So much good music has been put out already this year that any effort to make a list is clearly going to exclude many worthy releases. In a new feature, we investigate some of the bass music releases that have really stood out for us over the past 3 months.
15 strikes us as an easy enough number to deal with, as we could have easily chosen recent cuts from the likes of Pearson Sound, Grimes, Lapalux, Tessela, Lando Kal or Martyn; but the following 15, selected from a range of formats and genres, are what we feel really stood out.
15. DJ Q – ‘Brandy & Coke’ / ‘JD & Coke’ (Local Action)
This record is nothing other than exactly what you would expect from DJ Q. Both sides of the limited edition, red 12″ are straight up UKG fire, featuring the unmistakable vocals of Brandy. One of those records that could have been built this year, or 15 years ago during the golden era of UK garage music; either way it will go on being a firm favourite and dance floor classic for years.
14. Gerry Read – ‘Yeh Come Dance’ EP (Delsin Records)
On beginning a new trend towards house music, who better than Gerry Read to set this Dutch imprint’s benchmark. The elusive Read has a string of impressive techno records to his name; all bearing similar characteristics of a rough, rolling bassline and scatted, abstract sampling. His ‘Yeh Come Dance EP’ is no different; four tracks, each a proud example of where the label is moving. Read’s single ’90s Prostitution Racket’ also deserves a mention; a stunning piece of vocal techno. Stream ‘Crawlspace’ below.
13. John Talabot – ‘fIN’ (Permanent Vacation)
John Talabot‘s experimental album, ‘fIN’, is quite unlike anything else on this list. Beautifully atmospheric; Talabot, and vocalist Pional, explore every corner of electronica with an stunning array of instruments and moods, ending up somewhere in between deep house and indie. Stream the two singles below, and buy the whole album here.
12. SBTRKT – ‘Living Like I Do’ (Lil Silva Remix) / ‘Pharaohs’ (Braiden Remix) [Young Turks]
Alongside Braiden‘s stripped-down remix of Pharaohs on the flip, Lil Silva adds his trademark bounce to an already standout track from SBTRKT‘s album, creating one of the most sought after vinyl-only releases of 2012 so far. A future collectors item from Young Turks, featuring vocals from Sampha and Roses Gabor.
11. Various Artists – ‘Tectonic Plates 3’ (Tectonic)
The next in the series of Tectonic Plates dropped this March; featuring tracks from the likes of Addison Groove, Roska, Kevin McPhee, Om Unit, Illum Sphere, 2562 and, as usual, a track from label boss himself, Pinch. The compilation is everything you would expect from Bristol’s Pinch, aka Rob Ellis; in the same vein as his FABRICLIVE mix earlier this year, it seamlessly combines the darker sides of dubstep and techno to create a collection easily worthy of a place in this list.
10. Ifan Dafydd – ‘Treehouse’ / ‘To Me’ (Push & Run)
Following the success of his first two self-released singles, ‘No Good’ and ‘Miranda,’ there was clearly an air of excitement surrounding the Welsh producer’s debut full release. Both tracks continue in much the same manner as what we had heard previously; strongly orientated towards deep basslines and sporadic R n’ B vocal sampling. Having previously been closely associated with the productions of cohort James Blake, this release officially introduced Ifan Dafydd as a unique and talented producer in his own right. Check out Yoni Lappin’s wonderfully obscure music video of ‘Treehouse’ below too.
9. Boddika & Joy Orbison – ‘Froth’ / ‘Mercy’ (Sunklowun)
Following the infectious success of ‘Swims’, another top release of the year so far that we’ve implicitly included here, these two artists moved quickly to exploit the hype with the first 12″ on their collaborative label, Sunklowun. ‘Froth’ and ‘Mercy’ are the first two tracks in a new series of collaborative releases from the pair; who, since the gradual split of Boddika‘s previous project, Instra:mental, have formed a very natural production alliance. The subtlety of Joy O coupled with the perfectly manufactured, acid weight of Boddika’s sound has led to a project bearing something more than the sum of its parts.
8. Various Artists – ‘Kutmah Presents Worldwide Vol.2’ (Brownswood Recordings]
NTS DJ and artist Kutmah showcases the extents of his musical upbringing in this deeply varied and carefully selected compilation. Journeying from West Coast hip-hop and instrumentals to a cut from Glasgow’s star Hudson Mohawke, Kutmah shows exactly why there is so much love for everything he, Gilles Peterson and others have done with Brownswood and Worldwide in recent times.
7. Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka – ‘They!Live’ (50Weapons)
Like so many producers who re-locate to Berlin, Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka have made a conscious move away from the style of past productions; clearly influenced both by the ethos of 50Weapons, and the city’s atmosphere in general. ‘They! (Live)’ reveals itself slowly, taking a ambient slant on tech house and fusing it with intricate synths and the operatic vocals of Abigail Wyles. What this album lacks in dance floor appeal, it certainly makes up in its intensely delicate patience and musicality. Stream the album preview mix below.
6. Disclosure – ‘Tenderly’ / ‘Flow’ (Make Mine)
Disclosure have easily been the best breakthrough act of the year. As well as dropping an immense ‘old skool’ remix of ‘Running,’ a track from Jessie Ware’s new album, the two brothers making up Disclosure have toured with SBTRKT, pioneering their genuinely incomparable house-ish sound. Both tracks on the Make Mine release slowly build up to breathtaking drops, pleasantly complimented by uplifting vocals. It’s no surprise that the work of Disclosure has found its way to a mainstream audience via the Radio 1 playlists, such is the quality of the production.
5. Scuba – ‘Personality’ LP (Hotflush)
Despite arguably not being quite as well received as expected in the more traditional techno circles, Scuba‘s third album still easily warrants its place at number five. It’s definitely a bit of a mixed bag; the Hotflush boss confidently flirts between the powerful, opinion-dividing single ‘The Hope,’ and more upbeat techno tracks ‘Tulips,’ ‘Ignition Key’ and ‘July,’ via flashes of what we’re used to in ‘Dsy Chn’ and ‘Flash Addict.’
But who can blame him? Scuba said himself in an interview with Resident Advisor: “I’m just trying to enjoy myself and do things I hadn’t done previously, experiment with things and see what comes out. The results of that have been fairly dancey, quite poppy club music.” Perhaps the work of a producer whose extensive discography, over multiple aliases, has earned him the right to ignore what people expect.
4. Objekt – ‘Cactus’ / ‘Porcupine’ (Hessle Audio)
Industrially crafted for the dance floor, the lead track ‘Cactus’ is equally a staple in both techno and dubstep sets, always begging a crowd reaction. The B side ‘Porcupine’ carries the same weight, but delivers it in a more structured and traditional techno manner; giving DJs a distinct mixing option between the two. Two tracks with basslines so deep they demand to be played on a big sound system to be fully appreciated. Check out the release here, artwork below.
3. Addison Groove – ‘Transistor Rhythm’ LP (50Weapons)
Like many of his more recent releases, notably 2010’s infectiously popular Footcrab, Addison Groove‘s new album hovers somewhere between the progressively blurred boundaries of house, techno, juke and the likes; drawing equally apparent influences from his native UK bass scene, and that of his Chicago-based counterparts.
‘Transistor Rhythm’ moves sporadically from the more traditional techno sound of ‘Ass Jazz,’ to a more downtempo approach created by tracks like ‘Energy Flash Back’ and ‘Starluck’; impressively experimenting with all aspects of 808s and juked drum patterns on the way; best showcased by ‘Rudeboy’ and ‘Bad Things.’
2. Scratcha DVA – ‘Pretty Ugly’ LP (Hyperdub)
Scratcha DVA’s album is special because, unlike anything else i’ve included here, it completely surpasses the, now and again, limiting confines of London-centric, underground music. ‘Pretty Ugly’ is a piece of world music. John Talabot’s ‘fIN’ and Kutmah’s compilation could possibly claim some traits attributable to world music, but neither come close to DVA’s release in terms of global influences and appeal.
This is Leon Smart, over twelve tracks, defining an exact middle ground; between what his London-based, grime-fanatic, Rinse-FM-breakfast-regular supporters love him for; and what a worldwide audience should love him for. I don’t see this as an exhibition of his technical precision as a producer; its intrigue, instead, lies in the broken beat, occasionally rough, but most importantly, authentic production. A theme added to by the presence of an eclectic bunch of vocalists, including South African songstress, Zaki Ibrahim.
Watch the video for ‘Eye Know’ below, and hear the whole album via The Quietus here.
1. Burial – ‘Kindred’ EP [Hyperdub]
I couldn’t resist the temptation to make Hyperdub also responsible for the top release. One which also without doubt wins the prize for most eagerly anticipated. It’s the combination both of his elusive character and consistently overwhelming music that makes Burial‘s sound so revered. Even after a considerable stretch without much work to his name, there have been no stylistic or technical changes; the mood of the tracks remains identical from the previous two award-winning albums – delivering once again, a masterpiece in downtempo bass music.
It’s impossible to hear ‘Kindred’ as just a three track EP; its brilliance comes in its perfectly sustained ambience over thirty minutes. William Bevan drapes his stamp of dark synths and abstract samples over the clinical, miliatary sounding drums of ‘Kindred,’ over ‘Loner’s more uptempo equivalent and over the yawning bass stabs of ‘Ashtray Wasp’ to create an EP that justifies its immense hype.
Head over to the Hyperdub website to stream and buy the release.