Blissfully enjoying new releases each week and with oven fresh tunes flying all over the place, there’s bound to be many passing by unnoticed and criminally underrated. I dread to think how many have passed me by. However, here’s ten tracks from 2020 that didn’t and ten tracks that you shouldn’t continue to overlook either.
Primer w/ Soukah – Distant
From the first soft echoes of the original clip, ‘Distant‘ was always going to be a stunner. Nestled within Rarefied‘s eclectic ‘Shades Of Violet‘ compilation, ‘Distant’ emerged as the dreamiest track of 2020. On the surface, Primer and Soukah cultivate all kinds of wistful tones and textures, from the patter of a rain shower to the light, pensive keys and the beautifully despondent vocals. However amidst a series of switches, journeying through sections of spacious 808’s and deep waves of low frequencies, embellished by discordant percussive rattles and bewitching melodies, something sinister emerges. The mood ultimately descends with tougher 808 incisions and spoken word filled with sorrow. Like a spider’s web of conflicting emotions, it’s melancholy on acid, yet still provides moments of such intoxicating wonderment.
Glume & Phossa – Black Sun
When I first locked into ‘Silkworm‘ EP, I optimistically expected the usual, glistening sounds that we’ve come to know and love from Glume & Phossa, especially with tracks like ‘Nerve’ and ‘JAWA’ in there. But it wasn’t until then, that I’d blessed my ears with ‘Black Sun’, an utterly refreshing listening experience, beset with energy and colour. The synth combos are as bright and as lively as I’ve ever heard from the duo, paired with vibrant accents of the far east. To this day, I still find myself with a massive grin on my face during the second phase, where the infectious melody is taken up a notch and dropped into shoulder-swing city.
Retina – No Fear I (FAV016)
Lead by the deep, stank-faced funk of the title track, Retina‘s ‘Dusted‘ EP is not only the most underrated record on Foundation Audio but of the entire year. Hidden in those four tracks is ‘No Fear I‘, a once long awaited sound system weapon and for me, Retina‘s finest. The robust, rolling stomps are unmistakeable, polished by leading patois accents and a distinctive snare that carries it’s powerfully addictive rhythm. ‘No Fear I‘ is the perfect eyes down, feet shuffling, floor shaking stomper that’s not to be taken lightly.
Tetrad – Outpost 31 (INSTi025)
LA’s Tetrad provided some flavours of the apocalypse on ‘Moral Terror‘ EP, presented by Instigate Recordings and also featured producing brother, Akhur. ‘Outpost 31‘, Tetrad‘s solo expedition on the EP, indulges in dark, menacing atmospheres of a city under siege or a battlefield of the future. It’s main feature, an overwhelming bass-line built like Godzilla, dizzyingly ascending and descending at will, destroying anything in it’s path amongst expanding swells and cosmic synths. A seriously deep, combative tune.
Read the full review of INSTi025 here.
Imajika – Unti Pundi (SUBALT025)
Anything from Imajika‘s ‘Stagger‘ EP on Subaltern Records could feature right here to be honest. Each track is a fine example of the UK producer’s growing, gut punching sound. Nonetheless, ‘Unti Pundi‘ had been on my ‘look out’ list for a hot minute. With more funk than James Brown and a contagious psychedelic groove that’s impossible to shake off, ‘Unti Pundi‘ is the ultimate body mover. With blistering rhythm, killer drums and a unique vocal loop that’s catchier than coronavirus, it’s impossible not to want to feel the groove on this one for a second time. And a third, and a fourth…
Read the full review of SUBALT025 here.
Kami-O – Yonda
It was with this self released EP that the sounds of Glaswegian producer Kami-O was thrusted upon my ears. Whilst I gratefully had the opportunity of premiering one of the accompanying tunes, ‘Tamas‘, it was the preceding ‘Yonda‘ that immediately soaked into my soul and has stuck with me ever since. For me, ‘Yonda‘ is the perfect meditative, tribal roller. An ocean deep bass-line pulsates in persistent, hypnotic fashion, whilst voices of the tribe sternly resonate beyond sacred lands. Subtle percussive elements eventually cut through the dominating thickness like a hot knife through butter and carries the simmering intensity to it’s end.
Read the full review of ‘Hara‘ EP here.
Unkey – Deceived (Rockstone Remix) (U003)
Aside from a handful of fantastic self released productions, Unkey found success this year in Foto Sounds, a label developed alongside fellow Bristolian Khanum and for my money, one of the best new labels to emerge in 2020. So with that in mind, check out this remix of Unkey‘s moody ‘Deceived‘ by Canadian duo Rockstone, who had recently joined the Foto Sounds family. The pair develop some seriously fuzzy low end pressure on this one, plus big cataclysmic drones that could easily mark the end of days.
Read the full review of U003 here.
Kanomotis – Glavobol (DPNDF10)
The mysterious Kanomotis raised his proverbial head earlier this year on home label Deep End! with this scorcher of a single, ‘Glavobol‘. A sumptuous mash-up of dazzling, esoteric guitar melodies, spine chilling tones and aggressive bass-driven sound design. There’s moments where ‘Glavobol‘ is about as metal as you’re going to get whilst delving into the deepest, darkest corners of Dubstep and you can’t get any better than that!
Pharma – Para Dôxe
I could’ve sat here for hours listening through Pharma‘s work, figuring out which track to feature. From ‘Stray‘ EP to his masterful ‘Transcripts‘ LP, there is honestly an overwhelming amount of top-shelf material here that deserves to be levitated from the shadows. So if you’ve missed any of Pharma‘s deathly dark creations this year, it’s certainly worth your time checking them out. ‘Para Dôxe‘ surfaced on the murky ‘Pondi‘ EP, a track abundant in texture and one that battles with an intense rhythm, depicting panic and haste. It’s both energising and unnerving, a true reflection of Pharma‘s diverse and evolving sound.
Read the full review of ‘Pondi‘ EP here.
Beatsforbeaches – Whoo
If you’re familiar with Honey & Bass, you’d know I’m a big fan Beatsforbeaches‘ growing sound, even more so after a fantastic year of releases on the likes of Bassin Records and even the mighty Artikal Music. However ‘Mercy‘ EP, courtesy of Dread Or Dead Records, came out of nowhere. Sitting unassumingly between two other worthy tunes (one of which features fellow talented Belgian, Zygos), ‘Whoo‘ batters the subs like Mike Tyson in his prime. Super cold, super minimal but incredibly effective, this is one of the many Beatsforbeaches tunes that has stuck with me and will continue to do so as we head into the new year.
The majority of these tunes can be heard throughout The Honey & Bass Podcast end of year special. All of my favourite tunes from 2020 wrapped up into a 2 hour mix!
Massive big ups to all artists and labels who featured and big ups to anyone who’s found the focus and the energy required to put out new forward-thinking music during this momentous year! And finally a massive big up to yourself for checking out Honey & Bass at any point! It is always appreciated.