Pugilist: Raindance EP

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Pugilist smashes it again on Kenzo’s Artikal. He’s going to be one to watch if he keeps this up. ‘Raindance’ drops dessicated, concrete block beats and such hugely compressed bass weight you feel like you’re levitating a few inches off the floor on a magic carpet of low frequencies. No idea how the kid does it? but it’s special!
‘Murmur’ is the other standout for me, with a quirky stagger and lolloping swing to the groove; more slimey, rolling, more organic and wastelandish.

Pugilist: Astral Plane

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This is more like it. If you’re going to slavishly emulate and/or reference an all out Dub aesthetic you may as well come correct and get heavy with the business, rather than faff around with all this tasteful, fussy, calibration and twee restraint. Here we have the convincing, unforgiving smack, thud and pummel of a running-it-red, booming rig at peak witching hour, absolutely wiping the floor with the tepid likes of aforementioned Karma and other lightweight wannabes. I mean it’s not hard to do, if you set your dial to it, so better cut it professional with thick and oily ganja fug, and not fuck around, knowhaddmean?

To be honest I think this is a raw nerve within the Dubstep ‘community’. This blog has more tumbleweeds rolling through it than an abandoned desert western film set most of the time, ya get me? so when I posted some knocked off, rambling thoughts about Digidub v Dubstep last year, I was more than a little surprised to have more reads/visitors in a few hours/days than I get in a couple of months!? Go figure. I should re-write that piece properly and flesh out my argument coherently (if and when I can be bothered) because I was clearly on to something?

dBridge: Digital Dread/Fashion Dread

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First release on Youngsta’s “new” Sentry label. Although why he should decide to enter the label fray now with such a bland offering is anyone’s guess? When you’re talking about Youngsta (DJ sets or co-productions etc.) it doesn’t really matter who the artist is really. Whether it’s dBridge, or whoever, is kind of beside the point; it all has to sound, with barely any deviation over the years, the same old = plod. Carrying on my train of thought from Karma’s release, this is surely a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes; dry and by-the-book generics; all psuedo-academic chill and irritatingly prim and precise, with a final squirt of mandatory rasta foolishness/sauce to mask the denuded taste. No tweaking or risk taking of anything whatsoever (over a decade now and counting!?!) Unbelievable that he’s actually lauded for this, as a kind of ‘focused’, no-sell-out, aesthete. Their scene, their little duck pond, not mine, thanks be.

Dead Noise System: Bulkhead EP

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A superb new EP of pitiless, dystopian bleakness from the blasted, no-man’s land specialists DNS.

Far from evoking an underwater glide as the titles suggests (it just sounds too jagged, too ploughed up and ruptured to evoke the cold liquidity of the atlantic trench? A grim hunt, sure, but) ‘Radar’ feels rooted in a cold and lifeless landscape: Sea or land metaphors aside, this is probably their finest black ops, deep insertion yet. A rusty metallic beat clanks hard through the sinister creep of mustard gas FX and drone, while the bass saws and belches are so smeared out by reverb they merely fizzle limply above the wasteland like desperate flares put up in panic by wired sentries – highly unnerving and original.

There are possibly some comparisons to the likes of ARtroniks et al. to be made here. There’s a definite sub-cadre (away from from the big name dubstep ‘dons’ and labels) expertly crafting away in grim defiance who mercifully don’t seem to give a shit about producing according to the whims of the times, who don’t want their sound to be decorative, but true. There’s no false musical consciousness, just a kind of stoical grunt work that hits harder – DNS are dug in deep to their territory in this respect. Just don’t try a frontal assault on their position!

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Leon Switch: Intrepid

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Like the Krease EP, essentially slowed down drum & bass. It has all the trappings of ‘dark’, has all the right ingredients and is certainly tech crafted, but ultimately it feels so self-conscious and self-regulated it almost sounds tired and by the book. Just makes me want to go and listen to the Moving Fusion, Ram Recs et al. back catalogue again. One for the bag no doubt, but a prisoner of its own devices.