Review: Alix Perez's 1985 continues to build its own unique lane with the first V/A release of the year. Following Monty's "Hypnotise" comes this sleek, stark four-piece featuring a range of innovative kindred spirits. Perez takes the lead with "Haunted", a powerful techno-influenced slab of darkness while Cologne-based next-genner SubMarine follows with a 20,000 league deep sea wriggle fest on "Malibu 1973". Deeper into the Folio we forage to find barbed soul and heavy emotion on "Rollcage" (with Halogenix) and fly-by-night finger-clicking funk and subversive soulful vocals on "The Glow" (with Monty and singer Benabu)
Review: Alix Perez's mighty 1985 imprint has been taking the D&B world by storm for the past couple of years and it's thanks in part to a series of wicked compilations, some big and some small. This is the second outing in the mini VA series Folio/ and they've pulled out all the stops, roping in a who's-who of forward-thinking music that includes Perez himself, SubMarine, Hyroglifics and others. Perez's contribution is classic Perez: moody, murky basslines and soothing, haunting samples that balance each other out into an equilibrium of pure satisfaction. SubMarine's 'Grunge' is more pure energy, a rippling number that's as fluid as it is devastating - perfect for the dancefloor. Tracks 3 and 4 don't mess around as well, but we're not really very surprised because Scepticz, Lavance, Hyroglifics and Visages are all just so damn good. Pick this one up.
Review: With an extensive repertoire that includes breaks, house and techno, Sam Binga's switch to future jungle rhythms has spawned some of his honest, his most exciting and his heaviest tracks to date. Sitting in the same unclassifiable field as Om Unit and Fracture, his productions wobble, writhe and punch sweetly around the 160/80 axis and feature a wealth of killer vocalists such as Warrior Queen, Rider Shafique and Romaine. Part dancehall, part jungle, part mongrel bass, Sam's skills are showcased succinctly across Wasted Days with a consistency that ensures the album experience is just as hard hitting as the individual tracks hit the floor. Get wasted.
Review: Easily one of the most justifiably hyped men in D&B right now, Hyroglifics steps up to the mighty Critical with three boundary-smelting slabs of contemporary jungle. "Bay City Ballers Club" is driven almost exclusively by a robust bassline and steppy, sliced up amen magic. "Killamanaman", meanwhile, takes us deeper into the spacy, stuttering half-tempo drama that the likes of Om Unit and Sam Binga have been dealing of late. Complete with a dual demonic narrative from both the vocal and the middy bass, it's an instant damager. To ensure a strong sense of completion, the final cut is a lush, star-gazing LA beat style wonk-out with bendy synths, far-away vocals and an overwhelming sense of dreaminess. Stunning.
Review: UK D&B producer Hyroglifics should have been on your radar for a while now - circling, waiting for his moment to take over the scene. A regular on Flexout Audio and Peer Pressure Records known for his on-point production and excellent hair, this release showcases the darkest recesses of his mind, which is pretty much what you'd expect from something Proximity picked up. "Ensnare" is a whirlwind of dark energy and samples that punch through the claustrophobia. Push on and MTWN's remix of "Soundboy" tells a similar tale of pent-up dread and frustration, adding a more industrial slant to the original. The perfect soundtrack for any special occasion you might be hosting in a basement club or garage lockup in the near future. You'll be hearing a lot more from Mr Hyroglifics, so for those who don't already know...you know what to do.
Review: All talk Plenty of action: Hyroglifics returns to Critical with a devilish collection that's perfect right down to the artwork. "All Talk" is a real carnival creeper, all paranoid and tripped out. "Persuade" sits firmly on the grime side of the tracks with a cool late 90s Timbaland iciness to the beats, "Vision" is a caustic jungle stepper with barbed truthisms from the man like DRS while "Hanging On You" is shows off Hyroglifics equally touching soulful side. Finally, "Delusions" is the gully halftime joker of the pack while "More Or Less" brings us both back to the foundations and way into the future with its spine-melting intro before alien FX and wave textures. Hyroglifics best release to date, no question.
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: Four-to-the-floor, let us hear you roar... Fracture's Astrophonica goes into techno overdrive with this crucial collection of 4x4 inspired jams. With cuts from the bossman himself, Lewis James, Addison Groove, Moresounds, Sam Binga and Om Unit (under his Philip D Kick alias) all running rampant at around 160BPM there's a heavy stench of hardcore rolling throughout this unique collection. Highlights include the acid funk frenzy of Addison Groove's "Redeye", the ghettotek badness of Binga & ONHELL's "A Mighty Quest" and the late night 23rd century car chase vibes of Lewis James' "Kit5000". These are just a handful of examples of the truly unique fusions on offer here. Astrophonica are way ahead of the game right here.
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: 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.