A temporary home for monthly Mixmag Grime & Dubstep reviews while the magazine remains out of print — here are January’s picks.
Album of the Month: Silkie – ‘Panorama’ (Deep Medi Musik)
Where to even even start?
1. Did You Know
2. Ring Mod
3. Equine Piper
Compiled over the best part of two years, Silkie himself may not have originally approached the early sketches of what would later become ‘Panorama’ with an album in mind — but that’s just the way he likes it. His third full-length for Medi following two volumes of ‘City Limits’, released in 2009 and 2011 respectively, ‘Panorama’ forms his first solo material in three years and feels bountiful and abundantly carefree, in the best possible sense. As with everything Silkie touches, an heir of inevitability permeates the tracklist before you’ve even pressed play — you just know it’s gonna be good — but even by his standards, the sharp, stomping lurch and glossy chords of opener ‘Big 45’ are particularly exceptional. As it unfurls, Silkie shifts from bludgeoning, more club-focused weapons like ‘Leave It’ and the razor sharp ‘Strong & Stable’ to more melodic climes, experimenting with rhythm and texture on standout jaunts ‘Ring Mod’ and ’The Redeemer’. Our tip is the gorgeous, jazzy, purple-y romance of ‘Did You Know’ but the whole thing absolutely smokes. Sit back and revel in his genius, it’s worth every minute. 9/10
Tune of the Month: Emz & Sir Hiss – ‘Finna’ (No More Mailouts)
Cool as fuck
Sir Hiss and Emz collide again on another top drawer excursion in new single ‘Finna’, after first joining forces on mini-anthem ‘Rolling’ via White Peach back in 2019. Released this time via his No More Mailouts imprint, ‘Finna’ taps the drill-flavoured styles that have dominated the UK rap landscape over the last two years, marking Hiss out as a producer with the talent and the scope to outgrow the localised grime and dubstep scenes that birthed him. In Emz, he’s found a talented sparring partner too — his lackadaisical flow is quite deliberate and dripping with charisma — and here the pair excel on a track bursting with breezy, late-summer heat. Think souped up Cadillacs, glistening chromes and hella smiles, all cut in the style of ‘Magnolia’ by Playboi Carti. 9/10
Dunman – ‘Loco’ (Southpoint)
Bold and totally unabashed
Bournemouth-based producer Dunman returns to Southpoint with weighty new three-tracker, ‘Loco’, which lands as some of his best and most experimental material yet. The frenzied breaks and bustling tribal drums of title-track opener ‘Loco’ seem to play a tug-of-war with the crunching, drone-like grime stabs that land like missiles just shy of a minute in, while booming trap burner ’Astraroth’, by contrast, is haunting in its cold, cutthroat simplicity. Final jam ‘Check’ featuring JoSoSick on mic duties flips the script again, sampling classic rave alarms and glitchy, sugary-sweet vocals a la classic 2-step. Energy! 7/10
$H The Producer – ‘Views From Feltham Court’ (Dee Oh 7)
Welcome to Bristol
A record directly inspired by the city that made him, ‘Views From Feltham Court’ is a thoughtful introduction to Bristol’s $H The Producer — co-founder of new label, Dee Oh 7, which he runs alongside Bristol’s warlord MC, Slowie. Each of the record’s five tracks hone in a specific area of the city, with opener ‘Newbury Road’ going heavy on silky-smooth, pitched-up RnB samples and rolling, rumbling sub, while second cut ‘The Manor’ is laced with the sort of anxious, hyper-tense string and key work that underpins some of grime’s OG classics. ‘Feltham Court’ is arguably the EP’s nastiest cut — a bruising grime riddim cut with a gothic flair — and hazy, introspective final tracks ‘Bargain Lane’ and ‘The Common’ are slow-burners, flush with silvery melodies and rich, dreamscape atmospherics. Tip! 8/10
The Untouchables – ‘Culture Clash’ EP (DNO Records)
Poetry in (kinetic) motion
Belgian duo The Untouchables go big on their debut EP for Brigton’s DNO Records, with ‘Culture Clash’ — a four-track record rooted in glaring tempo shifts (imagined or otherwise) and meticulous sound design. Chugging, heavyweight opener ‘Audacity’ hits like a freight train from minute one, while hollowed-out dub textures meet frenetic junglist rhythms on perplexing, relentless second cut, ‘Galactic Noise’. Title-track ‘Culture Clash’ does exactly what you’d expect, churning layer-upon-layer of precision-engineered sounds and textures like a smoothie maker, while the elastic beats and oddball dub horns of ‘Time Travellers’ are genuinely engrossing. Digital bonus ‘China Haze’, which functions around hefty reverb and a loose dubstep pulse, is well worth the extra time, too. 8/10
DJ Madd – ‘Soldiers’ EP (Badman Studios)
Currently operating out of NYC, Hungarian producer DJ Madd has been a front-runner in dubstep circles for over a decade, releasing across labels like Boka, ZamZam and J:Kenzo’s Lion Charge imprint in a discography that spans over 50 records. Marking LA Outfit Badman Studios’ 10th release, new EP ‘Soldiers’ taps the highly-finessed, roots-flavoured sounds he’s made all his own, with the twisting low-end murmur and lead-plated sub of opener, ‘Babylon Scatta’, a fitting entry-point. There’s room too for murky, jolting, minimalist flavours (‘Lighta Kru’) and the dark, dank sub-dwelling pulse of ‘Weapon Of Choice’, but our tip is bolshy, chest-rattling title-cut, ‘Soldiers’. 8/10
Hebbe – ‘Quiche / Looters’ (Next Level Dubstep)
Don’t sleep on Hebbe!
Dutch producer Hebbe is fast becoming one of contemporary dubstep’s best and on his latest for Next Level Dubstep, he doesn’t disappoint. Rumbling A-side, ‘Quiche’ flits between periods of and jittery, skeletal percussion and intense, processional flute melody interludes — think ‘stand to attention!’ — albeit cut with a constant lingering sense of unease, while on the flip, ‘Looters’ is a total riot. Sludgy, snarling, treacle-thick basslines spar with rasping FX, glitchy alarms and cloudy atmospherics to land as one big heady, oddball rush. Seriously good. 9/10
Distance – ‘Sacrifices’ EP (DUPLOC)
Dubstep OG Distance has released music via everyone from Planet Mu to Hotflush to Tectonic — as well as running Chestplate (!) — over the last 15+ years, but ’Sacrifices’ forms his first for fast-rising Belgian outpost, DUPLOC. Across three hi-grade new tracks, he delivers on his reputation as one of dubstep’s pioneering artists; from the grand, operatic swell of swirling opener ‘Sacrifices’ to the pensive glow of futuristic stepper ‘Overcome’, everything is meticulous, distinguished, smart. Final jam ‘808 Snake’ — the EP’s most rugged and granite-textured — signs off on a record that only adds to Distance’s appeal, nearly 20 years on. 8/10
Hijinx – ‘Venom’ EP (Navy Cut)
For the heads
More heat from J.Sparrow’s Navy Cut imprint, this time from Hijinx — new production moniker of MR.K. Across three monstrous cuts, he flexes all his production muscle to the fullest; from the thumping, distorted pressure of standout system lurker ‘Venom’ through to the sweltering, pulsing low-end shuffle of ‘TRU’, it’s full-blooded and full-throttle from start to finish. Even the booming, dubby lean and blaring dub horns of final track ‘Addict’ —itself a low-key face melter — offer little respite. NB: A percentage of profits from ‘Venom’ will also be donated to The Ben Raemers Foundation — a charity seeking to raise awareness surrounding mental health and suicide in the skateboarding community. 8/10
Fork & Knife – ‘The Swarm’ EP (In:Flux Audio)
Big ’n Bashy!
Fork & Knife downs his grime tools in favour of blaring dubstep sounds on ‘The Swarm’ — his third EP for In:Flux Audio. Opening with the snarling, sabre-toothed glare of the title-track, it’s deepest, darkest and meanest from the outset, with dizzying, blood-and-thunder second cut, ‘Big Tom’, continuing things apace. The nightmarish, mechanised robotics of third and final track ‘Cream’ are genuinely bone-crunching, with heavyset remixes from J.Kong (’The Swarm’) and Charla Green (‘Cream’) thrown in for good measure. 6/10
Look out for new music by long-time Rinse France resident, DJ Absurd, on The Bass Society — his new EP, ‘Everything Blue’, is backed up by title-track remixes from Qant and Slimzos’ Owlybeats, as well as a special dub version of his own … be sure to check out fledgling producer fin9k’s debut EP, ‘Trips’, on Chameolon Audio, too — weighty! … Elsewhere, German producer Barom released his debut album project via Simply Deep — a consistent source of foundation dubstep for a good few years now … ‘Run Circles’, comprised of eight sweltering original cuts, also comes complete with bonus remixes from Gnischrew, Noble and Korin Complex … and OG veterans Gentleman’s Dub Club also released their latest album, ‘Down To Earth’ — a full-colour trip back to their roots, traversing reggae, dub, jazz and ska in a way only they know how … Looking ahead, new music from Trends and an eye-catching new release series from Belgian powerhouses DUPLOC are on the horizon — keep your eyes (and ears) peeled!