Review: Serious business right here from Liquid: Addiction played a huge role in liquid's earliest chapters with releases on Fabio's genre-coining Creative Source imprint alongside Carlito with records the likes of Technimatic and Lenzman have cited as key inspirations. Here he returns to the game with the consistently on-it Villem who has done no wrong on Headz, Spearhead, Dispatch and Utopia. It's a match made in heaven; classy but weighted, timeless yet rooted in the foundations... "Make Me Feel Fine" is a Planet V era style jazzy bassline bumper while "Someone Somebody" is a roomier soul shake-down. Naturally both kill it. Tip.
Review: Here's something to celebrate: a studio hook-up between regular sparring partners Break and Mako, and fellow Utopia Music artists Fields and Villem. "Shadowlines" is an undeniably forthright concoction - a pounding tech-step smasher that makes great use of glitchy electronics, snappy snares, weighty sub, nightmarish textures and creepy melodies. It's an excellent follow-up to the quartet's 2012 single "Dilligence". Flip for "Found You" by former Fokuz and Formation Records artist Chromatic, who drops a typically chiming and picturesque liquid D&B roller packed with fizzing rhythms, warm chords and hazy female vocal samples.
Review: Synthesis is the fourth Digital album and it might be his most ambitious undertaking yet! The album's sixteen tracks see the UK producer working alongside a swathe of high profile contemporaries. The danger with projects such as this, is the lack of cohesion and binding theme but its clear Digital conceived Synthesis as a display of all that's good in the current scene. Exceptionally well produced and engineered, it's nigh on difficult to pick out a highlight here with the likes of Om Unit, Nomine, Villem, Spirit and the mighty Klute excelling in their bass science explorations alongside Digital. An album to really sink your teeth into.
Review: Longstanding Rotterdam vibe merchants Fokuz bring together a delectable rollcall of talents for this sunny-side V/A EP. Perfect timing for the warmer months, almost every track seems tailored and fine tuned for the season; Dreazz, Emery and Silence Groove get all spacey and introspective while Villem & Mcleod add another blissful jam to their ever-growing collaborative body of work with the gilded, Leo Wood-fronted piano-tickling roller "Gifted Lover" while Leniz & HumaNature add a touch of dusky darkness with the fittingly titled dark roller "The Switch". Finally Coop ends of the EP with the only non-collaborative track of the release "Get That". One of the summer's endless nights and heavier hypnosis moments, there's a twang of a young Bop or Phace coded deep into the mix. Take your dancefloor to a better place today...
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: Player central: Not one artist on this EP doesn't command serious respect. Ed:It and Pennygiles's 2014 firecracker gets the treatment from Ulterior Motive, adding just a lick or two of shade to the already solid groove. ST Files and Response follow with a beautifully restrained deep stepper that's not dissimilar to erstwhile ST collaborator Marcus Intalex. Total Science and FD maintain the deep theme with a soulful rolling track that's not dissimilar to their Funky Technicians material. Villem and McLeod anchor the EP with a unique halftime roll that balances dark and light tighter than your nan's 1950s television. A truly spotless EP.
Review: Fluctuating pockets of lion-growling bass tickle the edges of Mako, DLR, Villem & Ant TC1 mega-production "Hungry For Atmosphere". Its groove is the exact type of rhythm we all want from a classic Metalheadz record, which is circled by chiming bells, tremolo-infected Rhodes and an infectiously urban-sounding 'yeah vocal'. The other track however, presents a different story, with something more tear out. This time it's Mako, DLR amd Villem - minus Ant TC1 - that provide the ripping, snorting, and shaking "A Certain Flavour" - watch out for this.
Review: More often spotted cooking up sickness stews with McLeod, Villem tag teams with Belgian deepsmith Phase. The result is every bit as spotless, crisp and alluring as you want it to be. Soulful but barbed with the right balance of darkness, each cut trembles but punches: Steo adds emotional sparkles to "Thru My Soul", "The Traveller" soothes with K&D era pads before dropping into a Break-style elastic bass groove while "Kaikol" plays the cosmic card with its mystic instruments and drawn out notes. Of course McLeod shows his face too. And he does so on the beautiful "Reap What You Sow" where absolute bliss drops into total jungle dungeonism.
Review: Double trouble: Riya's critically received debut album from summer 2015 enjoys a deluxe twist with double the amount of tracks on. As well as the album itself there are 13 fresh cuts including new originals such as the Gill Scott-style street soul pieces with Maverick Soul "Bittersweet" and "We Belong", the perfect piano-powered gospel roller "Everything" and the grizzly, groaning techy roller "Silhouette". Killer new remixes such as Pola & Bryson's subby switch of "Lost Friends", Break's spotless drums on "Confessions" xxx . Plus a few floor-melting VIPs: the relentless bass pump of "Fear Bites" and the cosmic touches to "Wears Me Down". Deluxe and demonstrative - this is a great addition to an already remarkable album.
Review: Not just one of drum & bass's most iconic female vocalists, but also one of the most respected... Riya's work behind the scenes goes back around 15 years. As a result she's got serious reference points, a genuine understanding of proper drum & bass and a really impressive debut album that features some of the best names in D&B. Ranging from the sci-fi soars and twinkling synths of "Misunderstanding" to the out-and-out gutter slaps of "Piece Of Me" via the soul jazz jungle lushness of "Don't You Know" and the already massive lighter-raiser "As Soon As". Released at a time when a lot of female features are popping up in D&B for all the wrong reasons, Riya is the real deal... And so is this album.
Review: Riya gets her own release. It's about freaking time. The soulful siren of the underground for ten years, there aren't many people who are better connected or more respected amongst the 'good guys' of UK, European and Brazilian drum and bass than this lady. She's a force to be reckoned with. Working with Dynamite MC, Villem, McLeod and Break on this stunner of a two-track, the beats drop hard and the bass rolls deep. But really, what did you expect? If you call yourself a drum and bass fan, pick this up as soon as your fingers stop tapping to the sample of "I Don't Need".
Review: Fokuz release some of the best compilations in the business, in part because they have such a large orbit of artists around them but also just because the curational skills at Fokuz HQ have been honed over twenty years of releasing music. Better Days is a classic Fokuz compilation, as a blend of artists both well known and lesser so come together to celebrate all things liquid. HumaNature and Royalty are both veteran Fokuz producers and their contribution - 'Stand On Our Own' - is a lovely mixture of bouncy synthetic funk notes and smooth, rolling soul. The mighty Villem & Mcleod team up once more with regular collaborator Leo Wood and the result is once again sheer goosebumps, as Leo's serene voice floats with a hint of magic. Lovely, lovely work.
Review: Like some kind of Human Traffic soundtrack to 2020, Hospital's annual House Party VA has arrived. Fresh for a summer of social distancing, house parties and clandestine diversions, it's a soundtrack that will get any D&B head through the lockdown status, BBQs permitted. Top and tailed by the poppy, liquid, sample based and acoustic sessions of both Villem & Leo Wood's "We Had A Sing" and Whiney's "Better With You", find playful aggro in MC LowQui's "Middle Finger" to some hyper fresh material in Degs' "Pressure Cooker". Aggy half time once more in tracks like "Saturn's Strings" with gnarly basslines in Voltage's "The Prophet" and Logistic's "Playing With Fire" bringing the heat.
Review: Vandal's Modern Soul series of LPs has for a long time been a breeding ground for a wide variety of drum & bass, including formative tracks from Shield, Monty and others. This time around it's number five and the quality continues, kicking things off with a gorgeously light liquid number from Phase and Lameduza that brings old school vibes right to the forefront. Tech wizard Rizzle is known for his liquid depth too as 'Levitate' has a sumptuously mystical back end that falls and falls, whilst fellow minimal heads Invadhertz equally try their hand at wispy pads and far-off vocal samples. Monty makes an appearance, as does Amoss, SKS and Arcatype. A tour de-force.
Review: A label shutting up shop is never, ever a good thing. But when they sign out with a collection as strong as this? You've got to admire them. Graduation is an epic collection of total D&B innovation from some of the Hospital sub-label's longest standing talents, old friends and a few new-gen upstarts along the way. Highlights across the 23 track set include raw damagement in the form of a S.P.Y's "Black Flag VIP", 160 freakery from Lakeway in the form of "Massive", swampy trippy tripletty funk from the long-missed Lung ("Stop Crying") and more blissful uniqueness from Kimyan Law ("Kaleido"). These are just some of the many impeccable designs from a collection that closes the label with full respect and the attention to detail the label has always had. Med School RIP.
Review: Spearhead are coming out with a huge compilation that seeks to be a statement of intent for 2020, combining a load of new tracks with some of the choicest cuts from the Spearhead back catalogue. There is old school talent like Need For Mirrors, Bcee, Carlito & Addiction & Saikon, as well as recruits from the new school like Whiney, Black Barrel, Monrroe and Walk:r, all of whom have done a wicked job walking the Spearhead stylistic line between hard and soft. Need For Mirrors' 'Zxana' is the ideal example; it's stripped back and minimalist in its percussion but expansive in the low-frequencies, with a hypnotic feeling of movement and a seriously solid piece of sound design. The rest of the LP is typically epic as well, so shout out to the Norwich crew.
The Vanguard Project - "Is This Love" (feat Lucy Kitchen - Dexcell remix) - (4:59) 172 BPM
Review: Spearhead Records - which was started by Bcee in an internet caf? - is hitting its 100th release and celebrating the fact with a huge compilation of brand new tracks, including contributions by Calibre, Technimatic, LSB and Bcee himself. Staying true to the label's origins, it's pretty much all gorgeous rolling liquid and we're very much into it. One of the highlights is the Bcee refix of his seminal 'Back to the Street', which has been given a revamped bassline and a fresh veneer of bassy purpose. It's not just the old on this album, though, and Walk:r lays down the gauntlet with 'Wallflower', a sublimely subtle, pacey piano tune that rolls out in delightful fashion. Wicked stuff here from one of the best in the game.