Reviewed this week
These are the breaks! Super-longstanding D&B bastion Drum&BassArena unleash their first EP in over 10 years with a special dedication to the driving drum fusion that's powered all our favourite jungle jams: The breakbeat. It's an all-star cast too... Bladerunner does his thing with a classic subby wobble and skippy breaks, Shimon gets his bouncy skank on with Darrison on "Believe It" while June Miller, James Marvel & MC Mota flip the breaks into a steppier, more fractured dancehall/jungle/madness switch up on "Don Dada". Those in need of a hardcore injection of rave purity should seek and support John B's ruthless "ENERGY" and A.M.C & Turno's glacier-blasting tech-jump melter "Ice Cold". Dedication's what you need.
They might be averaging 2.5 releases per year but man are Blackley's Cre8 killing it. Every single release has been rammer-jammer with talent, ideas, fusions and energy. The "We Cre8" series epitomises this spirit and attitude the best as we're bombarded with heaviness from the off... "Medusa" teases with a starlit arpeggio on the intro before snapping your neck with a waspy bass drop, "War Mongers" is a much fuzzier, no-nonsense skin-scorcher, "Touch Of Generations" fires more lasers than an unruly robot while Jaxx provides balance with the springier funk of "Leaf Of Life". Rounding off with stern spacious bass tones of "Hemp Seed" and the timeless roller "Showdown", this is the best "We Cre8" edition yet.
Welcome to "Rollers Club" where it's happy hour all day and night long. Bou will be your consummate host, and he's rolling deep in decorated company. For the sublime game of contrasts that is the opening tune NAMF helps him balance warm jazzy chords with wriggling grunty jump riff with insane and truly unique effect. Elsewhere fellow gutter-bass showman Telekom joins the party for some grizzly, brain rattling bass on "Violet", Bou goes solo for the brilliantly twitchy, sharp-shooting switch up "Poison" and the man like T>I strolls in casually late for the last, and indeed gulliest track. No antidote required.
The Force ain't mucking about this year. Having slapped us silly on both Heist's Calypso and his longest standing supporters Ruffneck Ting, he now makes his debut on Serial Killaz self-stamped label. As always with Serial Killaz, there's no room for fillers or weak joints so The Force goes in balls deep with four distinct strains; "Pussy Sound" is the deeper roller of the set, "Serious Sound" buzzes with high end rasping bass sound that fluctuates tangibly and jazzy housey chords play havoc on the breakdown while "Your Love" takes a soaring soul vocal and intoxicates it with a treacle thick reese bass to breath-taking effect. Hats go off the most, though, for "Hipster". The sheer rudeness and out-there feels of the tripped-out reverse organ bass. Ridiculous. Drop it and watch your floor go bananas.
Young Worthing warrior Mentah continues to go loco in the Sub-Liminal kitchen cooking up no less than five fiery courses. Five! Each dish is a feast in itself, loaded with gruff groaning basslines, swinging drums and precision dug samples. Those with a penchant for gluten will fatten up nicely on the moaning bass tones of tracks such as "Can't Fool I" and "The Rules", those looking for a little citrus zest will be all over the electrical buzzy tones and block snare bumps of "Clear" while those who go straight for dessert should lap up the sweet treacle bass of "If You Need A Name". More? Look no further than the EP title track "Orders To Move". Grills set to murderation, this is cooked to perfection.
Sun's out, lenger's out - Young Guns slap down the second part of the "Ikon:Ik" series a tribute release for the late greaat Joe Ikon and it's every bit as ruthless, uncompromised and all-encompassing as the launch release two weeks ago. Ranging from the clipped and sinewy laser bass riff stabs of "Listen" to the more subverted biggie-bass grumblings of "Wake Up Fucked Up" by way of the sprightly skank and toxic slurry bass of "Twist", it's another scorching Ikon beacon for all drum & bass radars.
Question: When will Tyke stand for prime minister and how can we vote for him? We'd all be in a lot safer hands if this graf artist-turned-Playaz premiership player ruled the UK. Anyone who can make sounds so grotty, weird and head-bending like the swampy bass gurgles on "They Must Come" and the 1.21 gigawatt electric riff on "Cosmos" has exorcised enough demons to be a level-headed, thoughtful person, right? And who needs Trident when you've got hole-tearing slappers like "Galvanised" or the sense-blurring turbo-thruster "Planet Merk"? Answer: no one.
Following on from their successful hook up with 2020 Vision, nu-disco heroes Crazy P have now joined forces with the Classic label (how has this not happened before?!) and here we get the "Truelight EP". Spacey retro soul balladry gives way to filthy cosmic funk on "One True Light" and "In My Hands" is nasty Padlock EP-style disco of the highest order. Hot Toddy (aka Chris Todd of Crazy P) remixes the latter into hypnotic acid and band co-founder Ron Basejam turns the former into chugging, sun-warped Balearic boogie.
"Jungle Jungle"; so good he named it twice, right? You all know the drill now: It's lord Bladerunner, it's The Prototypes' unstoppable Get Hype imprint, it's a pristine roller that glides into the mix serenely, building subtly into a breath-taking synth-vocal drop that's emotional enough to turn your dancefloor (and the neighbourhood in a 50 mile radius) into one en-mass goosebump. Classic tucker from the consistently on-point Bladerunner and a sweet little curveball from Get Hype. There are no losers here.
It's 2017 and you can finally have your cake and eat it. It's all down to Jungle Cakes head chefs Deekline and Ed Solo who have been working hard in the bass kitchen since the foundation days. Here we find them in five Michelin star mode as they serve up a banquet of creations both from their own and their peers' menus. Highlights across this incredible D&B banquet abound from the moment Craze and Infiltrata's (aka 12th Planet) classic "Things Just Ain't The Same 4 Gangstas" opens the collection and Firefox's (aka Roni Size) seminal "Keep It Raw" headbutts us a few tracks later. Elsewhere the Jungle Cakes dons treat us to skanked-out banger after skanked-out banger; Spyda's iconic vocals and the hornets nest b-line on "Soundsystem Entertainer", Tippa's harmonic heaven on "Pass Me The Dubplate" and one of the nastiest remixes Deekline's notorious "Don't Smoke" has ever experienced. Loaded with an array of cool FX and two continuous mixes, this is a true jungle feast. What a time to be alive.
If you know T>I's productions then you won't need to read this, you'll already be on them. The man has saint-like status among the very top best roller and riff selectors such as Andy C and Serum. It's because of tracks like these. Each cut hits hard, rattles with funk and is clearly made for the mix. Both "Permanent Marker" and "Absence" really fix our focus on his deeper rolling side, "Don't Stop" switches up a well known break with an understated groaning bass whip, "Rolling With The Nines" takes us on mystical trip, Thresh Hold is freaky creeper with ghostly pianos and strange otherworldly basses while "Move On" closes on a superbly restrained soul stepper that opens out into some beautiful synth strokes midway. This couldn't be more on-point if T>I opened up a knife sharpening franchise.
VIP klaxon! Walking Dead revisit the vault and update with fresh version power. First up is a critical damager from Walking Dead's parent label Escalated Sounds. We don't need to tell you how brutal this was throughout the first half of 2016 - now it's back with a modified hook and added hype for the VIP. Simskai's laser bass gangbanger "Game Over", meanwhile, flexes its VIP muscles on the fills with additional twists on the bass hook and full focus on the spine-hunching reverse strings. VIP - very important party-hurters.
Given his history in the disco re-edit scene, it's perhaps unsurprising that Michael Fichman's first EP for Soul Clap contains a couple of bona fide mirrorball treats. Chief amongst these is "Get it On (Bosq Remix)", a brilliant chunk of revivalist vocal disco full of authentic instrumentation, including Nile Rodgers style guitars, a fine walking bassline and on-point percussion. DJ Bruce provides two killer, gospel inspired revisions of the track, too: the pared-back, pianos-and-bongos vibe of the "Feeling Mix" and the stretched-put, organ heavy gospel disco roller that is the standout "On & On Mix". Fittingly, both make much of Amy Douglas's inspired vocal. Elsewhere, "Side of Life" is a preacher-sporting chunk of sunshine disco and "The Changer" joins the dots between chugging dub disco and throbbing Italo-disco.



It's vibe o'clock at Vandal HQ this season as they gracefully lay down a brand new Modern Soul collection from their nearest and dearest... And every track is a total gem. Shield provides the ultimate opener with the jaunty horn-hazed "Skippy" before a rainbow of softer, jazzier and deeper tones continue to assault our souls... Bossman Redeyes gets a breezy flip from erstwhile Headz running mate Lenzman on "What She Wants", veteran break sculpter Kabuki lets his hair down on the hip-hop jam "Home Run", Satl cosmicifies his step arrangement on the dreamy "Miss U", Monty brings some warm textured keys, Gerra & Stone add a little murk to GLXY while Arkiak cooks up some kicks that are wider and heavier than your house. And they're just some of the many highlights.
VIPs in the hole! Two of Bulletproof's biggest club-shakers undergo fire updates from the men themselves. First up is barking badman Kanine who adds a whole new metallic crunch to his woofer-burning "Bad". Tsuki follows in hot pursuit with his modified "Inspector Gadget" where the lower part of the bass Q&A takes much more of a lead with a brand new twist on the hook. Deadly.
Original Trilogist, Shimon is well and truly back with the bangers right about now. Following his appearance on Drum&BassArena's "The Breaks" EP, he turns to the controls at his own AudioPorn imprint with two stone cold action jams. "Physio" is a weave of wobbles coated with Darrison's distinctive harmonies and some seriously slapping snares while "Crystal Clear" plunges us further down underground with pressurised kicks and icy mystic shrouds of eastern atmospheres. Welcome back Shimon... Please don't leave it so long next time!
A good luck gift from the heart of Belgium: M-Zine and Scepticz call up old Proximity label mate Bredren for a good old deep rolling techy knees up. Understated, pristine in their composition and loaded with strange and eerie sounds throughout, there's a latent machine funk similar to that of DLR or Xtrah coded throughout. Highlights include the jazzy offbeat, Ulterior Motive-style riff of "Tyro" and the veiny psy tendrils of "Mutable".
Dublin mandem Detboi returns to Headz exactly a year since his last release on the label (and last release full stop) with another tempo-flexing ride into the deepest corners of jungle past, present and future. While the last EP settled around the 130 mark, this one sees him taking the plunge into the 170 zone with mind-melting results as both "Secret Venom" and "Claws" lick, switch and shatter as if he'd been making it for 20+ years. Those keen on his more traditional vibes will be all over the equally gnarly, unpredictable, often-unnerving "Skin Deep", "Raw" and "Fragile". Icy, moody and twisted beyond any shapes known to mankind, no one is doing it quite like Detboi right now...
It sounds like Moderna and Theus Mago have tapped into the zeitgeist on their latest release. In particular, the title track, with its rumbling bass and cold bleeps, provides a background for a woman singing 'your techno is misogynist", first in Spanish and then in English. Hopefully it'll serve to get more labels, DJs and artists to grapple with this important issue. Elsewhere, the pair deliver a grinding, noisy workout on "Francesca (Wild at Heart)" , while they opt for a different approach on "Can You Se Her". Tripped out and stripped back, its druggy vocals and intergalactic sounds make for an inspired, unusual track.
The phenomenon that is AC Slater's Night Bass: a label, a party, a collective of like-minded spirits, a movement... In the space of a few years, they've dominated the low end game on a global scale. Their debut remix collection is another bedpost notch as they take each other's favourite tracks and versionise the dickens out of one another. Highlights include Phlegmatic Dogs' warped bass, slo-mo break-charged twist of "Gonna Be Mine", Petey Clicks jack-happy slapper take on "Nose Powder" and Landis LaPace's technoid shake up of "Guttural". File under heavyweight.