Review: One for the real junglists out there: Drum&Bass Arena are honoured to welcome legend of the scene Digital who teams up with rising Sheffield-based producer Charla Green for the label's 25th anniversary series with two heavyweight tracks. Very much on the liquid tip, the spellbinding "On The Grind" is an expression in covert breakbeat intelligence that is reminiscent of classic the more detailed and complex sonic expressions from the turn of the millenium, while "Stylee" is a throwback to the jungle heyday of the mid '90s and will step you into a frenzy with its furious Amen riddims.
Review: Two of the scene's most established producers and a pair for whom Metalheadz is a familiar friend, John B & Digital are back on the label with a joint single. This one is proper business and although the elements used are basic, the results are spectacular and prove once more that vibey drum & bass is best left simple, raw and full of energy. That description aptly describes the B-side to this, as Digital and John roll things out amidst a flurry of hats and snares, topped off by an archetypal bassline that stretches its legs in satisfying fashion. The A-side is almost liquid in its lounging atmosphere, but it too has a naughty kick to it that reminds you just what label you're on. Superb.
Review: Digital & Outrage, both of whom are in possession of long-term jungle pedigrees, are landing on Headz with an absolutely classic release, one which takes the rough jungle history of the label and retains all the best bits whilst stretching it over a modern, up to date framework. The title tune is the standout, as filtered breaks ooze class through its eerie, suspenseful introductory soundscapes; it's the calm before the storm, and the drop unleashes a thunderous array of sub-heavy basslines and stepping breaks, an instant bass-face tune. 'Reunion' rolls out the breaks in a manner reminiscent of Mikal or the late Andy Skopes, and 'Diligence' is just pure flames. Absolutely top class.
Review: Artists don't get much more legendary than Digital, who has been doing his relentlessly excellent thing for twenty odd years now. That experience and heritage is viscerally present on this three-tracker, as Digital shows all the young uns' how to make an EP that crosss genre divides whilst still staying true to a central, core production philosophy. 'Junglist Soldier' is the upbeat, light-hearted track of the three, as sumptuous breaks underpin a floating ragga vocal. 'Hijacked' is a downtempo number that doesn't sacrifice anything in terms of heft, and it progresses in delightful fashion amidst sweeping low frequencies and eerie synths. The final tune is a roller, keeping up the diversity with an interesting structure and tumbling acid synths placed above its sound system bassline. Classic brilliance.
Review: The one and only Digital celebrates his label's 50th release with this incredible V/A collection featuring some of the most important names and artists in the movement. Calibre, Klute, Kiljoy, Need For Mirrors, Drumsound & Bassline Smith and many more all feature on the album, ensure the Function signature broadsword, open-armed sound remains as developed and varied as it's known for being. Highlights include Calibre & Jet Li's drum-heavy drama stepper "Least Loved", the unabashed bashment of Digital's own "Dub Conscious", Seba & Jr Vallo's epic growler "Wasabi", DJ Trace's wild breakbeat ruckus "Spirits" and Klute's insane "Sick Of It All". These are just examples of a completely killer collection with no filler whatsoever... All contrasts, shades, styles and energies, Digital doesn't not mess around!
Review: Lion Dub have reached a decade of activity. A decade! To put it in perspective, if someone was born the year Liondub started, they're about to enter high school/secondary school. It's a crazy achievement and one matched by the craziness of the music they have on offer to celebrate, a four-part journey through their past, present and future. This instalment is all about their past and it's exemplified best by Serum's VIP of Sound The Alarm, a Liondub classic, which Serum has flipped into a characteristically badboy, stabbing little roller. The vocals float above in a haze of reggae smoke, whilst the beat pulsates below. Awesome stuff.
Abducted (Digital's Is This A Dream remix) - (5:18) 57 BPM
Review: Blimey! As if Digital's originals aren't heavy enough, here come some absolutely flaming versions. "Waterhouse Dub" gets a savage tonking from Kiljoy that flips the breaks but retains all focus on that iconic riff of the original. US genre-flexers Sight Unseen take "Strictly DnB" to some dark, disturbing places behind those big warm horns while the main man himself takes on his own "Abducted" with a stark stripped back steppy feel that gives the bellowing subs. No one does it like Digital, right down to the remixers he gets on board. Massive.
Digital & Keygenlog - "Too Late Again" - (6:03) 58 BPM
Digital & Gremlinz - "Low Battery" - (6:14) 174 BPM
Digital & Sight Unseen - "Out Of Control" - (6:23) 174 BPM
Digital - "Bitter Switch" - (5:41) 174 BPM
Review: Digital returns this week to the seminal Function Records, an old-school imprint with old-school credentials an old-school lineup yet new-school freshness. Digital is of course the man of the moment and he's teamed up with some of his most talented friends for Mental State, an EP which means business. 'Too Long Again' featuring Keygenlog is knock-down jungle that seriously smacks, a gravelly, monochromatic back end adding the weight to a set of naughty jungle breaks. The other cuts are all more fantastic jungle, proper jungle and jungle which resonates in a manner that's deeply urban and which strikes at the core of the genre. Unmissable.
Review: The mighty Digital steps forward with two stunning slabs of sound system science. "Strictly DNB" lashes and splashes with such a bright, energetic amen you'll swear you'll never miss another sermon at your local church ever again. Loaded with vibrant dub skanks, if you've caught any of his recent sets, you'll know how much this kicks off. Flip for "Time Out". A bubbling dub odyssey rolling at halftime tempo, it's Digital showing his roots and more reflective side with rich, precision sonic science. Pure class.
Review: Soundsystem professor Digital maintains his spotless flow this year with another dynamite 12" on his own Function imprint. "Rejection" should be known to all - a powerful roller that's soundtracked many a Rupture gets a drum rework and added energy from the man himself before we drop into two versions of "Water Bucket". The original is a 140 vibe with classic dub waves and ripples, lush horns, toxic subs and a militant stomp while the drum & bass remix ups the energy with some turbine amens and a drone bass that squeezes your inner ears with insistency. Classic Digital.
Red Letter (Rene LaVice's Insufficient Funds mix) - (4:36) 174 BPM
Indijah - (4:57) 140 BPM
Digital - "Lo Fi" - (5:00) 140 BPM
Digital - "Dark Matter" - (3:56) 139 BPM
Review: Calling all dubstep, jungle, drum and bass and 140 BPM bass tribes. This release features the mighty drum and bass legend Digital Steve Jungle, Ram Records wonder boy Rene LaVice, Nurve - Macabre Unit (from the legendary Macabre Unit) and Nomine himself spanning a variety of genres; but one thing is guaranteed here: bass! This is very ambitious project but this label's got some serious style and they are ones to watch for the future.
Review: Reviewed by Klute: Ive been a mate of Steve's since the mid 90s - were both originally from Ipswich so ive been closely following what he's been up to pretty much from day one. What i love most about Steve is hes trod his own path and always been willing to give anything a try and made some of the best tunes of all time along the way. Hes not precious - a tunes a tune and to me that makes it all very real. He's always been massively inventive and can come straight out of the left field with some mad whacked out ideas. Majorly influential. Anyways, its good to see him back on Headz with a nice EP. SunBites and Understand are the stand outs here, Sun Bites having been a mainstay in my sets for quite awhile now and it's absolutely superb, reminding me of some mid 90s Bukem type vibes. Big up Steve.
Review: When Digital says VIP he means VIP. Each of these cuts smack with some of the finest, fieriest, fizziest dynamics drum & bass can offer: Swift's take on Digital & Drumsound & Bassline Smith's "Bail Out" is an epic jungle monster that will slay from now until 2417 (don't ask us what happens in 2417 - you don't want to know) Benny Page follows with a spaced-out bashy drum set on "Calling" that tips its hat to both Jamaica and Manchester while J:Kenzo does a madness on the cult anthem that is "Daylight Robbery". Finally S.P.Y takes a leaf out of the Roller Bible and writes a whole chapter for "Deadline". Very important.
Review: A time for reflection: Total Science closes down their 20th year of C.I.A case files with another precision reflection over past conquests and gully accomplishments from their collection of labels. Ranging from one of Calibre's first ever cuts (the raffish, wonderfully unkempt "Tempo Dub") and Bad Company's stupendous grime-funk twist on "Champion Sound" to Break's 2012 gritty slapper "Rare Earth" and Digital's life-changing, amen-smashing bassline slammer "No Reality", Spinback and Quiff have dug deep through the ages for some absolute gold here.
Review: Three years have passed since Horizon last rallied up the troops and embarked on a dead-night brain-burgling Dreamthief parade. As always it's an all-star cast with the likes of Amoss, Break, Naibu, Digital, Mikal, Mako, Need For Mirrors and many more cooking up some of their starkest, uncompromised and innovative cuts: the tight conga hypnosis of Breaks "Headway", the turbo piano rolls of Invaderz "Dukes Drift", the sublime cinematic jazz soul of Hydro & War's "Jam", the cascading, twinkling textures of Naibu's "Time Out", the neck-snap amen mechanica of Digital's "Spark Cut"... If this is the soundtrack to our innermost stories being syphoned from our heads at our most vulnerable sleeping states then sign us up and take the lot. Sweet dreams of thieved of this.
Review: Drum&Bass Arena: The longest-standing, and one of the most respected, platforms for all things jungle D&B celebrates an impressive 20 years in the game with this ridiculously hefty document that pays respect to the genre's every twist and turn. From scene-shattering megahits ("Tarantula", "Feel The Love", "Rock It", "Afterglow") to unarguable historical underground scene-smashing megabangers ("Machete", "Aztec", "Nasty Ways", "The View", "Champion Sound", "Turbulence", "Up All Night", "Deadline", Ram Trilogy's remix of "Pacman") by way of tracks that may have slipped under the radar ("Defcom 69", "What's Wrong", "Song For Lovers") the whole album is loaded to the lips with some of the most important records the genre's enjoyed in the last 20 years. Time to get nostalgic, time to fill those holes in your collection, time to educate your dancefloor. Here's to another 20 years!
Review: Digital on Dread... If you're after straight up jungle that's made from the heart and doesn't care for any trends, then you can't ask for any more than this. "Steady Eddie" is all about the rifle snare edits and distorted bass, "Moody Runt" has almost a touch of the Metalheadz with its dark riff and bull-charge amens while "Luv Dub" reminds us of Digital's rootsy foundation. Last but not least we have "Unexplored World" which sucker punches us into amen submission with true jungle timelessness. Few artists are on the same level as this man.
Review: Humanity's deadline soon come; Soundsystem basher and foundation junglist Digital tells it how it is with this storming six track darkness document. Covering his range in diligent, strong-arm detail each cut reminds us of our own greed-riddled mortality. "Crater Face" spits and sizzles with classic Bluenote badness, "Force Field" is space jazz from the year 2157, "Inside The Mind" is the hurricane stepper of the set while the title track takes us on one of his darkest trips of all time, all halftime and truth-mongering. Deeper again we hit the turbo techno of "Far Cry" and more tripped out timeless drum magic on "Abducted/Missing Time". Raw power.
Review: Historical heaviness: Digital & Spirit have relaunched their seminal label Phantom Audio and are about to scatter gun with scene with its remastered back-cat, which has never been released digitally before. We kick off with their launch collaboration "Phantom Force / Backlash". 17 years old and still raw and uncompromised, both cuts still smack of the future. Everything from the drums to the sculpted fear-textures in "Phantom Force" makes every hair stand on your neck while "Backlash" is a quintessential tech step damage session. Unabashed soundsystem business - these will crunch in 17 or 170 years' time.
Review: Following Etherwood and Fred V & Grafix, S.P.Y is the next to step up to the "Hospital Mixtape" series with a walloping 31-track mix of which almost half has never been released before. As you'd expect from the bazillion dollar Brazilian, the range is wide with tendencies to gully. Essential exclusives you'd be an absolute madman not to check include his deep-swing twist on Digital's seminal "Deadline", the insane sub bass slipperiness on Random Movement's incredible "In Space No One Can Hear You Funk" and the "Up All Night" style late 90s slap down with his brother Unreal "Enduro". A proper mix and a previously unobtainable selection that's yours for the taking... What's not to love here?
Review: Synthesis is the fourth Digital album and it might be his most ambitious undertaking yet! The album's sixteen tracks see the UK producer working alongside a swathe of high profile contemporaries. The danger with projects such as this, is the lack of cohesion and binding theme but its clear Digital conceived Synthesis as a display of all that's good in the current scene. Exceptionally well produced and engineered, it's nigh on difficult to pick out a highlight here with the likes of Om Unit, Nomine, Villem, Spirit and the mighty Klute excelling in their bass science explorations alongside Digital. An album to really sink your teeth into.
Review: The mighty Digital introduces a brand new Function off-shoot Function Dubz with a focus on ragga/vocal based jungle. Naturally, it's a hefty launch release: "Zion" is straight out of 1993, all head-twisted amens, crazy-sharp edits and evocative dub vocals. "Bad Bwoy Talk" brings us back to the future on a sleazy bubbly halftime roll and full badman chats from YT and Solo Banton. A full jungle history lesson in two tunes; few artists do it like Digital.