ENiGMA Dubz has been pushing the boundaries of bass music since he burst onto the scene more than a decade ago. On new album Awakening his sonic palette has expanded to include liquid drum & bass, trap, downtempo electronica and future garage – alongside the dubstep with which he made his name. The result is an extraordinarily accomplished and rewarding album from an artist with unaccustomed talent and vision.  

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ENiGMA Dubz, real name James Vine, has been the worst kept secret in the global bass music scene for more than a decade. The dexterous producer is equally adept at unleashing the weightiest bass-heavy drops as crafting expansive cinematic electronic soundscapes.

Initially making garage and house from his Birmingham bedroom under the name DJ V, aged 20 his 2008 bootleg of Faithless’ We Come One was Kissy Sell Out’s track of the month on BBC Radio 1. The ENiGMA Dubz alias was born that year, after James experienced the cream of UK dubstep at SubDub’s legendary Exodus night – including Skream, Plastician & Digital Mystiks. High profile support from Laidback Luke, Chase & Status and regular YouTube features on MrSuicideSheep, Majestic Casual and Ganja Music led to 2015’s double album The Journey so Far.

Released on Morii Records this spring, Awakening is a phenomenal accomplishment. Even if you think you know ENiGMA Dubz the sheer scope of musical ideas is likely to take your breath away. And if you’re a newcomer to his music, prepare to be blown away. 

“Awakening is my fifth album under ENiGMA Dubz, and it’s a moment in my career to truly showcase where I’m at as a bass music producer. 

“From being stuck in Munich airport back in 2018 creating ‘Lost Souls’ in an empty room while the weather outside shut everything down, to being inspired by the chaos the world was in during 2020-21, this project touches every corner of my passion for music and is the best representation of what I want ENiGMA Dubz to be.

This album is a journey from start to finish – from dark and moody, to blissful and euphoric. I can’t wait to get it out and for the Awakening chapter to begin.” 

James Vine, aka ENiGMA Dubz

Up in the Safe feat. S.O. makes just the kind of impact you’d want from a lead single. Coming in hard with fierce, punishing bass and a relentless flow from S.O., ENiGMA Dubz crafts an atmosphere that’s both oppressive and immediately arresting, and  yet allows the subtly of the darkly seductive production to shine through. 

Flipping the vibe completely and showing the confidence with which ENiGMA Dubz moves through disparate genres, Out of My Mind is a stunning liquid drum & bass track. Characterised by gorgeous, ethereal pads, soaring vocals and intricate percussion, the haunting, melancholic nature of the production taps into raw layer of emotion that makes it without question one of the stand-out tracks on the album.

Album opener Replicants is a perfect example of a track that distils several styles into a single piece. The structure and growling, primal bassline harks back to the glory mid-00s days of dubstep, softened by the glistening pads and pulsing synth hooks that have characterised much of ENiGMA Dubz later work. In other hands a track like Replicants might well be a confused mess: here it is simply sublime. 

Similarly, the bassy trap tune Lost Souls pairs a thunderous mid-tempo beat with skittering hi-hats and a rhythmic synth line, twisted and warping a vocal sample to create an eerie atmosphere that both otherworldly and deeply rooted in the club.  

Exploring the more explicitly anthemic side of his production, I’m a Ghost enlists the powerfully soulful vocals of Hedara and heads into full-on, hands in the air euphoria territory. Towering melodies and synth lines cascade into one another with devastatingly emotional results.