Given the glowing reception to last year's Jungle To The World compilation, it makes for no surprise that Liondub have called on the curatorial skills of all-round junglist scholar, Marcus Visionary, to compile a second volume. The blend of legends and innovators alike is present once more, as Visionary pulls together 14 tracks from an all-star cast of producers renowned for pushing forth the reggae-infused jungle sound. Naturally the highlights come thick and fast, but Bladerunner's fierce "Guidance Dub" and Marcus Visionary's own collab with iconic reggae vocalist Jonny Osbourne, "Lend Me", stand out. Some killer sampling of the classic "Armagideon Time" abounds in this latter cut. E for essential!
More VA manoeuvres from the perennial Natty camp. The label has recruited new names and they're all packing ammo. Label bosses Cabin Fever reboot with old sparring partner Saxxon for an electrified brock-out "Clubhopper" before four acts make their label debut: DJ Hybrid applies a skillishly simplistic and highly timeless bassline stepper, Version cooks up with rattling wasps-in-tin bassline and warped retro sci-fi tones, Sureshock looks to the stars through a pair of Klute's glasses and a soaring big system vocal, while Kenji twists up with a serious space jam.
Batten down the hatches! A "Torpedo" is set to wreak havoc upside your area and, with all its trippy vocal twists, it's clear Vacuum doesn't give two hoots how much damage he causes. Deeper into the torrential storm we go... "Stop Them" will tear a hole in your roof with its Prototypes riff flourishes, "Fadeout" could create a sink hole with its Hazard-style bass hook before filling it with epicness on the chorus while "Windshield" will protect us from future brutal acts of mother nature with its bouncy halftime hook. The EP comes complete with an exclusive jump-up slammer "Combat". Pure black belt business.
Exactly two years since their debut album Desire Paths, Shogun duo Technicolour & Komatic dish up their sophomore and it's even slicker and consistent than the first. With a finely honed signature that's unmistakeably their own, no other act do liquid in this way. From the cloud-bouncing floatation session of "Parallel" and raw string power of "Clockwise" right the way through to the final salvos of the soulful mourns of "Hold On A While" and the halfstep dreaminess of "It Must Be", every track here has a purpose without so much of a hit being chased or a vocal being added for feature's sake. Authentic and unashamedly deep.
San Diego badmen Sub Killaz take the wheel for Liondub's not-stop EP joyride. It's gnarly business from the off as "Raised By The Block" and "Faces Of War" both hit hard with devilish riff dynamics. "Only You" strips the vibe back to a '99 sharp step and a well-tamed cushiony sub while "9 Pound Hammer" pokes and stabs gleefully with Annix-style keenness and "Salt Water" winds us down with shimmering piano strokes and hazy R&B style vocal snippets. Something for everyone.
Manchester mandem! Bou gets his biggest release so far with six titanium tag-team tracks. Each one exploring different sides of the dance - from the jungle drum flickers and mid 90s sub funk of "Minus 43" to iPhone snapping "Pacin'" by way of the shoe-hurling "Rock N' Roll" - this is Bou's most comprehensive showcase so far and it sheds light on a clutch of new talent, too with Jamoh, Dispoze, High Impact, Slee and Solix all delivering dopeness.
Sticky fingers Brazilians Jam Thieves have been tearing up the dance in the last few years with their subgenre-smelting dancefloor-focussed D&B. Misbehaving on the likes of Radius, Serial Killaz, and Hangar, they've found their spiritual home on Hype's Playaz where all styles are welcome as long they make you bounce... Which is exactly what these 10 tracks do. From the wild west whistles and far-out bass bumps on "The Hangman" and the Qanun twanging "Favela Funk" (with the similarly talented hot blooded Portuguese-speaking duo Bass Brothers), Jam Thieves have delivered a straight-up album of dancefloor bruisers and funkers with nothing contrived or written for album's sake. Refreshing.
Ahead of his debut Prophecy, heavyweight dagger-wielder Nu Elementz shows us his hand with two turbo-charged, super-lean tech-twisted bust-ups. "Chop Shop" stabs gleefully with an alien Q&A and a pirate swagger to the drum swing. "Pablo Escobar" takes a similar approach with its stark question/answer style riff that rips through unique bass textures but the breakdown is where the heat really lies... Spacey, Wild West and thugged all at the same time, this works a treat on a big rig.
Building on the momentum of his comeback EP "Back On The Edge" earlier this year, Shifta returns with four more angular hurters. "Rubber Grip" takes us into the future with its techy bass texture, jumpy riff and sharp splashes of amen slappage while "Don't Move" takes us back in time to V's prime when Krust and Die dished out history-making workouts. "Going Down" continues the energetic tech-toned funk while "Leviathan" strip teases down to its flick knife two-step and 97-style paranoid drone bass. Clearly Shifta doesn't just have history, but he knows how to use it, too.
Coventry junglists Audio Addict level up with their first various artists release, and they're doing it by the big bad book: 15 fresh, forward-thinking cuts that span the style spectrum and come from rich range of artists old and new. German jungle innovator Bassface Sascha and Fiendsoul lay down the high-end whistle-bass gospel with the crucial "Jungle Love", DJ Hybrid pays respect to Kenny Ken with an insane jungle firecracker, Section and Sinead McCarthy get regally soulful on a set of live drums and piano while Kurmachi lays down three mechanical funk messages so futuristically fine-tuned they'd make a robot blush. Audio Addict aren't messing around on this one.
Kenny Ken's Mix & Blen returns with a rare two-piece from the legendary bossman himself. Teaming up with emerging Dread-affiliate Margaman, the end result is two immaculate jungle designs fit for all rolling styles of D&B DJ. "Nuff Gal" runs amok with a big reggae vocal style and ruffage bass while "Tek It Easy" positions our focus around the detailed drum work where no 16 is repeated and things get rather twisted mid-way. Spotless.
Zero T and Fierce on Metalheadz: Few words are required, we all know we're dealing with uncut premium kit here. "Bonesmen" is all about the dark tech groove, the way the drums switch with subtlety, the persistent sub and classic Headz FX rotate through the spectrum. "In Circles" flips the vibe with a lighter tone in the pads, a sweet deep dream atmosphere on the blink-and-miss breakdown and chirpier, looser, funkier drums. Two cuts, both true to the craft.
The currently unavoidable Too Greezy steps over from Sub-Liminal to Samy Nicks' fledgling Amusement imprint. True to previous form, the lubricious lad ensures the broadest sonics are smeared across the release. "Side Splitter" is a rumbling, low-bass riff workout with traces of early-to-mid 2000s Full Cycle while "Now What" is one of the breeziest bassline shakers you'll hear all season. Simple, times, authentic - this will work in any style of D&B set.
Eidola Audio's Agitated Audio is really hitting its stride this year, hitting a new peak with this forthright, twisted quartet of head-twisters. Serious adult jump-up business: Ironlung VIPs the Dickens out of himself with a bitter twist to the well-known hook while Hives adds a fresh high-end texture to the already brutal dynamics of "Death". Not one to be left out of the party, Jack The Ripper follows with not one but two VIP selfies. "The Chosen One" is given a deeper, more sinister lick while "Attitude" is pure cranial ping-pong as the bassline turns itself inside out in time-defying style. Utter filth.
Sweet murderation! South coast stepper imprint SSA update their flagship "Up In Smoke" series with a five-layered slab of gnarly bass cake. Featuring a range of freshman talent - all eager to showcase their hair-raising dynamics - it's a fine futureproofed document. Highlights include MAMF's spiked out ballroom killer "Dance For Life", Operate's amen-addled hurricane soul showdown "Trading Places" and the weirded out bass shreds and sneers of Aliman's "Real". Peaktime business.
Four of Low Down Deep's heaviest club cuts over the last two years enjoy a new coat of VIP arms, bringing them all back up to date. Already in demand due to dubplate pressure, each cut adds new bassline and riff twists that will cause knowing gun fingers across the dance. Logan D & Dominator's "Giant Killer Bees" goes switch-heavy, Turno's "Gladiator" enjoys an emotional explosion on the breakdown, Majistrate's already tongue-in-cheek "Amsterdam" gets even sillier while Heist's infamous "Moose Knuckle" keeps its sci-fi haze intact while folding the bass riff inside itself. Serious VIP business.
Oh gosh... Having shaken and stirred Wu Tang Clan and Pink Floyd already this year, 6Blocc now gets stuck into a big old pile of Portishead. Maintaining the Bristol band's icy, introspective, deep burning barbed soul throughout, his twists and turns are well considered and highly respectful; the additional vocal textures and digidub bass to "Glory Box", the Full Cycle flare of his jungle mix of "It Could Be Sweet", the Final Conflict style 1990 breaks on "Machine Gun", the sub aquatic halfsteppery of "Mysterons", the feather-ruffling drums on "Wandering Star"... 6Blocc has dissected each tune to re-position its magic for a new generation. You'd be a Dummy not to check them (not sorry).
Teased by Randall over a year ago, Manchester's Shoto finally lets rip with his Mac 2 debut; a four-track fire session with its eyes directly on the 3am bullseye. "Alice" is fuelled off a moaning drone that's carefully kept in-check with chilling ambient textures, "Atlantic Boss" is the type of a needle-funk shredder you'd expect to hear in a Bladerunner set while "Kira" punches elbow deep into hardcore jungle territory. In a nice twist of fate, "Unruly" is actually the deepest, smoothest cut of the bunch. Leaning casually on breezy detuned pads, it's a fitting way to bid adieu and leave us wanting more.
Furney and Soul Deep aren't messing around this year with their monthly dispatches. Doubled in size from all the previous singles this year, the "Roll Call" EP is the biggest package of 2016 so far. It's big in term of vibe scope, too... "Roll Call" utilises a well known horn sample for a fly-by-night skanker, "Waiting For Deebo" is classical liquid with subtly strings and woozy treatments on the vocal elements while "It's All In Your Mind" plays the wizard of the set thanks to its feet-sweeping funk and out-of-this-world synth bass. Finally "I Sun Seller" winds things down on a deep, cosmic introspective tip. Far out.
New Manchester collective (or at least they're saying they're brand new anyway) Think Tonk go elbow deep on their debut that's already got Toddla T, MistaJam and Annie Mac in a lather... "Magnificent" fuses dancehall with the wildwest with insane festival-primed results, "Playing Games No More" is straight up digidub from the year 2050 while "Opposite" features the one and only Fox crooning in the iconic, soul-burning way only he knows how. With the Fox, Manchester and gully subversion elements all in place we wouldn't be surprised if Think Tonk have Dub Phizix or Chimpo on speed dial. Proper.