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.
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 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: 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.