— GRIME & DUBSTEP MONTHLY ™ —

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

(East Man — photo by Georgina Cook)

Album of the Month: East Man – ‘Prole Art Threat’ (Planet Mu)

The East Man manifesto 

Highlights

1. East Man & Lyrical Strally – ‘Ten Ton Riddim’

2. East Man & Mic Ty – ‘Everybody Knows’

3. ‘Machine Gun’

‘Prole Art Threat’ picks up the baton from East Man’s 2018 album, ‘Red, White & Zero’ — a record that not only shone a light on some of the best MCs in the country but through his production work, distilled grime down to its core fundamentals and remoulded them. On ‘Prole Art Threat’, he zeroes back in on these sensibilities to tell stories of inner-city life from all over the UK and beyond via a slew of different hosts; from Lewisham’s Streema to East London’s Darkos Strife and Eklipse to Feltham’s Lyrical Strally — there’s even space for Fernando Kep, a dominant voice in Brasil’s fast-emerging grime scene, to make his mark. These truths are stripped back and told with personality and character — and at times, an everyday numbness — with East Man pivoting around individual flows like a composer; his beats facilitate, never dominate. The sketetal, bare bones instrumental behind ’Ten Ton Riddim’ fits Lyrical Strally’s flow like a glove for example, while the zippy, dub charge of ‘Everybody Knows’ brings the best out of Mic Ty — one of London’s most talented grime spitters. Where MCs aren’t involved, East Man’s beats are fraught, moody, unsettling — see the roaring, relentless pressure and analogue muffle of ‘Machine Gun’ — but that’s precisely the point. The press release refers to ‘Prole Art Threat’ as “the sound of of proletarian urban mutliculture” and with that in mind, it feels like an album that needs to be processed before it can be fully (and deservedly) understood. 8/10

(Kid D & Novelist)

Tune of the Month: Kid D ft. Novelist – ‘Serious Choices’ (2 Easy Records)

Big moves!

Kid D has been putting out records at a rate of knots of late, establishing his 2 Easy Records imprint as a reputable label home for some of his most vivid and immersive instrumental creations. On ‘Serious Choices’, he joins forces with Novelist — and even takes to the mic himself — on a statement record that packs a punch on multiple levels, not only detailing traded verses of ruff-and-tuff, lived-in lyricism and tales of life on the roads, but also rich and powerful, blood-and-thunder beats. Lifted from upcoming full-length project, ‘Substance’, it forms some of Kid D’s most impactful work yet and goes some way to granting him the shine he’s long deserved as one of grime’s most naturally gifted creatives. 8/10

Guido – ‘Seeds’ EP (State Of Joy)

A gorgeous record

Bristol OG Guido has been one of his city’s most quietly influential producers for over a decade now and on ‘Seeds’ — the latest record from his State Of Joy imprint — he flexes all those years of production muscle to gorgeous effect. Although there are nods to his 140 BPM lineage (‘Here We Go’, ‘Swing’), this is a record elevated by experimentation; from the intense, hi-emotion strings and choral flutters of thoughtful opener ‘Inatrance’ to the bleepy, alt-pop crunch of the title-track, this really does feel like Guido is sowing his next crop. The jazzy, arcade mania of ‘Here We Go’ is rich and playful, while the thick-edged boom and neck-snap claps of ‘Swing’ cut right through too, although anchored in more traditional dubstep blueprints. The whirring, melodic rush of ‘Midnight Fairground’ is genuinely entrancing, but our tip is EP closer ‘Heavenly’ — a tender, beautifully woven sign-off that taps into themes of ascension, higher consciousness and spirituality. 9/10

AxH – ‘Grinding Gears’ EP (DAKU Records)

DAKU — a mark of consistency

Two industrial slammers for the heads courtesy of AxH here, who lands on Sukh Knight’s ever on-point DAKU imprint with a bang. Title-track ‘Grinding Gears’ blesses the A-side of a two-track plate, a staunch, heavyweight roller laced with rugged textures and warrior-charge drums, while B-side Darkov channels far darker, unnerving energy. Cut with crunching, shadowy tones, muffled choral flashes and scurrying, oddball sci-fi FX, it’s heavyweight but undoubtedly sinister. Hard as nails. 7/10

SWR – ‘Square Soulja’ EP (Infernal Sounds)

Grab at all costs

Infernal Sounds are one of the UK’s most consistently forward-thinking imprints out and SWR’s ’Square Soulja’ is the latest in a long line of releases to restore our faith in dubstep and beyond. The title-track opener is intricately made but ominous and snarling, and undeniably massive on impact — it’s as if every sound represents its own jigsaw piece — while the hardbody bass boom, filmic crackle and glitchy sampling of ‘Vertigo’ feels breathless. ‘Cypher Zero’, again cut with an oddball samples, launches moody, OG grime sounds into play — those stabs! — before the icy, xylophonic melodies, pensive strings and devastating low-end rumble of final track ‘Isshin’s Theme’ close out. Another gem unearthed. 8/10

Boneless – ‘Sleepwalking’ EP (Off-Switch Audio)

What a way to make your mark!

Canadian producer Boneless is a new face at Off-Switch Audio, but his debut record for the label doesn’t need much by way of introductions. From the jump, it details moody, heavyweight sound-system music at it’s sharpest, as the rippling, face-melting shockwaves of wobbly opener ‘Sleepwalking’ attest. The arcade-style, 16-bit scurry of ‘Hungry Belly’ is a standout moment on the EP too, but the mangled, distorted fuzz of ‘GaMe OvEr’ — punctuated by slapstick ray-gun bursts — is the real head-scratcher. Final cut ’Trigger Point’ then flips the script one final time, throwing classic breaks and dubbed-out, sunset beats into the mix to draw the EP to a close. Quite a first impression! 7/10

Dyzphoria & Slayloverboy – ‘RATHERFEELNOTHING’ (Liquid Ritual)

Pure euphoria

Liquid Ritual have carved out a niche for unearthing some of the most viscerally emotive young sound designers on the planet and ‘RATHERFEELNOTHING’, a new single produced by Dyzphoria & Slayoverboy, is a testament to that process. High in emotion, cinema, drama and bolstered by sharp, shimmering melodies and rolling trap drums — all cut with blurry, cloaked vocals lurking just below the surface —it signposts the future for wave music, which continues to evolve just as quickly as it emerged. Don’t sleep! 8/10

Ekula – ‘All Night’ EP (In:Flux Audio)

Joining the dots 

Huge, uncompromising club riddims that meet at the intersection between dubstep, breaks and jungle courtesy of Ekula — a producer stepping out on his debut record for In: Flux Audio. The fraught, rolling junglist rhythms and booming drums of opener ‘All Night’ border on euphoric at points, while the gloopy, near minute-long intro to ‘Afterparty Sunrise’ acts as a cold-shower-palette-cleanser, before diving back into the rush headfirst moments later. ‘As I Go’, a collaboration with CA$TLE, is the record’s breeziest track, complete with pitched-up, bubblegum vocal samples and hazy, lullaby melodies, not to mention a properly woozy, late-summer lean. Remixes come from Dystinkt, who goes hard in the paint on a ruff-and-tuff edit of ‘All Night’ and Benton, who comes in heavy with the breaks and bags of rumbling sub on his ‘Afterparty Sunrise’ re-rub. 7/10

Sir Hiss – ‘Keygen’ EP (Wych)

Keygen(ious)

There aren’t many superlatives left to throw Sir Hiss’ way, but his new EP for K-LONE’s label, Wych — already crucial at only four releases deep — might just draw out the last few. ‘Keygen’ sees Hiss excel across two fresh tracks that play to his penchant for melody, with the title-track — an obvious homage to video game keygen music — landing as a undeniable, frustratingly brilliant ear worm. ‘Anatolian Heartland’ is similar in conception, only cut with warmer, lavish tones, like a memoir from the Age Of Empires on-your-Packard-Bell-PC era. Label boss K-Lone turns his hand to the original mix too, with his dreamscape rework rounding off yet another essential Sir Hiss plate. 9/10

Sepia – ‘Sanctuary’ EP (Badman Studios)

Hot ’N Heavy goodness

Big, heavy-hitters from one of dubstep’s modern greats in Sepia, who debuts for Badman Studios with a new and in-demand summer plate. Opener ‘Sanctuary’ pairs sugary, dizzying trinket-box melodies with thumping low end and deft snare roll flashes, while the heavy, scything pressure of ‘Danger Zone’ tones up the greaze and then some. The whirring, super LO frequencies and breakout charge of ‘Gradients’ keep things murky, before the shuddering, ghostly crunch of final cut ‘Step Back’ signs off on one of Sepia’s most upfront, functional 12”s in a minute. Dig in! 8/10

Monitor

This month, look out for B:Thorough’s excellent new self-titled record via imprint-on-the-rise, Hi-NRG— he details trance-y, future-scape grime and android eski mutation across four fresh tracks that build on the drama of ‘Calm Levz’, a collaborative EP with JT The Goon released earlier this summer …  also keep an eye out for Darkness’ silky-smooth new single ‘Rather Be’ ft. Ayeisha Raquel — marking an excursion from his bouncier grime-inflected beats, it lands as a hazy, early summer RnB bloomer … Becky On The Beat also released ‘Murder Dem’ especially for Bandcamp Day at the beginning of July, which generated plenty of heat — be sure to check it … and looking ahead, there’s two records that should be on everybody’s radar in August — Rakjay & Logan’s ‘Know Mi / Move From We’ and Opus’ new record for White Peach, ‘This Damn Feeling’. Don’t sleep on either!

(B:Thorough)

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