A temporary home for monthly Mixmag Grime & Dubstep reviews while the magazine remains out of print — here are June’s picks.
Album of the Month: One Bok – ‘Zodiac Beats Volume 1 & 2’ (AP Life)
One of 2021’s defining releases
2. Nine Saturn
Bok Bok dons a new moniker as One Bok for his first record on his new AP Life imprint — a rugged 10-track collection of cathartic drill beats and wired offshoot mutations. Rooted firmly in the city, it picks up the baton from where Nammy Wams’ ‘Paradise South’ album — AP Life’s inaugural release — left off, finding inspiration in London’s greying, suffocating, concrete malaise. These feelings are present in the sounds of every track here, too; the sullen, tempered boom and shrill vocal cries of ‘Capricorn’, the pensive guitar licks of ‘Nine Saturn’ — a nod to emotional grime classics like Ruff Sqwad’s ‘Together’ — and the overarching, stomach-turning sense of unease that seems to permeate tracks like ‘Leo’ and ‘Fifty’. Although a skilled technician and master of club nuance, ‘Zodiac Beats Volume 1 & 2’ sees Bok prioritise feelings over functionality — and he more than pulls it off. As with everything that’s landed on AP Life so far, it’s got future classic written all over it, too. 9/10
Tune of the Month: The Bug – ‘Clash’ ft. Logan (Ninja Tune)
Lifted as the first single from The Bug’s recently announced new album, ‘Fire’ — Kevin Martin’s first under The Bug moniker in seven years — ‘Clash’ lays down an explosive, pulsating marker from the jump; he’s back alright. Joining forces with one of grime’s most prolific and exciting next-gen MCs in Logan, The Bug deploys every weapon in his arsenal across a huge, devastating wall of sound. The beats are scorched, the textures stormy and the atmospherics dense and heady, with every bar landing like a thunderbolt to the temple. Logan’s barbed, menacing cadence fits like a glove too, as he flows between ragged, crunching beats without breaking sweat on a record that captures two artists, albeit of different vanguards, right at the top of their game. Roll on the album. 9/10
Kaiju – ‘Troll’ EP (Deep Medi Musik)
Big, bad and brilliant
Kaiju have been churning out some of Medi’s best plates since 2015, and here the duo are back on bullish form. Title-track ’Troll’ almost never surfaced — it was originally made on an old DAW called Acid and apparently took years to reconfigure — but it’s monstrous from the jump, lurching forward with contorted dub horns, sharp breaks and rolling, gut-twisting sub. Second track ‘Counter It’ buzzes with oddball samples and jazzy notes, albeit again bankrolled by a hefty, bone-shaking dose of sub, before rasping final cut ‘The Terrible’ plunges the EP into (somehow!) even deeper, darker territory. Prepare for all three tracks to turn dances upside down, given the chance. 8/10
Orwell – ‘Tears In The Rain’ EP (Cella Records)
Who saw this coming?
Three tracks of super impressive, power-play system music from Orwell on Turner’s Cella Records imprint here. With dubstep still loosely at its core, ‘Tears In The Rain’ taps grime and drill sounds from the off — the title-track is awash with scything square wave drills and big, blaring horn charges — while second track ‘Seek Out’ feels both melancholy and meditative; think big, thugged-out 808 rumbles offset by long, dwindling synth lines. This sense of yearning is continued on EP standout, ‘Orna’ ft. Pablo Brown, which closes out, albeit still grounded by punchy, robust 808 stabs, with delicate, dizzying flutes playing to a tugging, overriding sense of loss. 8/10
Various – ‘Dug Out Dubs Volume One’ (DeeOh7)
Dig in, dug out!
Slowie’s DeeOh7 label continues a quick-fire start to life with new seven-track, multi-artist compilation, ‘Dug Out Dubs Volume One’. Featuring a slew of new school producer talent — everyone from Beanzo to Jakebob to Baileys Brown all feature — it serves as a bustling entry point to the label’s fast-unfurling outlook. From greazy, bone-rattling, Commodo-esque dubstep (Baileys Brown – ‘Family Number’), mechanised DJ tools (Beanzo – ’Twilight’) and pure, trapped-out head-nodders (Mr Skandal – ‘Gladiator’) to Sertee’s ‘Airplane Mode’ — a breezy, late summer twist on melodic drill — there’s gold to be found right across the tracklist. 7/10
Reflec – ‘Switch’ EP (SOAKER SOUND)
Switch on, turn up!
Reflec christens his new SOAKER SOUND imprint with six, full-blooded grime experiments on debut EP, ’Switch’. Flitting between the stripped back, essentialist takes of producers like East Man and a more fluid, busier sound, it’s an EP that feels urgent, immediate, pressing. Opener ‘Switch’ flexes the rubbery, aqua-grime of Boxed-era instrumentals circa 2014, while the anxious, frenetic string work and oscillating square waves of tracks like ‘Chambers’ and ‘Scorpio’ are palpably tense and moody. Bouncy fourth track ‘Rituals’ feels more in keeping with the work of grime OGs like Pulse X mastermind Youngstar, while final tracks ‘Sleep’ — again tapping the Boxed-era canon — and oddball, technoid roller ‘Peppermint’ finish with a stark, experimental flourish. 8/10
Jakebob – ’20 Twenty One’ (Bandcamp)
Not your average grime producer
More booming, intelligent wot-do-you-call-it grime fodder from Jakebob — an artist slowly becoming one of the underground’s most reliable names. ’20 Twenty One’ was a standout drop from his latest slew of self-released material — his Bandcamp alone now boasts over 100 tracks — cutting between booming 808 stabs, Balearic strings (the sample lifted from Metallica’s ‘One’) and neon-lit, trance-y synths on a track designed to make heads swirl. Grab it! 8/10
Hitpoint – ‘Detached’ EP (Bandcamp)
He may be based in Marbella, but it sounds like Hitpoint might have swapped the palm trees for breeze blocks on barnstorming new EP, ‘Detached’. Comprised of four tracks that drift between icy, fluttery, future-facing grime sketches (‘Detached’) and menacing, chop-and-screw style burners (‘First Dawn’), it forms a fiery introduction to a producer full of both ambition and potential. The EP also comes complete with a snarling, hyper-moody remix of Crafty 893’s ‘Do What, Do Where’, with the instrumental (‘Car Boot’) thrown in for good measure, too. Definitely a name to watch. 7/10
Grawinkel – ‘Nightwave’ EP (Badman Studios)
A real surprise package
Four weighty system slammers from Dresden-based producer, Grawinkel, who makes a fitting addition the ranks of San Francisco’s Badman Studios — a label slowly carving out their own lane in the wider dubstep community. Opener ‘Nightwave’ is huge on the low end, the bass whirring like a fan while bright, flashlight synths dance and buzz atop — think Tokyo Drift meets Tron Legacy in places — while the sombre, booming lean of ‘March’ feels genuinely mournful; those strings! The filmic crackle, orchestral rumble and copy-pasted vocal patches on third track ‘Appa’ — he was a flying bison in ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ — are an EP curveball but still great fun, while the skittish, helter-skelter rhythms and elastic wobble of final track ‘Rise’ sign off with aplomb. Proper! 9/10
Cesrv, Fleezus, Febem – ‘BRIME!’ (Butterz)
Welcome to São Paulo, Butterz style!
Even over a decade since its inception, Elijah & Skilliam’s Butterz label continue to pioneer new ways of experiencing grime music. ‘BRIME!’ — the first, fully Brazilian grime record ever made available on wax — may only be a reissue, (it was originally released via Brazilian label, Ceia, back in March 2020), but it promises to be the first in a series of new Butterz projects exploring sounds between São Paulo and London. Anchored in São Paulo itself, the rise (and popularity) of the Brazilian grime scene has been well documented over the last five years — as have its rhythmic similarities to Baile Funk — but few have invested like Butterz. Cesrv, Fleezus & Flebem are in rude health across all six tracks too; from the skippy drums, thumping stabs and piercing, rally-style bars of opener ‘Raddim’ to the booming ‘Fala Memo’ — complete with ominous, spoken word hooks and a guest verse from Jevon — to the crystallised eski flutes of ‘Chelsea’, the tracklist is totally infectious. Vai Brasil! 9/10
As well as releasing new single ‘Clash’ ft. Logan, The Bug has also announced a new album — his first solo LP for seven years (!) … ‘Fire’ is out August 27th and promises to be his most incendiary yet, with a feature list boasting the likes of Manga St Hilare, Iran, Flowdan, FFSWHYTHO, Logan and Moor Mother … mega! Be on the look out for a scorching new Sukh Knight plate (‘Hawk / Poison’) over the next few months, too … and keep tabs on a standout new M.I.C EP, produced entirely by Nammy Wams … described as ‘6 tracks of grime music written, produced and performed to the highest standard’, ‘YOU CAN ACHIEVE ANYTHING’ is already shaping up to be one of the summer’s definitive grime records, complete with features from JME and Jawnino … elsewhere, look out for a trio of statement dubstep 12”s over the next month — Ramsez’s ‘Hexagons’ EP on Silent Motion, Hypho, Abstract Sonance and Rakjay joining forces on new EP, ‘Nintendo’, for Infernal Sounds and a new Cimm plate on Youngsta’s Sentry Records label … ‘Conman / So’ is due July 23 … Finally, a name to keep tabs on — Bristol-based, Irish producer Burke has spent the last 12 months firing out militant drill beats at regular intervals … usually released in small batches, or sometimes as individual instrumentals as part of his Beats By Burke catalogue, his work may remain largely untapped for now but his range and consistency is starting to turn heads … recent drops ‘WEST’ and ‘GLIZZY’ are great entry points for those wanting to get familiar. Tip!