Review: 21 years young: Ed Rush's seminal "Skylab" EP for Headz gets a timely remaster. Not that it needed much; Ed has always way ahead of the curve in terms of space, weight, vision, vibe. Shucks, he and Optical were ahead of everyone in terms of everything during this era. "Skylab" is a creeped-out, echo-clanging classic that just rolls out so well - understated yet danker than a banker, it's a ground breaking piece of work to this day. Elsewhere "Density" is a beautifully barbed jazz stepper with so much drum variation you keep having to check you're still on the same tune while cult-classic "The Raven" still prickles your skin at 50 paces with its paranoid creepy decaying stabs and that jaw-breaking rough, grainy bassline. Timeless.
Review: A brand new single on a brand new label from one of drum & bass's most respected originators. "Scarabs" is a filthy slice of slamming hammeration; all distorted bass textures garnished with psychedelic soars and tones, it gradually builds into a tech-step future anthem. "Boxcar" is a more driving affair thanks to great use of subtle but effective female vocal. Watch out for the F1 Reece basses on the fills - blink and you'll miss them. Strap up tightly.
Review: Twenty years old and still powerful enough to power a large hamlet/flatten a small town (delete depending on mood), in 1995 Ed Rush and No U-Turn engineer Nico created a benchmark jungle document. Utilising gangster rap samples (rather than the long-favoured ragga vocals that were common place at the time) and more emphasis on the reese than the dubby subs, "Guncheck" helped jungle and drum & bass write a new chapter that would eventually split into the Urban Takeover-style funky jump up and the harder techy D&B that Ed Rush (and of course Optical) would make their own. History lesson over: this still bangs hard. Reload.
Review: Yes: Ed Rush & Optical are still at it, almost twenty years on. The drum and bass vanguards still have it too, executing their darkside futurism and bass science on the underground. The sick laboratory experiments are documented in all their perverse glory on No Cure, their sixth album on their very own Virus Recordings imprint. The title track (featuring the rhyming talents of longstanding collaborator Rhymetyme) comes tearing out of the speakers like a dark horse galloping through the dark. The jittery "Falling Down Stairs" trips all over itself but with such grace; its breakbeat finding itself and locking together again with the bass eventually. But if you ask us, it's all about tracks "Angry Birds" and "Nemesis", true steppers which nail that classic Virus sound that still sounds as fresh as ever. Ed Rush & Optical: accept no substitute.
Review: This V recording re-release is more than a little bit special. "Funktion" has been a sonic benchmark for D&B producers since the days of pirate radio and cassettes; totally encapsulating the sound of a specific moment in time and yet somehow managing to still sound fresh and s exciting as it ever was, Ed Rush & Optical's classic roller is a must-own for any self-respecting producer, bedroom DJ or casual drum and bass fan. Created at a time when their Virus sound was still being honed, as they went on to transform D&B, they proved conclusively to be two of the most important people in the genre. This release isn't optional - it's essential.
Optical - "What's The Difference?" - (6:56) 56 BPM
Ed Rush - "Medicine" (Matrix remix) - (6:10) 169 BPM
Review: What's the difference between a killer and one of us? We'll tell you; killers produce genre-defining weapons that are still in demand over 20 years later. Rated as one of Optical's best long lost dubs, "What's The Difference?" has such a perfect balance of shades and textures; at once disarmingly deep and brutally heavy it remains in a league of its own. Matrix's timeless remix of another chapter-galvanising era tune follows suit with a brand new remaster. Still as iced-out and pranged as it was in 98, this is a straight up history lesson of the future... And always will be.
Review: A banger from 2003, this classic gets a huge rerub from London producer Prolix on Ed & Optical's Virus label. Already on top form after his Scourge EP, his take on "Get Ill" is just what the doctor ordered - a huge and hectic killer that adds gliding synths by the bucket load to make it an absolute destroyer. Backed up by the Dyke and the Blazers-sampling "40 Channels of Funk", this is yet another essential slice of Virus.
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: 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!