Review: One of the scene's most reliable beatmakers Foreign Concept returns to Critical Music with his most accomplished work yet. The Make Meals EP is, by his own account, a fresh approach to D&B, featuring explorations into more diverse and dynamic sounds. It's truly fantastic to hear someone who was a promising new artist take the huge strides necessary to become a voice to be reckoned with. Taking huge chunks of influence from hip hop in "Make Meals" and the darker side of electronica for tracks like the sublimely skewed "Ask Yourself", it's a real insight into Foreign Concept's creative world. You can hear what makes him tick in here; you can also hear that each track has had a real focus. He's not just into making heads nod now, he's got purpose.
Review: Russian D&B supremo Enei returns with his first full EP since his epic debut album Machines in late 2012. As you'd expect, it's yet another masterclass in solid rhythm and industrial strength sound design. "Goliath" opens the ceremony with a distinctive sermon from MC-du-jour DRS. As the title suggests, it's majestically monolithic. Further in we're bombarded with demonstrative dynamics; the techno-like loopiness of "Hotplate", the dramatic, rim-shot-striking tantalisation on "The Artefact" and the slimy, sludgy half-time twists on "Prometheus". Will Enei ever make a bad record? We somehow doubt it. Get to know.
Review: V Recordings do some of the best compilations in the business and their brand new Foundation series is a natural recognition of that fact. They're not being hyperbolic with the usage of the term 'Foundation' either, because this is truly an overview of some of the scene's most foundational producers. Old-school Dillinja, Krust, Roni Size and DJ Die, amongst others, make up the roster of acts that formed an integral part of the genre back in the day. The new crew is also represented, however, in the form of L-Side, Think Tonk, Nasza Linez and loads more, all of whom bring some of that V-style heat. Wicked album - one for the heads.
Review: Ahead of his highly-anticipated album Carnal Mind next month, Sao Paulo vibe conjurer L-Side teams up with DRS for a hurricane soul romp with the one and only DRS. A deep driving piece with psychedelic synths whipping up and around Delroy's delicious dulcets underpinned by gurgling, warping bass, this is an open and shut case for chopping and indeed severing. Bring on the album!
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: 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: Fresh from the massive "Missing You" with LSB, DRS returns to his first artist release since his album Mid Mic Crisis. On a serious mission to spread positivity amid the scary climate, "I Will" is undiluted soul vocally, and musically as Patife dusts off the ivories with finesse. "Your Name" unplugs for an acoustic barbed tale from Skittles while "Sin" brings us back up to drum & bass with Utah Jazz laying down true drama in the groove. Finally Calibre creeps into the fray with a funk groove that's almost jaunty in its swing and dubbed guitar echoes. DRS respectfully joins in mid-way, really letting Dominck's groove settle in deep. Untouchable.
Review: Magic happens when Calibre and DRS collide. Both masters of space, imagery and story telling; they complement each other so well. Especially here... The piano-massaging "Sunrise" is the light from the dark as the pair make sense of the night before and capture the essence of a brand new day. Meanwhile on "Broken Wings" we're taken right back to Swerve with a subtle velvet disco hook that rises softly while DRS puts down one of the most important messages since "Angels Fall": we need to work together for this to work. Calls for unity don't come with much more authenticity.
Review: DRS working with Enei and LSB was music to our ears before we even heard the track. Drop Tyler Daley's blistering vocals into the mix too and you've got yourself a release that's 100 per cent drum and bass purity. "The View" starts things on a euphoric high with LSB rolling out those lush vibes he does so well. Tyler adds his vocals and what results is a cinematic love story played out at 170bpm. Enei prefers things strictly dark so when "Count To Ten" starts its militant march it's evident there's no escape. Abstract, tribal and earth-shatteringly heavy, DRS whips up the mood with agile aggression. Two tracks, two worlds. Choose carefully.
Review: While no D&B album is complete without at least one DRS-fronted banger, these are the Manchester MC's first solo outings since his 2012 earthquake-inducing album I Don't Usually Like MCs. With Jubei and Marcus Intalex on production duties, you already know this is going to bang... "The Puppeteer" is a vicious, late night shredder spiked with sharp-tongued lyrics and even sharper bass. "Emergency", meanwhile, is a skank-factored bouncer over which DRS shows he can sing just as well as he can spit. Looks like album number two is well en route... Bring it.
Review: Oh boy, The North Quarter label is back in action and they mean business as usual with this Lenzman remix of "Still Standing" by Children Of Zeus. Remember Jenna G and her beautiful liquid strain of drum & bass back in the mid 2000s? Well, this tune is of that disposition, and we've been missing this kind of contemporary jungle form our charts. The breaks are fast, dusty but gentle at the same time, and DRS' lyrics float ever so well with the percussion and bass, but it's their fusion with Children Of Zeus' singing that really pleases us. A deep and cerebral d&b bombshell.
Review: The latest release on LSB's label is finally here and it's worth the wait. Anile's famously stripped back, creative sounds are laid out over four tracks that span a characteristically wide range of speeds and styles. From the rolling soul of Constant Reminder to the guttural bass rattles of Riggers, this is a wicked EP that shows off exactly why Anile is considered one of the most talented producers in the game. It's the first release on Footnotes from an artist that isn't LSB, and it certainly doesn't disappoint.
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: Not to be confused with the Manchester MC DRS, D.R.S are Da Real Sound, old rave legends who've recently reformed for a whole new breakbeat chapter. Taking an old 1990 dub and giving it a full 2018 coat of jungle armor, both the vocal and heavier, drum-focused takes on "Party Time" live up to the name with precision soul. We're excited to see what this comeback crew deliver next!
Review: There are super-collabo and then there are genuinely epic hook-ups like this. Plasma bossman Safire and MC/poet/soulman extraordinaire DRS are the consistent figures across both tracks as two of the best producers in the game join in for each piece. Skeppy takes the lead with the purring, deep breath creeper "With You". The ideal glacial bed for Del's cold bars, if you're not goosebumping to this there's something wrong with your soul. Similarly, if you're not swooning in good vibrations to "Set The Bar" - this time with absolute OG Zed Bias joining them on dials - then you should call a doctor ASAP. What a release.
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.
Falling For You (feat Dogger/Mindstate) - (3:27) 59 BPM
Review: Space Cadet 002 is DRS' first release on his brand new record label of the same name, and it's absolutely gorgeous. For the release he's roped in GLXY, Skeptical, Artificial Intelligence and Dogger & Mindstate, so the line-up is unsurprisingly star-studded. GLXY's 'Rain Dance' combines delicate piano touches with a melancholic sense of forward-movement, a rainy-day tune that'll have you staring out the window. 'Overdose' is the heavier cut of the bunch, with expert precision on the back end from the Integral Records duo that pairs perfectly with the more menacing side to DRS' lyrical ability. The other two tracks are just as unique, rounding off a quality EP from one of the best MCs in the game.