In the two years since its inception, UKF has gone from strength to strength. Their Youtube channels have over 950,000 subscribers and receive over 45,000,000 views a month. This is testament enough to show that UKF are one of the leading names in the Drum and Bass and Dubstep scene.
August 1st saw the unveiling of their new two-disc compilation, “Bass Culture”, which features a mixture of original productions, remixes, and some exclusive contributions from the likes of Gemini, Cutline, and Fred V.
“Going ahead full speed in the lane still getting it”, disc one has a monstrous dubstep opener. It is heavy, it is filthy, and it is grimey: it is Foreign Beggars and Skrillex. Punishing bass is a threat to all unsuspecting speakers, especially at two and half minutes in when the chaos reaches its climax leaving the listener exhausted yet screaming for more.
*Editor's Note "SKRILLEX IS SHIT"*
Cutline answer that call. A steady Nintendo inspired synth builds up to the powerful vocal line, “It’s alive”, before it drops like a ten ton hammer. However everything about this track is Pendulum, albeit a little more dubstep. The vocals are painfully recognisable to Rob Swire’s and the synth melody sounds like a lazer from out of space... a little like every Pendulum song.
Following on is “Strange Behaviour” from Feed Me and Tasha Baxter. The first minute makes you believe you are in a house club with a great vocal by Baxter. But that is instantly forgotten when the song drops, or rather fails to.
Next track... “Aerophobia”: A melody that (again) bares heavy resemblance to Pendulum. It takes Dodge and Fuski a minute to get things back on track. A kick drum on every beat fills the room with energy. It is interesting and heavy, filthy, and full of punch.
But the first noticeable tune doesn’t appear until “Elevate” by Gemini. Its synth heavy attack is overwhelming in power. There is not quite as much bass as the previous tracks but it is still there underlying the peaking waves of adrenaline. This tune could make you lose your head. It will be massive in clubs.
Recently signed to Hospital records and an album due out at the end of the year, Camo and Krooked need no introduction. They are usually known for their electrifying Drum and Bass but “All Fall Down” shows their Dubstep colours in glorious light. It is at the lighter end of the scene, but so is all of the Dubstep on this compilation, and it is sure to be a fans favourite.
Unfortunately nothing much can be said for the next five tracks. Music from Excision & Downlink, 16Bit, Engine, Dubba Jonny, and Roksonix fail to even register on the radar. Every compilation album has filler and usually they come towards the middle of the tracklisting. This release is sadly no different. None of the tracks spark any sort of excitement and nor do they bring anything fresh to the mix.
“And The Beat Goes On” by Terravita injects a bit of venom with big drops. The Cutline remix of “Cascade” by The Prototypes progresses the mix along nicely but still without any real conviction. It is not until the disc shows its Drum and Bass face that we remember why we love this scene.
KG & Genetic Bros are the first to lay down some welcome 176bpm. “Mindscape” is the classic Drum and Bass package: heavy sub bass, fast breakbeats, subtle female vocals. It is capable of creating enough kinetic energy in the club to light a city. This timely change of direction from UKF is very welcome.
The remaining six tracks are all Drum and Bass.
“Rapture” by Nixus is arguably the best track on the compilation. Rolling liquid bass partners a subtle female vocal in this featherweight track. It is almost refreshing after the thick Dubstep. It is a real summer tune that sounds like the younger brother to High Contrast and can be enjoyed just as much at dusk as it can at midnight.
Break’s remix of “Summer’s Here” by Magnus has a jazzy vibe with some great male vocals and jazz guitar. It takes the mix deeper into the night.
Blu Mar Ten & InsideInfo’s “Still the One” is fast paced, heavy, and intense. It is much darker than the few previous tracks but darker and dirtier still is “The Meddler” by A.M.C and Mattix & Futile. Deep lasting sub bass, dirty breaks, off beat snares: this is heavy drum and bass. Maybe it is not quite as accessible as the preceding tracks but that is a good thing. It shows UKF demonstrating different paths in Drum and Bass instead of sticking to the obvious dancefloor favourites.
The final two tracks quickly assert themselves as the headliners of the disc. Futurebound and Blokhe4d respectively bring their own mix of chaos and destruction to the table. Both acts are dark and dirty. Their approach to Drum and Bass is intense and ferocious; both tracks demand to played at uncompromising volumes.
Once the first disc is over, it is clear... the Dubstep on this CD just cannot live up to the Drum and Bass. Considering this, the listener has very reason to be very excited about disc 2. Now it is Drum and Bass’ turn to take the spotlight.
RAM’s Wilkinson continues where Blokhe4d left off with his remix of Chase n’ Status’ “Time”. It is less of a remix and more his own production outright. It is much heavier and faster, it has a different arrangement, and very little of the original can be heard other than Delilah’s vocal.
Wilkinson has his own track, “Every Time”, at number five just after another RAM release, DJ Fresh’s “Gatekeeper”. “Every Time” has received a lot of support and it is no wonder why. Thick bass, frantic drums, and catchy melody are Wilkinson’s recipe and it tastes delicious.
The Breakbeat Kaos boss had his huge track released on RAM also. “I’m the head of the house, I’m the watchman on the wall, I am the gatekeeper.” Undeniably cool sample from the TV show Wifeswap USA. “Gatekeeper” features simple jungle drums and sub bass close to the brown sound. The track is funky and soulful yet hard hitting.
In the midst of these RAM releases are “Breezeblock”, another new release by Camo and Krooked, and “Crucify Me pt 1” by Shockone ft Phetsta. Unlike “All Fall Down”, “Breezeblock” is high energy Drum and Bass with a devastating sense of urgency to it. It is not too heavy, a perfect blend of Pendulum and Chase and Status, but at the end of the day this song rocks. “Crucify Me pt 1” also borrows a lot from Pendulum (doesn’t everybody on this album!) but this tune really could be Pendulum. Everything about it is Pendulum from the drums, to the arrangement, to the vocal sounds, to the bass, to the synth... Despite the similarities sounding like a negative, they work and the tune again is killer... if you like Pendulum.
Tracks six to nine are all Liquid Funk remixes. Netsky’s remix of “Strobot” by Shameboy is another huge track. Question and answer synth leads, something of a Netsky signature now, encompass this track. Following in the same vein is the Friction and K-Tee remix of “Is Anybody Out There?” by Bcee & S.P.Y and Modestep’s “Feel Good” remixed by The Prototypes. Neither of these tracks would sound out of place on Hospital Records. “Is Anybody Out There?” is deep and soulful and much mellower than Netsky’s mix. “Feel Good” is very jazzy. Brass instruments and Drum and Bass build for a natural relationship when done right as this track shows. It is very uplifting and will be a hit on the dancefloor. The deep rolling bass line drives it towards being another contender for best track on the CD.
“Xiphactinus” remixed by Lenzman moves the disc along nicely without making too much of a statement.
“Angry Jazzer” by one of the UK’s most promising talents, Fred V is, as you would expect, very jazzy and full of energy. Saxophones, traditional jazz drums, and jazz guitar stabs make for an ultra cool track. It is the perfect build up for Marky and S.P.Y’s “Yellow Shoes”. Another jazzy number but with a Brazilian flava, this track is led by piano and is of the finest Liquid Drum and Bass around.
As the energy builds, the mood descends. After a nice period of jazz, “Soul Calibur” by Rollz drops and it is late night again. Frantic energy buzzes around the room as if being chased by 1000 bees. This energy is continued by Loadstar with “Space Between”. Standard RAM track: dark, dirty, and pleasantly deceiving. It starts as nice as a Sunday afternoon in the sun before ripping your face off with killer bass.
Sadly, Loadstar are the last ride of Drum and Bass on the compilation. Datsik’s “Firepower”, Levella remix, is dirty but suffers the same fate as the previous disc of Dubstep: it is not dirty enough. The track is called “Firepower” but is only packing a BB gun.
“Twister” by Interface is dirtier but there is not much else going on and after two minutes you are looking for the next track.
K.O.A.N Sound make a better attempt. Their “Trouble In The West” is full of swagger but there is also a tin drum or keg in place of a snare. This is not a good sound. It is not until J. Majik and Wickaman’s “Assassin” that the grime returns.
A seagull covered in oil is the best image that to describe “Assassin”. Full of grime and attitude, it is absolutely filthy. And it does not stop there...
“Let the bass canon kick it”; Flux Pavilion know how to make Dubstep. Everyone knows what they are packing and if you don’t then you should.
After recovering from the nose bleed, courtesy of Flux Pavilion, Chasing Shadows give us a remix of Spor’s “Pavilion”. It is not as dirty as its predecessor although it still packs a weighty punch. There is enough energy in the track to not let it get stuck in the mud and it sounds right. It is not too complicated which is a good thing as Dodge and Fuski return with “Come Again”.
“Come Again” is chaotic at the start but gradually it loosens up and shows its true colours. For the first time on this compilation we hear some original dub. It sounds fantastic and calls for all to have a skank. Off beat rhythms and good vibes.
Good vibes are exterminated when Foreign Beggars return with their thick grime and attitude. A feeling of completeness arises as we are ending something the same way it began: with dirty Dubstep and grimey rapping.
A double disc compilation that shows exactly what bass music is all about, however there is not a great spectrum available. This is partly a Dubstep CD and there is no wobble. If you do not know what is meant by “wobble” then this album is the perfect purchase for you. It is a great resource and shows a good picture of what bass music is but if you are already familiar with the scene then it is simply inadequate.
“Bass Culture” is almost the equivalent of “Now That’s What I Call Music” but in this scene; it showcases what is popular and that is only a very small minority of bass music. But, that is what we expect from a compilation album.
Fundamentally, there is lots and lots of bass and this has after all been “Bass Culture”.