10 Leftfield Bass Labels That Are Currently Killing It
Will Gulseven explores some of the best leftfield bass labels around.
Our Leftfield Bass page spans a wide range of genres — from the weighty subs of deep dubstep, to the infectious percussion of gqom and kuduro, and the intense 160 BPM rhythms of footwork and juke. It’s also home to some of the most ahead-of-the-curve labels in dance music, and chances are your favourite DJ has looked to some of these labels for those all-important secret weapons. Consider this our guide through some of the most interesting and innovative electronic music being released today.
Since their first release in 2015, TSVI and Wallwork have carved out a unique space in London’s electronic music landscape with their imprint, Nervous Horizon. Melding influences from UK funky, techno and kuduro with sounds from the Middle East and South Asia, you can count on any Nervous Horizon release to deliver dancefloor-ready heat, shot through with hard-hitting sound design and frenetic percussion.
Nowhere is the Nervous Horizon sound better illustrated than on TSVI’s 2018 album, Inner Worlds, which sees the label founder travelling through a swathe of influences and tempos, contrasting dancehall rhythms and trance synths with Arabic vocals and Egyptian percussion.
TSVI – Hossam
DJ Plead – Salt and Pepper
DJ JM – No Days Off
Fracture’s self-described “cosmic electronic music” label, Astrophonica, has been instrumental in the blurring of lines between Chicago footwork, jungle, and drum & bass. It’s also home to producers like Moresounds, Om Unit, Sully, and a host of other artists committed to pushing bass music forward.
Often incorporating classic jungle, rave, and acid influences — but never relying on nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake — Astrophonica’s catalogue constantly looks to the future with releases like Philip D Kick’s Pathways, and its Gradients compilations.
Recent releases on the label have seen Fracture exploring the “Turbo” sound, which ramps up techno and electro to 160 BPM and above for a frantic listening experience.
Fracture – Big Up the Ladies
Moresounds – You Don’t Know
Philip D Kick & DJ Spinn – Vibe Off
Priding itself on tearing down musical borders, Enchufada has been responsible for some of the most original global club releases since its inception in 2006. Based in Lisbon and drawing on sounds from Portuguese-speaking countries like Angola and Brazil, Enchufada’s catalogue is stacked with syncopated rhythms, bouncing bass and raucous vocals.
Enchufada was founded by Branko as an outlet for releases with his Buraka som Sistema project, and has since become a family of artists united by a love of kuduro, tarraxo, kizomba and an array of other sounds. Our picks from the Enchufada roster include Lisbon natives PEDRO and Dotorado Pro, and Peruvian duo Dengue Dengue Dengue.
Branko & Pedro – MPTS
Mina feat. Gafacci & Omo Frenchie – Allo
Dotorado Pro – Macumba
Zha’s White Peach Records has without a doubt been responsible for some of the most innovative and refreshing grime, dubstep, and bass music of the 2010s. Their roster consists of producers who thrive on pushing the boundaries of 140 BPM music, like Bengal Sound, TMSV, and Glume & Phossa.
With its instantly recognizable artwork, White Peach has amassed a cult following among grime and dubstep heads as being a go-to label for those all-important secret weapons.
Not content with just running the White Peach label, Zha also runs sister labels Fent Plates and Yellow Flower, which sit fittingly beside White Peach, exploring deep electronic and instrumental hip hop sounds, respectively.
Sir Hiss feat. Emz – Rolling
Glume & Phossa – Tusk
Taiko – Jackal
If you’ve ever caught a set from Sabre and Stray’s collaborative alias Ivy Lab, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect from their label, 20/20 LDN. Positioned somewhere between hip-hop, future bass, footwork, and halftime D&B, the label specializes in the kind of in-your-face bass that Ivy Lab have made their trademark since the project’s inception.
Despite the label’s name – and regular residency at London club Phonox – the label has had transatlantic appeal, with Stateside artists like no puls and Sinistarr appearing alongside Londoners Deft and Fixate.
Put simply, if you’re into lurching basslines, heavy beats, and wonky rhythms, chances are 20/20 LDN’s output will be for you.
Ivy Lab & Two Fingers – Hotline
no puls – Tongues
Deft – For Sudden
Characterised by sub-heavy kicks, broken beats and ominous, droning synths, gqom has been a mainstay of the South African electronic underground since the early 2010s. It soon made a rapid spread out of the country, going global thanks in-part to releases from labels like Hyperdub, Goon Club Allstars, and Gqom Oh!.
Featuring releases from some of gqom’s key players, including Griffit Vigo, Citizen Boy, and Emo Kid, Gqom Oh! has helped to turn DJs outside of South Africa on to gqom’s moody, pulsating sound. The label is the brainchild of Rome-born DJ Nan Kolè, who first discovered gqom in 2014 and has been an evangelist of the genre ever since.
DJ Lag – Daisies
Emo Kid – Ground Shaker
Citizen Boy feat. Dapo Tuburna – Alala
One of the leading labels emerging from East Africa’s burgeoning electronic music scene, Hakuna Kulala has been consistently repping some of the region’s most vital artists since its beginnings in 2018.
The breakout star of the label has been Kenyan producer Slikback, whose impossible-to-pin-down style encompasses elements of footwork, trap, halftime D&B, and grime, and has seen him take on a slew of international bookings.
Other key players in Hakuna Kulala’s catalogue include “Kenyan grime queen” MC Yallah, whose debut album Kubali landed earlier in 2019, and Rey Sapienz, who has turned heads with his unique take on traditional Congolese soukous.
Slikback – KYOKAI
MC Yallah x Debmaster – Kubali
Rey Sapienz – Nzela Mabulu
Originally conceived in 2003 as a platform for Plastician to release his own work, Terrorhythm has evolved over the years to reflect Plastician’s unique taste as a DJ and A&R. You can be sure that any given release on Terrorhythm will present its own distinctive take on a genre – whether that’s grime, dubstep, or any other mutation of bass music.
Take 2017’s Wavepool 2 compilation — it’s a collection of tracks showcasing the “Wave” sound Plastician has been championing since 2016, characterized by spaced-out, trap-influenced beats delivered at around 120 BPM.
Artists to look out for on the label include genre-defying Californian ONHELL, and eclectic electronic producer Klasey Jones.
Plastician – Windwalker
ONHELL – Cinco Años
Klasey Jones – Shapeshifter
Moveltraxx has been pushing its fiery blend of footwork, ghetto house, and club music since 2007, and was among the first labels to bring 160 BPM sounds over to Europe with early releases from producers like DJ Rashad. With one foot in the rap world and one in the electronic scene, label head Big Dope P has cultivated a unique label with an impressive release rate and a knack for uncovering rising talent.
More recently, Moveltraxx has been home to upcoming artists like Morgan Hislop, Alex Autajon, and Bastiengoat, while the label’s Street Bangers Factory compilations have become a breeding ground for producers to watch.
Morgan Hislop – Umbra
Big Dope P – Presidential Pimpin
DJ Manny – Feeling Is Fine
Originally started in 2012 as a blog, DUPLOC has since developed into a label, events series, and podcast, and one of the leading brands in the deeper side of dubstep.
Disillusioned with the brash brostep that dominated the dubstep scene at the time, founder Pieter Grauwels began to uncover a community of artists still obsessing over the sub-heavy UK dubstep sounds of the noughties. Since then, the label has played a major role in breaking artists like Ternion Sound, Hebbe, and Enigma Dubz.
With each release consisting of just two tracks, and named simply after its catalogue number, DUPLOC keeps the focus squarely on the music – with major results.
Ternion Sound – Verify Me
Enigma Dubz – Left Behind
Khanum – Lumpy
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