Review: dBridge & Skeptical: do we even need to say any more? Two natural bass innovators repping two separate generations colliding once again to create two singular slices of 170 rawness. "I've Seen" hits heavy from the off with a very Book Of Bad style heads-down gurgling bass roll and an ace sample about a whole other deadly type of material. "Poor & Poverty" flips a whole other CPU of switches as we're taken deep down the digidub rabbit hole. Rolling at halftime speed but punching with soundclash weight, in some ways it takes us back to their first collaboration "Move Way" from 2013 but with less bashment feels and more technoid paranoia. Kindred business.
DBridge/Skeptical - "No Discipline" - (6:24) 174 BPM
DBridge/Alix Perez - "Through My Eyes" - (6:17) 170 BPM
Review: Darren White aka Dbridge has been carrying out some wicked experiments in what circles have described as the 'grey area' between deconstructed/post Autonomic drum and bass and techno/house. The outsider journeys kind of continue (though don't get too outlandish, rest assured) on VS004, with White teaming up with Metalheadz' Skeptical for "No Discipline" featuring a dark sub bass pulse carrying its dystopian atmosphere; the subtlety works wonders on this effort. Next up the label head honcho teams up with Shogun Audio's Alix Perez on "Through My Eyes" a lush and liquid deep drum and bass journey with a nod to legends of the craft like Marcus Intalex or LTJ Bukem.
Falling For You (feat Dogger/Mindstate) - (3:27) 59 BPM
Review: Space Cadet 002 is DRS' first release on his brand new record label of the same name, and it's absolutely gorgeous. For the release he's roped in GLXY, Skeptical, Artificial Intelligence and Dogger & Mindstate, so the line-up is unsurprisingly star-studded. GLXY's 'Rain Dance' combines delicate piano touches with a melancholic sense of forward-movement, a rainy-day tune that'll have you staring out the window. 'Overdose' is the heavier cut of the bunch, with expert precision on the back end from the Integral Records duo that pairs perfectly with the more menacing side to DRS' lyrical ability. The other two tracks are just as unique, rounding off a quality EP from one of the best MCs in the game.
Review: Mise En Place Pt. 2 is a showcase for some of the most innovative talents in drum and bass today. Ingredients Records certainly know how to stockpile an enviable portfolio of tracks, and some of these beauties have been on the backburner for a while. First track "Rainy City Music" by Dub Phizix has added lingering, hopeful ambiance to the end of sets for a good long while now, but with a proper release, headphones everywhere can experience its full cinematic glow. Villem's "Splinter In Your Mind" gets a fractious and bassy makeover by the elusive Break, puling switches and swapping rhythms like a mad professor in a thunderstorm. Skeptical, the go-to man for dark, minimal drum and bass provides a VIP version of cold-hearted killer "Blue Eyes", where beautiful samples are stamped and warped by high-pressure bass and intricate percussion, adding faster-moving tension to an already sterling track. Finally dRamatic & dbAudio's icy roller "No Return" is soaked in icy atmospherics, with bass that looms terrifyingly out of the mist. Four incredible tracks from producers punching well above the median.
Review: It's been quite a while since Martin Mefjus last treated us to a full release, but boy have him and Vision-owners Noisia more than made up for it with this seminal release. Particles is a six-tracker with features on every tune: Camo & Krooked, Skeptical, Phace, IMANU, Break & Noisia. What a lineup that is, and it exceeds expectations as the Austrian trio of Mefjus and Camo & Krooked smash things to pieces on 'Sidewinder', a deeply unique track with a stepping, featherweight drum line, funky synth work and a seriously track structure which moves from hardstyle-esque sounds into drum & bass and back again. IMANU's feature on 'Transit' nails the neurofunk vibe (emphasis on the funk), whilst things get minimal on Skeptical's 'Amber'. Unbelievable Jeff.
Review: Is there ever a time when a Skeptical EP isn't welcome? Bringing the heavyweight depths direct from the North, "Imperial" shows a definite progression in his sound from his more minimal productions. Although space plays a big role in his work even still, there's a dizzying heartbeat of bass waveforms in flux in the title track, stripped bare in "Playground Chat" and used in devastating blows in "Delusions of Grandeur" behind warped effects. Final tune "Instant Reflex" brings back more of his jittery percussion to leave you feeling a bit tweaky.
Review: The Module Eight dust hasn't even begun to settle and Skeptical lets rip with a monolithic four-piece: "Loophole" is a lesson in minimalist momentum where funk can be found in the smallest glitches and elements, "Parallax" is a timeless rattle-and-shaker with a vocal loop peaks and troughs between the precision punctuated steppy beats and "Between The Lines" sees him recruiting one of drum & bass's most distinctive voices as Collette Warren does the jazz thing over a rifle like two-tone bassline. "Just One Kiss" closes the show on a toxic, stark halftime feel for good measure. Impressive from the outset.
Review: With the time rapidly approaching for Skeptical to bring forward his 'Enjoy This Trip' LP on Exit, we have been blessed with a serious sample of the goodness to come in this brand new dubstep design by the name of 'Nebula'. Right from the off we are brought into a cohesive sphere of spacious atmospherics, crunchy dubbed out drum work and some seriously haunting bass leads, growling away beneath the composition. If this is just the taster, we can't wait for the full project to hit the shelves!
Review: The Fibonacci Sequence is in everything... It's in the patterns of pinecones, the eye of a hurricane, the swirl of the galaxies... And now in your own collection as man like Skeppy returns with his first fresh produce since his debut album last yeah Enjoy This Trip. Four cuts deep, all rumbling with Skeptacular bassweight, it's a stark return to form for the influential producer. "Charge" is a proper bulldozer roller vibe, "Snail Trail" is a graveyard ballet creeper while "Mechanism" has a proper waspish mischievous buzz running through the groove. Last but not least we have the deep brooding title track. Proper percussive rolling headnodder, fans of "Imperial" will be all over this. Exceptional.
Review: Skeptical & Alix Perez... Contemporary drum & bass production tag-teams really don't get any sharper, deeper or slicker. Following previous collaborations "Elephant Dreams" and "Room 667" with four stark cuts, get ready for a lean, mean adventure: "Without A Trace" grunts with a grainy textured hook that's one of a kind, "Solitude" stutters and wriggles with minimal mystery - each of the key ingredients comprising a beastly groove that defies the sum of its parts. Further into the odyssey we hit the incredible oceanic synth bliss, cosmic soul and jungle tidal waves of "Taurus" and get our creps stuck in the gooey swampy halftime gully soup of "Killa". Crucial.
Review: Belgian producer Alex Perez steps aside from his long-standing association with Shogun Audio to launch his own label, 1985 Records. Described by the man himself as a "platform rooted primarily in the 85 / 170 BPM bracket but also going beyond with no rules applied," the label sets a high bar in the quality stakes with this Elephant Dreams 12" from Perez himself. Taut moody rolling ruffage is the order of the day on the title cut, one of two collaborations with Skeptical, whilst "Had I Known" offers a more hopeful vibe before a dank mood descends on "STNKR". This broken slab of bass science is the highlight here, though the closing brittle jungle of Skeptical co-production "Room 667" isn't far behind!
Review: Just when folks started to think it was safe to come blinking out into the streets again, Skeptical returns with an absolute hurter of a minimal battering ram. Working with Instra:mental's Kid Drama for "Versus #1", the percussion becomes so industrial there's a chance it may actually be scaffolding. Combine it with Kid Drama and Consequence's B-side "Versus #2" there's potential for nightmaes next time you go to be (lay off the cheese), while "Versus #1"'s meticulous logic, relentlessly powering through static and dubby undercurrents of hard rolling drums.
Review: There are super-collabo and then there are genuinely epic hook-ups like this. Plasma bossman Safire and MC/poet/soulman extraordinaire DRS are the consistent figures across both tracks as two of the best producers in the game join in for each piece. Skeppy takes the lead with the purring, deep breath creeper "With You". The ideal glacial bed for Del's cold bars, if you're not goosebumping to this there's something wrong with your soul. Similarly, if you're not swooning in good vibrations to "Set The Bar" - this time with absolute OG Zed Bias joining them on dials - then you should call a doctor ASAP. What a release.
Review: We've been waiting for this since Doc Scott fired up his old ThirtyOne machine just over a year ago. A 24-track collection of stone cold exclusives, this bucks any expectations of the label and its remit and celebrates the very best creativity in all shades of drum & bass. Littered with the best names in the game (Calibre, Nucleus & Paradox, Bungle, Loxy & Resound, Scar, Marcus Intalex and many many more), each cut pushes the bass and riddim envelope with stark, uncompromised creativity and production muscle. The ultimate document of where the best D&B is at, this is nothing short of essential.
Review: Whether it's as a performer, a producer or a label head honcho, J:Kenzo has never done things by halves, so Artikal's debut long player was always going to be special. 15 exclusive cuts from the label's talented family and friends, this collection of contributions doesn't just document where bass music is at, but where it's heading. Each track is a highlight in itself, but it's cuts like the slinky hypnotic groove and cosmic congas of TMSV's "Scorpion", Sleeper's star-gazing, dub-drenched sub science of "Coxsone Dub", Skeptical's lesson minimalism and aggy restraint ("Skavenger") and Eshone's treacle-like dirge "Qualia" that really represent the depth, scope and vision of Artikal. Designed for the dance, arranged so well it works as an entire listening experience, Artikal don't do things by halves.
Review: Psylence's culinary themed label Ingredients comes up with a brand new concept for their "best of" compilation, which brings together the highlights from the label's success to date and packages them as the "Choice Cuts". Lo and behold there are such tasty morsels as Sato's dark, glistering bassline roller "Detroit Lies Bleeding", the insatiable snapping snares of "Clean Break" and fidgety finesse of "Voyager (feat. Baron Von Alias)" - both by Phobia - and the moody intrigue of Jubei's "The Path". It's a fine selection of tunes, which points to the fact that Ingredients is a very promising label indeed. Watch this space.