Med School's New Blood series has always executed a simple idea brilliantly. Its concept may be basic - gathering together material from new, up-and-coming and soon-to-breakthrough producers - but the resultant compilations are rarely less than essential. This fourth annual installment is every bit as exciting and enjoyable as its predecessors, and variously touches on string-laden downtempo grooves (Donevan Adams), intoxicating deep dubstep (Hidden Element), dBridge style experimental D&B (Ashjerona), broken beat (Krux) and, of course, plenty of dancefloor drum and bass. It's a testament to Med School's A&R department that there's nary a duffer in sight, and plenty of names we'll no doubt be seeing more of in coming years.
Viennese producer and Jazzsticks Recordings founder Paul SG seems to approach D&B as a blank musical canvas, onto which he can project all manner of deep, soulful and jazzy touches. This three track EP for Soul Deep Exclusives contains some of his most enjoyable material of recent times. The package's highlight is probably opener "Winter's Chill", where SG turns Payback's original into a rush-inducing chunk of melodic dancefloor bliss. While the groove recalls classic jungle, the hazy horns and intricate melodies are thrillingly picturesque. There's a more excitable - but still delightfully deep - feel about Carter hook-up "Elder", while the piano-laden "Shantrila" is a classic example of SG's jazz-flecked trademark sound. By the time the beats return after the first trumpet-laden breakdown, you'll be buzzing.
In 2001 Seminal D&B figure DJ Marky released a two-track 12" called the Brazilian Job featuring full-on Latin guitars, vocals and flair - and liquid drum and bass rhythms. Nearing 15 years since that record, Random Movement keeps the sound alive with this summery two track release. Random Movement does get a little dirtier through a wobbly bassline in "Ahead Of It All" while the alternative option, "When The Daylight Comes", is darker and rolling with some subtle jungle and tribal elements, and the slightest of tear-out moments.
Metalheadz South Coast correspondents Ulterior Motive are gearing up to unleash their debut LP The Fourth Wall, and it's about time too! Despite being only two tracks deep, this sampler does well to show the forthcoming album's broadest range and will whet appetites for The Fourth Wall. "Tape Pak" is an instant love letter to the early 90s rave foundations, but written by pen and paper from 2039. "Muted", meanwhile, is wholly contemporary with its deep spacious groove, techno-like attitude and dBridge-style vocals from James Sutherland.
In case a massive release on Dispatch last month wasn't quite enough, Dutch dynamo Nymfo now flexes over to Klute's Commercial Suicide with a trio of incredible floor-firers. A dense, heavily-textured blunderbuss, "Electrosmog" lives up to its name with overwhelming pressure. It's followed by "Cymatic Frequencies", a naked stepper with pneumatic beats and a guttural bass drone that's countered perfectly by rushed-out breathy synths. Finally we hit "Drop The Bass" which is basically a killer homage to Andy C & Shimon's "Nighflight". Yeah... it's that good!
Sexy time! It's been a while since Neosignal champs Phace & Misanthrop donned their D&B hats together, but they've made up for lost time with this killer double release. "Sex Sells" is a vaguely satirical slammer with a gritty bassline and beats that pummel the bedposts harder than an all night romp. "Nordwand", meanwhile, takes us to colder pastures (with the help of an inflatable mattress according to one recent interview) as we're rifled up the scale from sinewy linear arpeggios to ice cannon bass blasts that tear your face off. Both absolutely kill it.
Intelligent Recordings founder Pavel Kuzmin, AKA Physical Illusion, returns to the mighty Fokuz Recordings imprint for his first salvo on the label since 2011. Predictably, the Ukranian producer is in fine form, delivering two tracks rippling with dark dancefloor intent, bustling rhythms and intoxicating musical touches. The humid and intoxicating "Sine" kicks things off, delivering a hazy mixture of exotic vocal breakdowns, atmospheric chords and tight, rolling rhythms. "Control" takes a slightly different tack, weaving a dark and murky tapestry out of gut-wrenching subs, industrial textures and stepping beats. It's a bolder concoction, all told, with a sub-laden breakdown adding creeping paranoia to the fizzing late night groove.
Poland-based Slovakian D&B producer Trilo has been intermittently releasing music since 2008, largely via collaborations and single-track contributions to compilations and split EPs. Here, Renegade Hardware has given him a chance to prove his growing credentials with a full solo EP. There's much to admire, from the hot-stepping feel of punchy opener "Enterprise" - all fizzing synths, dense but swinging beats and pulsating sub - to the deep chords and punishing rhythms of digital bonus cut "Baracks". Arguably best of all, though, is "Prozac", an atmospheric and faintly chilling jaunt through retro-futurist riffs, immersive chords, dBridge style electronics and titanium-clad beats.
The Bass Rejects label, seemingly an outlet for the productions of Psychofreud and friends, was founded in 2006, was put on hiatus in 2010, and returned last year with a newfound vigour. Here, they deliver a two-track assault of dub and reggae-influenced dancefloor D&B. Enjoy Tribe Monster kick things off with "Surviving", a fluorescent fusion of shuffling jungle rhythms, booming wobble bass, reggae toiuches and a memorable patois vocal. Psychofreud joins forces with Bones for "Ing", a more obviously skanking cut. A reggae riddim is transformed into a scorching hot stepper via bouncy pianos, punchy electronic beats and a classic rastaman vocal.
Ahead of his highly anticipated debut album Metrik drops two more stunning dancefloor gems... "Human Again" is the soundtrack to the triumphant peak of all the best stories. Post-montage, post-battle, this is the ultimate cinematic victory track. Looking for something a little heavier and more manic? Look no further than "Slipstream", a loopy sonic shuttle that bounces with ridiculous levels of insanity, fans of Sub Focus's early work will be all over this in a jiffy. Bring on the album!
Sonia Akow, once of breaks crew SOTO, was a familiar face on the breaks scene throughout the '90s and 2000s, and an integral part of the Botchit & Scarper family. Sadly she passed away last year from leukaemia. Push Play pays tribute to her via two discs of new and exclusive material from the "beats and bass" community, with proceeds going to the Afro Caribbean Leukaemia Trust. Putting aside the compilation's charity credentials, it's a strong collection, with superb contribiutions from Pyramid and Jay Cunning (the garage-breaks bounce of "Call Me"), Sasha Simone & Gal (the sunshine soul of "Move"), The Moody Boys (the bleep-heavy early breaks revivalism of "This is Automatic") and, of course, SOTO (the touching "Sayonara").