Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Review: SFS002 - El Presidente / Putney Says

SureFire Sound is back with installment 002 to their label, following an exciting release from Eprom and FaltyDL with SFS001, this release goes even more over the top bringing four of the front running producers in dubstep on a single release.

Side A brings the combination of San Francisco based Djunya, alongside Bristol native Headhunter on “El Presidente” I was fortunate to first hear this tune rinsed out by Djunya during Atlanta’s Dub_ocracy Festival in early summer of last year. No surprise in the sheer depth in this tunes sound, and the fact it accomplishes this so easily without resorting to a typical ‘dark dub’ sound makes it all the more unique. This one has been in my own record bag for quite some time and has yet to come out.

Side B, “Putney Says,” is a collaborative effort between another San Francisco native in DJG with Canada’s XI, similar to the a-side some very deep introspective vibes on this but what definitely feels like a much darker aesthetic than the flip-side. As the vocal cuts in the song proclaim you’ve “got to have soul,” and this tune definitely has it. Most certainly not a headbanger but the bass in this tune is massive enough to ensure anything with a soul on the dancefloor is keyed into the groove.

This one has been on on vinyl for a moment and the digital version of this became available Monday, be sure to grab your copy now!


Geiom - Sugar Coated Lover (BRK014)

March finally brings us to the first Berkane Sol pressing of the year with label-head Geiom partnering up with female vocalist Marita for an upbeat dancefloor tune in “Sugar Coated Lover.” The label has taken quite a shift from when “Flame Tree” and “Net Weight” were releases;  after the anthemic rise of  ”Reminissin’” Berkane Sol seems set on a path to take over playlist with soul-laced dancefloor grooves.

The A-Side of the release features the original Geiomix of the release, a kick drum sets a quick intro before a fast electric bass groove sets the tone for Marita’s vocals. Do not take my previous assessment totally at face-value, quickly into listening to “Sugar Coated Lover” it’s clear to see Geiom did not intend for this to be a simple follow-up groove to “Reminissin’.” The pace of “Sugar Coated Lover” is an excellent contrast, Marita’s delivery on top of an uptempo rhythmic section are enough to get all the standarounds back to the dancefloor.

The B-Side features a remix of the original from Brackles and Shortstuff, and as always Blunted Robots comes deadly on the remix. The A-Side Geiomix holds an advantage by perserving Marita’s vocals unadultured throughout the track. Blunted Robots comes after the vocal track with an intelligent reinterpretation, looping and editing techniques give Maria’s voice an atmospheric role in the mix, as the duo’s signature bassline drops the remix in to high-gear. Groove-heavy in a totally different manner than the original, these two mixes give two vastly unique interpretations on the expectations of near 140-bpm bass music.

Geiom sets himself, and Berkane Sol apart yet again on this release. Very exciting for two exceptionally different interpretations of the same tune, this is a very refreshing release to take us out of the dark winter sounds and into the uplifting spring / summer dance vibes. I’m itching to get out in the club and hear myself, if not somebody else play these tunes sooner rather than later, the response to these is going to be huge — deservedly so.

Also of note, Geiom recently compiled a wonderful mix for The Wire, click here to see what you might have missed.


Mite & Distal - Chocolate Circuit / Attempt At Yellow (EMB001)

EMB001For as many times as I’ve played both tracks on this release, I feel that I owe it a review; it has been a long time coming for these tunes to see the light of day and have the chance to make it into more people’s music collections and now because of the launch of the Embassy Recordings imprint through ST Holdings, this has become possible.

Read the full review online at shortstack : online


Ben Verse - Flip The Coin / Inhale (WHEELYDEALY005)

Up next on the review chopping-block is the latest from N-Type’s Wheel & Deal imprint in the form of the “Flip The Coin” / “Inhale” 12″ from Ben Verse, well known for his role as MC from the Pendulum crew. Coming as no surprise to anybody who has been following Pendulum for any period of time, you know these tunes are going to be bottom heavy, with a no-excuses dancefloor mindset.

The release opens up with the A-Side “Flip the Coin,” with a hauntingly sparse intro, that guides its way into a texture rich bass vibe. The tune breaks down with shrill airy atmospheres providing a unique balance to a powerfully simple and effective drum track. Subtle tails coming on the bassline before the drop in this one that carry the tune effectively as it reaches it’s build.

“Inhale” is a different journey; an intro of melodica mixed with the sound of infrequent inhalations guide the tune before being met with a tribal, dub guitar vibe. No big drops as the tune falls into it’s main theme with grace as opposed to brute force, that undeniably reinforces the depth of the track. “Inhale” contains a much busier and distinct percussion track when compared to it’s counterpart on this release, which in my opinion helps set the track apart quite a bit. The interplay between the dub elements of the guitar and vocal cuts on this track with the precision of the drum programming on this tune set a unique soundstage for the listener.

Ben Verse comes out striking a unique path with his first dubstep release, clearly so as N-Type wasted no time in being the ones to get this one in the hands of the international dubstep massive, is no doubt a unique accolade in itself. In all finer shops this week, be sure to pick this one up for your future sub explorations.


Distance - Menace / Beyond (CHST008)

There is no point in starting off this review with “Distance is back” because the reality is, despite his name, Greg Sanders is never far away from the action. Early already in 2010 we see the latest from Distance in the form of the latest 12″ from his Chestplate imprint featuring the two singles Menace and Beyond

The A-Side Menace opens up with the signature staccato Distance bassline that is arguably the producer’s signature sound, haunting over a far off drone before dropping into a groove that sounds closer to a groove from Pantera than current dubstep archetypes. To me however, this has always been Distance’s forte; an ability to create music that is hard on the dancefloor without being comically aggressive or without purpose.

On the flip side we have the aptly Beyond, exploring a deeper vibe than its dancefloor oriented flip-side. The intro teases a deep sub tone over precise and sharp percussion before  plunging the listener into a deep war-drum vibe. Beyond is exactly where this tune is headed, guaranteed to give an ample workout to any sound system. A contemplative breakdown resets the mood as the tune drops back into a deep familiar Distance groove.

As with any release from Distance, CHST008 is an essential addition for any casual listener, or DJ alike, another exceptional pair of tunes from one of the originators of the texture that is dubstep.

Be sure to buy a copy when it is available in your record store of choice, but until then enjoy the YouTube’s of both Menace and Beyond to whet your appetite.

Distance - Menace

Distance - Beyond


Causecast Interview with Bassnectar on Music and Social Change

Causecast is a grassroots organizing online community for social change that also interviews musicians about nonstandard things like their stance on politics and social progression.  This time they linked up with Bassnectar in Austin, TX to talk about “Obama, the Internet, Bassnetwork, local activism, and what motivates him to impact social change.” See some video from the interview and a full transcript over on causecast.

Some excerpts:

I chose to use music as a way to gather attention and then be able to deliver energy towards the areas that I think are important in life, which would be education, health, family – basic principles that are lost in the inundated shuffle of stupid gossip macabre media stories, and pointless sidetrack political distraction ceremonies.

[T]he odds are daunting in the war between the serfs and the lords. There’s only a couple Lords, and they own everything, they control us all, and we’re all kind of stupid and living in the mud, and working for the Lords. And that’s still true today; it’s not really about nationalism, that’s kind of a disguise – it’s about corporatism.

This might inspire me to ask some off the wall questions in the future…


Dubstep LA Mixtape Preview courtesy Plastician

See here for the Dubstep LA mixtape: dubstepped or GetDarker

This is going to be the summer that dubstep exploded. The growth over the past year or so has been rampant with an estimated tenfold more shows in San Francisco so far this year than last year. This is only going to continue in the face of this mixtape due to come out in about a month. I don’t even have the full tracklist but the bits that I’ve heard destined for the mix make me know that this is going to get rinsed everywhere, including grocery store speakers, pop radio stations, and so forth. Whether this is good or bad is up for debate. Personally I love this sound and know that it will keep evolving. I was blown away when I first heard produers like Joker or Gemmy that they didn’t have hiphop MCs queueing to flow over the tracks and now it’s finally happening.

Alexander Spit

Living Legends

Snoop Dogg


The mixtape is called “Mr Grustle and Tha Russian Present Dubstep LA.There are at least 6 tracks on it though I’m not sure on the official tracklist. Plastician (, Terrorhythm, Surefire) is mixing the tracks for the mixtape and sampled a bunch of them yesterday on his weekly radio show (download). I got so excited that I’m going to post samples from the set. Some of these are predictable, but some really blew me away, especially the Grouch and Eligh vs Vex’d cut. These previews are low quality with talking over them but I don’t care, give it a listen and take it in.

Before I post these I have to give credit to the people that have been producing similar work for time, notably DJ Nappy and the Rock The Dub THUGSTEP series (free downloads there), Dread Foxx, gWorm (see his recent mix), AC Slater (check here), Rx and Chae Hawk (check Malt Liquor on Rx’s space), KidLogic with the cali remixed EP (he as another one coming out this summer), and the Totally Unauthorized album by MRK1 and Chimpo.  Late breaking additions: forgot the remix tendencies of 6blocc, Parson, and the Dumbsteppaz. Also check out this early tune from Nebulla plus DJ Dore on La Dubstep Nostra.

Right, back to the mixtape. The general theme is existing dubstep productions iced by a variety of hiphop MCs. Beats are pretty raw and edgy including two bits from Chase & Status. First up, the first one released and the one that started a HUGE discussion in the scene about the future of dubstep, Snoop Dogg Millionaire:

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And Plastician’s remix of Snoop Dogg Millionaire (I like this one much more):

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Now for the freshness. I’m starting off with the track that I was feelin the most which is The Grouch and Eligh of Living Legends over the Jamie Vex’d remix of Scuba - Twitch. Listening to a teaser of this track is like eating just one pringle: leaves you wanting more and more and more.

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Next we’ve got Murs vs Chase & Status - Madhouse. Madhouse is a SERIOUS tune in a similar style to Eastern Jam and Saxon. Murs rips it. Love this one too.

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Fifth tune is from Alexander Spit based here in San Francisco over Rusko - Mr. Chips. Again this one is BAD. When I first envisioned MCs over dubstep it wasnt over tracks like Chase & Status and Rusko’s productions, but man it works well.

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Last but definitely not least is Jimmy Jams vs Rustie & Joker - Play Doe. Play Doe has been asking for an MC from day and I’m amazed it took this long to get one on it. Jimmy Jams destroys the mic, big sounds.

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The only other info I have is that there’s a still unheard tune with Xzibit vs D1 which has serious potential. Gotta get the mixtape to hear that one :)

For more info check twitter/dubstepla, twitter/djplastician, and this site. Now looking forward I’d really like to hear Busta Rhymes, Aesop Rock, Keak da Sneak, and tons of other MCs over dubstep, especially over the sounds of folks like Joker, Jakes, Gemmy, Guido, Plastician, Noah D, Starkey, and so on. Gonna get wild this summer!!!

The last thing I’ll say is to the haters both in press and in the forums is that a musical style is made to evolve. Dubstep itself evolved from dark garage and is currently an alamgam of many different genres of music. To claim that something like the introduction of American hiphop MCs to the sound of dubstep will “commercialize” or “ruin” the sound is shortsighted. This sound is a new dimension in dubstep, yet another sound that falls under the name of “dubstep.” The exact reason this music is so magical to me is because of the variety of sounds that are all “dubstep” so adding another dimension just means for more diverse mixes. Tell Miles Davis that by recording Bitches Brew he ruined Jazz. Tell Elvis that his sound ruined the blues. Tell Grandmaster Flash that mixing breaks ruined funk. And if you’re really not feeling it then just don’t play it.


Redline DJs featured in the San Francisco Guardian

Big ups to the San Francisco Redline crew for getting featured by the Guardian. Check out the article.

After reading, make sure to head over to the Makeout sessions on Friday to catch them live. This time featuring Matty G and Roommate. Large!

Much respect.


Big Up Magazine - Spring 2009

Big Up Magazine - Spring 2009I got my Spring copy of Big Up Magazine from Katya at the Surefire monthly last Saturday and finished reading it last night.  Well-designed and packed with 13 interviews with diverse artists and musicians it’s a good read.  The words of Goth-Trad were the most captivating to me.  His description of the status of dubstep in Japan and his musical evolution was really a fun read especially because I didn’t know that much about him.  Mary Anne Hobbs also had a great interview focusing on the “West Coast Rocks” sound of Flying Lotus, Lazer Sword, The Gaslamp Killer, Daedelus, Nobody, the Glitch Mob and others.  Artwise, Nik Ainley’s pieces really stuck out as quality, though all the art was quite good.  Putting visually-stunning art in between the music interviews is a nice contrast as you go back and forth between thinking about the audio and visual worlds.

Nik Ainley - Headache

My reading of the magazine would be interrupted every so often by the quality of Kutz’s selections coming out my speakers on the included mix.  Kutz is a sick producer and DJ based out of the UK with two stellar recent releases on Soul Jazz (Drumz of No Return / Tarantula and Travelling / Static).  Big things coming from him on the dubplate front too.

Any set that starts off with Benga vs Kutz - I’ll Kut Ya you know is gonna be good.  Personals were Skream - Filth (Silkie remix), Kutz – Grit Ya Teeth, Von D. feat Phephe - Show Me, and Klic feat Alys Be – Move Me.  Alys Be seems to have a knack for working with people that I’ve yet to hear and producing huge tunes with them.  Massive respect.  Check out a recent edition of the Transition show on Rinse.FM featuring Alys Be on the mic in studio.  Silkie is doing huge things at the moment also with tunes out like Techno 22, Headbutt the Decks, and the his remix of Tell Me (also ft Alys Be).

Big Up is available in SF at Babylon Falling, Amoeba, Super7, or Smoke Signals, or via the website at  Big Up is also hosting a third launch party soon featuring Emalkay’s first US appearance.. should be most excellent.

Finally I have to mention this killer new proposal in the magazine which is to promote creation of music videos for dubstep by establishing a dubstep video community.  I think this is an excellent idea and hope that it takes off.  Here’s two of the first submissions, the first by Big Up contributor MZO:


Surefire Monthly Launch this Saturday

I’m normally not going to promote shows except to announce that they’re happening, but this one on Saturday is worthy of a second mention. I decided to start this site because of how much I enjoy the vibrant scene for dubstep here in San Francisco, and this Saturday’s launch of the new Surefire monthly is basically a showcase of some of the finest producers and DJs from the area. Also, it’s FREE. It’s at a new venue called “The Triple Crown” at Market and Octavia. I haven’t been to this spot yet but I’ve heard good things. This Friday night is also big with two events: Grime City and Rusko / Ooah, but save some energy for this Surefire opening.

Now I’m going to post some select audio from some of the people that will be at this night in the form of two songs and two mixes. First up is DJG’s stellar remix of Coalition of the Killing - We are the Glitch. I honestly can’t get enough of this song, I’ll be making a post on the whole remix EP soon. Next, we have an exclusive from Kozee which is a perfect example of what I like about this scene - fresh sounds coming at you always. This song brings a complex but very danceable beat with a monster snare and glitched out vocals. Watch out for this one on Saturday. Last up we have two mixes, Jus Wan on Electronic Explorations and Rastatronics live in Oakland recently. Check it out for yourself, this event is going to be huge:

Coalition of the Killing - We are the Glitch (DJG Remix) (Forthcoming Blipswitch Digital)

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Kozee - Black White Girl (exclusive dub)

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Jus Wan - Electronic Explorations Mix (I chopped just the Jus Wan mix for this, the rest of the show is excellent though. Go here for the full show and tracklist.)

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Rastatronics - Live at the Mal Label Power Hour in Oakland

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Much respect to Kozee, DJG and J. Rogers for the tunes, out to Antiserum with the technical problems. Sad to hear it.

Big ups to the Surefire crew - this monthly already has some killer talent signed on for future events, trust. Watch this space for more info.

Surefire Launch Party