Recently there has been a fair bit of noise about the demise of Dubstep. For the most part you’d be hard pressed to find a stalwart fan that isn’t despairing of the apparent decline of what, until quite recently, was still considered to be a fledgling genre. Whilst its myriad offshoots  may be going from strength to strength, it already seems as though the core of the genre itself has become lazy and idiosyncratic, apparently falling foul of the entropy that infected Drum and Bass in the latter half of the noughties. However all is not lost, there is hope on the horizon and the torchbearers thoroughly know their shit.

LHF – EP2: The Line Path

Anyone familiar with the previous Grendelcakes will already be well aware of my near pathological obsession with LHF. Their masterful blend of all things UK bass related is outrageous; seamlessly weaving infectious drum pattens around a tangled mass of foreign yet familiar samples and devastating bass. Every track is so perfectly realised and clinically executed that its almost criminal, seeming as though each of them went from concept to finished product in one swift and seamless movement so as to cut down on any dilution of the sound. The Line Path continues where the  Enter the Keepers of the Light left off, transmitting four pirate signals that sound as though they should somehow be forbidden from human consumption. It must be difficult choosing which tracks to release considering their vast archive of unreleased music, but these four cuts provide an excellent cross section of the wealth of material displayed in their various mixes and radio shows (see this FACT mix for a fitting example).

Chamber of Light is rolling and epic, carrying an endlessly pulsing conga line alongside unsettling bass womps and dread jungle breakdowns.  Bass 2 Dark breathes new life into a much loved sample, sounding like proto-garage rave being hijacked by a tribal drum circle, endlessly shuffling drum patterns imbued with enough percussive swing to warp your sense of gravity. Candy Rain starts off in an overwhelming burst of coarsely defined colour, jarring the senses before slipping seamlessly into a punch drunk head nodder complete with Mount Kimbie-esque ephemera. Trifle closes out the E.P in a whirl of samples,  perfectly edited beats and a growling synthline so tightly wound that it could induce panic attacks in anxiety sufferers. All said however these tunes still don’t seem to represent the extent of what their talent has to offer, and with the impending release of their album on Keysound later this year it probably safe to say that LHF will be turning heads and defying expectations for some time to come.

Old Apparatus – Old Apparatus

Providing an suitably fitting counterpart to LHF’s enigmatic bass mastery, recent Deep Medi signings Old Apparatus served up this slice of genius a couple of months back. Comprising of two extended sides, each featuring what roughly equates to two  complete tracks interspersed with chasmic intermissions of unidentified noise and distortion, their début record provides an incredibly ambitious and vastly intelligent expansion upon Dubstep c.2011. Its easier to look at the tracks as a series of movements than individually defined entities,  blinkered moments of lucid insight filtering in through an oppressive claustrophobic morass of static and ambient noise. Its a perfect demonstration of how to make formula defying, mould breaking music; exactly the sort of direction that an overstuffed scene needs in order to re-establish itself as a credible source of creativity. Its by no means a radio friendly sound, clocking in closer to dark techno and hypnagogic drone  than to the music of their peers, but it goes a long way towards resurrecting deeply mysterious, future leaning focus that early Drum and Bass and Dubstep once adhered to.

Not satisfied with simply unleashing their dread laced music upon us, the shadowy producers have packaged the whole release in so much mystique and ambiguity that without saying a single thing about the record, they have created an alien and wholly unsettling narrative world to be further explored over the course of following releases. If you need convincing check their website, where ancient images of machine headed people and illegible documents  provide no insight, just more questions. Also whilst you’re there download the promo mix which contains sections of this release alongside a whole slew of unspeakably good unreleased material. I probably wouldn’t be alone in saying that this dark, unnerving appeal was one of the major influences upon my infatuation with bass music in the first place and its comforting to know that whatever derivative nonsense the larger scene churns out, there will always be  devoted few keeping things unsettling and  sinister. Whilst everything on display here is utterly captivating, the pick of the bunch has to be the first part of Side B which sounds like digital whales chanting an oscillating mantra over scuffed, Aphex-sharp woodblock  beats. Ridiculous.

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