'R&G GOD 2'
2 Easy Records
More irresistible, melancholic trap-meets-grime bangs from production powerhouse Kid D, whose instrumental constructs stand up on their own — listen and maybe have a cry too.
'Dunya feat Jaykae'
This Birmingham meeting of minds isn’t a grime cut per se, but Jaykae goes in hard over an Afrobeats instrumental that recalls early J Hus. Where Stygs’s input lyrically might be thinner on the ground, Jaykae unloads his machine gun flow onto the tune.
'Top Dog Freestyle'
Over a beat produced by Silencer, this freestyle by the West London MC goes very, very hard. Here’s hoping ‘Mad In The Cut 3’ (the follow-up to two stellar mixtapes) is coming sometime soon...
'Lit Up '
Low Down Deep
The body of this track comes from the overpowering bassline, which acts as its hook and melody, with only a few drum switches to keep us alert. There’s no doubt that this track is simple, but sometimes the greatest things are the simplest. Deep, dark and gutter scraping filthy.
In our eyes, this little sister label has never released a substandard EP, continually showcasing fresh talents and gliding across sub-genre boundaries with rich authentic sonics. Here we find an itchy, glitchy roller full of deep, squelching, distorted lows. Our pick of the EP, however, is the fast-paced, breathless chase that is ‘Run’.
‘Absolutely’ is a middle-of-your-set kind of two-step roller that drops in and out of some truly gorgeous breakdowns. Use it to catapult into some classic ‘What’s In Your Handbag’ era Roska, mate. I definitely do still fuck with that tune.
'Area 10k Boys Riddim'
I don’t really know what type of music this even is, but I think there was a time when I would’ve bumped it at an aux chord party. Nigerian producer Ekiti Sound squeezes some really, truly weird shapes.
The Golden Filter
'All The Way In'
Dark synth-pop is The Golden Filter’s usual diet, but on their new ‘Dislocation’ EP, they go head over heels for electro on ‘All The Way In’, a brilliant, stripped bare mix of Penelope Trappes’ evocative spoken vocal and denuded bleeps and beats.
'Litungu (DMX Krew Remix)'
The originals from Per Martinsen’s legendary project, recorded in Tanzania, are good, but for this page, it’s DMX Krew’s remix that hits home. Full of skittering, swung percussion and a sinuous, unstoppable bass groove, it’s cool to hear him in electro mode again.
'Sound Test EP'
Tel Aviv's Red Axes jump into bed a second time with Erol Alkan's Phantasy Sound. 'Sound Test' is bravely sparse, yet completely captivating. The tension of it all is truly irresistible.
'A Ka Titine (Detroit Swindle Edit)'
Towering Caribbean house vibes from Guadeloupe's Gaoule Mizik, via Detroit Swindle, who give this percussive monster a dancefloor tilt. Watch the devastation unfold.
Poker Flat Recordings
Sonar Kollektiv and Âme cohort Eva Be gets murky with this for Steve Bug's Poker Flat. 'Delight' has a hoover bass for the ages, while 'Breathe' gets dubby with the big room stabs. Ace.
Hot 8 Brass Band
'Give Me The Night'
The brass band's band of choice (surely?) turn another classic into their inimitable own. This time it’s the king of the Ibanez guitar, George Benson, who gets the Hot 8 treatment. Not a six-string instrument in sight, though — as ever, it's raw horns, frenetic drums and good times all around.
Y-Bayani & Baby Naa & Their Band Of Enlightenment, Reason And Love
'Asembi Ara Amba'
Another quality release from the Berlin-based Philophon camp. Rising Ghanaian reggae star Y-Bayni eases you into 2019 with this slice of magical roots, and the backing band get their own airtime on ‘We Are The Band Of Enlightenment, Reason And Love’, showing what makes this a unique partnership.
Sticks & Stonez feat. Liv East
A classy filtered disco anthem from Defected affiliate Glitterbox. Brilliant follow-up to the label’s release of Candi Staton’s ‘Hallelujah Anyway’ that belts out the brass and rousing vocals from London’s disco chanteuse, Liv East.
Hoga Nord Rekords
Cold machine music from the talented Jamie Paton, also one half of post-punk duo Cage & Aviary. ‘Disk Memories’, his second release for Hoga Nord, channels the spirit of Ike Yard in these minimal, proto-techno trax. Superb.
Ever more time for EverLight’s output. ‘Voyager’ develops its atmosphere confidently, the pacing and build of which is spot on. Its progression leaves it with energy to burn, and the curiously tinkling riff that sits just above its mainline sets it both apart… and off!
Ferry Corsten & Ilan Bluestone
'We're Not Going Home'
The next notch on Ferry’s trance uniting UNITY project (it’s all in the title) is an Ilan Bluestone collab. For me, the hypnotic hook of Oakie team-up ‘Neto’ would be hard to beat but, flitting between four-four and two-four time signatures, 'We're Not Going Home's cool, well-written and realised melodies, and emotive moments, see it come surprisingly close.
Mario Piu & Matteo Marini
'The Otherside II '
As a bouncily bass-ridden, spoken-vocal hooked tech-trance romp, you’ll think you have ‘The Otherside II’s number early on. Right up until the midpoint, where it hangs a hard right and off the deep end into symphonics, attitudinally rock-ish male vocals and spacey analogue synths. Brilliantly diverse.
'I Was In New York/A Prayer For Maya Angelou'
The Channel regulars enter the new year with their fresh label venture Otis Records. Crowning this debut release are a brace of mid-tempo, NYC-inspired disco-not-disco/Balearic tracks that reference the unique Compass Point Studios sound of the late '70s and early '80s.
'Severn Songs 3: The River feat Yazz Ahmed'
Severn Songs Records
Part of a trilogy, split across three slabs of seven-inch vinyl, this lovely piece of shapeshifting UK jazz from multi-instrumentalist and producer Pete Cunningham strikes just the right balance between tradition and forward-thinking experimentalism. Jazz with a psych-kissed, electronic edge.
30th Century Records
The second single in as many issues to feature the production skills of Danger Mouse. Yes, yes, we know, but it is another damn fine song, and the first in four years for DM and The Shins' James Mercer.
Tuff Culture has been one of the most formidable producers of the year. He’s constantly bringing new layers to his sound, and this new sub-flexing beastie is an absolute head-turner if I’ve ever heard one. As always, there’s a myriad of garagey sounds from TC. This will have all the girls and boys getting down.
Bristol’s own Hoda exhibiting why a simple call-and-response groove is sometimes all you need to take your audience to the next level. There’s clearly some fancy production going on behind the scenes here, allowing the meat and two veg of this track to be glaringly simple while remaining acutely disruptive in the dance. Good stuff.
With bounteous amounts of badness dropping recently via Cheap Thrills, we’ve come to know Ryuken as a trusted source for splendid audible tuna. This new one on DJ Zinc’s famed Bingo Bass is a big beat-esque slice of bashment that will undoubtedly have you swinging from the knees upwards in a foolhardy disco trance.
'On & On (Cinthie Remix)'
The legendary ‘On & On’ gets a devilishly good remix from Berlin’s Cinthie, who offers up a version that hits harder than the original, but revels in the bouncing synth line, adding a jacking, percussive layer through the middle.
Silverlining’s ninth edition for his 'Dubs' series. Three healthy, housey techno bits — ‘Groundhog Rave’ gets the adrenaline going, ‘Stolen Baggage’ will see you well into the afternoon carry on, and ‘Spinach, Mystery And Insult’ is, quite possibly, the only description needed.
Niggemann takes us on a hypnotising house journey for his Crosstown Rebels debut, clearly inspired by his travels to Africa, with a pair of bold, big room sounds in ‘Zoulou’ and ‘Bwana’.
This rising American hardstyle producer has been on my radar since last year, with his raw, euphoric sounds. The breakdown is floaty and dreamy, before changing gear with a rapid paced melody and pumping kick when it finally drops.
Adaro & B-Front
'Touch A Star'
A clash of styles on this one, as two of the heavyweight bruisers from the raw scene offer a beautifully delicate vocal breakdown, followed by a thunderous lead melody and brutal kick-drum. Long anticipated by many, and finally released.
Q-IC & Ghost
'Desire Go Higher (G-Swatt & Dustin Hertz Remix)'
G-Swatt & Dustin Hertz team up together again for a re-fix of this jump style classic. So many ex-jump producers have moved over to hardstyle now, so it’s really cool to hear a modern sounding production that sounds fresh yet still remains faithful to the original.
'Flying Pyramids '
One of only three tracks you can hear so far from Sauce Heist's forthcoming full-length 'Diamond Dust Shoes', and so unhinged, I suggest when the album drops you actually listen to it straight, sober, absolutely clean. If you don't, I can't be held responsible for any potentially perilous derangement that ensues.
Defenders Of Style
'Dip & Dodge'
Leeds' finest hook up with Australian label Pang to drop their latest sickness (and it's fantastic to hear Must Volkoff on production duties). This single, the title track of their new album, is a bravely strung-out, almost ambient slab of transfixing doom-rap. Welcome back Wessies.
'School Run EP'
I PROMISE to investigate and feature WAY MORE female rappers on this page in 2019, especially when they're as convincingly on their game as Kahina is on this brilliant six-tracker. Great music, great conscious spitting, another UK female MC who should be a star. Get on it.
'Eel Behaviour: Sawtooth'
The fourth in the ‘Eel Behaviour’ series is also the most visceral: I Hate Models’ ‘The Suffering Self’ is a nihilistic peak-time slammer, while on ‘I Am He’, Dave Tarrida delivers a noisy, broken beat workout, resounding to acrid 303s and dense, pile-driving percussion.
The first EP from the Ambulance pair also marks the debut release on the festival affiliated-Open Ear label. Fittingly, ‘Caitríona Chéile’ is a wiry piece of electronica, peppered with euphoric stabs, while on 'Douche Noir', they drop an effective, albeit left-of-centre, acid techno track.
'Dust Storm Remixes'
Great to see that Plaid have not lost their magic touch, turning Oliver Way’s 'Dust Storm' into a kaleidoscope of colourful, evocative melodies and tight electro drums. Exzakt and BFX also impress with their no-nonsense, frenetic take on the same track.
'Consequence Of You feat Cory Friesenhan (Elevven Vocal Remix) '
Friesenhan drops a punchy rework of the excellent PROFF original, that kicks off deep before provocatively hurling an abrasive bassline into the fray. There’s a dub mix available too for those preferring to strip out the vocal.
The South American producer debuts on Colorize with a beauty of a record that’s punchy and deep, the lovely soundscape work complementing its pulsing bassline and evocative synths.
'Can’t Remember EP'
Canadian duo Botnek are just as good at churning out tech-house stompers as they are big room weapons, though the best assets of both styles are on display on this stomping EP.
'A Heads Excursion'
I’ve lost count of the various edits/reworks/re-rubs of Talking Heads' timeless classic ‘Once In A Lifetime’ that have passed through these doors in the last 15-20 years. This one, however, from UK legends IG Culture and Alex Phountzi, has a definite air of quality about it.