Review: Cementing its position as one of D&B's most essential labels with this round-up of the year's biggest tracks, Shogun Audio has outdone itself. From Rockwell's bafflingly precise electronic meanderings to Icicle's considered approach to minimal bass and drums, Technimatic and Spectrasoul's beautiful synergy of sound and feeling and newcomer Joe Ford's unique slant on experimental soundscaping, this is an unashamedly outgoing collection. Shogun has been running the gauntlet for some time now, focusing all the experimental energies harboured by its own terrifyingly impressive host of signed artists. As always, it's been worth the hard word. An essential release for an exceptional year. Long live Shogun!
Review: It's a biggie: Vienna quartet Fourward deliver their second album and they're not pussyfooting around. Whether they're flexing their fuzzy, gritty muscles (the Jakes-fronted "Bites The Dust", the vortex-ripping bass rolls on "Belly Of The Beast", the twisted mania of "Sequencer") or they're dipping into more experimental pastures (the rolling halftime pumps and textured vocal layers of "Empty Soul", the AI-style future space anthem "Over") or teaming up with another Austrian heavyweight with obscene tech funk (the Mefjus collaboration "Everytime") the whole collection works well in three ways: the dancefloor, your headphones and their position in the premier D&B league.
Review: Fourward, who we've seen collaborate with Austrian duo Body & Soul in the past, steps up for a solo release in anticipation of his album on Citrus. It's souped up, high octane D&B all the way here, as Mindscape takes to the helm for his remix of "Wishes", which is synth-coated, rip-roaring tear out straight up. "Stuck" is a more tech-y number, with ticking breaks, industrial bellows and distorted synth lines all over the place. Approach with caution!
Review: Unstoppable Austrian powerhouse Fourward do the damage once more: "The Storm" sees them teaming up with Friction's MC of choice for a shadowy tear-out that avoids neuro's dramatic dynamics and retains a certain sense of restraint throughout. "Mashed" has a stronger techno feel to it thanks to the use of FX and sonic manipulation as the main riff. Fourward have dropped nothing but unadulterated heaviness since singing to Shogun, this single does well to show more complexity and depth to their output.
Review: The first fruit to be plucked from their highly anticipated debut album Expansion, Austrian four-piece Fourward fine-tune their crafty balance of tech grit and digital funk with "Sequencer". Turbo charged with harmonically-honed layered basses, polished with just the right amount of vocal element; the elements come together with a pacey sense of white-knuckle funk that adds serious hype to the imminent album arrival.
Review: Smashing into the harder end of the scene in 2009, the Fourward chaps have been hard at work for years making the world inside your headphones a scarier place to be. Heavily influenced by the likes of Ed Rush & Optical, Noisia and the Bad Company crew in general, the guys have become known for their knock-em-sideways brand of drum and bass terrorisation. "Foot Soldiers" is no exception, giving the electrical-storm atmos, a workout through devastating drums and an even deadlier bassline. "Tingod" ramps up the fear factor, rolling out good and proper.
Review: Eatbrain are a Hungarian neurofunk institution of instantly recognisable proportions, a household name in the world of big basslines and one of the main labels holding up the banner for the growing central and eastern European obsession with the subgenre. Even for Eatbrain, this release is exceptionally strong and the diversity within shows the broad church that neurofunk has become. 'Sweetface is the more archetypal of the bunch, a pummelling roller that moves and sways with engineered precision. 'Ability' holds up the sky with Coppa on vocals over an incredibly unique percussive structure that works undeniably well. What a wicked release.
Review: Friction knows how to throw a party... Their "100" celebrations started in March and they're still going strong three months later! A chance for the label's artists and friends to stretch their skills and signatures, there's been some really exciting, subversion work throughout the series. This final piece in the puzzle is no exception; "Fourward" deliver their funkiest track to date, Karma gets all soulful, Total Science get all drifty and ethereal while Break simply reminds us why we love him. All four cuts glistening with long-lasting gold, Shogun can carry on celebrating their 100th release for as long as they like as far as we're concerned.
Review: What is there to say about Shogun Audio that hasn't already been said at length directly into your ear at 3am? Friction's brainchild has become one of the scene's biggest, most successful and perhaps most importantly one of the most highly-regarded labels in recent years. A decade might not be a long time in D&B talk, but 10 years has been long enough for Shogun to put its stamp on almost everything making its way from the underground and into the blinding light of day. From the experimental sounds of Alix Perez, Rockwell and Icicle to the spellbinding Technimatic, right through to the chart-bothering escapades of Camo & Krooked, this is a flip through the highlights of Shogun's life. In case you forgot, it's been a brilliant one so far. Roll on the next 10 years.