Reviews of Shows and More

V/A – Scientist Launches Dubstep Into Outer Space (Reviewed)

Scientist Launches Dubstep Into Outer Space

“This project has taken over a year to put together from its conception late last summer. The final results are worth every minute of effort that’s gone into this – this is definitely my proudest moment for Tectonic to date. The influence of dub swings round full circle!” -Pinch

I know I am not the only one who was drawn to dubstep by spending formative years of my youth listening to reggae albums, especially dub. Honestly, Scientist has always been a personal favorite; no disrespect to King Tubby for being the originator and no disrespect to Mad Professor for embracing new technologies in an old sound however Scientist seemed to always sit perfectly in the middle of the proto, and the present. His “Vampires” and “World Cup” releases having left the biggest impression on me, even still today. Obviously, I’m absolutely enthralled that this release exists and even more having an opportunity to listen to these tracks and relay some early impressions on them back to readers.

Attempting my hardest to stay away from clichéd idioms when writing this review, it is difficult to approach speaking about specific tracks on this release without emphasizing “the sum is greater than the parts.” Honestly, this is something that I hope listeners appreciate start-to-finish as much as selectors and dancers will appreciate hearing singles played in DJ sets, or even more excitingly the upcoming UK tour with Scientist to support the album’s release.

Click here to read my complete review


Dubs Alive 006 with The Spit Brothers, Luthor, Djunya and a free DL

The latest out on the San Francisco imprint Dubs Alive is this diverse 5 track EP with originals from The Spit Brothers and Luthor, and with Bakir, Djunya and 6blocc on remix duties.  The original “No Curfew” is a spooky, basswise tune that’s like a soundtrack to a new Dick Tracy film. Eerie keys create a brooding mood that the ultradeep bassline strongly reinforces. If you’re listening to this on headphones trust you’re missing out on half the song on the low end. Things get hectic in the second half, getting hyper with a 4×4 beat making this a strong transition song between sounds.

Djunya steps up next to tackle a remix of “No Curfew”, adding more swagger to the beat but maintaining the eerie feel of the original with keys and brass. When the main bit drops in this becomes an incredible remix with doubled up kicks and added synths overtop. Guaranteed to light up a dance.

Out of the five songs on the release the only one that doesn’t work is the 6blocc remix where the vibe of the original is entirely lost in an attempt to reproduce Bombaman-esque bass sounds that falls way short. Feels far too cookie cutter.

Luthor brings the next original with his emotive, bass heavy sound. Complex beats and a nice atmosphere built by Luthor make this one a quality late night or Sunday morning tune, matching elements of the jazzy sound found in many Dubs Alive releases.  On the remix of this one Bakir comes with a funky/soca styled beat under the keys and vocals of the original. The original mix is pretty mellow, this one is purely hyper. Intensity.

Along with these, Dubs Alive have put out another tune for free download, this one called “Done Gone There.” Download this one using the player below, then check the full DAV006 release using the second player.

The Spit Brothers – Done Gone There (Dubsworth ft. Bakir)(FREE DOWNLOAD) by Dubs Alive Records

Dubs Alive 006 by Dubs Alive Records

Pick this one up now @ Juno or other music retailers:


Review: Tunnidge 7Breaths/Fear (CHST010)

Distance’s Chestplate label has never let me down. the label is clearly an extension of the crunchy bass sounds he made his own on his myriad releases; always gritty but always extremely mindful of the heavyweight sub-bass tones that are essential to any classical dubstep tune.

The tenth release from Chestplate taps the production talents of London-based Tunnidge, for two extremely heavy cuts. Both tunes are heavily cinematic with long builds and employ the use of deep bass with the color of the distorted basslines that have established Distance and the Chestplate’s legacy in the modern bass music movement.

Fear is the highlight of this release for me, with it’s long build, cinematic vocals, and floorboard rumbling subtones that have me eager to hear it out on larger soundsystems. An essential pickup as the weather begins to turn cold and melodic percussion makes it’s way out of the dance to make room for the cold, heavy tunes. This is the first Chestplate release without an original from Distance, and Tunnidge served the label and all listeners well with this release.

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Review: Jack Sparrow – Circadian (TECCD009)

Yesterday, the much awaited full length release  from Leeds based producer Jack Sparrow, on the always high-quality Tectonic label. As true with most Tectonic releases, On ‘Circadian,’ Sparrow delivers a sharp and deep full length, with one foot heavily planted in classic dubstep vibes, and sound-design that is a clear nod to influences from techno and minimal production elements.

The release starts off with ‘Loveless,’ a smooth tune that is a clear indication from the beginning that ‘Circadian’ intends to be much more than a run-off-the-mill dubstep full length release, with an aesthetic that reminds me of early Ramadanman releases such as ‘The Woon.’ Continuing, the release features a VIP remix of his previous release ‘The Chase’ and an exciting and deep collaboration with Ruckspin, the tempo speeds up and the mood approaches autonomic as you hear the syncopated rhythms of tracks like ‘Relapse’

Many many highlights on this exciting and well deserved full length release from Sparrow on Pinch’s Tectonic label, a full length that is equally well served on the headphones as it is in the club. Although releases from Jack Sparrow do seem few-and-far-between at times the sheer volume of keepers on this release and growth in the depth of sound has made this release worth the wait.

Circadian is available for purchase as of this week, and Fact Magazine is currently running a week long free preview of the release via Soundcloud for those looking to stream the tunes in their entirety.

Be sure to check out this remix of good friends’ of mine Subreachers that Jack Sparrow and they recently posted online, deep vibes from both of them each and every.
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Review: KiloWatts – The Right Words EP (KW013)

Sometimes you get broadsided by surprise when listening to new music, and this was definitely the case with the latest EP from KiloWatts out of Philadelphia (Soundcloud, Facebook). The five-track release spans genres with ease and tightrope walks between complexity and danceability to great effect.  BPM, style, beat structure and nearly every other aspect of music vary throughout, the constant is extremely high quality production and an appreciation for melody rarely found in dance music. Personal highlights are first and foremost the 7 minute long voyage in sound “Evolving Revolving Door“, the stuttery, blissful opener “Deliriously” that reminds me of a higher quality Royksopp, and the driving “Black Ink“. This one’s self-released via bandcamp, check the player below for samples and a link to pick this up. Highest recommendation.


Review: Scuba – Three Sided Shape / Latch Rmx (TRI002)

Scuba expounds on this years ‘Triangulation’ release with a forthcoming 12″ on his own HotFlush label.

Side A of the release is ‘Three Sided Shape,’ originally released as the third track of ‘Triangulation.’ A deeply melodic tune featuring a slowly sweeping atmosphere over filtered drums before dropping into hefty and ringed-out kick that marks what is easily one of my favorite drops of the year. Marked with dense vocal layers and panning rhythmic effects. As to be expected by anything coming from Scuba’s studio, ‘Three Sided Shape’ pays strict attention to detail creating a tune that is deep both for the soundsystem and the psyché alike.

The flip side of the release sees a remix of ‘Latch’, the preceding tune to ‘Three Sided Shape’ on the ‘Triangulation’ release. Scuba has tapped the efforts of Aus Music label head Will Saul, and house/techno producer Mike Monday who describes his sound as ‘a bit like Prince getting drunk with Mr Scruff in Royksopps house.’ While devoid of Prince’s trademark blistering guitar speed, Saul and Monday combine to give ‘Latch’ a fresh rework, preserving the smooth pads that marked the selection’s ambience while reworking the percussion and arrangement to give the tune an upbeat house vibe one expects from the Aus Music family of releases. A completely new aesthetic is given to the track, while still feeling distant at times like the original, the strong emphasis on booming house percussion here keep the track high-energy throughout the entire track.

Markedly less minimal than what most critics give credit for, this release re-emphasizes the producer’s current explorations of melody in modern bass music under his the ‘Scuba’ moniker. This release is slated for release both vinyl and digital on Sept 27.


Review: Kidkut – ILove04/Lilt (PIPS013)

In the brief period of time following the dissolution of Skull Disco, I was curious to see how Appleblim would follow suit. After combining with Shackleton to establish label that undoubtably bridged the gap between dubstep and it’s minimal / techno influences it seemed impossible that the work was done after a mere fifteen or so releases. Fortunately for bass music fans everywhere, Apple Pips emerged. Similar to the expectations set by Appleblim’s previous label, the emphasis here is in blending sounds from dubstep’s myriad influences to create a new sound greater than the sum of it’s parts. With a clear focus on house and classic garage sounds, Appleblim has curated selections from numerous formidable label heads such as Ramadanman, Brackles, and Instra:Mental. This latest release is no break from the high standards already set with a release from Immerse Recordings label chief anf fellow Bristol native Adam Jackson, aka ‘Kidkut.’

‘ILove04′ starts the release with a hard soul-infused rhythm that channels Melvin Bliss more than it does any current drum programming technique, and short vocal cuts sharply carry the vibe along to a heavy wobbly-bass. It is unfortunate to use that word to describe the feeling achieved by Kidkut; it is safe to assume between the obvious ear for quality of Immerse and Applepips alike, it is safe to assume this is no obnoxious onslaught of bro-bass, but instead a rich dynamic technique set to excite ears and bassbins alike. While more jarring than the so called ‘micro’ or ‘tech’ house releases, but not nearly as abrasive as the ‘jacking’ or electro’ house, Jackson touches on a vibe that happily sits somewhere in the middle, in no doubt thanks to creative use of the anthemic sounds of the classic Pacific State by 808 State. Enough energy to keep the young ones moving on the floor, and just enough nostalgia to keep the attention span of the chin-stroking club music historians as well.

‘Lilt’ carries the flip side of this release with a very summertime dance tune, replete with pitched percussion, latin whistles, cuica, and 808 cowbells (always a personal favorite,) amidst a driving bassline completely unlike the one displayed from ‘ILove04.’ With a long break and build for a relatively short track, ‘Lilt’ is guaranteed to be one of the go-to selections in your bag to quickly drop-down and reenergize the dancefloor no matter where it’s placed in the set. An absolute ‘diamond in the rough’ track that should come to no surprise to anybody who has been following Appleblim’s ear, or has had the privilege of hearing him select a dj set.

Great stuff once again from the Applepips and Immerse camps on this one, this release has been available since early August so be sure to go bag your copy whether it be physical or digital.

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Review: Falty DL – Phreqaflex (ZIQ277)

Large new rhythms again from NYC-based producer Falty DL on the long-time trendsetting label Planet Mu. This release comes as a three track 12″ and digital released a few weeks ago. I have been following Drew Lustman’s work under the ‘Falty DL’ since discovering his Bravery EP last year, and being enamored by unique sounds atypical of most stateside based producers. It is quite logical that a majority of his releases have found a home on the renowned Planet Mu label, seemingly always one step ahead of the curve in underground electronic music.

The title track ‘Phreqaflex’ opens the release with an unrelenting garage drum pattern underneath smooth keys and two distinct yet similar bass rhythms in a style that is undoubtably a head-nod to unmistakable shuffle of Horsepower Productions. Lustman makes the production clearly his own through the use of melodic off-kilter rhodes and rave-pianoesque stabs throughout the tune, providing a more light-hearted feel than the sheer darkness typical of much of Horsepower’s catalog. Continuing the first side is the even more soulful “My Friends Will Always Say” expounding on the mood set forth by the first track, adding a smooth sexy dancefloor vibe on top of the shuffled beat and pulsating claps that would undoubtedly fill any floor that has any semblance of a pulse. The release closes with the b-side’s single track “Because You.” a keyboard driven garage tune with spaced out vocals and heavy employment of reverb to provide a warm soundstage to juxtapose the unmistakably sharp cold drum patterns that are the hallmark of the UK Garage sound.

Phreqaflex as a release is no disappointment, continuing high expectations set from Lustman’s previous releases. Clearly Falty DL’s  sound has grown and “found it’s niche” so to speak. Drawing heavily on the influences of the darker sounds of UK Garage, Falty DL continues to provide us with refreshing modern interpretations on the Garage sounds that served as the building blocks for much  of today’s “bass music” movement. The tracks here are quick, and to the point which seems consistent with the clear coherence of Lustman’s recent productions.

A must-bag for any fan of the El-B, and Horsepower Productions, Phreqaflex is available in all fine shops as a 12″and digital release.

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Review: DJG – Hydrated Space Cakes (WHEELYDEALY008, WARM016)

DJG is among a select group of artists that can claim responsibility for the explosion of dubstep in San Francisco, and he did it while pushing the sounds of drum & bass under his alterego Genome.  Lately a pair of releases from DJG have come out: grade-A dubstep on a Headhunter collboration, and some cutting edge autonomic drumnbass sounds.  All 5 tracks here are masterful productions: spacious, bass heavy music with absolute quality percussion.

Up first is the latest on N-Type’s label Wheel & Deal, and trust these two are worthy of the label name. With support from a legion of DJs, these tunes have been rumbling dancefloors around the world. The a-side “Pressure” begins with droning vocals that remind me of Tuvan throat singing. Bassline murderation then ensues with a mutant halftime feel on the percussion that, combined with the droning vocals, produces a surreal soundscape. Prime time audio here. On the flip, Headhunter aka Addison Groove joins up for “Space Cakes“. Munch one of these and head for outer space on a tune with alien synth stabs, odd voices, and of course huge bassweight.  Two for two on this one.

A. DJG – Pressure (clip) – Wheel & Deal *out now* by DJG

AA. DJG & Headhunter – Spacecakes (clip) – Wheel & Deal *out now* by DJG

Next I’d like to change the pace and change the style with the latest on Warm Communications, a drumnbass label based in Texas. These three showcase an exciting new “autonomic” sound in dnb coming from the likes of dBridge, Instra:mental, Vaccine, ASC, Spectra Soul and more. The sound is driven by rolling basslines, strong use of atmospherics and substantially less percussion than you’ll find in most dnb. Amens are notably lacking. First up is “Hydrate“, the foundation of the 3-track EP with a lush bassline holding down the foundation under somewhat erratic yet danceable percussion. Sparse vocal samples and chirps keep things rolling. Next, Consequence steps up on remix duties adding what I can only describe as microkicks to drive the beat and keeping choice elements of the original.  Look out for the breakdown & build into the second half, dangerous. Redone by DJG in a dubwise style, “Hydration Dub” closes out the release and is my favorite of the three.  The bassline changes up to sound a bit more like Robbie Shakespeare in the studio with echoes on the percussion that would make Scientist grin. Three for three.

Hydrate by DJG

DJG – Hydrate (Consequence Remix) – WARM016 *Clip by Warm Communications

Hydration Dub by DJG

Respect due. For more visit his Blog, Twitter, or Soundcloud.

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Review: Terror Danjah – Bruzin VIP bw Hysteria (HDB037)

Longtime grime producer Terror Danjah brings two sides of excellence to kode9’s ever diverse label Hyperdub. The a-side “Bruzin VIP” is a solid entry to any grime instrumental collection, though it also incorporates 2010 elements, especially in the bleeps floating about the track.  The idea is good and simple, the execution is top notch.  For me it’s all about the b-side where DOK and Terror Danjah seem to combine like Jekyll and Hyde, switching back and forth between halftime sections with chopped vocal samples, and epic house sections that could be an excerpt from an Ibiza rave.  Terror Danjah’s signature laugh punctuates the 4×4 section and leads into the halftime bits, accentuating the transition.  Great track to blend in and out of 4×4 sections of a mix, or to mess with the heads of your audience. This one out soon on Hyperdub – keep your eyes/ears open.

Terror Danjah – Bruzin VIP

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DOK ft Terror Danjah – Hysteria

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