Is there ever a time when a Skeptical EP isn't welcome? Bringing the heavyweight depths direct from the North, "Imperial" shows a definite progression in his sound from his more minimal productions. Although space plays a big role in his work even still, there's a dizzying heartbeat of bass waveforms in flux in the title track, stripped bare in "Playground Chat" and used in devastating blows in "Delusions of Grandeur" behind warped effects. Final tune "Instant Reflex" brings back more of his jittery percussion to leave you feeling a bit tweaky.
While no D&B album is complete without at least one DRS-fronted banger, these are the Manchester MC's first solo outings since his 2012 earthquake-inducing album I Don't Usually Like MCs. With Jubei and Marcus Intalex on production duties, you already know this is going to bang... "The Puppeteer" is a vicious, late night shredder spiked with sharp-tongued lyrics and even sharper bass. "Emergency", meanwhile, is a skank-factored bouncer over which DRS shows he can sing just as well as he can spit. Looks like album number two is well en route... Bring it.
The D&B scene wouldn't be the vibrant place it is today without the existence of Artificial Intelligence, so it's surprising to be reminded that they've "only" been around for a decade. Still, in those 10 years they've managed to cement themselves as true pioneers of their sound, pushing soulful drum and bass in ever darker directions. Tracks like "Deadly Melody" and "Thundercloud" showcase their love for all things deep and destructive, but opener "Forgotten Truths" is truly beautiful, albeit with rumbling stormclouds overhead. A stunning start to 2015.
He moved halfway across the world to pursue drum and bass in the heart of St Petersburg and boy are we glad he did. Creating tantalisingly good productions right from the start of his career, the lad Demand have been touting for years as a massive "one to watch" is finally releasing a full-length LP this year in the form of Lighthouse. This EP is a sneaky peek of its contents, featuring the earth-shaking "Could Be", the extremely exciting Hybris remix of "Things Inside", one of Eastcolors' major hitters and "Dreams", a look into a crisper, darker side of the man. Extremely talented, highly recommended. 2015 is going to be his year.
Deep In The Jungle is a label dedicated to resurrecting the jungle stylings of yesteryear and bringing them back to their rightful place at the front and centre of the dancefloor. This behemoth of a compilation spans the full spectrum of jungle, from the ragga sounds of summer to the dark rollouts of the deepest basement party. With - count them - 22 tracks of pure jungle vibes, there's no stone left unturned here, offering the very best from newcomers and veterans alike. Expect to get feet moving on this one - it's an essential purchase.
"Delusions" by itself is a ballsy rush through warehouse atmosphere and deep, thundering bass. What else did you expect from the man like Seba, especially when paired with the ice cold mentality of Paradox? It's a kind-of industrial-meets-old school sound and we're all into it. Finally released on Seba's weighty Secret Operations label after teasing fans for months, "Future Now" is on the flip, placing on-point production alongside darkly rumbling bass and cymbal-heavy percussion.
Last seen collaborating with Need For Mirrors and HLZ on a single for Warm Communications, Swedish-born, London-based producer Mikal returns to Metalheadz for one solo cut and two team-ups. Solo track "Where They At" is full of Mikal's trademark bounce, a sparse, atmospheric production with jungle-inspired rhythm fragments darting off invisible surfaces in an irresistible manner. "The Chosen" sees him join forces with Nymfo for something a little more driving, as evil subs push things forward, while RIOT gets involved on "Control Of People", a slow-fast heavy hitter with crushing bass drops. You shouldn't need any proof that Metalheadz is still leading the way, but if you do then this should do the trick.
Since resurrecting System Shock, Callide has been on a one-man mission to raise the profile of his own favoured brand of soul-shaking deadliness. On this little beauty of a remix EP though, he's no longer a man on a lone mission, as plenty of the scene's hardest hitters have been placed on point to lend a hand. Remixes like DJ Hybrid's old school take on "Inferno" and Dominator's epic rolling intro for "A Way To Get The Answer" have given a new lease of life to these dancefloor-destroying slices of pure energy, as well as show off the diversity and creativity that still lives within the heart of our darkest, most club-focused sub-genres. A must for any fan of the harder stuff.
Dubstep Aussie style, Sekkleman steps forth with two crisp originals. "Lightman" is a graveyard marauder as Baptiste's well applied vocal guides us through the tombs and vaults with clarity, while "18 Dromilly Ave Dub" leans back on a classic digidub flex with warm keys, captivating vocal licks from Serocee and deep space reverb and drums that evolve faster than technology. Remix-wise Dread flips "Lightman" into an incredible Om Unit-style dub & bass workout. Step towards the light.
From the trendy heartland that is Portland comes Glen E Ston, a producer who's not afraid to experiment with the boundaries of liquid D&B. From the synth-led energy of "Warmth" to the deeper, beautifully mellow tones of "Secrets In The Sky". This seven tracker twists and turns through the full spectrum of drum and bass, taking influences from the soulful and well and the dancefloor-driven tunes of the old school. Get acquainted with this guy, because he's not going anywhere.
Featuring a debut vocal appearance from original ragga badman Daddy Freddy, Liondub presented the talents of Mexican producer Isaac Maya earlier this year. Returning to the scene with remix pressure from Nu Elementz and Profile and Portugal's own Dirty Skank Beats, the digital carnage unfurls with Nu Elementz and Profile's remix, which opens in a classic reggae style that turns dirty in all the best jump-up ways. The next reinterpretation is left to Dirty Skank Beats, who removes the original production entirely and replaces it with down and dirty heaviness and hard hitting horns, leaving the majority of the vocals intact. Nicely does it.
Mysterious new producer Poschek has taken to Soul Deep to share their cinematic sounds and it's a perfect match. Kicking with the title track, a sultry sax meets understated piano and a tasty edge of breaks to sharpen the edges. "Few Words" offers a more romantic side to the EP, with sweet melodies and jazz influences all round, from the live sounding drums to the instrumentation and walking bass. "Down The Line" offers a more familiar approach with deep subby bass and a fast rolling rhythms perfect for the more discerning dancefloor, and finally "One Day" rounds off with a beautiful, uplifting return to the old school. Gorgeous stuff.
Long revered as one of the oddballs of the scene, Inside:Info has repeatedly relished the opportunity to get truly down and dirty with his spliced and diced creations. "Mushroom" though, is something else. Ripped to pieces and stitched back together by the barest vibrophone sample and a chilling sustained synth, it's heavy, then softly-softly and completely mental in equal measure. "The Plains" offers a refreshing look at Paul's incomparable ear for a delicate hook. Softer and sweeter but no less instantly arresting, the sharpness and clarity of his production shines through on the huge drums and wavering bassline. It's so different, which is exactly why you need it.
Nasty and noisy, Gridlok returns to spread his audio violence with this long-awaited two header. Darker than the underworld and with more pressure per pound than a depth charge, "Bitcreep" is a total showstopper, already moving crowds towards the dancefloor by force. Alongside this club-kettling vision, opening track "The Call" is a rolling nightmare of dystopian lyrics and sub-frequency bass. Nobody ever said Gridlok was one of the nice guys, but this? It's something else.
On Drumsound & Bassline Smith's label Technique Records, there's not room for the faint hearted. That's why Crissy Criss has just loaded up with three of the largest high-energy tracks 2015 is likely to see. "Go Hard" does exactly that, smashing through the sound barrier with beats set to breakneck speed and sharp-edged synths. Don't be fooled by the drearily-named "Monday" because this tune is an explosion of bass and hard stepping rhythm, designed to make the floor shake and your knees bend down to the sound. Finally, Dead Exit remixes "Everybody" to round off the release in true madman style, offering massive dubstep vibes guaranteed to have crowds skanking hard.
Smooth like the first coffee of the day, "Nine Lives" brings a taste of class to the table with sexy soulful guitar licks and gently crooning vocals. "Marry Me" takes up the other side with nicely rocking breaks and a delicate touch to those romantic samples. It's a light and airy release from the Glaswegian producer, channelling liquid greats from the Good Looking and Innerground catalogues and beyond. With the backing of Soul Deep and vibes in his blood, expect great things from this one.
Sweaty, sludgy business: Bordeaux badman High Dude returns with three dynamics slices of deepness that all cellar dwellers should take note of. "Abduct" is all about the mourning bassline; soaking wet and amorphous, it's as dark as you can get without needing counselling. Dig deeper for the title track "Alchemy". Coded with trippy drum patterns and even trippier atmospheres, it's the type of track you'd drop if you wanted to completely spin your floor on its axis. Finally we hit "Wraith". A total vibe-flipper, here HD shows us he's just as capable at 170BPM as he is 140. Skippy beats, soulful subs and warm pads. This is what liquid sounds like in the apocalyptic future.
Fancy some Jamaican sunshine to brighten up what must be the longest winter on record? Dreadsquad take to the floor with a calypso-tinted vibe, they're joined by remixes from the likes of the legendary Marcus Visionary, DJ Twister, J Bostron and Isaac Mayer to create the biggest reggae sound this side of the summer season. Grab a rum and coke and somebody to move with and make your way to the dancefloor - it's the only way to warm up right now.
Leeds-based label Rush Records might be relatively new on the scene but that hasn't stopped it kicking off 2015 with a compilation release of epic proportions. Featuring the freshest sounds from a host of sparkling new talent, Clairvoyance is a clever name - the label really is looking into the future with this. Excusing our far too simple explanation of the title, it's actually brilliant to see a release like this so early on in the year. Is this what we can hope for over the coming months? God, we hope so. Standout tracks: Kairos' "Ping" and Monrroe's "Elation".
The latest massive release from this production supergroup is pure fire. Already blowing the roof off every venue across the UK, the remixes offered up on this are pretty special too. Alongside a stonking VIP of "Come Alive", Hugo Massian has crafted a house cut from the bare elements, proving that genres love to be twisted. Lauren L'aimant chips in to seal the deal with a fresh deep house take perfect for the beautiful people of the dancefloor to revel in their moment in the spotlight. Perfect weekend sounds.