The record reviews from the print edition – written by Nemeton, Eun, Kovert, CF
Sub/Version Digital Releases
After releasing many storming, genre breaking drum n’ bass 12”s, Sub/Version is now available as special single track digital mp3 releases exclusively (for now at least) through the Praxis ithinkmusic mp3 online shop. First in the series is Kovert’s “Staying Human” track that follows closely in sound and feeling to his last killer release on Sonic Belligeranza. Kovert injects some critical samples from the “1984” movie to frame the pounding beats into a combative groove. S/V 302 aptly named “terror apparat” by Amboss starts off barely contained, morphing into rave induced techno dnb leaving you pretty warped after 4.5 minutes. Next on Sub/Version digital will be the long awaited Vile Enginez remix of cf’s “fuel to the fire” S/V 4 track, another by Amboss, and a mega-mix of all S/V releases by Baseck!
Killing Sheep 11
After the crap KS10 by Facs & Fon, it is refreshing to get another track which we’ve wanted for ages but was only heard on some hard dnb mixes. The Outside Agency gets it right with “The Solution” on the a-side, mixing more 4/4 hardcore elements with slightly more broken beat arrangement and a serious dose of rave. While in the end it turns slightly repetitive the track definitely works for some cross-over mixing. The b-side “wait your turn” is for the reviewer completely unconvincing, but others are sure fans of it. The Outside Agency starts out with what is dubstep but definitely on the harder edge, however the track then after a bit of distortion is straight hardcore mixed with the synth line from the dubstep section and then going into the most cliché aspects of hardcore, then suddenly back to dubstep leaving the feeling that this is actually two different tracks smashed together in an unconvincing fashion. It ends with a short snippet of political comedian Stephen Colbert dissing Australia, so this is a joke… or is it?
Appearing on white label at the moment, but to be officially released in March 2011, is the newest Praxis 12” by Cortex. Many people were struck by the extreme sounds of the last Praxis 44 Anonymous Series Vol. 1, and had to work out the meaning of anonymity in the context of the 12” and in the larger sphere of music production and distribution in general. Cortex is deploying multiple strategies at once to again challenge all the assumptions of the “listener”. Particularly striking is the extreme poles of sound at the center of this concept 12”. On the a-side, not disparate, but not exactly functioning together are intermingling dynamic layers of noise, deep drumming, undercurrents of bass, strange almost ethereal tones that go….where?…and suddenly fall into a contemplative moment then are hit by seemingly endless crescendo loops that transform ever so slightly morphing expectations and desires. The b-side commences in full force extremes, with oscillating hypnotic noises that are at first initially cut suddenly by drum beats and heavy booming bass but then play with each other in a supreme sarcasm that makes one smile in glee. What is the relation between the two b-side tracks? Why does b2 immediately cut in giving the listener no breathing space? Pounding industrial beats with pulsating grooves and intermediate noise combine at different speeds and intensities for a dance-floor killing event. Like the other tracks, b2 slams any genre questions like “is this breakcore, is this noise, is this hardcore, is this extreme atmospheric soundscapes?”, which is of course a rumination dealt with in unexpected multiple ways by Praxis label and artists. Check it and freak out.
Christoph de Babalon:
A World of my Own
Christoph de Babalon delivers again another impressive and truly solid album titled “a world of my own”. This release is not abrasive nor exactly dark in the way of the previous “Scyllia and Charybdis” album on CFET, thus through difference CdB demonstrates his virtuosity of sound. The a-side offers two strong tracks, the “golden halo” is a good description of the feeling in this contemplative but driving idm influenced track and “calls of the drowned” turns more dark and ominous in a compelling manner. A3 “overhead” somehow imo is the least convincing track on the album. The b-side starts with probably the most hard hitting track combining deep droning bass with intricately programmed breaks. “china death” is a beautifully thoughtful and evocative interlude showing the range of feeling leading to the final “long goodbye” which only offers more challenges. The release also features a front cover drawing by Ian Liddle that depicts very well the intention of this album.
Broken Note/Starkey – Ruff 08
‘War in the Making’ is a colossal track with aggressive, metallic sounds. Dirty, heavy, broken up dubstep – highly recommended. Starkey contributes ‘No Struggle,’ a slightly softer track but does not lack in atmospheres or groove.
Broken Note: Fueling the Fire EP – Damage 12.011
Here the producers from South London veer away from their evocative dubstep sound to more conventional techno dnb in ‘Pyrotek’ (A), while ‘The Fury’ (AA) makes the 12” with some hard hitting dnb in the vein of Current Value, veering between melodic interlude and deluge of beats and amen breaks.
Broken Note: Let ‘em hang / Meltdown – Ad Noiseam 113
The 12” opens with a slow dubstep oriented track but still hardhitting and different enough from 16 Bit that there as of yet is no repetition. Note that Ad Noiseam’s foray into video production/dissemination (see Larvae’s tour video blog) continues with the commission of a music video to the track. The product leaves one wondering what the point is, and the artist notes that 95% of the visuals were made based on his algorithmic programming equations: http://vimeo.com/6041347. The b-side offers some repetitive pounding beats veering from more metal orientation to techno dnb. These tracks are also on their first cd ADN 117.
V/A: Feed the Machine 01
Originally appearing on a few test presses in 2008, the official release was made in 2009 on black vinyl and 100 yellow 12”s. The sub-series Feed the Machine of NRFT is dedicated to paying respects to the originators of breakcore, so the first release is for Somatic Responses and includes artists who see themselves as or are viewed to be influenced by and engaging with the sounds of the Healy brothers. While the whole concept of the Feed the Machine series can be criticized for a basic linear approach to artistic influence and creativity, the tracks themselves are hard hitting. Somatic Responses open the record with a track more in the lines of the previous “Pounded Mass” release rather than their new dubstep direction, and Prometheus Burning contribute an abrasive and complex industrial-breakcore anthem. B1 “Diminution” by Minion goes in a different direction, combining broken beats with hardcore sound and sci-fi synth lines. Valav closes out the record with “Nextend” – subtle and dynamic demonstrating real flare. Next up is a homage to Christoph de Babalon.
Monkey Tool 10
Experimental, mixing a lot of unusual elements together, a034 creates an evocative record making us wonder how all the parts fit together. An impressive new 12” after his last excellent vinyl release “Abstract” on Full Volume Agency. A1 made with bbs is a noisy mixture of breakbeat and hip hop elements while A2 played inside out goes totally in another stratosphere with moody dub soundscapes created with mbst8. B1 hard hitting, noisy, and highly textured broken beat track, B2 plays inside out and is an unusual end or rather new beginning as the 12” is part of the larger digital release “clusters. cells of the same grid” with 13 collaborative tracks that can be downloaded off www.a034.it . White vinyl made for connoisseurs of all extreme sounds. Highly recommended!
Against / Rust on Metal
Storming vinyl release, one of the most noisy, abrasive and melancholic dubstep made recently – B1 is a noise/abstract crashendo that pushes the boundaries of the genre – no compromises here. These tracks are also released on the cd on 3by3. These tunes were originally to be released on Werk Discs (like they’re previously great 12” HI Tek ep), and is followed by another new 12” on 3by3.003 with 2 more tracks off the cd. Highly recommended!
Cymbalism 02 WL (Cymb.step 02)
A1. “Square” by Excision and Redline kicks off the record with a dance floor pounding dubstep track with scattered broken beats. B1. “Maraude” by Excision and Endophyte. B2. by Pure Phase is a slow moving noisy and crunchy tune full of distortion. Nice release from the Nebraska label.
Amalgam Recordings 01
New hard dnb label run by Simon Underground, the first release is by dark tek stepper Throttler giving us what we like best. AA. “Overbrewed”- even with the numerous male grunt samples here that also pervade hard dnb tracks generally greatly lessening the tune(s) appeal, is nevertheless a fluid mix of more down-tempo feeling and atmospheres with stepping beats. Solid tracks here, and the NRFT/Abusive Consequences release by Throttler is equally proficient.
V/A:Kore Brain Records 00
Fire at Work opens this new Roman label’s first 12” with pounding beats overlaid with melodic elements and plenty of distortion and noize. This harder edge is pushed a lot further with the remix of the Undertakers’ track by Anticracy and Fire at Work effectively meshing scattery beats with aspects of their grind metal intensity. Side B by Danny C is for those wanting a mix of hard/break/core, but doesn’t really satisfy in contrast to the more experimental a-side.
Enduser: Manoeuvre EP – Soothsayer Recordings 12
A-side Remixed by DJ Hidden opens with typical idm ambiances encumbered by scratches that in the end don’t really seem to connect with the rest of the track once it builds up into a fairly satisfying yet contained hard dnb with all the sound parameters of hidden. AA . Skeksis gives a darker hardcore tinged reinterpretation going in a totally different path and thankfully eschewing the standard format for hard dnb tracks.
A Murder of Crows
While one could totally live without the ‘murder’ samples, a1 offers up wobbly bass galore and slamming rhythms. The record gets way better on the flip side but still suffers from using already overused samples. But b1 and b2 are hard hitting dubstep tracks with lots of noise and distortion. Dirty!
Current Value and Dean Rodell: Sparse Land – Subtrakt 006
After wondering for some time when CV would finally get on the bus and make dubstep, it has happened through his collaboration with Berliner Dean Rodell of other techno fame. The sounds are similar, the metallic quality of the beats match very much with his dnb tracks, but the bpm is obviously slowed way down and beat formation going in another direction within the confines of the ‘genre’. Honestly quite refreshing with the seemingly innumerable CV dnb releases (how many 2×12”s has he made?) since he redefined his sound in late 2005/06. A2 is a remix by Balkansky of A1 (one can’t avoid the bad piano-like melodies), while the b-side really rocks with crunchy bass and standardized beats. Recommended!
V/A: Pizza 4 Seasons
+ Belligeranza 05
A bizarre release, and therefore right in line with the sublabel’s intent to bring out noise and ideas. A1 by Balli mixes some intense noise with samples of all sorts for a typically jarring effect. A2 by Bruital Orgasme contributes minimalistic, subtle noise kind of reminiscent of certain old Hands Production releases. A3 by Zr3a tests some shrill frequencies while a4 by System hardware abnormal creates a pretty freakish rhythmic entanglement. All the tracks are mashed up in a mega mix on side b for pure mayhem. And one can’t fail to notice the picture disc image of 4 season pizza on the a-side and pizza crust on the b-side. Weird!
Mouse and No Name
Its worth picking up this speedcore release with the Michelson sisters appearing for the first time together on one 12”. A1 by No Name suffers from some bad samples but generally is a decent track, while a2 is a fast paced tekno oriented track till the end heading into her typical speedcore sound. B-side by Mouse is hard hitting speedcore noise full of dark ambience with b2 ratchets up the bpms.
Nanotek: Freak 31
“Never say die” is Nanotek’s tekno dnb track really reminiscent of limewax until half way in when things turn darker. B-side “angels of truth” is where nanotek does it more interesting for a bit with a stuttering and broken up track until half way through when the beat structure turns more conventional. still on white label.
Relatively few concept albums are released and are therefore sorely lacking, but based on this criteria this 12” is quite confused. The a-side is a totally uninteresting dnb track by Randomer that shows one aspect of the alphacut label. One wonders why this track was put with the challenging sounds on the flip side. The b-side contains 111 locked grooves with 36 grooves at 33 rpm and the rest at 45 rpm divided into 18 groups of 6 and one group of 3 grooves. Lots of interesting sounds, noises, and patterns in many musical styles from artists known and unknown. The b-side is definitely useful for djs and requires active listening if you want to hear the locked groove of a particular artist. The release is celebrating 10 years of alphacut records in great packaging with orange vinyl and 2-tone cut-out silkscreen cover. Useful to compare with the locked groove release on RRR also reviewed in datacide 11.
Bruits de Fond 17, Migouri 05, Théâtre 019, Saucisses Lentilles 06
This split release put out in collaboration with more than a few labels needs to be seriously turned up and eq-ed, as especially the a-side sounds extremely muddy. L’echelle de mohs has two tracks on the a-side, with the second one veering between extreme noise and drones. Solar Skeletons’ track opens up with subtle chimes and enigmatic vocals, then builds to a warped repetitive post-rock reminiscent groove. The second segment of the b-side is an intense cacophony of extreme noises and full throttled vocals pushed forward by repetitive beat loop and somewhat less interesting guitar element. As always, Solar Skeletons create some serious intensities.
Following from the excellent releases from Cloaks on their label 3by3 distributed by Baked Goods, Dead Fader produces both a 12” and cd. Dead fader’s first 12” is somewhat mixed in its 2 tracks. The a-side ‘autumn rot’ is an interesting dubstep idm-laden track. The b-side ‘no thief’ offers a sparse sound, basic beats with some real crunchy noise and distortion more reminiscent on the cloaks tracks. This track offers some great elements but the simplistic beat structure leaves quite a bit to be desired. We look forward to more releases by dead fader, especially after their ‘electronic explorations’ session (#97).
The a-side is a not-to-interesting half-time dnb ‘polar position’ track from current value. With so many other tracks by CV that are no doubt better and should be released, this seems like a waste of vinyl. The b-side is ‘northern lights’ by machine code doing what dean rodell and CV do often together, which is some repetitive but dancey techno dnb. A release that can be skipped since it sounds like a lot of their other tracks.
Baseck – gameboy thrashin’ turntable
Baseck of Darkmatter Soundsystem produces a slick 31-minute mix for download that features explosive technical skills and jump up tunes that will rock any home dancefloor. This mix features Baseck’s gameboy music mixed together with extreme noise turntable scratching and various other noise/sound machines along with occasional harsh vocal screaming. The excellent mp3 cover designed by Marci shows some of the equipment Baseck uses to produce his unusual sounds. Another great thing is that Baseck’s tracks and mixing can’t be constrained by any particular genre, instead he’s demonstrating the possibilities of no boundaries in hard electronics. This mix has already been downloaded more than 15,000 times from his website! Some of the tracks in this mix also appear on the Baseck+Sonic Death Rabbit cd ‘Creatures’ on Subconscious Communications. Many of the rare, old Baseck mixes originally put out on tape and cd are available for download at baseck.net. Check it!
This Australian label has put out many excellent releases including Mystification, Paul Blackout etc over the years. Skull’s only other released track is on manticore 3. Hardline 24 is a solid: the a-side ‘dynamic culture’ is not so dynamic – only offering one sound which is half time programming with a hard hitting double bass-drum interspersed with some hip-hop oriented vocals. The b-side ‘hymnen’ is a real fast paced track with interesting beat programming, and will definitely move everyone on the dance floor.
Here’s another unusual and challenging various release titled ‘dumbsteppers ep’ out of Italy that has no interest in typical genre oriented tracks. A034 opens the record with hard hitting beats that work in tandem with the evocative classical elements. Despite having released very sparsely on vinyl, hyena offers up a satisfying track that veers between dubstep, dancehall and ritual drumming. The b-side is also very strong with the opening track by manual.destruction combining choir singing with some noisy, very glitchy beat programming. Mbst8 pushes the weirdness further with slow rhythms and strange sounds completing this compelling release.
Krusha’s last full 12” was in 2006 on Barcode, so the American Guerilla Recordings release is long overdue. The a-side track ‘guilty’, after the typical intro, is hard hitting with some nice multilayered elements and thankfully rather sparsely using the male grunt sample. The flip side ‘black Monday’ is an atmospheric, unusual sounding hard dnb track with overtones of metal that is contained rather than having a predictable crescendo.
Signal Flow Podcast 6
Diskore of Darkmatter Soundsystem teams up with another LA local Broken Rules and his label Signal Flow to put out 56-minute dj mix for download. About two new Signal Flow mixes, mostly in the realm of hardcore, are produced by a variety of artists every month. With dj mix tapes and cd mixes more or less obsolete for some time now, mixes for download are the way to reach a wide audience and also allow the artists and label to communicate a message and hard-hitting sound. Diskore adds a much needed genre bending mix to the Signal Flow lineup. Starting off with some gritty dubstep like Cabuder and Molez to more stomping industrial in Fiend’s Broken Rules remix to a sly Squire of Gothos track plus more mixed together in 16 minutes, you’ll realize the next 40 minutes will continue to figure technical, seamless mixing skills and true musical diversity. Not to be missed are other diskore mixes online at soundcloud.com/diskore.
Third in the ‘crossbreed definition series’, the a-side produced by DJ Hidden and Current Value has been heard in many a digital mix. ‘they are human’ is an interesting collaboration bringing the best elements from both prolific artists. Not exactly a break-neck track, but nevertheless excellent to now have on vinyl. The b-side ‘senseless society’ track by DJ Hidden and Switch Technique opens with a lightweight intro, and then goes to pretty boring 4/4 beats that’s typical of Outside Agency, then descending into a cheesy breakdown that is the sometime sound of Hidden. This side doesn’t show that Switch Technique has much to offer, as his other releases aren’t very interesting either.
There are three editions to Imminent’s great 2009 album – super limited (and long sold out) ‘collector’ wood box with a sticker and some plastic design element along with the cd, then the 12 track digi-cd, and the 12”. Don’t forget that hymen also sold out of the whisky drinking glass etched with an imminent design, which was marketed with some extremely (unintentionally) amusing promo photos of the glass at different lighted angles and filled with whisky. All this is a reminder of the album title ‘cask strength’. We of course are glad to see Hymen release something good on vinyl that is actually provocative unlike the last vinyl release of End.user (or other co-releases with CockRockDisco), and after such a slow down from hymen’s ‘successful’ marketing period of 2001-2004. Imminent Starvation was the first artist to release on hymen vinyl back in 1997, and Oliver Moreau is still today making a wide range of hard sounds bridging many genres. The 12” opens with the extreme splintered track ‘gari’ that has some weird female vocal to it, and will be for fans of Xanopticon. A2 is very reminiscent of the Imminent Starvation sound. A3 is a hard hitting industrial breakcore track that has some harsh noises, synths and real momentum. The b-side opens with the ‘rubbs’ track that is immediately full throttle and slowly descends into some atmospheric elements that is key to imminent’s sound. The last track is fast paced industrial sounding a lot like sonar and other standard hymen artists, and is therefore the weakest track but still fine enough. The cd offers many more slamming tracks than the vinyl.
The barcode podcasts started in 2008 and since then have released mixes approximately once a month by the most prominent hard dnb acts, as well as artists straddling the genre like the Teknoist. With Barcode/Bware not having released vinyl since 2009, the filthcasts are making an impact for those more into digital collecting. Filthcasts get downloaded in high volumes, but unfortunately the quality of each mix is quite varied. Filthcast presents itself as the source for the newest, hardest dnb that is often unreleased as the artists share amongst each other their newest tracks and remixes, but the filthcasts can be quite tame. Filthcast 30 by Donny was just released in December 2010, and isn’t exactly a ‘triumphant return’ as is marketed. Filthcast at is best is done by Machine Code (#22), DJ Hidden (#20), which are both excellently mixed and totally rocking. Also good but at times mangled by a dubious track here and there are the mixes by Thrasher (#23), and less satisfying Gancher+Ruin (#28). Panacea’s filthcast (#26) was horrible and cringe-worthy, while Dub Element’s contribution (#29) can be easily skipped. Nevertheless, each month we look forward to hopefully hearing a new, hard mix.
Much more mainstream than Filthcast is the Electronic Explorations podcast/radioshow run by Rob Booth with a little celebrity help from Mary Anne Hobbs. EE covers a wide range of music genres-idm, dubstep, dnb, grime, electro, tekno, and even ‘breakcore’ artists like Bong-ra. EE is definitely a place to reach a wide audience and even get some ‘fame’ either online, in the more mainstream music press, and maybe even some vinyl sales. Once and awhile there is some interesting sounds like parts of Dead Fader’s mix as well as Combat Recordings. EE #119 by Combat Recordings is singled out here because it is using the podcast format in a more challenging way. This is an audio-visual experience showcasing a 29 minute mix coordinated together with video. The mix opens with Dr. Octagon and scenes of a breakdancer on the street, and is varied between some darker dubstep, and more techno and dubby sides of the genre heavily featuring various types of vocals. The coloration of the video based on white, black, yellow and red definitely makes for dynamic A-V feeling, but I personally found the preponderance of images of dancers to be way too obvious, and therefore not that interesting. Nevertheless, the concept for this type of A-V podcast is great, and is definitely bringing the party to your computer (or more likely iphone), as the visual elements have been shown at parties around Europe with Combat Recordings on the lineup.
Broken Note – War In The Making / No Struggle – Ruff 08
Broken Note – Dubversion / Mortal Bass – Ruff 06
Massive, bad and heavy breakstep/dubstep tunes on what turned out to be the most interesting label in the peace-off anti cartel. Although showing elements of the glitchy attention deficit disorder that most breakcore producers seem to struggle with, these tunes hold together well, particularly ‘War in the Making’, a punishingly heavy track that following a dark atmospheric intro punctuated by nervous amen fills, spreads terror with huge, searing, twisted bass and loud clear production that smashes the dance. Big!
In the death car
Instant classic coming in the form of ‘Chainsaw Calligraphy’. Opening, of course, with the sounds of a chainsaw before blasting high pitched oscillations over halfspeed dubstep beats, gradually getting wonky and slowing down before the chainsaw cuts in and the tune drops hard again. The other two cuts might sound good at the disco, but for me they’re a waste of wax.
King Cannibal – Let the night Roar – Ninja Tune ZenCD151
Ninja Tune? In datacide?? What?!?!? Don’t NT only release that rubbish loungey hip-hop bollocks? It seems KC was lured to Ninja Tune following some nasty post-techstep, post-rave hybrid 12”s on Rag and Bone (reviewed in D10) and Combat. Sound familiar? Hmm, cool independent act blasts a couple of strong EPs then signs to a major and, well… we wait with baited breath for the killer album that said artist now has all the time in the world to produce owing to the $$ advanced. Of course the label wants the longplayer quick before this hot new artist sinks from the headlines of the celebrity music mags. And the album? Well, it usually turns out to be more fillers than killers, and most of it already relased on a series of 12”s. But, in this case, hidden away in the couple of unreleased tunes is the smashing ‘A shining force’: broken hardcore and breaks tinged with tech-step memories. Very, very cool.
V/A – Abri De Defense Passive – Cavage 14
Cavage’s tribute to Albert Hoffman following his death in 2008. Cool psychedelic noise and beats that reinvigorates one of the more interesting labels to come from the heady days of breakcore innovation. Also features some very cool artwork.
V/A Base Mobile, Turbo Daddy, Ghetto 75018 – Explore Toi 69/Son Urbaine 11
Explore Toi going crazy with what sems like a release a week. Very limited releases, with only 100/150 pieces or so. This one’s worth picking up for the ‘old-skool’ sounding breakcore track, ie rough and ready heavy kicks and breaks in an intensified drum and bass style.
Donny – Fucking Offensive EP – Barcode 06
Not particularly offensive, unless we’re talking about the bad artwork that comes with this release, but a nice addition to the Barcode catalogue all the same. Pressed on bright green vinyl and featuring four cuts of distorted, disjointed drum and bass.
Donny/CV Donny/DJ E – Drill/Dark Thoughts
Now we shall begin! Drill: highly anticipated and worth the wait; powerful halfspeed mashdown that gradually works in faster breaks over smashing bass. Seriously heavy!
Anonymous Series Vol 1
Following the failed attempts to commercialise ‘breakcore’, and a number of pathetic attempts by artists to be pop-stars, Praxis releases the first part of a 3 volume set of new-school core that in a world of endless self-promotion, eg myspace etc, aims to remind us that personality-cult only serves to obscure the musical object. A mixture of noise and raw breakcore, how it should be. Packaged in a plain black sleeve and limited to 300 copies. Essential.
Incredibly 500 noise loops per side! Have fun attempting to flick the needle on to the next groove, barely discernible from the previous. Limited to 1000 copies with each cover hand produced and no two covers the same. Essential purchase for gramophiles.
CV 2012: The year of silence – Tech Freak LP 04
What should have been an incredible epic culmination for CV, falls a bit flat. In contrast to Limewax’s long player for Tech Freak which collected together tracks made over a number of years, CV seems to have knocked these out a bit prematurely. Although the LP holds together with a machinic, metallic sound across all the cuts, it’s lacking that bit of something extra. Out of 10 tunes spread over 5 vinyls there’s only really a couple of heavy tunes that stand out: The Ladder, a half speed pounder that fires intense, rolling percussion over extended bass hits; and Botfight: jerky insistent pressure that forces the track on. These tunes are cool and very playable, but really this should have been a monster release.
Cloaks – Against/Rust on Metal – 3By3 01
Cloaks – Junk/RFID – 3By3 03
Cloaks – Versus Grain – 3by3 04
Cloaks first appeared on the Werk label in 2007, and showed immediate genre perverting potential. Since starting their own label, 3By3, and signing JK Flesh, Oyaarss and more recently Dead Fader, Cloaks have shown an interesting reinvigoration of the label concept, or at least that they have some kind of vision. Collected together on ‘Versus Grain’ are four tracks previously released on vinyl (3By3 01 and 04) plus another 5 cuts. Cloaks focus on overdriving the ‘dubstep’ framework, infecting the heavy beats with caustic noise and distortion. I can’t stop playing ‘Rust on Metal’, a track that increasingly builds with searing shrill intensity over concrete beats. Looking forward to the 3by3 Oyaarss release!
Oyaarss – A’la Holeage/Cloaks remix – Abstraction 01
Wicked debut release from Latvian artist Oyaarss, and first release on new Greek label Abstraction. A really refreshing release that operates in the darkest, coldest breakstep margins, mixing crushing industrial rhythms, jungle breaks, bleak atmospheres and noise, and all produced around the onefourzero mark for the dubstep/breakstep DJs to freak the floor with. On the flip Cloaks provide a remix which ramps up the distortion levels, but for me loses the precision of the original. Nice cut as well, and ships with plain black labels! Highly recommended.
Bong-Ra – Megasaurus/ Gargantuan – Ruff 10
Killer breakstep from Bong Ra coming with a junglistic, dark-rave aesthetic. Megasaurus comes across as something like Suburban Bass meets Coldrush at around 140bpm. Nice spacious production which gives the pitched-down overlayed breaks and bass loads of room to breath. Much more into this than Bong-Ra’s recent metal tunes. Heavy!
You can’t play God EP
Double pack released just prior to his full length on TechFreak, and it’s surprising that some of these cuts didn’t make it onto the album. Includes the killer ‘Grey Steel’, which after an atmospheric sci-fi intro, unleashes an avalanche of pressurised bass, ringing with ride cymbals, before picking up the pace with rapid fire, truncated breaks; ‘The Unknown’: abstracted, surging, harsh industrial breaks, tempered by not-dark-enough atmospherics; and ‘Neo-Funk’ produced with Spktrm, that takes a more sideways approach, mixing up half-speed beats, big snares and snatches of saxophone, before smashing in full-speed distorted 909 breaks. A wicked collaboration that combines CV’s strong production with a more varied track structure.
Andy Skopes/The Sith -Drop The Truth / Murderous Rage – Soothsayer 11
Smashing, energetic dark jungle tear-outs that blend old and new school ideas into floor wrecking combinations. For me ‘Drop the truth’ works best, pummelling 808 subs underneath switching jungle breaks in an updated gritty ’97 style.
Tech Itch – Devils House/Death Jazz VIP
Tech Itch 54
Deep heavy, heavy subs and insistent, surging breaks on ‘Devils House’. Another understated, claustrophobic killer from Tech Itch that works dark bass and atmospherics around sideways breaks. I never really understood the fuss about Death Jazz, when the original appeared on the TI 50 double, and the VIP still leaves me unconvinced.
Moving further interzone, are we seeing some kind of recession driven resurgence of broken-noisecore? Cloaks continue their mangling of slow crushing heavy riddims and harsh noise with a mini LP of five cuts available on vinyl or as a digital download. Although getting lumped into the dubstep/grime genres in online stores, Cloaks have moved further into the margins and this is more inline with the broken, noisy industrial rhythms that were infecting europe during the pre-breakcore 90s. Fierce, uncompromising and recommended.
DJ Hidden – Empty Streets (VIP)/Times like these (VIP) – Killing Sheep 08
Donny/Of God – Amputation/Grieve – Killing Sheep 09
Facs/Fon – Demon Eyes/Bass come out so clear 10
Latest batch of releases from Killing Sheep. The classic Hidden track ‘Empty Streets’, originally released on Fear Records in the mid-90s, is here updated and refixed into a hardcore/harsh DnB hybrid that keeps the original devastating synth-line, but now sweeps it over razor sharp kicks and breaks. It shows how clean Hidden’s production has become since the Fear releases, and in some ways leaves me wanting the grit and rough production of the original, which in my view added a claustrophobic inner-city feel to the tune. Donny makes his first appearance on Killing Sheep with a snare and bass track that takes the use of the macho urrh/grunt to the limit, and for me all the grunts kill the tune On the flip, however, Of God drop a nasty sideways sci-fi roller. Then lastly old-school junglist Facs reappears with a kind of Mutant-Jazzish flavour that also sounds like it was made at the end of the 90s: switching, dirty rolling breaks over gritty reeses. It’s backed by a bass heavy dark jungle roller from Fon.
Kitech – Worlds End/Crypt Creature – Amalgam 002
Kitech – Worlds End (VIP)/Magma Hate Lick – Amalgam 004
Kitech – Start again/The destroyer – Obscene 22
New kid on the Freak block (after dropping a couple of releases on Amalgam) Kitech, kind of fills the Limewax void since Limewax’s production levels shrunk to virtually nothing this last year. Also clearly heavily influenced by Limewax’s earlier tunes, operating on a similar brutal DnB tip mixing up broken, harsh breaks, big snares, bass bombs, snatches of noise and other audio strangeness. Kitech hasn’t claimed his own style yet, but this new young UK artist looks like one to watch.
Mouse/No Name – Destruction -4
Is there no end to the Michelson sisters desire to produce militant dark hardcore? Here on experimental hardcore label Destruction the sisters go back to back searing our ears with those relentless high-speed compressed kicks and cut-up techniques, but we have to ask, is it still relevant?
Alpha Omega / Sumone / LXC – Concrete Pillows/Rhythm Machine/Lock In Alphacut 007
Doomy, sideways, dubstep influenced DnB that cuts that bit deeper. Alpha Omega takes a simple offbeat rhythm made up of pitched down amen hits and gives it an almost industrial feel, using it to punctuate a cavernous atmosphere. Sumone on the flip drops a slowing evolving sideways tune that is layered with dark vox and mixes well with Amit.
Noiz-Slashback-Yellow Machines 004
Noiz is developing a well deserved reputation as one of the go-to guys for proper heavyweight dancefloor tunes.Since his early industrial stepping output on Rottun his productions have opened out into savage breakbeat driven funk,often fetishising 91/92 era UK hardcore,but forcing that dynamic into the 21st century.
‘Slashback’ arrives in the form of a remix package featuring the original and reworks by Threnody,Full Spektrum,Blackmass Plastics and label owner Scan One.
The original mix is a linear floorfiller doing all the right things at the right time.Haunted atmospherics build into a jackhammer bassline and breaks tearout that just flows really well in the mix.Like all Noiz tunes production is tight and clear, distortion is applied like a scalpel shaping the physical effects of the crunching riffs and hoovers with disturbing precision.
The Full Spektrum remix chops everything up like an E crazed butcher.Rinsing the edits and delivering a very fun to mix take on the original.Sub Fm veteran Threnody spaces things out a touch with a mix that deconstructs and reassembles the tune like a lego kit. Blackmass Plastics goes the techno route with a 909 driven mentasm warp out. Finally Scan One turns things into a darkside 5am stripped down stepper with a wicked bassline and some cavernous echoing warehouse hoover action.
Its good to know that at least in Serbia they still make ‘music for huge space arenas’
Syndetic 001 -various artists
Kicking off new the vinyl based label from Noiz and co. is this 4 tracker features fresh new material from the harder darker side of tracks.The concept behind the label is to give todays artists whose music is directly inspired by old skool hardcore an opportunity to get their tracks on that original and still best format;wax.
Full Spektrums ‘The Beginning’ hacks up 4/4 kicks with classic breaks and hits in a mad b-boy stylee,sounding nicely future/retro and packed with energy.Scan One drops ‘Angels’,a stripped down and stealthy stalker of a tune,switching up breaks and bleeps all with some serious subbage and doomy vibes.Gunjack and Noiz team up on ‘Mukashi no Ningen’ dealing out a high tension grinder that oozes bad intentions,taking every opportunity to get dirtier and revelling in its filth,nice.Dekode and Molez collabo ‘Elsewhere Mode’ is a reese driven cold stepper with skittering breaks and a fully mechanised percussion section closing out an excellent debut 12 for a very promising label.
Syndetic 002 -various artists
Dropping from a great height onto your skull is Syndetic 002.French sound murderers ‘Ohmwerk’ opening tune ‘Proton Collider’ is a truly epic slice of madness.Almost classical melodies get mangled by some of the most fluid noise manipulation I have heard,just as you think its about to end a really wicked dirty acid line kicks in and your brain melts.Dead Fader step up with the accuratly named ‘Headache no.890’ ,a paricularly vile drum and noise piece that spreads out like swine flu,from the start the track sounds like it is rotting but somehow seems to keep its structural integrity til a final collapse.
Blackmass Plastics ‘Unstable System’ is a technoid breakbeat dancefloor blaster that like blends a mixture of klonks,acid and hoovers into a toxic soup unfit for human consumption.Finally the EP is brought to a close by DrumR and Noiz on ‘The Law’ a crazed old skool clattering amen driven beast that for some reason conjours up images of giant japanese monsters breakdancing.
kanji kinetic -new era/earthbound/
Saw-wave Otaku Kanji drops a stupidly good digi release on the consistently twisted E.Stim label.Switching up or down tempo wise depending on which way you hear it,these tracks showcase the halfstepjungle jutsu technique with bone breaking results.Utilising his familiar wall of grind riffs over lurching beats and double time edits ,listening to this stuff just makes you realise how turgid a lot of half step at strict 140 has become,the groove created here by using a 170 bpm half step gives these tunes loads of weight and a really fresh feel.Of the three tracks ‘New era’ is my fave but ‘Zombiezz’ does make people dance amusingly, tho it should really called the ‘Fulci Skank’.
the squire of gothos-we do scorpion things-
Rag and Bone Lp01
South London based Rag and Bone have been consistently pushing new artists on their label and many have gone on to be very successful yet Warlock and No yeah No get virtually no credit in the new media mythology created post dubstep year zero.The historical revisionism of the highly visible London ‘underground’ blog hacks has marginalised anything not conforming to their ,’Croydon is the exact cultural mirror of late 80 Detroit’ premise and the record should be set straight.Rag and Bone are one of the true constants in the transient scene of proper solid rave music.
Here the label present the debut album from Sheffields Squire of Gothos,whose lunacy has previously been heard on various Coin-operated and Electrostimulation releases.From the opener ‘Dark Thing’ the Squires’ let rip on an often ridiculous genre mashing journey through almost every concievable combination of phased wobble and kick snare combination from 0 to whatever BPM.The best tracks for me are the vocal choppage and 4/4 dumbness of ‘Flex Hype’, and the switching mechanised ‘After Hours Dog Racing’.
What I enjoy about this album is that in todays pigeonhole obsessed culture it can only really be defined as ‘Techno’.
Gremino-Its Working Ep-
Rag and Bone 23
Finlands Gremino has been steadily getting some well deserved attention recently and his unique unorthadox style fits in perfectly with the Rag and Bone crews roster.Seriously stripped down high tension funk is what Gremino brings to the table,sucking in styles and spitting them out in a rapid fire barrage of shifting loops.
My fave by far is ‘Bleak Rocking’ sounding like Mescalinum United’s fallout cloud spreading over Notting Hill Carnival, proper funky doom.Another highlight ‘Hyper’, is a warped string led jacking breakbeat thing with that hard to pinpoint streak of wrongness that really defines the Gremino style.
Available on vinyl which will inevitably make these tracks sound awesome on a rig.
Sustained recordings is one of the new breed of hard drum’n’bass labels that feature artists who have their background rather in hardcore than in Jungle or D’n’B. Throttler is an exception to this insofar that he appeared on the scene in 2006 with a 12” on Nasdja which was firmly rooted in D’n’B. One the other side, artists like The Teknoist, I:Gor and DJ Hidden have a background in hardcore with releases on labels such as Deathchant, Strike and Genosha (and many others) respectively. SSTD001 was split EP of Teknoist and Throttler, who slowly manages to cement his standing as one of the strongest hard D’n’B producers with “I Don’t Dance”. SSTD002 is so far the only release by one artist, I:Gor (all other releases are splits or compilations), who comes out with a strong record, the b-side (“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”) clearly overpowering the weaker a-side, enriching hard drum’n’bass with aesthetic elements of hard- and breakcore. Unfortunately the track reverts to more conventional patterns in the last third.
The following two releases were both double packs – number 003 a split of DJ Hidden and I:Gor who did one 12” each under the title “The Memento Mori EP”. The EP opens with typical DJ Hidden smasher combining D’n’B elements with a 4/4 kick drum, in the style that made him so popular with the momentous Killing Sheep 004 (“Times Like These” from 2006). It may not be quite as powerful as the latter, but it certainly works, is well produced and arranged. The better track of the two efforts by I:Gor is “We’re Not Most People” although I keep thinking it could be more abrasive than it is.
The highlight of the latest release – a double 10” titled “The First One To Die Wins” – is the track by The Teknoist, excellent break edits complemented with slightly cheesy choirs. The rest of the record is made up by one track each by Enduser, Scheme Boy and Broken Note. The Broken Note track is hard as nails, but could be fatter in production. The choral synth theme of Enduser’s “Jane Doe” is strongly reminiscent of Lorenz Attractor’s “Suffering of Kabul” from the Strange Attractor EP, but overall it’s standard fare. By far the worst track is Scheme Boy’s “Para VIP”.
Sustained is also one of those labels who release a lot of mp3-only tracks through their “Sustained Digital” channel on ithinkmusic.com. It appears that the digital releases are by more unknown artists, reserving the vinyl output to those who had previously released on other labels. We’ll see what the future will bring in this respect.
Not too dissimilar is the direction Manticore Recordings is going. Mystification set the tone with an almost pure crossover of 4/4 hardcore and d’n’b which pleased quite a few DJ’s looking to complement their hardcore sets with breaks, but still stay true to their four to the floor doctrine on the first release, a split EP with Unabomber (not to be confused with Unibomber of mid-west hardcore fame), in 2008. As in the case of Sustained, a second release followed in the same year, this time a split between Throttler and Peter Kurten. This concept of split EPs with a clearly DJ-oriented character is continued with the following numbers, pairing Skull and Matar & Greyone (003), and Forbidden Society and Coresplittaz (004) respectively.
Indeed, Manticore has within a few releases managed to establish a fairly distinct label sound and identity with the injection of some straight hardcore elements into an aggressive hard drum’n’bass sound with some shades of breakcore. There is less emphasis on song writing than let’s say in Hidden’s tracks, and despite the relative homogeneity of the tracks there are differences in quality, which is overall solid, but I do think that the very best tracks of most of the artists here are to be found on other labels (e.g. Mystification on Hell’s Bassment, Peter Kurten on Independenza etc). Nevertheless DJ’s searching for material that bridges the gap between hard D’n’B and Hardcore could do a lot worse than giving a listen to each of these releases to decide whether to fit them into their sets or not.
Freak & Obscene 2010
Many drum’n'bass labels have slowed down coniderably with vinyl releases this year. The “crisis” has even hit long-standing labels such as Freak Recordings who finally came out with their first vinyl release for 2010 this June (Kantyze: Trust and Blood/Verga, Freak 034). The sub-label Obscene – so prolific in 2005 and 2006, and at the time pushing the new hard sound via Limewax and Current Value, only came out with a limited white label pre-release by Forbidden Society in 2010 (which may or may not be on full release by the end of the year, the tracks are “Focus On VIolence VIP/The New Cell). One reason for this is probably the disappearance of LOAD Media from the distribution circuit, but then again there were less and less releases since `07 and while the quality remained high, they still were less cutting edge than (at least some of) the previous ones. The numbers 21 and 22 by Kitech and Thought respectively are cases in point.
Since the Nanotek release (reviewed by Nemeton), Freak came out with releases by Limewax and Donny. Limewax shows himself at his most minimal yet with “Big Bang” and “Invention”, while Donny pairs up with Current Value for “Drill” and with DJ E for “Dark Thoughts”, both slamming slower tracks in his typical mould.
What I’m not reviewing here, but what needs to be mentioned is that Freak has also been releasing a lot (by now over 30) of mp3-only releases. These are usually just one track per release and can be found at their digital store at ithinkmusic.com. So this may well be another pointer to changes in the music scene: that more and more tracks are released only digitally.
DJ Hidden/Outside Agency/Eye D update.
A whole article could easily be dedicated to the prolific output of Hidden over the last couple of years, plus of course there were numerous records by The Outside Agency, his project with Eye-D, as well as some releases by Eye-D himself.
Hidden on his own as well as The Outside Agency have fashioned a very distinctive style combining traditional elements of hardcore and drum’n’bass and creating something new out of it. Maybe the prototypical track for this synthesis is “Times Like These” from Killing Sheep 004 reviewed in the last issue of Datacide. He/they has/have followed this up by a plethora of releases.
On their own label Genosha there has been only one release this year so far with the ironically titles “Hardcore Beyond The Bone”.
A bit more busy has been the new sublabel Genosha One Seven Five. Started with a bang with The Outside Agency’s “Surreal” and “Chaos Theory”, both powerful combinations of the stated intention to fuse d’n’b and hardcore, the two following releases have been collaborations: on the second with SPL and Cooh, on the third with Counterstrike and Donny under the titles “Crossbreed Definition Series” parts 1 and 2.
In passing it should be noted that most recent Outside Agency tracks seem to written by either Hidden or Eye-D, and not together. In the case of the Outside Agency release for NGM (“The Quadrilogy EP”) the whole record is credited to Hidden. It features four quite varied tracks from old-school but efficient hardcore (“Stranger’s Call”) to more skrewed up shit like on the remix of Producer Snafu’s “You Don’t Know Me”.
Noir Desire EP
A welcome return for Sprengstoff Recordings with a 3-tracker of substantial dark dubstep material by Neurosis Orchestra. They had surfaced for the first time on the first release of the We Bomb Fi Dubs series on Sozialistischer Plattenbau back in 2007. This EP sees them fully matured with an eclectic approach and poetic and sombre undertones, avoiding the usual dubstep cliches. More please!
The colour of the vinyl of this is exceptional – at least of the copy i have. Looking at it while it’s, say, on the turntable it looks like a dirty mixture of orange, olive and brown, while held up against the light it’s dark red with black clouds. Note that not all copies are like this, most are just orange.
Unfortunately the stunning effect of the medium is not necessarily matched by the music. The three tracks are solid but unsurprising examples of industrial techno. Recommended for lovers of early Ant-Zen or Hands sound.
Thirty Two Years In Darkness
It’s rare that a label releases the second record 13 years after the first release, but this is the case here. It’s even rarer that with such a time difference the second release should fit seamlessly as if only a few months had passed. One reason may be that at least one of the two tracks was recorded in 1998, written at “CESAME Psychiatric Hospital” as the label says. Both are long doom-laden explorations of classic 90’s dark hardcore.
The first release “Love Hangover” has long become a sought after rarity, friends of tortured Cold Rush inspired hardcore could do worse than picking up this one.
How Many Rivers Do We Have To Cross… Before We Can Talk To The Boss
A six-track mini-LP by Saoulaterre on the new Rubicon label combining breakbeats and hardcore elements. The sound is loud and clear – and somehow funky with a wide variety of influences – still this one leaves me relatively speaking cold compared to the more powerful recent releases on Ultra.Braindance and Cavage. Still gripping enough to make it into my shelves, as I’m always glad for another Saoulaterre record in my collection.
(Sozialistischer Plattenbau, SPB12016)
A 8-track mini-LP on Sozialistischer Plattenbau showcasing Dub1’s forrays into dub territory with some detours via drum’n’bass and hints of dubstep. Not to be confused with the hard d’n’b producer Dub One (see his two cotributions to Soothsayer Recordings’s catalog), Dub1 is really a DUB producer presenting here a pleasant to listen to, but not genuinely original debut record.
The Ruff label resurfaces with a 12” by Bong-Ra called “Megasaurus Gargantuan”with some heavy dubstep as you would expect from that combination. After a short spell of silence, Ruff is back with two clean monsters with rave proportions and a nod to Broken Note’s tempo changes on the last Ad Noiseam release. Solid, but not too surprising.
Explore Toi roundup
Explore Toi is one of the few labels that survive from the early days of 90’s hardcore, maintaining a prolific output of several releases each year since 1994. Their output seems to remain unaffected by the “crisis” that forced so many labels to slow down with their release schedules. However ET have also reacted to the situation – by releasing mostly extremely limited press runs, many of them just 80-100 copies. Checking through the last ten or so releases, I will limit myself to some highlights here.
The release number 67 (according to the label limited to 80 copies) has an excellent long noise track on the b-side which makes it worth tracking down. The following release which has a double catalogue number (Explore Toi 68/Son Urbain 10) is a four-tracker of manic machine rattles. The tracks have little differences, but are still interesting in their relentlessness. More dancefloor orientated is the number 69 (aka Son Urbain 11) with a drum’n’bass meets breakcore approach on the a-side, and a nice experimental dub approach on the B2 track. Worth checking out. All the records mentioned so far are by Base Mobile, with the exception of one track contributed by Turbo Daddy on 69.
Explore Toi 70 is going way back in history being a re-release of Explore Toi 002/No-Tek 000. Strangely one track was left away from the original release, nevertheless this is one worth checking for friends of vintage 90’s french hardcore. (for more recent No-Tek releases see the reviews elsewhere in this issue as well as last issue).
ET71-73&1 were more hard tekno and hardcore oriented releases. 71 and 72 suggest to play them at both speeds “33 rpm : Cyber Elektro Art House Techno / 45 rpm : Cyber Elektro Hard Core Hardtek”. Imo it works a lot better at 45 in these instances, one for the teknival posses.
Number 74 is again a blast from the past being a live recording from the festival ile de france Fontainebleau 1995 feat. Network 23 / Spiral Tribe /Base Mobile / Explore Toi Collectif / Etno aka Turbo Daddy /Ksi /Explore Toi / Notek.
While number 75 is more on a minimal tip, the latest release (76) is a welcome return to relentless speedcore.
Anguish Entertainment started as a label with a bang in 2008 with six releases. Most had a distinctively old school feel, but pleasantly so. In stark contrast to the more and more “technical” hardcore sound of most french labels, ANGENT produce an equally (or more) powerfully pounding distorted sound, by label owner Kriss d’Angoass, Karsck & Co, Enthrall vs. Angstrom and A.N.T.I., to be followed up by the – so far – most progressive breakcore release on the label by Fury Project titled “Toyz of Noize”.
All the early releases came with a large sticker with the label logo, while the last two were picture discs.
A.N.T.I.’s contribution to the series takes no prisoners in its relentless approach of abstract Amiga-terror. Hardcore beats with disturbing bleeps still coherent with his releases more than 10 years earlier on Reverse (or the ultra-obscure Hierarshie 7” with Attila on Kornog, or his early tape “!!!Crache le Venin!!!” on Vividian Axxis).
The Choice Is Yours
Void Tactical Media
Hot on the heels of their excellent album “Resisting the Viral Self” comes this 4 track 12″ on Detroit’s Void Tactical Media. High-energy and high-passion mixture of gabber and punk. Politically and emotionally charged this is a welcome re-energizer.
Revolutions per Minute 2×12″
Resistance des Materiaux
Associated with Bruits de Fond, the label that recently released some excellent material by Solar Skeletons amongst other things, this release by jean ferraille is a double 12″ in a luxurious gatefold sleeve, suggesting sound directly plugged into a brain subjected to surgery.
A total of 12 tracks in abrasive ultra-broken-beat fashion with an extremely shrill cut. High frequencies abound leaving a bit more power in the bass range to be desired, but it’s definitely a very welcome outing of aural terror. There are traces of classic breakcore influences, brutal high pitched noise, and cut up splintered beats and noise. If you’re bored by the current abundance of conformist beats, this is a good antidote.