6Blocc doesn't channel dancehall; he breathes new life into it. This EP is a joyful twist and skank through vintage vocal riffs and rose-tinted ragga sounds with the deceitfully dark edge of his perfectly tuned bass programming. Simultaneously as gritty as it is joyous, each track give listeners (and DJs alike) the choice of vocal and dub mixes - although we'd seriously recommend the former. It's rare that the roots of d&b are celebrated at the forefront of deep d&b and this release makes the most of the past to create a fresh sounding EP ready to take over dancefloors everywhere. Crank it.
The ever-rising star of 2010/11 and master of experimental beats brings us the follow up EP to his superlative Noir EP which landed on Critical around this time last year. In the title track "Aria", Rockwell blends glitchy, cinematic rhythms with sonorous, blissed out vocals and cooling instrumentals. Next, "Live For The Moment" adds a dash of funk, whilst talented duo Ulterior Motive's remix of the aforementioned "Noir" is nothing short of superlative, as they toughen it up with a super dark b-line smashing breaks and that iconic Virus-meets-Subtitles tenacity. A collab with Hemlock owner Untold backs this up in "Rehekou Sunrise", adding a shimmy of samples and soulful bliss as we reach the end of the EP.
Judging from the reception this UK producer has been getting from Hype and Pascal, it's only a matter of time before he blows up into the big time - so listen up. Packing the biggest of punches through the use of huge drops and bonesaw bass, the Time I Did EP manages to be a collection of highly accomplished, tightly produced dancefloor detonation devices, with each track coming from a different place in the D&B psyche. From heavy-handed and wild to technical and troubled at the flick of a switch, if you've not heard of this guy yet, prepare to hear your new favourite producer take flight into the wide world.
Cabin Fever UK's Voltage takes some time out of his busy schedule to bring some of the hardest-hitting upfront drum & bass we've heard all year. Satisfyingly brutal basslines kick out some unbelievable pressure in first tune "Gangstars", and the nastiness keeps on coming in icy roller "Brain Matter" and mangled break-fest "Buss Tha Roller", pushing mean sounds with meaty production values. Final track "Flyin Disk" takes on a cold, minimal approach, quickly ramping up the tension with Break-style drums and bass for a dancefloor-slaying funk-fest. The definite article.
Two of Soul Deep's finest join forces again to bring a little class and decorum to the D&B scene. "I Have A Dream" gets things started with a classic break intro as lush piano loops and swoops between bars. As dreamlike as it is sensual, it's a chilled track perfect for lazy late summer days with a bit of a twist - Martin Luther King makes an appearance, lending some much-needed sanity and peace to the busy outside world. "Black Coffee" follows, mixing jazzy grooves with blues and soul samples, rolling beats and an addictively deep bassline. This is D&B for sophisticated souls.
Is there ever a reason to doubt The Prototypes? The kings of floor filling d&b return with the anthemic "Don't Let Me Go", a tune so euphoric it deserves to be played loud and danced to with serious dedication. After the upbeat love-in of the first track then, take a minute to recharge with the dark and dirty "Humanoid", a rampant explosion of cinematic vocal samples and sci-fi soundtracking. Next comes three remixes of the title track starting with a chilled-out house re-fix by Jade Blue and then followed up by a Jade Blue piano remix. Adding funk and a bit of sexy slowness was a fantastic idea, taking it up to a sparklingly fresh big top remix for track five was an even better one. Sped up, slowed down, funked up, stripped back, either way, we love.
Pacso has been a producer whose output has been consistently damaging, yet he's still to make his big breakthrough move. We're daring to say that the first track on this insane EP might just do the trick. "We Make Weapons" s the type of jump-up insanity Hype reserves for special occasions - it's raw, it's deadly and it packs a sucker punch. "Go" comes up second on an atmospheric tip, swapping mindless rage for a deep, filthy groove. "Release The Hounds" steps and dives like a boxer on form, ducking and diving through dark production to a massive drop. "Fast Lane" features the diva like Alicia King, adding her tones to electronic sounds and fat subs. Finally, "Another World" wraps it up old skool style with ravey pads and a heads-down skanking mentality. This is huge.
Ever the busy worker bee, Avizura brings his latest batch of conceptual liquid D&B to the show with Red Sky, Blue Sky, an EP based around the different moods and textures of rolling drum and bass. Kicking off the pairing, "Blue Sky" pulls out all the stops as widescreen shots of fast-paced cinematic sounds fly by, picked up on the momentum of deep, undulating bass. Hotter and dare we say it, sexier, comes the flip side "Red Sky", which shows off more of a soulful side to the producer, as he mixes edgy pads with brass and piano. One is cold satin sheets, the other is hot sand as the sun goes down. Thank god you don't have to pick a favourite.
Tamworth's own Payback signs his Seasons EP over to Soul Deep, and we ask you, could there have been a better choice for this beautiful collection of liquid rollers? Picking out sensitive, soulful riffs within the damp thud of heavy percussion, "Winters Chill" feels muffled with snow, balanced out by the trill of twinkling chiming melodies. "Autumn Fall" is a far more percussive tune, owing to the abundance of breaks and additional percussion filling up the top end to balance out silky smooth brass. Dropping hard but remaining cool and collected, it quickly becomes a big roller with a golden centre. Moving into a sunnier climate, "Cascades In Spring" has a crispier, cleaner feel with a light, airy play on pads and synths. Finally, "Essence Of Summer" is a big, hazy summer anthem, as you'd expect, packed with the soul of Brazil. A beautiful package.
Aristocrats have joined Soul Deep to give us a taste of the finer things in life. Surely we aren't worthy? First track "Pleasure & Champagne" is cheeky and sensual at the same time. Maybe it's the sampling or perhaps the understated hand claps, but there's something quite risque going on here. Add that champagne and it's a totally different experience to your regular sweatbox d&b. "Urban Banquet" comes second, stepping hard with an infectious funky bassline that'll set your head wobbling and your feet moving. A tasty little release that'll take you by surprise; we suggest you go with it.
Zombie Cats "crawled from the vortex" according to the blurb from the laughably aptly-named Eatbrain Records label sometime earlier this year and have been ravenously snacking on the living minds of neurofunk dark lords Mefjus and Logam ever since. With this massive EP one thing is for certain - if this is the shape of the apocalypse, no-one's making it out alive. Darker than dead ends in the night and gorier than the torn remains of the less fortunate, this release isn't f***ing about. It's a nightmare. From rampant rollers to minimal, horror-stricken atmospheric breakdowns, it's gothic horror for the dancefloor generation. Are you ready to run?
The latest addition to the Liquid Brilliants roster, DJ MS brings his D&B mix of "Ready Fi Di Ride" to the dance, pushing dark sounds alongside classic Shaggy vocals. Hey, if it works, you use it, right? Big, brash and an extended intro that brings in the largest bass and beat drop we've heard in literally ages, there's no doubt this tune will get floors moving, no matter the crowd. Nobody's too good to dance to a beat this infectious. We approve. All you need to do now is pick up the rest of the remixes and make yourself known to the local rave scene - you'll be king within a weekend.
If you're looking for a liquid release with a bit of an extra kick, Outsource has created the perfect trio for you. A perfect issue of intelligent headphone-friendly tunes, "Propa Liquid Vol 1" might be the most solid new liquid release of the year. "Plazma" is a gorgeous cosmic roller shaped with jungle patterns of the harder stuff. "Time Lapse" leans back into pure chillout material, with the old school ambiance and skip-a-beat percussion of a true classic. Finally "Delusions" moves back into the cosmos with spacious synths and fathoms-deep bass underpinning the whole stellar shebang.
Majistrate is one of the most prolific dancefloor D&B artists in the game right now, owing in part to his long pedigree of pirate radio and club residencies. Returning to Low Down Deep for another round of darkside drum & bass intensity, this single hopefully gears us up for another full-length release in the not-too-distant future. "Destruction" rocks hard with space-thriller FX and a nailbiting atmosphere, whereas "Imagining Things" takes a turn for the erratic in a blitz of sound effects and stressy pads. Both tracks boast drop payloads worth screaming about and it won't be long before you hear it tearing up your local discotheque. You heard it here first.