Review: One of the best liquid drum & bass albums ever made is being reworked by a star-studded cast of drum & bass' biggest hitters. What more could you want? It's LSB & DRS of course, and the pair's Blue Hour album from the back end of 2019 - a gorgeously organic, musical release - has been taken up a notch into true 174 territory. Calibre has two features and it's his remix of 'Frozen' that really shines through, and the original's strings make for an ideal Calibre canvas; whispering atmospheres, sumptuously deep basslines and elegant simplicity. On the other end of the spectrum, FD flips fan-favourite and jazz-icon 'Letting Go' into a riot of funk-infused fun, as a wobbling bassline underpins DRS' superbly soulful vocal performance. What would this album be without a spot for Break, and the Bristol man's remix of 'High As She' flips one of the original's best non-174 offerings into a pure, blissful roller that's summer in a bottle. Unreal stuff from some of the best in the game.
Review: DRS is back on his own Space Cadet imprint with a six-track collection of absolute beauties. Its DRS at his liquid-lounging best and he's recruited an all-star collection of artists to help him out, including Mindstate, Maverick Sabre, Vangeliez, Redeyes - the list goes on. We're especially taken by HMD and Redeyes' 'Cinnamon Roses', which takes a sultry, new-school hip-hop vocal line and stretches it out into a bouncing, funky and trendy liquid cut. There are floaty piano riffs on 'Us', darker touches on 'Running Back', and soaring soul on 'Save Me Now'. That's just the beginning of the Light Language, and with this album DRS is showing us all once more that he's the most diverse, wide-ranging MC in drum & bass. Legendary.
Review: Preceding the release of Calibre's so called 'first bona fide 140 BPM record' is two choice remixes that Signature have commissioned from legendary Berlin producer Mark Ernestus. Popularly characterised for his role in Basic Channel, Ernestus' dubwise remixes are only rivaled Chain Reaction's DJ Pete (aka Substance). Delving deep into the art of the saw wave, "Badder" sees swells of holographic synths float in the ambient textures of Calibre's original groove while occasionally buffered by light, skipping tops. "Bad", just the same only simmered down, allows its drums to cut through in a way that doesn't distract from its cavernous sound.
Review: Hospital's newest dynamic duo finally have their long-awaited album coming next week, and with Playing In The Dark the pair have exceeded all expectations. This LP moves across dub-influenced bounce, breaksy hip-hop sounds, soulful liquid and straight dancefloor heat. It's a palette befitting the history of both MCs and the range of producers they've roped in is unsurprisingly impressive, with LSB, Calibre, Diemantle, S.P.Y, Chimpo and more all stepping up. Calibre has two contributions, including a vibrant junglist cut, but Villem & Bcee's 'Playing In The Dark' might be the most memorable and we challenge any of you not to bop to this absurdly infectious tune. 'Tectonic Plates' by Diemantle is another absolute stomper, as the breaks-focused duo bring their cross-genre appeal with full throttle and birth a concotion of pounding subs and stepping, inch-perfect drums. This is a truly sensational album.
Review: LSB and DRS: combos don't come any stronger than this! We already know this from incredible tracks like "The View" and "New Day" but The Blue Hour is a whole other level of their soulful prowess. Jazzy, smoky, thoughtful and blues to its very core, there's a musicality and spirit to this album that transcends any genre thanks to both Del's disarming lyrics and barbed charm and Luke's natural soulmanship and sense of groove. From the smoke-stacked horn-based dream "Umbrellas" to stunning cosmic risers like "Keep The Time" and "Could Be" and to every other planet that orbits in between, this is one of the best albums in the D&B sphere this year. We will look back on this as a timeless classic. Essential.
Review: Critical Impact lives up to his name once again with two big MC cuts that have been doing the rounds for the big boys on dub for a while. "Crazy" brings a little Manchester heat as DRS digs deep into his complexities for a unique chorus hook and class A spitfire bars over an almighty, skin-melting Critical Impact drone bass. "Far Away" flips the vibe for something a lot more soul soothing as Fats does his dreamy dulcet thing over a purring subtly jazz-tinged roll out. Crazy good.
Review: DRS will be known to many as the voice of countless productions from the likes of dBridge, Alix Perez and LTJ Bukem, but here the Manchester MC (real name Delroy Pottinger) shows a different side to his musical character as he brings us a full album's worth of introspective, soul-drenched hip-hop. The album was inspired in part by the loss of close friend Marcus Intalex, and it shows on tracks like 'Clipping My Wings', 'A Little Too Much' and 'Serial Escapist', which see the mic veteran musing on his fatigue and frustration of the daily urban grind atop beats from producer Pitch92 that never push beyond the midtempo mark.