Review: We all know just how good the recent run of Artikal Music releases has been, so when we saw the link up of Gremlinz & Jesta announced, we knew we were in for a good time. It's a lively 2-tracker on display, which kicks off with the colourful and expansive percussive maneuvers of 'Left To Rot', a futuristic delving into the more dungeon-esc side of electronic music, focussing on a slower pace and more intricate rhythmic expression. On the flip, the slowed breakbeat sampling and haunted sonic padding of 'PFD' then rolls into view, again exploring a much more stripped back side of the sound, relying on inquisitive melodic pulses and an unpredictable layer of drum work throughout.
Review: Up next on the legendary Drum & Bass Arena label is the ascendant Tim Reaper, a multifaceted producer based in London who has released on labels as diverse as Banoffee Pies, Lobster Theremin and Hooversound in recent times. He teams up with Gabriel Au aka Gremlinz, who is fresh off a couple of killer EPs on UVB-76's DROOGS and the result is "Full Moon" - a soulful and emotive expression in intelligent jungle with jazzy flourishes that is reminiscent of the classic Metalheadz sound. Second offering "Haunta" switches gears and delves into the sound of the dark side circa the mid '90s, for some proper rolling drama.
Digital & Keygenlog - "Too Late Again" - (6:03) 58 BPM
Digital & Gremlinz - "Low Battery" - (6:14) 174 BPM
Digital & Sight Unseen - "Out Of Control" - (6:23) 174 BPM
Digital - "Bitter Switch" - (5:41) 174 BPM
Review: Digital returns this week to the seminal Function Records, an old-school imprint with old-school credentials an old-school lineup yet new-school freshness. Digital is of course the man of the moment and he's teamed up with some of his most talented friends for Mental State, an EP which means business. 'Too Long Again' featuring Keygenlog is knock-down jungle that seriously smacks, a gravelly, monochromatic back end adding the weight to a set of naughty jungle breaks. The other cuts are all more fantastic jungle, proper jungle and jungle which resonates in a manner that's deeply urban and which strikes at the core of the genre. Unmissable.
Review: Second time around for Gremlinz "Frankie Gunns", an atmospheric, early morning jungle roller that first appeared on Renegade Hardware's compilation style Deadpan EP way back in 2009. Here, the hazy, head-in-the-clouds original - a wonderful combination of slowly shifting ambient chords, hedgerow field records, rambunctious jungle breakbeats and booming sub-bass - comes accompanied by a fresh rework by Paradox, AKA 1990s drum and bass survivor Dev Pandya. His rework is, arguably, even better than Gremlinz fine original version, with deliciously dreamy ambient chords seemingly drifting in and out of a backing track rich in punchy D&B beats, stabbing riffs and rumbling bass. When Pandya ratchets up the ruffneck riddims midway through, the hairs on your arms and neck will leap to attention.
Review: When two deepsmiths combine forces on the ultimate blueprint label: Toronto's Gremlinz and London's Jestas build on previous collabs such as "The Axe" and "Arowana" with this sublime four piece. "Nessus" surges with heavy atmospheres and an early Breakage style break. Wait for the second drop as some crucial dubby ripples enter (and consequently change) the game. Elsewhere "Departed" shoots us to the edge of the cosmos with a late 90s style two-step, "The Drift" is pure jazz with its shuffled drums and cavernous introspection while the title track closes the show with a good old fashioned 45 King tear up. There's nothing empty about these promises mate.
Review: 21 years old. How about that then? Some of us were barely out of nappies when London Elektricity first launched the imprint, some of us remember like it was yesterday. Either way, we are all united under the big flouro H and right now they're celebrating their coming of age with a humungous 70 track collection. Yes, 70! Each cut handpicked to represent the London imprint's constantly evolving but always soul-touched and groove-laden sound are 24 exclusives such as Urbandawn's insane version of Reso's "Taiga", Fred V & Grafix's titanium colab with Metrik "Tension", Serum & Inja's already-massive "Blow Dem" and Whiney's remix of TC's chop-slapping "Storm Brew". Massive. Happy birthday Hospital!
Review: Hospital have ramped up their "Future Sound" series in a major way this year... America, Holland, Brazil, now Canada. It's a decidedly deep and techy cross-section of flavours, too: Gremlinz brings the ice with the angular fury of "Tactical Rail", Schematic delivers some mountainous vocal soul on "Learn From The Past". Those looking for a more contemporary / Manchester style halftime drum arrangement should jump on Levrige's "The Legend" while Stranjah closes the show with a timeless Commixian heads-down roller "Gideon". Powerful.
Review: Canadian minimalist Gremlinz returns to Paradox with two leaner, meaner stepping machines. Teaming up with Jesta for "The Axe", it's an all-out drum frenzy as a classic step break is peppered with thundering hang drum insistency and chilling pads. "White Dove", meanwhile, takes us back to the source with a wonderfully Headzy detuned synth refrain buried deep beneath a more rolling drum arrangement. Impressive.
Review: Nasty, low down, tech steppin' drum and bass courtesy of DJ Trace's seminal London imprint DSCI4. Toronto's Gremlinz teams up with fellow homeboy Adrian Go on the dark sci-fi nightmare that is "Rice Bowl" which truly plunders the depths of hell; this one's intense and calls to mind the classic sound of Ed Rush & Optical and Trace himself. The UK's Quartz steps up to the plate also with "Tachyon" featuring Nanobyte. A satanic exploration in breakbeat science reminiscent of late 90s experiments by Boymerang.
Review: We've been waiting for this since Doc Scott fired up his old ThirtyOne machine just over a year ago. A 24-track collection of stone cold exclusives, this bucks any expectations of the label and its remit and celebrates the very best creativity in all shades of drum & bass. Littered with the best names in the game (Calibre, Nucleus & Paradox, Bungle, Loxy & Resound, Scar, Marcus Intalex and many many more), each cut pushes the bass and riddim envelope with stark, uncompromised creativity and production muscle. The ultimate document of where the best D&B is at, this is nothing short of essential.