It’s been an absolutely massive year for all things bass music, and the intrepid crew of head-bangers and rail-riders on the #TeamBassrush editorial staff has been there to document every last drop. But before we head full force into the New Year, we wanted to look back on the last 365 days of bass music and put forth our requisite Best Of lists to the Bassrush Massive. Strap in and fire up that Spotify—you’ll want to take notes because class is in session.
DJ NIGHTSTALKER’s BEST OF 2016 & ONES TO WATCH FOR IN 2017
Having arrived seemingly out of nowhere, the Russian-Netherlands connection known as Magnetude has literally just debuted with a massive EP on Lifted Music that took me completely by surprise; every single fucking tune is top-notch and out of this world! Consisting of Jae Overtech and Rusky K, the newly formed Magnetude smash it right out of the gate with their Hyperdrive EP, which is four tracks of all killer, no filler and no doubt hints at the pressure these two are bound to drop on us in the New Year. If you don’t know, now you know!
Dirty LeRoi is always one to buy on sight and his Dreamlands album on Dispatch this past year instantly ranks up there as a future classic; without a doubt my favorite album of the year. Similar to his Seeing Sounds LP, the long-player format seems to bring out the very best that DLR has to offer as he takes listeners on a proper journey that range from cinematic interludes to funk-heavy meditations on breakbeats and dirty bassline-driven grooves. Whether he’s working alongside Break, Signal, Mako, Hydro, and Gusto, the vision and scope of DLR shines on through in a way that cuts through the usual dancefloor business and transforms it into something much deeper that speaks to your soul.
I’ve been a fan of Tim’s work since his old-school industrial tech days on Position Chrome. I remember cutting dubplates of his tunes in the late 1990s and absolutely clearing the dancefloor of all the heads who couldn’t hang with the relentless techno punishing nature of his drum & bass experiments. As a result, the name Current Value has only been on the radar of the hardcore tech-heads, but in the past year he’s found an entirely new level of success with mad neuro-funk swing injected into the cut while still holding true to his leftfield roots. With releases (including an album) in 2016 surfacing on Critical, Neodigital, Blackout Music, Cyberfunk, Invisible, Ram, Bad Taste, MethLab, Othercide, Terminal, and more, there’s no doubt the best is still to come.
Whether he’s linking up with Eprom for his Shades project or just straight cutting loose on his half-time experiments, the Belgian born and bred Alix Perez is the future of all things that go bump in the night. Surfacing on a variety of projects alongside Ivy Lab, D-Bridge, Zero T, Taso, or Skeptical, some of his very best output this past year has been on his 1985 imprint that he describes as a “platform for forward-thinking electronic music basing its roots in 170 / 85 BPM and beyond.” Not sure where to start? Jump headfirst into his Numbers EP below and prepare to have that dome twisted in the most proper way.
This guy. Where to even begin? From dark rollers to jump-up-tinged bass bubblers to liquid groovers and straight-up jungle floor-killers, Serum has smashed his way across all subgenre lines with a style that is all his own. Who else can boast of bits finding a home on imprints as varied as Eastside, V Recordings, Chronic, Philly Blunt, Low Down Deep, LionDub, Dope Ammo, Undiluted, and Doc Scott’s 31 Recordings in 2016? Catch him linking up with Bladerunner and Voltage for their ongoing Kings of the Rollers sessions behind the decks and trust, when Serum steps up, none can test!
Every single time Decimal Bass and Konichi enter the studio the results are off the chain. Whether going all in as Annix in collaborative mode or dropping their own solo bits, it’s hard to believe it’s only been four years since they were signed exclusively to Hype’s Playaz imprint. Having since become steady stalwarts in the scene, the two show no sign of slowing down as they not only keep crushing with the dancefloor burners, but continue to evolve their sound to incorporate filthy neuro and jump-up influences into a vibe that can’t be touched. Just as likely to show up on Noisia Radio or a Blackout lineup as they are to be smashing up the dance with remixes for Disciple, Ram, and OWSLA, the duo are rumored to be in the studio with Hype and promise they’re just getting warmed up.
Floating just under the radar in the States, both A.M.C. and his Titan Records imprint have been responsible for some of the freshest heat this year. From celebrating Five Years of Titan with a monster compilation album and numerous singles from the likes of Hypoxia, Glass Cobra, Tobax, Six Blade, A-Cray, Agressor Bunx, the Clamps, and Maniatics, it’s A.M.C’s own upfront productions and most notably his collab with jump-up king Turno that has charted a new course that merges dark, neurofunk vibes with jump-up bone-crushing pressure.
And some hometown heroes on the come up…
Last but not least got to shout out all the hometown heroes holding it down and making big moves this year. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for names like Legion, Logam, Kronology, Sixfour, Theatrix, Consouls, Divine Elements, Des McMahon, Stranjah, Mukiyare, Pish Posh, Noize Komplaint, Burner Brothers, Bad Syntax, Wraith, Jaybee, Dave Owen, Calculon, Liminal, Satin, ah man, what can of worms did I open? I know I’m going to forget somebody so I’ll stop there and suggest you shout out and support your hometown heroes on social media any and every chance you get as they are the future and lifeblood of the scene!
AMANDA ROSS: WOMEN TO WATCH IN 2017
Meet five female bass music DJs & producers poised to takeover 2017.
L.A.’s own girl boss and queen of the 40oz Cult, Wenzday, is quickly gaining recognition for her funky bass house creations and diverse live sets. Wenzday has dominated 2016 by staying on the heels of what’s new and nasty, pumping out juicy remixes with her bro Dack Janiels and taking solo trips overseas to drop massive bass weight for the EU crowd. Keep your ears open for a promising 2017.
From collabs with Tsuruda, Noer the Boy and her mighty solo offerings, L.A.-based artist Huxley Anne has caught the ear of the underground with her transformative, multi-dimensional bass music. Bringing creations that you just can’t categorize, we’re eager to hear what her forthcoming EP has to offer.
Having already established her place in drum & bass over the past few years, the UK-based selectress has had her best year yet. From joining Viper Recordings on their Summer Slammers ‘16 compilation with “Synchronize” to several high profile gigs, Liz-E continues to build on her diverse sound.
Founding member of the globally recognized Juke Bounce Werk movement, DJ Noir represents a growing culture of freshly cultivated beatmakers and DJs. Her exquisite selection of footwork and experimental beats leaves the floor in flames and dancers drenched. Find Noir behind the controls in her home city of Los Angeles at weekly Rocksteady. The New Year will bring DJ Noir her first appearance in Paris along with other EU dates to follow.
After a short hiatus, London-based Dushi is back at the beats with her 2016 return to Formation Records, landing a single and a spot on DJ SS’s Sounds of the Summer Vol. 1 album. 2017 looks like Dushi’s best year yet, with a forthcoming EP due to land on DJ Hazard’s esteemed Radius Recordings.
SNOB & BASS: LILY MOAYERI’S MOST REWINDABLE DRUM & BEST MOMENTS OF 2016
The Arrival of 20 Years of Optical Volumes 1 & 2
I’d been hyped for the retrospective release of 20 Years Of Optical since Optical himself had told me about it over a year before. The 24-track collection does not disappoint, and if the reactions online are any indication, I am not the only one that feels this way. Connected to this is Head-to-Head: Optical vs. Matrix, a joint interview I conducted with Optical and his brother Matrix for an ongoing series at Insomniac.com—something I didn’t realize I had wanted to do since I met them in 1998, a year I often think I want to rewind back to.
Drum & Bass Artist Albums
I may be a dying breed, but I’m still mainly interested in albums over single songs. Fortunately, Andy C’s Ram Records is of similar mind and encourages, maybe even expects, albums from its artists. Two of my favorites this year were from Delta Heavy—with its diverse Paradise Lost—and stalwarts Calyx & TeeBee and their reliably exciting 1×1, both of which I profiled for DJ Times, and which have many rewind-worthy inclusions on them.
Can I just say how grateful I am to the Respect crew for unwaveringly flying the jungle flag week in and week out? I don’t have one example of another drum & bass weekly, or even monthly, anywhere in the world that has been keeping its head down and just grinding through year after year, solely for the love of it. I don’t go as often as I’d like, but standouts for me this year were Spinback from Total Science in June and Rene LaVice in November. I would love to be able to rewind both those nights.
Mefjus & Emperor’s Hello World 2 EP
If I’ve made it to work on time every day for the last two months, and been in a relatively good mood upon arrival, it is because this perfect EP is exactly the length of my commute and its immaculately produced four tracks have my teeth gnashing, which is what I want out of my drum & bass. Optical suggests the reason I am in need of such aggressive sounds is: “Life gets very stressful and frustrating. It’s one of the best ways to get it out.” I talked to Mefjus for an Insomniac Head-to-Head interview with Critical Music’s Kasra ahead of Funktion in Los Angeles, an event I wish I could rewind so I wouldn’t have woken up from my “jungle nap” halfway through it.
The Return of )EI3(
Seeing the Bad Company UK logo always gives me a surge of adrenalin. That feeling hit its peak when I awoke to a message from DJ Fresh confirming the rumors of their reformation and “Did I want the exclusive US interview?” I wrote about them for Bassrush: The Death and Resurrection of BCUK. This reunion gives me valid excuses to bug Fresh on the regular, the draw of which can’t be overemphasized. Plus, this means I can rewind back to our beginnings, but with 20/20 hindsight.
B’s FILTHIEST BASS LABELS OF 2016
2016 was definitely a monumental year for bass music, and an ever bigger year for emerging labels. Below are a few that put forth some of the heaviest work all year long. Watch out 2017, these labels are sure to keep murkin’ the game.
NSD: Black Label
I think anyone who is a fan of heavy bass music would agree that Black Label has been straight killin’ the game this year. Debuting multiple compilations over 2016, the label also pushed huge releases like Trollphace’s first EP in three years along side anticipated projects from Midnight Tyrannosaurus, BadKlaat, Ponicz, and more! NSD: Black Label is a bass head’s dream and 2017 is going to be ever larger.
Check their SoundCloud here!
It seems like Disciple took 2016 by the horns and made it their bitch with some of the best content this year! With heavy hitters like Barely Alive, Dodge & Fuski, Virtual Riot, and more all constantly releasing new music, the label has been causing some serious ruckus in the scene. Just recently signing the progressively quirky Oolacile—and hinting at a few more additions—I have no doubt that Disciple is going to be topping 2016.
Check their SoundCloud here!
Firepower has and always will be one of my all-time favorite labels because of their progressive sound, and because they give smaller artists the spotlight they deserve. This year showcased a balance of sounds through the label without forfeiting the heavy bass we all love. We saw a ton of new artists to watch out for as well as some projects from some of my all time favorite producers like Datsik, JPhelpz, and Protohype.
Check their SoundCloud here!
It’s crazy to think that SMOG Records is celebrating 10 strong years of bass this year. They’ve certainly been making it count with some massive releases this year including the bass head anthem “Jotaro” and closing out the year with the epic “Gully Squad” compilation, featuring tunes from the OG don 12th Planet, Protohype, LUMBERJVCK, and more. If 2016 serves as testament to what 2017 has in store, SMOG will be doing it big.
Check their SoundCloud here!
The 40oz Cult holds a special place in my heart because founders Dack Janiels, HAMi, and Wenzday are all really good friends of mine! I love that the 40oz Cult roots for underground bass music while constantly releasing quality content that pushes the boundaries of the genre, reminding us that the underground sound is the future of bass music! You can never really predict what they’ll come out with next but one thing is for sure—it’ll bang! 2017 is sure to be a promising year for the Cult, so keep your eyes peeled!
Check their SoundCloud here!
Kālī‘s Top 5 Underground Dubstep Releases of 2016
Moonstones Yen Pox / Inland (CRUCIAL008)
Sleeper‘s Crucial Recordings imprint has become renowned within the underground dubstep circuit for unearthing some of bass music’s most avant-garde, up-and-coming minds, with each of the label’s releases highlighting a more unconventional and unexpected side to dubstep production. The label’s September release from Netherlands-based Moonstones proves to be an exceptional, eerie and undeniably emotionally driven collection beaming with rousing percussion, sinister sound design, and haunting vocal work; guiding listeners on a creatively unprecedented voyage through its passionately jagged and subtly dramatic soundscapes.
Flowdan “Horror Show Style” (Sleeper Remix)
As creator of Crucial Recordings and seasoned veteran of esteemed labels such as Chestplate, Tempa, Artikal Music and Osiris, UK badman Sleeper has successfully infused his multifaceted, forward-thinking perspective into the genre’s bass heavy fibers over the years, consistently proving his sound as an irreplaceable staple within dubstep’s rich sonic history. As a jack of all stylistic trades, Sleeper is capable of cranking out stellar productions that evoke a multitude of highly unique moods, textures and personalities. That being said, nothing is quite as tasty as his attitude-filled, hip-hop inspired side, with his remix of Flowdan’s “Horror Show Style” standing as a tastefully dark, perfectly spacious and impeccable example. Be sure to also check out his November release on Chestplate, Seagulls (CHST040).
Sepia Laid To Rest / Remember / Separation (IFS002)
Infernal Sounds’ second release from Bristol-based producer Sepia is, quite simply put, a highly versatile and effortless three-track crash course in the many dimensions of the dubstep spectrum. A master in his own right of the minimal, Bristolian dubstep sound, Sepia’s Infernal Sounds release delivers it all: atmospheric and otherworldly, gentle, yet thumping grooves with “Laid To Rest,” ground-shaking, infectious and classic wubs with “Remember,” and glitchy waves and ambient vibes with “Separation.”
Truth War Of The Minds (MEDi092)
After erupting onto the dubstep scene back in 2007 with an impressive first release on DEEP MEDi, Truth returned once again to the world-renowned dubstep label for their May release; a monstrous, subwoofer rupturing, four-track EP entitled War Of The Minds. War Of The Minds as a singular body of work stands as a truly fruitful and cohesive collection that strikes a novel balance between minimal and heavy dubstep, as it retains the meditative flow of a deep release whilst still managing to incorporate vibrant punches of Truth’s fierce, signature sound throughout.
Sir Spyro Topper Top (MEDi095)
London-based DJ and producer Sir Spyro is considered one of today’s top grime artists, as he is widely recognized and respected for his impeccable mixing and track selections, is entering his 10th year on London’s pioneering Rinse FM and has released collaborations with the likes of Big H, Prez T and Bossman Birdie. As a highly reputable force within the grime community, Sir Spyro’s monumental release on DEEP MEDi stands as a scorching hot, two-track collection, featuring some of the UK’s hardest MCs and laced with wonky, booming basslines and hard hitting percussion. Check out the video for “Topper Top” here.