Somewhere Shadows EP
Back in the dog-days of the 20th century there was a week-long festival down in Plymouth to celebrate the coming total eclipse of the sun. So convinced were the organisers that this much-heralded solar event would attract ravers in their tens of thousands to pay witness that they booked a seemingly neverending marathon of DJs lasting at least a week or more. By the fourth or fifth day, as the sun came up and the soundsystems slowly coughed into life, the sleep-deprived assembled throngs could be seen swaying gently on their feet, the last dregs of ecstasy sliding through their systems like quicksilver; the hazy, sunkissed beats the only thing keeping them from collapsing in a heap. Nixon's new EP is music for that moment, big soundsystem soul to revive your corporeal bad self by gently reattaching damaged synapses and waking up those dancing feet. Lead track 'Somewhere Shadows' is a vast open desert of deep, glistening breakbeats, 'Equipped Future' a rinsing, atmospheric slice of destructive proto-rave. 'God's Choir' sashays between warm, light-refracted chords and the rudest of junglist b-line energy, while the Morgan Freeman-sampling 'Beings Below' dips into scattershot rudecore of the finest vintage. This is an utterly sublime selection.
Echoes & Knight feat. Cordless
Rip-roaring ghetto bass flavours topped off with a rabbit punch of a ragga vocal, this is a hugely impressive offering from London badman Ben McKnight, all fizzing mid-range bass destruction, dubby atmospherics and booming low-end. On remix duties, Bristol's Archive turns in a killer carnivalesque beat while LiTek heads in a minimal tech-house direction.
'Minzu feat. MC Pean'
Second To None
Darkling, twisted soundscapes and a moody, dubbed out kick and percussion riddim are the order of the day on this latest journey into the brooding echo chamber of Manchester-based rudeboy Louis Richardson's mind. Pean's malevolent vocal ups the energy levels and elevates the whole track to peak-time relevance. "Hypho 666 bring the devil in", he spits, and this one definitely brings the evil in full effect.
'In Shadows Sampler EP'
The Stanton Warriors' Punks imprint has been slowly reinventing the breakbeat rubric for the past two years, with Texas maestro Left/Right right at the heart of this increasingly fresh and relevant take on a classic theme. And this five-track sampler for the artist's debut 'In Shadows' compilation shows just why the genre is no longer the ugly duckling of dance music. From the rinsing, minimalistic meta-jungle of Obscene Frequency's 'Rollin'' to the carnival beats, deep atmospherics and heavily effected diva vox of Cellardore's 'Can't Get 'Em' and on to the stripped back dystopian four-four/breakbeat hybrid that is Echo Knight's 'Blade Runner', there's a uniformity of spaced out frequencies here that's hugely pleasing to the ear. Rounding things off are Left/Right & Isenberg's own 'Heat', a booming kick and clap riddim with attitude in spades and a chord sequence on the breakdown that will have 'em shaking on the dancefloor, and the half-heard atmospheric garage lick that is Daze Prizm's 'Dream'.
''The Year Three Oh EP''
AC Slater's renowned Night Bass imprint releases yet another shadowy venture into the heart of 3am territory. Jay Robinson has a wiry, sinuous sound that cuts through the mix like a knife, here displayed impressively with the taut, minimalistic drive of 'Heiss' and the rugged ghetto house of 'Hussle'. A quirk-fuelled, booty-shaking collaboration with Dillon Nathaniel, 'SWYMGY', rounds off the package.
Hybrid Theory feat. Trilla
'VIP' must be Brummie bass titans Hybrid Theory's signature banger, and the remixes don't disappoint. B Squared delivers a breakneck-paced, industrial strength reworking, 'Skepsis' goes in hard on a grime house tip and Pelikann adds a healthy dose of his trademark synthy silliness. An excellent excuse to hear Trilla's killer vocal lick all over again in the dance, as if you needed one.
UK bass newcomers Midnight Phulin hammer out a muscular dose of rugged four-four, 'Droppin Suttin' coming through with the heavy grime vibes from an unknown MC on top of killa brass licks, sick percussion payoffs and deep sub. On remix duties, Barely Royal & Bunnie add class and epic splendour to their all-guns-blazing breakbeat reworking, while Tru Concept add bovver boy ghetto house stylings.