Review: As always with the legendary production styles of 6Blocc has provided us with some sizzling flavours on this spicy, extensive new refix collection, taking the title 'Dub Marley'. Reworking numerous works from the most famous name in reggae music, 6Blocc does what he does best, pulling older tunes into the here and now through a combination of junglist and dubwise production approaches. The project as a whole is pretty exceptional, with numerous classics from the late great Bob being thrown in for multiple recreations, including 'Forever In Dub', 'Revolution, 'Ganja Gun' and more. For us there are a couple of clear standouts, with the '140 Steppers Remix' version of 'Running Away' and the highly energetic drum skips and breaksy rolls of 'Stir It Up' being the two that immediately jump out from this impressive selection.
Review: Rico Tubbs dusts off his old Infekto alter ego for some classic junglist fun. Both rolling at the original 160 tempo, it's an instant snapback to the early chapters when Moving Shadow forecasted the bleakest of electronic futures. "Escape" balances a classic reggae sample with a slew of roughage drums while "Phuture" is a rainbow of harmonic arpeggios layered over breaks so finely diced you'll feel freshly shaven just listening to it. Remix-wise Modern Ruin regulars lay down the science: The Renegades throw in a little hardcore mentality (and just a tiny bit of acid) while Sideswipe provide some rather champion sounds (ahem).
Review: With loping dancehall funk and autotuned reggae vibes, this single from Think Tonk and General Mikey is the perfect envelope of music for carnival season. The weather is improving and the lockdown restrictions are easing, and these two have roped in two remixers to beef up an already perfect original. 'None of Dem' is legitimate dancehall, full of integrity and grounded in the partyland ethos that sees bashment, reggae and dub meet in a technicolour explosion of good vibes. Riddim Punks toughens things up with a drum & bass flip, whilst Red Eye Hifi lays out the kicks in an even harder rendition that crosses genre boundaries with ease. Lovely stuff.
Review: We've been waiting for this since Doc Scott fired up his old ThirtyOne machine just over a year ago. A 24-track collection of stone cold exclusives, this bucks any expectations of the label and its remit and celebrates the very best creativity in all shades of drum & bass. Littered with the best names in the game (Calibre, Nucleus & Paradox, Bungle, Loxy & Resound, Scar, Marcus Intalex and many many more), each cut pushes the bass and riddim envelope with stark, uncompromised creativity and production muscle. The ultimate document of where the best D&B is at, this is nothing short of essential.
Review: The man behind the deepest MC voice the UK has ever known, Chimpo also runs a very fine line in beats. He's nowhere near as prolific as he should be. But when he does start the engine up, it purrs like a Bugatti. The turbo-charged footwork-meets-jungle "Restless Leg Syndrome" drives like one too. Deeper into the release we strike swaggering, waspy halfstep gold on "Haymaker", we get dangerous on the stark, spacious almost trap-like title track, we hit tribal insanity on the loopy vocal-coated "Bun It" and trippy insanity on the wonked-out, weirded-up "Dumb". Out, bad and essential.
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: The Dreamers are an Italian label based out in Turin, and their sound is one of the coolest around right now. Never afraid to switch thing up and fuse genres together in bright flashes of technicolour light, The Dreamers are experts at taking sounds you recognise and distorting into fresh textures, and Audio Gutter has accomplished precisely that with this single. 'Spooked' is a garage influenced halftime cut with oodles of space for the bassline to foment in, its percussion is tightly packed and the entire track stinks of proper UK urban dance music, the product of cross pollination from dubstep, garage, jungle and more. Unreal.
Review: DJ Godfather of late is going from strength to strength with each release, turning in a new single for his Databass label with the tongue in cheek Keep My Name Out Your Mouth - aka "Certified Freak Hoe". Featuring looped vocals from King Saadi, the Godfather delivers a track that lands somewhere between a Dirtybird and Dance Mania production with its playful basslines, scandalous vocals, space pongs and jacking snare rolls. Given two alternative tempos to play and alternate, this is a DJ-centric release for da klub.
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: 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: Teklife Vol 1 represents the first release for footwork trailblazer DJ Rashad's new Lit City Trax imprint, created in collaboration with DJ Spinn and associate J-Cush, and a label which promises to be the definitive label for Chicago's well established footwork scene. At a massive 20 tracks this album is a meaty proposition, and it's testament to Rashad's talent that the album is entirely free of filler. Showing the producer's talent for swelling low end and threadbare percussion, album highlights include his excellent DJ Spinn collaboration "We Trippy Mane" with nods to Juicy J, the analogue mayhem of "She Gonna Go", the manic 303 and 808 assault of "Da Life" and the juxtaposition of smooth Rhodes chords, horn samples and furious percussive rattle on "Kush Ain't Loud".
Review: It's the third instalment of the Nasty Rips compilations on Shifting Peaks and by hell have these guys got the right idea. Sweet house and garage shuffles from all corners, including some pretty special numbers by the likes of Marshall Jefferson, Hackman, Odessa, plus plenty more house bullets for you to twist your boots to. This one comes recommended for those infected with the house bug!
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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.
Review: Before Nina Kraviz was hailed the techno heavyweight she is today she surfaced with a unique brand of electro that fully realised itself in 2012 with a debut album for Rekids, Ghetto Kraviz. Following a selection of remixes from the likes of Steve Rachmad, Kink and French producers Alex Kid and Amine Edge, a rare run of coloured 7"s featuring two remixes from Chicago ghetto house OG DJ Slugo made their way out too. Today, and in tandem with a recent collaboration with alongside Paris Mitchell, DJ Slugo's two "Ghetto Kraviz" remixes enter the digital realm, with the epic 808 drum rolls of the second mix a masterclass in juke not to be overlooked.
Review: Following the success of his recent LP Sundial (hyped by 6Music and more), Scotsman-in-OZ Jonny Faith, releases a new single from the LP, Neon, backed with both a new track and a remix. The former turntablist has grown musically somewhat over the years and with it's crisp and fizzy soul-hop meanderings, "Neon" is a great example of this development. Album highlight "Firefly" gets reduced into a sparse, killer tropical percussive jam by Clap Clap and newie "Revolve" wraps things up with a chiming, organic melange of rythmic beats and sounds.
Review: Fresh from his "Hammerhead" escapades on Aquatic Lab, Dave Jones dons his Zed Bias guise for another slippery bass session. This time he takes the footwork formula and twists it inside out in a way only he knows how: "Driftin" soothes with jazzy chords and velvet vocals from Zoel Violet, "Fever" is all about the dense physical drum arrangements while "Hipbounce" is a sonic sandstorm of soca and occasional UKG bass belches. Unique as always.
Review: Oh boy... Dave Jones has blessed us with six Zed Bias album (his eighth album in total if you include his Maddslinky LPs, and you really should) and the world immediately feels like a nicer, warmer place. Building on his deep foundations of space-aged soul, roomy drum arrangements and raw emotions, Different Response is riddled with timelessness and atmospheres that resonate with every corner of the dance from soul to jungle to techno; the slight vapour trails of Dego and powerful vocal pull of Eva Lazarus on "Restless", the gully gospel of "Lost Souls" with DRS, the cosmic synths and rattling footwork of "Just Like Ohm" and the badded up turbo bruk of "Jibba Jabba" are just some of the many delicious highlights on offer here. No one does it like Zed.
Review: Visible on the drum and bass scene for some five years now thanks to records with Beckett's Rudimentary and DJ Madds's Roots & Future labels to others like Bad Taste and the solitary outing that launched Side Orders last year, London's Itoa returns to Exit! This Melba EP follows up 2018's Ever Orbit EP that's spearheaded by the largely ambient "Melba" that sees its percussive counterpart fall into a sub-frenzied new rhythm halfway through. "Leather & Lace" sees disjointed beats and syncopated rhythms fall and twist around a new school bassline and footwork vocal stutters, while diving into deeper tribalistic and urban rhythms is "Flow". Add some staccato acid lines to the juke joint of "Glow Coma" and you're met with a fresh batch of hybrid sounds from an already promising producer!
Sun People & Yorobi - "Dark Days" - (4:55) 107 BPM
Transitions - (5:41) 107 BPM
To Give - (4:16) 53 BPM
Main Squeeze - (4:17) 107 BPM
Rich Man Poor Man - (6:38) 80 BPM
Spirits - (4:19) 107 BPM
Review: Kicking up some new, dusty and frenetic sounds for Exit Records is the emergent Sun People, a solo project known for stand out releases before this on labels like Modern Ruin, Disko404 and Hyperboloid (thanks to a rare 2015 long player). Concentrating here once again on the EP format, Sun People conjures up a mixology of uptempo and hybrid fusions, be it the juke and drum and bass induced "Rich Man Poor Man" to the fluttering percussion and subbed-out basslines of "Spirits". Deeper, stuttering footwork sounds make it into "To Give" (an EP highlight) with some edgier, topped-out drums keeping it levelled in "Main Squeeze". Rain dancing with Sun People.
Review: Tale Of Us did it, Blawan did it, Special Request too, and many others at the top of their game find their hype bonafide with a silver & green plated R&S debut. Joining that list alongside other contemporaries like Djrum, Ada Kaleh and Benjamin Damage is rhythm, UK bass and percussive techno specialist Forest Drive West. Channeling a harder, slightly darker tribalistic and UK style for the rave-minded R&S, each track here sees deeper Italian techno in breakbeat form meet with shady Bristol rave and dubstep atmospheres. Throw in the splash of jungle in "Curved Path" and you've got a EP that covers what any R&S / FDW fan needs. Rave 2.0