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Fingerman's Hot Digits imprint has packed in a lot of releases over the past 12 months, as this expansive roundup of the label's second year in business proves. Featuring 27 tracks and a bonus mix by the South Coast dwelling label boss, there's naturally plenty to admire. Highlights include, but are not limited to, the rolling, head-nodding grooves of Eyeco M's "Keeping It To Myself", the killer proto-house throb of "Tonight" by Bad Barbie vs Evil Smarty, the sexy, string-drenched disco loveliness of P-Sol's "Can't You See", LTJ's trumpet-boasting funk bumper "Fat Thing", and the hard-wired, bass-heavy rework of Julia & Company's "Breakin' Down (Sugar Samba)" by Melon Bomb. It is, though, all pretty darn hot.
Halifax heavyweight Emperor finally unleashes the long-awaited beast that is his debut album and it's 50 shades of awesome. Rather than dish out a collection of the dark, tearing bangers he's become known for, he's licked up an all-armed hurricane of sounds and ideas; from the pixelated lift-off of "I Was" to the sweaty Upbeats drums of "Shapeshift" to the big breezy vocal drama of "Dispositions" and the rolling soul of "Thunder", this is a whole new creative level from Emperor as he plays by rules we've never heard him play by before. A proper album.
Consistency is key with Voltage: no overblown hype or fanfair or 'massive' tracks.... Just proper classically trained dancefloor drum & bass. Here we find him doing the do on his own label Rollaz with four crisp originals. Highlights include the show-stopped bass twist and vocal treatment "Bell Riddim", the techno-like dynamic and pneumatic crunch of "Pulsate" and the instant party jump-up of "Dub Tickles" penned with originator badman Blackmarket. There's a fine line between Rollaz and absolute belters....
Friction knows how to throw a party... Their "100" celebrations started in March and they're still going strong three months later! A chance for the label's artists and friends to stretch their skills and signatures, there's been some really exciting, subversion work throughout the series. This final piece in the puzzle is no exception; "Fourward" deliver their funkiest track to date, Karma gets all soulful, Total Science get all drifty and ethereal while Break simply reminds us why we love him. All four cuts glistening with long-lasting gold, Shogun can carry on celebrating their 100th release for as long as they like as far as we're concerned.
With its 'all-out' weekend message in the lyrics and the epically brutal dual basslines, "Wavey" is proof that neither Rowney nor Toddlah are about to settle down and start living the clean wholesome lifestyle anytime soon. "Real Love" will ease you on the way back down to reality with its soul massaging subs and evocative female vocal textures. Two sides of the night covered with consummate skill.
On his previous Midnight Riot releases, Joutro Mundo has always included a number of scorching reworks of Brazilian disco and boogie faves. Now, the fast-rising producer has gone one step further, serving up an entire album's worth of humid, summery reworks of authentic Brazilian fare. While a handful have previously seen the light of day elsewhere (see "Boogie Do Central" in particular), there's plenty of previously unheard revisions to get the juices flowing. Highlights include the synth bass, jaunty horns and party vibes of "Tropical Affair", the Leroy Burgess-goes-to-Rio boogie flex of "Morena", and the densely percussive, Clavinet-driven sweatiness of "Combo Funk". Oh, and a fine rework of an obscure Brazilian cover of Paul McCartney's "Coming Up" ("Paul In Rio").
Like Power Rangers, when Level 2 and DJ Chap combine to create their Alibi super-project there isn't a crime that can't be solved in a 1000 mile radius. Superlative and strictly designed for the dance, there's a reason Bryan Gee is so evangelistic about them as the Brazilians lay down four twisted tales that include dirge-like halftime swamp sounds ("The Hornet"), bright and breezy vocal rollers ("Fire") and all-out bass discharge ("Hideaway"). The hype is real.
Barely half a year has passed since their long-awaited second album Timeline and Glen and Zula return with four more alluring constructs: "Stand Firm" flexes into the darker side with deft navigation from Visionobi while "Ghost Racoon" goes all-out darkside with its pneumatic hammers and tongs. For deeper experiences head for the sub-rattled "Reunion" and the sublime "Shrine". With its swooning chords and rich orchestration it's near-classical in its dynamism and weight. It's not the title track for nothing... Shrine on you crazy junglists.
Last spotted on Muzik Hertz, Midlands merker TZONE lays down his debut EP for Hazard's Radius. Each cut tickling a different side of the dance, it's the most widescreen snapshot of his abilities we've had so far... "Badman" shows off his inner skanker, "Hover Board" represents his love of squidgy bass and raw jump-up styles (and, quite possibly, his love for Back To The Future), "Money Business" is all about TZONE's understanding of tweaking bass so it's as brutal as Walter White while "Special Technique" is all about the classic jungle drums and gully sub grumbles. Authentic as it is heavy.
Could Om Unit's twist on Nasty Habits' 1996 classic "Shadow Boxing" be one the most crucial VIP contemporisations in recent D&B history? Arguably, yes. The rolling drums, the slight melodic twist on the iconic bassline, the sudden moments of space... Whether you know this from back in the day or it's fresh to you, this really is a literally perfect example of how to VIP an influential classic. "Something Ancient" sees Om Unit team up with Thing for a cathedral-level stepper smothered in deep breath pads and mystic textures that sits somewhere between Clarity and Tobin. Immense.
Back in March, Ondule label boss Joss Moog and Sebastien "Around7" Guertau unveiled their 4th Sign project, launching with a fine collection of soul-flecked deepness. This speedy follow-up is every bit as alluring, with the French duo effortlessly floating between a variety of dancefloor moods and tempos. Contrast, for example, the smoky, mid-tempo jazz-house of "The Movement", the string-drenched, sumptuously soulful bump of "Deep Dip", and the near horizontal, slow house head-nod of closer "Lunatique". For those keen on more energetic dancefloor flavours, they've also included a pair of charged-up disco house smashers ("The Right Color", and "Hot Saussice").
Cooking up a storm since 2009: for Ingredients' 50th feast they've recruited a collection of chefs old and new. Spirit cooks the starters. A life-long friend of the label since its earliest releases, his "Interstate" tickles the tastebuds with a pan-fried reese and peppered snare shots. Response and his brother Pilskin cook up a hearty main; detuned synths served on a bed of crushed drums and an old school reduction and a light spraying of jungle foam. Finally the bossman Clive teams up with Response for a bitter sweet desert with burnt crumb bass gloom and devilled drum roll pastries. Sonically scrumptious.
Tsuba's ten year anniversary - that's right, it has been that long already - has been marked with hit after hit from a wide selection of artists from across the house kingdom. In fact, for this 2nd instalment of the festivities, we have White Material frontman Galcher Lustwerk remixed by the inimitable Jimpster, with the latter putting a more starry-eyed mechanic onto the original; For Romeau complete the A-side with a vintage-sounding remix of "Pinball" by Williams. On the flip, Roy Comanchero drops the Chicago bass over a minimal sort of percussion groove on "Hypba". Kevin Griffiths adds a little acid to the jingly 707 beat of "Satori", and completes a stellar EP from the magnetic Tsuba.
Whichever substyle he explores - from gritty, unabashed tech to melodic bliss - Nymfo has made versatility his signature. One of the few D&B artists who can appear on Renegade, Dispatch and Spearhead consecutively, his screen is one of the widest in the game. Case in point: this EP. From dreamy cloud-chowing ("Everyday Emotions", "Melting Pot") to Shogun-style MC-laced techy rollers ("Cheetah") by way of synth-led space-steppers ("Big Air"), Nymfo's repped a broad and highly accomplished spectrum once again. Genuinely something for everyone.
Boy, it's their instalment of the This Is Night Bass series and, as always, it's a tight and severely jam-packed bag of pure bass-ridden quality. The rhythm carrying the best part of the release is one that locks into 4/4 mode, but the melodies, low frequencies and vocals contain something seriously UK about them. In fact, if you're looking for purist British house music with a garage flavour then you'v hit the right spot; it's as if these guys have tele transported back to 2000/2001, when the roots of dubstep were being laid-down from the foundations of garage and bassline. YES.
Full throttle jump-up skills from Midlands duo lay the sonic smack down with two brutal workouts on Eternal Muzic: "Snake Charmer" builds around a classic piano arpeggio before dropping into a midrange bass sweep that's not dissimilar to Original Sin. "It's Not Over", meanwhile, goes more on a metallic, menacing robotic rampage with a Q&A that will be ringing through your very bones from now until Christmas 2067. Pure filth.
Break Beat Paradise Recordings tend to celebratory the more celebratory side of breakbeat music. Here though, the gloves are off on this hard-hitting compilation, Big Fat Mama Beats. There are seven fresh jams to enjoy including the housed-up, ska-infused bouncer "Chinese Robots (Re-Up)" by DiscObeta, Mr Rich & The Caretaker's street tough electro breaks cover of "My Feelings For You" (originally a Gwen McRrae joint) and the urgent percussion and Middle Eastern samples of Crunch "(Scratch By DJ Craft)" by Funky Boogie Brothers. Dope!
Ring the alarm! After his insane James Brown twist-up, Wickaman returns to Jungle Strikes with two more illicit under-the-counter romps. "Sound Is A Champion" is a Tenor Saw sampling skank-up designed for pure parties in mind while "Redrum" takes us to the (Barrington) Levy and drinks it dry. Murderation!
Wonderful Times carry one carefree as they always have, and drop four magnetic disco bombs for the contemporary sort of soul DJ. In running order, we have "What You Got" by Luvless, a sublimely hummable little sun-kissed disco melter for the warm-up hours, the housier, more funk-filled bomb that is "Jazzy Manoeuvres" by Mannmademusic, the slo-mo house nodder that is "Show Me Love" by La Tuerie, and "Be Free" by VinylAddicted, a straight-up funk monster that is so groovy it doesn't even need a 4/4 beat. Wonderfulz.
Already spotted on Rupture LDN this month, Spirit comes back with a second helping on Klute's ever-dependable Commercial Suicide. Taking the deeper route than his last EP, each cut on this three-tracker rolls out with real widescreen, pad-heavy system majesty. "Consciousness" is all about the hook, "From Creation" is all about the heavy atmospheres while "Without You" rolls out with a mid/late 90s Headz texture. Serious business here, no time wasters please.