Review: Nikki Nair's last outing for Dirtybird, last year's Power Tool EP, was a weighty, excitable dance through speaker-busting dancefloor heaviness that variously doffed a cap to B-more breaks, wobbly dubstep, two-step garage and downtempo synth-pop. There's a similarly energetic, fusion-fired feel to this similarly impressive follow-up, with Nair bouncing between sub-heavy two-step/deep house fusion (the rather good 'It Goes'), mutilated experimental drum & bass (the lo-fi treat that is 'Socket'), woozy breakbeat oddness ('Something', which sounds like Aphex Twin and Squarepusher after a bunch of happy pills) and skittish, all-action ghetto-tech sleaziness ('Want To You').
Review: When we explore half-time D&B and its surrounding cousin genres, the most important thing for us is the uniqueness in sound design and sonic structure. That is an area in which both Astrophonica & Moresounds are able to thrive, with this latest EP showcasing mastery in both attributes. We begin with the metallic snare slaps and bulbous bass bounces of 'Show Your Respect', which give the track instant body and a wicked sense of energy without ever getting too intense to enjoy. On the flip, 'Forward' fuses a combination of jungle themes and dancehall drum patterns with grizzly sub-bass designs and sweeping atmospheric textures for an absolute whirlwind of a creation. Both of these originals will cause serious dancefloor damage!
Review: It's hard to believe that after all these years one of the founding forces in Detroit ghetto tech is only now, in 2020, releasing his debut album. Well...at 44 tracks large, maybe it's been worth the wait...coming from a man who back in the day helped set up Twilight 76 that released classics from the likes of DJs Assault, Deon and Slugo to Dave Clarke and Todd Osborne. More recently Godfather relaunched his Databass label which he now champions with an epic, straight-shootin' and unpretentious full time opus that takes in every angle of Detroit ghetto tech, be it the more contemporary, breakbeat and footwork sounds of "Smoke In The Air" to the gnarilier electro vibes of "The D". Featuring crewdem like Goodmoney G100, King Saadi, Lil Mz 313 and Parhouse to Dan Diamond in "These Strippers", Electro Beats For Freaks is bold music for bold times, but fresh as fuck.
Review: The Hooversound Recordings team have been making quite a bit of noise of late, so to see this latest project drop from both Hyroglifics and Sinistarr immediatly filled us with excitement. We firstly jump into 'Turbo Island' as Hyroglifics rolls out a high energy bleep-fest, before leaping into three weighty collaborations. The shuffling dub echoes and high energy drums of 'BS6' kick us off in good stead, alongside the glistening breaks of 'Turn It Up' and powerful sub pushes of Sinistarr's solo submission: 'Detroit'. Finally, we take in Scratcha DVA's fantastic rework of BS6, overhauling the track with an incredibly depthy soundscapy feel.
Review: Rave material with hardcore DNA from Vancouver's Greazus, on their brand new Phantasia EP for Leipzig, Germany's Defrostatica. This is the shared vision of two of the city's most renowned and prolific bass music ambassadors - HxdB & Patrik Cure. Get on your smiley face to the loved-up, back to '93 energy of "Phantasia", followed by "Wtf" that goes for more of a Detroit electro vibe with its strong Underground Resistance influence, and ending some rolling drama on the euphoric "Raverz" and its proto jungle vibe.
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: 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: We love the way Alix Perez has branched out in recent years. While we used to associate him to the minimal d&b wave that spawned in the late 00s, he's begun to venture onto into more diverse territories, as of late. He's up on his own 1985 Music here, and "Ghosts" is exactly the sort of glitchy, pseudo hip hop sketch that we now expect from the guy, but the real heat comes from "Hack & Slash", a total hybrid tune that goes from juke to dubstep, and back to something we're not really sure how to label. But, this is exactly how experimentation works and how new genres are created, something which is also very audible from his collaboration tune with Taso, "'Andromeda". "Tempest" is perhaps the weirdest and most daring of the lot, and the tune where Perez's d&b roots really come out, whereas "Crush" is a swinging, London bullet rhythm, for the heads. All in all, a much recommended affair.
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: One of drum & bass' true innovators, Rockwell spends his time wisely over at Shogun Audio creating only the best messed-up beats from a mind-bendingly diverse spectrum of influences. "INeedU" is a skitterish firefly of a track, complete with hyped-up ADD beats stolen from a Rave mixtape circa '93 and samples from every corner of his record collection. "1_2_3_4" features harsher than harsh pads throughout, creating a hard techno blast through the neon wormhole of Rockwell's D&B fever fit. More Bangface than Sun and Bass, it's an amazing mental breakdown of a tune that somehow works itself out into quite the little mover. Be prepared for a scare.
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: 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: 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: 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.