Koo is a name on everyone's lips right now as the man like Original Sin enlists her sweeter than honey vocal talents for anthemic opener "Fire Inside". Joining the antics on "B.2.T.E" for more vocal-driven high energy rollout fun is the gorgeous and highly talented Ayah Marah, previously seen working the mix for the Hospitality crew and DJ Fresh. Stepping away from his jump-up early years, Original Sin has gone full throttle in a dancefloor direction with this offering, switching from devastating D&B madman to hands-in-the-air strobemaster at the flick of a switch. Not forgetting the neurofunk brutality that is "Labyrinth". Tread carefully.
The inimitable V Recordings grab their finest crew members together for a sneak peek into the delights of their forthcoming Planet VIP LP. Big vibes are the order of the day and each artist brings them by the ton, pressing sexy vocals and hot summer sounds against slick rhythms and huge subs. From Kabuki's infectious "Just Hold On" VIP featuring Jenna G's distinctively soulful vocals to DJ Chap's dark and dirty tech roller "Like A Fiyah" VIP the variation in styles is both refreshing and breathtaking. Final track "Greazy" from NFM featuring Stapleton gets a special mention for being rotten to its core. Gruesomely grizzly stuff.
A bona fide summer smash for every DJ lucky enough to get it before release, this is the result of Benny Page's recent Jamaican adventure. Teaming up with dancehall mic maestro Assassin, Benny lowers his tempo to a rifle-like 140 breakbeat riddim to create an instant sing-along smasher. Anthemic without being over-the-top. Dark without being too heavy, Benny has smashed this one to pieces, and now you can too.
The legendary Jaybee returns with an EP so sick it's about to go pandemic. Darker than the encroaching wintery nights and deeper than deep, "Dirt Magirt" is a track that starts out mean and just gets meaner, a theme continuing into "Do It", where sharp claps and frosty atmospherics cover hard stepping beats with a layer of tension. "Come Down" is a straight-up horrorshow of tense pads and old school vibes and finally "Gangster Shit" warms up the place with '90s pads and the tasty glow only a Jaybee roller can accomplish. Deep and dark with a molten centre of pure classics, you can't afford to miss this.
Whilst LA label Soul Deep Recordings may have come a long way, one thing has remained a constant; a dedication to the best in drum and bass regardless of style. On this latest single, Soul Deep regular Dramatic brings his signature style of life affirming melodies, liquid breaks and undeniably rude basslines hard with the superb roller "Diamond In The Rough" which features some great vocal phasing. Not to be outdone, the flip finds Malaky & Msdos laying down a brisk exercise in Goodlookin' style D&B funk.
The working relationship between Cern and Dispatch Recordings is already very strong thanks to a series of releases from Ollie Macky's project on the label over the past five years, so it makes perfect sense that a second long player from him is due in the coming months. Whilst a three-track sampler is never going to offer a conclusive insight into how Under Another Sky might sound, it will undoubtedly whet the appetites of Cern fans everywhere! "Tiamat" is nothing but a marauding opener, rich with that vicious sense of sound design and finely crafted rhythm that the Cern approach has become synonymous with, whilst the delicate strings and atmospherics of "What We Bring Upon Ourselves" suggest the upcoming album wont be packed full with dancefloor monsters. "Conway" closes proceedings and feels like the ghost of "Inner City Life" trapped and tormented deep within a rhythmic mainframe that is equal parts abstract and vicious.
Possibly the hardest-working producer in drum & bass right now, Actraiser returns to Focuz with a double track EP stashed with retro goodies and fresh ideas. "You Don't Know" is a fast-paced roller crammed with vocal snippets, percussive samples and big synth pads. Working out the madness is half the fun. Following up is "Planetary Systems", a cosmic tinged offering packing huge old school flavours swooning high over the wobble of a deep subby bassline. Gorgeous stuff here, each release from this guy just gets better.
Bringing his beautiful blend of fantasy world synths and darkly deep subs to us all, Mage presents "Colors of Gray", a two-tracker full of surprises. "Toymaker" kicks off proceedings with dream sequence pads and tweaked amens, adding an addictive synth loop and big heavy bass enough to satisfy any dancefloor cravings. Following up there's "Mint Flavour", and like its name this tune comes fresh and clean, taking its overwhelming atmosphere from crisp production and strings that melt away into the ether. Stepping out with playful kicks and snares and with plenty of live horns, it's a beauty of a release. Deeply chilled.
Smote's musical is a little more interesting than most. As the frontman of a punk band in his more country of Slovakia during the '80s and '90s, he's been obsessed with electronic music ever since. A long-time friend of the Celsius team, this release brings them together again, offering up some of the finest jazz-influences rollers this side of Calibre's external hard drive. Sticking fast to his preferred suite of hard rolling percussion and beautifully arranged melodies, there's a lightness to his production that makes it easy to get lost inside each track. Equally at home on the dancefloor as the living room, this is a collection of four liquid tunes deserving of a more interesting genre description than that. Pick it up, you won't regret it.
Damage Report steps up to the Liondub International label with his biggest release yet. This five-track EP offers a variety of sounds to fill a range of moods to suit the drum and bass dancefloor. For something deep, rolling and slightly off-kilter there's "Got Something" and staying on a mellow tip there's also the title-track "Substance". For bigger beats check out "Move N Sway" and "Nothing As Bad", while "Crack It" is a nasty digi-banger.
The ever-elusive Black Pearl crew return to centre stage after a summer of debauchery to release Old School loving crisp-n-dirty production team Lost City's "Mad Dem" EP. Lighting up dancefloors everywhere with "OG Roots", a foot-stomping call-to-action that splices old with cutting edge, it sets a precedent of the extra-ordinary for the whole release. Reworking classic sounds in "Mad Dem" or reaching back in time to pull out stone cold classics from the vaults and burning it up with "Run It", each tune is finely tuned for your mixing pleasure. Junglists unite!
Liquicity proudly presents Voyage 1, a journey into the heart of the music that makes this crowd tick, courtesy of some of their favourite players. First up to share their delights is Champion and as "What I Need" takes off hard into the stratosphere after a strong intro featuring powerful vocals and souped-up synths he sets his sights on becoming D&B royalty. Fracus & Darwin roll up next, driving "Succeed" forward with lyrics from Mark Slammer and restrained percussion and pads fighting it out in a tight space of experimental production. It's a real mid-release treat. "Closer" acts as respite as Hugh Hardie plays with inspiring samples, retro sounds and soaring strings. Finally, Feint slams some serious dancefloor vibes into the mix, stabbing those synths and dropping the chorus hard. It's a right old mixture, you'll love it.
This latest missive from Rotterdam's Blendits Audio imprint is a truly global affair, with a track each from Sao Paulo-based Young:G (AKA producer Felipe Antunes) and Lincoln duo Soligen and Type 2. It's the latter combo that kicks things off, delivering a skittish chunk of deep, murky and tech-tinged "Martyr" - all drifting, subtle chords, metallic hits and pounding rhythms. Young:G's "Shantytown" is more of a straight-up tech-step D&B roller, with foreboding electronic sweeps and intricate sound effects wrapped around a speaker-rattling bassline and smooth jungle rhythms. It also features a rather creepy breakdown, which in our book is no bad thing.