Review: Underground hero of the modern drum and bass sound Alix Perez delivers more smooth liquid breaks and bass again on his new effort titled Arkestra, in collaboration with Ivy Lab. Starting out with the deep breakbeat science of "Maiden" featuring some gorgeous vocals he then launches into the fierce peak-time soul of the title track, the dark sci-fi hip-hop vibes of "Tell Dem" and "Stop It" before closing out proceedings with more deep and slinky futurist blues on "No One Else". Legends such as LTJ Bukem, Alex Reece and Peshay would be proud that their legacy continues via the new breed of the sound.
Review: It is genuinely becoming more and more difficult to find flaws in the genius of Ivy Lab's production, with this latest drop on the illustrious 20/20 LDN Recordings being yet another top quality delivery. We begin with the emotive key expressions and crunchy percussion of 'Ophelia', which sets the mood perfectly, alongside the more raucous bass pounds and high energy vocal lines of the title track 'Fidget'. From here the party continues to ignite as 'Merlot' provides us with a stunning shuffle up of new school hip hop themes, alongside unpredictable syncopation and moody dissonance of 'Wanderlust'. Finally, we jump into the vocal blender as the sliced vocal tones and guitar plucks of 'Baywatch 480p' unleash something truly special to round us off.
Review: With a reputation for being one of the most creative artist tags in electronic music, Ivy Lab returns here for a six track extravaganza, kicking off with one hell of a collaboration. Onoe Caponoe & L-Zee Roselli are drafted in to supply some high energy vocal pressure on the title track 'Space War 169', and they most certainly deliver. The EP also boasts a strong selection of instrumental pieces, from the shuffling electronic tones of 'Wideboi' and super choppy drum slaps of 'Rococo' to the trap-like bass jangles of 'Zip It' and frankly phenomenal hip hop grooves of 'Suburbia'. This is yet another production masterclass from Ivy Lab.
Review: Ivy Lab are most certainly known for their musical creativity and they here put that on display yet again as they are housed on the fantastic 20/20 LDN Recordings imprint. We kick off this wicked four tracker with the swampish, popping drum switches of 'All Day Swimming' which simmers below breathy lead melodies and above hard hitting subs. Next, 'Betty White' arrives in funkadelic fashion alongside 'Barclay Crenshaw', before the purple synth expressions 'When I Go' roll into the field of play. Finally, we take a look at the stunning percussive movements and vibrant drum work of the title track 'Stars', again showcasing just why Ivy Lab are held in such high favour by EDM heads worldwide.
Review: Ivy Lab provides Critical Music with its first physical release of 2014 with a four-track EP. To begin with there's the piano-ambient introduction of "Missing Persons", which in a way sounds like a highly sped-up Burial track combined with Frank Carter III's vocals full of a similar sounding soul heard in Storm Queen's crossover hit "Look Right Through". The drums remain super-quick on "Live On Your Smile" alongside warbled computer bleeps and melancholic female vocals, while "Sunday Crunk" is a hip hop-inspired, MPC-styled slow jam that may well take its inspirations from southern rap. Lastly on this deluxe package, Project: Mooncircle and 2nd Drop artist Deft touches-up Ivy Lab & Emperor's "Pepper" for something verging on heavy dubstep mixed with some growling, Fis-like effects
Review: Noisia's Division operation deliver their very first multi-artist EP featuring far-out bass tests from the likes of Monuman (AKA northern D&B upstart Emperor), Signs, ARKTKT, Ponicz and JNTHN STEIN. Not a well-travelled road in sight; each act delivers something resoundingly fresh and exciting : Noisia & Ivy Lab get insanely lopsided, Monuman digs a filthy bass grave before lifting us to the heavens with evocative chords, Signs gets the motor running with an array of twisted engine samples while ARKTKT activates a spacey trap mode, all bouncy and gravity-free. Last but not least, Ponicz shreds up with a toxic instrumental hip-hop swag while JNTHN STEIN kidnaps a rainbow then pushes it down the stairs... In the same way Division push the envelope.
Review: We're unsure how many parts are in this series but, reading between the lines, this could well mark the start of a new album from The Upbeats. Five tracks of raffish, stripped back sweatiness, there's no holding back: "Dr Kink" takes sonic surgery to dangerous new levels, "Pharaoh" sees them colliding with Ivy Lab to show their deeper, rolling, pensive side while "Dungeon" and "Doom" are straight up slap-fests of the highest neuro order. The hazy, soft-focus textures of "Elevator" provide the soft cushion as we crash back to reality. Looking forward to part two... And maybe even part three!
Review: What an incredible selection we have on our hands here as we see the Normark label boss and electronic music pioneer Amon Tobin A.K.A "Two Fingers" release his first album under his double-digit alias since "Stunt Rhythms" nearly 8 years ago. The tracklisting for this one is nothing short of phenomenal, with the styles ranging far and wide between the super experimental bass twists of 'Boss Rhythm' to the more conventional half-time synthesizer slaps and jungle-like percussive genius of 'Rockyou Feelit'. The project is a triumph in all areas and that is putting it lightly, with our highlights including the stunning sound design of 'You Ain't Down', the dynamic rhythmic expressions of 'Nuff Swizz Rhythm' and of course the title track 'Fight! Fight! Fight!', which deploys demonic basslines combined with quirky vocal lines and jangling drums with magnificent results. Amazing Stuff!
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: 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!
Various - "Hospital Mixtape: Fred V & Grafix" (continuous mix) - (1:04:04) 175 BPM
Review: It must be summer! Hospital Records get the British heatwave season cracking with a brand new whopper-length mixtape, this time from the label's own Fred V & Grafix. The sheer number of quality names clambering all over this tracklist gives the release some weight even before it begins, but then again it's hard to see people like S.P.Y, Lynx, Ivy Lab, Urbandawn, Etherwood, Bungle and Cynatific without getting a touch of the vapours. Look out also for the stunning Logistics remix of Andreya Triana's "Lullaby".