Dubstep 2010 : January Reviews

Posted in Review on January 25, 2010 by joeki2000

We are still only in the first month of the new decade, but already some established names and labels have released some interesting releases. A quick review of some of the early 2010 releases.

Hyetal & Shortstuff – Don’t Sleep / Ice Cream
Martyn – Hear Me / Seventy Four (remixes)
Starkey – Rain City / Beatingz
VA – Sub:Stance mixed by Scuba

Hyetal & Shortstuff – Don’t Sleep / Ice Cream (Punch Drunk)
Hyetal was one of the best new artists to emerge in 2009. Several of his releases received attention on this blog too. For Punch Drunk it was a big year as well with several big twelves and two full albums. Shortstuff had a slew of releases out last year as well on Ramp recordings and sorts. The three combine for a festive and funky kick-start to the new year. The A side, Don’t Sleep, is not one of my favourite tracks. It’s synthy riff like structure has Shortstuff written all over it. Indeed, the melodic quality of the tune is not my problem. It’s the rhythm that’s not up my alley. At 130 bpm’s it doesn’t quite persuades me into invading the dance floor. The AA side, Ice Cream is what it’s really about on this one.  The synths in this track are ridiculously infectious and the rhythm edges more towards traditional dub. Deep house subbass emerges in the background as well. This track clearly carries Hyetal’s stamp which becomes more apparent as the song evolves.  Funky and indeed a new direction for Punch Drunk.

Martyn – Hear Me ( Zomby rmx ) / Seventy four ( Redshape rmx ) (3024)
The original  Hear Me featured on Martyn’s 2K9 full length (see review on this blog). It was one of the strongest tracks on that album.  A remix of a strong track is always a risky undertaking. Indeed Zomby’s remix is not without its flaws. The track starts very recognisable with crunky sounds in the background. Trademark Zomby style.  But when the rhythm section cuts in, Zomby’s earlier rave style comes through. At first this mid pace rhythm comes off as a little awkward to me but as the song progresses I appreciated it more. An interesting remix but it doesn’t top the original for me. Redshape provides a minimal techno remix of  Seventy Four on the flip side. Some nice attention to melody here.  Both tracks handle the vocal bits of the original tracks very well.  All in All, the AA side is the more successful undertaking, if you’re into (minimal) techno that is.

Starkey – Rain City / Beatingz (rwina)
Starkey has the first major tune of the year under his belt with Rain City. It sounds like a dub and electro cross-over to me. Normally I loath electro as it is bland, cheaply produced and too repetitive. But coupled with Starkey’s melodic and glitchy approach to dub, this becomes a very solid tune. Great melody and rhythm and probably one of the better tracks of the year already. Beatingz has a trademark Starkey vibe through it with more wonky and glitchy vibes backed up by a solid bass. The only thing about this release that bothered me is the opening minute to this track which is a bit skipable.

Sub:Stance Mixed by Scuba ( Ost Gutton )
Scuba had another decent year in 2K9 with some solid releases on his own hotflush label and a remix here and there. But a lack of real standout tracks was a bit disappointing (except for maybe the Aesaunic EP). He returns early in 2K10 with this splendid mix CD on German label Ost Gutton.  The mixing is as good as it gets and the track list is excellent. It mostly consists of what I call borderline dub. With contributions from Sigha, Pangaea, Joy Orbison,  Untold and Scuba himself, he has managed to insert some highlight tracks into the mix that thus also becomes genre defying. The feel of the mix  constantly shifts  from dub techno, to house to garage and back again. In the latte part of the mix there is a little more room for anthem-style dub (the wonky goodness of Joker or the rhythmic masterpieces of Mala) but don’t expect any straight forward dub in this mix. Recommended if you want to explore the fringes of dubstep and stay away from the more straight forward dance floor wobble.

Cheerz, see you next time.

Dubstep 2009 : The Best tracks, Remixes

Posted in General News on January 8, 2010 by joeki2000

After having taken a look at some of the most consistent 12″ of the year 2K9, it’s tim to go indepth on the best tracks and remixes of 2K9, starting with the tracks.

The Best 25 tracks of 2009 :
in alphabetical order : artist – track (label)

Blue Daisy – Wolf (black acre)
Coki – Square Off (dancing demons)
Darkstar – Aidy’s Girl is a Computer (hyperdub)
Emalkay – When I look at You (dubpolice)
Excision & Datsik – Swagga (ex7)
Falty DL – Human Meadow (planet mu)
Guido – Way You Make Me Feel (punch drunk)
Headhunter – Sex At the Prom (tempa)
Hyetal – Pixel Rainbow Sequence (reduction)
Ikonika – We Could be Icons (planet mu)
Jakes – Rock tha Bells (hench)
Joker & Ginz – Purple City (kapsize)
Joy Orbison – Hyph Mngo (hotflush)
Jus Wan – Azure (pushing red)
Marlow – Cattle Prod (no comply)
Noah D – Seeeriouss! (subway)
Pangaea – Memories (whitelabel)
Radikal Guru – Dub Down Babylon (dubbed out)
Search & Destroy – Blue Mantra (destructive)
Sigha & Spherix – Seperation (immerse)
Skream – Just Being Me (southside dubstars)
Synkro – Autumn (synkro)
Synkro – My Own World (mindset)
Truth – The Fatman (deep medi musik)
Untold – Sweat (hotflush)

So get these tracks on vinyl or digital download asap and you’ll know what 2K9 was all about. It’s got all sorts of dub : from filthy bits, to deep tunes, from wonky to cross over, from 130 to 150 bpm’s. It’s all there. Check these out!

The 10 Best Remixes of 2009 :
In alphabetical order, released tunes only (no dubs).
Original Artist – track name [ Remix by ]

2nd II None – Waterfallz [ Peverelist Remix ]
Deepchild – Wannadoo [ Gravious Remix ]
Distance – Nightvision [ Skream Remix ]
DJ Madd- Someone [ Breakage Remix ]
Jose James – Blackmagic [ Joy Orbison Remix ]
Kontext – Plumes [ Relocate Remix ]
La Roux – In For The Kill [ Skream Remix ]
Rob Sparx – What U Gonna Do [ Numbernin6 Remix ]
Skream & Cluekid – Sandsnake [ Goth-Trad Remix ]
The Prodigy – Take Me To The Hospital [ Rusko Remix ]
Zarif – Over [ Breakage Remix ]

Dubstep 2009 : The best 12″

Posted in General News on January 4, 2010 by joeki2000

Here is an overview of some of the best 12″ dubstep related to come out this year. No full albums in this list, no EP’s either and no dubplates. More on that will follow shortly when I have some more time. The list is generally in alphabetical order by the way.

Breakage – Together / Rain (digital soundboy)
Breakage has been one of the top producers this year. His deep and slower tunes really speak to me as they provide a somewhat old school vibe. Dark dubstep from the 2006/2007 era with great atmospherics. Breakage released a number of tracks this year (including some awesome remixes) but his best and most consistent one was this. The A side is a dark throbbing nodder whilst the AA side is a melodic track suited for blazing out.

Burial & Four Tet – Wolf Cub / Moth (text recordings)
The two tracks are collaborations and both artists take about up 50% of each track. The A side has the two-step rhythm’s of Burial matched with the Four Tet melodies, vice versa on the other side. Moth is surely the superior track with it’s melodies and haunting vocal samples. We want more Burial in 2010.

DJ Madd – Someone / [Breakage remix] (blackbox)
DJ Madd has been a guarantee for quality deeper tunes with a garage touch and some melodic qualities. This shone through most in this track. But it’s really about the remix for me, where Breakage just adds a very dark and heavy atmosphere to the track.

Giant – Drumstick / Swoosh (h.e.n.c.h.)
Let’s face it, we need dance floor crackers in this list too. And this was one of the heaviest about. Also very catchy. There is no compromise in this Russian DJ’s style. Either you brock out, or leave the floor.

Guido – Beautiful Complication / Chakra (punch drunk)
Guido did a hell of a job representing the funky Bristol sound. His other 12″ also deserves a place on this list. But this one is just a little bit superior. The vocal contribution by Aarya is marvellous and the melodic qualities of Chakra are endless. Shake it baby.

Hyetal – Neon Speech / Gold Or Soul (soul motive)
More Bristol based sounds  from Hyetal. His Pixel Rainbow Sequence tune was probably the number one pick along with ‘We Should light a fire’ (featured on MAH compilation cd). But this 12 was the most consistent one as both sides are worth a listen. Heavy bass, great nostalgic melodies and swirling garage rhythms.

Indigo & SYNKRO – Runes / My Own World (mindset)
Indigo perfects the dub techno style, whilst SYNKRO provides the usual garage-inspired quality matched on this cut with a vocal sample from Marvin Gay. What more do you need (other than a spliff perhaps.)

Joy Orbison – Hyph Mngo / Wet Look (hotflush)
The A side is a strong contender for track of the year but the aa side is also a much overlooked gem. In my opinion Joy Orbison is easily the best new producer to emerge in 2009. A fresh style in dub forefronted by others like Falty DL. His other 12″ on doldrum is also very good and I can’t wait to hear more from him in 2010.

Kryptic Minds – Life Continuum / Wondering Why (osiris musik)
Kryptic Minds had a slew of releases out this year, each and everyone loaded with quality. But this is probably their most overlooked one. It is also the best one. The A side is a dark stepper in the same style as the full length album but the aa side offers a different approach mixing in a garage/2 step rhythm and gorgeous vocal sample.

Lung – Afterlife / Time (kokeshi)
A late release but surely worth the wait. Though I find his tracks a little thin on the production side (and the rhythm sections a little overcrowded), I can’t help but fall in love with the melodic qualities of both these tracks.

Pangaea – Memories / (whitelabel)
Though his 12″ on hotlfush is also  certainly a contender, this single sided 12″ will also top many end of year lists. Epic swirling rhythms and another beautiful vocal sample make this one hard to forget.

SYNKRO – Everyday / Tell Me (synkro)
SYNKRO could have been on here with any single release as far as I’m concerned. He has been one of the consistent top producers of the last two years. I chose this one simply because it only contains two tracks, but really, any of his releases will do.

Truth – The Fatman / Stolen Children (deep medi musik)
One of the bangers of 2009 which I will always remember. Dark, hard, dance floor dub. You need to have it.

Note that these 12″ have been selected for consistency. It doesn’t mean they are the best tracks. It means both sides are consistent and you can’t go wrong when buying them. I will mention a few other 12″ that are less consistent, but might contain better tracks, later when I talk about the best producers/tracks/remixes of the year in the next edition soon to come.

November Dubstep Mix

Posted in General News on November 24, 2009 by joeki2000

Yet more dubstep!
I return with another edition of my monthly mix. This time I wanted to go for a more old school vibe but I couldn’t help throwing in some of the nastier tunes of 2009 as well.  The tracks range from bits released back in 2005 up to as recent as this month. I’ve tried recording it as loud and heavy as possible and that pretty much worked with the raw file but I feel that it’s lacking a bit in that department after the conversion. Unfortunately I messed up one mix a little bit (you’ll notice which one…).  Anyway here is the track list and the download link and I hope you enjoy it.
This one goes out to the Heist Dubstep Alliance. You can drop us a line right here or on facebook if you feel like it ( group Dubstep Heist-op-den-Berg). Cheers and see you soon (perhaps this weekend at Leuven where Bar 9 is performing ??) .

Tracklist :

01 : Loefah – System (tectonic, 2006)
02 : Skream – Chest Boxing ( Tempa, 2007 )
03 : Cyrus – Bounty ( Tectonic, 2005 )
04 : Skream – Wiggly ( Southside Dubstars, 2009 )
05 : Slack – Kick in the Floor ( Dark Circles, 2009 )
06 : Rob Sparx ft. Zurcon – What U Gonna Do ( Migrate, 2009 )
07 : Rob Sparx – In Love ( Sparx, 2009 )
08 : Skream – Just Being Me ( Southside Dubstars, 2009 )
09 : Skream – Rutten ( Tempa, 2006 )
10 : Ed Solo – Watch Your Eyes  ( Sludge, 2008 )
11 : Skream – Filth  ( Tempa, 2008 )
12 : Skream – Simple City ( Tempa, 2008 )
13 : Mala – Changes ( Deep Medi Musik, 2007 )
14 : Mala – Lean Forward ( DMZ,2007 )
15 : Coki – Spongebob ( DMZ, 2007 )
16 : Loefah – Mud  ( DMZ, 2006 )
17 : Marlow – Bandwagon Junglist ( Boka Recordings, 2009 )
18 : Hyetal – Neon Speech  ( Soul Motive, 2009 )
19 : Sub Focus – Coming Closer ( RAM Records, 2009 )
20 : Pinch – Attack of the Giant Robot Spiders ( Planet Mu, 2009 )

Download Here

(You can also stream it at that location!)

November Dubstep Update : Full Albums

Posted in Review on November 18, 2009 by joeki2000

After a little break, I decided to return to writing with a little dubstep update. I’ve decided to zoom in on some of the full albums that have been dropping in the recent months. 2009 really has been the year of full albums I suppose as more artists than ever have chosen this medium over the more traditional single and EP formats. And with good reason. Full albums might not be the appropriate format for mixing and DJ’ing, it is the appropriate format to answer to the rising demand of dubstep. As usually, quality and variation sprout from this process. Here is a look at some of the full albums that have coloured the year so far. With only one month left in 2K9, this will also serve as an introduction to my upcoming ‘End of Year’ feature which will have an elaborate section devoted to dubstep of course.

2562 – Unbalance (tectonic)
Dave Huismans’ (aka 2562) debut full length album, Aerial, was a perfect synthesis of Bristol inspired dub/garage and (minimal) techno. It was a very accomplished album that also had a few big tunes on it (Techno Dread). I was less pleased with this sophomore album. It has more swirly rhythms and has less of a direct dubstep sound to it. The techno elements have also been reduced and it feels just that little bit abstract. It is no surprise that the single, Love in Outer Space (out on tectonic), is probably the best thing this album has to offer. It still is about 50% two-step and 50% techno/house so it keeps a middle ground that will appeal to a bigger audience than the rest of the album does.

Boxcutter – Arecibo Message (Planet Mu)
You will find plenty of Mu releases in this list. Boxcutter’s effort, though in my opinion one of the weaker ones out on Mu, still deserves mentioning here as it is a daring and experimental effort at retracing the history of dub into one single album. Analogue synths, guitar pedals and delays herald a new direction for Barry Lynn on this album. Loads of rave influences, two-step and even deep house shows the variety of this album, but it just lacks that little craftmanship to set it apart from many other releases.

Cloaks – Versus Grain (3by3)
You can find the review of this album on this blog (browse the archive section or use the search function) so I will not go into details about this album here.

Clubroot – Clubroot (Lo-Dubs)
What an amazing debut album this is. It’s not very renewing indeed. All influences are easily recognisable. There’s a big chunk of Burial in there (or garage in general). Sections influenced by drum & bass dj’s like Ed Rush & Optical make an appearance as well. Dark dubstep bass, present on earlier releases by iTAL tEK etc. form another key ingredient. But all this is brought into a perfect mix suitable for home listening. Don’t expect dance floor crackers on this album. But it’s a very ambient and moody listening experience. One of my favourite albums of the year.

DFRNT – Metafiction (lo-dubs)
DFRNT’s debut full length is a nice mixture of dubstep rhythms, ambient features and typical dub techno harmonics much in the vein of  artists like G.R.I.T., Quantec (who also contributes a remix on disc two). It’s not dance floor dub, but it’s surely an amazing listening experience and the opening track Wake Up is a true gem. Not all content on the double CD is of equal standard, but overall it will be worth your money. Some big names contributing remixes as well (SYNKRO, iTAL tEK,…).

Falty DL – Love is a Liability (Planet Mu)
One of the years early releases, this one has stood the test of time. The opening track Human Meadow should be enough reason to acquire this. The rest of the album doesn’t quite reach that quality (except for maybe Winter Sole or Dyonysis). It’s atypical dubstep with a lot of garage, deep house and even electro mixed into it to form a unique mixture. He’s also one of the most essential non-UK producers of the year in my opinion. (check his 12″ on Ramp Records!).

Kryptic Minds – One of Us (Swamp 81)
One of the contenders for full album of the year. Broody, dark and atmospheric dubstep, sounding quite old school (no compromise on the bass). In fact, Kryptic Minds are one of the artists of the year as far as I’m concerned, and this killer album is probably their best piece yet. The quality is not just in the singles (Six Degrees) but every track has some section or part that is worthwhile. And the entire cd is just such a cohesive final product. Can easily listen to all of this in one go. Great album.

Legion of Two – Riffs (Planet Mu)
More action from Planet Mu. LoT are duo from Ireland who have made the switch from heavier industrial productions (like Scorn) to the dubstep playing field. It’s a decent and very dark work, unfortunately the single featured on Marry Ann Hobbes’ Wild Angels (And Now We Wait) is probably the most impressive track.

Martyn – Great Lengths (3024)
Review featured on this weblog, use the search function or click on the ‘review archive’ to find it.

RSD – Good Energy (A Singles Collection) (Punch Drunk)
This isn’t exactly new material. It contains all the singles from RSD on one disk. Which still makes it an essential buy (not just for Punch Drunk Records fans like me). It has all the big tunes from the past years (Jah Way, Speeka Box, Pretty Bright Light, King Fisher…) and adds the 2009 12″ + a few bonus tracks. RSD combines heavy bass perfectly with Jamaican riddims and even techno. One of my favourite producers.

These are the full albums that have coloured my year so far. Yes I’m aware I’ve missed out on Silkie – City Limits and a few others, but that particular album will see a seperate review soon, as for me it is the best dubstep album from 2009. In the next edition I will make some room for Mixed releases and releases by Various Artists (for example, 5 Years of Hyperdub, Dubstep Allstars vol. 7, Wild Angels,…).
See you then .

Untitled! 3 year Anniversary Review

Posted in Review on November 9, 2009 by joeki2000

Yes, another edition of untitled! was held this past weekend. 3 years of Untitled! parties were celebrated on friday night with an impressive line-up, the likes of which Belgium has rarely seen.

Digital Mystikz (Mala & Coki) are arguably the most influential artists in the scene with their DMZ label and parties in London.  Pinch has his own renowned label (Tectonic) with some of the strongest releases out this year and is known for his darker and epic sets. Noah D has the party anthem of the year under his belt (seriousss!) and untitled! was the first stop on his European tour.  Headhunter performed a live set (only the second time in Belgium I believe) with visuals. On top of that, we had residents Hijak & Dice & Kastor providing the resident beats. Science are a new up and coming talent from Belgium and were given a shot at closing the event.

Due to an appearance at the local DJ contest (which was won by the way by our local D&B/dubstep heroes Triple C crew (myspace.com/tripleccrew)  we arrived a bit late so apologies to the resident dj’s for missing them. We were just in time to hear Headhunter’s opening beats.
I had seen his life act before (I believe in February when supporting The Bug) and was very impressed with that set. Not long before that, his Nomad LP had dropped on tempa records so the set was filled with stuff from that great LP and some darker tunes (for example from the recent Kryptic Minds Album).  On this occasion though, there was a lot more emphasis on techno influenced dub. Maybe there were some technical difficulties in the beginning of his set but he messed up his opening two mixes I believe. But I’m not one to judge, especially if it’s a live set. After that things smoothed out. Personally, I enjoyed his set. All credit to the man, but I quite enjoy this style as a warm up for the nastier stuff.  ‘Prototypes’ remains one of my favourite dub tunes out there.  The visuals were cool but not essential.  Also, they work a lot better in a very small enviroment of course (which was the case last time I saw him.)

I was very much looking forward to seeing Pinch. Some of his early releases on Planet Mu are what made me fall in love with heavy bass music. There were no real surprises for me as to the quality of the set and the tune selection. Murky and heavy on the sub bass.  Opening with a VIP (?) version of my favourite dubstep tune of all time (‘Rolling with the Punches’) instantly grabbed my fullest attention.  After this I slipped into the party zone for the next several hours.  My only regret is that he didn’t rinse out some of his own tunes. ‘The Punisher’ (another one the best tunes ever) was probably hoping for a bit too much but I did have my heart set on ‘Attack of the Giant Robot Spiders’. Better luck next time! Great performance.

Digital Mystikz are legend. Everyone knows this.  Their records, sets and parties are all essential. It was with much regret that I quickly realised that it was going to be a Mala solo performance.  We had some of the crew dressed up in Spongebob t-shirts and everything (the plan was the bring a large spongebob doll to the party and hand it to Sgt. Pokes, good thing we didn’t bring it in the end.) But Mala just flat-out nailed it.  It was hard, intense and the tune selection was monsters. Loads of dubplates that sounded absolutely bonkers. VIP version of  ‘Changes’ too. It was so intense that I only recorded a single movie during the entire set (look for the link below).  I am not sure yet, but perhaps for me this was the best set I have heard all year (and I’ve heared quite alot this year believe you me).

Hijak was up next providing an intermezzo with jungle tunes from yesteryear. Great break after such an intense set and great time to show off the old dancing moves. Loads of things going on in the venue too with flying balls (this was probably during Mala’s set I don’t really remember). and exploding ribbons and free stuff. Great vibe in there and to everyone who left : Your Loss!
On a side note : people : you’re supposed to knock the balls backwards into the rest of the crowd and not slap it straight back  onto the decks…or atleast that’s how I perceived it.

As much as I enjoyed that break, I couldn’t wait for Noah D to get on stage.  It was worth the wait because Noah D too hit all the right buttons.  VIP version of Serious! and the Untitled! anthem from The Others (forgot the name…) set the room on fire. That thunderous Skream! dubplate also does it time and time again.  The crowd response was great during Noah D. See the movie below.  That’s all I can say really.

I was ready to leave after Noah D , but then Science went on and opened with I think was a VIP version of Breakage – ‘Higher’ , a tune I also always put in my mixes and this convinced me to stay. At first, the mixing was on the slow side but It felt like they speeded it up as the set went along. Great tune selection (am I right when I say they were the only ones that actually played ‘When I look at you’?). And so again we stayed untill the very end. I think we can expect much from these youngsters in the future.

Coki not showing up, it has to be said, was a big disappointment. But after that set from Mala, I can’t say that I’m feeling disappointed right now. The set probably wouldn’t have been much different with Coki anyway (it couldn’t have been much better either). Noah D was a great addition the line-up and I hope the rest of his tour goes as well as the opening party. With Pinch I got what I expected and Headhunter (though not all of the crew agreed with me here) was a great starting act for the evening.
The only real bad thing is, that the next untitled! won’t be until February. But already looking forward to it.
Great night out.

Links to movies :
Mala at Untitled!  Link

Noah D at Untitled!  Link

I still have a movie from Pinch too and a lot of stuff from some of the previous editions (and some d&b stuff too) which I Haven’t got round to uploading yet. I’ll do it as soon as I can anyway.

October Dubstep Minimix

Posted in General News on October 6, 2009 by joeki2000

I Took the time to record another dubstep mini mix. Needless to say this new edition surpasses last months by a mile.  I feel this mix is a lot more professional and complete. It shows the wide variaty of styles within the dubstep genre in less than half an hour and 15 tracks.
It moves from slow and dark stuff over into wobble, into dance floor crackers into wonky and garage influenced sounds. Again some older tracks mixed in with recent releases. I feel this worked quite well again.
Some of the mixes aren’t 100% accurate, but hey, that’s life.  Plus it adds a human element to it all.
Again, support the artists and buy the music if you can. I Love Dub Music!

Tracklist & Download link below!

01 : Breakage – Higher (Digital Soundboy)
02 : JSL – Fight Dub (Kraken)
03 : Trolly Snatcha – Scattah (Dub Police)
04 : Skream – Filth (Tempa)
05 : Skream – Simple City (Tempa)
06 : Mala – Changes (DMZ)
07 : Mala & Coki – Lean Forward (DMZ)
08 : Mensah – Not a Shy Girl (Lo-Dubs)
09 : Coki – Goblin (Ringo)
10 : Jakes – Rock the Bells (H.E.N.C.H.)
11 : The Prodigy – Take me to the Hospital [Rusko Remix] (Hospital)
12 : Joker & Ginz – Stash (Hyperdub)
13 : Gemmy – Rainbow Road (Planet Mu)
14 : Hyetal – Neon Speech (Soul Motive)
15 : Joy Orbison – Hyph Mngo (Hotflush)

Linkage ( 26.28 minutes / 24.24 mb)