Review: Celebrating two decades deep in the game, Critical Music deliver this exceptional 22 track collection from some of the most innovative artists in the bass field. From old label mates such as Sam Binga, Mefjus and Ivy Lab to exciting newcomer talents like Spectral, Able and Cauzer, the entire collection is a blistering jolt of futurism that ranges the full Critical spectrum. Highlights range from the introspective tones of Buunshin's 'Forget About Me' to the dark, tense minimalism of Calibre's 'Verstat' by way of the barbed soul of Halogenix's 'IDGAF'. Here's to another 20 years...
Review: If you haven't caught up by now it's Dirtybird that's putting out the dopest in crossover club music at the moment, colliding the best in LA beat scene vibes with true UK rave ethics. Who else to represent such a sound as Ivy Lab, probably the best and most versatile in delivering a hybrid form to appease all ear; experimental and pop-minded. That's exactly the case here with a new school education of uptempo, acid and experimental breaks, with trippy beats to boot in "Press Play" and old school bass trips of "Dresden Codex". Get your anthemic UK liquid classics from "Options" while not forgetting to check ""BBQ" for your classic Flying Lotus looping gems.
Review: Whenever we see that the magnificent Ivy Lab has a new one on the way, we are filled with joy, purely because we have quite literally no idea what to expect. This next drop is once again doused in mystery, kicking off with the lofi-processing and glittering arrangements of 'Everythingmustchange', which sends us into a maelstrom of sonic intricacy. Next, 'Stacked' delivers a convoy of bubbling synth pops and scattered percussion, before the industrial distortion and sweeping textures of 'Oxford Diagnostics' take us somewhere completely different. We get even more experimental next as the eastern-inspired melodic plucks of 'Ki-Tech' dance away like the flickering of a candle, before 'Rain Fire' sees Onoe Caponoe join the party for a masterclass in skippy flow patterns, complete with yet another satanic display of harmonic discourse. Fantastic stuff!
Review: Maintaining their place as a leading force in experimentally laced club and drum & bass music, Ivy Lab continue their run of form with another mind expanding double-drop. Delivering something both up-and-downbeat across each track here, "Nasdaq" goes large with its vamped synths, pulsations of dub and stuttered rhythms adding to a groove pushed along by walls of distortion, gushing white noise and a sidewinding melody. "Novy" on the other hand opts for cinematic drone and thumping two step bass that thins out into something percussive, industrial and ultimately epic. With lost R&B vocals to boot, this is huge.
Review: Sending in some of the biggest kicks drums we've heard this side of 2021 is Ivy Lab with the unruly and massive bass of "Paradise Pistol". Strafed by crazy reverb, delay and time stretching effects, it's a track that collides experimental dubstep with a garish, slow mo approach to knees up drum and bass. "Suzuki" on the flip offers something murkier and more frenetic in rhythm, channelling spirits from the sub aqueous electro zone. Highly intensified UK merk outta 20/20 LDN Recordings.
Review: Critical Recordings and 20/20 LDN mainstays Ivy Lab make it further into the echelons of of 2020 with Blonde; four tracks of undefinable rhythms, beat making and dub experimentations. To be split into an EP of two halves; there's the more trippy side in "Q.Nix" and "Blonde" with bleepy tones and curmudgeon rhythms in the former giving way to the hypercolour sci-fi Kubrick synths of the title track. Billed as the final instalment of three part series that takes in the duo's Tea Cup and Fidget EPs, "Start The Clock" flirts playfully with demonography in its beats and undulation, while pulsating waves of subbass and street chants light a fire in "Gopher". Seriously wicked.
Review: The team at 20/20 LDN Recordings must have been extremely happy to present this one as Ivy Lab does what he does best, delivering five stunning original creations, kicking off with the outrageously pretty soundscapes and crunchy snare snaps of the title track 'Teacup'. From here, the system-shaking rhythms and emotive vocal sampling of 'Dark Horse' gives the EP a darker tone, before the beautiful harmonies and melancholy melodies of 'Gutted' agin change the course of the release. Finally, 'Pain' gives us a shuffling drift through some lovely pad textures and uplifting vocal sampling, before the funkadelic attitude of 'Together Plus Mute' rounds the release off with some serious sauce, smashing together pitched down vocals with super wonky drums with fantastic results.
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: 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!
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: 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.
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".
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