Three years on from his debut album Under The Ice, Dutchman Icicle commits another long player to the Shogun Audio cause in the shape of Entropy. Bass weight meets sound design on this ambitious 16-track set as Jeroen Snik offers a compelling argument for his personal development since Under The Ice. What sets Entropy apart from most D&B long players at the moment is Snik's willingness to weave different stylistic elements into his productions with genuinely thrilling results. See the relentless, grime flecked nastiness of "Isolation" and the downbeat "Superimposed" for evidence, though there is still plenty of science fiction indebted bass futurism to satisfy the heads.
If your immediate reaction to the news that Horizons have released a 17-track behemoth to celebrate their tenth year in existence wasn't total joy and amazement, you might not have a pulse. As a heavyweight label at the centre of the darker end of the scene, this LP has attracted mainstay names to come and show support, resulting in the most enviable roll call of the year. Kicking off with Break, artists as diverse and as legendary as Mako & Hydro, DLR, Need For Mirrors, Skitty and NickBee all come forth to spread the deep, dark, and at times industrial, love.
Jim Coles has previously spoken about this second Om Unit full length being "a nod to the sound" of his "teenage self". Given the fact that he's rediscovered his jungle and hip hop roots in recent years, it's an accurate description. The fact that he's also mined Goldie's sample archive to help create the sound of Inversion is also telling. While it's not a straightforward jungle set - there are plenty of wonky moments, skewed downtempo interludes, footwork influences and trips into expansive IDMterritory - the skittish breaks, foreboding noises and murky textures all scream classic D&B. It adds a little spice to an already excellent set, delivering a range forward-thinking tracks with their roots firmly in the past.
A long and productive affiliation with the Hospital operation has resulted in numerous albums and singles for Dan Gresham's Nu:Tone project and now in 2014 he's considered one of the label's stalwarts. A fourth Nu:Tone album reaffirms Gresham's status amongst the Hospital elite, with Future History a sublime trip through classic jungle vibes on this weighty 13-track set, assisted by some high profile guest spots. Logistics, Dynamite MC and Lea Lea all make notable appearances, though it's fair to say they are overshadowed by the presence of Dr. Octagon himself, Kool Keith! The slaloming breaks and deep bass of "Metaphor 6000" are the perfect backdrop to Kool Keith's rap.
Coming out to play with Playaz this time around, D&B's very own elusive genius Break returns with his selection of unique bass stylings in this slick double header. Showing off his love for all things jazz and dub, "Strictly Entertainment" pits rolling dancefloor rhythms with huge subby bass to create a fresh cross-pollination of sounds. "Dulcid Tones" features a smooth bassline groove whipped up straight from the heart of the '90s, dropped right into a creamy whirlpool of distorted bass and general junglist mania (and some Eastern influences for good measure). It's borderline mental, it's loads of fun and it's Break. What more do you want?
Lining up for their first LP since they emerged in 2005, Florence's Numa Crew are the latest lethal addition to Liondub International's family. As pioneers of the scene in Italy, their sound explores all aspects of global bass music including reggae, dubstep, jungle, and hip hop. New Underground Massive Alliance bursts out of the gates as a take-no-prisoners affair, rolling rugged Coki-style bass grunge, burning dancehall, proper jungle, and a slew of vocal guests including Mellow Mood, MC Kwality, Kg Man and more into a high-potency herbal cocktail for the global bass music massive. Mellow to dirty, sweet to breakneck, this is a collection for the true heads.
Do you want to hear a German producer get things so right you might never need to hear another liquid release in your life? Step right this way. Amaning has joined the Fokuz ranks for his first full-length LP, and within its 11 tracks are some incredible moments of pure D&B escapism. Opting to steer clear of the classic liquid route, his tunes each have a sense of his own individual sound creeping in at the corners, twisting things to another level. The "Time Warp" aspect comes from the seamless blend of faithful old school sampling and reproduction and brand new experimentations - it works and you know that it does.
As you'd expect it to, this slice of Midlands-based jungle fun comes correct with some vintage hip hop stylings to add some spice to the mix. Throw in a ton of retro vibes and "We Love Hip hop" takes off into the stratosphere, mixing in a deep sub wobble for good measure. K Jah & Vytol know their stuff when it comes to making dancefloor-driven anthems with classy old skool flavours and they haven't let us down with this one. Big, brash and booming, there's only one thing to do when this tune drops - get moving.
Here's something to celebrate: a studio hook-up between regular sparring partners Break and Mako, and fellow Utopia Music artists Fields and Villem. "Shadowlines" is an undeniably forthright concoction - a pounding tech-step smasher that makes great use of glitchy electronics, snappy snares, weighty sub, nightmarish textures and creepy melodies. It's an excellent follow-up to the quartet's 2012 single "Dilligence". Flip for "Found You" by former Fokuz and Formation Records artist Chromatic, who drops a typically chiming and picturesque liquid D&B roller packed with fizzing rhythms, warm chords and hazy female vocal samples.
It's about time SR and Digbee got a little more attention and these remixes are going to be the nudge that does it. Kicking off with a stunning vintage-style VIP of "Jog On", breaks take over for a rapidfire, under the radar dancefloor destroyer. Made for pirate radio, if this came out 25 years ago we wouldn't be surprised. Next up, DJ Randall's tough, rough n ready remix of "Nostromo" brings out the big guns with deep tribal sounds adding extra tension. Callide's remix of "Supersonic" brings a touch of mainstream magic to proceedings and then DJ Vapour drags it all back to the good old ravey days of 93-95 with "Back To Basics". Mental.
If you thought you were in for a treat with a brand new Jubei tune to rinse, just how much better did your day get when you found out dBridge was in on the action? A deep, dark, filthy rumbler of a track, "These Things" VIP was made especially for underground dancefloors in the dead of winter. Artificial Intelligence follows up with "Dillirious" VIP which looks to be one of the pair's most aggressively roof-raising releases in recent memory. Packed with punchy snares and a big, menacing bassline that just keeps on uncoiling from a tight mid-range of Tesla coil effects, it's the best conclusion to two perfect VIPs hammered out of two already damn good tracks.
Legendary label V Recordings has crashed straight into the festive season in a big way with this blistering release from Digital, Spirit and Response. Three massive names, two huge tunes. Where to start? "Garrison Law" is a brutal tech-step rampage through a rocking, doomy bassline and clockwork percussion. More than a touch influenced by the old school, it's heavy enough to satisfy the toughest dancefloors. "Different Style" plays with an amazing, spacious break, engineered to spin continuously on the surface of that deep, syrupy sub while the rest of the tune's components work around it. This is some seriously intelligent business going down here.
Get yourself sat down now as Low Down Deep presents some of the filthiest tunes we've heard in ages. If you're already familiar with the Sit On My Bass series, this release won't need a warning - for the rest, expect severe outbreaks of sub-pressure bass and mind-melting drops. Featuring your main man Jaydan, Majistrate and the whole Low Down Deep family, this compilation is set to blow everyone away. They say it's to "survive the coming winter months". We're not gonna argue with that.
Fresh of the back of State of Mind's massive Eat The Rich LP comes a remix release of similarly epic proportions. There's more than a slim chance you've been hearing these around for some time already, given the tasty nature of the likes of the ravey stabs of "No Operative" courtesy of Audio, or the added suspense in "Ghosts" thanks to Optiv & BTK. Even if you don't consider yourself a remix fan, this is too good to miss, even if just for Segment & Concept Vision' stunning remake of "Unconsious", which really does deserve a pedestal all of its own.
Latvia might not be your first stop for up and coming jungle stars, but Liondub International has definitely found one in Kenji. For the 10th volume of "$treet $eries", first track "Gun Proof" blasts out straight rudeboy style with bass bombs and a layered synthesizer backdrop. With tempo and temperature rising, "In Yo Crib" kicks down the door with rough bassline-led jump up. The title track strips it further back to roughneck basics with plenty of space and "Look at the Sky" deploys the same skeletal tactics in a roller. Closer "Primary Force" fills out the sound palette with warring sample layers and techy nonchalance. Think again about Latvia!
All fin-bearing puns aside, Fishy brings something deep and delicious to the table (sorry, we're done now) with these few cuts of luxurious rolling D&B. "I Said I Know" in particular is a standout track, pulling deep, forward-driven bass upfront, dragging with it the soulful vocals and piano with a real feeling of momentum. Showing off a more technical side in "Still Waters Run Deep", Fishy manages to create a darker sense of mystery while maintaining those trademark rolling hi-hats. For the emotional amongst us, "Forest Sunlight" is a beautiful piece of emotive D&B, played on pretty piano and given a big bassy workover. Lovely stuff.
The secret to this release is smooth, chilled grooves and blessed-out melodies weaving pretty little stories inside your head. "Secret Sauce" drives on as a deep roller, taken up a step by intricate chimes and sampling, somewhat reminiscent of more ambient producers like Bonobo and Onra. "Get Jazzy" delivers on its promise with dissonant piano and skipped beats and moving on to "So Much Love" Londy gets deep and soulful. "Roots" pushes back to the early days of breaks and bassy distortion, "Soul Power" gets retro with quirky samples and production techniques and "Solitary" brings the heavyweight bass. This guy has consistently delivered this year, don't miss this.
The head of Intelligent Records has taken to Celsius to spread his mantra of soulful and intelligent D&B as far as he can. If you're not familiar with his tunes, this release is the perfect place to get acquainted, thanks to the even spread of smooth rollers and lively steppers encased within. More DJ Marky than Blu Mar Ten, though his style does come from the sunny side of the Atlantic, Intelligent Manners actually comes from St Petersburg. There's not much of that classic local microfunk sound in his music, but listen hard and clean-cut production takes you back to this side of the equator. Crisp, on point stuff from a man who knows his business.
Gorgeous sounds emanating from Fokuz, this time from Maduk and Nymfo. Putting destructive riddims aside for a second, "Motions" swoops and soars majestically, like the big epic floor-filler it is. "Approaching Me" turns the strobes back on though, with Maduk's solo effort producing rolling breaks and a seriously satisfying synth line. Finally, the pair join forces again for "Tatta Ganja" - the bass on this is poppin' fresh. Halfway between electro and drum & bass, the ragga touches and brass only add to the party atmosphere. If you're not moving to this, check your pulse.
Jungle that's hot to the touch is rare and precious in this day and age but K Jah & Vytol have nailed it with this little diamond. Crashing through thick levels of dub with hyper snares and old school effects, there's nothing in this tune but pure fire. Birmingham might not be the spiritual home of jungle music but K Jah is making it his own personal homeland, turning his place of residence into a pivot point for modern junglists. Don't you just love it.