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Reviewed this week
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A lot of re-edit producers seem to be reappearing following a fairly long hibernation period. It can't be a coincidence that the sun's out too - as re-edits are good times music. The Reflex are finally back and there'll be some mighty good times soundtracked by "Bongle Joogie", an almost seven-minute muscled up version of Kool And the Gang's monster party jam. Meanwhile, Earth, Wind & Fire's timeless hit "September" gets tweaked into a floaty cloud of party joy, with some pretty impressive acapella breaks too.
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The last missive from DJ Vas HQ was way back in November of last year. Thankfully the summer's sunny allure seems to have got his creative juices flowing and now we have four new offerings for our aural pleasure. Roy Ayers' "Our Love Will Bring Us Back Together" is teased out into sinewy, high-end boogie and BB&Q's "Imagination" home is improved, getting rebuilt into lasered robot funk. Crown Heights Affair also get two hip swaying brassy tracks featured here, rounding off the euphoric party vibes in style.
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All re-edit labels have their own twist on things and Handshakes' thing is classic funk. After messing around with singles for a while, they've bitten the bullet and delivered a long player. It's been worth the wait too as there's a whopping 19 tracks to choose from featuring a mix of names both familiar and new. Highlights include the touchy-feely throb of "Groove On (IMFROMULL edit)", the grey leather slip on electro-funk of "You Wanna Get Up (Dr Packer Funkout)" and the raw, slap-bass heaven of Jam Master's "Party Lights".
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Surgery Edits Vol 3 sees Aussie editor Dr Packer apply the knife to a selection of stone cold disco and funk classics. Extending and exciting at every opportunity, there's an emphatic headnod to the '80s throughout as we ignite with crisp revisions of both Jocelyn Brown's "Somebody Else's Guy" and Change's "Change Of Heart". As the doctor digs deeper we're treated to savage synth boogie badness by way of the slap-bass and horn heavy "Luv Ya Lady", a dubby dedication to George Benson's "Give Me The Night" and some cool filtered flurries on Lace's "Can't Play Around". Weighing in at near-album size, edit collections don't come much more extensive than this.
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Dread Recordings unleash their fifth mixtape of dancefloor stormers, and with 17 massive tracks to choose from, they're not mucking about. Spanning the entire genre of drum and bass from its old school beginnings to modern minimal and everything in between, there's something for every picky sub-genre bass aficionado. This tracklist of rising stars like Excalibur, Mara Man and Deploy sit alongside the likes of Savage Rehab and Renegade Live to pull off the biggest D&B event of the year. Hold tight, this is gonna get messy.
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A full-flavoured six-track slab of naughtiness right here from Annix and its two members. The title track steps so sharply there's a danger you may cut your ears but the moody minor piano chords and a dramatic drop make for the perfect ointment. "Take It Back" is a much skittier, switchy rave homage that jitters and jumps with a cool sense of unpredictability. Decimal Bass's contributions add further weight and range: "Battle Station" will unleash your inner ugly with a bassline that's so wild and unkempt it will genuinely sweep you off your feet while "Near Me" is a soaring vocal workout that's almost reminiscent of the Ram Trilogy material 15 years ago. Konichi's creations add further contrast: "Visions" looks towards deeper corners of the dance as it rolls with bulbous bass and Daft Punkian vocal work, while "Entrance" scuffs and growls with heady hypnosis. Truly something for everyone.
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In their official biography, Technimatic describe their particular take on musically rich liquid D&B as "hyper-coloured". In many ways, it's an apt description. Certainly, there's a baggy vibrancy to this belated debut album, which is gloriously breezy and deliciously soulful from start to finish. There's an almost horizontal feel to the duo's classic blends of vintage jungle rhythms, drifting vocals - most notable on the beautiful "Looking For Diversion", featuring the folksy voice of Lucy Kitchen - twinkling pianos, undulating strings and sun-bright chords. This kind of liquid jungle is always eminently listenable, but Andy Powell and Peter Rogers' particular take on the style is more cultured and mature than most. As a result, Desire Paths is an impressive and hugely enjoyable body of work.
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Jaydan and Upfront are a monstrous partnership. Both highly skilled in the heavy, show-stopping jump up dynamics, the pair complement each other perfectly. "Mirrors" is a composition of true contrast as the floaty ravey synths give way to a crude, potty mouthed bass lick. "Blow Out" lives up to its name with a vicious midrange bass lead that swipes and swathes with undiluted menace and neat switch ups on the fills. Further on we hit "Empty Threats", a track that swings with more of a triplet flavour and a much darker, deeper bass texture that groans ominously over the funky drum dynamic. "Fear Nothing" finishes the set on a stark steppy note. Armed with yet another concrete-ripping bassline, the real action can be found amid the subby bubbles on the fills. Heavyweight.
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Undiluted chop-slapping 4/4 speed garage vibes from genre-melting UK filth peddler Mr Dubz, "Back For More" ignites with a salvo of old school detuned synth stabs before switching the unpredictability vibe with a bassline so sick it needs medical health insurance. Remix-wise Flava D focusses purely on the darkness with a fine-tuned bass warp, Spooky adds a sinewy grimey flavour, Deadbeat gets twisted with a repurposed dubstep bassline, Moony injects a jazzier sensation with chopped vocals and neat organ additions while Dr Cryptic closes the show on a heavy edge with a bassline that dynamically flickers from far away to right in your face. All angles covered, whichever remix fits your set the best, we guarantee you'll be coming back for more.
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The UK's Billy Kenny makes his debut on the always-on-point, Four40! Kenny is a pure garage wizard, with a sound that could seriously rip up the floor. "Call You Back" features one of those basslines which you can leave on loop for hours, allowing it to seduce you into its incessant rhythm, providing a tune for the late-night hours that you can mix in with just about anything. "Work" is similarly funky and loaded with bone-shaking low-end, except this time Mr.Kenny is in an even nastier mood. Fire!
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What can we say about Break that hasn't already been said? This man is D&B mythology - every producer namechecks, every DJ represents, every soldier on the dancefloor knows that Break equals neck-snapping quality of the highest order. Both tunes on this release are, it goes without saying, superb, but both come from different dark places. "Groove With it" is the stepper you want, "Soldier" is the heavy, bottomed-out, snare-flailing dangerzone you need. Drum and bass for the connoisseur who still likes to get messed up when it suits. Beautiful.
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Four massive remixes and the original "Inna Mi Draw" reach our eager ears in this blazer from Liondub Int. Messing with the smooth reggae and dancehall vibes of the original stylings, Potential Badboy add a swagger and sway for the first rework. The legendary Serial Killaz push their junglist flex, Curfew Steppas take things a little bit leftfield with on-point off-beat riddims and finally, Voltage twists the original into his own jump-up fantasy. A blistering release from one of the best labels of its type out there - get on it!
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Hotly tipped emerging talent from London, Indiji lets rip with his Uprise debut. "Darknet" comes with a bassline heartbeat that palpitates so hard and erratically it's borderline coronary. Squiggling and wriggling over the industrial strength swing, it instantly captures you right in depths of your belly. Further on we hit "Shake The Foundations", a track that truly lives up to its name. Demonstrative spatial science is applied as a rich warm bassline plays one-note chicken with the titanium riddim. Debuts really don't come more authoritative than this; we're anticipating big things for Indiji in the near future.
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Crisp, futuristic sounds come courtesy of UK's own J Hybrid, a producer who's seemingly more prolific every single month that passes. This time he turns his paranoid junglist sounds to 36 Hertz, and first track "Nothing Else" is a blending high-powered dancefloor filler powered by the manifestly dark thoughts that fill his best productions. "Bring It On" changes the mood completely, with sizzling horns sampled over big punches of bass and jungle breaks and as "Smash and Grab" moves into cinematic territory with widescreen atmospherics we almost forgot where we were...until the drop. "Reach" rounds this stonker of an EP up with the soundtrack to a true old school rave. Bring the energy.
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Logistics is back! More or less absent in a solo capacity since dropping the 2012 anthem Fear Not, Matt Gresham delivers Polyphony his sixth Logistics album in as many years for Hospital Records. Long term fans of both Logistics and Hospital will immediately resonate with the 13 tracks here with Gresham signalling a return to the vivid, life affirming brand of drum and bass that helped establish the classic Hospital sound. Uplifting piano chords, euphoric basslines and sublime vocal chops abound on Polyphony with a raft of collaborators including new names such as Hugh Hardie and Maduk as well as veteran producer Sonic and Gresham's brother Dan Nu Tone.
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Tru Funk are bona fide bringers of beats to soundtrack any good house party and this Essential Selection of Nu Party Break brings together a complete playlist for Saturday night. A whole load of scratching, sampling and cutting comes from DJs AKA, Axe, Kid Stretch and Rudd and Skandi, while it ain't only new school with more traditional funk jams coming from BMD's "Bad Man". There's also some Daft Punk-meets-DJ Shadow-meets-Stevie Wonder action on Funkanomics "One More Headache", while Funky Boogie Brothers bring back the big beat fun with "Street Jam" - and that's not even the half of it!
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It's not often an artist gets treated to being remixed 18 times on the one release, but here Morlack pulls it off. But before the remixing gets underway he raises the curtain with a Notorious B.I.G sampling gambit of slashing synths, tearing basslines and fluttering drums. Then there's the remixes. Funkanomics get all big band, Stevie Wonder and straight up hip hop on part two of a remix to "Take It To The Zulu", while BadBoE provides a killer remake of "Nice & Rough". James Brown is in the place during Trotter's remix of "Play Cards Right" while Morlack electrofunkifies himself in a 2014 remix of "Ghetto Vaccination". More breakbeats than you can poke a DJ at!
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Ill Advised and DJ Butcher go way back, so when it came time for the former to release a full length LP, it made total sense that the latter would release it via his Chopshop imprint. Fat Sams Cosmic Jams features 11 nu-disco cuts, all of which are strictly party joints including the deep synthy boogie loops of "Please You", the 120 bpm hands-in-the-air, almost French Touch-esque "Overnight Sensation", the beefed-up hi-NRG of "Is It Love Is It" and the nasty, block rockin' electro-funk of "Kick It Live".
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Could Break possibly smash it more than he is right now? He hasn't upped his game (that would be impossible) but he's definitely upped his proliferation and every track and every remix have been essential. The left-sided "Duck For Cover" is a fine example; madcap percussion elements find their right place amid the space while a current-like bass ripples and fluctuates. Rolling with a trademark Break swing, it's as subtle as it is heavy. Fields follows suit with an equally unique composition. An ever-morphing and mutating stepper laced with attention-grabbing drum elements, you're never quite sure how it's going to develop until it's already slapped you in the eyes. Truly, this is a certified report on how creative drum & bass can be in the right hands.
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If you like your funk and breakbeats a little dirtier, than Funk Fusion have the grease to grind those gears. Terry Wagun drops a wobbly, saw-wave bassline over a choral of Lily Allen vocals in the opening track, while Mr Bristow slugs out some dirty low-end similar to Mr Oizo's "Analog Worms Attack" in his addition. For a crunchy, slowed down, stoners version of Pharrell's "Happy" there's 2RUD's "Happy Ska" - and don't forget Dave Gerrad's mashup of Queen and Kurtis Blow's "The Breaks" in his Funkadelic "Kurtis Breaks". Some bass-heavy 808 beats like Felix Da Housecat's "Kickdrum" rumble under a pair of titan hip hop vocals in "Turn Down For Hip Hop" thanks to Lil Jon and Fatman Scoop samples which spit over the top of Major Lazer synths. Get fused.