Consistency is key with Voltage: no overblown hype or fanfair or 'massive' tracks.... Just proper classically trained dancefloor drum & bass. Here we find him doing the do on his own label Rollaz with four crisp originals. Highlights include the show-stopped bass twist and vocal treatment "Bell Riddim", the techno-like dynamic and pneumatic crunch of "Pulsate" and the instant party jump-up of "Dub Tickles" penned with originator badman Blackmarket. There's a fine line between Rollaz and absolute belters....
Halifax heavyweight Emperor finally unleashes the long-awaited beast that is his debut album and it's 50 shades of awesome. Rather than dish out a collection of the dark, tearing bangers he's become known for, he's licked up an all-armed hurricane of sounds and ideas; from the pixelated lift-off of "I Was" to the sweaty Upbeats drums of "Shapeshift" to the big breezy vocal drama of "Dispositions" and the rolling soul of "Thunder", this is a whole new creative level from Emperor as he plays by rules we've never heard him play by before. A proper album.
Friction knows how to throw a party... Their "100" celebrations started in March and they're still going strong three months later! A chance for the label's artists and friends to stretch their skills and signatures, there's been some really exciting, subversion work throughout the series. This final piece in the puzzle is no exception; "Fourward" deliver their funkiest track to date, Karma gets all soulful, Total Science get all drifty and ethereal while Break simply reminds us why we love him. All four cuts glistening with long-lasting gold, Shogun can carry on celebrating their 100th release for as long as they like as far as we're concerned.
Following Etherwood and Fred V & Grafix, S.P.Y is the next to step up to the "Hospital Mixtape" series with a walloping 31-track mix of which almost half has never been released before. As you'd expect from the bazillion dollar Brazilian, the range is wide with tendencies to gully. Essential exclusives you'd be an absolute madman not to check include his deep-swing twist on Digital's seminal "Deadline", the insane sub bass slipperiness on Random Movement's incredible "In Space No One Can Hear You Funk" and the "Up All Night" style late 90s slap down with his brother Unreal "Enduro". A proper mix and a previously unobtainable selection that's yours for the taking... What's not to love here?
Like Power Rangers, when Level 2 and DJ Chap combine to create their Alibi super-project there isn't a crime that can't be solved in a 1000 mile radius. Superlative and strictly designed for the dance, there's a reason Bryan Gee is so evangelistic about them as the Brazilians lay down four twisted tales that include dirge-like halftime swamp sounds ("The Hornet"), bright and breezy vocal rollers ("Fire") and all-out bass discharge ("Hideaway"). The hype is real.
With its 'all-out' weekend message in the lyrics and the epically brutal dual basslines, "Wavey" is proof that neither Rowney nor Toddlah are about to settle down and start living the clean wholesome lifestyle anytime soon. "Real Love" will ease you on the way back down to reality with its soul massaging subs and evocative female vocal textures. Two sides of the night covered with consummate skill.
Could Om Unit's twist on Nasty Habits' 1996 classic "Shadow Boxing" be one the most crucial VIP contemporisations in recent D&B history? Arguably, yes. The rolling drums, the slight melodic twist on the iconic bassline, the sudden moments of space... Whether you know this from back in the day or it's fresh to you, this really is a literally perfect example of how to VIP an influential classic. "Something Ancient" sees Om Unit team up with Thing for a cathedral-level stepper smothered in deep breath pads and mystic textures that sits somewhere between Clarity and Tobin. Immense.
Last spotted on Muzik Hertz, Midlands merker TZONE lays down his debut EP for Hazard's Radius. Each cut tickling a different side of the dance, it's the most widescreen snapshot of his abilities we've had so far... "Badman" shows off his inner skanker, "Hover Board" represents his love of squidgy bass and raw jump-up styles (and, quite possibly, his love for Back To The Future), "Money Business" is all about TZONE's understanding of tweaking bass so it's as brutal as Walter White while "Special Technique" is all about the classic jungle drums and gully sub grumbles. Authentic as it is heavy.
Calling all eighth grade air violinists! Profile returns to Murda Sound Digital with "Watch Your Mouth", a track that harbours strings so dramatic they could raise Hitchcock from his grave. It's also home to one of the best potty-mouthed samples jump-up's enjoyed in a long time. "Control" strips back the instrumentation to allow the sinewy bassline to slur and grizzle over a well chiselled two-step. Freaky.
Cooking up a storm since 2009: for Ingredients' 50th feast they've recruited a collection of chefs old and new. Spirit cooks the starters. A life-long friend of the label since its earliest releases, his "Interstate" tickles the tastebuds with a pan-fried reese and peppered snare shots. Response and his brother Pilskin cook up a hearty main; detuned synths served on a bed of crushed drums and an old school reduction and a light spraying of jungle foam. Finally the bossman Clive teams up with Response for a bitter sweet desert with burnt crumb bass gloom and devilled drum roll pastries. Sonically scrumptious.
Ring the alarm! After his insane James Brown twist-up, Wickaman returns to Jungle Strikes with two more illicit under-the-counter romps. "Sound Is A Champion" is a Tenor Saw sampling skank-up designed for pure parties in mind while "Redrum" takes us to the (Barrington) Levy and drinks it dry. Murderation!
Unless you've been asleep since March or you've accidentally found this review while looking up an old school mate who happens to be called Richie (or Richard) Brains then you'll know EXIT played this mystery out in style. We all had suspicions on his identity but not even the biggest forum nerd could guess that it's actually Alix Perez, Chimpo, Fixate, Fracture, Om Unit, Sam Binga and Stray. Seven men, each one decorated and respected, their skills culminating in a body of work that's part funk ("Game Shades"), part Carptenarian cinematica ("Sk8 M8") part woozy, wonky halftime ("The Blips") part grime ("Bring Dat Back") part D&B beauty ("Voyage") and all gully. It's going to be hard to find a release more deserving of the title 'album of the year' this year.
Navigator recently dropped the dramatic hip-hop/grime hybrid Lyrical Warfare recently bringing much fire in the process. So successful was it that Liondub/ODT have decided to keep the party going with some seriously heavy remixes. First up Brian Brainstorm delivers some hyper DnB action with high bpms and even higher energy. Elsewhere Social Security fuse manic, scattershot beats with relentless ragga MCing (and a cool dub version too), but it's the precision of Submatic's speedy ghetto beats on his dub workout that win the day this time round. Dancefloors everywhere be warned!
It's time for another Version excursion: Returning to Short Circuit for the first time in several years, the Bristol plays the consummate jump-up conjurer as he whips out two more mangle bass rabbits from his snapback. "No Hoper" is as menacing and gloomy as it sounds; all low-pass filtered builds rising and rising until a brutally beautiful mechanical bass riff takes charge. "Suspended" is a little lighter and breezier on the intro before we're submersed into another molten lava drop. Scorching.
Already spotted on Rupture LDN this month, Spirit comes back with a second helping on Klute's ever-dependable Commercial Suicide. Taking the deeper route than his last EP, each cut on this three-tracker rolls out with real widescreen, pad-heavy system majesty. "Consciousness" is all about the hook, "From Creation" is all about the heavy atmospheres while "Without You" rolls out with a mid/late 90s Headz texture. Serious business here, no time wasters please.
His fifth release on Soul Deep in as many months, Furney is properly shooing them out this year. The quality is as high as the quantity too... The guitar twangs on "Frozen Hours" are so crisp you could slice ice with them while the subs on "Out On Love" are so sassy and slinky they could - if played too loudly - impregnate you. Restrained yet weighted, funky yet fiery; Furney is killing it this year.
Pure bounce: Too Greezey reminds us of his funkier side with crucial Urban Takeover-flavoured bassline funk. Simple, effective and guaranteed to get some monkey moves on the dancefloor, "Sloshpot" pays homage to the sound that inspired a whole generation while remaining top of the class on production dynamics. His remix of long-time collaborator Agro's "The Genius" is equally lean and supple but with more of a mechanical turn of the century twist.
Full throttle jump-up skills from Midlands duo lay the sonic smack down with two brutal workouts on Eternal Muzic: "Snake Charmer" builds around a classic piano arpeggio before dropping into a midrange bass sweep that's not dissimilar to Original Sin. "It's Not Over", meanwhile, goes more on a metallic, menacing robotic rampage with a Q&A that will be ringing through your very bones from now until Christmas 2067. Pure filth.
Raise the alarm! Las Vegas P returns to the table with a fresh loot of chips and he's not leaving empty handed. Shooting from the hip with skittering beats and a subdued-but-serious bassline poker face, "Split Second" cleans up from the first hand onwards. "Soul Police" switches game: minor key, creepy, and subterranean we've switched from the glitz of the casino to something altogether seedier and illicit where only the funky organs keep us on the right side of the law. Gamble with these responsibly!
Heritage heavyweight SB81 returns with some serious Nolige. Three tracks deep, each one whisking us through a different era of jungle history: "90s" captures that heady switch from hardcore techno to jungle techno, all 92-era breaks so swampy and dense in the mix it creates instant pressure. "Memories Of You" quickly switches us through to 94/95, when Omni Trio, Goodlooking and Peshay ruled the roost, firing off microscopic funk lazers over crisp two-steps. "Pache" closes the show on a Doc Scott/Digital vibe. Mid 90s soundsystem music designed for no other reason but to lose your face to. All executed without so much as a dewy eye, SB81 knows what time it is.