Friday, 28 March 2014

Review: Biome - Layers EP

Following a relatively quiet 2013, Biome returns and takes the release process into his own hands with the Layers EP. Encapsulated in the EP's title is a sense of moving up and down through the tempo spectrum: this is Biome's first release to fully engage with his cross-tempo experiments. Though best known for his work around the 140 notch, pitching things down is nothing new to the Manchester producer, having released previously on fellow Mancunian Indigo's Mindset label. In fact a useful touchpoint here would be Indigo's own Akkord project, whose album Biome also contributed, as we see a similarly raw, almost industrially approach to the blend of style and influence on show. In many ways, what we're seeing here is Biome showing off the full potential of a sound that has been undeniably his own, despite the many imitators, for the last half decade.

'Happiness' eases proceedings in with airy pads, delayed vocals and shuffling hats, whilst 'Broken' and 'Rise Up' provide more familiar territory for the majority of Biome's fanbase, and are a deft reminder of why he continues to hold such stead within the scene. 'Layers' and 'Philly Blunt' meanwhile, provide the EP's standout moments; the former is tightly-coiled, pounding UK funky rhythms married with characteristic dashes of reese, and the latter a rolling, pummelling junglist history lesson. Winding down, 'Foreigner' and 'Hajime' are both beautifully spacious, and further demonstrate Biome's remarkable versatility - it's rare to see a producer able to imbue such a varied spectrum of musical tone and movement with their own unique sound and presence.

Preview and purchase the Layers EP from the Bandcamp embed below.


Monday, 24 March 2014

Top Ten: DjRum picks out ten of the best from Bristol

DjRum completes a sturdy lineup for Tempo Clash which features an extended set from Hedmuk favourites Akkord, as well as appearances from Visionist, the inimitable Tempo Clash residents - Blue Daisy and Kidkanevil - and the broken barrier stylings of  Filter Dread, with Luke Benjamin lurking around the mic stand. The event will take place at London's Autumn Street Studios, and advance tickets are available from

In the run-up to the night we got in touch with DjRum to take us through some of his favourite records to have emerged from his hometown of Bristol, and the results are as varied and interesting as could be expected from a producer known for his wide-ranging sample library and cross-genre approach to making music.

Hedmuk: Bristol is a place with a rich musical history, and there's a broad sphere of influence that's extended out from the city too. It's probably no simple task to pick a list of just ten, but are there Bristolian records that you would say have had a particularly strong personal influence on your own music?

DjRum: There are so many great records that have come out of Bristol: props to Phaeleh, Addison Groove, Massive Attack, Kahn, Mensah, Smith & Mighty, Tricky, Breakbeat Era... the list goes on. A few of my tracks could have been on this list too. I actually did the mixdowns for a few tunes off Seven Lies at Phaeleh's studio in Bristol, and I did the mixdown for my remix of Phaeleh's 'The Cold In You' down there too. So although all those tracks were made in London, in a way they did come out of Bristol! But here are the top 10 records to come out of Bristol that I would say have influenced me the most...

1. Portishead - Dummy

One of the finest albums ever made, let alone Bristol's finest. Every track has been my favourite track on the record at some time or other. I want to pick out one second from 'It Could Be Sweet' as a highlight, though: the crucial moment in this track for me is at 3:25, when you hear the smacking of lips, an intake of breath and a sigh. This little moment has been a real influence on my production. I had listened to the record over so many times before someone pointed this bit out to me. Now I wait for it every time I hear the track. It's a very deliberately chosen moment of accident: the producer, Geoff Barrows, has increased the volume of the sound to the same as the rest of the vocals, making it feel closer, more personal. There's something very intimate about a quiet breath at such high volume. With loud beats and bass sounding out, you could only hear someone's breathing like this if you were cheek to cheek. It brings you right up close to the music. There are lots of moments that make this album special: the first snare of 'Biscuit', the breakdown of 'Strangers', the drum roll in Mysterons; but the thing that has really stayed with me is that one moment in 'It Could Be Sweet'.

2. Pinch - Qawwalli

When I first heard this tune on Mary Anne Hobbs' Dubstep Warz show in 2006 it completely blew me away. It was unlike anything that was around at the time. After two hours of forward-thinking bass music, this totally stole the show.

3. DJ Krust - Burnin'

This track is a lesson in progression. The movement from one idea to the next is so simple, but totally draws you in. The pads at the beginning and middle are the perfect balance of mysterious and hopeful. Jungle music at it's finest - not to mention that it has 'Jazz Note' on the flip!

4. Monkey Steak - Grim Dubs: Vol. 1

I can't believe this is not up on Youtube, it's a seminal release. 'Crowsteppah' is phenomenal and it was a real game changer for me in 2005. It's an incredible deep mix of jungle and grime. One half of Monkey Steak, Atki 2, is from Bristol and is so underrated. He's one of these artists (like Boxcutter, Various Production, and Burial) who was making post-dubstep in '05, back when most people hadn't even got to grips with dubstep yet. Check Grim Dubs: Vol. 5 too.

5. Krust - One Moment (from Coded Language)

So many albums have token cinematic interludes in the middle, but this is much much more than that. Again there is a great progression: from the initial hopeful theme, into a darker more mysterious section (that sounds to me like it borrows quite heavily from Charles Ives' 'The Fourth Of July'), and then back again to the opening theme.

6. Björk - Venus As A Boy (from Debut)

Hey Björk's from Iceland, not Bristol! OK yeah, but this track (and most of Björk's debut album) was produced by Bristol boy Nellee Hooper. I love the way he's put this track together: the offbeat kick-drum is the work of a mad genius. There's loads of other great Nellee Hooper productions I could have chosen, Massive Attack and Soul 2 Soul come to mind, but I'll settle with this one today.

7. Roni Size - Hot Stuff (from the New Forms bonus disc)

Without doubt my favourite thing he's produced: it's really stood the test of time for me. The breakdown is so beautiful, I love the idea of having such a long ambient section with sine-wave bass stabs throughout it. This was the inspiration for the ambient section in my tune 'Mountains Pt. 3'

8. Peverelist - Salt Water

It's not often I get so excited about a new tune as I was when I first heard this one. The rhythm is incredible, I hear new complexities in it every time. This is Pev at his finest.

9. Appleblim & Peverelist - Soundboy's Ashes Get Hacked Up And Spat Out In Disgust EP

I'll never forget the reaction this got when I played this at Outlook Festival last year. After a sequence of hip-hop tunes, I brought the ambient intro of 'Over Here' in over the breakdown of a J-Live tune. The mood flipped from hyped up to deep down so nicely, everyone got straight into it. When the sub hits it's so understated, yet overwhelming. Amazing!

10. Limewax - Cracking Core (Technical Itch Remix)

I'm a huge Tech Itch fan; he's a very skilled producer, and he creates great cinematic atmospheres. There are loads of standout tracks from him: 'Pressure Drop', 'Implant', and the remix him and Dylan did of Photek's 'Baltimore' are all great. But this remix takes it for me: so powerful, so driving... infectious!

Catch DjRum playing alongside Akkord, Visionist, Blue Daisy, Kidkanevil, Filter Dread and Luke Benjamin on Friday the 4th April for Tempo Clash at Autumn Street Studios, London.


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Review: Wen - Signals [LDN044]

There's a clutch of tunes here that will be familiar to many listeners already - the likes of 'Galactic', 'Persian' and, more recently, 'Play Your Corner' having been doing the rounds on radio shows and mixtapes -  but for the most part, the album comprises of fresh material. This dialogue between new and old is, as much as the snipped vocal clips, the sort of constant which elevates the record's status from being merely a collection of songs, to a cohesive album; and that this is something so rarely achieved within electronic music needn't be played down.

In fact, one of the undoubted highlights of the LP has had its choppy vocals pressed to vinyl once already, but returns here reworked and churning a sweet nostalgia for the - pun no doubt intended - swinging days of dark garage experimentalism. Simultaneously paying homage to Keysound's own catalogue numbers, the 'LDN Mix' of 'Swingin'' is Wen imagining what El-B and Horsepower Productions might have done with the same source material; the result is as you'd expect, but that he manages to carry it off so convincingly is a testament to his production abilities.

And whilst some might argue that such nostalgia is often little more than repackaging for an unknowing audience, the dismantling of 'You Know' from an almost by-numbers steel drum-riff-plus-R&B-vocal-sample slice of anthem garage to an eery, piercing soundscape presents the LP's dialogue on a micro scale. That it tails off from here into the Random Trio-indebted drum shuffles of 'Persian' only makes the historical trawl more complete.

As well as the increasingly-imitated marriage of swollen bass hits and sharp synths that has come to typify Wen's sound, a common sonic theme throughout 'Signals' is his use of rewind and fast-forward effects - that is, shaping and tailing grooves using tape-stops and forward seeks. Though this sense of searching through tracks and albums may be all but lost on today's younger generation of listeners, for others (Wen himself no doubt included) who have grown up through the technological developments which have seen tape cassettes replaced on shelves by CDs, and then the shelves themselves replaced by the scroll wheel and the rise of online retail, these little become something of a leitmotif for the album's past-present-future dialogue. That cassettes, though admittedly not in any wide way, have been re-adopted more and more by small independent labels over the last few years fits nicely with this idea of back-and-forth.

The album concludes with a first, in the form of Wen's first officially vocalled tune to reach public ears. It's fractious, unsettled and raucous in all of the best ways, and Riko asserts himself as one of the most underrated MCs that the grime scene has produced. It's all in the combination here, though: simply put, Riko is one of the few MCs who can truly capture the feel of a radio set when laying down vocals on a tune and he's aided aptly by Wen in this, whose sonic aesthetic is heavily indebted to the crackle of the pirate radio dial.

Much of this, however, is what we could have expected from a Wen album. But that's fine: a debut album is an artist's opportunity to position themselves within the wider context of their influences and the scene surrounding them, and Wen does so here with a measured confidence.

There's a gentle irony to the cover's 'One way' signal: this is an album that is both knowingly and refreshingly dialogic in sound and aesthetic, and, looking to the future, one which will no doubt be cropping up regularly when it comes to end-of-year list season. The future is Wen. (You thought we'd make it through a tense-littered review without punning on "when"?)


01. Intro (Family)
02. Galactic
03. Lunar (feat. Blackdown)
04. You Know
05. Persian
06. Swingin' (LDN mix)
07. Vampin'
08. Time (feat. Parris)
09. In
10. Signal
11. Nightcrawler (Devils Mix)
12. Play Your Corner (feat. Riko)

Wen - Signals [LDN044] will be released via Keysound Recordings on vinyl and digital formats on March 17th, and is available to pre-order from Boomkat now.

To listen to the album ahead of release date, click over to Resident Advisor for a full stream.


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Competition: Win guestlist to Project 13 Secret Sessions #2, a copy of Acre's forthcoming Cold Recordings release, and a Hedmuk X Generic Greeting #2 t-shirt

A Manchester clubnight that's gone from strength to scene-pushing strength since its inception, Project 13 are bringing back their Secret Sessions for a second outing. The first saw an unannounced lineup of Hedmuk favourites Commodo, Walton and Alex Coulton play in a disused warehouse; this time around the lineup is being kept similarly under wraps, though the P13 team have let on that the night will feature four headliners representing two labels between them. Though we can't say exactly who is set to appear on the night, we can say that the unintentional theme of "Hedmuk favourites" is very much on show again this time around - and with a mixture of scene-founding, established talent, and fresh faced up-and-comers represented on the lineup, it's set to be a night of forward-thinking music, and with a proper party atmosphere to match: the disused warehouse setting means no bar, which means bring your own booze, which means a can of Red Stripe for a pound, not four.

This is strictly a ticket only event, and places are limited, so if you want to guarantee entry then head over to Skiddle to book now, then head below to enter the competition.

As with the last Secret Sessions, we've been given a couple spots on the guestlist to give away, and we're throwing in a copy of Acre's forthcoming release on Pinch's Cold Recordings and one of the latest Hedmuk X Generic Greeting T-shirts in too; to be in with a chance of winning, simply email your answer to the following question to

What is the name of the label that previous Secret Sessions guest Commodo last released on?

The competition will close on the 20th of March, on which date a winner will be picked at random by an independent third party and announced via Facebook and Twitter, as well as being notified by email.


Monday, 10 March 2014

Macabre Unit - 1Xtra Guest Mix - 17/11/2003

Though relatively recently rebirthed as a dedicated dubstep label, Macabre Unit initially cut their teeth in garage's more MC-oriented grime offshoot. Closely associated with the earliest incarnation of Plastician's Terrorrhythm imprint, the Unit were arguably the most prominent crews operating outside of London in the early-to-mid noughties. Here, unearthed from founding member Demon's harddrive, is an otherwise lost recording of Macabre Unit's first appearance on Radio 1Xtra - the station itself being only a year or so old at the time. Guesting on veteran garage DJ Richie Vibe Vee's show, with MCs 9er, Logical, Gamma and Nuse sharing the mic and Demon running plenty of Unit dubplates on the decks, the energy levels are very high.

Demon dedicates this mix to Blaze and Dynamikk.

Download: Macabre Unit - 1Xtra Guest Mix - 17/11/2003


Macabre Unit - Shootin Starz
Macabre Unit - Bubble
Macabre Unit - Tulipz
Plasticman - Death By Stereo
Macabre Unit - Transformer
DJ Wonder - What
Macabre Unit - Elastikz
Macabre Unit - My Show
Macabre Unit - Glok
Macabre Unit - Toothgrinder
Digital Mystikz - Da Wrath
Macabre Unit - 1st Blood
Macabre Unit - Unit Jam
Macabre Unit - Montana
Plasticman - Shallow Grave
Macabre Unit - Akuma
Macabre Unit - Take Time VIP
Plasticman - Spring Roller
Macabre Unit - Skittlez
Macabre Unit - Chopstix
Macabre Unit - Shape Shifta
Macabre Unit - Slo Jak


Saturday, 8 March 2014

Review: Caski - emf:004 [EMF004]

Caski returns, after something of a quiet retreat and almost a year since first showcasing new tempo experimentations , with four tracks for Electro Magnetic Fields, the sister label to Indigo's Mindset records.

The lead track, 'Rare Groove', has the hallmarks of Pangaea's formative productions, with as much debt paid to dubstep's LFO envelopes as there is to an incessant, irrepressible techno groove. 'Dancehall' and 'Elephant Tribe', meanwhile, both play with rhythms that are closer to UK funky or, particularly in the case of the latter, bashment. But, as is the case across the EP, Caski's dubstep sensibilities see him pushing out at these genre boundaries. 'Dancehall' is a particular standout here, employing little more than drums, sub-bass, an infectious vocal sample and subtle atmospheric variations to extraordinary effect. In keeping with not only Caski's refreshed direction but also both Mindset and EMF's tradition of envelope-pushing, Troy Gunner's remix of 'Elephant Tribe' is a masterclass in stripped-back.

With a few years spent honing his production abilities carving huge grooves from the 140bpm template, this new direction signals a new confidence in creative direction for Caski, and its one which we are as equally excited about as he must be himself.

Caski - emf:004 will be released in digital formats on the 10th of March 2014, and is available to pre-order from the Electro Magnetic Fields Bandcamp store now.


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Review: LAS & Gantz - Firepusher EP [SYSTM004]

Words: Silas Howison-Waughray

"System". If you’re still a passionate fan of dubstep, then that name shout resonate loud and clear. It’s a name more closely associated with an event curated by scene figurehead V.I.V.E.K; a night which stands at the pinnacle of preserving dubstep’s longevity. Alongside a string of infamous events has, more recently, been an impressive series of 180gram vinyl releases. The latest editions to the System Sound team are the equally infamous LAS & Gantz, both of whom now boast a myriad of releases across major imprints still pushing the dubstep sound.

This is a label which clearly takes its ethos very seriously: this is real soundsystem music. The A-side, ‘Fire Pusher’, has LAS & Gantz written all over it, with sporadic rim shots, looped vocals and an unassumingly hypnotic top line. The other two tracks on the EP feel (unsurprisingly) much more like solo productions. Gantz' offering, 'Second Nature', is heavily indebted to his roots, with ethnic percussion and instrumentation throughout. The focal point of LAS' ‘Malfunktions’ is the kick drum, which is finely tuned and the real driving force behind the track's rhythm. The off-kilter bleeps, blips and digitised idiosyncrasies which accompany all relate directly back to the title, itself representing that very digital sort of malfunction: the typo. Drawing for either of these in a club would be a challenge for any DJ, but it’s that originality and rhythmic versatility that sets these two apart, and their consistency in shying away from the norm that steadies and continues their appeal.

SYSTM004 sits perfectly alongside its predecessors, and complements the System Sound ideology.

LAS & Gantz - Firepusher EP [SYSTM004] will be released on 12" vinyl and in digital formats on the 10th of March 2014, and is available to pre-order from the System Surus store now.

Silas has written for Gottwood, Urban Nerds, Mavrik, and MisDigest, is one half (guess which) Silas & Snare Surgeon, and a resident DJ for the Leeds-based Brotherhood Soundsystem.

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