Review: Possibly the hardest-working producer in drum & bass right now, Actraiser returns to Focuz with a double track EP stashed with retro goodies and fresh ideas. "You Don't Know" is a fast-paced roller crammed with vocal snippets, percussive samples and big synth pads. Working out the madness is half the fun. Following up is "Planetary Systems", a cosmic tinged offering packing huge old school flavours swooning high over the wobble of a deep subby bassline. Gorgeous stuff here, each release from this guy just gets better.
Review: This EP is screaming out to be the soundtrack to some summertime roadtrips, and with every tune the sounds get smoother. Showstoppingly beautiful moments shine throughout, with first track "Midnight Wanderers" especially shimmering brightly over deep rolling bass. The rolling Reeces of "Without You" are goosebump-raisingly good and title track "A Long Way From Home" brings jungle breaks into a crisp, intriguing new light, focusing on mood-altering samples and a close, dampened atmosphere. Finally, "A Beautiful Place" comes back to the lighthearted soaring nature of this producer, feeling spacious and breezy, bathed in light and propped up by tight percussion. Gorgeous stuff.
Review: UK-based producer Actraiser blends his frenetic, complex style to beautiful liquid backdrops in this stunning EP for Fokuz. Luckily, he's perfectly adept at blending both his high-energy beat-chopping and glorious, otherworldly harmonies, so the result throughout each track is pretty amazing. Sparkling with fresh, spritzy production and underpinned by deep rumbles of soft, velvety bass, there's textures upon textures upon textures, all waiting for listeners to diver right in.
Review: Cambridge-based drum & bass producer Actraiser has been chipping away at the liquid scene for the past couple of years now, but it's releases like this that put him ahead of his peers. While a number of others fluctuate between soul samples, his is a subtle combo of techy breaks and intricate little additions. It's hard to stand out in a saturated sub-genre, but he's managing it. With a strange lazy wistfulness filtering in over his basslines, there's a unique chilled atmosphere to tracks like"Sultan's Promise" and "Season's Changing". Pick this up and see for yourself.
Review: Three Fokuz originals take their places for a sunkissed journey through the skies. Without any more cheesy plays on words, title track "Cloud Surfing" lines itself up to bring one of the Reeces of the year. Add to that stunningly light harmonies and vocals, and it's a beautiful feel good track. The rest of the EP follows suit with a host of gorgeous tunes made for serious chill sessions. "Hardest Thing" brings in some harder drums, "The One That Got Away" gets melancholy and a little edgier with electro pads and finally "Morning Sun" steps it up for a lighthearted leap through sunnier times. Gorgeous stuff.
Review: Air K & Cephei are a duo that make some of the most creative rolling D&B in the game and should absolutely draw more attention than they do. Fokuz is a long-time label for them and so they're back on home ground with this double-tracker, which includes one original and one remix. 'Wish To Fade' featuring Nadine is a juxtaposition of a gorgeous vocal and a pummelling bassline, a classic Air K & Cephei approach to making music. The flip is similar but a tad more melancholy, with a filtered out vocal providing the background ambience for a naughty bassline. Top stuff.
Review: It's time to face the music... Alb is "Over You". But the second you hear those breathy vocals and gliding chords, you realise you'll never be over him. This situation compounds the deeper we dig into the EP. "Major Deep" in fact. A much grizzlier piece of rollage and barbed sermons from Siege MC, it's another remind why we fell for the UK artist all those years ago on Infuenza and Soul Deep. More reminders follow as "Epoch" soothes our soul with warm dubby flutters and "All Words" (which is actually all action) whips up the sonic equivalent of a freefall from the stars. Over and out.
Review: Scott Allen and Against head up this single on Fokuz. Its rattling breaks and gentle chiming intro pave the way into a lush, mellifluous main part full of swishing atmospherics, lush piano keys and snippets of sinuous vocals which are interwoven into the main fabric of the tune effortlessly. Ky and Deeper Connection step up next with "You're The Only One" - a more weighty, stripped back roller with emphasis on the bass and rolling subs. Gentle melodies still populate the track, with ethereal vocals and delicate delivery. One for the liquid lovers.
Review: Legendary soulful label Focuz lets out some of their secret weapons in this latest release. LA-based liquid hero Scott Allen teams up with Cornish bass fanatic Deeper Connection for a pair of sizzling ragga-inspired dancefloor igniters. The A-side rolls sweet and deep, dipping into the tasty sounds of dub and jungle, while "Zion Dub" brings out a techier side in the pair, as rapidfire percussion mingles with breezy atmospherics and a distant sniff of reggae bolsh. A pair of intelligent rollers hot enough to get folk moving. Get involved.
Review: Fokuz bring us a five course musical dinner from D&B chef Scott Allen, who together with Deeper Connection, Duoscience and Twisted Facts, serves up some lush new flavours to cleanse the palette. "Close Encounters" is all sombre piano keys, tripping breaks and gentle liquid funk, whilst "If I Were Your Woman" goes in with a throbbing b-line and weight subs; "Street Of Gold" pairs clip-clop beats, horns and discordant keys in a smoky, sultry nodd to the jazz era. "Summer Rains" is the most straight up D&B track, reminiscent of the early noughties, and the Brother remix of "Primitive" brings the EP to a close.
Review: A breath of fresh air in a cluttered world, Altitude brings Focuz into his sweetly sensual world of laid back grooves with a D&B slant. Tuneful and tasteful, first track 'Time' has the mature sound of old-school jazzy Brazilian rollers. Not surprising then that DJ Marky and LTJ Bukem have been outspoken in support of the talented newcomer already for his releases on IM:Ltd and Soul Deep. Deep and beautiful, the title track offers a little more in the way of a dancefloor groove, but still keeps things chilled. The perfect headphone commuter.
Review: Do you want to hear a German producer get things so right you might never need to hear another liquid release in your life? Step right this way. Amaning has joined the Fokuz ranks for his first full-length LP, and within its 11 tracks are some incredible moments of pure D&B escapism. Opting to steer clear of the classic liquid route, his tunes each have a sense of his own individual sound creeping in at the corners, twisting things to another level. The "Time Warp" aspect comes from the seamless blend of faithful old school sampling and reproduction and brand new experimentations - it works and you know that it does.
Review: Fresh from his collaborative album with MSDOS on Soul Deep, the evergreen Anth M delivers a bright and breezy four tracks of his very own. Each one peppered with rich organic instrumentation; the crooning horn glow of "The Way Of Time", the shimmering key twinkles on "Alley Lights", the low-swung bass guitar sleaze of "Night Stroll" and more horn beauty on "In Your Arms". Each cut delicately created but rolling with a robust dynamic, Anth M has penned an ultimately timeless document right here.
Review: Fokuz label manager, the Cincinnati-based liquid whiz kid that is Anthony Kasper, is back on home turf with a brand spanking new single that blends depth, lightness, darkness and melancholia in one hypnotic blend of 170 skill. 'Zuluu' is the deeper of the two and it smacked of 'Open My Eyes' by the legendary Calibre with its diving tendrils of oozing bassline. 'Mayday' amps things up energy wise with a drum break so clean you can see you face in it and a bassline so clear that you'll be able to, well, see you face in it. Clarity and ingenuity pore out of every crevice in this release but, to be honest, we're not all that surprised. Another top notch bit of work from the Fokuz camp.
Review: St. Petersburg-based Intelligent Manners and classically-trained musician and producer Kasper likes to experiment with his drum and bass, and track one on this fresh sounding EP shows just that. Taking a side each, the first is a big-stepping beauty with a rolling bassline, and an old Hospital sound coming from dusty vamped chords and twinkling melodies. On the other side, Intelligent Manners breaks out the shakers for a frosty shimmy around soaring string samples and big, voluptuous bass. Perfect headphone material.
Review: With a back cat that seeps boundary-smelting creativity, Atlantic Connection dons his D&B hat and returns to Fokuz with two stunning rollers. Subtle, understated and sprung with soul, both "One Moment" and "Nothing Can Separate Us" tingle with emotive attention to detail. The former shimmers with soft synth sounds, classic jungle breaks and a heartfelt vocal while the latter swings with an outrageously dreamy bending synth sound that warps with true warmth while a delicate vocal whispers in the background. Stunning.
Review: Ever the busy worker bee, Avizura brings his latest batch of conceptual liquid D&B to the show with Red Sky, Blue Sky, an EP based around the different moods and textures of rolling drum and bass. Kicking off the pairing, "Blue Sky" pulls out all the stops as widescreen shots of fast-paced cinematic sounds fly by, picked up on the momentum of deep, undulating bass. Hotter and dare we say it, sexier, comes the flip side "Red Sky", which shows off more of a soulful side to the producer, as he mixes edgy pads with brass and piano. One is cold satin sheets, the other is hot sand as the sun goes down. Thank god you don't have to pick a favourite.
Review: Fokuz are one of the most relentlessly consistent labels in the business, churning out an EP every couple of weeks across virtually ever sub-genre you've ever heard of. Bassment is responsible for the latest piece of music from the camp and he's gone down the road of four deep, dark and murky rollers. If you like your minimal D&B then this will be the release for you, in particular 'Heartless', which combines a soulful vocal sample with a wobbly exploration through ominous sonics and foreboding soundscapes. Wicked stuff.
Review: Bert H might not be a household name right now, but this year has only just begun. With his own take on liquid adding deeper bass and chopped vocals, he's got a more creative outlook on the genre than most. "Tenderness" puts all these aspects into play at once, showing style and elegance while maintaining hard breaks for the dancefloor crew. "Lucid Flower" is a heavier number, but no less alluring. Picking out beautiful vocals in between heavier breaks and darker bass, it's the B-side you'll be hearing the most. Get both tunes for the full effect. This guy's not going anywhere.