The long-running Brummie label celebrate 10 years in the game
Birmingham-based bass label Four40 celebrate their 10th birthday with a retrospective compilation.
Four40 have never been ones to paint themselves into a musical corner – when we spoke to him around their fifth birthday compilation back in 2016, he defined the label's music policy as "house, bass, garage and grime," a remit that leaves plenty of stylistic wiggle-room! And naturally, that's reflected in the diversity of sounds on offer here. Opener Got This Now from Bk2Bassix ft Abi may be on the sweet and commercial side, but it's followed immediately by Hybrid Theory's far more grimy remix of Decibel feat Flowdan's Skanks, setting the tone for an album that ranges from the Latino-tinged bassline house of Badger's Fiesta to the gnarly out-there experimentalism of EarthNut's Worm, and from the sparse headnoddin' dubstep of Enigma Dubz' Without You By My Side to the full-on rave nostalgia of Smokey Bubblin' B's closing Be Real.
But Four40's roots lie in bassline and garage, and for this old garagehead it's the more traditionally-styled UKG and two-step cuts that hit hardest there. Thankfully there are plenty of those on offer – see the contributions from Yemi X Tuff Culture, On1, Deadly Habitz and Royal Flush, for starters. Indeed, Deadly Habitz's Stay True is the standout of the whole album to these ears, with I Killed Kenny feat Jamie George's quirky, almost Madhouse-ish Let's Go Shorterz also worthy of an honourable mention.
All told, this is a very checkable compilation whether you're a Four40 fan already, or just wanting to check in on what's going on in bass music generally. Four40 have been charting the genre's evolution for a whole decade now, after all, and long may they continue to do so…
Words: Russell Deeks
Release date: Out now
Review Score: 8
Tags: Four40, bass music, UK garage, UKG, two-step, bassline, grime, dubstep, Bk2Bassix, Hybrid Theory, Decibel, Flowdan, Badger, EarthNut, Enigma Dubz, Smokey Bubblin' B, Yemi, Tuff Culture, On1, Deadly Habitz, Royal Flush, I Killed Kenny, Jamie George