Review: DJ Sly has been around for a little while now and shows no signs of abating and this latest release on Higher Stakes is a good example of why. The title track is just relentless, pitched-up synth monstrosities abound as they exude pure low-frequency force, the main attractions in an arrangement that is designed for pure blast off. 'You Will Know' is the other highlight. You'll recognise the sample right away, what you won't recognise is its dirty concoction of quivering bass notes and fluctuating back end pulses, which combine to make one hell of a naughty track. DJ Sly has absolutely murdered this one and we're looking forward to seeing what he has in store next.
Review: 2017 winds down and DJ Sly finally reveals the aces he's been hiding up his sleeve all year. A power-move rejoinder to last year's inaugural part, once again "King Of Clubs" reminds us who's boss. Highlights include the insane switch between vibey textures and a cutlass bassline on "Bright Lights", the metallic harmonic purrs on the bassline of "My Style" and incredible laser-firing obnoxiousness of "30 30". But that's only the first round in this high stakes game. Stick, twist then rewind, Sly's strictly playing winners here.
Review: It's been a while since Higher Stakes invited us for a game. Following "Full House" and "Crazy Eights" in previous years, Sly returns with another winning shuffle. A near album-sized game, there's some mean strategies at play: highlights include the early Die-style bass and guitar licks of "M1", the electrical high-range bass stings and soapy sample play on "EastEnd" and the wobbly brilliance and outstanding vocal processing of "Gas Bag". Aces.
Review: Raise the alarm! Las Vegas P returns to the table with a fresh loot of chips and he's not leaving empty handed. Shooting from the hip with skittering beats and a subdued-but-serious bassline poker face, "Split Second" cleans up from the first hand onwards. "Soul Police" switches game: minor key, creepy, and subterranean we've switched from the glitz of the casino to something altogether seedier and illicit where only the funky organs keep us on the right side of the law. Gamble with these responsibly!
Review: Emerging Northampton duo Manna Sounds lay down their statement of intent with this six track debut EP. Ranging from the shimmering, crispy Floydian guitar licks of "Universal" and the delicate pianos of "Ineffable" right through to the "Atlantis" style classicism of "Direction" and the arresting bass warbles and minimal jump up flexes, Manna Sounds run the whole drum & bass gamut with skills and creativity that should guarantee them a space on all discerning junglists' radars. Lords of the Manna.
Review: Titanic Teutonic titillation: two of Germany's longest standing D&B representers switch up from their recent dark-style shredders with a classic throwback to the early 2000s where liquid and jump-up were just one fugly sinewave apart. Big strings and horns aplenty, this is a perfect balance between heavy nostalgia and pure contemporary rudeness. Watch out for the Byrd-level funk on the drop... The good old days are here again!
Review: Dub authenticators Rock2Art come correct on their debut EP with longstanding comrades Higher Stakes. "Run Da Streets" is a really lighter raiser, all moody and loaded in sentiments, "Informer" rolls with the classical skank science that's usually displayed by David Boomah. Those looking for a darker, more Mancunian influenced MC-led piece jump straight on the stern commands of "Walk Good". Artful.
Review: 2015 has been a heavyweight year for Damage Report with a string of releases scudding the senses throughout. Here we find him concluding a year of business with insurgent-like EP fire on Higher Stakes. "This Bs" is unadulterated jump up with an array of basses vying for our attention over well-chiselled drums. "Hot To Trot" is reminiscent of Lynx's classic "Disco Dodo" thanks to its steppy dancehall damage while "Wht Was Tht" takes everything you know about jump-up and sound design, writes it down on a piece of A4, scrunches it up into a small ball that's so tight it's like a marble then pings it about 100 years into the future. Finally "Feel Good" closes the show with a big Hazard-style screech/wobble Q&A bassline, big synths and an emphatic rave-style vocal call to action. Look outside... Can you see any stones that aren't unturned? Didn't think so.
Review: Higher Stakes co-boss Pasco continues his strong-armed assault with two lean slices of guttural bass pressure: "Don't Get Caught" plays on the cinematic versatility of D&B with big strings and spoken word before dropping into battery acid bass that's so sharp you can taste lemons. "Through The Looking Glass", meanwhile, rattles and bashes with a bassline so twisted it sounds like two old school data modems having a drunken fight under a heavy cover of gravel. Gritty.
Review: Fast-rising D&B vocalist Pretty P has been bubbling on Sly's Higher Stakes imprint for several years now. Firstly as a featured vocalist, now as a solo artist in her own right. "Queen P" is her most comprehensive EP so far as it pokes and prods all manner of bass styles; "Make It Right" is a soulful D&B roller that's up there with the work of Riya, "Taking It Back" is a breezy breakbeat jam that's reminiscent of Aquasky's mid 00s work while "Just A Little" and "Give N Take" both go back in time and give the 90s great big bassline house hugs. Finally "Story Lines" brings us back to the jungle source with an electrified dramatic sound that nods neatly at Chase & Status.
Review: Two titans, two tracks, one ridiculously heavy release: DJ Sly takes the lead with a really icy, distorted bass groan that rips with hair-raising mischief and timely call-outs from leading MC Bassman while Serum gets his funk on with the stupendous "Chicken Head". Sprung with heavy swing and nagging Q&A bassline, it's cause for instantly dancefloor silliness. Genuinely distinctive and perfectly executed.
Review: Sly's latest project has got every mandem and his dog talking. Releasing on the label he co-owns with Pacso and still under the superb guidance of Urban Agency (the guys who take care of none other than Original Sin, Taxman and Tyke no less), it's fair to say this is a big one. Bang in the middle of jump up and super-rhythmic drum and bass, there's a lot to shout about. Lead track "Hands Up" is an undeniable crowdpleaser, the heavier sounds rip out further along the tracklist. Get your hands on this as a late summer necessity.
Review: Dark and menacing is how Turno's playing it with "Judas" and to be honest, he's nailing it. Ram-packed with techy madness and hard and fast snares, this is jump up for the connoisseur. "What You Thinking" is a total turnaround in style, choosing smooth rolling bass and the heartfelt vocals of Pretty P. Come mid-set, this'll be a must-play. Two blinders.
Review: Big island vibes kick off this slammer of a tune, picking up dancefloor heat from the Caribbean clubs and fitting them out around huge and heavy bass. After the first few lines from Capo's "Ackee & Saltfish" the track launches straight into a full-speed assault, with only compression and minimal breaks to soften the fall. There's switch-backs to the dancehall for each chorus so as to wind back some energy, and this two-faced tune will have dancefloors losing their minds.