Pushing It Forward: 9 NextGen UK Bass Producers With Incredible Sound Design

Exploratory system sounds with deep roots in UK club culture...

They say that anyone with a laptop, a few sample packs, and some headphones can produce a banger these days, and within a few months they’ll be touring the world playing mega-stages for tens of thousands of pounds. Maybe that’s true, but a bit further away from the spotlight, some of the UK’s most talented and dedicated young electronic producers are spending hours locked away in their studios, cooking up the most futuristic and uniquely tuned sound designs they possibly can. Some commentators have even cheekily called their sound “deconstructed”, in reference to the dismantling of the usual dancefloor tropes, but that belies how carefully assembled a lot of this stuff really is.

Doubly inspired both by the brilliant rise of PC Music (with SOPHIE’s prodigal production talents looming large) as well as the open-minded rule-breaking of labels like Ben UFO’s Hessle Audio or Peverelist’s Livity Sound (both enduring remnants of the UK’s dubstep scene); here are nine UK 20-somethings putting out incredibly tactile production that pushes things forward while really messing with your head in the process.

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Henry Greenleaf – 'Sign Replacement' [ARTS]

London based Henry Greenleaf first debuted music on a label of his own making with fellow producers Agrippa and Meta. Two years on, ‘Sign Replacement’, a quasi-techno tune put out through Rotterdam label ARTS, is definitive proof of a young talent firing on all fronts.

The depth and width of Greenleaf’s mixdowns are second to none, with bass and synths that veer to the left and right of the mix in equal measure.

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Jabes – 'Clown Tool' [Klunk Recordings]

Jabes is the alias of George Paul, a London producer who definitely has a zany sense of humour – in fact, his first record came packaged with a fold out yellow hat.

The second, also on his Klunk Recordings imprint, ups the ante on the madness; opener ‘Clown Tool’ sounds a bit like a messed up carnival ride where your conductor has taken lots of drugs and there are no seat belts.

If there’s any tune that might push punters with already shaky legs into feeling legitimately ill, it’s probably this one.

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Jennifer Walton – 'Crisis Of Confidence' [All Centre]

Jennifer Walton has strong ties to the UK’s flourishing experimental club scene, having written lots of great remixes and working with the likes of PC Music duo Moonoversun and Manchester rapper Iceboy Violet. She’s also livestreamed her production processes and lended lots of tips to other young producers online.

Among her best solo releases came out via London based label All Center, which has become an important community for young producers with an ear for left-field production. ‘Crisis Of Confidence’ bangs to its own heavy drums while several fucked up vocal samples are smashed to smithereens. Don’t believe the title, though – this music is intensely confident.

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Yushh – 'Team Boot' [Woozy]

Bristol’s Jen Hartley, AKA Yushh is known for several things: first for being one of Bristol's best DJs, who’s supported everyone from Mall Grab to Overmono, and second, for her central role in Bristol’s relatively new Pressure Dome imprint. Maybe lesser known is her excellent production abilities, like on ‘Team Boot’, put out through Dublin outpost Woozy, run by Irish bass stalwarts Sputnik One and EMA. 

Here, Yushh’s kick drums never really decide on a set pattern, providing a wonderful sense of surprise.

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Delay Grounds – 'Plastic_Degradation' [Tropopause Records]

A close collaborator of Yushh’s is Bristol’s Patrick Tipler, who produces as Delay Grounds, and who has put out a handful of his own equally impressive records in the past two years. Tipler has a particular talent for building tunes that develop and mutate; his music starts in one place and often builds into something entirely different.

A keen ear for abstract samples, melody, and impressive modular synthesis rounds off each of his rave-ready bangers like ‘Plastic_Degradation’.

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Proc Fiskal – 'Recall [Throate Achres]' [Hyperdub]

Edinburgh’s Joe Powers, also known as Proc Fiskal, caught the attention of some of the UK dance scene’s most esteemed tastemakers with his unique infusion of grime and IDM as just a wee teenager. Quickly becoming a firm favorite of Hyperdub’s Kode9; Proc Fiskal released his second album ‘Siren Spine Sysex’ via the famed label in 2022.

‘Recall [Throate Achres]’ fuses whispers from vintage TV with the type of metallic bass sounds SOPHIE would be proud of; huge waves of sugary synths over the top only add to the overall effect.

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Akiko Haruna – 'Be Little Me OR Yakusoku' [Numbers]

A classically trained musician, dancer and an alumnus of the now defunct Red Bull Music Academy, Akiko Haruna is repped through Glasgow’s esteemed Numbers label (which is where SOPHIE also started out). 2021’s ‘Be Little Me’ EP is a summation of her work to date; it’s a bold set of avant garde pop and club music sung in both Japanese and English.

‘Be Little Me’ is a clear highlight, sounding like a hypermodern, PC Music inspired take on Katy B’s 'On A Mission'; it even has the arena-sized bass and drums to boot.

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Metrist – 'VV Squi' [Timedance]

With close ties to Bristol’s Timedance label and a background in sound design, Metrist is something of a secret weapon in the arsenal of many of the UK’s edgier club DJs.

‘VV Squi’, off last year’s ‘Pollen Pt. II’ EP would certainly rock any big system but it avoids most dance music conventions almost entirely. Metrist tends to use vocals like drums, and he throws in what sounds like dramatic drops only to pull back at the last moment; the results are almost nonsensical.

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aya – 'Dis Yacky' [Hyperdub]

A list like this would be remiss without aya. The London-via-Manchester artists’ debut album ‘im hole’ has made huge waves for its truly unique and boundless creativity. ‘Dis Yacky’, perhaps that album’s most dance friendly cut, uses what sound like Pac-Man arcade samples into a heavy 2010s dubstep wobble – wait till the end and the track fades into an ambient wash of live cymbals and cowbells.

Using unconventional recording techniques and labouring away in the studio between skate breaks; aya’s work is proof of how much there is yet to be explored in digital production, and is a broader sign of a young British experimental electronic scene in rude health.

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Words: Louis Torracinta

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