It feels like ages since the start of May and ages since I actually wrote anything. Anyway, here’s some grime & bass music records I bought or liked this month.
Footsie – No Favours
There are a few different styles on “No Favours”, but the album is at its best when Footsie leans in to his sound man flex. ‘Finesse’ and ‘Music Money’ are bassy speaker breakers; while “Hills of Zion” flips a reggae sample and features an ice cold guest verse from Durrty Goodz. Elsewhere, Footsie freestyles over this mythical Skream beat on ‘Pattern & Program’, with ‘No Favours’ and ‘Underwater’ providing a laid back tonic to all of the heavy shelling. Overall. “No Favours” marks Footsie’s entry into the canon of albums made by grime’s veteran class, and he does a good job of presenting grime as a genre with plenty of different sonic avenues. If anyone tells you grime is one dimensional, tell them to press play on this and prove them wrong.
JT The Goon – Unknown Journey EP
Grime has a history of melodic producers and JT The Goon is up there with the best. ‘Unknown Journey’ is as searching as the title suggests; while ‘Smashed Dimensions’ opens up with an ominous intro and then slaps you in the face with huge bass lines. Definitely one to break up the monotony of one a day trips to the supermarket and state sanctioned running sessions. Things get interesting in the middle, as ‘Frosty Clicks’ and ‘Battery’ are driven by bleeps, clicks and hard percussion, gaining their impact from a sustained vibe rather than the raw power of the final track. “Unknown Journey” is JT’s second release this year, so lets hope he’s got more in store over the coming months.
Moscow Legend – TEK DIS!
If you’re regularly locked into Grandmixxer, Oblig and DJ Courts you’ll hear Moscow Legend’s tunes gracing their sets. It’s easy to see why. ‘Tek Dis!’ blends bruising percussion, mangled bass and choppy vocal samples for a five minute blast of intense grime music. Two VIP versions of the opener and ‘Gemme Dat Girl’ make up the rest of the EP; the final track mixing weird samples and more atonal vocal cuts to close out with a bang. “Tek Dis!” is a great example of grime as pure club music, so it’s aimed more at the DJ’s. Still, if you want to lose your head to twenty minutes of off the wall bangers, this one’s definitely for you.
Kai Barrett – When The Sun Goes Down
Going from the club to the afters with “When The Sun Goes Down”, a three track EP from young producer Kai Barrett’. ‘North London Skyline’ reminds me of 2015 era Different Circles, lots of soft synths and no drums, capturing the hyper-emotive strand of bass music very well. ‘Horizon’ and ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ keep on the warm and fuzzy tip, adding some skippy percussion lines to drive the two tracks into club territory. The former could work well as a set opener, while I can see the latter being a good backing for a daring emcee to spit some bars over. Overall, Kai Barett nails the weightless aesthetic well, definitely a producer to watch over the next few months.
Rapture 4D – Delirium
Keeping things on the out-there tip is “Delirium”, the latest EP from Glasgow’s Rapture 4D. Opening track ‘Dreamcatcher’ is packed with square waves and crashing bass, subtly changing in structure and adding different elements as the track progresses; while ‘Hyperspace Blues’ charges through the speakers with a beefy lead line. ‘Balance VIP’ closes out the record, a devil mix that will take your head off with weird glitches and more heavy square waves.
Filthy Gears – Conduct Us
I’m pretty sure Filthy Gears puts out a record a month. Anyway, my favourite track on this remix album is the rework of ‘Flex’, which Filthy morphs into a mid tempo cut with a smooth as you like guitar lick underneath the vocal. ‘S.O.F’ builds some tense strings around Deadly & Mayhem NODB’s bars; while ‘Run From War’ reworks Logan’s original into a brass heavy grime tune. You don’t need me to tell you that Filthy Gears is more than competent at production, so grab this one for new takes on tunes by emcees past and present.
Kotei, Jack Dat, Teeza & Isco – NS003
Natural Selection is a label by Kotei and “NS003” is the third release so far. The record is definitely aimed toward the clubs, but it’s not rigid sound wise, instead taking little bits from grime, dubstep, drill and garage. ‘Ten Toes’ by Teeza & Jack Dat is as dark as you like, catching the ear with a bleeding edge bass that comes in and out of the track every few bars. Izco & Kotei collaborate on ‘Nightscape’, a breezy track with a really nice reverse melody floating over the top of the percussion lines. A promising release from a new label, so be sure to keep your eyes out for what comes next.
Grandmixxer & Scratcha DVA – Mixx & Scratch
I’ve never really thought about how a collaboration between Grandmixxer and Scratcha DVA would sound, but it makes sense now they’ve put a record out. Both seem to make music with a freedom, as evidenced by the extended tracks Grandmixxer releases and Scratcha’s material that spans loads of underground genres. “Mixx & Scratch” includes ‘Nastiest’ – the instrumental for the Mez tune of the same name – and it sounds great as a cut of weird instrumental music. Elsewhere, ‘Gabba’ mixes haunted piano riffs and sharp percussion; while ‘Narco’ features a long, winding and angelic bass line with some euphoric samples over the top. Overall, “Mixx & Scratch” is a cool record from two beat makers who like to think outside of the box.
Various Artists – IAG is The Label, Vol. 1
The I Am Grime show on Rinse FM is my favourite shows on radio at the minute, a great place to listen to all of the label’s forthcoming music and hear producers get creative with samples picked out by the biggest names in underground music. “IAG Is The Label, Vol.1” features a selection of producer from the camp, each contributing to the record with their own flavour. ‘Sao Bolo’ weaves dark AMS lines around a Portuguese vocal sample; ‘What You Know About?’ is all dark pads, delayed eski clicks and choppy percussion; while ‘Gundam Wing’ lays down a set dreamy melodies and a subtle vocal line in the background. Plenty of vibes on this one from a mixture of established and lesser known names.
Boardgame James – Daydream
I’ve liked every release on 1000Doors so far. The label is back this month with “Daydream”, the debut EP from label co-founder Boardgame James. Both ‘Swamp Thing’ and ‘Sun God’ feature triumphant sounding strings, nailing the essence of classic and melodic grime, without sounding thin or derivative. Elsewhere ‘Chosen One’ samples Final Fantasy and is simply put, a banger. Final track ‘Specialised Movers’ has more of the classic grime essence, the samples in the background giving the tune a light and free-flowing feeling. Overall, “Daydream” shows you can show appreciation for a bygone era while still bringing creativity to the table.