— GRIME & DUBSTEP MONTHLY ™ —

A temporary home for monthly Mixmag Grime & Dubstep reviews while the magazine remains out of print — here are June’s picks.

(Lemzly Dale)

Album of the Month: Various – ‘Pearly Whites Vol.4’ (Pearly Whites)

Expertly curated new-gen sounds from one of Bristol’s true stalwarts

Highlights

1. Lemzly Dale – ‘More Life’

2. Bengal Sound – ‘Boy Wonder’

3. DJ Pop Shuv – ‘Cha Kno’

Lemzly Dale has quietly gone about his business for a long time now. From first establishing Sector 7 alongside Boofy back in 2013 to releasing his own grime cuts on White Peach, flinging out low-key hip-hop beats under his Pea Whitey moniker and overseeing his Pearly Whites imprint since 2016, he’s become one of Bristol’s most potent and conscientious exports. The fourth volume of his multi-artist Pearly Whites compilation series is a testament to that lineage, pulling in track contributions from the likes of Jammz and rising star Bengal Sound, as well as close affiliates Modelle and INVADER SPADE, all of whom zero in on a markedly distinguished sound that flits between grime, downtempo hip-hop and jazz. Our tips include the silky-smooth piano keys vs hardbody chops of DJ Pop Shuv’s ‘Cha Kno’ and the undeniable, late-night swing of Lemzly Dale’s ‘More Life’. All proceeds from the sales of ‘Pearly Whites Vol.4’ are also being donated to and split between three charitable organisations — The 4Front Project, The Reach Out Project and The Stephen Lawrence Trust — to help improve the lives of disadvantaged young people in the UK. Big respect all round. 8/10

(Dexplicit)

Tune of the Month: Dexplicit – ‘Gotham’ (Beatcamp)

Grime for the big screen

If you’ve ever wondered what a grime beat made to capture the grandeur and opulence of a dinner party at Wayne Manor would sound like, look no further than Dexplicit’s ‘Gotham’ — hands down the grime instrumental of the year so far. After first teasing clips while sat in his car last year, it’s finally seen the light of day via P Jam’s Beatcamp label, alongside two other mercurial Batman-inspired instrumentals (‘Arkham’, ‘Exodus’). Grand, hyper-intense strings meet booming square-waves in a cinematic collision of truly epic proportions that’s already got us asking, when’s the sequel? 9/10

Boofy – ‘SYSTM 033’ (SYSTEM)

A killer 12”

Boofy’s production career has gone strength-to-strength over the last few years, perhaps aided by the excellent work he’s done overseeing his Sector 7 imprint — one of the UK’s crucial labels for wot-do-you-call-it grime/dubstep hybrids. His debut for V.I.V.E.K’s SYSTEM label feels like a great fit, A-side ‘Climbing Out Of Your Shed’ channeling the dark, guttural sounds and shadowy, unnerving energy of some of the label’s most distinguishable cuts. On the flip, ‘Your Shed’s Too Big’ is again murky, but this time offset with softer, warmer tones and a playful lead melody that certainly dials things down on the dread-o-meter. An excellent record and one that just might usher in a new chapter for Boofy’s future material. 8/10

Dark Tantrums – ‘Rootical’ EP (DAKU Records)

Mind your chestplate

Two hot and heavy cuts from dubstep OG Dark Tantrums here, with each track deploying enough bass-weight to trouble even the hardiest of systems. The dizzying synth work and muffled rave whistles of title jam ‘Rootical’ are quickly met with the sort of thumping, scatter-shot bass pressure that should really come with advance warning. On the flip ‘Are You Ready’ works a richer, deeper sound complete with short, entrancing vocal bursts and a bassline that feels almost reminiscent of JT The Goon & Dullah Beatz’s ‘Day One’. Tip! 7/10

Tik & Borrow – ‘Architecture’ EP (In:Flux Audio)

Huge!

A big, heavy-on-dread new EP from Tik & Borrow who hold nothing back across four weighty new cuts for In:Flux Audio here. Rumbling opener ‘Timelapse’ sees them join forces with Aztek and go all out on a track made for the darkest corners of the club, while ‘Apexx’ works a similar formula, only this time harder and more minimalist, running on pure bass-weight aside from short, breaks-y interjects. Third track ‘Mallet Dub’ is again deep and dark, but deft, snappy xylophonic melodies form a welcome respite from the bass onslaught, before Mungk turns in a stripped back, hyper-wobbly ‘Apexx’ remix to sign off. 7/10

Fiend – ‘Emeralds’ EP (Infernal Sounds)

A name to watch

Blissful next-gen transmissions from Fiend, who debuts on Infernal Sounds after first making waves on J. Sparrow’s Navy Cut imprint in 2018. Title-track ‘Emeralds’ is heavy on low-end but high on nifty, atmospheric touches, subtle key tones and energy shifts, while the distorted wobble and clunky percussion of ‘Solar’ signals a rougher, more industrial approach. The crackling textures, muffled birdsong and playful woodwind melodies of ‘Omen’ form a welcome left turn and apt sign-off point too, while there’s also space for Bukkha to fire off a subtle, thick-edged rework of ‘Emeralds’. 8/10

Various – ‘Trilogy Vol.1’ (Mean Streets)

Mean Streets by name, Mean Streets by nature

Trends’ Mean Streets label are at it again, this time in the form of a six-track all-stars 12” of sorts that samples some of the hardest instrumentals coming out of his camp at the moment. From P Jam’s frightening, breathless remix of D.O.K’s ‘Annihilate The World’ to the rip-roaring horror of garish Trends beat ‘Robots’, this isn’t a 12” for the faint-hearted. D.O.K, one of grime’s master beat-makers, also contributes one of his own in ‘Egg’ — a fraught, breakneck instrumental defined by its razor sharp claps and hyper-tense strings — while Boylan goes full dungeon on his mind-rattling remix of P Jam’s ‘Messed Up’. It’s left to P Jam and Dexplicit (‘Untitled’) and D.O.K (‘Doggz’) to sign off, with the twisted, barbarous energy of the latter forming a fitting closer to one of the year’s toughest 12”s. 7/10 

Jook – ‘Lookacha’ / ‘Unwary’ (Sector 7 Sounds)

Buy on sight (if there’s any copies left!)

Jook’s third outing with Sector 7 is arguably his best yet, a full-blooded exhibition of the type of moody, machine-tooled sonics that have become his calling card over the past five years. A-side ‘Lookacha’ is effectively beat-less for the opening minute, aside from looped vocal samples and muffled police sirens, before exploding into life with an onslaught of crunching, hydraulic bass stabs that never lets up. On the flip, ‘Unwary’ works a harder, trappier sound that feels every bit illuminated by icy, trinket-box melodies and hazy, washed-out undertones that see it land somewhere between winter dreamscape and The Nightmare Before Christmas. 9/10

Imajika – ‘Stagger’ EP (Subaltern Records)

Dangerous!

Huge, hi-energy dubstep through the lens of a new-school producer who only burst onto the scene in 2020. Opener ’Stagger’ is a monstrous entry point into Imajika’s music, firing off serious bass-weight and grizzly percussive flashes from the off, while the unnerving shimmer of the bustling ‘Until Pundi’ is equally as powerful. The rasping, jittery percussion and menacing sub of ‘Inside The Sycamore Root’ marks a slight left turn, before the contorted, whirring low-end of ‘Stoker’ takes things full circle. Final cut ‘Walking Through The Elephant’s Foot’ tones down the heat a touch, closing out on a deeper, heads-y, mystical note. An emphatic debut, for sure. 7/10

Kami-O – ‘Lightworks’ (Italdred)

Refreshingly good

A six-track collection of thoughtful grime instrumentals here from Kami-O, a Glasgow-based producer with a penchant for experimentation. Opener ‘Lightworks’ is a steadfast 8-bar beat that switches up periodically, albeit underpinned by hazy background tones that give it depth and colour, while bubbling second track ’Shinto’ is clearly inspired by East Asian sounds and instrumentation. There’s also room for oddball, industrial trap mutations (‘Computers’) and more nods to East Asia — the pan flute melodies on ‘East Wind’ are a real standout — before ‘Aura’ flips the script entirely. A gorgeous, multi-layered magic carpet of cut-and-paste sounds, ingenious sampling and delicate, playful strings, it demonstrates genuine compositional skill, which is only amplified by Argo’s bass-injected remix. A genuinely excellent record. 8/10

Monitor

This month, be sure to check Classical Trax’s ‘Architecture 2.0’, a second volume of their expansive compilation series detailing a mammoth 65 tracks across three separate chapters, released at individual points throughout June – fresh beats from a blossoming worldwide network of new-school grime producers including JEB1, SBUERS, College Hill, Ravver, HeedLess and Morten HD feature … Tectonic boss Pinch was also back with a new album this month, a full 13 years since his debut full-length record — ‘Reality Tunnels’ sees him flex all his production nouse across 10 meticulous new tracks, including standout cuts featuring Trim and Killa P … also be on the look out for Sukh Knight’s ‘Diesel Not Petrol’ Remix EP later this year, which sees a slice of early, iconic dubstep reimagined by Cimm along with a new VIP version and a remix of ‘Shutdown’ by Mystic State on the flip … and we’d also recommend checking big new records by SPEKt1 (‘Instinct’ EP), Gallah x Horrickle (‘Bookey BLVD’ EP) and TMSV (‘Abyss Watcher’), the latter of whom forms the debut release on freshly-minted London label, Sub Merchants. 

(Pinch by Dominika Scheibinger)

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