The current landscape of 140BPM bass music is at the same time dense, complex and ever-moving. Patterns and trends adapt, evolve, flowing from one genre to another, in what appears to be an open nebula of styles linking dubstep, grime, UK Garage, trap and more. The scene is crowded too, with fire being released from all sides of the spectrum, whether it be new artists and imprints making an impression or longstanding institutions proving their worth one catalog number after another. All these factors suggest it may be relevant to shape a more synthetic view, bringing together key releases coming from the whole 140 BPM continuum to perceive ongoing mutations of these sounds. Hence this new monthly roundup, summing up in a few releases what is going on in the 140 world.
- Dark Tantrums – Command (Infernal Sounds, IFS011)
- Argo – Daredevil (Artikal Music, ARTKL035)
From the very beginning, it was clear October would be a packed affair, with multiple big releases involving some of the main players in the current scene. Infernal Sounds, one of the most trustworthy voices in contemporary bass music, opened things up with its eleventh release, which sees Dark Tantrums joining its catalog. Responsible for some of the dubstep classics of the decade – let’s just mention “Unborn”, title track from his 2012 Deep Medi release – Dark Tantrums delivers one of the tunes of the moments with the menacing bass and assertive beat of lead track “Command”. The B-side brings more classic Dark Tantrums vibes, with the growling number that is “Darkside” and the staccato stabs of “Time Warp”. Infernal Sounds wasn’t alone though, as Artikal Music once again stepped up with Argo’s return to the label. One more opportunity for the French producer to showcase his refined take on deep and melodic dubstep. Taking cues from trap music, and featuring excellent sound design as always, “Daredevil” is Argo as its best, bringing together the decaying sounds of “Keje” or “Dimez”’ and melancholy vibes with the esoteric flutes of the title tracks – one of this month’s hits for sure.
- DubDiggerz - Bogu / Dark Dawn (TRUSIK, TRSK004)
- Leap – Mäyä / Phantom (Sub Audio Records, SUBAD010)
A mere two months after its third release, the UK webzine TRUSIK confirmed the vitality of its label platform, as well as that of the Central European dubstep scene, with two new tracks from Slovenian duo DubDiggerz. Following on from their recent EP on Navy Cuts, TRSK004 shows DubDiggerz earning their name again, with two weighty tunes focusing on bass pressure and displaying excellent use of space – minimalistic, efficient and profound. More proof of the strength of the Central European scene came in the form of Vienna’s own Sub Audio Records’ tenth digital release, courtesy of Budapest-based producer Leap. Where “Mäyä” features quality halfstep vibes, with classic use of sub-bass and reverberated sounds, “Phantom” proves that Leap does not shy away from using more unconventional percussion patterns, with a rolling beat that seems to pack itself around weird tones and the distant sounds of a violin.
- Jammer – Jammer Dubz Vol. 3 (Jammer)
October wasn’t all dubstep though. The grime front brought all kinds of flavours too, from the old school to the latest developments in the scene. The month began with an echo of where it all started, as Jammer put together the third installment of his Jammer Dubz series, collecting unreleased dubs and long-unavailable classics from ‘03/’04 and giving them a new life in the digital realm. Just like the first two editions, this third volume appears as a history lesson, giving us an insight in the birth of grime. This is grime at its more minimal and radical, exerting full fascination; some of these tunes also are amongst the best of that era, notably “Feedback”, which sums up the essence of grime’s initial energy.https://youtu.be/bB2GjLSWRmI
- G1 – The Mythical (Strictly 140, STRCT003)
- Slowie – Snakes & Blaggers (Durkle Disco, DURK022)
Fast forward to 2018, and meet G1, an enigmatic figure that just put out four tracks through Strictly 140 infallible imprint. Supposedly a producer with no online presence whatsoever, G1 definitely took time to hone his skills as these four beats are trap-infused grime at its finest, melting classic grime stabs and vibes over dynamic hi-hats and 808s. “Ghostface” is the standout here, with a sample that will bring character to any and every set. Another label, another mythical figure – Bristol mainstay Durkle Disco brought us the first EP from Slowie, one of the city’s most renowned MCs, who never ventured on the discographic field before. Koast’s label summoned a dream team of Bristol producers for this one, with Jakes, Lamont, Caski and Gemmy all contributing some of their more inventive beats of late, setting pace for Slowie’s distinctive flow – an excellent effort throughout.
- Korin Complex – No Statement (Simply Deep, SD012)
- Skintdisco – Free EP (Skintdisco)
- V/A – Dread Summoned (Dread or Dead Records, DOD001)
To round things up, let’s mention a few releases that came out towards the end of the month, maintaining the 140 pulse throughout the whole of October. It would be tough not to mention Korin Complex’s mammoth seven-tracker for Simply Deep – a creative whole of solo productions, collaborations and remixes bringing together DJ Variant, Dalek One, Darkraqqen and The Greys, seeing “Ancient Contact”’s bassweight collide with “Espresso”’ steppy beats, or the dissolved vibes of Darkraqqen’s “Density” remix encounter the skippy patterns of the original track. Impossible not to mention Skintdisco’s huge Free EP, either. Ten tracks worth, it really is more of an LP than an EP, but it’s really good nonetheless – expect intense bass, spacey atmosphere, loose beats as well as a great collaboration with DNAmi and a suffocating VIP of “Type Zero”. I’ll close things off with fresh talent, as Portsmouth’s Dread Or Dead Records just released its first compilation, Dread Summoned, gathering some of the most promising names working in the dubstep cannon at the moment – Nova, Substrada, Sense Impression and plenty more furnish this debut release with first-class beats that promise more heat to come in the subsequent editions of this roundup.