— GRIME & DUBSTEP MONTHLY™ —

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

(Mungk)

Album of the Month: Mungk – ‘Temple Of Mungk’ (DUPLOC)

A faraway odyssey

Highlights

1. Shaolin

2. Voyage

3. Bazaar

Leeds-based producer Mungk follows up his ‘Kuji’ EP, released via DUPLOC back in February, with ‘Temple Of Mungk’ — an extraordinary, 17-track epic inspired by the fictional story of a monk who travels from China through the Middle East and into Africa. Exploring myriad sounds, rhythms and textures, as well as a slew of traditional instruments, he builds a vast soundscape that traces every stop on the journey — from pensive opening tracks like ‘Spirit’ to the magical, dizzying rush of ‘Bazaar’ into the frenetic drum rhythms of ‘Congo’. Largely explored through the lens of dubstep and other hybrid bass strands, ’Temple Of Mungk’ buzzes from edge-to-edge, too; every track earns its place. There are an exhaustive list of highlights — our tips include ‘Shaolin’ and the rich cinema of ‘Voyage’ — but the biggest compliment we can pay is that for all its scale and depth, Mungk never loses sight of the bigger picture nor the story he wants to tell. The result? It comes together like a tapestry. 8/10

(Mic Ty)

Tune of the Month: Mic Ty – ‘8 Out Of 10 Cats’ ft. Jammz (Bandcamp)

Champion form

Mic Ty has long been a precocious talent on mic, revered for his energy and fierce, barbed delivery — a calling card that made him a standout name in grime’s golden generation of MCs circa 2015. On ‘8 Out Of 10 Cats’, a recent single drop via his Bandcamp, he’s back on champion form. Joining forces with Jammz, who lends a nifty verse(s) of his own, Ty sounds confident, free and full of personality; “See I woke up this morning, fed my cats before I fed myself, that’s a whole lotta goodness” he spits in his opening volley. The instrumental is bright and breezy too, echoing the sort of beat palette that Lemzly Dale is pushing via his Pearly Whites label, and suits the lo-slung, late summer mood Ty nails here. Understated, but superb. 9/10

Hella x Logan – ‘Chattings’ (Sub Merchants)

Every soundboy shut up!

Sub Merchants have enjoyed a stellar start to life as a label, firing out releases at a rate of knots since TMSV’s debut plate back in July 2020. Their latest sees Bristol-based producer Hella team up with Logan, one of the most prolific MCs out right now, on ‘Chattings’ — a single anchored in the darkest corners of the club. The beat is dark but largely skeletal, functioning around swooping square wave flashes and grumbling low-end stabs in the style of classic instrumental producers like Bloom, while Logan’s hooks — bordering on ominous spoken word — are infectious and full-blooded. The formula might be tried-and-tested, but when executed (and balanced) this well, you can’t fault it. Big riddim. 8/10

Hannibal Rex – ‘Hannibal Rex Is Not Your Father’ (Kikuji Records)

Wild!

More wild and wonderful fodder from Kikuji, who turn heads again here on ‘Hannibal Rex is Not Your Father’ — Hannibal’s third EP for the label in a little over a year. The snaking, percussive rattle and gloomy textures of opener ‘Misfortune’ last a little over two and half minutes before being hit with a melee of crushing, distorted breaks and rasping white noise, while the fuzzy, garage band charm of oddball crooner’s anthem, ‘Kingstheme’, is scratch-your-head worthy. Third track ‘That Pesky Mess’ is just as baffling — a woozy, contorted haze of heavy guitar solos and broken beats — while final cut, ‘So Be It, So It Be’ is a total palette cleanser; think somewhere between ‘A Grand Doesn’t Come For Free’ era Mike Skinner and Portishead. 7/10

A.G – ‘donotdisturb’ (Bandcamp)

Pay attention!

‘donotdisturb’ is the latest in a series of killer instrumental releases by A.G, who continues to build out her production footprint apace this year. Comprised of three tracks, EP opener ‘do little’ is bright and breezy, cut with bags of skippy energy, while ‘always you’ lands as a booming slice of rhythmic, sample-based drill. Final jam ‘attention seeker’ — leaning more toward US rap styles — is perhaps the pick of all three, the beat tempered by gorgeous, strung-out vocal loops and delicate, trinket box melodies, giving it plenty of extra detail in the headphones. 8/10

Gantz – ‘KILL GANTZ’ EP (Bandcamp)

Master of the dark arts

Gantz’ dark and inimitable style has long-since made him a cult figure within wider dubstep circles and latest, surprise drop EP, ‘KILL GANTZ’ — the third he’s released so far this year — lands as a testament to that continuing legacy. Opener ‘FATALIST’ is heavy and menacing, its pressure both crushing and disconcerting — listen out for the shiver-inducing whispers — while the brooding, off-kilter battle charge, looped shrieks and spiralling metalwork crunch of ‘CHOOSE UR SKIN’ is palpably tense. The lo-slung beats and chiming melodies of ‘SELF EATER’ are stark and gripping too, while final track, ‘A WOMAN IN TROUBLE’, moves between freeze-dried patches of distortion and gothic, horror-score melody flushes. Brrrrr! 9/10

AKA AFK – ‘Scarface’ (Bandcamp)

Vai Brasil!

Sao Paulo’s AKA AFK has emerged as a key, breakout name from Brasil’s blossoming grime scene over the last six months. Breathless but rhythmic on mic, his vocals might be in Portuguese but as demonstrated on the anthemic ‘Pull Up’ — his first single to really make waves in the UK — he can certainly capture the imagination. On new single ’Scarface’, AKA AFK works a similar formula, this time over a hazy, drill-flavoured beat (complete with sax!) by Birmingham-based producer, Felix Dubs, on a track that signals there may be a lot more to come. Don’t sleep! 8/10

Trends – ‘Industrial Injection’ EP (Beatcamp)

Consistent as gravity 

Long-awaited, blood-and-guts sorcery from Trends, who debuts on P Jam’s Beatcamp label with powerhouse new EP ‘Industrial Injection’ here. Across three tracks, his dark, twisted, teeth-gnashing vision for grime is played out in full colour; from the skippy, low-end cannon of the title-track through to the scything, demonic chill of looming final anthem, ‘City Lights’. Sandwiched in between the two is near-curveball, ‘Jitterbug’, which dances to its own tune thanks to its light, breezy percussion and two-step pulse, but this is still a record rooted in — and emboldened by — its ferocity. 8/10

Inner – ‘Drain’ (Circadian Rhythms)

One to get lost in

Finnish producer Inner has long been a Circadian Rhythms affiliate and finally makes his debut proper on new four-track EP, ‘Drain’ — a solo extension of the work first explored on 2018’s collaborative EP, ’Cold Ascent’, which he co-wrote with Last Japan. Described as a ‘mutant collage of sound, textures and rhythms’, ‘Drain’ slots into the CR discography with ease, the icy, subzero textures lending themselves well to records by the likes of Toasty and Plata, while also laying down its own marker. The solemn, square-wave dance of opener ’Sirenz’, albeit offset by blaring, faraway sirens and pensive strings, is strangely beautiful, while the sugary, twinkling distortion and whirring sub of ‘Drain’ feels positively manic. There’s also room for the stark, crackling dystopia of beat-less wonder ‘Birds Through Smog’ before standout cut, ‘Life Riddim’ — a scything, grimy twist on rough vs smooth, again laced with gorgeous string work — signs off. 9/10

Spooky – ‘The Rapid EP’ (Bandcamp)

More from the vaults 

Spooky might not need much by way of an introduction in this column, but his capacity for churning out new grime beats, as well as sourcing rarities and forgotten classics — and putting in relentless hours on the radio! — continues to defy the odds. His latest collection, simply titled ‘The Rapid EP’, details five archive tracks originally penned in 2008, in the style of Rapid and Ruff Sqwad. From playful, glitchy opener ‘Holly Bush Gardens’ to the looping, funky drums of ‘The Jester’ and the razor sharp, neck-snap claps and crashing symbols of ‘No Hype’, there’s gold to be found right across the track list. It may go over a few heads, but records like this are an archivist’s dream. 7/10

Monitor

This month, look out for killer new grime albums by both Kid D (’Substance’), fresh off the back of his drill-flavoured EP for Bok Bok’s AP Life, and a full colour instrumental showcase by Owly Beats on Slimzos courtesy of his debut LP, ‘Nocturnal’ … June also welcomed Iglew back in from the cold after a six-year hiatus — superb new five-track record ‘Light Armour’ on Wisdom Teeth might not be a natural fit for this column, but Iglew’s work on 2015 EP, ‘Urban Myth’, marked him out as a mercurial talent and we’re chuffed to see him releasing music again … look out for more barnstorming dubstep slammers from In:Flux Audio too … Dystinkt’s ‘Technicolour’ EP packs a hell of a punch … and don’t sleep on a six-track instrumental care package by hotly-tipped young MC and emerging producer, SBK — ‘Approved’ is out now via Bandcamp. 

(Iglew)

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