Review: The North Quarter is rounding out their 2020 with the first in a new Various Artists series: NQ State of Mind. We're assuming this name is a hat tip to Jay-z and Alicia Keys' NY State of Mind, and the focus on urban funk comes through clearly across this album's 10 tracks. It starts with the long-awaited Tokyo Prose remix of 'All My Life' by Satl, and Tokyo has stretched out Steo's incredible vocals over an elegantly simple piano riff and solid percussive basis, a timeless sound that gets right to the heart of what makes this label so good. Zero T gives his 2017 album cut 'Slightest Moment' the remix treatment, taking it up from hip-hop tempo to full drum & bass to form a rollicking, nonchalant roller which skips along with such purity of spirit you'll forget where you are. There's a superb original contribution from Redeyes with 'Original Soul', a stripped back remix of 'Late Night Jam' from Lenzman, and a dirty old school roller from Sam Binary. What an album.
Review: Satl is back on Lenzman's North Quarter with another fluid, rolling release that pushes the boundaries of liquid and merges them with darker, minimal touches. It's a wicked six tracks long, a necessary length given the considered nature of Satl's production, and the whole package has the cohesive art direction so fundamental to Lenzman's work on TNQ. It opens with 'Portal', which swims on arpeggiated synth nodes on intro before rolling out into a dark, twisted fantasy of gruff basslines and hostile atmospherics. 'Motor City Justice' is another highlight, featuring Submorphics, which is stripped back and deep in its approach, channeling the sounds of detroit techno with its chord progressions and analogue feel. The whole release is incredibly well put together and absolutely worth your time.
Review: Tokyo Prose, what is there to say? The man is a legend and he's back alongside two more legends: LSB & Satl. The former is hosting this release via his Footnotes label whilst Satl features on 'Lights Down Low. A team effort, then, and the results are typically sensational, as Tokyo Prose rolls out the deft liquid funk which has become his mainstay. 'Jacknife' is grounded around a simple piano riff, but its elegance lies in that simplicity and, when paired with atmospheric pads and crisp drum work, the results are warm and infinitely listenable. Satl's feature is the other highlight, a melancholic and yet hopeful number with softly spoken soul emanating from its chords. Classic work from the team.
Review: Satl is the Polish producer who is now firmly established in the top echelons of liquid, especially so following his sumptuous outing on the North Quarter last year, and his tendency to opt for longer projects is seeing its next iteration on 4Lyfe, an eight-track extended player on Artificial Intelligence's Integral. It's yet more dreamy, wispy music and Satl is one step closer to mastering the art of element-light but vibes-heavy music, a potent style with a long legacy in AI themselves, as well as Lenzman or Calibre. 4Lyfe spans both light and dark, with the soaring vocal notes of 'So Much Better' touching heartstrings, whilst 'Yin' is a furiously stripped back rattler that gets things done on the darker end. Genre defining stuff.
Review: Lenzman's imprint serves up its first V/A right here with Quarter To Quarter. Featuring exclusive tracks from the likes of FD, LSB, Total Science, Kyrist, Tokyo Prose, Break, Zero T and so many more, it's a full spectrum representation of the label that ranges from sublime, sun-kissed soul such as Redeyes' "Lust", Atlantic Connection and Steo's "Night & Day" to bouncy, vocal high-vibe affairs such as Break's remix of "In My Mind". Along the way expect stunning strident, cosmic hypnotic workouts (Tokyo Prose - "Rescue"), dubby dreamers (Kyrist - "Untrue") unlikely rudeboy slappers (Total Science - "Killa") and every other authentic, genuinely crafted D&B sound you associate with the label. Quarter To Quarter ... No half measures.
Review: The North Quarter welcome another kindred spirit to the family; Satl. One of the most exciting newcomers to emerge since LSB, there's a soul and depth to his music that's won him friends like Digital and TNQ bossman Lenzman. This is his most comprehensive and revealing EP to date as he goes to town on the blank canvas with more shades than you might know him for; as well as the poignant ("Supposed To Be", "Coming Back") and the soulful ("All My Life") and the blissful ("Self Reflection") there's also some exciting variations in tempo ("Modern Jah" hits like a Dominic Martin record and "Aadje" is pure modern dub) and shades of Marcus-inspired techno in the mix ("Drifted")... Trust us, this man is just warming up and TNQ is the best place to give him freedom and encouragement to reach the next level.
Review: What a release this is. Coming from the vaults of Break, it's unsurprising that Symmetry's summer compilation has turned out to be such a standout collection of tracks, I mean just look at that tracklist: Lenzman, LSB, Break and more. Break's 'I Need You' has been doing the rounds in mixes and sets for a little while now and it's great to see it released, the simplicity of the sample and structure is shows that less can often be more and Break is the king of finding that balance. Lenzman's remix of Ill Truth's In My Soul is a well-made rework of an already fantastic original, its revamped drums injecting the Amsterdam flavour. Again, simple is best and this release proves that.
Review: Oh gosh. Total Science ante up for the summer with this exceptional V/A EP on their CIA imprint. Kicking off with a crucial new remix of their classic "Nosher" by their new hybrid gang comprising themselves, DLR and Hydro, full breadth and variation abounds as we dip into the gilded soul of Zero T & Phase's "Talk To Me", the gnarled grizzles and dubby danger of their own "Devil's Gate" with Scar member Script and the grand finale; a heavyweight purring roller from two of the most respected newcomers in the game right now: Ill Truth and SATL. Each one a persy for different chapters of the night, any further information is classified.
Review: Satl has smashed this one. Releasing on SUNANDBASS Recordings, Satl is the young Polish upstart who has been rolling out liquid gems for a few years now and turning some seriously heads while he does it, his ability to blend both light and dark is amazing and honestly every track he puts out is worth a listen. 'Bravehearts' is the highlight, featuring Dan Stezo on the vocals, this one just rolls and rolls, proving that you don't need a track to be complex for it to be amazing. There's loads of diversity on 'Acid Trip' and 'Maj', the two slightly more relaxed tracks, as well as on 'Low End Theory', which essentially is just a purely naughty minimal little roller. This EP is worthy of Satl and SUNANDBASS, so go check it out.
Review: Last year Artificial Intelligence's Integral Records started a new series - Glow - which aims to showcase some of the best forthcoming talent in the Integral radar, as well as music from some of their more established roster acts. We're now in the third instalment and the series is still going strong. Edlan & Djah are two very exciting young Dutch talents and their tune 'Fragile' is typical Integral: wispy pads, featherweight drums and serious sense of ambience. French maestro Redeyes also makes an appearance in similar fashion with 'I Can't Wait', a gorgeous piece of sampling work and precise melodic construction that rolls out for days. Fluidity and Integral regular Satl hold up the rear and they do it well - make sure you check this.
Critical Event & Askel - "So In Love With You" - (4:27) 174 BPM
ALB - "Using Minds" - (5:29) 174 BPM
Calculon & Dave Owen - "Ben Carlos" (feat Christina Tamayo - Zero T remix) - (5:11) 58 BPM
Smote - "Just Come Back" - (5:20) 174 BPM
Joakuim - "8am Roller" - (4:30) 172 BPM
Drumcatcher - "Feelings" - (4:35) 172 BPM
Brainwork & Mnml - "Embrace" - (5:18) 172 BPM
Review: Fokuz Recordings consistently release some of the best compilation albums around. Their pool of artists is so diverse and so top quality that an assortment of their work is always going to be special, especially when they bring in outside talent like Break and Zero T. Collaborations 2 is what is says on the tin: remixes and other collaborative projects and blimey, it's good stuff. Joakuim's '8am Roller' is the perfect example, a deft piece of piano-based smoothness that rolls out to your heart's content with sultry results, an instant classic of liquid-sized proportions. The Break remix is a welcome addition, as is the steppy yet soulful Zero T remix of Ben Carlos. Another very, very good selection of cuts from the always sublime Fokuz crew.
Need For Mirrors - "Speedy Boarding" - (5:12) 174 BPM
Alexvnder - "Continuity" - (4:55) 174 BPM
DJ Ransome - "Arctic Blizzard" - (5:41) 174 BPM
Review: One of the most iconic and prolific labels in the D&B scene, Fokuz Recordings manage to simultaneously show off the best in the game whilst supporting new talent and the results are fantastic. This album - a recap of 2018 - exemplifies their approach. It's full of big names and bigger tracks, including S.P.Y's remix of 'Always Yours' by Macca & Loz Contreras, Artificial Intelligence's remix of 'String City' by Lenzman and Calibre's remix of 'Forward Thinking' by Satl. Whilst these are obviously great, the bigger story lies in the lesser-known participants and their ability to pull at your heartstrings. DJ Ransome, Edlan, Soligen amongst others all come seriously correct on this LP, turning it into a seriously good release.
Review: Polish soul merchant Satl is back on his new-found home Integral Records with his now recognisable blend of deepness and funkiness. A five-tracker of sublime proportions, 'Everything To Me' is a deserving title track, combining a delicate vocal line with Alix Perez-esque featherweight percussion. The depth carries on over into 'Never Knew', a swirling dive down into liquid's most relaxing neighbourhood that stays with you the whole way. 'Rattler' is the most unique; an amalgamation of pointed stabs and percussive hits that smacks of Skeptical's 'Imperial' or Perez's 'Raven' in its sheer complexity and creative dynamism. 'The Sleep' and 'Each Day' finish off the EP with a return to Satl's trademark sound and the vocal line on both are gorgeous, each nested into a backing mirage of wistful pads and dreamy ambience. An exceptionally strong release.
Review: Artificial Intelligence's Integral imprint hits its second "Glow" volume and once again loads it with total D&B futurism from friends old and new. The bosses take the lead with a heavily textured stepper that's weighed down by a breath-taking reverse lead sound and processed vocals on "The Need", Air K & Cephei sprinkle some mountain fresh Austrian emotional gold into the mix with "Way Home", Satl & Djah flex on the low swinging soul vibe where the sample chimes softly just below the perfectly tuned rolling break and Serpico closes with the majestic soul-out "Illusion". Glowing.
Review: What a year it's been for Lenzman's North Quarter. Putting the extension back into extended player, every release has been a gold mine of drum & bass, hip-hop and soul. Following the label boss, FD and Redeyes comes LA's Submorphics with mate Satl flexing an equally shimmered shaker. Wavy jazz-tinged chords, woozy backing vocal licks, a loose, restrained drum arrangement and a killer flow from man of the moment T.R.A.C, it's yet another precision piece for TNQ... And, we suspect, is likely to lead to another full-strength EP imminently. We can't wait.
Review: Time for a freshness flex: Shogun return to their new and rising talent series Point Of Origin and once again it's a big deal with 15 crucial cuts from 20 outstanding and future-shaping artists; from the already established and massively respected such as Serum, Paul T & Edward Oberon, who follow up last year's massive "Take My Breath Away" with the deep space slinker "Burning", and Paul SG with his decidedly wobbled-out drumstick snapping roller "Holy Moly" right the way through to exciting new energies in the dance like Phaction, with his ghostly-vocalled soul-out "Distant Lovers" and Neve & Crimson's beautifully blue-notated jazz drum dark-out "Solar Rain" and so many stunning cuts in between (Mitekiss, Gerra & Stone, Was A Be, Macca & Loz Contreras, the list goes on) this is Shogun at its most exciting and forward-thinking.
Review: It's vibe o'clock at Vandal HQ this season as they gracefully lay down a brand new Modern Soul collection from their nearest and dearest... And every track is a total gem. Shield provides the ultimate opener with the jaunty horn-hazed "Skippy" before a rainbow of softer, jazzier and deeper tones continue to assault our souls... Bossman Redeyes gets a breezy flip from erstwhile Headz running mate Lenzman on "What She Wants", veteran break sculpter Kabuki lets his hair down on the hip-hop jam "Home Run", Satl cosmicifies his step arrangement on the dreamy "Miss U", Monty brings some warm textured keys, Gerra & Stone add a little murk to GLXY while Arkiak cooks up some kicks that are wider and heavier than your house. And they're just some of the many highlights.