Review // Hench Mixtape Vol. One

Jermaine Jacob, perhaps better known as Jakes, is many things to many people. Some will know him as an important voice in drum and bass; lending his vocals to a handful of songs by TC and appearing as a regular guest MC for Pendulum. Others will know him as the label boss of Bristol’s Hench records, an influential dubstep imprint which specialises in stomping, rollicking dancefloor killers. Combining the sounds of the Hench roster into a smooth, energetic mix, Jakes has curated the first mixtape from the influential label. His mix, made up of 32 tracks of exclusives, special VIP remixes and established dubstep classics is the reason that all eyes should be on the Hench roster for 2010.

Beginning with a remix of ‘3k Lane’, Jakes’ collaboration with digital dubstep producer Joker, the mix begins with immediate, frenetic energy. Moving smoothly through a whole host of exclusive tracks from Jakes, the mix then showcases releases from Russian dubstep act Giant, up-and-coming Bristollian Mensah, and established Hench acts like Chasing Shadows, Eddie K, Komonazmuk, Lost and Minus. There’s scarcely a bad track on show, though the heavy grind of tracks by Chasing Shadows and Tek-One may be a little much to bear for the less integrated dubstep listener.

Other offerings are instantly joyous to listen to. Giant’s ‘Drumstick VIP’ expands on the springy original with increased energy and clout, whilst Eddie K’s shuffling ‘Shivers’ is bolstered no end by it’s aggressive VIP tweaks. Lost’s ‘Ironhide’ remains the same as it’s original release; a stunningly powerful piece of minimalism, backed by bouncy, popping bass and a brilliantly chosen Transformers sample. New boy Mensah doesn’t disappoint on the vibrant ‘Pulse 80’s, bringing his equally minimalistic stomp into the equation.

The entire Hench roster seem to exhibit a shared love for subwoofer-shuddering bass – a sound in dubstep that is often missed by the slew of inexperienced bedroom producers. This is the strength of Hench; every track is as weighty as it is immaculately produced. Bass is in no short supply, but Jakes occasionally has a slight tendency to turn his VIP’s into messy affairs, tracks like the usually smooth ‘Rock Tha Bells’ suffer slightly under the weight of the sheer amount of frantic variations. This considered, once adjusted to, the remixes are ultimately extremely enjoyable, offering a furious expansion on what for many dubstep fans are familiar releases.

The Hench mixtape is a deftly mixed collection of deep, exciting dubstep; moving smoothly between a whole host of heavy new dubstep releases. With a set of vinyl samplers also released, as well as temporarily offering a whole host of preview mp3’s to download, these Bristol dubsteppers are really spoiling us.

Hench Records Mixtape vol. 1 is available Here