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Photo by Dan Medhurst

A few years back, while on time off from a study abroad period in Morocco, I was able to attend MS Dockville, a smallish festival in Hamburg featuring the likes of Oneohtrix Point Never, Holy Other and Michachu and the Shapes. Having only attended American festivals to that point, my opinion of music festivals was bleak to say the least, literal fights for space and air in what could easily be described as gigantic cesspools of humanity. MS Dockville was a welcome reprieve from the glut and general decrepitude of the American festival, both in terms of programming and general respect on the part of attendees. There was no more space at the festival grounds in Hamburg than a midsize US soiree, but the way attendees interacted with the music and each other gave the whole event a neat, cozy overtone.

Since that weekend, I’ve been aching to return to a European festival and when a friend proffered the idea of making the trip to Pula, Croatia for Outlook Festival, the soundsystem culture-focused event happening across five days in an Austro-Hungarian fort on the Adriatic Sea, the opportunity was almost too good to pass up. The legend of Outlook and Fort Punta Christo runs deep and feasting on the lineup, especially names like Boy Better Know and Kromestar that us Americans can only dream of seeing on normal terms, became a regular activity in the months and weeks before the festival, the anticipation becoming almost overwhelming as we began our 30 hour jaunt across ocean and land to reach the small coastal city.

Looking back now, a week after Outlook’s world class soundsystems finally shut down, it’s hard to imagine we were on a beach watching Hatcha and DJ EZ play out classic-laden sets or at the festival’s unmatched Moat stage brucking out as Acre and Mumdance shook down the entire Fort at the Tectonic 10 party. And more than any individual set, the opportunity to attend a festival with near-total support for its modus operandi. In short, most of the people at this year’s festival were there because of their dedication to soundsystem culture and/or its various modern forms. With a few exceptions at the top of the bill, Outlook’s lineup was composed of labels, parties and artists outside of the general public eye, meaning the likes of Amy Becker, Parris and DJ Milktray having the opportunity to lay down high energy sets in front of huge, adoring crowds.

Hit the jump for a full run down of The Astral Plane team’s experience at Outlook Festival in Pula, Croatia…

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riz la teef

The practice of cutting dubs is often viewed as a rather arcane, outdated practice to many people in my age bracket (early 20s), enmeshed in a culture of exclusivity and privilege. More often than not, owning a selection of dubs is presented less as a means of playing out on-the-cusp tracks than a fundamental status symbol, awarding the owner a step up over the plebes without Loefah b-sides. Of course, digital dub culture isn’t any less insidious and the more the forums, groups and download sites infringe on the cool kids table, the more unfortunate conflict arises among young kids and scene veterans, DJs and producers, the United States and the UK. South London’s Riz La Teef seems to be one of the few good natured proponents of dub culture and he has filtered that responsibility into a few dozen, exclusive-laden, mixes over the past 24 months. Rinsing everything from roots reggae to jump up bassline, Riz’s adherence to vinyl and access to dubs from the likes of JT The Goon, Rabit and Novelist make him one of the most in demand and well respected deejays in both his native London and among the hordes of dispersed garage fans across the internet. We asked Riz about his favorite dubs from the past year and he was kind of enough to list them out and take some lovely photos of his hand-marked classics to be. Not all of these tracks will be revealed in the next months, but they will certainly live on in infamy, thanks to Riz’s spacious repertoire, innate deck skills and engaging demeanor. Peep his choices and a slideshow of each and every dub listed.


Gundam – Pulse Wedding VIP (RIZLA SPESH)

Def one of my favourite dubs I’ve cut this year. Played it a day after I cut it in a dance and it got reloaded 4/5 times.

Brackles & Fox – Skank + Famous Eno Remix

Not really a dubplate, but both tunes have a top vibe.

E.M.M.A – Pyramids, Peridot & Light Years

Pyramids is the coldest beat made this year imo and not alot of Emma’s stuff hasn’t been pressed to wax so I had to cut the other two beats!

Fallow – Strings Hoe Refix (RIZLA SPECIAL)

Fallow is a guy to watch out for next year for sure both his refixes and original tunes are quality. Big up to him for doing me special of strings ho refix.

Grandmixxer – Windrush VIP

Melody is so good, has been in my head for weeks.

Boycott – Kowloon Bae (RIZ VIP)

The original is such a sick tune and the guys blessed me with a VIP. Proper colourful vibes.

Iglew – Sleep Lighter VIP

Again Iglew is another guy to watch out for in 2015. Everything he’s done this year has been pretty special – Urban Myth, Cascade etc

JT The Goon – Twin Warriors VIP & Polar

JT is one of the best snm. Polar is a rude beat.

Apple – De-Siegalizer (Logos Refix)

Great cheeky refix and the mastering by Jason on the dub is so good.

Loom & Tarquin – Pompelmo Riddim

Fruity, eski dancehall from another two guys who I expect to do big things next year.

Mssingno – XE2 VIP BIELDUB REMIX PART 1

Actually cut this last year, but battered that dub so much had to cut it again!

Rabit – Black Dragons

Again not a dubplate anymore but was so gassed when Glacial sent me this month or so before its release. GULLY

Shriekin’ – Red Beach VIP

Maybe my favourite tune of the year??

Silk Road Assassins – Deadcell

The waviest beat made this year.

Wen – Backdraft/Walton – Bulldoze

BANGERS

Novelist – Yakuta

So excited to be able to cut this, Novelist is huge rn and gonna be even bigger next year. Excels in both MCin’ & production.

Murlo – Into Mist/Roman Baths

Was lucky enough to cut these before they came out. Into Mist has been in my bag as soon as I got it.

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coyote-records

Continuing our year end coverage, we asked Tomas Fraser, head of breathtaking grime outlet Coyote Records, which 2014 songs he wished he could have signed. It’s a bit of a silly hypothetical, but while signing a “Take Time” is almost always a heartbeat decision, the amount of factors that go into a label signing are often overwhelming. Tomas does an excellent job with Coyote and while he couldn’t snag the following, Mumdance x Novelist, Murlo, CYPHR, Visionist or Gantz x El Mahdy Jr. tracks this year, his label has turned out quality releases from Chemist and Spare, as well as their annual compilation, Coyote Kings 2. Check out Tomas’ selection below and hit the jump to stream Rejig’s contribution to the aforementioned compilation. Also, be sure to peep Riley Lake’s Fave Discontinued Hardware from yesterday!


Mumdance ft. Novelist – ‘Take Time’ (Rinse)

Would loved to have released a record on this based primarily on the fact that it single-handedly gave power back to the MCs – it proved that MCs could do the intricate, new world of contemporary instrumental grime production justice and vice versa. Don’t think we’ll fully appreciate it for a few years yet either.

Murlo – Cold Stroke (Oil Gang)

Spent the last 10 months or so fast-forwarding mixes just to reload ‘Cold Stroke’ – it’s just one of those tracks that I’ll always love. Was chuffed to see it get a proper release because I still think it stands as one of his best pieces of production to date.

CYPHR – Sun (Her Records)

Went under the radar a bit this one but it blew me away listening to it for the first time. The way the track builds and all the components intertwine is genuinely beautiful – even my boss bought the EP after I played it in the office. Says it all really.

Visionist – More Pain (Lit City Trax)

Visionist has my favourite production aesthetic in the game and ‘More Pain’ is probably the best example of how he goes about his work. It reminds me of a prayer of sorts in the sense that it’s gothic and moody and haunting and almost spiritual, all at the same time – it’s this sense of emotional urgency that makes him stand out from the rest for me.

Gantz ft. El Mahdy Jr – Rising (Deep Medi)

Not my usual bag but I know Gantz is a great producer and alongside El Mahdy Jr, something clicked for me. There’s a real tangible sense of spirituality about ‘Rising’ – perpetuated by Mahdy Jr’s enchanting vocal – and the way Gantz joins the dots between the classic Medi template & the sounds of his own heritage and culture is first class.

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the-square

In 2014, grime crews still nominally exist, but they don’t run the proverbial street with the fervor that Roll Deep, Boy Better Know and Ruff Sqwad did in ’04. I for one was not reticent of grime as an 11 year old American boy, but recent attempts at crew revival have got me calling for a renaissance, as well as feeling a fair deal of false nostalgia. Lewisham crew The Square, a seven member producer/MC amalgam, is looking to jumpstart that revival and Novelist and Lolingo, both of whom are members, have anything to say about it, this prodigious collection might just succeed. Besides Nov and Lol, The Square includes DeeJillz, Elf Kid, Syder, Faultsz and Streema. “Pengaleng” is the crew’s first output and the first single from their upcoming The Formula mixtape, due August 25 via Nohatsnohoods.

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After flexing his abundant mic skills on Mumdance‘s “Take Time” earlier this year, Lewisham badman Novelist took to the boards and let loose the all-instrumental Sniper EP on Oil Gang. While not reaching the inventive heights of “Take Time”, Sniper is a meticulously composed effort that represents Nov’s keen understanding of grime’s beginnings; if not some of its more experimental proclivities. As a key member of the Oil Gang-sphere, JT The Goon has been one of the label’s shining stars and his timeless black key productions continue to shine in a rather timeless manner. JT is one of the few producers who can keep the GrimeForum heads at bay while drawing plaudits from the Fact Singles Club. Taking on Sniper‘s title track, JT into a child keyboard melody, sawtooth low end, gun cocks, shots and thrillingly cinematic squarewave twists and turns. At just under three minutes, the remix is something of a flash in the pan, a song that represents the ever-growing temptation of the Boxed crew to make music for someone/anyone that doesn’t regularly play out at Birthdays.

mumdance

South London MC Novelist has been making some major waves this year, gracing a number of radio shows with his instantly recognizable snarl and razor sharp bars. Mumdance has certainly taken notice and recently recruited the 17-year-old to lace a track off of his upcoming Rinse EP. “Take Time” features Mumdance at his finest, all razor sharp snares, modulated spin backs and frantic hats. While Novelist espouses the value of taking time and relaxing, there’s barely enough space to take a breath on “Take Time” amid the spastic percussion and brick-in-your-face bass stabs. The yet-to-be-named EP will be hitting the streets on June 16 courtesy of Rinse.