Review: Bringing a measured kind of juke menace to the 50 Weapons camp, regular attraction Addison Groove this time links up with fellow Bristol bass maven Sam Binga for some short and snappy cuts that explore diverse corners of electronica while all riding that hyped-up tempo. "Rzor" keeps things strictly rhythmic with its rush of 808 beats moving through pitch tweaks and rubbing up against found sound percussion. "Thr3id" gets twisted up in melodic stabs and the kind of gnarly acid spits you might find on Drukqs-era Aphex, bouncing off steady central motifs in order to fire off as many drum machine samples as possible in a three minute time frame. "11th" is even further into deploying intricate melodic darts that zip through the rapid fire beats, delicate chimes offset by dreamy synths and stuttering samples. "Ol Man EK" whips all these feelings up into a perfect summation track, capturing the bittersweet-ness of early jungle and vintage deep house in amongst a positively futuristic flurry of percussion.
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: Today's Critical lesson is brought to you by the letter B... Binga, Breakage and absolute badness. First up Breakage adds a rolling booty bounce to one of the many highlights on Binga's album Wasted Days album. Binga returns the favour by looking back into the annals of Critical history and dusting off Breakage's formative 2005 skanker "Staggered Dub" and injecting a cool amount of deep halftime space. Both exemplary examples of remix authenticity. Blimey. Bigness.
Review: What more can you ask for when it comes to half time link ups? For this saucy little number are thrilled to see a top quality link up between Fracture & Sam Binga, who combines their incredibly precise production styles to deliver a top quality two track creation on Astrophonica. The A-side takes the title 'On Right Now' and boy is it it a party starter. We are greeted by stunning synthetic arpeggio lines which glisten away above sizzling sub textures and flicking hi hat patterns to bring us a fabulous bag of grooves. On the flip-side, 'Chessington' delivers a secondary punch, built around a much more jungle-inspired set of rhythms, this one boasts meaty sub lines and a cheeky selection of melodic inputs, making it the perfect energy injection for any selection!
Review: Two of drum & bass' most creative producers are teaming up on Critical, a label which never shies away from innovation, to bring you an EP inflected with multi-genre tonalities. The pair have made their name in everything from grime to garage to halftime to drum & bass, and its this legacy that's on full display across all four tracks on Ultra Luxe. The title track is peppered with synth wave textures and grungy aesthetics and it lopes along in punchy two-step rhythms, with escalating melodies that swell into serious atmospheric suspense. 'Rude AF' is the rattling jungle roller, a sub-heavy exercise in rudeboy sonics, whilst 'Murda Dem' brings the harsh tones of Slay to bear on another clubland monster. Oh yes.
Review: Sam Binga and Hyroglifics represent two of the most ingenious beat makers in the drum and bass, a pair of producers who, through their work on Critical Music amongst others, has pushed the boundaries of the genre. Wicked & Bad represents further encroachment onto the territory of neighbouring genres, including garage and grime, and the pair have managed to stay true to the formula of drum & bass whilst expanding on it with serious finesse. 'Wits End' embodies this mission statement best, as robotic vocals machinate alongside a bouncing garage beat and wallowing low frequency notes to form a technoid funk that's both heavy and sophisticated. There are more traditional jungle flavours on the title track, featuring Riko Dan on top form to provide a vocal overlay to the tune's rambunctious drums and pummelling bassline. More genre bending stuff from the Critical crew.
Review: Someone give Sam Binga some shampoo - his EP cap fits so well he's been wearing it since April! Thing is, it fits so well... No matter how you dress it. Previous iterations of tracks from the EP landed late summer, now comes a new chapter as Halogenix dons his Lordel guise for an iced-out halftime take of the Paul Wall-fronted title track that creeps with real shadowy wave feels. Speaking of shadows, and indeed Halogenix, "Flexha" is a brand new fix up of Bing and Halogenix's "I'm An Adult" now loaded with full fire bars from the one and only Trigga. Thiccer vibes, still the same badboy cap. Strictly 18+
Review: As always with Astrophonica, we are in for a treat with this one, as they get busy with a top quality compilation selection, unveiling twenty pulsating originals under the name '20'. Whilst examining the vibes on this one, we noticed that it really does cover all the basis when it comes to high tempo bass music, from the grizzly roller arrangements of 'Hull Breach' from Fracture & Neptune to the bouncy footwork flavours of Dawn Day Night's 'Voodoo Vibe'. There are most certainly some clear standouts, with Fracture, Rider Shafique & Sam Binga pulling together for a spicy original on 'Back It Up', alongside Sully's super colourful junglist roller 'Flock' and the eerie flute work of 'Flocon' from Moresounds. A very interesting listen!
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: 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: Few labels hit the spot like Fracture's Astrophonica. Home to breaksmithery's most innovative waifs and strays, every release writhes in those gloopy, unfathomable pastures between jungle, juke, beats and just straight up sick electronica. This sophomore edition of the label's V/A Gradients series is a perfect example as everyone from Luke Vibert to Sully lay down powerful designs. Every single track is a highlight but you'd be mad not to get mucky with Binga, James and Shafique's "Everfresh", get lost in the dubby wooziness of Groves' "Hennessy Brown", get air punchy to Fracture's technoid thumper "Dropping Yu" or get straight up sexual to BSN Posse's "No Matter How Far"... Ain't no track too steep, Gradients has every single breakbeat flavour you could need this season.
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: Exclusive overload: while some labels like to solely wrap up their existing content into a compilation, Hospital request freshness from their troops. In amongst the 60 tracks on offer (yeah, 60!) there are no less than 25 brand new cuts previously unavailable until now. From the breathy, horizon-glaring bliss of Fred V & Grafix's "Constellations" to High Contrast's first original in well over a year "Calling My Name" by way of Krakota's pulsating gully stepper "Lust Thrust" and Ulterior Motive's darkside creeper "Oddness". This is - without question - one of the biggest, most bountiful Hospitality albums so far. And let's face it, they're always pretty special anyway.
Review: It may not have the catchiest title, but this remix package from Modeselektor's label manages to cover a range of sounds and styles. At one end of the spectrum there's the high-paced, spaced out jungle rework of Addison groove and Sam Binga's "Rzor" by DJ Friction, while at the opposing end, Tale Of Us and Fango turn Cosmin TRG's "Vertigo" into a deep, reflective broken beat arrangement, replete with jazzy inflections and clattering rhythms. The biggest surprises however come from Marcel Dettmann and Chris Liebing. The Berghain resident's Pitch & Stretch take on Moderat's "Bad Kingdom" is a hyperactive, ravey workout , while Liebing's version of Benjamin Damage's " 010x", which the CLR boss did with SCNTST is a dark but deep-chord techno groove.
Review: All lists are subjective, but there's no doubt that Bambounou aka Jeremy Guindo-Zegiestowski has done a fine job in compiling this selection from Modeselektor's 50 Weapons label. Tracks that start off as functional techno workouts - Datei42's "They Explore Themselves" and the Truncate take on Benjamin Damage's "010x" - progress to reveal glowing chord sequences, while the compilation twists and turns through noisy soundscapes (Benjamin Damage's "Spirals"), thumb-snapping tight footwork (Addison Groove & Sam Binga's "Thr3id)" and some ultra-lean techno from Marcel Dettmann and Cosmin TRG. However, nothing can compare to the washes of old school rave synths and lithe break beats that constitute Shed's "The Dirt".