2015 was an indescribably bass heavy year for the underground music scene, we’ve witnessed some historic releases from the UK bass specialists both old and new which have reset in granite the foundations of Grime, Garage, Bass and House. With innovation and progression the name of the game we were treated to some truly great singles and EPs last year across the whole spectrum of sounds but nothing shows what a label and movement is about like a compilation, it’s a way of saying “This is who we are and this is what we do.” 2015 was the year where the humble “comp” has really come into it’s own so welcome to my favourite Compilations of 2015.
Project Allout Presents Lengerz Volume 1 by Project Allout Records
July saw the release of a truly insane 33 track, that’s not a typing error I said 33 track compilation by Sheffield-based Project Allout Records called Lengerz Volume 1. Featuring absolutely everything and anything you could think of, Project Allout manage to cover every single area of upfront bass music effortlessly and it’s not hard to see they’re never lacking for heavyweight dancefloor bangers! Although my personal highlights could go on forever I’ll pick a few that I especially love and leave you to explore the rest; Moony - Ballin’ (Dr Cryptic Remix), P Jam - Groove, Mr Dubz - Fire Shotz, ANZ - Truss Me, Tuff Culture - You Got Me, J.G. - Trippy (Doctor Jeep Remix), Moony - Deeper, Alias - Captain, Lington - Icy Nova and last but not least, Conducta - Smile. To conclude I’ll leave you with a quote from Project Allout’s Label Manager DJ Skillz, “There's bangers but then you got Lengerz and now everyone is shouting it #PAR”
Rndm Wrk Volume 1 by Prjkts
Stream Link: https://soundcloud.com/pr-jkts/sets/rndm-wrk-vol-1
Bristol-based Prjkts captured my attention in a huge way last year, in fact they are a massive part of the reason I’m doing this round-up, I was lucky enough to see their showcase back in October and was absolutely stunned by the sounds coming from the whole camp, every DJ rocked the club and the productions were crisp and driven. I honestly couldn’t say enough good things about what they’re doing for UK Bass music even if I had a million years, so I’ll let this 17 track beast do the talking on my behalf! There’s tracks on Rndm Wrk Vol 1 that I can’t live without especially Vern & Milla’s “Sub0” and DJ199?’s incredible “Don’t Know Much.” Other highly recommended selections include Rhombohedral - Surge, C92 - Boddinstrasse, Dankhauz - Technical and Box Traxx - Elevated.
Label co-owner, producer, DJ and all-round nice guy Vern gives some insight into what started Prjkts and brought us Rndm Wrk Vol 1, one of the finest compilations of the year.
“Prjkts almost started out of frustration, it's given us the freedom to push music that we want to hear regardless of what's going on everywhere else. Running a DIY label is incredibly liberating, it's given us the opportunity to connect with musicians on a global level. Expect lots more to come!”
Roadman Joel Presents Roadman Anthems Volume 2 by Tumble Audio
Buy Link: http://www.junodownload.com/products/roadman-joel-presents-roadman-anthems-vol/2902241-02/
So our journey brings us nicely to Nottingham Not-Not-Nottingham (for fans of Killjoy’s Gyalist Riddim haha!) which is home to the legendary Tumble Audio label and events. A label a lot of you will be familiar with I’m sure because nobody in a sane state of mind missed the hype Roadman Anthems Vol. 1 created when it dropped in 2014 so you know Joel was under pressure to come up with the goods for the series’ second outing. Bulletproof selections include Killjoy’s “Tanked” and” Public Enemy,” Joedan & Kontent’s steppy, dark and minimal “Ruggish,” then throw in lengs like Karl Vincent - Mic Check, Prizma - Iridescent, Bassboy - True, Sergic & Lyka - Roadrunner and Archive - This Again and what you have is a sequel that bangs hard, every track keeps you tumbling back to the start to make sure you heard what you thought you heard! With this being the only Volume 2 on the list I asked head honcho Oliver for a quote to give us some insight into what makes a compilation series successful and this is what he had to say: “We thought there was no way he could outdo Vol.1, but he came up trumps with this one, Roadman Joel clearly has his ears on the road 24/7.”
Brunswick Sound Volume 1 by Brunswick Sound
Brunswick Sound have their whole hand on the pulse at all times, not just a finger, the 40 bangers from mostly unknown dons from all over not only proves this but it has the whole scene gassed and you don’t have to use your imagination to see why! I’m at the point now where I’m stressed writing this because I know I have to highlight a few tracks from a wealth of quality music and it doesn’t seem fair because there’s too many I’m obsessed with, so continuing with my highlight-my-favourites-and-let-you-lovely-readers-explore-the-rest mantra here are the tracks I can’t do without: Flint - Turn The Radio Down & JEB1 - Not In A Million Years are the loves of my life since I had the promos special shouts for them! Crimzon - You Got, Secundus - Coins, Meta - Babylon, Jurango - Corrupt Personell and Lyeform - Gravity are all perfection posing as audio but so is everything else on the tracklist. For me it doesn’t get better than Brunswick Sound Volume 1, definitely the most exciting compilation of 2015 and there’s no better way to wrap it than on a quote from the man himself, Label Manager Katsu: “Drawing on elements of grime, club and techno, it's a comprehensive guide to the type of music we promote. There are a lot of talented producers that exist below the radar right now and our aim with this comp was to give them a platform to showcase some of that talent. We're already planning a few EPs which will be out early 2016 so keep a look out for them. And big up each and everyone supporting.”
Next Tune In by Grime Disciple
Buy Link (Free Download): https://soundcloud.com/grimedisciple/sets/next-tune-in
Where do I even start with Next Tune In? This was more than a compilation, it was a labour of love from one of the best bloggers to ever grace Grime music and if anyone had doubts before NTI, they didn’t after. If this was a top ten list this heavyweight 15-tracker would be number 1 for certain, it can’t be easy (or accidental) to create a compilation that sounds like an album when played through but Grime Disciple made it look like child’s play. Every single track is a highlight so I can’t list them but I will give you the two tracks I’ll never stop playing in sets and they are Vern & Milla - Weirdo Dub and Lington - Jeju Island. NTI is without a doubt, the Grime compilation of the year if not last 5 years to be honest and if you only listen to one from this list make sure it’s Next Tune In! Huge thanks to Grime Disciple for sending me a quote to end on.
“There was no real story behind Next Tune In, I just wanted to highlight a mix of people that were coming through, like Beatgatherers and Krud Fam, and also guys that had been putting work in for a while without getting much recognition, like A.T.”
Chip Shop Volume 1 by Chip Butty
Buy Link: http://www.junodownload.com/products/chip-shop-vol-1/2859009-02/
Dr Cryptic’s Chip Butty imprint has been consistently putting out fire for a while now so it was about time they got into the compilation game, and Chip Shop Vol 1 is the best possible way to kick off what is sure to be a legendary and hopefully long-running series of quality comps! Garage heads will be familiar with the Chip Butty sound by now but for those of you hearing about them for the first time the only way I can describe it is to say it’s been sent back from the far future by the bassline gods, and when you hear bangers like Dr Cryptic’s “Dirty Dot” and Dr Oscillator & Syntex Erra’s “The Unknown” you’ll know exactly what I mean. Throw in some more heavyweight cuts such as 1 Point 5 - Day & Night, Thorpey - Uppercut and AudioSquid - Boogie, and what we have is yet another great quality release from a label that remains dedicated to pushing futuristic bassline vibes.
Artifice Volume 1 by Artifice
Bournemouth and Southampton-based label Artifice should definitely have your undivided attention from now on. The depth of Artifice Vol 1 is hard to explain, it has to be experienced, it feels like an album a lot like Next Tune In but it stretches effortlessly from pure UKG to hybrid club funk, then to deep house, techno and beyond. My favourite track by a light year is Bugeye by Vern & Milla, it’s audible happiness, if someone told me to choose between my arm and Bugeye I would reach for a saw. In addition to my favourite track of 2015 you also get breathtaking garage bangers from the likes of Dynamat with the moody “Strong” and Dosage with the haunted and swingy “Hard To See.” I also highly recommend Flare’s techno masterpiece “Digital Progression,” Corporal F’s “Gunman,” Spekktrum’s “New Funk” and Chris Darnoc’s “Luke Jaywalker.”
Southpoint Presents Volume 2 by Southpoint
Buy Link (Free Download): https://soundcloud.com/southpoint-music/sets/southpoint-presents-vol-2
Brighton’s Southpoint has had a very busy year indeed, putting out a string of heavy grime releases in a short time, bringing a whole new talent pool to the attention of avid grime listeners while maintaining a strong dedication to the best quality music and artwork. So it will come as no surprise to find out that Southpoint Presents Volume 2 comes just a couple of months after the release of Volume 1, I know it’s insane but who are we to refuse amazing music that just happens to be free! Impressive as all that is head honcho KXVU explains that this is just the beginning...
“We had to end the year on a high after the incredible amount of support we have already received, so we thought the second edition of Southpoint Presents would be perfect. The end result was exactly what we had hoped for; a serious blend of underground styles ranging from UKG & Grime to Future Reggae. So far the response has been great and we hope to carry on pushing the movement into 2016”
My favourite selections include King Bracket - Purify, Inkline - Brain Storm, KXVU - Frostbite, Eclypse - Classified Riddim and Tengu - Tribal among others but there’s too much fire to mention on Volume 2 so go check it out!
And that’s my selection of the best compilations of 2015 done and dusted, it’s been a pleasure to look back on 12 months of cutting-edge bass music and hopefully I’ve shone some light on at least a couple of comps that you may not have noticed before.
Thanks to Futurepast, the labels, artists and yourselves for reading.
Quick shout out to Chemist RNS for putting this article together - it was done about 8 months ago, but it's all quality that time can't test. Chemist RNS has been putting out some sterling music with Chameleon Audio, and also on his own bandcamp page
He's also going to be playing back2back with Krytikal at the Futurepast Zine X Listening Sessions party on the 16th July, so make sure you're there!