Review: You can't see his face, but we bet our bottom dollar you can hear him... Taking Shy's Raggamuffin Mixtape banger and twisting it into a dark, ruded-up bubbler, modern day donny Skeptical has taken 'Balaclava' to the murkiest of new levels. Still featuring the high-grade MC rollcall of D Double, Frisco and Spyda, Shy's wry sense of gully remains fully intact as Skeppy tells us it will take more than a pandemic to hold him down. Ring the alarm!
Review: Over on Helix, Teej is doing absolute bits with this EP. It opens with the title track, a Serum-esque array of drawn-out, dirty synths that stretch and stretch with an other-worldly quality that just sounds amazing. 'Nova' has a spooky intro, an eeriness which puts you in the mood for the unique, minimal-led steppiness of this tune. - a seriously cool bit of music. 'Smoke' is more minimal goodness, a proper little roller that creeps from phrase to phrase in menacing fashion. 'Keepin It' Real' finishes things up in more rolling style, a fluid back end flowing in underneath yet more perfect drums. There's loads of detail etched in to every second of these tunes - sick.
Review: Heist and Benny Colab have been teasing this album for several weeks now with a string of samplers, and the full thing is finally here. It's punchng percussive madness the whole way throug, a no-holds barred album which knows when to go all out and when to take a step back. There's luxurious instrumentation blended with grittier tones and 'Green Lane' is exactly that, as harp strings tug on your heart strings above a gully concoction of dusty basses and knock-back drum loops. Carasel features on the excellent 'Look Down' and it's another highlight from a super cool album.
Review: Liondub's renowned Street Series continues in full force and this next instalment is courtesy of Niterider, a producer who got his name making bangers and who comes with some serious heat on this one. All five of these cuts mean business and our favourites are the steppy bits, 'Illegal Op' especially, which combines apocalyptic vibes with urban sonics to create a powerful patchwork of force and energy, all underpinned by a broken percussive line. The other five are also strong and we're definitely looking forward to hearing these out and about.
Review: Magenta is back, using his force to compel you to pull ugly bassfaces and throw your drink with an EP that doesn't hold back. Its not the kindest on the ears but then again it's not supposed to be, it's a monograph in hard-hitting sonics and dastardly tones. It's multiple versions of 'Go Crazy' and they're all undergirded by a booming snare drum and percussive clarity, but the action happens in the steadily melodic but still raucous bassline, a pitched-up monstrosity of dancefloor proportions. The Vital remix isn't one you'll want to miss, but the VIP of the original from Magenta himself pips the others at the post for pure naughtiness.
Review: You'd hope that the good men and women behind Young Guns Recordings don't actually carry weapons, but this EP proves that they do. Master Error lands on the label with a five-tracker that's rooted in the current contours of the UK underground, a riotous and rough release that isn't too bothered about its occasionally unseemly fringes. 'Escalation Protocol' is a good name for the first track, an expansive stepper that oozes and pulses from its core with a surprising amount of groove. 'Run It Back' is the other standout track of the five, with a precision percussive line that gets its weight from a diving sine bass and wobbly, fluttering synths that remind us of a neurofunk tune. Sick stuff.
Review: V Recordings sublabel Chronic has developed a reputation for putting out beats that are even more venomous than its big sister, and their long-standing rollers series is getting a beef up with the fourth instalment. Featuring a litany of acts from a range of eras and a diversity of styles, Chronic Rollers Vol. 4 is a perfect addition to the arsenal of any DJ. 'Blindspot' from Nectax blends a soulful sample with an oscillating warp of juddering bass energy; Mancunian upstart SL8R gets subby and rolling with 'Roundabout'; and Brazilian label long-timers Alibi roll things out tidily on 'Sentinel'. Banging.
Review: Vital is absolutely on it with this release. Courtesy of Eternal Muzic, he's stepped up for a powerful bit of work across four tracks. Devilish' is the standout tune, a wobbly collection of sines and subs which taken together form an arrangement that's equal parts heavy and equal parts funky, a tried and tested combination that always goes down well in the club. The rest are just as wicked, and it's the sheer attitude, the no nonsense vibe that this EP has, which has made us as gassed about it as we are.
Review: Ray Keith's Dread Recordings has paid host to a litany of memorable tracks and infamous artists over the years, and this week's remix single is no different. Featuring T>I and Benny L on remix duties for two tracks by Ray Keith and Dark Soldier, it's a release whose finger is firmly tacked onto the pulse of the scene. T>I's minimal VIP of 'Renegade' slams from start to finish, with delicately placed piano riffs moving apart for its smash and grab portrayal of T>I's signature style. Benny goes junglist on the flip side, and 'Dark Soldier' is as moody as it is aggressive. Top form here.
Review: Lenzman's imprint serves up its first V/A right here with Quarter To Quarter. Featuring exclusive tracks from the likes of FD, LSB, Total Science, Kyrist, Tokyo Prose, Break, Zero T and so many more, it's a full spectrum representation of the label that ranges from sublime, sun-kissed soul such as Redeyes' "Lust", Atlantic Connection and Steo's "Night & Day" to bouncy, vocal high-vibe affairs such as Break's remix of "In My Mind". Along the way expect stunning strident, cosmic hypnotic workouts (Tokyo Prose - "Rescue"), dubby dreamers (Kyrist - "Untrue") unlikely rudeboy slappers (Total Science - "Killa") and every other authentic, genuinely crafted D&B sound you associate with the label. Quarter To Quarter ... No half measures.
Review: You've got to be tripping us... Ego Trippin have just dropped their third release this month and it's another monster. Following the second part of their "Tales Of The Darkside" series on Hi-Def comes this super-sweet five-tracker on Low Down Deep "Chocolate". Every bit as tasty as the name suggests, highlights include the classic early 2000s style Q&A and running drums of "Desire", the funk-riddled party-slapper "Feeling Good" and the raffish frazzled bass of the title track. Tuck in.
Review: Calibre returns with another collection of unreleased gems throughout the ages. Famously themed by his bewilderingly fast and consistent proliferation, once again it's a broad range of Dominick Martin's finest flavours. From the delicate smoky soul of the yearning "Years" to the already massive rubber-ball bassline vibe-out "Crazy For You" via the premium funk of "Latin 2000" and system-shaking rudeness of "Pillow Dub", every track on here hits the spot... But would you expect anything less from the don they call the Music Man?
Review: For his latest trick, spoonerism-loving rework maestro V (AKA sometime funk-breaks producer Valique) has decided to offer up a second selection of "Neo Blues" scalpel works. He begins by delivering a chunky, rolling revision of Ann Feebles' rock-tinged gospel-funk classic "Beware", before chugging his way through a pitched-down revision of a weighty T-Rex glam-rock classic ("Jewelry"). This is followed by EP highlight "Holis", an inspired - and suitably epic - "Afro-blues" revision of one of Nina Simone's greatest moments, and the low-slung voodoo-house hypnotism of "Mississippi Lullalby (V's Rendition)". To finish with a. flourish, the Vehicle main man then adds some elastic new drums to Otis Redding's version of "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay".
Review: Klinical is one of the rising stars on drum & bass and his Unconcious EP on Flexout is the next chapter of that journey, a trajectory which so far shows no signs of abating from its distinctly upwards bend. It's his most refined, most mature work to date and it displays his ability to move beyond purely dancefloor production and into the world of electro tech dripping with funk. The title track exemplifies this best, as flutters of synths blow in the celestial wind and wrap themselves around a punchy, driving low end and crisp percussive patterns. There are harder bits as well as softer touches, and it's a true tour-de-force from one of drum & bass' most exciting talents.
Review: Must Make maestro Jack Workforce has presented slabs galore since activating his solo project last year with "Late Night Soundtrack" volume one. Since then he's delivered the absolutely huge "Your Moves" on Exit, collabs with The Upbeats and Rockwell and delivered two more EPs in this series. Now comes the full album. Every release in the "Late Night Soundtrack" series plus two dope new pieces; the grimacing, oily steps of "Really Obnoxious Rich Kids" and the sombre soul of "Heart Crossed". The final pieces in his late night puzzle, they wrap up an exceptional year for the SpectraSoul member. We're excited to hear what he makes next...
Review: Veak is the latest artist to jump onto the LionDub Street Series and it's hard to belueve that we're on number 45 now. A 'Best Of' for number 50, perhaps? Anyway, this one by Veak is properly sick and he's strayed away from his more regular jump-up haunts to offer something a bit more stripped back and barebones. 'Murdarah' is the highlight, as rich brass textures lead you into a furious flurry of amen breaks and stabbing basses and the overall vibe on this tune is so crisp, so well defined that we're desperately sad that we can't hear it out live. Top stuff.
Review: Kumarachi is one of the best recent talents to emerge from the current smorgasbord that is the D&B scene, his rough and ready sound blends jump up currents with jungle stutters and it's ideal for any situation. Basement carries on that trend on Deep In The Jungle and blimey, it's pretty damn good. 'Jungle Tingz' featuring RMS is our favourite, with a hypnotic sample that grounds its cracking percussive knocks within a framework of bassy shudders and groaning sweeps. It's a proper sound, and the thiriving nature of the scene right now drips from this release.
Review: The Beat Merchants are back from sea and they've hauled in one of their finest catches to date. Four whopping slabs of timeless, classic back-to-roots D&B, each cut shows a new side to their sound. "Deadlights" is classic late 90s Bristol vibes and "Man Machine" is more of a Germanic tech funker, all pacey and persistent while "Dragon Whips His Tale" is the big moment in the collection with its loose jazzy drums but militantly grumpy bassline. Finally "Pinball" pings us round the twist for a cheeky funky cheerio. "Different Styles" by name and nature, the Beat Merchants aren't messing around.
Review: It's been quite a while since Martin Mefjus last treated us to a full release, but boy have him and Vision-owners Noisia more than made up for it with this seminal release. Particles is a six-tracker with features on every tune: Camo & Krooked, Skeptical, Phace, IMANU, Break & Noisia. What a lineup that is, and it exceeds expectations as the Austrian trio of Mefjus and Camo & Krooked smash things to pieces on 'Sidewinder', a deeply unique track with a stepping, featherweight drum line, funky synth work and a seriously track structure which moves from hardstyle-esque sounds into drum & bass and back again. IMANU's feature on 'Transit' nails the neurofunk vibe (emphasis on the funk), whilst things get minimal on Skeptical's 'Amber'. Unbelievable Jeff.
Review: After a slew of 2020 releases on the likes of Zombie, Grid and Informal, D&B's favourite petty pilferer Nick The Lot comes a knocking on Jungle Cakes door with two scrumptious creations. "Concentrated" flips between a sweet soul skank sample and a jigsaw bassline that scratches back and forth over the drums while leaving enough space for the vocal (think "Shot Down" vibes but with NTL's own swaggering signature) "Rastafari" follows the vibe but with much more drain-like bassline. An audacious gurgling, farty sound, it's the sonic equivalent of putting a can on your bike's back wheel and revving around sounding, looking and feeling like a the baddest hells angel there ever was. Feel good flavours as always with the Jungle Cakes bakers.
Review: Mystery Manny badmen Think Tonk undergo the remix treatment with two of V's most consistent and forward-thinking artists. L-Side takes "What A Ting" apart and flips it into a brutal steamroller, continuing the high-grade uppsettery he's been doing with his remixes of Dillinja and Krust. "How We Do It Tonight" meanwhile gets boosted by Command Strange. Another V don who's yet to deliver a bad jam, he gives the original a super-tasteful treatment maintaining all the soul and heart of the original while adding a little extra weight. Thinking man's crumpet, thonking man's trumpet; everyone involved in this release can do no wrong.
Review: Skore has been absolutely smashing it recently and is fast becoming one of the scene's most reliable sources of explosive dancefloor material. This release is no different, featuring two cuts of pure damage in classic style, with plenty of attitude and plenty of gunfinger moments. The second tune is our favourite, with a seriously hype-inducing build and a raucous drop that reminds us of a neurofunk track except without all the unnecessary noise it becomes ten times heavier. We love this one - big-ups to the Low Down Deep crew.
Review: High grade sounds! Chopstick Dubplate celebrates the fact it's been 4/20 all month this year with a selection of stick-icky celebrations. "Herbs Toast" opens the extended EP and sets the scene. The perfect complement to a nice strong cup of coffee, it flips a modern classic with a cheeky herbal vibe before things get darker and danker... Highlights include the gnarly bass moans and trippy diced vocal textures of "Herb Affi Burn", the dancefloor twist of Grimesy and Speaker Louis's dramatic remix of "Police Officer" and the bubbling feel-good finale "Respect The Ganja" where Natty Campbell lays down words of solid gold wisdom over a bouncy digidub blend that will spark up any dancefloor. Smoking.
Review: Welcome to the warped and wonderful world of Birmingham badman Zeba. His basslines melt around the beats, his sounds are woozy and the grooves knock you sideways; "Bank Rolls" is all about the trippy, misshapen tones and loose swaggering drums, "Bougle Bounce" rides with a wide menu of strange farty bass textures and deliciously clunky breaks while "Alien Bass" sharpen up the bass licks for more of a deadly laser effect. Finally we see him colliding with fellow Brum murker Warhead for epic screaming turbine bass climax "Walk The Walk". Come talk some talk...
Review: Bryan Gee and V Recordings do not mess around. They never have in the past, they're certainly not right now in the present and judging by this highly anticipated Future album, they're going to mess around any time ahead. 25 tracks from some of the biggest, best and baddest names in D&B (Dillina, Serum, Benny L, Paul T & Edward Oberon, Roni Size, DJ Marky, Drumsound & Bassline Smith, Bladerunner, Saxxon, the list goes on) this one's been a long, long, long time coming... And it's been well worth the wait. From L-Sides massive remixes of Dillinja and Krust to Need For Mirrors super-revved "Lambo" to Benny L's incredible remix of "Days", this sums up why Bryan and his label are as influential and respected in the game as they are today. Don't mess around.
Review: They're back! Serum, Voltage and Bladerunner return with their first new originals since last year's album and, as the title "Main Event" suggests, it's a pretty big deal. "XXX" opens with disarming stripped back intent. There's a bleepy techno twist in the tale and the tension is higher than Voltage monthly fashion budget. Elsewhere "Somebody Else" sees them re-enlisting the scorching vocal diesel of Lydia Pain for another emotional skin-burner and "Solar Heat" ends the EP on a real groany, smelly distorted introspective vibe. Tremendous... And we haven't even got to the dessert event, which is a super sweet Circuits remix of "Burnt Ends". Feel the burn mate.
Review: Katakana Edits first compilation, 2017's "Crate Diggin", was an epic collection of high-grade re-edits, mash-ups and reworks packed to the rafters with tried-and-tested dancefloor treats. This belated follow-up is even more epic, with the popular label squeezing in no less than 50 tracks that variously touch on riotous disco-funk, dub disco, new wave, disco-rock, deep funk, Afro-boogie, swamp funk, Latin beats, boogie, pitched-down chuggers, boogaloo, hip-hop and everything in between. You'd expect that standard to be high - it is a "best of" collection after all - and it is. If you need an instant armoury of scintillating club cuts, look no further.