Review: Next up from the Trax Couture imprint we see Sertone land for a very enjoyable four track selection, exploring the weird and wonderful realms of electronic sound. We begin our journey through this one with a look at 'Critical', a jungle-infused creation dripping with finesse, linking together a steadily expanding synth line with choppy drum structures, before 'Just Around' arrives with a much spacier approach, unleashing quirky vocal textures into the mix at will. Next, we dive into the hardcore chord progressions and trap-like drum designs of 'LoveEgypt94' before the title track 'Spectres' brings together a stunning rhythmic display or organic drum movements and plucked melodies. Beautiful work all around on this one!
Review: BSN Posse makes their second appearance on Defrostatica Records releasing footwork, juke, jungle and drum & bass outta Germany after remixing ghettotech originator Detroit's Filthiest on his release back in 2018. BSN Posse do their bit in mixing it up on this EP too, turning in slower motion downtempo and dubstep in "Magic Portal" to hi-NRG electro and footwork in "Burning Shoes". Housier vibes and liquid drum and bass still in "Southern Comfort", with a deeper, trance-tipped epic number in "Rituals".
Review: We're unsure who Walter is, but we do know that this EP is the end result of Swindle looking after his grandparents' house for a summer between international shows, and how he turned their living room into a studio fit for a horn section. The end result features some of the funkiest, jazz-jacked, unique instrumentals he's ever recorded (which is saying something). Muted trumpets, big piano slaps, heavyweight beats, infectious hooks and an overall sense of fun, Swindle remains the funk champion of dubstep-related music. For something a little more chill switch for the dreamlike "Summer Fruits". In terms of an appropriate seasonal release, the timing is terrible. In terms of everything else about the track, it's perfect. Essential Swindle.
Review: Few labels hit the spot like Fracture's Astrophonica. Home to breaksmithery's most innovative waifs and strays, every release writhes in those gloopy, unfathomable pastures between jungle, juke, beats and just straight up sick electronica. This sophomore edition of the label's V/A Gradients series is a perfect example as everyone from Luke Vibert to Sully lay down powerful designs. Every single track is a highlight but you'd be mad not to get mucky with Binga, James and Shafique's "Everfresh", get lost in the dubby wooziness of Groves' "Hennessy Brown", get air punchy to Fracture's technoid thumper "Dropping Yu" or get straight up sexual to BSN Posse's "No Matter How Far"... Ain't no track too steep, Gradients has every single breakbeat flavour you could need this season.
Review: Four-to-the-floor, let us hear you roar... Fracture's Astrophonica goes into techno overdrive with this crucial collection of 4x4 inspired jams. With cuts from the bossman himself, Lewis James, Addison Groove, Moresounds, Sam Binga and Om Unit (under his Philip D Kick alias) all running rampant at around 160BPM there's a heavy stench of hardcore rolling throughout this unique collection. Highlights include the acid funk frenzy of Addison Groove's "Redeye", the ghettotek badness of Binga & ONHELL's "A Mighty Quest" and the late night 23rd century car chase vibes of Lewis James' "Kit5000". These are just a handful of examples of the truly unique fusions on offer here. Astrophonica are way ahead of the game right here.
Review: Sun People is the project of Simon/off from Graz in Austria, making his debut for London based Modern Ruin. He's had well-received releases on the likes of Through These Eyes, Alphacut and Goodstreet Records. Kicking things off on the Serenity EP is the mad stepper "Live It Up" which is liquid drum 'n' bass reminiscent of early legends like Calibre or Carlito & Addiction. There's some 160bpm deep dubstep styles of the most contorted kind on the paranoid "Cry", while the sensual and evocative half-time antics of the title track call to mind the grey area experiments of Instra:mental - circa 2010 when Autonomic was all the rage. Fantastic.
Review: With an extensive repertoire that includes breaks, house and techno, Sam Binga's switch to future jungle rhythms has spawned some of his honest, his most exciting and his heaviest tracks to date. Sitting in the same unclassifiable field as Om Unit and Fracture, his productions wobble, writhe and punch sweetly around the 160/80 axis and feature a wealth of killer vocalists such as Warrior Queen, Rider Shafique and Romaine. Part dancehall, part jungle, part mongrel bass, Sam's skills are showcased succinctly across Wasted Days with a consistency that ensures the album experience is just as hard hitting as the individual tracks hit the floor. Get wasted.
Review: Nice Up! are at it again here as they continue their journey into the unknown, this time employing the talents of Noh Vae who arrives with three parcels of absolute weight. We kick off with the title track 'Look At U', a precisely design jukey masterpiece, with incredibly crispy drum arrangements and subtle bass tones leading the way, before the more emotive atmospherics and vocal stabs of 'Days & Days' roll into play. Finally, we take a more experimental D&B route as 'Perception' again deploys incredibly fine drum work to round this project off with some major finesse.
Review: Mop Mop's voodoo jazz island concept undergoes a huge 15-part reconstruction process from artists vast and varied. Like the original album itself, the energy and pace flickers intemperately from euphoric steel drum emotional meltdowns (Simbad's dub of "Kamakumba") to off-beat new jazz showdowns (SoulParlor's remix of "Heritage") to crazed frenetic voodoo footwork fusion (Clap Clap's remix of "Let I Go"). Yet as disparate and disjointed as some of these sound, each reversion relates to the last with the same creative sense of subversive consistency as the original album. Welcome to Isle Of Magic - you know there's no return, right?
Review: With Addison Groove being one of the most renowned names in UK dance music, his unique, clicky approach to rhythmic bliss is constantly yielding fantastic new originals. We see him land his latest album project on Gutterfunk and what a project it is. The album as a whole boasts a magnificent soundscape, from the experimental funky melodies of 'Rele Dawomey' alongside the wonderful Chouk Bwa, to the junglist switch ups of 'Dreamscape 12' and system basslines of 'Burning Spear'. There is also a touch of classic Addison throughout, through the clicky percussive blueprints of 'Bass Trips' and jukey switch ups of 'Out Of Nowhere'. We also can't get enough of the bubbly grooves of 'Brand New Drop', an inspired funky roller, personifying the organic energy of the project perfectly.
Review: Given their previously proclaimed love of ghetto house and its' various similarly minded offshoots, its little surprise to find Glasgow's Numbers crew putting out a "greatest hits" EP from long-serving Chicago producer (and former Dance Mania regular) DJ Deeon. The four cuts that make up Deeon Doez Deeon are not necessarily meant to be his finest moments - though they are all killer - but instead represent the Numbers' crew's favourites. There's plenty to get excited about, from the organ craziness, bumpin' beats and classic disco vocals of "2 Be Free" and blistering "House-O-Matic", to the classic, cut-up vocals and stuttering, ghetto rhythms of "Freak Like Me" (first released way back in 1996).
Review: The Dreamers have seriously hit the jackpot on this one as they invite in the enigmatic sounds of Samurai Breaks for six tracks of pure shellery, encompassing the perfect blend of modern jungle and juke throughout. We kick off with the oldschool bass tones of the title track 'Pump Up The Volume', which is followed by the wicked synthesis of 'No Need' and hardcore influenced sample twist ups of 'Party Starter'. The project then switches into somewhat of a half time funk up as 'Face Down' rolls into view, followed by the pumping 4x4 drum smashes of 'Hood Romance', rounding everything off with the potent sub pressure and catchy vocal slices of 'Attention'.
Stamina (Breaka's Final Lap version) - (5:44) 140 BPM
Review: No way, it's Noh Vae! The Italian-in-London returns to Modern Ruin with more brutal junglised footwork amalgams. "Nocturnal" eases us in gently with a tidal wave of amens rattling around a steppy riddim before "Pale Colours" thrusts us deeper underground with a heavily pressurised techno textures and a dungeon-denting energy and "Stamina" lures into a deep spatial adventure that's not dissimilar to a Fracture joint. Finally Breaka rounds off the set with a slower 140 take on "Stamina" that maintains all the ice of the original but adds a little edge as the beats are a lot more skippy. Nocturnal crew this one's for you.
Review: Rua Sound have seemingly landed a gem of as EP here as they invite Sun People in to deliver a four track EP, drawing inspiration from across the full breadth of electronic dance music. We begin with the smooth jungle drum influences and colourful synths of 'Give It Up'. We then land into a more tribal-sound arrangement as 'Tackle It' combines high energy percussive rolls and scattered melodies to bring a dash of energy to the dance, before the title track 'These Days' rolls out more heavyweight sub tones and high-ended jungle breaks. We finish up with the clicky drum chomps and stunning soundscaping of 'Black Sphere', adding a nice contrast to see out the tracklisitng.
Review: London based producer Om Unit returns with next release "Aeolian" on Reso's Civil Music. Never restricted by genre, he traverses juke, dubstep, R&B, hip-hop, garage and all shades of the "bass music" spectrum, with a jungle influence sometimes creeping in. Opening with the esoteric "Ulysseus", this one is all about the rippling, rain-dancing rhythms and steady, stomping beats. Moving on to "Dark Sunrise (feat. Tamara Blessa)", we are treated to a storming dubstep banger with super sweet vocals in a dark, thunderous soundscape. "Fumes" is a more sparse and spaced out little number with dreamy, ethereal synths; while "Lightworkers Call" brings in the talents of Kromestar for another dark, nocturnal venture. "Slowfast Matrix" brings in a flurry of quirky rhythms to the equation before "Ulysses" is given the remix treatment twice over. Essential, no question.
Review: Street Bangers is exactly that, bangers which are tailor made for the street, for its clubs and bars, parties and late nights. This is definitely the sort of music you can see yourself whiling away the night to and the pounding percussive lines don't get repetitive. 'Voxpop' is one of the best, simply for the huge build on the second drop - very suspenseful stuff. The rest of the release is just as good we highly recommend it.
Review: Raw as F*ck juke and footwork here from Moveltraxx sampler Da Movelt Posse. Dance Mania OG DJ Nehpets lines up alongside label mate DJ Clent (Planet Mu) in turning out Lil Wayne's "6 Foot 7 Foot" while laying down some sex eduation juke and footwork style. Hyperdub signing Dj Tre turns in some heavy 808 kick drums tipped in vinyl crackle alongside the frenetic jazz and sample work of Boylan & J'Roc's heroic hip hop tricks in "Letz Rock". Da posse.
Review: As a genre and as a movement, footwork is looking incredibly healthy in 2020, with single releases such as this one from Footclan continuing to push the sound forward. Taking the title 'Fuck Yall', we witness Footclan smash together incredibly potent sub-lines with skippy drum designs and rhyhtmic textures beneath an unpredictable vocal patterns to give us a really moody party starter. The release is taken to a whole nother level by its remixes however as Space Pimp firstly reworks the original into bubbling, spacey creation, alongside Gunark's junglist revamp. Amazing work!
Review: Emerging from the '160' scene that's pushing newer sounds in juke, gqom and halftime drum and bass, London-based Italian Noh Vae delivers a third official release for the Nocturnal label. Having previously released with Terra Null and Through These Eyes, Noah Vae's three tracks here trip from the melodic and synth heavy in "Isltn2020" to deeper, darker and more streetwise numbers in "Rampage". The highlight here though is "Gqom Vibe", a track that fuses deep dubstep and garage with pitched vocal samples, breathy textures and the staccato influences of African house rhythms, kwaito and experimental techno. Keep it isolated.
Review: Easily one of the most justifiably hyped men in D&B right now, Hyroglifics steps up to the mighty Critical with three boundary-smelting slabs of contemporary jungle. "Bay City Ballers Club" is driven almost exclusively by a robust bassline and steppy, sliced up amen magic. "Killamanaman", meanwhile, takes us deeper into the spacy, stuttering half-tempo drama that the likes of Om Unit and Sam Binga have been dealing of late. Complete with a dual demonic narrative from both the vocal and the middy bass, it's an instant damager. To ensure a strong sense of completion, the final cut is a lush, star-gazing LA beat style wonk-out with bendy synths, far-away vocals and an overwhelming sense of dreaminess. Stunning.
Review: After his Room(s) long player for Planet Mu confirmed him as an unsung hero amongst US beatsmiths, Travis Stewart follows up that gargantuan effort with this turn for Ninja Tune. It's a deeply atmospheric album that works Stewart's palpable love of jungle breaks into richly atmospheric pieces that move through sometimes mournful, sometimes dreamlike spaces that hang together like all the pieces of a creative puzzle should. At times the tone is blissful, as on "Center Your Love", while the immaculate breaks give way to strung out coldwave balladry on "U Still Lie". His sense of adventure as intact as ever, Stewart happily follows up such contemplation with the feisty tech-step precision of "Eyesdontlie", ensuring there's never a dull moment across the ten tracks.
Review: Machinedrum heralds his next album on new home Ninja Tune with the Eyesdontlie single, introducing the Vapor City concept the producer said was inspired by a recurring dream . Fans of his stellar 2011 album Room(s) will be glad to hear his signature sound incorporating footwork and more experimental elements is still intact, though the lead track here seems steeped in dreamier textures. The B-side track "Body Touch" however is a different beast, harking back to his earlier hip hop-inspired productions. An excellent single that bodes well for the album...
Review: Continuing the geographical theme of his Vapor City LP, Machinedrum is back on Ninja Tune with more of his dreamy hybrids that sit at the nexus of juke, electro and jungle, expanding on the groundwork of the album with the choppy funk of "Back Seat Ho". Rustie is in a fearsome mood as he reworks the original into a drum-heavy stomper, before "On My Mind" staggers out with its wild-eyed arpeggios and slow-rushing snares. "Neujack" has a futuristic juke lilt to it, precision-engineered for maximum nag, and then Pinch and Adrian Sherwood step up for a remix of "Back Seat Ho" that takes the kitchen sink approach to production from guitars and toasting to rapid fire drum machine blasts.
Review: With his Vapor City LP dropping with a weighty impact, Travis 'Machinedrum' Stewart serves up this tidy EP to start expanding on the open-to-interpretation city concept that lingers over the album. Gunshotta Avenue unsurprisingly is predominantly populated by the powerful lead tune "Gunshotta" with all its limber breaks and atmospheric chord swells, but Stewart backs it up with the reggae-infused lilt of "Stirrin", all cheeky skank and slick breaks. On the remix front, Fracture gets called upon to work a little more club roughness into "Gunshotta", heading for that crisp half-step D&B headspace without discarding the original essence of the track. Meanwhile AMIT whips up a "Thug Dub" of the track that revels in reverb and the space it creates, proposing an entirely fresh but equally valid angle steeped in true roots styles.
Review: In a final move within the sprawling vision of his Vapor City project, Travis Stewart offers up another albums worth of material that ties in to the online community he sought to create with the release of the initial album. It's everything you would hope for from additional Machinedrum material, melding soft and gentle melodic elements with razor sharp drum programming, bubbling footwork percussive tones, and enough playful ideas to keep things warm and inviting. There are some ruder moments, as in the bass rubbing throwdown "B Patient", but then there are some outright folky inflections such as the plucked guitar on "More Than Friends". Always surprising and never repeating himself, Machinedrum nails it once again.
Review: Following a thread started up with his Africa HiTech project with Steve Spacek, Mark Pritchard shifts shape once again but keeps that hyped-up flow going strong with this five-strong EP for Warp. There's plenty of juke flavour in the snapping beats of "Manabadman", bolstered by the patois delivery of Spikey Tee, while "Ghosts" channels a more trap-oriented beat through which to run rambunctious synths. "Duppies" makes for one of the centerpieces with its intense UK rave signifiers, from hoover bass to gruesome D&B stabs before deftly leaping into a jungle tear-out. "Get Wyld" mops up the mess with a sopping sponge of electro synth work hanging from a restrained drum track.
Review: Fracture create some of the most experimental drum and bass out there, so bringing forward their dancehall-eclectic-inspired sounds with the help of Mancunian producer Chimpo was only going to create disturbances of the best kind within the scene. "From Early" takes the Fracture dancehall sound to the next level but it's in "Hard Food" that the rave and hardcore madness kicks in and things start getting a little wavy from there on in. To tidy up, "From Early" gets a reduction mix from Fracture, stripping back the shimmying and getting right down to the bare, bassy bones. A legendary collaboration in the making.