Reviewed this week
Time for a freshness flex: Shogun return to their new and rising talent series Point Of Origin and once again it's a big deal with 15 crucial cuts from 20 outstanding and future-shaping artists; from the already established and massively respected such as Serum, Paul T & Edward Oberon, who follow up last year's massive "Take My Breath Away" with the deep space slinker "Burning", and Paul SG with his decidedly wobbled-out drumstick snapping roller "Holy Moly" right the way through to exciting new energies in the dance like Phaction, with his ghostly-vocalled soul-out "Distant Lovers" and Neve & Crimson's beautifully blue-notated jazz drum dark-out "Solar Rain" and so many stunning cuts in between (Mitekiss, Gerra & Stone, Was A Be, Macca & Loz Contreras, the list goes on) this is Shogun at its most exciting and forward-thinking.
Flexing the likes of G13, Multi Function, Cre8 and Dub Damage between them all, rising riff-wizards Filthy Habits and Jeopardize collide for the first time on Heist's Calypso with six outstanding jams that cross the board into all corners; "Widowmaker" is all about the dagger-like riffs, "Chillum Riddim" hits with a jungle edge due to its heaving ragga call to action, "Infiltrators" rolls with an electrified buzz, "Black Widow" wobbles and scorches in equal measure while the dense, groaning basses on "Respawn" drag us all back down into the swamp where we all belong. Finally we have "Nothing To Lose" where a plucked one note bassline hammers a stern message beneath some star-lit euphoric synth textures. Time to say goodbye to the wife!
It's been a killer year for DJ Hybrid's Deep In The Jungle imprint; kicking off with the Anthems album in January, he's proceeded to drop a cannon of rollers and brock-outs throughout '17... But this has to be the biggest yet: 20 brand new remixes from across the vaults by some of the label's closest allies, every track guarantees deep mix pleasure and heavy dancefloor appreciation. Highlights include DJ Cautious's outstanding rework of the Kartoon's "Soundboy Surrender", Galvatron's rifle-kick drum jitters on Bassflex's "One Amen A Day", Pull Up Collective's rough scuzzy bass on Sharpz "Junglist" and the absolutely brutal twist of Sound Shifter's take on Crisis & Ikon B's "Who Runz Tingz". Trust... Deep In The Jungle run tingz round these parts!
In the many a hipster in the UK may turn their noses up at dark and dirty jump up, "It's too loud, too simple and just too much". But in Europe and across the pond jump up is embraced and nurtured as part of the wider scene, and therefor can accommodate influence from across the entire dnb sphere, and vice versa. We think this the reason Simskai's, gutter scraping-ly good EP sounds so distinguished. 'Instruments' is an assault rifle track, with modulated shots being flung all over the top of a warm, undercover sub. 'Monster' is a fast paced stepper brimming with herculean energy and twisted techy nods. High pitched whistles and a tongue in cheek vox sample bring all the grubby hallmarks of jump up to 'Weird' but there are levels of echoes and atmospherics that bring a dystopian nuero feel. 'Energy' has a real mix of the darker sub-genre's, a barrage of sci-fi samples, a low pulsating sub and high distorted bursts of synth, it's a biggie. 'Lights Out' finishes the EP were we started, in a grotty, devil summoning soundscape, crisp breaks standout here against a collection of horror film worthy elements.
Rising UK producer Tesen gets busy with his biggest EP to date on the future-focused Young Guns Recordings. Seven originals deep; there's a lot to take in as the Bristol DJ showcases his broadest palette; the Macky Gee-style riff addictiveness on "Focus", the trippy off-beat funk and twisted designs on "Groupies", the insane range of bass textures on "Screw Loose", the haunting harmonics of "Sleep Paralysis", the Bristolian Q&A cheekiness on "Get Outta My Face", the gutter chomping highs and lows of "Attention" and the synth-rippling feels on "Glaciate"... Each tune aimed directly at the dance, the Tesen takeover starts here.
Magic happens when Calibre and DRS collide. Both masters of space, imagery and story telling; they complement each other so well. Especially here... The piano-massaging "Sunrise" is the light from the dark as the pair make sense of the night before and capture the essence of a brand new day. Meanwhile on "Broken Wings" we're taken right back to Swerve with a subtle velvet disco hook that rises softly while DRS puts down one of the most important messages since "Angels Fall": we need to work together for this to work. Calls for unity don't come with much more authenticity.
Hot on the heels of Monty's EP comes another barbed and bulging EP from 1985 bossman Perez. Tapping into his darker, heavier machine funk tendencies, this is Alix in 3am drum & bass dance mode: "Lucky Charm" is a purring subby low-rider, "Blips" is straight back to 2009 with its angular two-step, sinewy sound design and badman bass and "Nighthawks" is a dark soul roller with subtle samplecraft and pranged out basses. "Missing Pieces" brings us back down to earth safe and sound with a much dreamier atmosphere wrapped lavishly around Perez's light-footed beats and Javeon's distinctive soulful tones. 1985 out of 10.
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.
While more often associated with punk-funk and dirty Italo style dancefloor workouts, Gomma's vast back catalogue contains a string of disco and boogie-inspired gems. To highlight the fact, the label has decided to release a series of EPs featuring some of its finest "Disco Jams". This first installment begins with a fine WhoMadeWho interpretation of Munk and LCD Soundsystem founder James Murphy's Sly Stone style growler, "Kick Out The Chairs", before charging into dub disco-meets-proto-house territory via In Flagranti's "In The Silver White Box". There's another chance to admire Dimitri From Paris and DJ Rocca's Prelude Records tribute, "Eros Disco Theme", while original NYC disco don Nicky Siano channels the spirit of Loose Joints on his fantastic rework of KDMS's "Never Stop Believing".
Not content with absolutely smashing the game with their Deep Dark & Dangerous label this year, Truth return to one of their strongest spiritual homes: Deep Medi Music. Naturally they're packing some serious sentiments: "Lion" is a pounding roller that chugs with an industrial strength toxic bassline and demonic call from Teklife's Taso. "Messages" flips the situation for a much lighter, mystical and spatial exploration with fluttering break echoes and unhurried, yearning chords. Finally we're knocked seasick by the slobbering kicks and boa-like bass of "Ruffneck" which doesn't so much as live to up to its name but sets a new benchmark in dangerous, knife-edge ruffneckism. Powerful frequencies.
The Night Bass crew just keep on throwing out KO punches. Hot on the heels of the label boss AC Slater's debut album Outsiders and the killer V/A "Summer Phases" EP comes this rampant four-tracker from UK machine twister Taiki Nulight. It's some of his deadliest material, too; "Dead End" is drunken wobbler where the bass leads you down some very dark pathways, "Horn Porn" (a collabo with the ubiquitous Lorenzo) is a high frequency flexing soul-shaker with a series of system-slapping drums while "Everybody In The Club" (with Mikey B) adds a little off-beat ruffage with a seriously aggy hornets-nest bassline. "Trippin' Up" closes the show with one of Taiki's heaviest designs to date. Broken, groaning, gnarly and metallic, Taiki's taking no prisoners today mate.
German imprint Quintessentials' mission statement is to keep underground house music on the map. It claims to hold a candle to those old house records: they love that raw yet soulful vibe. For their 56th (!) release they have tapped Mexican producer 4004, who has had releases also of late on FACES, Poetry In Motion and Late Night Jackin'. Smoky late night groove "No Dreams" gets things off to a good start with its smooth Rhodes, bumpy bassline and hypnotic bongo action. We particularly enjoyed the pumping NYC basement vibe of "Fanta Club" while "Black Alley Shuffle" gets back to the program in sexy and dusky fashion complete with some dusty rhythms, diva vocals and further mood lighting with the impressive use of filter sweeps.
Since this EP dropped on vinyl earlier in the year, the sizeable title track has become one of the most ubiquitous peak-time anthems around. That's not meant as a criticism; few do rush-inducing musical moments quite like Dusky, and "Square Miso" is one of their most euphoric productions to date. It's something of a retro-futurist treat, with colossal piano riffs and dewy-eyed vocal samples riding thunderous drums and a booming, mind-altering bassline. For extra spine-tingling pleasure, check out the beat-free "Reprise" version, which wisely emphasizes the "Strings of Life" style pianos and synthesized strings, and the warehouse-friendly, Inner City style throb of "LF10".
Freestylers and Deekline on a jungle trip? You already know this is going to tan your hide, your mates' hides, your dancefloors' hides and, quite possibly, your mum's hide. Absolute slappage of the funkiest order: "Jungle Champion" is a bounced-out bubbler with a rising Zinc-style bassline that's harmonically tuned to perfection and a guttural Batonion vocal while "Rage" plays a swinging 60s wild card with its instrumental elements and unabashed bounce. Shaking and jumping with a tight bongo break, it suddenly switches from swinging to savage as the amens fire up mid way. Rewind, come again.
Few Portuguese producers can boast as strong a track record as Trikk, whose high reputation was founded on fine singles for the likes of Optimo Trax, Hypercolour, ManMakeMusic, Lossless, Pets Recordings and, most recently, Innervisions. Here he returns to the latter with his most ambitious project to date: a debut album rich in tribal drums, exotic synthesizer motifs, humid electronics and all manner of global musical influences. Naturally there is a number of bespoke, floor-friendly tech-house and deep house cuts to enjoy, but the album's genius primarily lies in the producer's devotion to mood and melody. There may be plenty of tracks that would sound good in DJ sets, but it also works as an album to listen to from start to finish: something that can rarely be said about house albums.
Groaner alerts! Jammin makes his debut on Switch! with two absurdly stinking pieces of bass naughtiness. "Ultimate Weapon" is a skin-melting wobbler that moans and grizzles under serious bass pressure and switches up into a variety of bass textures. "Savage Moments" (with fellow rising artist Tringy) swipes you from the left side as a neat percussive roll and cool spoken word drop into a cesspool of stanked out bass. Ultimately savage.
Story has it that Chicago disco legend Sadar Bahar discovered Ben (aka Cosmic Force of Clone/Creme Organization fame) Spaander's Utrecht based studio, and it's said to be housing around 60 synths. Electro fiend Spaander 'was charmed by the electronic elements in Sadar's funk and Sadar loved Ben's ideas.' They claim that nothing was sampled on these two tracks. There's undoubtedly an old school flavour to "We Are Righteous People" with its funky bass, sleazy guitar licks and bongo drums galore over spacy synths. Next up "Bouncing Atoms" gets the party started in fine form with dusty/live sounding drums, more frenetic guitar work and the mandatory cowbells going off all over the place!
Given that he's been active since the dawn of the decade and released countless singles on a wide variety of labels, it's something of a surprise to find that Nutrition is Jamie Roberts' debut album. Pleasingly, he's not altered his style to fit the format, instead opting to showcase six tough techno tracks in his usual fearless, club-ready style. Of course, there's still a certain amount of variety present - compare, for example, the end-of-days industrial motifs, foreboding textures and clattering drums of "Calcium Read" and the metallic, early morning tribal thrust of "Mayhem" - it's just that Roberts has no intention of compromising his principles. For that, he should be applauded.
ooohhh - the calculating Night Bass imprint returns to some quick fire action thanks to this naughty VA comp - and the results are as impressive as they are, well, booty-shaking. There's a whole line of stars in the making here, with peeps like AC Slater, Phlegmatic Dogs and Petey Clicks all offering their various new strains of high-grade bass mutations. In fact, much like the label's wider catalogue, these future-minded bangers are a mixed race fo sorts; from speedy garage to teched-out house and dubstep, there's something in here for all lovers of the UK ting. Yes, yes!
While Ben Worrall's debut album as Crackazat, 2015's slightly overlooked Crescendo, was quietly impressive, this sophomore set is simply superb. Naturally musically rich - Worrall is a brilliant producer, but has always been a very talented musician, too - the set sees him lay down ten tracks that gleefully join the dots between slick jazz-funk instrumentation, sensual and soulful vocals, brilliantly played solos and grooves that put the dancefloor first and foremost. While there are a few downtempo explorations dotted throughout (the dreamy synth chords and meandering synth-sax of "Midnight In Sector Six" standing out), it's naturally the quality and quantity of his U.S garage, soulful house and deep house cuts that impresses most.