When J:Kenzo announced he was taking the helm of another dubstep label two years ago it would be hard to think of anyone who wasn’t excited. Focusing on the darker end of the 140 spectrum, Artikal Music has been a constant flow of gritty music. They have been really satisfying our thirst for dark beats and their first compilation CD is nothing short of fantastic. To call the list of featured artists phenomenal barely cuts the ticket either, with J:Kenzo, Perverse, Truth, TMSV, Biome, Thelem, Sleeper, Sketpical. B9, Mercy, D-Operation Drop and Eshone all being involved. That’s a lot of names!
J:Kenzo’s opening tune ‘Straight Defeat’ is a low end stomper that’s been doing the rounds recently and sets off the vibe for the compilation perfectly. Another tune which seriously deserves a mention is Thelem’s ‘Foul Play’ which follows on nicely from the set of tunes he just released on Artikal, along a similar style. The grime style synths and rolling melody make this one of the most fascinating styles I’ve heard in years; it stands out loud and proud in a set and gets some of the craziest reactions I’ve seen on the dance floor.
Following from J:Kenzo’s recent explorations into the off-beat style 140 is Sleeper’s ‘Coxsone Dub’ with it’s misplaced samples and scattered drum pattern. Personally this style doesn’t fully appeal to me and there are a number of other tunes on the compilation that equate to this format including those from D-Operation and Perverse. They are not without their merits though, the complex drum rhythms do work well with the heavy bass lines on a proper sound system but for home listening it doesn’t quite work for me. I think this style is best left to Gantz and Las, who in my opinion mastered this format of tune a long time ago.
Nearing the end of the compilation we have another militant piece from J:Kenzo under the title ‘Flatline’ and yet another complex, interesting and unique piece from Truth called ‘Questions’. These guys never fail to amaze me with how they can keep their own styles intact but still create such unique pieces of music. There is a specific section of ‘Questions’ around the 2 minute mark which will blow you away, the bass reverberates from under the light snapping drums and could easily have your head off.
The last tune from the album which jumped out at me immediately the first time I heard it is B9 & Mercy’s ‘Butterfly Kick’. I specifically remember hearing this in a J:Kenzo mix months ago and being absolutely mesmerised by it. It’s got that fantastic Chord Marauders vibe; constant flowing bass over tangled drum loops and melodies. The periods of silence in this song are expertly placed, combined with the female vocal sample and the light echoing synth occasionally used, it’s one of my favourite tunes of this year so far. As the sample says, it’s literally ‘FIRE!’.
Overall, minus the personal dislike for certain drum styles used in some pieces in this compilation, it’s a masterpiece musically showing the diversity of J:Kenzo’s tastes at the moment and a proper insight into what he has been feeling recently. All the artists have provided top notch productions and if this isn’t in your bag this autumn I don’t know what you’re doing!
The compilation is available for purchase here.
Artikal UK: https://www.facebook.com/ArtikalMusicUK?fref=ts
Written by Mike Thomas.