Review: Fokuz are one of the most reliable labels in the business, having churned out a concoction of light and dark sounds for over a decade now, representing and pushing the Dutch scene on as they go. This release is a transnational and trans-continental, with Askel from Finland, Monika based in New Zealand and Critical Event also hailing from somewhere in Europe (we're not sure where). Purple Skies is a rolling, melodic release that sits inside Fokuz's sample-laden sound with elegant effortlessness. Bazil MC features on the wicked 'Remedy' and his vocals remind us of Bluejay or SP:MC in their tone and flow. The title track is the standout though, a sumptuously deep stepper that dives fast and stays low throughout. Lovely.
Review: HumaNature is another one of the many young, rising talents within the D&B scene at the moment and he's a producer with an undeniable capacity for diversity. First coming to the fore with smooth liquid tones, he's recently been proving that he goes darker and this EP is no exception. Teaming up with long-time producer buddies and long-time label Fokuz, HumaNature & Friends is some of his best work yet and it covers both sides of the spectrum. 'Roll' featuring Radicall is the highlight of the EP, with gorgeously vibrant percussion that injects a tangible sense of presence and a bassline that swells in tandem, a track that smacks of proper D&B. 'Xylophone' featuring Critical Event & Askel is equally weighty, with a driving back end that matches its stellar production line up. This is a top-notch release.
Review: Like some kind of Human Traffic soundtrack to 2020, Hospital's annual House Party VA has arrived. Fresh for a summer of social distancing, house parties and clandestine diversions, it's a soundtrack that will get any D&B head through the lockdown status, BBQs permitted. Top and tailed by the poppy, liquid, sample based and acoustic sessions of both Villem & Leo Wood's "We Had A Sing" and Whiney's "Better With You", find playful aggro in MC LowQui's "Middle Finger" to some hyper fresh material in Degs' "Pressure Cooker". Aggy half time once more in tracks like "Saturn's Strings" with gnarly basslines in Voltage's "The Prophet" and Logistic's "Playing With Fire" bringing the heat.
Review: Premiership D&B deepsmiths Delta9 hit the streets once again for another immense VA collection. All chiselled from new-gen coal face, all devilishly dark and stripped-back in nature, tracks come from the likes of Waeys, Screamarts, Askel & Elere, Sl8r, Nemy and many more key names-to-watch who are showing all the right sings of donning things in the very near future. Highlights across the 25 track collection include the waspy stabs and elastic bassline of Nemy's "Distracting", the bulldozer groove of RMS's "Mikro", the faraway soul and epic atmospheres of Glyph's "Across Hidden Dimension" to name but a few...
Review: A label shutting up shop is never, ever a good thing. But when they sign out with a collection as strong as this? You've got to admire them. Graduation is an epic collection of total D&B innovation from some of the Hospital sub-label's longest standing talents, old friends and a few new-gen upstarts along the way. Highlights across the 23 track set include raw damagement in the form of a S.P.Y's "Black Flag VIP", 160 freakery from Lakeway in the form of "Massive", swampy trippy tripletty funk from the long-missed Lung ("Stop Crying") and more blissful uniqueness from Kimyan Law ("Kaleido"). These are just some of the many impeccable designs from a collection that closes the label with full respect and the attention to detail the label has always had. Med School RIP.
Critical Event, Askel & Monika - "U & Me" (Scott Allen remix) - (5:55) 176 BPM
Matt View, Marvel Cinema & Dan Guidance - "Innuendo" - (5:13) 175 BPM
Review: Fokuz release some of the best compilations around, partly because they have a large contingent of affiliated artists to draw upon but mostly just because the curation team over there is top-notch. This time, it's the fourth instalment in their excellent Collaborations series, a series in which Fokuz artists team up with one another on collaborative efforts (duh). Simplification and Electrosoul System are back together on Multi Funk, with a great, old-school and funky drum line and bouncy, soulful bass nodes which warp and wobble through a really cool arrangement. Askel & Becca Jane Grey feature on the delectable VIP of Goodbye, whilst Fokux regulars Scott Allen, Monika & Askel roll things out alongside Critical Event on U & Me. Top stuff.
Critical Event & Askel - "So In Love With You" - (4:27) 174 BPM
ALB - "Using Minds" - (5:29) 174 BPM
Calculon & Dave Owen - "Ben Carlos" (feat Christina Tamayo - Zero T remix) - (5:11) 58 BPM
Smote - "Just Come Back" - (5:20) 174 BPM
Joakuim - "8am Roller" - (4:30) 172 BPM
Drumcatcher - "Feelings" - (4:35) 172 BPM
Brainwork & Mnml - "Embrace" - (5:18) 172 BPM
Review: Fokuz Recordings consistently release some of the best compilation albums around. Their pool of artists is so diverse and so top quality that an assortment of their work is always going to be special, especially when they bring in outside talent like Break and Zero T. Collaborations 2 is what is says on the tin: remixes and other collaborative projects and blimey, it's good stuff. Joakuim's '8am Roller' is the perfect example, a deft piece of piano-based smoothness that rolls out to your heart's content with sultry results, an instant classic of liquid-sized proportions. The Break remix is a welcome addition, as is the steppy yet soulful Zero T remix of Ben Carlos. Another very, very good selection of cuts from the always sublime Fokuz crew.