It's kinda rare to see an artist delivering a full drum and bass album these days, but that's just how Nu Elementz like to vibe. Prophecy is a complete master blaster of an LP, with thirteen tracks of wild and diverse jump-up steppers charged and motored by devious swarms of mutant bass, reminding us of the that DJ Hazard school of thought that made the Playaz label what it is today. Tunes like "Speed Of Sound", "Evolution", and "Pablo Escobar" are the sort of gear you can break out if you're need of something nasty, something to bump sideways to amid a sea of hungry ravers. There are deeper moments, too, such as "Respect" or "Never Forget" featuring longtime drum and bass don Majistrate. No funny business, just pure rave vibes.
DJ Agro's Sub-Liminal unleash their largest message yet with their debut compilation They Myriad Vol. 1. A chance to catch up, a chance to fill holes in your collection, a chance to realise the amount of next gen, hugely-hyped talent the label has... Damage Report, Dialogue, Too Greezey and Leaf lead the way as he run the label's vast gully gamut. From Fena's Moving Fusion-style womps on "Right Place Right Time" to Agro's gutter-chomping subversive Urban Takeover style bass roller "Not Fools" via Leaf's savage staccato stepper "New Life", the whole collection reflects just how much exciting D&B can be found just beneath the all too shiny surface.
Razor 'N' Tape has been slowly expanding its' outlook in recent years, focusing on original productions just as much as re-edits. Here, they've pulled off something of a coup by snapping up two fresh cuts from Dutch heavyweights Kraak & Smaak. There's the clipped Chic guitars, jaunty analogue bass, undulating Syclops lead lines and gravelly soul vocals of "Way Back Home", and the filter-heavy disco-house throb of "Seb's Party". The package also includes two tasty re-rubs apiece from Ben Sun and Tiger & Woods. Sun offers up a smooth, nu-disco/deep house fusion, followed by a chunkier, classic house sounding affair, while Tiger & Woods offer two superb variants on the same throbbing, electrofunk-meets-Balearic piano house template.
It was about time the Bassbrothers stepped up on DJ Hype's Playaz to deliver some rolling, twisted bass beats, because these two d&b deviants know how to mash it up good and proper. "WTF" itself is a pure hybrid tune, where dubstep and d&b become intertwinded, and the same goes for the tunes like "Kravitz" or "Dunno A Dead", except that the duo branch out and gather more influences, from R&B to ragga. "Pusher" delivers some of that classic Playaz sound, all bursting morph bass and dread, followed by the mean, lean stare of "Deadly Spawn". Killaz!
A decade has passed since Tom Bioly and Benjamin Frohlich launched their Permanent Vacation label with a compilation of the same name. This fourth instalment sticks to the same formula as its' predecessors, serving up evocative, emotion-rich music that's tickled the fancy of Bioly and Frohlich over the last two years. Predictably, there's much to enjoy throughout, from the hammock-fresh laziness of Carrot Green's dreamy "Vodou", and the instrumental, Balearic synth-pop of Fantastic Man's "Seaside Special", to the tribal drums, jazz bass and ghostly chords of Benedikt Frey's "Lucid Dream". They predictably finish with a flourish, following Mapache's hallucinatory deep house shuffler "Let Me Sleep", with the dubby Balearic beauty of Suzanne Kraft's blissful "Tiles".
We all need our own personal headspace from time to time, however the Yam Who? duo behind Midnight Riot have gone one step further and given Balearic Headspace. Volume 'Uno' contains 18 slinky white isle gems to groove to. Highlights include the slow Euro-beat grind of opener "Bestinspace" by Emmanuelle Kant, Massimo Vanoni's "For Your Love (Cosmic Inspiration mix)" features uber cool raw electronic arpeggiation, swirly Moon Safari acoustic vibes on "Come Outside (Sweet Love)" by Laurels & Hardlies and the stompin' beats and slappin' bass of "Love Echo" by Camino.
Yet another bullseye for the V camp: Command Strange returns with two straight up slabs of fire that are so hot Bryan Gee has been issues a health and safety warning. "Can't Stop" vibes with a real twist, as what begins as a classic subby roller suddenly switches into a reese and vocal fuelled stamp session. "The Gang", meanwhile, takes a few leaves from the books of neuro, Ram and Bad with its early 2000s gritty, fuzzy distorted funk. Undiluted... Handle with care.
Parisian imprint Rebel Hearts is run by none other than KS French and always delivers in terms of Quality Disco Edits & House Music. On Les SureShot Cuts there are so many delightful mood and grooves to choose from that we're actually a bit miffed that we can only namedrop a few but just for the record: label mainstay MR Given Raw delivers some serious soul funk big band style on his edit of "Give It Up", Belabouche's "Give It" is an edit of a certain diggers delight in the deep funk category and it wouldn't be complete without something by KS French himself who we're pretty certain was involved in the KnG Edits "Hot Dancin" with its sultry repetition looping you into submission in tremendous fashion.
After a few quiet years, Tensnake returned to form in 2015, and has so far enjoyed a productive 2016. Freudchen is his second EP of the year, and offers a back-to-basics collection of dancefloor-ready club tracks. The title track, where vocal flourishes, synth stabs and life-affirming disco samples ride a hard-edged, undulating Italo-disco style arpeggio, is undoubtedly the highlight, though there are still reasons to be cheerful elsewhere. With its' occasional African vocal samples, jaunty riffs and carnival-friendly whistles, "Tazaar" sounds like the German producer's take on the late '80s Inner City sound, while "No Fool" layers a relentless, thumping, kick-drum driven beat with distinctly Balearic flourishes.
Luke Wilson's Utah Jazz project has become synonyms with the 'liquid' side of drum and bass, and the artist has been crafting his trade since the early 2000s when he was being groomed and mentored by the legendary Alex Reece (part of the Metalheadz extended family). He has such to his speciality ever since, and this latest four-tracker for Spearhead is every bit as deep and cerebral as his early material. "Mile High Club" is a jazzy stepper, while "Growth Comes" breaks out the drums to a soulful wave of vocals that remind us of Logistics' output. There's a The Vanguard Project remix of "Love Everlasting", an uplifting liquid melter, and the instrumental cut to "Mile High Club". You can't get this sort of gear anywhere else these days, and Utah Jazz is still very much on fire.
A big congratulations to Adam Beyer and his esteemed Drumcode imprint celebrating 20 years in the business. His techno powerhouse has continuously and effortlessly remained relevant, championing the work of fellow Swedish legends Cari Lekebusch, Joel Mull and Christian Smith, to late noughties heroes like Paul Ritch, Kyle Geiger and Pig & Dan to present day stars like Nicole Moudaber, Joseph Capriati and Luigi Madonna. There's a lot of serious peak time artillery on here, rest assured. But for us, the highlights weren't limited to Alan Fitzpatrick's uplifting and downright epic "Terra Firma" with its massive drop, head honcho Beyer and Mark Reeve's "Nine Of You" with its darkly fierce and tunnelling groove plus Truncate's killer remix of Dustin Zahn's "Miss You". Honourable mention to newcomer Boxia; he's surely one to watch if the banging "Revolution" is anything to go by!
It's a house-grime marriage on Bristol's Black Acrel label, from newfound dup Wallwork and Nico Lindsay, the latter of the two bringing the vocal street swagger to the beats. The title track "Facts" is a big, bad, heavy slab of percussion and bass powered by Lindsay's curbside lyricism, and it's one of those tunes that's bound to get shit tarted in the dance. This is followed by the more kinetic flow of "Fyah", where Lindsay's vocals are more minimal than its predecessor, and its rough and rugged instrumental for maximum DJ damage. Another banging addition to the Black Acrew crew - yes!
If the titles of these two new offerings from veterans Dom & Roland seem a little ponderous don't worry their music hasn't mellowed whatsoever. Heavy as always, "A Life Of Chance" kicks things off by perfectly recapturing the E-d up wild-eyed delirium of the early Metalheadz parties. "Natural Selection" takes things way darker however, combining industrial melodic squawks with brutal beats and general serial-killer's-basement vibes. Nihilistic jungle.
Time for some Taiwanese dub: regular face at Instigate, DTR returns with his debut full lengther and it's nothing short of a contemporary low end odyssey. Bedrocked by rich weight and space, throughout the album he weaves subtle but strong musical elements with a measured sense of detail. From the lilting horn flutters on "Inner Strength" and the trippy tape stop spirals of "Creator Dub" to the mountainous peaks and abyssal troughs of "Kalimba", DTR ensures to immerse, entertain and constantly develop. Modern dub bliss.
!K7 Records launches a new compilation series entitled Kollections: Club which inaugurates the project. The tracklist features artists of the partner labels under the !K7 umbrella such as Turbo, AUS Music, Mobilee, Mister Saturday Night and Hypercolour. Each edition explores a different musical theme but this first installment, naturally, is all about the club! Highlights here include Midland's recent hit "Blush", Maya Jane Coles' funky afterhours tech house jam "Not Listening" (from a few years ago), KiNK's roaring remix of Kerrier District's (Luke Vibert) "Techno Disco" and Lauer's recent feelgood number "Killian" showing off his knack for classic retro vibes like no other.
Greek based George Kelly aka DJ Butcher runs Chopshop and now introduces Senior Citizens aka DJ ''S'' and DJ Chairman who claim to have 40 plus years of combined DJ experience; certainly nothing to scoff at! Starting out with "My Name Is" which is a kind of sexy samba inspired jam and is well sassy. Next up "What A Body" is more of a soul funk jam with some killer horns and DJ style scratching. "Sookie" follows in suit but this is more sixties style along the lines of Shocking Blue. Finally "Elisa" delves into the exotic on this tabla and sitar realised jam which we really enjoyed.
Sam Reeves' Ownglow project is the perfect move for long-time London d&b label, Hospital Records. That's because Reeves has managed to retain the label's original 'liquid' sensibility while still pushing things forwards and keeping his mixes interesting and fresh. "Angels Sing", for example, is a delightful blend of fast, aqueous breaks and gentle lyricism, a mood that is kept alive and running on the more uplifting sounds of "Stress & Strain". "The Night Is Still Young" features the vocals of Blake, and it surely has to be the winner on here; it's exactly the sort of poppy strain of d&b that made this label what it is today. "Only U (Real Quick)", however, is the deepest and most majestic track of the EP - our favourite to be precise - and it reminds us of Logistics at his best, a formula will hope will resurface and prosper like it once did.
In 2007, renowned French producer Julien Jabre tracked down the American gospel singer Phyliss McKoy Joubert on MySpace. Joubert was already a cult figure for house aficionados thanks to "Stand on the Word", a song she wrote and performed with her "Celestial Choir" in 1982 that became a staple of the club scene in New York. It resurfaced as a mysterious bootleg in 2000. Julien, who'd fallen in love with the song, was eager to remix and officialy rerelease it. When he finally reached out to Phyliss, she explained the multitrack tape had been lost. The only thing to do was rerecording it-along with 10 other tracks. Today on French label Elias, Julien and The Joubert Singers are releasing "Stand on the Word" in its original and unique 1982 version (mistakenly named after Larry Levan) and 3 brand new mixes including a fresh Dimitri From Paris remix. That's how the Good Lord works!
It's remix o'clock at Dutty Audio Towers as label bossman passes on the parts to a wide range of scene talents: Klute takes the lead with an iced out twist on "Be Yourself" as he manipulates the vocal loop in a different direction. Current Value follows with yet more of his seemingly unstoppable tech science as a wasp nest bassline rattles in 23rd century style. Newcomers Hanzo & Randie bring up the rear with a heads-down neuro take on "Infection" where full emphasis is placed on the sci-fi bass textures. Finally Gydra gets all mechanical and pneumatic on "Inception", giving the original's iconic riff a Blackout style jump-up sense of turbo-charged energy. Feel the burns.
In recent times, Studio Barnhus co-founder Kornel Kovacs has delivered a string of eccentric, hard-to-pin-down 12" singles that drag house music in weird and wonderful new directions. He's at it again on Bells, the Swede's long-awaited debut album. While largely deep, melodious and quirkily lo-fi - the distinct sound of tape hiss is never far away - Kovacs nevertheless veers off in many different directions over the album's ten-track direction. So while the pitched-down UK funky rhythms and 8-bit synth melodies of "Josey's Tune" impress, dancefloors may prefer the rambunctious, redlined Latin-house thump of "Gex", the sparkling rave revivalism of "Dance...When The Record Spins", or the rubbery bounce and pulverizing analogue bass of "Pop".