Review: Ladies and gentlemen can we have your attention please? We are now ready for take-off so please fasten your seatbelts! At long last, the Dark Soldier unleashes two of the most in-demand remixes of one of his most seminal tracks 'Chopper'. Famed for its massive Shy FX remix back in the day, once again the tradition is maintained as Bou and Traumatize bring the seminal vibe into the 2020s. Both now pretty legendary on dub, Bou brings the bubbles and Zinc-like swing while Traumatize brings the twisted chunky swagger. Essential.
Review: Bristol beefcake Formula makes one of his biggest moves so far with this killer debut on Invicta Audio. All four cuts hitting with realness and showing a different side to the young producer, highlights include the deep-space wriggles and sultry house vocal snippets on 'You & Me' and the all-out party flavours of 'Bad Boys'. Switching from a classic twangy riff even your mum knows to a groany, gutter-chomping drop is a dramatic and funky move. We need more music like this.
Review: EPs don't get more diverse and dancefloor ready than this one from Jak, who has roped in Mofes and Kumo to help him craft his devilishly made club-friendly sounds. Rather than a copy-paste exercise, Nuusic and Jak are living up to their reputations by bringing four unique, differentiated cuts to the table. 'Siren' feat Kumo is the pick of the bunch, as a rolling Break-esque drum line cuts through a sparsely arranged but effectively spacious array of Sofa Sound-type bass nodes. Proper sick, and there's clicky tech funk on 'Snow', jump-up force on 'Lace Up' and sub-heavy, sine-wobbling goodness on 'Akimbo'. Big.
Review: Jappa is in this game to do serious damage to the eardrums of those who listen and this single seems like it was made with that objective in mind. The first tune, 'Keep On Movin' is clean and sparse in the drums which lends extra clarity to the bassline, an elongated expression of moodiness with a quality injection of additional bounce. 'Back To Life' strikes a similar chord but does so with more vigour, a haunting sample fills up the highs whilst a driving back end pushes the track forwards with pace and momentum. Big EP.
Review: Introducing the sounds of The Usual Suspects Part 1, a radical attempt to create jump-up so splintered and broken you'll barely recognise it. This is pure party music, there's no time for sophisticated conversations about its merits because you'll be too busy dancing to it. Sota's 'Pumper's epitomizes the extent of the madness here, with a punched-out percussive line that underpins a grating force of progression and anger, perfectly crafted to give you goosebumps in the dance. The metallic quality to 'Bring It' is another highlight, and it's safe to say that with these five tunes, Sota, Supreme Being, Heist, Complex and The Force have done a wicked job. Big tunes.
Review: RISE is on Liondub International and is giving all of us a lesson in how to produce tough, stripped back sonics which carry more attitude than a charging bull. 'Crossbow' is the best example of this, as a no-nonsense drum line penetrates a precisely placed array of gully bass pulls and hair-rising low-frequency pushes. 'Feline' is more classic jump-up, as a potent blast of stabs combine into the type of hands-in-the-air dancefloor action we've come to expect from the genre. Proper stuff.
Review: Madcap and the late Andy Skopes' Trouble EP on Dispatch exemplifies why this label is so legendary, and why Andy's premature passing was such a tragic loss for our scene. His music is living on, however, and him and Madcap have rolled out a true piece of dancefloor precision on this one. The title track is pure magic, a ducking and diving number that drops to effortless depths in its quest for low frequency excellence, a vision aided along by MC Fats' typically deft vocal work. There are superb breaks on 'Scatter', and fractiously deep jungle tones on 'Empty Soul' that's paired with a hauntingly melancholic vocal sample. Unmissable.
Review: For an artist with a name as old school as Pharoah, this man sure has some futuristic sounds. Following his previous epic dispatch on Liondub International ('Mirage'), once again he hits with more cosmic feels. Funky, forward-facing and full of surprises, there's a young Bensley or Whiney deep in the mix when you hear the glitches and shiny soul of cuts like 'Party' or 'Threshold' while darker sounds like 'Ganjaman' or 'B.I.G' show plenty of promise on his gullier aspects. First dynasty levels of talent here. Keep your eyes on this king.
Review: Harley D is back, using his force to compel you to pull ugly bassfaces and throw your drink with an EP that doesn't hold back. It's not the kindest on the ears but then again its not supposed to be, it's a monograph in hard-hitting sonics and dastardly tones. 'Evacuation' is undergirded by a booming snare drum and percussive clarity, but the action happens in the steadily melodic but still raucous bassline, a pitched-up monstrosity of dancefloor proportions. The others feature more big synths, but with emphasis instead on forward movement and a roughshod approach to crafting textures with a focus on sonic destruction - top release.
Review: Young Guns was originally set up in 2012 by Biological Beats head honcho MC Fatman D as a brand new event concept, showcasing fresh talent at live events across the country. Since 2015, they have evolved into Young Guns Recordings and here they present their latest courtesy of Hyn aka Chris Haynes, an emerging artist from Bristol with his twisted sound that has been heard previously on Brawlin Beats, OnlyJungle and Helix. The London EP features the wobbly grime bassline of the title track, the minimal roller "Dada" reminiscent of classic DJ Krust and the darkside tehctsep thriller "Change".
Review: Dutta is back, using his force to compel you to pull ugly bassfaces and throw your drink with an EP that doesn't hold back. Its not the kindest on the ears but then again it's not supposed to be, it's a monograph in hard-hitting sonics and dastardly tones. 'The Box' feat. MC Bassman is undergirded by a booming snare drum and percussive clarity, but the action happens in the steadily melodic but still raucous bassline, a pitched-up monstrosity of dancefloor proportions. The others feature more big sounds, with emphasis instead on forward movement and gruff, no nonsense textures. Another sick EP from the Mancunian on one of the scene's the best labels.
Review: Next up from the Audioporn team we see them unveil a fantastic new collection as the classic 'Lovable' from DJ Dextrous & Erin Jordan gets taken to the chopping block for a bag of exclusive remixes. We begin with Dextrous' own remake, combining spacey synthesizer pushes with pulsating breakbeat action for a throwback shakedown. From here, we then move into the high energy jungle breaks action of Benny L & Shimon's remix, who combine for a sub-heavy system-slapping roller, before Harmony then supplies us with an even more intense mash up, upping the energy levels even further. Finally, DJ Dextrous delivers his much more modernized VIP creation, utilizing those beautiful piano lines and powerful sub bass designs to build a colourful update, rounding this selection off with an emotional flutter.
Review: 1985 is undoubtedly one of the most exciting labels in drum & bass and never fails to push music that's fresh and exciting. The Folio/ series is coming to an end, but the third instalment is a worthy final chapter in Perez's four-track VA odyssey. He's roped in some of the scene's best with Halogenix, Workforce, Visages and Hyroglifics all joining Perez himself across the four tracks, and the results are futuristic, danceable and deeply satisfying. 'Unlustrous' is unique in its structure, with flowing, wobbly arrangement that builds and builds over the entire tune into something massively heavy. Hryglifics possibly has the most creative track with 'Day By Day', while Workforce's 'Simple, Positive Things' is relentlessly dark. Top class.
Review: If you like your drum & bass packed with eerie soundscapes and created more with the intention of imparting an experience than packing out a dancefloor, this is the EP for you. It's classic moody Headz, and Quartz channels the hazy smoke-filled vibe of Blue Note and pumps it through an apocalyptic filter, transposing classical breaks onto futuristic landscapes. 'Folding Water' is perhaps the EP's darkest outing, as hypnotic kicks ground a steampunk aesthetic of churning metal and furious percussive energy, one with abstraction at its core but traditional breaks music in its heart. Superb release.
Review: There are few intros as iconic as that of John B's 'Up All Night'. It's the tune which launched the career of drum & bass' glitter adorned, pop fusion superstar, and what a way to make an entrance. Featherweight flutters and foreboding stabs aside, this three-tracker presages a broader 25 Years of Metalheadz release that will surely be one of the year's best, a part-nostalgia, part-future looking release that charts the history of drum & bass' most seminal imprint. 'Up All Night' gets a 2021 remastered relick, whilst Data 3 step up and flip proceedings on their head with a deeply techy, superbly engineered dancefloor remake that's been blowing up the virtual and physical dance for some time now. Finally, John's 'Epic Mix' stretches out the intro and amps up the suspense, as clattering breaks cement his place in the history books. Utterly superb.
Review: Big guns blazing, Low Down Deep fire more shots into 2021 with this massive four-piece from Skore. As you can tell from the title, the EP ignites with a very special track as an old unreleased collab with Dom (RIP) kicks things off with incendiary riff magic. Elsewhere 'Your Lovin' brings in the tones of Ellie Marie for some light/dark fusion and another massive riff before 'My Selectah' adds a little euphoria into the mix and 'Slushy' ensures the EP ends on a serious bang. Not to be missed... You all know the score about Skore by now.
Review: Sizzle for the bizzle! Nuusic set fire to the new year with this marvellous collection from young Birmingham-based producer J Select. With previous on the likes of Audio Addict and DNB Allstars, keen ears will already know the high levels at play here as J guides us through his vision of drum & bass. From the stripped back minimalism and restrained growls of 'Don't Want This To End' to the much dreamier intro and sudden vocal tease of 'Free' via the slinky sunny-side up dancehall flexes of 'Playback Riddem'. And that's before we get to the Teej-collaborated title track 'El Sizzlo'. Trippy, fun and precision in the space department, this will singe serious whiskers when the dances open again.
Review: With some cool, dark, artwork, Conrad Subs has landed on Deep in the Jungle with a hard-hitting five-tracker which combines a penetrating sense of attitude with a non-nonsense approach to musical arrangements. 'Love 4 U' has an warped-out, Souped Up vibe in its arrangement that feels powerful to the extreme and is perfect for a crowded dancefloor, especially with its underpinning in some weighty percussion. 'Funk Me Sideways' is the roller of the EP and grounded in wobbly atmospherics and a sense of space which makes it a pleasure to listen to, its snapping drum line providing the ground rock underneath. The rest are proper sick as well - big ups.
Review: Furniss has taken a rather original approach to this jump-up two-tracker, with both tunes rolling out the introductions before flipping into their dancefloor iterations. 'Is It Possible' is our favourite of the two, with a eerie atmospherics and punchy drums leading you in on the build and laying the groundwork for what turns into a stabby rendition of dancefloor destruction. 'Sinister' is a even more raucous but still carries some funk nonetheless, this time that infectiousness being transposed onto an even darker context. The album art is the final nice touch to what is an incredibly slick release. Well played boys!
Review: Everyone's favourite tea leaf returns, this time with a special release on Liondub International. Five tracks in total, all powered by his usual bulldozer charm and funk, this is one of this broadest EPs as we cross the gully board. From the sweet sultry vocals and soul of 'Holding Back' to the late 90s tear-up sound of 'Sound Business', Nick runs us through his highest and lowest emotions across the EP. Other highlights include the oddball off-beat growls and groans of 'Freak Show' and the warm as toast title track 'Bullet'. You're nicked son.
Affirmations (feat KinKai - original mix) - (4:50) 174 BPM
So Good (original mix) - (4:50) 175 BPM
Tug O War (feat Abnormal Sleepz - original mix) - (2:44) 150 BPM
Love Won't Do (original mix) - (5:22) 175 BPM
Phenomena (original mix) - (4:11) 174 BPM
Affirmations (instrumental mix) - (4:50) 174 BPM
Review: Echo Brown is the newest addition to the North Quarter roster, and following appearances on label compilations, he is now appearing with a six-track EP in that signature long-form, North Quarter style. Struggles is diverse and comes with something for everyone, from the lounging hip-hop roller that is 'Affirmations' feat. KinKai, to the stripped back funk of 'So Good' and the stepping rap verses of 'Tug O War'. 'Love Won't Do' is our favourite, an Ivy Lab-esque percy of a deep one, with gentle, featherweight drums and a superb vocal sample that hangs above the instrumental in delightful fashion. 'Phenomena' rounds things out in choppy dancefloor fashion, and there's even an instrumental of 'Affirmations' to get your teeth stuck into. More amazing stuff from the Dutch crew.
Review: Every day he's bubbling; Whiney loads up another EP in his awesome series. 'Headlines' takes the lead with Subten guiding us through the shadows riding smoothly over a classic Whiney heads-down bassline. Elsewhere Whiney shows off his deeper side as 'Freedom' brings a rush of emotion to our lockdown ravaged souls with its lush chord progression and scorching bassline, 'Mirage' beguiles us with poignant jazzy flourishes and 'Yesterday' brings the EP to a beautiful twinkling close. We're bubbling over right here.
Review: The life of Brain: get up, make a banger, sleep, repeat. An inherent vibes man, he's clearly not tied by any one subgenre and just makes straight up dnb heaters from the soul. It's been this way for a long time for the German gully merchant and Liondub International have been part of the journey since the very early days. Now comes the latest chapter; five originals with some of the finest vocalists in the widest jungle circles: Daddy Freddy ,Brother Charity and Yemi Bolatiwa. Highlights include the utter ruffness of 'Original Wicked Man' and the velvet soul of 'Off My Mind'. Lighta crew!
Review: Wagz is an artist with majorly diverse talents, so it's not especially surprising that at least this EP is straight up incredible, and the blend of his respective light-dark specialities makes itself constantly apparent. This is his first full EP on Influence, an imprint perfectly suited to what they've come out with here: five cuts of wispy, intelligent and emotive drum & bass that's dripping with maturity in its melodic construction. 'Dark Star' sticks out, with a growling bass that slowly creeps in just builds and builds, with devil in the detail and an unflappable tendency to keep things stripped back and simple, just the way they're supposed to be. Lovely stuff.
Review: Gradient continue their upward curve with the latest link-up in their 'Connected' series as two more currently unstoppable new gen artists collide for a two-track tear-up. Klay kicks off the release with the grotty, spiked-out 'Yami'. Nodding heavily at that early Konichi sound, all robotic gritty funkular business, it bites into any mix you drop it with. Metal Work's 'Mega Punch' is similarly spirited in its aggy energy but with added wobbles in the bass and twisted robo vox on the fills. It's a knock-out!
Review: Critical's resident Swiss wizards are back at it with this five-tracker, their first full length EP since Perspectives Vol. 1 last year. It's a textbook QZB, who are absolute geniuses at producing music bedded in techy depth, and who work across the full spectrum from deft, frivolous touches to all-out dancefloor heat. The title track here is the former, with oscillating synth nodes that ebb in and out of the mix, a liquid vibe that's metallic in texture yet remains distinctly soulful. 'Unforgiving' is the opposite, a foghorn-laced tech destroyer with astonishingly good use of space, a track which simultaneously feels stripped-back and full to the brim. 'Silence Rings Loudest' is probably the most creative; imagine a mixture of BOP and Frederic Robinson and you'll be close, as featherweight drums rise and fall in delicate crescendos of nostalgic robotics. Delightful.
No Tomorrow (Red Bull Symphonic rework) - (4:20) 175 BPM
No Tomorrow (Tom Finster remix) - (5:20) 175 BPM
Review: Hugeness on hugeness; as if Camo & Krooked and Mefjus's game-changing 'No Tomorrow' could possibly pack more of a punch, now come the versions. First is a bombastic rendition from the Red Bull Symphonic Orchestra who take the track to the most dramatic places it could possibly be. Then we have the case of Tom Finster. A very exciting name emerging in bass music right now, here the Frenchman surges and slides between halftime and drum & bass with sweeping emotional rushes and textures. Absolutely immense.
Review: Marvel Cinema is your archetypal underappreciated liquid D&B producer, in the mould of Furney, Lurch and others. His tracks always manage to emanate warmth, purpose and precision with their top-quality melodies and forward-thinking production, qualities which certainly aren't absent from his Console EP. Three slices of liquid ingenuity and characterised by an elegant simplicity, 'Oceanographic' is deceptive in that its apparent lightness is quickly contradicted by a forceful back end. 'Escape' is the other standout, a funky piano riff sitting beautifully over a rolling bassline and skippy drums. Lovely stuff.
Review: One of the many sick soundboys to emerge out of Newcastle these days, KL hits the bullseye once again, this time on Fatman D's Young Guns. It kicks off with 'Cast Iron', a fun-times roller with a playful Zinc or Serum style air about it and some cavernous effects on the bassline. It's backed by plenty more incendiary buzzers: the pitched up vocal and screaming bass moans of 'I Need' and the steel-edged grizzler 'Impossible' are both highlights. Tough stuff. Don't cast stones, cast iron...