Essex boy LSB is fast becoming one of the most highly regarded and sought after producers in the Drum & Bass scene. With his unique approach remaining unwavering in the face of the latest trends and fads, it is no surprise that Soul:R - a long established label with a shared ethos is the home for his hotly anticipated debut LP.
We caught up with LSB ahead of the release of the album and he gave us his top ten tracks from that linchpin on the Liquid sound Soul:R.
In the wake of key dispatches on the likes of Liondub, Subway, G13, Digital Terror and High R8, Sub Killaz continue their murderous mission this year with more titanium tear-out gold and cheeky homages to hip-hop's golden era. Just when you've worked out "Shock Out" along flies in a flamenco from nowhere. Elsewhere "Catch My Drift" punches with a unique sense of off-beat funk with Migos muscle and "Dangerous" goes for the drama vibe with its sweeping staccato riff. Finally "Rap Music" shuts us down with restrained stepper where a clipped bass tone grunts a sharp riff that's mirrored by the overweight subs. Get connected.
Non-stop manoeuvres: Turno's gripping the game by cohones this year. Flexing full axis, you never know what to expect, which makes every release even more of an exciting prospect. Fresh from laying down the law with Majistrate on Playaz, here he returns to Sweet Tooth with two left-of-centre jump up cuts: "Get Back" gets its funk on with a croaky bass and alien lasers while "Cattivo" goes for a deeper bass riff that doesn't sound a million miles away from early Clipz. Definitely no bad thing.
Powerhouse collabo business: Longstanding craftsman Serum joins forces with fast-rising duo T & Oberon for two understated space-travel rollers that shake and shudder with the perfect balance of shades and energy. "Take My Breath Away" is all about the star-gazing; the pads, vocals and extra-sweeping chords live up to the title while a depth plunge bassline ensures maximal weight and punch. "In Too Deep", meanwhile, nods its cap to classic house and tech foundations with a rising riff that wouldn't go amiss in a Stephan Bodzin set, neatly softened by a soulful vocal snippet. Fresh material.
Six months deep and already onto his third 1985 release, Perez takes us back to his roots with a sublime selection of subtle work-outs; "The Raven" persists with a rattling percussive riff and droning bassline, "Drifting" swishes and sways with a slinky two-step, yearning atmospheres and lingering keys while "Inside Your Love" is a pneumatic funk trip into two-step soul. Finally "Numbers" turns the lights down with purring, naked soul. Beautiful.
Barely 18 months have passed since his solo debut Seeing Sounds and DLR returns with another deep detail exercise. Fired by the current political climate, the Bristol-based artist breaks down the echo chamber with killer warm, grainy and fat productions. Whether it's the understated loose funk of "Trip Up", the pressure-cooked, sub-baked rave textures of "Wonder What It Feels Like" or the dark alley paranoia of "Unusual Behaviour" that gets you woke then the Photekian spaciousness and dubby wonder of "Wasting Time" and the Badco style drone of "Time Is Everything" will certainly send you into a post-truth punch-up. Sweet dreams are made of this.
Jungle's favourite shagoholic Nymfo steps up to Total Science's CIA for the first time in several years and he's making up for lost time: four tracks of forthright D&B, each one catered for a different chapter of the night. "Something Tells Me" eases us in with soulful prowess as Riya coats the liquid riddim with honey, "Barfly" is much more of a bar fight with its tribal-like vocal sample switches, "Stop Motion" is late night Renegade around 2001 with its dense drum work and unforgiving pads while "Bread & Butter" closes the show on a next-century funk tip. Beautiful.
Mature, authentic and gullier than your nan swearing at a seagull; Deep In The Jungle ante up once again with a winter-smashing six-piece. As the title suggests, battles are the focus point here with seven of the label's best mates licking up their sharpest shots. Cautious and Epicentre get radical with the ragga element, DJ Hybrid plays the atmos card with factor 10 rushes while "Playing Games" is total diva, drums and pianos. Shutting down this sweet serenade of sickness are Bassflex and Galvatron, both cooking up their most fractured, doctor-dented amen edit frenzies. Classically trained with eyes on the future, Deep In The Jungle are killing it right now.
More often spotted cooking up sickness stews with McLeod, Villem tag teams with Belgian deepsmith Phase. The result is every bit as spotless, crisp and alluring as you want it to be. Soulful but barbed with the right balance of darkness, each cut trembles but punches: Steo adds emotional sparkles to "Thru My Soul", "The Traveller" soothes with K&D era pads before dropping into a Break-style elastic bass groove while "Kaikol" plays the cosmic card with its mystic instruments and drawn out notes. Of course McLeod shows his face too. And he does so on the beautiful "Reap What You Sow" where absolute bliss drops into total jungle dungeonism.
From Prolix to Technimatic, Total Science to Was A Be by way of Icicle, Joe Ford, Fourward, Spectrasoul, Phace, Ed.It and many more, Friction's label digs deep from the genre's most innovative corners and eras. As we prepare to close off 2016, they've taken a detailed look back over the last 18 months of crucial output to not just represent where the label is at, but the genre itself. An ideal opportunity to fill any holes in your collection cuts such as Fourward & Linguistics demonic stomper "Storm", Was A Be's rudeboy-slewing halftime damager "Blind" or Break's sparkling "Emerald" and complete with a journeyman mix of the tracks themselves, this rounds up yet another serious year at the very forefront of drum & bass.
"The Rumble" saw a return to form from garage legend MJ Cole, alongside AJ Tracey, but the 892 label have decided that it wasn't enough; the show must go on, and there must be something extra special to sweeten the deal even more. Luckily, these guys think on their feet and have recruited the very best across the bass game; first up, Sheffield bass pioneer Toddla T twists the tune up with a selection of jungle breaks and ominous grime sonics - it's second nature to this dude - and this is followed by an absolute jump-up frenzy from the legendary DJ Hype and newcomer Annix, a high-speed d&b stepper for the next decade. Last but certainly not least, Scarface heads back to the garage rave by offering something of stop-start, shuffle-house monster, the sort of tune that could only be conceived in the UK.
Raising tension and attention with every release right now, Natty Dub return with yet another BS-free collection from some of the underground's most respected individuals. T>I loosens the bass strings for his slinked out dark-jazz stepper "Regulate", Hoogs puts all the aces in their places with a precision space-reggae gully jam "R Ting", Coda goes all bubble-bass a la mid 90s V on "Back It Up" and Jaxx & Dub General roll out with pure grumble groove and classic jump up spoken samples. Finally Flat T brings business to a close with a deal-breaking late 90s Bristol-flavoured cut where the spooked-out bass has a life of its own. Immense.
Steve Bcee recently blew people away with his impressive third full length LP, Come And Join Us. Such was the response that he's now releasing a companion record called "Thanke For Joining Us". The release sees the original LP reworked by a host of top names. Highlights include the soulful, intelligent melodies and crisp beats of SPY collab, "Is Anybody Out There?(The Vanguard Project mix)", the glistening broken hip-hop beats of "Delirious (Kiyan Law mix)", the jazzy, late night chill vibes of "Sun Goes Down (Pola and Bryson mix)" and the speedy, orchestrated DnB anthem "Cut Me Loose(Muffler mix)".
According to dictionaries to envenom someone is to bite them or infect them with a poison. According to junglists, meanwhile, to Envenom someone is to hit them hard with the gulliest possible jump-up cuts and not stop until they've kicked two massive dents in the floor. Following high profile releases on the likes of Calypso and Multi Function this year we find him smashing down the doors of Smokin Riddims with two more jugular-aimed riff-heavy cuts. "On My Way" balances a sci-fi atmosphere with grunted staccato bass hits while "Run" thrusts with a riff that can cut through solid concrete. Infectious.
What an exciting few years it's been for the Artikal bossman Kenzo. Playfully switching between 140, 160 and 170, dub, jungle and D&B, he's in his element right now and packing some seriously darked out heat. Back on ThirtyOne he's hurling more heaviness our way. "Sykura" is a crisp steppy track not dissimilar to early Subtitles and TeeBee material while "Assemble" kicks with more of a bouncy two-step spring. Think Jonny L and you're on the right track. That's the level we're talking here.
Rumble is the new team of Marcus Visionary and Liondub. Their plan is to showcase vocalists from Jamaica, New York and the UK and to fuse the sounds of dancehall, hip-hop and DnB. Siren is their first offering and they've started with a banger - roping in the legendary soundclash MC Suku (aka Ward 21 of Kingston, Jamaica). The original of "Siren" is a buzzy, high-energy electronic skank that's guaranteed to get the place totally lit. Elsewhere the club mix gets looser with dem riddims, the DnB mix is what it says on the tin, but the dancehall version is totally pure joy.
With his debut releases on Serial Killaz and Kartoonz acting as the countdown, Leaf literally takes off on "Space Shuttle". Firing with pure dark matter but never over-burning, it pulls away from gravity with broadsword production and the right amount of thrust. "Bubble Wrap" leaves us floating in the ether with some deft sample work and outer-planetary atmospheres while "Killer" boots us back to reality with a vicious bump; grizzly, raw and honest, it somehow tips nods at both Full Cycle and Hardware with its attitude, groove and aesthetic. Happy landing.
Belgium b2b Britain: Simskai calls up Croydon up-and-comers Delta & Fluxy for a sense-shattering tear-up with bass tones that sound like a space-ship being folded inside out. Metallic, sharp yet out-of-this-world, this blows minds on every outing. Simskai goes solo for the second part as "Gave Over" goes all-out grunt with alien sound bass punctuation and just the right amount of eerie strings in the background.
With previous collaborations punching massive holes through the walls at the HQ of Bryan Gee's Chronic and Liquid V, US D&B soldiers Dave Owen and Jaybee now set their sights on Bristol: home of junglist daddy Randall. Long time supporter of US D&B talent, Randall's roped the two in for a heavyweight collection: "Blow" is an all-out gully roller that seems tailor made for Mac II, "Streets Is Dirty" is all about the rattling snare and Krust-style twostep while "You Want None" is a straight-up grade-A 3am dark-out that shudders and shakes with the same grunting restraint as Jaybee's solo groaner "Who Want Some". It's a rhetorical question - we all want some.
Last spotted on Clawhammer's Jukebox album late last year, Audit returns the Droitwich HQ and this time he's offering a full-scale assessment of everything that's great about jungle. "Move On It" celebrates the 31-style deep rollers where the percussive break twists inside out of bellowing subs, "Power Hour" is a live drum frenzy that tips a nod to the Paradox's of the world before dropping into an Enei-style machine-funk groove while "Slopper" drones with such restrained, cold menace it could have seeped out of Need For Mirrors' studio. Finally "Clash" investigates the dub side of the dance with processed skanks and a slick steppy drop. Each track flexing with distinction, the title Seismic Activity really does sum it up.
Released the same week as DLR's album Dreamland, DLR and Mako's Onemind project finally gets its official debut. Introduced by Goldie on Friction's Radio 1 show over a year ago, the wait for this echoes of the dubplate culture that's clearly inspired the project: icy Bluenote atmospherics, big wavy bass textures, swaggering trooper drums are all keynotes as we jostle among the re-futurised 92 tones on "Skin Dem", swathe through the cosmic paranoid fumes of "Early Evolution", skip amid the gliding synths on "2 On Each Side" and stumble blindly through the murky drums and rusty fog of the brilliantly titled Om Unit collabo "Expliciticity". Open your mind.