Review: Easily the most anticipated album of 2021 so far, legendary UK duo Bicep are lighting it up right now with a second full length album for Ninja Tune. It follows their self-titled debut from 2017 and it sees the pair filling the UK and its neighbouring Europe with hopes, dreams and premonitions of the day we get to go clubbing again. Weaving a new age sound of synths and trance through futuristic beats and drum sequences that take in everything from two-step and house to drum and bass, jungle and techno, Bicep bring the experimentations of eras past to the minds of a mainstream audience to deliver an album that will set fire to the underground as much as it will the dance charts of the new year. Our pick: Sundial.
Review: It's common knowledge at this point that Bicep really is a generational talent when it comes to production. The impact of 'Glue' was off the scale and it's clear to see he has no intention of slowing down as we dive into another monumental single, this time taking the title of 'Atlas'. As ever, we witness pure melodic mastery as we are greeted by an array of spacey, emotional pad textures floating around the background, whilst popping arpeggios and shuffling drum beats breathe effortlessly across the front of the mix. When this is then coupled with pulsating sub lines and stunning vocal switches drenched in luscious big room reverb units, we sure are in for an absolute treat.
Review: With trance music enjoying a current streak of vogue through club culture today it's important to remember legends of the past alongside what's going on now. In Search Of Sunrise volume 15 does exactly that by pitching artists like Jam & Spoon together with Jerome Isma-Ae in a Blade Runner-reminding remix to "Follow Me" - full of tension and release! Furthermore the compilation highlights the Gouryella project from Ferry Corsten with the epicly synth-drenched "Surga", while other bona fide numbers come from Markus Schultz, and Fonzarelli with '80s Italo disco trance throwback "In My Dream", while Peppemansion & Angelo Di Franco' are another highlight with their minimal burner "Mariposa". A secret weapon hidden deep within.
Review: If Mark Knight and Co. aren't busy enough celebrating Toolroom's big 15 year birthday at present (and its global parties in celebration of it), they've also found enough time for another mandatory volume in their esteemed Ibiza Underground series. With another collection of surefire hits and soon to be anthems that are sure to rock The White Isle this summer - this is all you need right here. A wide range of cuts (50 to be exact) that venture into darker territories come from the likes of New York duo Blondes on the fierce and broken "Quality Of Life" (Struction remix), the surprising addition of Scottish IDM wunderkind Lanark Artefax's "Touch Absence" (Intimidating Stillness mix), Dutch techno-bass merchant Martyn on the futuristic "Feel The Magnetism" and American retrovert Matrixxman on the tunnelling acid trip "Horizon". Rest assured that there's faire more typical of the label like Josh Butler, Franky Rizardo, Rick Wakley and birthday guests Booka Shade. For your convenience, the collection comes as two continuous mixes as well.
Review: The annual Toolroom statement of intent for Ibiza gets off to a raucous start with the good time house Camelphat remix of Fatboy Slim's "Right Here, Right Now". Despite this, the compilation isn't all about peak time pleasure. It features deeper nuggets like the sun-kissed deep techno remix of Bicep's "Opal" by Four Tet and the hypnotic break beat techno Kolsch remix of Nic Fanciulli's "Saying". However, Ibiza 2018 doesn't depart too far from the script, and label boss Mark Knight's "We Get High From the Music" is classic Toolroom - a tough tribal workout descending into filtered, vocal-heavy nirvana. That said, they deserve plaudits for keeping a close eye on new artists and the niggling acid and chimes of Peggy Gou's "It Makes You Forget" is testament to that.
Review: The Glue EP by Irish power duo features two new tracks embodying the same dramatic and evocative vibes from their recent, highly acclaimed self titled album. The title track here unashamedly explores rave nostalgia, with its tough breakbeats, euphoric chord progressions and gated vocal samples taking you all the way back to '92. "Metro" uses phased acid house style drum patterns with roaring rave synth leads on this slow burning but heavily building dancefloor destroyer. Finally "DLR" soundtracks those divine moments of truth loved up in the chill-out tent, with this emotive ambient house cut with a nice tint of 303 acid for good measure that's reminiscent of classics by Orbital et al.
Review: The long awaited, self titled debut album from Irish power duo Bicep is the perfect summation of their career to date. Matt McBriar and Andy Ferguson have created a singular and unique album, founded on the blueprint of classic house, techno, electro and Italo disco: but all the time bearing their unique signature. The duo felt that UK institution Ninja Tune was a perfect fit for them and gave them the total freedom to express themselves artistically, describing the label's broad scope that has, in turn, helped them to thrive. They display a strong technicality and a desire to experiment, but still with a melodic touch which runs throughout the entire record. It is this approach to creativity which has allowed Bicep to establish a unique position in the industry, in the face of a crowded global dance stage.
Review: Polish power duo Catz 'N Dogz of the esteemed Pets recordings imprint take on three dynamic tracks from Will Saul's equally credible Aus Music and deliver their take. They certainly had their work cut out for them, but they deliver as always. Take for instance their booming, rusty and downright dusty rendition of "Geeeman's "Wanna Go Bang", their emotive deep electro version of Irish duo Bicep's "The Game" and of course their edit of ManMakeMusic head honcho George Fitzgerald's "Hindsight" where they get into some old school Relief Records style hard house business. All in all some very good tracks by Szczecin's favourite sons!?
Review: !K7 Records launches a new compilation series entitled Kollections: Club which inaugurates the project. The tracklist features artists of the partner labels under the !K7 umbrella such as Turbo, AUS Music, Mobilee, Mister Saturday Night and Hypercolour. Each edition explores a different musical theme but this first installment, naturally, is all about the club! Highlights here include Midland's recent hit "Blush", Maya Jane Coles' funky afterhours tech house jam "Not Listening" (from a few years ago), KiNK's roaring remix of Kerrier District's (Luke Vibert) "Techno Disco" and Lauer's recent feelgood number "Killian" showing off his knack for classic retro vibes like no other.