Review: Enei's evolution over the last year or two has immense and the Russian producer has combined the techy side of things with the jumpier bits better than anyone else, a stylistic blend that he puts to perfect use in this five-tracker. Regular partner in crime Jakes steps up for 'Master Key', and his typically menacing vocal work adds edge to an already jagged instrumental, one which rattles through double bass notes and withering, stabbing percussive touches. It's a proper dancefloor cut constructed for the reopening of gigs, and this attitude spreads across the entire release; from the moody steps of 'Ignit', to the bouncing shards of 'Dirty' and the jump-up infused murderation of 'Lucid' The master is back.
Review: As if his "Divided Mode" EP wasn't quite enough dark fire for us this year, OG Critical fam Enei comes correct with another multi-track blast up. "Sinking" takes the lead on a mean techno tip as thundering 4x4s do all the driving as Enei plunges us deep into his alien bass pool. Deeper into the EP we hit pure techy roller territory on the pranged-out "Ghost Boat" while "Get Closer" reminds us of the Russian's more emotional side as he leaves heaps of space for singer-of-the-moment Charli Brix to purr pure dulcet velvet into the mix. Finally "Dark Move" shuts down the shop on a mean, gritty, stripped-back minimal one. Watch out of the creaky, creepy off-beat cascades midway... The devil always makes the darkest moves.
Review: It's that time of year again! The scene's longest-standing platform Drum&BassArena step up with their annual flagship album and once again it's a fitting salute to all corners, all shades and all styles of the rich, wide scene. 60 tracks deep comprising absolute bangers and bliss-outs from the likes of Chase & Status, Noisia & Phace, K-Motionz, Rockwell, DJ Hybrid, GLXY and Seba, it's also home to exclusives from Kyrist, Brookes Brothers, Bou & Simula, Kanina, Kove and A.M.C & Turno. From jungle to jump-up, liquid to dancefloor and complete with three killer mixes for life when you're not practicing your double/triple/quadruple drops, Drum&BassArena continue to celebrate the widest possible scene.
Review: Hospital Records do compilations better than most, partly because there's always something for them to celebrate. This time around it's the second year of Hospitality in the Beach, their new 4 day exercise in beach-based beats, featuring some of the best artists in the game. A huge album, the LP has 33 tracks - 25 of which are brand spanking new. Whiney's remix of Etherwood's 'Begin By Letting Go' is a highlight, the original's smoothness roughly transformed into a pummelling display of techy force. With Bou, Kasra, BOP and others making an appearance, this LP has all bases covered.
Review: Kerching! Hyroglifics returns to the mighty Critical and he's paying out major dividends. Four tracks in weight, a million flavours in scope and width, it's another crucially on-point collection. "Cash Out" is a halftime hurter of sickening proportions, "Never Tell Me" sees him teaming up with fellow Critical family member Enei for a proper chainsaw riff stepper, "Unconditional" reminds us of Hyroglifics' most soulful tendencies with lush breezy, misty atmospherics while "Empty Life" closes with a bit of stinky bassline hurrah. Get your wads out.
Review: 2018 is the second year in a row that Critical Music dropped a surprise release for us on Christmas Day, 2017 seeing the Modified Sonics album full of VIPs and exclusive remixes. New Energy Vol.1, however, is a totally different deal and that's because it's 18 brand new, exclusive tunes from those deep inside the Critical camp and those just entering it. The whole roster is represented: Kasra, Enei, Mefjus, Emperor, Foreign Concept, The Upbeats - and so on. But, excitingly, there's new talent in the form of Bou, Synth Ethics, Simula, Kanine and more. Mefjus' remix of 'Projections' arguably takes the cake as the best tune on here - absolute murderation. This is Critical's statement of intent for 2019.
Review: Well well well... What a way to kick off a new year: Modified Sonics sees the entire Critical troop go to town on each other's work and celebrate the label's 15+ year contribution to the game. No stone unturned, no shoe unthrown; from long-demanded VIPs such as Emperor's sharp update on "Infrasound" and Mefjus's VIP of "Disrupted" come well-deserved re-ups of classics such as Binga's fuzzy take on Serum & Bladerunner's "Who Jah Bless", Benny L's gut-troubling twist of Enei's "Mosquito" and a crucial twist of Rockwell's breakthrough gamechanger "Underpass" from none other than Perez. With loads more dopeness from the likes of QZB, Hyroglifics, Klax and many more, this is one of the best V/A albums Critical have ever put together. Essential.
Review: Double trouble: Riya's critically received debut album from summer 2015 enjoys a deluxe twist with double the amount of tracks on. As well as the album itself there are 13 fresh cuts including new originals such as the Gill Scott-style street soul pieces with Maverick Soul "Bittersweet" and "We Belong", the perfect piano-powered gospel roller "Everything" and the grizzly, groaning techy roller "Silhouette". Killer new remixes such as Pola & Bryson's subby switch of "Lost Friends", Break's spotless drums on "Confessions" xxx . Plus a few floor-melting VIPs: the relentless bass pump of "Fear Bites" and the cosmic touches to "Wears Me Down". Deluxe and demonstrative - this is a great addition to an already remarkable album.
Review: St Petersburg drum and bass producer presents us with his fourth album of high tech engineered drum and bass, guaranteed to deliver some serious future shock. There's some real dystopian themes overshadowing this album, but Aleksei Ergachevnov has the right knack for sound design to pull of the concept and album as a whole. There's some undeniable influences from some of the masters of the craft, such as Ed Rush and Optical and Peshay, but he's definitely representing the new garde of breakbeat science pretty damn well. Highlights include the subterranean sonar transmissions of "Iron Curtain", the jazzy liquid breaks of "Moment Of Now (feat Frank Carter III", the evil futurist minimalism of "Just One Look (Feat. Charli Brix)" and the peak time destroyer "Between The Split". One for the heads.
Review: Following their Fast Soul and Fast Jungle compendiums, Hospital plunder their vaults for the darkest, most physical rave sounds in their repertoire. The result is a 46-strong collection of heads-down, dark room tracks designed solely for those 3am moments when the lights are either blue, green or not on at all and someone's busted the smoke machine button so it's set on permanent blast. Going right back to the early zeroes with tracks such as Photek's remix of London Elekricity and High Contrast's "Yesterday's Colours" the collection is a reminder of how vast Hospital's sounds and artist roster is. From Dub Phizix's remix of Netsky to a rare D&B outing from DJ Madd plus Enei, Commix, Stray and many more, this is the best collection in Hospital's fast serious so far.
Review: Not just one of drum & bass's most iconic female vocalists, but also one of the most respected... Riya's work behind the scenes goes back around 15 years. As a result she's got serious reference points, a genuine understanding of proper drum & bass and a really impressive debut album that features some of the best names in D&B. Ranging from the sci-fi soars and twinkling synths of "Misunderstanding" to the out-and-out gutter slaps of "Piece Of Me" via the soul jazz jungle lushness of "Don't You Know" and the already massive lighter-raiser "As Soon As". Released at a time when a lot of female features are popping up in D&B for all the wrong reasons, Riya is the real deal... And so is this album.
Review: A king selector and respected label director first and foremost, Critical bossman Kasra doesn't dish out sonic sermons very often. But when he does, it's always worth paying attention. Especially when Russian demon Enei is on board, too. Five tracks in total, we range from the swampy half time sludge of "Inside The Box" to the early Metalheadz ice and depth plunge breaks of "Words" via the peaktime heads down stepper "Arcana". The real highlight, though, is "Overthinking". Haunted pianos, ghostly breakbeat flickers and paranoid poetry from everyone's favourite MC, DRS, this is up there with "Count To 10". Yeah, it's that good.