Review: Bryan Gee and V Recordings do not mess around. They never have in the past, they're certainly not right now in the present and judging by this highly anticipated Future album, they're going to mess around any time ahead. 25 tracks from some of the biggest, best and baddest names in D&B (Dillina, Serum, Benny L, Paul T & Edward Oberon, Roni Size, DJ Marky, Drumsound & Bassline Smith, Bladerunner, Saxxon, the list goes on) this one's been a long, long, long time coming... And it's been well worth the wait. From L-Sides massive remixes of Dillinja and Krust to Need For Mirrors super-revved "Lambo" to Benny L's incredible remix of "Days", this sums up why Bryan and his label are as influential and respected in the game as they are today. Don't mess around.
Review: Serious business: Zero T and Fierce have been steadily delivering killer cuts this year that don't just tap into the late 90s neuro roots but rather dig them up and wire them directly into our frontal cortexes. Both "Always Something" and "Axis" really hit hard with that simple-but-effective construction and dark energy; The former with its 10 million volt electrified bassline, the latter for its infectious percussion elements. Mixed down for the modern era, there's no dewy-eyed nostalgia ... just reminders and references and rugged funk.
Review: They just keep on coming... Zero T and Fierce are smashing out some of the most concentrated, thoroughbred drum & bass this year. But then what did you expect from two legends of this calibre? Both bringing out contrasting sides to each other (Zero T highlights Fierce's funk while Fierce encourages Zero T's darker side) each track has been a guaranteed killer. "Scatter" punches with sky-scraping drums, classic FX and a stretched MC vocal. "Inhibitor" plays the perfect foil as the wasp nest bass takes the lead role and the drums roll gently in the background. Timeless.
Review: Zero T and Fierce continue their collaborative assault with two more reminders of proper, authentic, innovative drum & bass. "Expose" is a deep breath stepper, all lean, naked but shrouded in mystery. "Clandestine" takes us deep inside the drums as precision-tuned cymbals splash and shimmer while the kicks and snares punch with crisp energy. Watch out as the track unfolds... There's a lot going on in the subs and pads too. True craft.
Review: Cold, slick and fiercely rolling, Zero T and Fierce have absolutely nailed it with "Intrinsic". Following the path of old school sounds with towering atmospheres, this tune is the sound of 1am. Head down, eyes closed, sway to the groove. It's every good night you've ever had. "Second nature" rattles off on similar rails as the rolling masterpiece before it, however it takes a swift detour with syncopated drums and unexpected breaks that drag you out of the fog, only to get sucked back in by the deep, subby bass.
Review: Three D&B titans collide on the legendary Quarantine: this is heavyweight from the spec alone. With its breezy chords and lilting elements "Going" rolls with a deeper air than you'd expect, but beneath lies a sizzling bassline charged by 50 substations that gets more powerful the bigger the system you play this on. Flip for "Profile", an unabashed hurter with pummelling industrial strength drums that are so hard they'd make Dom and his trusty Roland blush. Premium.
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: 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: This compilation arrives with a rich heritage of V Recordings compilations behind it, and Planet V has for a number of years been the flagship series for Bryan Gee's label. Edition four comes to a whopping 73 tracks and includes a mix as well, and all the familiar V faces are present, from Alibi to Paul t & Edward Oberon. All of the tunes have already seen the light of day in a previous form, and Disrupta and Duskee's 'Deep Thoughts' is one of the standouts, as Disrupta lays down a minimal yet funky beat for Duskee to rap lyrical over, something he does with serious presence. New gun SL8r makes several appearances, including on the excellent 'What U Need', which bounces along in a synthscape of serious depth and texture, its funky nodes nodding to the beat of a vintage blend. Crossover outfit Think Tonk also shine with 'Tom & Heavy', an offering unique in its stepping, breaksy percussion and one which oozes soulful class. There are dozens more to have a gander at, so take your pick.
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: 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: DLR's Sofa Sound label has become a pillar of the scene in barely a handful of years, and this week they're following up their previously successful Sofa King Sick compilation with a second edition, this one equally packed to the rafters with both new and old school talent. It's a tour-de-force of the tough side of the genre and it's exemplified by 'Baja', courtesy of Scepticz, a Belgian producer who knows his way around the controls and who proves it once more, as jagged synth lines cut across its snapping, two-step arrangement with all the force and subtlety of an underground train. Kodin makes an appearance on the superbly gruff 'Chronic', whilst The Sauce get deeper than usual on 'Ultrasonic'. Quintessential drum & bass that makes for essential listening.
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: 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: It's been 15 years since Shogun Audio burst into life on the South Coast and under the watchful eye of Ed Keeley AKA Friction, as well as K-Tee, it's grown and grown into one of the best labels in the business, without a doubt. From the classics like Perez's seminal 1984, to more recent, futuristic numbers from the likes of Koherent and Document One, the label is truly diverse and that's represented extremely well in this 15 Years Of compilation. Featuring a litany of acts both old and new, including Technimatic, Pola & Bryson and Friction, this one is for the proper fans. Document One's 'Vibration' is a favourite of ours, with a stupidly cool, distorted bassline that packs a tasty hardware edge, undergirded by a click-and-snap drum line. Pure quality right here.
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!