It’s Friday and the UK is waiting for the latest summer heatwave to hit our shores.
Clash HQ is currently vibrating to a series of UKG mixes, bathing ourselves in some fine, fine classics from a true golden era in UK club culture.
It’s an era with a lingering cultural resonance, too; Jorja Smith scored a bona fide hit with the Preditah produced ‘On My Mind’, while Conducta’s Kiwi Rekords are spearheading the 21st century charge.
As it’s Bandcamp Friday – the monthly event where the service waive all fees and let creators keep 100% of the proceeds – we decided to dip into the platform, and highlight some UKG heaters that will get your weekend flowing.
Alas, that instantly iconic Unknown To The Unknown t-shirt is sold out, but there’s still plenty of tunes to pick from.
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Dream Cycle - ‘Part Three’ EP
Berlin based Sneaker Social Club is a vital source for bruk out system music, with their bass vibrations standing out as a source of excellence for sub-low technicians. Dream Cycle has made the label his home, releasing a trilogy of EPs that hone in on the weightier facets of UK club music.
‘Part Three’ was released a matter of months ago, and it’s typically varied; there’s the slo-mo mush of ‘Untitled Dream’ for example, in amongst more directly club-focussed fare.
It’s the head-long rush of ‘Told You’ that gains the EP a place on this list, though. Reminiscent of the darker side of 2-step, the percussive kick is matched against those warped yet soulful vocal snippets, while the ominous bassline carries an outrageous heft.
Backed by the luminous house vibrations of ‘Long Time’ and skeletal roller ‘Sensa’ this is an essential purchase.
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Instinct - ‘Pistolwhip’ / ‘Someone’
Released just over a year ago, Instinct’s ‘Pistolwhip’ / ‘Someone’ was an instant sell out, and it’s not difficult to see why. Straight up system music with a touch of that UKG class, it presents two contrary visions on what garage can mean in 2020.
‘Pistolwhip’ is a rugged roller, the relentless heads-down bob wrapped in a deeply physical presence. On the flip, you’ll find ‘Someone’, which aims for a kind of warped take on speed garage, the snare intensity rivalling the engineering thrills of the techno sphere while remaining resolutely true to the London origins of the UKG sound.
Vinyl copies are long since gone, but digital cuts are ready and waiting for you.
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PZP - ‘Sunshine’ EP
What is it about UK garage that screams ‘sunshine’ like an over-excited MC on his first ever rig? It’s relentless, something that runs straight through the sound – it’s tailor-made for big crowds, the inherent optimism of those soulful vocals reaching up to the heavens.
Out a few hours ago, PZP returns with his aptly titled ‘Sunshine’ EP, and in all honestly it’s almost as though it was specifically designed for a space on this list. A track completely in love with UKG as a sound, it refuses to rest on those reference points, playfully twisting the piano thuds and skittering vocal samples into something gloriously upbeat.
It’s a full EP, too, with a flurry of remixes pushing and pulling ‘Sunshine’ in a host of different directions. Names to check include Daze Prism, Dubzta, Mattik, and SubAtomik, who earns a spot just a little later on in this list.
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Little Foot - ‘Codeine Espresso 1’
Little Foot is the alter ego for this sought-after Nottingham UKG specialist, who also releases funky and grime under the Ironsword alias.
New EP ‘Codeine Espresso 1’ pulls in a thousand different directions, emphasise the breadth of UK garage as a sound. Opener ‘Oh Boi’ is a slice of unrelenting 2-step, before the producer segues into low-key garage shuffler ‘Freakin Wid Me’.
‘Rice N Pea’ is perfectly timed - hell, it was Jamaican Independence Day 24 hours ago – before the four-tracker ends with a twinge of melancholy, with ‘Inspiritus’ incorporating dark garage influences alongside a neat 8-bit twist to the lead sonics.
Available with a physical drop, too, you’d best not sleep on this one.
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SubAtomic - ‘Falling’ EP
SubAtomic is one of the best known names amongst the current energy within UKG, supplying consistent dancefloor slammers for the past two years.
Partnering with Marvelis Records, his new EP ‘Falling’ is a beaut, supplying four slices of system heat. Opening with ‘Falling’ in both its 2-step and 4x4 forms is proves SubAtomic to be a master at both, before interweaving some lush house chords around a skeletal yet insistent UKG beat on ‘Super Symmetry’.
Finale ‘Tuff Horizons’ is actually a real tease, a playful finish that finds SubAtomic reaching for optimism in amongst the heavyweight bass textures.
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