Review: Wrapping up a serious year of heat, Hype's Playaz look back over their many releases of 2021 and brings them altogether in one place for those who missed out on the label's many big bruisers, bumpers and thumpers. Ranging from Xtrah's trippy, leftfield 'Droplets' to straight-up face-melters like Spaow's 'Amd Planet' with a whole range of fire in between from some of the label's (and the scene's) biggest and most respected names like Taxman, Voltage, Limited, Dunk and of course the mighty DJ Hazard, it's a pretty forthright reminder of just how much clout and musical muscle the longstanding label has - even when half the year was spent with the clubs and raves closed. Playaz ain't playing around!
Review: Voltage on Philly Blunt doing what Voltage does best... Making funky-assed bassline funk at the highest possible level. Tapping into a classic Bristol sound but in his own inimitable and incredibly well produced way, 'Gang Music' nods to the Die school of Bristol rollers and is all about the addictive call and response groove. 'Hornz', meanwhile, is just a little darker and bleepier conjuring up subtle notions of Krust back in his Warhead chapter. References aside, these are timeless and some of the best things Voltage has done solo in quite some time.
Review: Remix alert! Voltage's massive 2020 album enjoys a few cheeky re-rubs from his nearest and dearest. First up comes fellow roller king Serum with a restrained twist on 'Natty Love' before man of the moment Waeys flips 'Life Of A DJ' into a moustache-twisting mash-up. Deeper again into this remix opus we hit Voltage's partner in crime Harriet Jaxxon who absolutely destroys 'Save Me From Myself' before ol' bumchin steps in himself for the final reboot with a VIP of 'Endless Dreaming'. A very well balanced EP.
Review: 25 years! The big H celebrate a quarter of a century in the drum & bass game with this phenomenal collection of remixes, reboots and revisitations by some exceptional names from firing new talent to the sagest of OGs. From Dillinja's remix of Urbandawn's 'Come Together' to Makoto's flip on Nu:Tone's classic remix of Lenny Fontana's 'Spread Love' via L-Side's immense remix of B-Complex's 'Beautiful Lies' and A.Fruit's dusty jazz take on the early 2000s 'Beautiful' from Phuturistix, the whole Hospital rave rainbow is covered by one of the best talent line-ups outside of their festivals. Whiney to Winslow, Remarc to Ray Keith, this is a fantastic document that reflects both Hospital and drum & bass on the widest possible level. Happy anniversary!
Review: One of Hospital's newest signings, Voltage has stepped out of the full Kings of the Rollers team and lands on the label with his first solo album since 2015's More Than Luck. It's by far his most diverse and mature work to date, as Voltage lays down the usual dancefloor pressure but intersperses it with fragrant 80s textures and deep, ambient soundscapes. It's a testament to his journey as a producer, as well as the cross-section of influences he's been exposed to as a part of the Hospital roster. That duality of sound is expressed best in 'Make Me Feel', a stripped back roller with finger click drums that's spacious and soulful yet punctuated through by a guttural, honking bass sound that's right in the KoTR tradition. 'So Close' kicks off proceedings with funk synthwave; 'Endless Dreaming' is a sumptuously deep, almost-liquid number with fantastic vocals from Bulgarian Goddess; and 'Moonshine' and 'Conscious' are ambient cuts that put on full show his newfound depth and breadth. Big album.
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: Do as he says, not as he does... Number one father for justice Voltage lays down the ground rules with this stinking slab of parental heaviness. You thought lockdown was bad? Just wait until you see what happens under your new poppa's regime: The groaning bassline on "Space Station" will ground you for a week, the pace, tension and growls of "Gyal Chat" will stop your pocket money for three months and the gruffness and ruffness of "Cold Air" will send you to bed with no tea every night for a fortnight. It's not all punishment and gunishment, though; "Spare You" (with MC Bassman) shows Voltage's kinder, softer fatherly side and he lets you drink cider and stay up till 3am watching horror films. Way to go dad-dad-daddio.
Review: Total Science's CIA take a moment for reflection as they look back over the decades of hard service they've done and cherry pick a few old gold favourites. As with previous Select Files collections, the range is widescreen and full of authentic, timeless, honest D&B. You want highlights? You best start going through every track... Everything from Calibre's 2009 snarling bongo-buster "Understand" to some of S.P.Y's earliest cuts such as "Dark Age" and "Magic Hour" and the VIP of Total Science's evergreen ballistic rave weapon "Defcom 69" still hits the spot like they did the first time round. Get selective.
Review: Killaz by name, killer by nature; Vital Elements and Tobie Scopes' continue to set the agenda as DJs, artists and as label owners. This third annual mix-up is certainly no exception as they plough through 59 tracks - many of which are brand new exclusives - to paint a picture of exactly where drum & bass is at right now. A thick smelly melting pot, everything is thrown into the mix: Upgrade's spine-trembling harmonics on "The Voice", ruded-out bassline badness from Voltage ("My DJ"), various jump-up hybrid creepers from Russian newcomer Ozma, brand new dark wobble lava from Serial Killaz themselves ("Rudebwoyz") the list goes on and on. This is a huge package and it comes with a superb mix too. Treat yourselves or defeat yourselves.
Review: Voltage is one of those names that, over the past few years, has seen a growing level of esteem attached to his productions, mostly via the now-supergroup that is Kings of the Rollers. He's back on jump-up stalwart label Low Down Deep for a fiery little single which brings to the table the sound he'd become known for: stabby, punchy and full of jagged energy. This one for the rollers crew. Where you at?
Review: The bumchin badboy is back, and he's packing a platter of greasy riff pies. But be lively, these are so fresh they're jumping off the plate! "High Frequency" is all about the ping pong ball bassline that ricochets around the mix like a hyper puppy who's been given grown up Pedigree Chum while "Entity" adds instant contrast with grumpy bass guffs and a beat the rolls with absolute perfection and works in pretty much every single mix we've tried. Deeper into the EP we find Souped Up's head chef Serum getting in the mix for two collaborations; "Circuits" is a proper grumpy one with just a smidgeon of BC peppering the mix while "Pitch Forks" gathers the rabble and comes charging out of the gate towards whoever's made the most recent public upset. And by the sounds of that flabby bassline and those graveyard pads they're not stopping until blood is split. Rabble rabble!
Review: Cor blimey, Jungle Cakes aren't messing around with their Welcome To The Jungle series are they? Hot on the heels of Ray Keith comes another stone cold OG; Nicky Blackmarket. Digging deep across the classics and sparking up a whole forest of fresh fires, it's a 40 track, 2 mix, 10 FX tool trove of pure jungle magic curated with the wide-armed style you'd expect from an originator. With classic ranging from well known such as "Incredible" and "Pulp Fiction" to cult such as "Keep It Raw" and "Gangsters" and upfront jams flexing from all the right names (Serum, Aries, Serial Killaz, Drumsound & Bassline Smith), Blackmarket has absolutely smashed this out of the mark.
Review: Danger danger, high Voltage: one of the most prolific and consistent men in the game continues to assault the game as he levels up to board the Metalheadz mothership. Five tracks in total, each one flagrantly showcasing how rich his references and skills are: "Hold Tight" is all about jazzy touches, "Losing" is straight up star-gazing soul, "Out Of Luck" is all about the melancholic hypnosis, "Mood Swings" plays a deft game of contrast and shade with Hidden Agenda style flurries over some classic breaks while "Never Ready" closes the deal with an iced-out dark side rampage that couldn't be more Headz if it chomped your arm off with gold teeth. Moody as hell.
Review: One of the elite breed of artists who can appear across the board from Shogun to Low Down Deep, verified roller king Voltage returns to his own imprint for two slices of dagger dance bassline fun. With its sandpaper bassline and fiery energy "Hot Knives" hits the throat and gives you a buzz from the toes up while "Resistance" is much more of a gutter-chomping mix treat with its low swinging gnarly bassline hitting well below the knees over a spacious Bristol style jazzy break. Cut to the chase.
Review: A year has passed since Voltage took us for a "Ruby" on Logan D's Low Down Deep. During that time he's verified himself as a roller king and teamed up with Serum to get souped up and waggle his fat cobra in our faces. Now he's back with more high grade strains and they're all as smelly and potent as the next. "Sticky Vicky" is all about the staccato sandpaper harmonics, "Barbera" does this cool Q&A between higher and lower textures before dropping into a dreamy rave breakdown, "Labrynth" is all about the squelching farty off-beat bass funk while "Boy" shuts us down with weirded-out scary reverse bassline twistery. White widow... guaranteed to spark up the dance!