Midfield General feat Linda Lewis
Reach Out (Crooked Man Remix 1)
I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of the 1998 original that spawned this delectable remix from the mighty Crooked Man, but thank goodness Skint records decided to dig it out 20 years on. 'Crooked Man Remix 1' (there are two more reworkings in the package) is a wonderfully expansive dose of neo-Balearic breakbeat, a sun-kissed blaze of lazy desert funk that just keeps coming and coming. Linda Lewis's little girl lost vocal is largely dispensed with, apart from the odd dreamy syllable floating gloriously through the mix.
Oxford young gun Hamdi steps up with an immaculately-produced kick and clap riddim that thrives on heavy atmospherics and moody low-end, even if it suffers a little from a listless, depressed kind of vibe. On remix duties, Kotei turns in a grimy reworking that adds percussive sparkle and muscular charisma to the picture. The EP is rounded out by bonus tracks 'Low' and 'New Wave', respectively a gnarly bassline offering and a washed out slice of bruising grime-chill.
There seems to be a leaning right now in studios across the land towards pushing bass music into ever more noisenik territory, to the point where the scene is heading into what can only be described as full-on industrial soundscapes. Freddie Martin's latest offering certainly doesn't hold back when it comes to layering on the nuclear-strength bass: title track 'Feel' and collab 'The Truth' (with bassline kingpin Bushbaby) both boast b-lines to sandpaper your face off, but 'Limbo' seems to be out to push the envelope even further into a kind of hellish futurism. Never mind purgatory, this is the sonic equivalent of having demons stab you with red hot pokers for four minutes and 40 seconds.
Big vocal anthem here from Bristol young gun Barely Royal, coming with a breakbeat garage flex on Foor's Yosh Records. This one's all about the splendid pitch-bent vocal refrains and swirling atmospherics over deep, deep b-line pressure. Gid Sedgwick's intense vocal might be a little emo for some, but there's a musicality here that's refreshing to hear in the current climate.
Breakbeats will never go out of fashion, but special praise needs to go to those who are able to manipulate them into fresh and forward-thinking new forms. Londoner Daze Prism here rips up a storm with intelligently spliced drum work, minimal sub, fx and atmospheric snatches of half-heard vocal. The result is a masterclass in broken beat innovation, a study in taking it all to the next level.
Winding up the jackhammer bass and drilling a hole straight through your cerebrum, the ever-adaptable Jaguar Skills lets loose with a grimy slice of noisenik bassline that will no doubt have rowdier dancefloors bouncing. MC Shakespeare's hyper-aggressive vocal sets it all off nicely, while the horror movie organ vibes on the breakdowns will have Hammer aficionados reaching for their crucifixes.
Yet more talent from the bass music hub that is Bristol. Archa here sends down a slice of mesmeric, sci-fi tinged breakbeat in the form of lead track 'Moonlight', which conjures up images of alien cityscapes populated by a strange insectoid race. On the flip, 'The One' is an abrasive dose of four-four bass that buzzes and fizzes along nicely in distinctly relentless and leftfield fashion.
Artic and Alaska of Melbourne crew One Puf have teamed up here under the name Exit99 for an old school lick that recalls the speed garage era. 'Ravers' blends four-four drums with womp style bass, brass stabs, junglist underpinnings and old school diva vox, while 'Step Away' plumps for a smooth, classic garage approach, with Rhodes keys and heavily swung percussion. Bonus remixes come from Smutlee and Coldpast, who rips 'Ravers' into a hyper-frantic electro-bass monster.
'Seize The Time'
Allow me to reminisce for a moment, as this track was on my very first DJ mix from 20 years ago. Now repackaged with new remixes, this big beat slammer also features a classic reworking from Sol Brothers, for those who remember. The new remixes are pleasant enough in a chunky space funk stylee: I particularly like Dirty Barry's wigged out, acid-fuelled high roller, while Jem Stone's stompy disco effort also does the business. But it's the original, with its synthy, minimal breakbeat groove and Blaxploitation vibed vocal samples, that still stands out.