Review: Cementing its position as one of D&B's most essential labels with this round-up of the year's biggest tracks, Shogun Audio has outdone itself. From Rockwell's bafflingly precise electronic meanderings to Icicle's considered approach to minimal bass and drums, Technimatic and Spectrasoul's beautiful synergy of sound and feeling and newcomer Joe Ford's unique slant on experimental soundscaping, this is an unashamedly outgoing collection. Shogun has been running the gauntlet for some time now, focusing all the experimental energies harboured by its own terrifyingly impressive host of signed artists. As always, it's been worth the hard word. An essential release for an exceptional year. Long live Shogun!
Review: What is there to say about Shogun Audio that hasn't already been said at length directly into your ear at 3am? Friction's brainchild has become one of the scene's biggest, most successful and perhaps most importantly one of the most highly-regarded labels in recent years. A decade might not be a long time in D&B talk, but 10 years has been long enough for Shogun to put its stamp on almost everything making its way from the underground and into the blinding light of day. From the experimental sounds of Alix Perez, Rockwell and Icicle to the spellbinding Technimatic, right through to the chart-bothering escapades of Camo & Krooked, this is a flip through the highlights of Shogun's life. In case you forgot, it's been a brilliant one so far. Roll on the next 10 years.
Review: My Nu Leng are the guys right now, it doesn't matter what bass genre you reside in, everyone respects them. Since the rumours of the release started circulating it's has been something the dnb family have been looking forward to, and as the tracks started to surface there have been rumblings on the forums that this is one of Shogun's best releases for some time, we'll let you judge that for yourselves. 'The Terrace' see the lads join forces with the hugely talented SpectraSoul and the result is unsurprisingly a tough and techy, half time work of art. Partnering with label boss Friction sees a more dancefloor led direction with a thundering mutated sub at the helm, surrounded by crashing drums and catchy vocal. The lead track 'Portal' is a hard hitting and a complete smasher, with killer drones and well-crafted drum patterns, it's a big one. But our favourite track of the EP has to be 'Senses' for a start Iyamah's voice is stunning, but secondly it's just a perfect balance of soft, melodic blissfulness and hard, aggressive grit.
Review: As if their first 100 EP didn't hit the spot, Shogun return with another all-star cast for the second round of their centennial celebrations: Phace takes the lead with his own distinctive dark funk with guttural bass and synth hooks that rip in from nowhere, Joe Ford shows off a more cosmic side to his palette with a purring elastic bassline and dynamics so floaty and melodic they're not dissimilar to Camo & Krooked. Deeper again we hit halftime havoc with Promixa's steel-drum-smashing "Sens8" but the highlight for most will be Ivy Lab's remix of SpectraSoul's delicious 2010 stepper "Glimpse". Still kissed by DBridge's yearning alto, the Lab flex back to their deep rolling roots with slick, spacey and outright sexy results.
Review: Warning! There is nothing silent about this new EP from SpectraSoul! Containing "Untitled Horn", one of the most popular D&B tracks this summer, this release comes highly anticipated. It's not just the striking pneumatic drums and ominous brass of "Untitled Horn" either, the rest of the EP hits all kinds of spots; "Faithful" sees them painting with the more soulful colours of their palette, "Silence" brings LSB into the mix with big orchestral strings and a yearning, poignant vocal while "Like This" is a heads down dream machine. Quintessential SpectraSoul.
Say What (feat Madi Lane - Midnight mix) - (4:40) 172 BPM
Remember Me - (5:07) 174 BPM
Review: As the sun still sets on their evergreen third album How We Live Spectrasoul deliver a series of killer remixes and versions to celebrate. First up is this golden twist from Calibre. Immaculately redressed to highlight the delicate emotion and beauty of the original, it's yet another heart-stopping work of art from the singular Signature bossman. Spectrasoul themselves take care of "Say What" themselves by twisting up the swaggering halftimer into a beautiful rolling moonlit 170 jam while "Remember Me" closes the wax with its spacious plucks and barbed vocal. You won't forget this in a hurry.
Review: What a trip it's been for Spectrasoul; going solo with their label Ish Chat in spring 2016, they've assaulted us continuously over the course of 18 months. Taking us deep, dark, soulful, savage with abandon; never before has their melting pot been so fizzy or foundational. Naturally this third album is no exception as we glide and slide between the styles; the "Glimpse"-style space soul of "Move On", the Fracture-like hardcore references on "Push & Pull", the trembling chimes, sweeping strings and delicate vocals of "Wrong To Love You"(with LSB), the classic techstep movement of "Pinger" are just a handful of on-point constructions from a duo who are living the creative dream right now. Essential.
Review: SpectraSoul really aren't messing around with Ish Chat. Now hitting their third release, they've put out an album-sized trove of floor fire over the last year. No compromises, each cut has been exceptional and ticked a completely different box, this is the sound of two men on their absolute A-game... "Second Chance" is a persistent roller with pristine drums, an evocative faraway vocal refrain and lush grainy textures, "Fade Away" is just absolute darkness with a gruff, ruff BC-style grit to the bassline, "On & On" is a dreamboat roller with so much emotion you'll melt any crowd you play this to. Finally "Beat Keeps" taps into a halftime mentality with a whole gamut of gully twists along the way. Powerful stuff.
Review: The second release on SpectraSoul's own Ish Chat imprint; it's clear the duo are in their element with six examples of precision drum & bass construction. "Stock Sound" is savage both in its presentation, its message and its potty-mouthed bass textures, "Waiting For" is a deliciously smoky soul session, "AKA Yoob" is all sprightly, bouncy and highly reminiscent of Bingo's influence 10 years ago, "Tough Linen" is gully incarnate with a gritty sandpaper bass riff and a catchy MC vocal sample (that isn't credited but sounds remarkably close to Jakes) on mic duties. Halftime heads should jump on the garage-flecked "Frogspawn" or the toxic rumbles of "Gold Standard". Enough chat now, it's time for some action!
Review: It's taken Birmingham-based duo Spectrasoul three years to make the follow-up to their promising debut album, Delay No More, but it seems to have been time well spent. The Mistress is a pleasingly varied set, rooted in their deeper, more melodious take on D&B, but blessed with a range of other influences. "Hot Head, Rock Bed", for example, sounds like vintage James Blake, while "More To Give" - featuring the soulful tones of vocalist Tamara - expertly blends half-step rhythms with luscious modern soul. They even go experimental and gnarly on the frankly quite odd "Kutchi". For all the twists and turns, they've not forgotten their roots, and The Mistress also contains a number of straight-up D&B rollers that should appease DJs and fans alike.
Review: it's a fact long understood that anything coming out of the Spectrasoul sound lab will drip with soulful magnificence. This latest release, then, still sticking with the Shogun family, is a perfect performance of emotional drum and bass. Laid-back bass belies an undercurrent of emotional urgency in "Aways" thanks to heartfelt vocals and driving percussion. "I Don't Mind" stomps with a heavier heart, moving fast and low with extra emphasis on a big, dubby bassline. Perfection as always from two guys at the top of their game.
Review: The second single to land ahead of Spectrasoul's highly-anticipated sophomore set The Mistress, "Shelter" emanates the duo's most sensitive, touching sides. Leaning heavily on a woozy half beat, full focus on placed on Lily's yearning, heart-torn vocals. D&B doesn't get any more emotional than this. Remix-wise Two Inch Punch lays down a darker, barbed beats twist with a treacle-thick slo-mo stomp while Spectrasoul themselves jump on the VIP with a 170 refix that's tailored for prime time floor flattening. The full package.
Review: It's that time of year again! The scene's longest-standing platform Drum&BassArena step up with their annual flagship album and once again it's a fitting salute to all corners, all shades and all styles of the rich, wide scene. 60 tracks deep comprising absolute bangers and bliss-outs from the likes of Chase & Status, Noisia & Phace, K-Motionz, Rockwell, DJ Hybrid, GLXY and Seba, it's also home to exclusives from Kyrist, Brookes Brothers, Bou & Simula, Kanina, Kove and A.M.C & Turno. From jungle to jump-up, liquid to dancefloor and complete with three killer mixes for life when you're not practicing your double/triple/quadruple drops, Drum&BassArena continue to celebrate the widest possible scene.
Alix Perez - "Down The Line" (feat MC Fats) - (6:27) 172 BPM
JO - "R-Type" - (5:51) 174 BPM
Subwave - "Think" - (5:58) 175 BPM
Shogun Audio Presents: The Classics (2004-2017) (continuous DJ mix) - (57:08) 174 BPM
Review: When a label as consistent and as well rounded as Shogun Audio announce a 'Classics' release it obviously sends shivers around the drum & bass community. It's hard to imagine condensing thirteen years of dominance into a minimized box of thirty classics, but just looking at the tracklisting is awe-inspiring. We see classic reappearances from the likes of Friction, Spor, Break, Icicle, Rockwell, Spectrasoul, Alix Perez, Camo & Krooked and that's not even half of the names involved. To break it down simply, this compilation summarizes why Shogun hold such a legendary status within the scene, through incredible consistency and magnificent diversity of sound.
Review: 21 years old. How about that then? Some of us were barely out of nappies when London Elektricity first launched the imprint, some of us remember like it was yesterday. Either way, we are all united under the big flouro H and right now they're celebrating their coming of age with a humungous 70 track collection. Yes, 70! Each cut handpicked to represent the London imprint's constantly evolving but always soul-touched and groove-laden sound are 24 exclusives such as Urbandawn's insane version of Reso's "Taiga", Fred V & Grafix's titanium colab with Metrik "Tension", Serum & Inja's already-massive "Blow Dem" and Whiney's remix of TC's chop-slapping "Storm Brew". Massive. Happy birthday Hospital!
Review: From Prolix to Technimatic, Total Science to Was A Be by way of Icicle, Joe Ford, Fourward, Spectrasoul, Phace, Ed.It and many more, Friction's label digs deep from the genre's most innovative corners and eras. As we prepare to close off 2016, they've taken a detailed look back over the last 18 months of crucial output to not just represent where the label is at, but the genre itself. An ideal opportunity to fill any holes in your collection cuts such as Fourward & Linguistics demonic stomper "Storm", Was A Be's rudeboy-slewing halftime damager "Blind" or Break's sparkling "Emerald" and complete with a journeyman mix of the tracks themselves, this rounds up yet another serious year at the very forefront of drum & bass.
Review: Drum&Bass Arena: The longest-standing, and one of the most respected, platforms for all things jungle D&B celebrates an impressive 20 years in the game with this ridiculously hefty document that pays respect to the genre's every twist and turn. From scene-shattering megahits ("Tarantula", "Feel The Love", "Rock It", "Afterglow") to unarguable historical underground scene-smashing megabangers ("Machete", "Aztec", "Nasty Ways", "The View", "Champion Sound", "Turbulence", "Up All Night", "Deadline", Ram Trilogy's remix of "Pacman") by way of tracks that may have slipped under the radar ("Defcom 69", "What's Wrong", "Song For Lovers") the whole album is loaded to the lips with some of the most important records the genre's enjoyed in the last 20 years. Time to get nostalgic, time to fill those holes in your collection, time to educate your dancefloor. Here's to another 20 years!