Review: Southampton's Al Pack takes us for a ride through the various, classic shades of drum and bass; borrowing equally from jungle as he does from soul and disco, calling to mind legends such as Peshay, Alex Reece and London Elektricity. Starting with the jazz infused vibes of the title track, other highlights aren't limited to the street level breakbeat science of "Ruffneck Tactics" and "Hustle Daily" while "Nimbus" or "Quarter After Two" feature the smooth liquid drum and bass vibes that LTJ Bukem or Calibre would stand up and notice. Well produced and promising stuff.
Review: The sound of Jerome Sydenham's Ibadan imprint has noticeably changed since he relocated to Berlin. Where it once bristled with African rhythms and spiritual deep house jams, recent releases have focused more on hypnotic, occasionally dark, tech-tinged rhythms. While this EP does include one life-affirming blast of constantly rising spiritual house - see Sydenham's edit of Toto Chiavetta's "Become One" - for the most part it's suitably murky. There's a genuine looseness and swing to the Martinez Brothers' tracky Dub of The Angry Kids' "Lullaby", while Sydenham and Sally's "Lady MacBeth Strategy" is a twisted chunk of acid-flecked techno designed to tease and titillate dark, sweaty after-parties. Lo Hype's "Something Special" is tasty, too, with bouncy samples and weird noises riding a shuffling, cowbell-laden groove.
Daniele Lo Presti - "Immenso - Outro Vol.002" - (2:05) 130 BPM
Review: The word 'unique' is grave danger of wheezing its last breath these days. Very few things genuinely are 'one of a kind' Especially in dance music. The crazy Italian kids at Slowild, however, are really unique. Taking hardstyle theory to the glitch and moombhaton audience, they've slowed down one of the scariest forms of music to create something really interesting. At points you'll be reaching for the record player to switch the speed up, before realising it's digital and supposed to sound this way. Oozing drama and imagination, this is the best hardstyle album you will ever hear.
Review: Often when young talent is allowed to break through the thick icy surface of the drum and bass scene, the music they produce can be put down as variants of either side of the spectrum - either soulful vocal-based liquid or seriously hyperbolic jump up forged to spin heads and destroy dancefloors. What Brazilian label DNBB have here is a gorgeous little slice of brand new talent, showcasing the inventive minds of the next generation of drum and bass. Hudik begins the surge with "Parting", a synthy swell of atmosphere that booms and dissipates into a teetering crest of breakcore beats. Newcomer Flokos brings the Brazilian soul with smoothly funky "Nu York", and Kalum, already a favourite with the YouTube liquid crowd, teams rap with smooth rolling vibes. Upcoming talent Danny Lo hangs up his usual jungle beats for RnB tinged smoothy "Special Lady" and Brazilian drum and bass obsessionist Mystific plays with warm guitar licks and static to create a vintage soulful sound. An instant classic.
Review: Lo Shea, feted for his Hope Works party and label, is the latest artist to appear on Dusky's label. Favouring a tough but funky techno sound, this four-tracker is sure to hit the right note with DJs who prefer a smarter approach to big room grooves. The title track is a case in point, with Lo Shea dropping a tranced out build over a tough, pumping rhythm. On "Ornithurae", he slows the tempo down but keeps the intensity levels up thanks to a gut-busting, pummelling bass. Recruiting NK to deliver "Higher", the Sheffield producer uses doubled up claps, firing hats and pumping tones as a backdrop for a gloriously soulful vocal mantra about being lifted higher. Completing this exemplary EP is Peder Mannerfelt's rave-influenced, visceral take on "Iterations".
Review: Steven 'Sugar' Harding and Michael 'Milk' Kronenberger set out their soundtrack for this year's WMC - and this selection has all the makings of an unforgettable party. The pair's own "That Body" is a wonderfully soulful house cut, laced with lush vocals and uplifting pianos. On "Walls", Purple Disco Machine pushes that style into an epic, indie vocal-led direction while at the other end of the spectrum, Monolink's "Black Day" veers into a slower, smoked out take on modern house. The pair have dug deep to include tracks from DJ Hal - his "Don't Give It Up" is given the unmistakable disco touch by remixers Full Intention - while Glasgow Underground founder Kevin McKay also features with the big room "Love Rights".
Review: The Nightbass rampage continues to roam into new territory here as they get busy with a super experimental collaboration. Primarily known for his catchy 140 grime flows, Capo Lee joins the party with a potent vocal appearance alongside messers Sinden and Lo'99 on 'Natural High'. This one is set to cause major damage in the dances as Capo's smooth vocal presence sits perfectly atop stripped back drum designs and potent sub pressure. This one comes complete with two remixes, with Proxy sending the original to the distortion choppin block and Bijou reworking the track into a super techy roller. Great stuff again from the Nightbass camp.
Review: The latest release on Jerome Sydenham's ever-busy Ibadan imprint is a release that brings together a rag tag selection of tracks. First up is Sydenham's "Special Edit" of Carl Craig's "Angel", which moves with all the functional poise and warm synth work you would expect of two techno veterans, making all the right moves for a big room experience without any of the fluff. Sydenham's own "Sun Ark" appears in its original form, throwing down an unshakable blend of drums with that rugged techno-meets-house concoction that the man has been making his own for decades now. The flipside is given over to relative newcomer Lo Hype, also known as Japanese producer Katsuya Sano, whose "Route 303" represents a more patient approach compared to the chunky dynamics of the first two tracks. The steadily trickling acid of the original mix also comes in a more raw form in the shape of some "Bonus Beats" that ditch the atmospherics and focus on the rhythm.
Review: Make no mistakes: Ruffneck Ting are smashing it on a whole new level this year! Bombarding the game with beat after beat, barely a month has gone by with a Ruffneck roll-out session. The Xtraordinary League Of Junglists takes this proliferation to a whole new level with 20 killer cuts from some of the label's firmest friends and family. Every cut is a highlight but you'd be off your nut not to check the clinically obese classical mid-90s jump up bass of "War", the sprung-out Bingo bounces of "All 2 Myself", the piano-slapping feel good rave workout "All Through The Night" or the dubbed-out trickery of "Hazey Dub". Need we go on? Ruffneck Ting have been on this ting since dot and they're rolling out some of their finest right here. Essential.
Review: German label Compost excel with their Future Sounds of Jazz compilations and this latest instalment is no exception - ranging from the dubby, almost Dilla-inspired swing of Der Dritte Raum's "Swing Bob" to the cut 'n' paste psychedelics of Letherette's "In July Focus", via Sepalcure's mighty "Fleur". With names like The Glimmer Twins, Scrimshire, Timo Garcia and Eden all attached, quality is most definitely assured throughout.
Review: Some years back, Laurent Garnier's F Communications label released a series of compilations under the title "Megasoft Office". These gathered together deep, groovy and downtempo cuts that made an excellent musical accompaniment to your working day. Irma's latest collection, "Work With Balearic Music", takes a similar approach. Wisely, the storied label group has dipped into their archive of original Balearic-era Italian productions, offering up dream house classics and rarities from the likes of Keys & Tronics Ensemble, Montego Bay, Belladonna, Don Carlos, Notenshun and Soft House Company. Throw in some jazzy downtempo grooves and a handful of recent productions and you have an expansive, on-point set rich in classic cuts.
Review: On this release London club and institution Fabric helps Terry Francis, Nathan Coles and Eddie Richards' Wiggle brand celebrate its 20th anniversary. It's done so by putting together a 20-track compilation that includes music from Just Be, (aka Bushwacka), Berkson & What, D'Julz and Jay Tripwire. Just because it's minimal in sound doesn't mean it's minimal by nature and this Wiggle For 20 Years compilation presents 74 minutes of grooving rhythms with material from recent Wiggle guests Alex Arnout, Saytek and Dachshund, as well as some fresh cuts from long running Wiggle affiliates like Gideon Jackson.
Review: Brightonian beat agitators Skint celebrate two decades of party science with a whopping 32 track compendium of highlights. Ranging from quintessential big beat (Midfield General, Indian Ropeman, Lo Fidelity Allstars) to quirky, lop-jawed techno (Roman Flugel, Tomas Andersson, Dave Clarke) via chunky, dirty-bottomed house music (Riva Starr, Foamo, X-Press 2) and perfectly formed left-minded pop music (Fatboy Slim, Tiga), Skint's successes can be found in almost every corner of the dance... Including the harder-to-categorise unique, forgotten classics such as FC Kahuna's evergreen "Hayling" and Justice's new wave pop strutting remix of Vicarious Bliss. Happy anniversary Skint!
Review: We were very excited to dive deep into this fantastic new compilation project from Philthtrax, who bring forth a host of jukey style originals for us to feast upon. Totalling at 13 tracks, this project takes us left, right and centre, including heavyweight recordings from the likes of Turk Turkleton, Buen Clima, Super Jim Z and more. For us there are some clear stand outs including Ghostwhip's moogy expanse in 'Slap It', and the storming collaboration between Jonny Megabyte and Six Foe who get busy with their combined energies on the spacey tones of 'Dancefloor Murderers'. This is definitely a project we would recommend taking in as a whole, rather than as a run of individual singles.
Review: Dutty business: Toronto's DBA crew lay down their second supersized V/A LP of the year and it's an absolute gully jamboree. Ranging from the wobbled-out slaps of Euphonique's "Sound Dead" to twisted drones of Tryptamine's "Gang" via the wily 96 skanks and bubblesome bass of ScattyOne's "Wicked Babylon", Tomoyoshi's funk flipping triplets on "Time & Space" and the awesome halftime sludge of DJ Hybrid's clever Drop Out remix of "Raised In The Jungle" there's genuinely not one even slightly under par track here. Dutty Bass Audio are absolutely smashing the game right here.
Review: The Smooth N Groove imprint have become renowned for their expansive compilation projects, bringing together a range of high quality original drum and bass recordings. They continue their hot streak here with volume 2 of their 'Hidden In The Crates' series, featuring belters from the likes of Greekboy, Passive, Wyman, Twintone, Jay Dubz and a host of other names. For us, the standouts are immediately clear, with the harmonic strings and epic atmospherics of A.K.A & soulTec's 'You Should Be Here' being a major standout. The smooth junglist subs and warm notation of 'Adventure Time' from Conrad Subs also deserves a nod, along with the clean drum work of Dave Owen's 'Kiss & Tell'.
Review: Someone call the fire brigade please, Bryan Gee's V camp is literally on fire right now. If it's not the massive tracks coming from the now 26 year old V flagship imprint, it's this stunning collection of remixes from the collective's soulful arm of operations Liquid V. Digging deep into the vaults, there's some immaculate refixes on display... L-Side's midas touch continues to sparkle with his rumbling switch-up of "Try To Understand", Need For Mirrors' own wobbly-bottomed relick of "Son Of Sorrow" does absolute damage and the VIP of Cater & Paul SG's "Jazz Cigarette" will blast your wig off with its crisp horns and cosmic vibraphone flurries. And that's just the tip of liquid iceberg. Get in shape yo!