Review: With an extensive repertoire that includes breaks, house and techno, Sam Binga's switch to future jungle rhythms has spawned some of his honest, his most exciting and his heaviest tracks to date. Sitting in the same unclassifiable field as Om Unit and Fracture, his productions wobble, writhe and punch sweetly around the 160/80 axis and feature a wealth of killer vocalists such as Warrior Queen, Rider Shafique and Romaine. Part dancehall, part jungle, part mongrel bass, Sam's skills are showcased succinctly across Wasted Days with a consistency that ensures the album experience is just as hard hitting as the individual tracks hit the floor. Get wasted.
Review: Given his status as one of drum and bass's true heavyweights; you'd expect this eighth Calibre full-length to be one of the most hotly anticipated jungle sets of the year. Certainly, it's a fine effort, packed with emotion-rich atmospherics, fizzing rhythms and intricate, occasional beautiful, musical touches. He seems to be at his best when concentrating on musicality, as the delightful "Close To Me', soulful "Wilderness" and summery "Do Not Turn On" prove. There are, of course, rawer moments (see the tech-tinged "Simple Things" and dubstep flex of "Start Again"), but these don't hit nearly as hard as his effortlessly soulful compositions.
Review: Mainly famed for his startlingly sparse, soulful grooves, here Calibre reminds us of the badman he keeps locked up within his creative mind. The slinky, menacing "Start Again" is one of the highlights of his recent album Spill; all paranoid and cinematic, the half-tempo groove is the perfect bed for Chimpo's distinctive, demonic spittage. In a classic VIP flip-switch manoeuvre, the remix takes us back to the mid '90s with a spiralling, tunnel-like bassline, classic rattling breakbeats and some added 'whoo's for good measure. Naturally Chimpo's vocal works equally as well over this type of lick. In fact if you didn't know any better you'd think he wrote it for the VIP in the first place.
Review: Manchester is a truly wonderful city, with a musical heritage that swamps the majority of other cities around the UK historically. In recent years we have seen that shift much more towards electronic and rap-based music with a fantastic pool of performers emerging, but being real, Chimpo is no newcomer. The veteran producer and vocalist lands here for yet another fabulous album release under the title of 'HIA', seeing him explore a wide variety of musical styles and themes. Chimpo's versatility and consistency is what has given him his Mount Rushmore status within Manchester's musical history and that is clear throughout this project, from the grimey squarewaves of 'Up The Wall' alongside Slay, through to the funk-inspired instrumental structure of 'Nothing Good' with Rolla and UKG flips of 'Like I Luv U'. It is yet another fantastic showcase of Chimpo's numerous avenues of ability, with our highlight being the exciting vocal switch ups and minimal instrumental structure of 'Oh Your Goodness'. Amazing work!
Review: Barely Legal invites the man-like Chimpo over to Pretty Weird towers for some all-out jungle-stepping fun. A wry head-nod to Bristol cavalier DJ Die, it's all about the skipped-out breaks, time-stretched washes and dextrous arpeggios. The remix is just as important as UKG pioneer El-B goes into Ghost flipmode for a superb dark garage fix. Spoilt for choice; there's nothing weird about it.
Review: Chimpo on Exit. Is the world ready for this? Probably not. But since when did that stop guys like these? Especially with Trigga and Fox going toe-to-toe on the motorway-shredding rampage session "Ram Dance Man". Elsewhere "Bedsprings Riddim" warms up with sultry, jazzy come-to-bed tones before dropping into squeaky dancehall hanky-panky dopeness, "Suga Rush" has a touch of the old schools to its pads, breaks and pitched up vocal sample while "Stanna Stairlift" eases us into the groove with soft goosebump pads before dropping into some broad canvas stroke breaks which wouldn't have gone amiss on an old Big Bud record. Magnificent.
Review: The man behind the deepest MC voice the UK has ever known, Chimpo also runs a very fine line in beats. He's nowhere near as prolific as he should be. But when he does start the engine up, it purrs like a Bugatti. The turbo-charged footwork-meets-jungle "Restless Leg Syndrome" drives like one too. Deeper into the release we strike swaggering, waspy halfstep gold on "Haymaker", we get dangerous on the stark, spacious almost trap-like title track, we hit tribal insanity on the loopy vocal-coated "Bun It" and trippy insanity on the wonked-out, weirded-up "Dumb". Out, bad and essential.
Review: Not seen since his debut album Machines was released on Critical in late 2012, St Petersburg's best drum and bass exponent Enei resurfaces in double plated fashion with the Liberation EP. Despite the absence, Aleksei Egorchenkov is on fine form for Critical here, experimenting with new tempos and new collaborators without any hint of sacrificing his skills for raw, next level drum and bass. Fellow Critical producer Emperor, Mancunian vocalist and producer Chimpo and singer songwriter Sam Wills feature across the two slabs of wax, with the tempo shifting "Headtop" featuring Chimpo a standout track.
Review: Fracture create some of the most experimental drum and bass out there, so bringing forward their dancehall-eclectic-inspired sounds with the help of Mancunian producer Chimpo was only going to create disturbances of the best kind within the scene. "From Early" takes the Fracture dancehall sound to the next level but it's in "Hard Food" that the rave and hardcore madness kicks in and things start getting a little wavy from there on in. To tidy up, "From Early" gets a reduction mix from Fracture, stripping back the shimmying and getting right down to the bare, bassy bones. A legendary collaboration in the making.
Various - "Future:Dubstep:04" (continuous DJ mix by MRK1) - (1:17:22) 140 BPM
Review: An enormous 29 track selection of future dubstep faves new and old and perhaps some undiscovered beauties in there too from names like Stenchman, Cotti & Crazy D and more, all bound up nicely with a continuous DJ mix by MRK1. There's a fab blend of driving synth workouts (see "Life Turned Up Loud" or "Broken Box"), dubbed out basslines a la the Hatcha & Lost remix of RMS - "Cold", with some heavy moments (Trowa - "Black Pyramid") and quirky cuts like Stenchman's "Purple Cow". All in all, a comprehensive compilation which ticks all the boxes.
Review: Two of drum & bass' most creative producers are teaming up on Critical, a label which never shies away from innovation, to bring you an EP inflected with multi-genre tonalities. The pair have made their name in everything from grime to garage to halftime to drum & bass, and its this legacy that's on full display across all four tracks on Ultra Luxe. The title track is peppered with synth wave textures and grungy aesthetics and it lopes along in punchy two-step rhythms, with escalating melodies that swell into serious atmospheric suspense. 'Rude AF' is the rattling jungle roller, a sub-heavy exercise in rudeboy sonics, whilst 'Murda Dem' brings the harsh tones of Slay to bear on another clubland monster. Oh yes.
Review: Jungle Cakes always tend to put out music that rests on the foundations of UK underground, the cross-over influences of soul, reggae, jungle and D&B. it's always a fresh sound and it always brings up connotations of Boomtown, free parties and sunny afternoons. This is a monster album curated by Aries and Kelvin 373, who have taken tracks both old and new to form a banging compilation. Bou nails it on 'Music Takes Me Higher', a rustic revisit to classic jungle sounds; Aries and Nicky Blackmarket roll things out in a tight way on 'Champion'; and Chimpo slams the brakes on 'DidDieDoThat'. We don't know the answer to that, but we do know this is fat. Big ups.
Various - "Hospital Mixtape: Fred V & Grafix" (continuous mix) - (1:04:04) 175 BPM
Review: It must be summer! Hospital Records get the British heatwave season cracking with a brand new whopper-length mixtape, this time from the label's own Fred V & Grafix. The sheer number of quality names clambering all over this tracklist gives the release some weight even before it begins, but then again it's hard to see people like S.P.Y, Lynx, Ivy Lab, Urbandawn, Etherwood, Bungle and Cynatific without getting a touch of the vapours. Look out also for the stunning Logistics remix of Andreya Triana's "Lullaby".
Review: Entitled simply Grime 2.0, this mammoth release sees grime originators sit next to a new breed of artists, all compiled by Big Dada label boss Will Ashon and journalist Joe Muggs. Documenting grime's continued development over the past ten years, its track selections also demonstrate that it's still a vibrant and flourishing genre. Some 35 tracks deep, the compilation sees Ashon and Muggs securing exclusive, previously unheard material, with notable grime figureheads such as Youngstar, Wiley and MRK1 contributing alongside current stars in Royal T and Preditah as well as an international cast of emergent new talent, with Local Action artist and Grimetapes documenter Slackk featuring too. Essential!