up with the fast pace and bounding beats. Rounding out the record is Atomhead (Undacova) remixing a little known Xanopticon track ‘4 hit points’ (from the SSS Productions 2xcd out of Pittsburgh) in his frenetic style mixing hyper-edited beats with something of a French hardcore flavor. Check!
Fobia: u/t – Seven Samurai Records 01
Dark, brooding and diverse, the Seven Samurai label located in Berlin starts it off right with the first release. ‘While you sleep’ features Fobia’s vocals in a hip-hop tinged track, while Fobia and Amboss collaborate on ‘Seven Samurai’ creating noise filled ambience over-layed with gothic feeling synth lines. Side B ‘collaborative construction’ produced by Fobia with its hectic beats and dark energy increases the pressure. ‘Irrevocable’ made by Fobia and Hecate is the most dance floor oriented track, a great melding of these artists’ sounds.
The Silver Key –
Zhark Intl 12016
After a hiatus since Hecate’s ‘Wholesale Massacre of All Identifiable Replicas’, Zhark storms back with the long awaited release by Xanopticon. ‘The Silver Key’ is inspired by HP Lovecraft’s short story of the same name, therefore expect a melding of the bizarre, extreme and mind altering potentials. Side A is a magnum-opus of Xanopticon’s frenetic style, a lurid journey through intricately cut-up and arranged beats with complex sci-fi twisted sounds. ‘Forbidden language’ (B2) dramatically interweaves tightly constructed breaks with twisted, distorted bass that crescendos in the last third of the track spewing forth a mess of intensity so delirious the listener marvels at the rhythmic assault. The production quality and cut is top-notch so expect to be destroyed when this record blasts apart soundsystems across the world.
Nanotek: Obscene 017
Quite good recent release from the sub-label of Freak Recordings, this is Nanotek’s debut 12” that does not disappoint. Side A ‘Acid Burn’ is the killer track with its hard hitting staccato beats and buzzing, razed bass – excellent. ‘Deadly force’ is less spectacular with the typical extended intro, and when the beats start flying unfortunately Nanotek uses the excessively boring macho-ridden male grunts to punctuate the beats, samples that ruin otherwise good tracks and are so typically found scattered throughout releases on all the hard dnb labels.
V/A: Controverse –
Continuing to put out another great record after No-tek 12CHX and 12CHY, this No-tek release again veers away from straight speedcore and instead delivers something much more hybrid combining experimental glitchy hardcore elements. Side A features a collaborative effort between Air Frantz vs. No-Tek perhaps reminiscent of Hangars Liquid releases. Stuttering beats, slow tempo with hardcore atmospheres. Side B ‘Oedipe’ by No-Tek vs. Middle M ethereal chants combined with video game samples cut suddenly to speedcore and back again and then onto grinding industrial sounds.
Rag & Bone roundup
FZV (Totter 13) produces an excellent release with Side A featuring a conglomeration of sci-fi inspired beats, breaks and self produced sounds with real style to make you shake it on the dancefloor. B1 features an excellent remix by Blackmass plastics continuing in the same vein and combining with (what sounds like) horror movie samples with great effect. Drop the Lime pleasantly surprises with Totter 14: Side A combines electro step flavor with buzzing effects and interesting beat programming, while B1 features rather silly happy hardcore and house elements but never looses the overall groove. Warlock comes back in Totter 15: Window Smasher (A) and delights with wobbly bass, slow amen breaks and layering of different sound elements interwoven together in exciting ways leading the listener wondering what’s gonna happen in the next second while ‘stand alone’ (B2) delivers a concluding chill out feel – slow moving. Aaron Spectre, most recently well known for the Drumcorps project, produces Totter 16: the extended intro of ‘Say More Fire’ veers into extended wobbly deep bass lines mixed with dubby, stepping breaks and ‘Music is a Weapon’ 2-step beats with a funky feel delivering exactly what Rag & Bone wants. The latest release Totter 17 by King Cannibal (Zilla) is hard-edged and takes the label in a slightly different direction especially on Side A which mixes breakstep programming with hard drum n’ bass. Side B ‘hundred eyes closed’ continues the evil, foreboding feeling with deep twisted dubstep – check.
La Peste: Part 1 – Reverse 09 + Part 2 – Reverse 010
After years and years only being available on white label, Reverse finally pressed up releases 9, 10, 11, and 13 in quantities of 300 each in 2007. Get the limited copies while you can. Produced in 1999 therefore more related in sound to the experimental speedcore releases on Hangars Liquides than for example La Peste’s newest release on Praxis ‘safety first’, Reverse 9 ‘pure techno’ (A) is anything but that with pounding beats, industrial, clanging atmospheres and metallic snares, while ‘chronologie de l’orgasme’ pushes the limits with all the elements that make La Peste’s tracks brutal and inducing of altered states. Reverse 010 side A has a different feeling with video game sounds and hardcore beats mixing together hypnotically, while ‘hardcore love’ (B) steamrolls over the listener with pounding yet glitchy speedcore.
Amboss – Prosperity Slave – No Room for Talent 12.04
Yes! Amboss delivers again after Sub/Version 011 with the most brutal hard drum n bass that will tear up the dance floor with every mix. Unfortunately the mastering and cut are totally lacking, the bass and volume are hardly there diminishing the impact of the record as a whole. The first 200 copies are on orange marbleized wax, but notice the distinctly unpleasant chemical smell (yes, smell the vinyl! Is this ‘scratch and sniff’?), and also oily splatter on the record that creates a lot of noise interference. Then NRFT made another 200+ on red vinyl, which is what one should get for sure to skip the problems of the orange copies, and there are a few white marbleized vinyl circulating as well. A2 pummels you over the head again and again with fierce, unrelenting beats and B1 mixes some rave-esque sounds with multi-layered beat formations that leaves you out of breath and is pure mania!
Circuit Parallele – Umani Autodistruttivi – Spine 01
Hand silk screened covered give the first release on Spine Research and Experiments its look and feel. The label is based in Berlin and is an project of Yann Hekate, and is still connected to the family of Hekate and Hex labels. Yann H produced one of the most unusual and interesting records of 2007, but unfortunately has not received the attention and acclaim it deserves. A1 ‘planete guerre’ is definitely for the dance floor, hard-hitting and noisy with a totally unique feel, but don’t think for a second this has anything to do with ‘breakcore’. A2 is a glitchy, idm feeling track with evocative synth lines and bizarre noises and A3 is a down tempo, moody installment with emotional complexity. ‘Dead now’ B1 is a totally fukked track with stammered beats and fractures, B2 creates a beautiful complex sound collage, and B3 is an ambient, abstract soundscape. Great experimental alchemy here!
V/A: Enerma Katania – Deadlock 01
Deadlock (scratch in Deviant 01) is part of the family of Hekate labels. A1 by the Wirebug is an unusual track that could be played out in a more abstract dj set – a great, moody contribution. ‘Sans regret’ by Yann Hekate continues in that same vein, and B1 by GVK/Silverwind 2 demonstrate that the release is an exploration of the dark and melodic. B3 by Elisa/Almo Hada has an abstract jazz? feel that ends things on a different note. Bridging together more experimental sounds with idm constructions – will there be more vinyl from Deadlock?
Kovert – Pressure Sound EP – Sonic Belligeranza 06
Released at the end of 2006, this is a record that never wears thin and sounds amazing on a bass heavy soundystem! Combining provocative critique and killer dance floor tracks, Kovert demonstrates that noise and the reinterpretation of hard dnb sounds coming out of Freak, Obscene, etc., can be powerfully combined. Side A is on 45 rpm, with A1 being a noise piece setting our expectations, A2 is a hard hitting hybrid breakcore/dnb mixture. The unusual nature of the sound comes through in B1, a really wicked track with all the right elements, B2 delivers screeching and screaming noise frequencies to pierce your ears and B3 is a weirdly abstract down tempo track concluding this excellent record with ferocity. Check!
Crooked One – Starksound 01
Sister label of Rag & Bone, Starksound delivers a ripping first release by another name of Blackmass Plastics. ‘Annihilation’ (A1) features deep-seated bass, real darkness and dubstep grooves and in ‘Crooked Acid’ (B1) fluid structure combined with repetitive beats and bass give a hallucinogenic stepping feel. Check!
Broken Note – Ruff 06
Excellent release from the dubstep sister label of Peace Off from two producers Lithium and Kidnappa out of London here known as Broken Note. A1 ‘Dubversion’ opens with a dark intro and descends even further combining innovative 2 step beat programming with deep bass lines to rip up the dance floor. B1 ‘Mortal Bass’ mixes sci-fi, dubby and glitchy elements together in another heavy-hitting track.
Bruits de Fond 10
The first vinyl 12” release limited to 300 copies from the French label Bruits de Frond that has produced in the past many cds and the Ultime Atome zine. Side A by Cyanide (The Joker) is a mixture of experimental glitches, idm with A1 ‘Déséquilibre instable’ delivering the most interesting sounds and A3 ‘Mok 7’ working as a slow, industrial beat oriented track. Side B by Iso Brown brings you what you have come to expect from the artist with B4 ‘Le ninja et la médusa’ being the most hard-edged.
Cdatakill: Bleeding Hearts Volume 1 –
Ad Noiseam 82
This first release is a companion to Bleeding Hearts Vol. 2 (Adn 83), in which various artists remix tracks off of Cdatakill’s ‘Valentine’ cd (Adn 66). A1 ‘Meth-Head Trance’ is a dark, intense breakcore track by Cdatakill that complexly interweaves breaks, bass, and violin samples followed by the other great track on the record A2 ‘Yesturdays’ remixed by übergang (project of Christoph de Babylon and G.G.) which features unusual beat formations that has a kind of schizoid feeling going in all different directions at once. Unfortunately, Enduser’s dnb contribution (A3) is nothing different from his usual output, and Side B features remixes by Detritus, Lapsed and Mad EP that don’t seem to add much to Cdatakill’s original tracks.
Latest vinyl release from the experimental French label Marasm bringing us another eclectic and bizarre conglomeration. A1 by Solar Skeletons is a fierce, pummeling track with vocals followed by Istari Lasterfarher’s catchy, glitchy beat driven contribution. B1 by Drk and Nyko features tripped out atmospheres and vocals in French, B2 by Helius Zhamiq combines instrumental and electronic elements in an unusual soundscape. For those looking for uncharted territory.
more Kovert reviews:
Snares – Sabbath Dubs – Kriss 666
First thoughts about this were: how many more Sabbath refixes do we have to endure? Warpigs x3 etc. But actually Snares turns in some pretty heavy mutant dubwise mixes of ‘Black Sabbath’ and ‘Electric Funeral’, finally showing he does know how to make basslines after all. Perhaps all his Planet-Muzak followers will take this cue and engage in some low-end theory. Best release since Salt?
Vile Enginez – Cycadelic/Tool – Sub/Version 13
Second Sub/Version release from this Swiss producer with two harsh, epic psychedelic tech-step trips. Working within loose tech-stepping boundaries and DnB structures, ‘Vile Enginez’ mixes rough distorted breaks and deep bass with a metallic edge and a dark rave sensibility. Nice rough production and explosive on the dancefloor.
CCP -Ystoar Danfan – Annamonia 01
Circuit Parrallel – Umani Autodistruttivi – Spine Researh and Experiments 01
Two new labels from the Hekate Soundsystem, both kicked off with productions by Yann Hekate, who we already heard good things from on Ce La Fai? – Hex 06 and the first Deadlock record. The Anarmonia release sticks closer to a sound we already know via the Somatics etc, deconstructed futuristic electro-scapes while the Spine tracks visit more inconvenient sounds, dissolving structures and researching limits in the post-breakcore wasteland. Looking forward to more from both of these labels. Next up for Spine is a release from Berlin artist Line Destruction.
Sumone – Making The Best Of A Bad Situation/Zombie – Sprengstoff 15
Surprising release from Sumone, leaving the ragga vox behind and going deeper and darker into melancholic DnB territory. In some ways still not feeling totally modern, more like an update of the dark Source Direct Metalheadz sound of 95-96, but very cool all the same. Sumone keeps the jungle beats crisp and the bass doomy and oppressive, dark atmospheres flooding the soundfield. More please.
DJ Producer/Throttler – Obituary/Validation – Killing Sheep 06
Super-clever mix from the DJ Producer with a long smash-up of futuristic DnB with plenty of twists and turns, pitched down breaks and punishing distorted kicks. Obituary is extremely well executed and edited, proving you can be clever and smash the dance without even getting close to IDM chin stroking. This is also the first release from Greek producer Throttler, who turns in a heavy gothic inspired amen smasher.
DJ Hidden – Past the Flesh/Prayers End –
Killing Sheep 07
Welcome return from Killing Sheep with a cool mixture of powerful mid-tempo hardcore, well-edited jungle beats and dark brooding atmospheres; a strong, deep release from Hidden.
Spektrum/Infamy – Transmission/Trail of Tears – Soothsayer 09
Head straight to the Spektrum cut: massive truncated concrete beats and heavy bass successfully spoiled in places by the pointless dodgy breakdowns. I’m never really sure why producers feel they have to water a tuff track down with some floaty string nonsense, but whatever, the beats are heavy if you’re quick.
Spktrm/Evol Intent & Arsenic – Timeline/Real Talk – Evol Intent 12
Again Spktrm kills it with euphoric, smashing full-on breaks blasting through, but also again we’re left wondering why we have to be so fast on the mix to avoid the dodgy breakdowns.
V/A – Freak Family Drum Circle Explosion – Freak LP01
Triple vinyl release which is essentially a vehicle for Current Value’s massive, ‘Faith’: punishing, iron girder CV beats dropping mercilessly over sledgehammer bass, slaughtering Sounds everywhere for a while and still guaranteed to make the crowd go nuts. Limewax, Tech Itch and SPL are the other highlights on this release with Limewax’s ‘Share No Soul’ reprogramming cutup breaks with searing noise flying over the top, Tech Itch on a deeper darker tip and SPL with ‘Violation’ a heavy, dirty, rasping tech-step cut.
V/A – Smash and Grab EP – Valve
Ignore the three fillers and head straight to Lemon D’s track here. Knocking around on dub for at least 18 months, Lemon D teams up with MC Fats for a wicked rave, UK rockers hybrid. Somehow ‘Everyday’ reminds of an old UK hardcore tune from 91 like Zero-B’s Lock-Up or Top Buzz’s ‘Livin in Darkness’, encapsulating that raw rave energy, but updating it with a distorted valve twist and a serious nod toward the UK dub soundsystem scene with its skanking four to floor shock out style and sirens blasting.
Limewax – Romance Explosion EP – Freak 28
Finally ‘Bomb ‘gets a release, one of the tunes that got Limewax noticed a few years ago, still sounding heavy. Also worth checking: ‘Icicle’ – ‘we are all now programmed for perfect happiness’.
Symptomless Coma EP
Barcode – Bware 03
Donny, B-Soul and TZA all contribute to this four tracker, but this release is all about the Current Value tune Cybernetics VIP: Pummeling, high velocity bass bombs and snatches of breaks interspersed with double-time offbeat kicks intervening along the way, another quality, heavy CV production.
Limewax & Current Value – Tempest/Bathwater – LB 02
Tempest is the cut to go for here. More nasty, truncated beats and snare action from in my view the two current heavy hitters in the hard DnB scene. As usual, loud raw production, ‘Bathwater’ leaves me cold though.
Limewax Presents Kristall Weizen EP Technical Itch Recordings 052
Perhaps the most ‘underground’ of Limewax’s recent releases is included here, ‘Ship Opening’, a massive industrial offbeat stepper with no hooks to carry it through, just brutal drums, snatches of noise and haunting strings and urgency emerging through the mix.
Current Value – The Empowered Peace – Technical Itch Recordings 53
Latest release from CV currently around on white label, due for release in November 08. Seems to have surprised a lot of people who were expecting CV’s next release to be an album for Tech-Freak, allegedly due to feature some of the heaviest dubs around at the moment such as ‘Grey Steel’. This double features a couple of heavy enough tunes but not really standing up to his better moments of late.
Krusha/CentaSpike – Draconian / Fearing Fear – Obscene 19
Donny/Centaspike – Search & Destroy / Killing Contact – Barcode – Bware 04
Latest releases from Obscene and Barcode (now reinvigorated by Donny), not really feeling the Krusha side, but the Centaspike cuts on both these releases have a pleasing relentless intensity, mixing up fierce 909 powered running breaks and noise, even reminding of Cycloscotch or Somatics at times. Donny’s cut moves from a slow half-speed rhythm, gradually sucking in snatches of breaks as it builds, hammering out the snares along the way.
The Bug feat Killa P & Flow Dan – Skeng – Hyperdub 06
Kevin Martin further develops his gunman obsession, but ‘Skeng’s’ a wicked half-step riddim all the same, pressure bass rattling the 18s, snares cutting through leaving trails of reverb as Killa P and Flow Dan chat, about err, guns. Reload the big skeng!
Coki – Madhead – Ringo Recordings 04
Deep, tense dubstep from Coki, one of those behind the now famous DMZ parties in Brixton, London. As well as the obligatory stifling bass, haunting strings work through the mix, bringing a difficult atmosphere. His ‘Tortured’ cut on Tempa is also well worth checking.
King Cannibal – Call me Mr ColdBlooded –
Rag and Bone 17
Coming in like a pitched down Limewax cut, this is one of the heaviest of the new breed mutant breakstep tunes to make it onto vinyl. Listening to King Cannibal’s ‘On the Beat’ mix available for download from his blog, where he blends an incredible amount of tunes into just over an hour, it’s obvious where he’s coming from, old school dark tech-step, hardhitting ragga jungle like Remarc through to recent Freak hits. All these influences get concentrated into a monstrous release of intense beats and twisted bass for the current generation of 140bpm hard steppers. Well worth tracking down.
Scorn – Super Mantis – Combat 16
Suffocating, twisted half-step from the man Mick Harris. A creeping moody synth crawls out from the lowend, and scrapes back down underneath industrial half-step drums. Blackmass on remix duties on the flip. Heavy!
Digital – Mission Impossible – 1&2
Quite a few of the UK DnB artists have now gone down the dubstep route, Breakage, Benny Page and more recently Chase and Status. After somewhat of a hiatus from the DnB scene, Digital returns with, amongst other releases, this new label tapping into the current dubstep trend but also carving out a more interesting sound. Digital’s DnB always incorporated a lot of dubwise elements, an awareness of space, walk-on-subbass and a rockers soundsystem aesthetic, his tunes often sounding to me like they’d been run through a reggae preamp. These two releases have much more in common with the UK digidub sound that I end up wanting more dubstep to sound like, particularly ‘Dubstation X’ and ‘Wired’, I can easily imagine these flying out at Brixton Rec at 5am. All four cuts are wicked are tunes, look forward to more releases from this Digital offshoot.
Audio – Designed for war – Freak 26
Generally the Audio sound does nothing for me, being a DnB flavour too influenced by the worst parts of ‘techno’, and three of the four cuts on here fall into that trap, but this release also contains ‘Delusional’, a wicked cut that smashes the dance. Getting away from the clean techno production and tedious reintroduction of acid-lines, Audio rinses out a raucous Amen monster, mixing punishing truncated amens, searing mid, distorted subs and gritty rasping synths. Heavy!
Anticracy, Fire at Work “weird synchronicities”
Scene Missing 03
The scene goes missing in this split by the Idroscalo Dischi veterans, Anticracy and Fire at Work. ‘a short digression’ alternates between a grinding distorted two-step and introspective stringy bogs. ‘pseudoharmless’ continues these digressions as it develops a twisted chug and an echoing synth chamber veering dangerously towards electric guitar (!) while breaking into melodic interludes. ‘suvasini’ features torqued out laser breaks stepping unimpeded through an aquarium of immersive melodic ambience. Flip it. Fire at Work brings up a demolishing electro beat in ‘0’ among swirling, haunting synths, the malaise building slow and reminding me of a certain ‘aaaaaanti-chriiiiist’. “Ø” is a more meandering track, where a central melody gives way to drums and occasional broken beats. I try to have anything these two do handy.
The Dexorcist “Quad Angle EP”
Double 12 from the prolific Dexorcist. ‘Return 2 Earth’ is a banging electro jam with an eerie ditty we might hear as we re-enter the atmosphere. ‘Leader One’ whips a dark bass line under the electro drums, occasionally encountering a didgeridoo. ‘Severe Trauma’ hits the mark with its bubbling, dark and high-paced electro futurism. ‘Tron’ on the flip starts with a hard hip hop kick dropping through dark atmospherics into breaks and a memorable synth, but you’re gonna need to cut this one up, a bit too repetitive.
V/A, “When the Shit Hits the Fan”
Dan Hekate hosts the chaos on the dependable Hex label’s 8th outing. Impulsive’s ‘Dulene’ gets it going with a pulsing undercurrent coming in and out of a mess of distorted kicks and breaks. Enreset’s ‘Frenezia’ pipelines a twisting snyth and kick ride that hits hard and slow with some real gorgeous moments. On the flip, Wirebug goes straight in with ‘Kasada Consequence’, crashing the party with overload protocol hard kicks and squelching noise. Next, Low Killa’s ‘Repression’ evokes the bitter feeling of police batons raining down, or a party that’s been busted; but no, energetic breaks lurk undaunted below the haunting piano melody, a strong will travels through pain in this standout track.
Anticracy ‘Fortress Tunes: An IDM Tribute to John Zorn’s Masada’
In ‘Mahshav’, Anticracy runs distorted synths over steppy breaks, veering through some echoing melodics into occasional climaxes. ‘Tevel’ continues this theme with synths winding through splatstep and melodic climbs and dives. ‘Laylah’ stalks about with an uneasy Halloween-esque melody over a switching beat. ‘Abidan’ almost has a middle eastern influence on its roaming synths, undergirded by a plethora of twisting percussion sounds and steppy breaks. The breaks and spacey chords of ‘Lilin’ unite in a gorgeous crescendo mid-track before slowly disengaging. Engaging, dependable music from Anticracy, watch this label.
Rob Gee: Na Na/Fuck Osama Bin Laden (Adam)
The liner notes say: “u.s., u.s., u.s.a, Oh How I Love This Country !!!!!! Fuck Al-qaeda And Terrorism!!!!!! Fuck Osama Bin Laden!!!!!!” (sic!), and indeed that’s what the voices “sing” on this record over very little else than a 909 kick drum. The same theme is repeated again and again on the 6 tracks of the 12″ and it becomes more and more difficult to distinguish if Rob Gee is trying to create a new sub-genre of patriotic gabber, or if he is trying to heap ridicule on the “War on Terror” by imitating a brain-dead Bush supporter making fun of “patriotic” feelings.
Sadly apparently there are no ironic subtexts on 6 versions…. which kind of makes this record an involuntary party joke.
V/A: Ad Noiseam Compilation
Not to be confused with the french breakcore label of the same name, this Antistatik is a dutch label dedicated to releasing show-case compilations of other labels that coincide with parties the same crew is organizing.
While the first release was dedicated to Zero71, the second gives a plattform for Berlin based Ad Noiseam to present itself. First off is “Straightjacket” by DJ Hidden. While this was already on “The Later After” CD, but was definitely worth putting out on vinyl, as it presents the intricate programming and tough beats in a different way than the more drum’n’bass oriented productions that usually get released on vinyl.
I’m a bit less enthusiastic about the rest of the record. Mothboy is presenting a remake of a CDatakill production and is more down-tempo as is Mad EP’s “Mad/Evil” (which is neither particularly mad nor evil… AZ-Rotator finishes the EP with the nervous “Subemotional”. If then worth getting for the Hidden track.
On this one Floorclearer goes all out breakcore with tearing amens, rave sounds and basslines on four tracks. This elements are occasionally amended by punk and metal guitars, sirens and horror-samples. Both A1 and B1 are a lot better than the second tracks on each side of this 4-track EP and will work well on the breakcore dancefloor!
All Wrongs Deserved
(Sozialistischer Plattenbau 12010)
Upbeat and quirky junglistic flavours from Istari Lasterfahrer on his latest record on his own Sozialistischer Plattenbau imprint. Best track is maybe the heavy dubstep number “Tuffydub”. Sozialistischer Plattenbau is another label that has been very prolific in the last years.
Fanny: Icantbelieveyouwereamusicianyougotnosoulbbaby 2×12″
Finished 8 years ago this is Fanny’s long lost first album, finally released on Widerstand! Better late than never since this contains some great tracks – amongst a total of 12 – it also sees the welcome return to vinyl production by the semi-legendary Widerstand label. There have been very few in recent year – such as another release delayed by several years by Senical (also worth seeking out), and it’s good to see these time capsules arrive in the present!
And in the case of Fanny it will hopefully draw some more attention to last years’s masterpiece “The Great American Fear Meter” on the Girlcum label.
Christoph de Babalon: Scylla & Charybdis
(Cross Fade Enter Tainment PP012)
Another welcome return but with brand new material is here for both CdB and his CFET label, on the two long tracks he delves into greek mythology by means of his trade mark deep atmospheric breakcore sound that he has honed and developed for well over a decade, but by no means too often.
Here he teams up with Alexandra von Bolzn and Hanayo on vocals on one side each, delivering another excellent record.
The übergang release on Low Res which was unjustly somewhat overlooked so far is also worth checking out.
Other appearances have been rare:
Scylla & Charybdis is not to be missed – there will be a super limited box set with an additional CD, cassette tape and material and a “normal” vinyl edition which still boasts clear wax and a printed inner sleeve as well as the sleeve design by Ian Liddle.
Praxis 44 – anonymous series volume 1
Just arrived on test press as we are going to print with datacide – the first volume of a planned three in a series kept in an anonymous manner on Praxis to deliver the most exciting harsh electronic beats and noises and combat the “breakcore” star system ath the same time.
No Stars Here…