— GRIME & DUBSTEP MONTHLY™ —

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

(Kami-O)

Album of the Month: Kami-O – ‘Biren’ (Bandcamp)

An album about connection, love and discovery 

Highlights

1. Aavaas

2. Yoddha

3. Biren

Glasgow-based producer Kami-O may only have a handful of releases to his name, but on ‘Biren’ — his debut full-length and a warming tribute to his late grandfather, Birendra Nath Bose — he blossoms. Exploring a multitude of firsts in his music, from his own Indian heritage to heartfelt, visceral emotion, no stone is left unturned, with the artwork also designed by his mother. The tracklist itself is awash with traditional Indian instrumentation, melodies and sounds, albeit cut with a distinctly UK accent. The rumbling, grimy snap of ‘Yoddha’ is a standout for example, as are sub-dwelling, stepper cuts like ‘Jashore’, ‘Bose’ and the shadowy, oddly beautiful ’Aavaas’, which feels hollowed out in places, yet still deep and suspenseful. He leaves enough room to sign off with the pensive ambience of ‘Biren’ — a rasping, heady take on devotional music full of wonder and mystery and love. A beautiful tribute, brilliantly executed. 9/10

(Emz)

Tune of the Month: Emz – ‘Fist and Boot’ (Bandcamp)

A genuine rising star

Bristol’s Emz is one of those artists that is clearly evolving and maturing in real time, with every record feeling like more of a statement than the last. His latest, ‘Fist and Boot’, is produced by EVA808 and combines rugged, lived-in lyricism with a swagger and a conviction that belies his age. The beat (‘Drip, Drip’) is explosive too, albeit spatial and rippling, giving it plenty for the dance as well as in the headphones — a feature of EVA808’s music that permeated her recent album, ‘Sultry Venom’, from which the instrumental is lifted. It may have all the makings of a single that fans will look back on as a forgotten gem as Emz’s career invariably takes off over the next few years, but ‘Fist and Boot’ is an impressive and important marker — and the hook is genius, too. 9/10

Darkness & Elf – ‘Text Me’ (Quantum Sound)

Elf’s back — and better than ever!

Formerly of hotshot grime crew, The Square, Elf (fka Elf Kid) has steadily built himself back up over the past six months after returning from an extended hiatus. As a hyper, infectious lyricist with great diction and an electric stage presence, linking up with Darkness — himself a long underrated producer — feels like a smart move and on ’Text Me’, the two combine on a track “dedicated to all the women we care about in our lives”. Fleeting references to Tinie Tempah’s breakthrough classic ‘Wifey Riddim’ in Elf’s verses capture the mood perfectly, although its the maturity in which he rides the complex drill flex of Darkness’ production that really impresses. 8/10

Sir Hiss – ‘Wot’ EP (No More Mailouts)

Class act

More 100% dynamite from Sir Hiss, one of our favourite young producers out, this time on his No More Mailouts label. The crackling, refracted hydraulics and oddball drums of opener ‘Wot’ are sublime, while the soft, twirling harp strings and deft sub rumble of ‘Na Di Mi Na’ paint a picture of bygone eras — think late night speakeasies, a burnt orange glow, romance lingering in the air. Final track ’Schmetterling’ continues this theme apace, albeit cut with more mystery and filmic guile, on a record that lifts Hiss’ music out of the dance and into the cinema. 9/10

Moscow Legend & Trizna – ‘Made In Moscow’ (HI TEK SOUNDS)

Carnage in the dance 

East Man’s HI TEK SOUNDS imprint continue a stellar run of releases by way of Moscow Legend & Trizna’s new split 12”, ‘Made In Moscow’ — a record showcasing grime in its purest instrumental form by two of Russia’s best in class. Moscow Legend, a producer with strong links to Slimzos and a burgeoning UK footprint, is in lethal mood on opener ‘Krush’, which explodes into life with a furry of shattering laser sounds and devastating, depth-charger sub that evokes memories of some of Lloyd SB’s early Boxed-era work. As if not monstrous enough already, East Man turns in an outrageous 8-bar ‘Krush’ flip of his own, before newcomer Trizna comes through with gunshots, cowbells and sharp, pulse bass on ‘Massive’ — an ode to the great OG grime instrumentals of the early 2000s. It’s left to Trizna to sign off too, with ‘Bad’ stripping back the layers to land as a fractious, deconstructed grime DJ tool straight out of the Mumdance & Logos meets Different Circles universe. Big! 8/10

Nova – ‘Bonafide’ EP (Infernal Sounds)

A standout debut plate from Infernal’s latest star

Four hot and heavy new burners from fledgling producer, Nova, who shines bright on his debut plate for ever on-point steppers Infernal Sounds here. From taking in the playful, cranking pressure and militarised bop of opener ‘Bonafide’, it’s clear he’s a producer that can do the classics well, but the scuttling percussion, wonky FX and snarling, contorted rumble of ‘Single Fuse’ — think Megadrive boss level theme — nod to Nova’s ability to flip the script, too. The rugged, hardbody cut and thrust of minimalist burner ‘Fivers’ is probably our tip, but there’s also room for woozy, head-spinner ‘Intricacy’ — a nifty collaboration with Foamplate — to turn heads too. Proper! 8/10

Legion – ‘We Are Many’ (Artikal Music)

Powerhouse sounds

Legion is the new moniker for a tour de force grime quartet consisting of Trends, Boylan, P Jam and D.O.K — a cluster of producers who’ve worked closely for the best part of the last five years. The gnarly, teeth-gnashing styles of Trends and particularly Boylan have already laid the foundations for a segue into dubstep waters — see his 12”s for Nomine Sound as a case in point — with P Jam and D.O.K and their breathless grime styles along for the ride. On ‘We Are Many’, they flex across four heavyset new tracks for Artikal Music, with each cut clocking in at five minutes plus. The demonic, marching pulse of the title-track forms an ominous entry point, before the barbed jabs and twisted wobble of ‘Boards Don’t Hit Back’ arrow in on dubstep’s more familiar sounds. The oddball, technoid pulse and grimy, neck-snap claps of ‘Bewildered’ form the EPs big curveball, before the scything, roots-y flavours of ‘3rd World Cup’ sign off as an ode to the classics. Deep! 8/10

General Courts – ‘Emotions’ EP (GC DUBZ)

OG material from one of grime’s unsung heroes

General Courts has been putting in the work for a long time and new EP, ‘Emotions’ — the latest in a string of self-released drops via Bandcamp — zeroes in on an aesthetic carved out between 2016 and 2018. Drawn from the Grandmixxer school of raw, stripped-back, foundation-style grime beats, opener ‘Body’ flows with one unrelenting pulse, spiked with eski flutes and jagged jingles, while ‘Vex’ sounds like it could be lifted straight from a Lord Of The Mics cut scene. Final track ‘Feelings’ is the one to break the mould; written two years later, its spiralling rhythms and warm, melodic glow are countered by oddball guitar licks and trademark cowbell flashes, keeping it grimy right to the very end. 7/10

Kid D – ‘Timing’ (AP Life)

Energy!

Bok Bok’s AP Life label began life in rude health with Nammy Wam’s ‘Paradise South’ tape back in March and continue apace with grime mastermind, Kid D, who turns in four of his mercurial best on new EP, ’Timing’. Landing just in advance of new album, ‘Substance’, it’s a record that strips back the layers on Kid D’s sound, distilling some of his busier sounds down to their core fundamentals. There’s a huge square wave punch tempered by RnG flavours on crunching, standout opener, ‘Bar 4 Bar’, for example, where as ‘Don’t Play’ offers up his take on the sort of mutant drill beats that feel like the label’s lifeblood. The grand, booming pulse of ‘Yeah Yeah’ is vintage Kid D, albeit spiked with flashes of percussion and earworm choral chants, before the sugary, sweetboy tones of final track ‘The Eyes’ sign off an a record that elevates a veteran producer to new heights. 8/10

Grandmixxer – ‘Hypersonic Symphony’ (South London Space Agency)

Lift Off

Grandmixxer’s grown in confidence as both a producer and de facto flag bearer since the launch of his SLSA label in 2017, working tirelessly behind-the-scenes to bring his vision for grime to life. The results are uncompromising, unapologetic and often brilliant, as evidenced by the power and the drama of latest three-track EP, ‘Hypersonic Symphony’. With each track clocking in at between 7 and 10 minutes, there’s enough in the tank to transport Grandmixxer’s music into new spaces — these feel less a collection of beats and more twists on performance art, dispatched through the medium of two decks and a mixer. The grandiose, orchestral rush of ‘Kennington To Berlin’ borders on spiritual, while the detuned square-wave buzz, muffled chanting and emotional melodies of ‘Walking 2 Africa’ are both heady and trance-like. Final track ‘Motherland Math’ is the shortest of the three, toying with darker atmospheres offset by giddy xylophones, with the whole record coming together as one pretty extraordinary, 27-minute long canvas. 9/10

Monitor

April was a stacked month full of new music, including Clearlight & Owl’s new ‘Red Clouds’ EP on DNO Records, new Wheelton on Foto Sounds — a cosmic three-tracker inspired by the outer margins of the solar system — and Arkham Sound’s big and bad ‘Mercy / If Only You Knew’ 12” on Sub Audio Records … There was also more from Drone, this time via a collaborative 12” alongside Hyroglifics, for V.I.V.E.K’s SYSTEM label — and it’s typically deadly! — with a special mention also going to Duckem re: his ambitious and expansive new ‘Eternal’ EP, which flits between tempo, pattern and texture across five barnstorming tracks …. Veteran grime producer JT The Goon was also busy on the buttons, dropping another gem of an EP (‘Depths Of Life’) via Earthspin Recordings … and Belgian dubstep outpost, DUPLOC, launched their 140 ALLSTARS series in homage to Tempa’s series of the same name — it features six tracks from six different producers including JSM, Crowley and Ome … Be sure to check out new grime singles from prolific MC, Logan, who also produced the beat on the off-kilter and explosive ‘One Way’, and Slowie & $H The Producer’s ‘What Ya Know About’ — released via his DeeOh7, it dropped alongside a special short film spotlighting the mood in East Bristol during the last days of Thatcherite Britain … and finally (!), we recommend checking Tokyo-based producer Primula’s sparkling, fascinating new album, ‘Root Layers’, on Eastern Margins — a record joining the dots between experimental grime, wonky dubstep and video game OSTs, featuring collaborations with fellow Japanese artists Ill Japonia, ONJUICY and SVBKVLT producer, Prettybwoy.

(Drone)

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