Review: Jaybee & XTC's 'Charlie' is a ride inside a paranoid vortex. Childish whispers hide amongst melodic shadows, worrying 'I don't feel good about this', surrounded by icy drips, metallic stabs and tumbling bass. The classic breaks surround you like net dragging you further still into this long dark tunnel. Benny L is on fine form right now producing one dancefloor destroyer after another, this is a fast paced, forward moving shuffler with a devastating sub. From the strength of this sampler, and the smasher that was Session 1 we're looking forward to hearing the full LP.
Review: If you're after some insanity to help you wind down after a hard week at work, look no further. This royal flush of breaks, bass and asymmetrical riddims hits the spot like nothing else. From Mixmaster Doc Stateside's hard-hitting remix of "Melody madness", the trend is continued by Cool Hand's own remix, mashing in dirty bass for good measure. "Warning Signs" hits us up next with more of that down and dutty bass built for shaking asses and rumbling rafters and finally the legendary Randall refixes "Set it Off" to the tune of vintage horns and tenacious old-skool vibes. Keeping it rolling out hard, it rounds off the game nicely. Tasty stuff.
Review: Mac 2 Digital is Randall's label. Yeah, Randall's label. The don of all dons obviously has a knack for D&B curation and it's why the releases from his imprint - although relatively few and far between - are so sought after by both DJs and fans. We've never heard of Cool Hand Flex before, but this five-tracker is certainly ideal for Mac 2, with its punchy but rough drums and mid 2000s feel. It's not especially futuristic or cutting edge, but that's what makes it sick and Randall knows that. Solid beats, all the time.
Review: There might be the odd couple of year gaps in his discography but damn is Coolhand Flex consistent. It's been this way since 91: the Mac 2 co-founder slipping us raw rolling length with no fanfare or apology. Take this EP. His first on the label since the "Connected" EP four years ago. Fats singing on a particularly blistering title track, darked out Blue Note business on "Come In Selector", evilled out End vibes on "Dark Side" and a whole load more. Gatt fingers at the ready.
Review: More northern powerhouse bangers from the consistently heavyweight Dawn Raid outfit. This time we see them return to Randall's Mac 2 with three more ageless joints; "Make Me Move" is the classic jungle roller of the pack with a hefty sub presence and light dustings of rave elements, "The Bartender" applies a more soulful tactic with a great dusty vocal sample and a barbed contemporary twist on the early 2000s liquid sound while "Light The Beacons" brings us back to Randall's raison d'etre - proper, uncompromised jungle. Serious skills.
Review: A release on the label of the one and only Randall is always one to watch. If it's a fairly unknown artist then that's even more applicable, as taste-makers don't get more impeccable than Randall. Hoppa is that artist this time around and believe us, he's brought the goods. 'Deep Fade' is the title track and it's simple but excellent, one of those tunes which is repetitive in a good way - a real head-nodder. 'EZ Funk' is more stripped-back, rolling goodness with a bassline that'll make other producers jealous, something equally true for 'Herbs & Spice', which perfectly balances jovial reggae sampling with low-frequency pressure. Finishing with a skittering riot of basses and drums on 'Love & Dreams', Hoppa has launched himself into his D&B career.
Review: Sticky fingered Brazilian duo Jam Thieves are having a monster year. While some artists leave upwards of six months between releases, they've been bashing it out in every sense throughout 2015. Stepping up to Randall's Mac 2 here they deliver four more toxic funk grooves. Both "Texas" and "Queens" swing on a triplet-informed drum arrangement, the former taking a haunted house arpeggio as the lead while the latter leans heavily on elephantine sub for the main hook. Further in we find a stripped-back, rolling twist on Jaybee's "Do It" while "Dry Bones" closes the EP on a classic jungle groove. Amen to that.
Review: The legendary Jaybee returns with an EP so sick it's about to go pandemic. Darker than the encroaching wintery nights and deeper than deep, "Dirt Magirt" is a track that starts out mean and just gets meaner, a theme continuing into "Do It", where sharp claps and frosty atmospherics cover hard stepping beats with a layer of tension. "Come Down" is a straight-up horrorshow of tense pads and old school vibes and finally "Gangster Shit" warms up the place with '90s pads and the tasty glow only a Jaybee roller can accomplish. Deep and dark with a molten centre of pure classics, you can't afford to miss this.
Review: With previous collaborations punching massive holes through the walls at the HQ of Bryan Gee's Chronic and Liquid V, US D&B soldiers Dave Owen and Jaybee now set their sights on Bristol: home of junglist daddy Randall. Long time supporter of US D&B talent, Randall's roped the two in for a heavyweight collection: "Blow" is an all-out gully roller that seems tailor made for Mac II, "Streets Is Dirty" is all about the rattling snare and Krust-style twostep while "You Want None" is a straight-up grade-A 3am dark-out that shudders and shakes with the same grunting restraint as Jaybee's solo groaner "Who Want Some". It's a rhetorical question - we all want some.
Review: Randall knows what time it is. Not just in the UK but stateside too as he continues to rep and support some of the US's most authentic and clued-up junglists Jaybee and Dave Owen. Here they hit hard with some of their gulliest flavours to date: "Grimey Shit" nods at the KOTR/Benny L style of foghorn bass, "Sacrifice" gets even more twisted with a cyclical bass drone and some impeccable amen work while the rather sweary cockney free-for-all "F**k Off" mops up the mess with a heads-down techy edge. Perfectly on-point.
Review: Randall doesn't mess around, so you already know LJHigh is making the right noises just by the very virtue of being on Mac 2. But then you press play and realise this Coventry newcomer doesn't mess around either; the title track "Magic" is an insanely obese roller with a sub so wobbly you consider calling it an ambulance and it's back by three other crucial buzzes; "Scorpion" rattles and stings like an old Bingo Beats record, "Denial" has more of a twisted techy edge with a sultry vocal purring over the top while "Submersed" closes the EP on a creepy note. All waspy in the bassline, subtle in the uplift and percussively perky, it leaves us hanging for more. Don't get high... Get LJHigh.
Review: Mac 3 2 Digital is the online only wing of Randall's famous imprint, and his ineffable taste is stamped all over this slick collaborative release from Madcap and Ricky Force, who have come together to produce four slices of barebones jungle and drum & bass. The vibe on this one is strictly heads and 'Original Strut' by Madcap manages to sound both nostalgic and relentlessly fresh, with a wave-like sine bass that swoops in to grab your attention with pure finesse. The dark and dusty vibes of 'Morality' by Ricky Force are also deserving of attention, with rusty drums and eerie, retro ambience. Wicked.
Flames In The Sky (feat Jesse Writes) - (4:36) 58 BPM
Flames In The Sky (VIP) (feat Jesse Writes) - (5:09) 174 BPM
Review: After a great run of form on Shiftin Beatz, Martyn Nytram hooks up with Randall's Mac 2 with three dark destroyers. "Screw Loose" is a rattling roller that gradually builds into a quite dissonant jazzy affair with its emotive minor keys and cold pads on the breakdown. "Sorry" is all about the purring vocals that weave and linger across a high voltage bassline and rips and shreds with venom. "Flames In The Sky" flexes classic detuned rave pads, stark steppy drums and precision bars from Jesse Writes. Complete with a darker VIP, this EP covers more than enough bass bases.
Review: Massive. One word is all you need to describe first track on this tantalising little sampler from Randall, DJ Vapour and Dawn Raid. But for some more; "Angels Warning" is big and ballsy, full of bass and the most amount of fun you can have with your headphones on. "Red Sonja" takes things back to the old school with tripped out junglist breaks, euphoric atmos and diva vocals stretching on out into the small hours. A total blast in a sea of metronomic drum and bass. Get yourselves acquainted.
Review: FACT: Randall loves to smash things up so you can pick up the Pieces. All jokes aside, Randall really does smash it both as a DJ, label owner and on the co-controls with another OG Shimon. "Get Twang" is a murk hurricane that rolls and grunts with restrained menace before sheet metal bass whips in from behind with such gusto it removes your shoes for you and throws them itself. Vapour brings up the rear with a classical stepper that's shrouded in swooning pads. Pieces, love and unity all the way.
Review: Teased by Randall over a year ago, Manchester's Shoto finally lets rip with his Mac 2 debut; a four-track fire session with its eyes directly on the 3am bullseye. "Alice" is fuelled off a moaning drone that's carefully kept in-check with chilling ambient textures, "Atlantic Boss" is the type of a needle-funk shredder you'd expect to hear in a Bladerunner set while "Kira" punches elbow deep into hardcore jungle territory. In a nice twist of fate, "Unruly" is actually the deepest, smoothest cut of the bunch. Leaning casually on breezy detuned pads, it's a fitting way to bid adieu and leave us wanting more.
Review: The Total Science crew know that whatever they'll be applauded, so it's exciting to see them still pushing the limits so far into their careers. Constantly innovating, forever shapeshifting, this sampler from Mac 2 Digital also features input from Mancunian producer Defcon One and hugely sought-after Cali-based producer Jaybee, and it takes techy, old school and electro-based drum and bass to another level. If you're interested in letting your mind work as hard as your feet, you've got yourself a golden release. Keep it handy - you'll be pulling it out of the bag most nights for now until the apocalypse.
Review: Premium strength D&B from long-time London bubbler Trex. Last spotted on Randall's ever-reliant Mac 2 just over a year ago, he makes up for lost time with four rugged, chiselled jaw rollers. "Soul For Sale" balances vocal harmonic textures, twinkling arpeggios and a short sweet vocal sample with a simple-but-effective depth charge bassline, "Easton" is all about the jazzy jump-up, "Never See" ploughs with a Moving Fusion-style bounce while "Harlem Nights" strips the elements back for us to properly zoom into every nuance of the bulbous elastic bass he's gradually made his signature. Five star fire.
Review: One of the dirtiest jewels in Mac 2's crown, Trex returns after adventures on Lockdown and Director's Cut with four absolutely stinking slabs of underground rawness; "Raptor" growls just as its name suggests while "Treatment" rolls out with a rough, dangerous edge that's highly reminiscent of Grooverider's Prototype output back in the day. Next up we charge head-first into "Romany's Song", a twisted piece of croaky jungle where the breaks switch and flicker like power plant and the bass squelches like a sewage plant while "Orison" brings us to a poignant close with more cosmic, dreamy layers majestically coating the precision rolling groove. Seriously masterful: Trex needs full attention now more than ever.
Review: Trex is one of the most talented artists to emerge in the past couple of years and Mac 2 is where it all began for him, with the release of his sensational debut album High Time on Randall's label. He's back with his next full-length outing on the imprint and it's more rough, gritty D&B that's grounded in the bare necessities: tough drums, rollicking basslines and subtle energies. Title tune 'Society' sums this up excellently, with a sample laden intro that nonchalantly rolls out into a minimalist yet still full-on rendition of dancefloor wizardry. Watch out for the second drop - the other tunes aren't far behind.
Review: Another successful album graduate of Randall's Mac II academy, Trex levels up into LP mode with this superb debut long'un. The title track "High Times" gives nothing away as its dubby sways ripple and weave in the intro before Trex throws us to the mercy of his rolling gold. The hurricane grit of "One & All", the slinky trouser-dropping subs of "Real World", the introverted vocal soul and woozy horns of "Try", the haunted Commixian staccato and poignancy of "Father" are among many other highlights on this highly accomplished debut.
Review: The Mac 2 label continues to plough its own distinct path through the world of drum and bass with the release of the second in their Crossfire Sessions EPs, which sees a number of talented names vying for attention. LJ High & Wags team up for "I Know" first, a frantic roller with symphonic touches that elevate it above the competition, while Serum & Paul T balance their tough subs with plaintive vocals that hark back to the days of classic jungle. NC-17 and Fade waste no time in tearing up the floor with the intense wobble and hoover synths of "No One Knows", while JB & NCamargo go for a darkside steppers vibe on "Your Nightmares", which features the kind of twisted bassline you'd be advised not to listen to before bedtime. In a word: essential.
Review: Hot off Randall's Mac 2 label, Pieces is a ludicrous collection of behemoth tunes found, remixed or simply well-placed in no particular order. Why? Because he's good to us like that. Featuring a stellar line-up of OGs and freshly hooked-up newcomers, this is 18 tracks of pure drum and bass energy ready to make a mess of your cochlea. Special mentions for the DRamatic remix of Lenni Dee Ice's "We Are IE" and Trex's massive stomper "Sudden Impact" which should currently be tearing up the dancefloor in your nearest darkened warehouse with a soundsystem. Instant purchase.
Review: The don Randall continues to smash things to "Pieces".... 16 tracks of serious rolled-out dark groove soul, it's nothing but heads down grit and uncompromised creativity with every track playing the consummate role of lead player; T>I's soul-shaking hip-twister "All I Do", Benny L's epic groaning yes-fest "Dr No", Vapour's sci-fi drama stepper "Looking Back", Trex's cosmic alien lullaby "Short Story" are just some of the highlights as we roll deep to the very end as Seba blesses the collection with a superlative re-touch on Randall, Goldie and Dego's seminal, scene-shaping bomb from 93 "The R". Randall... Still doin' it after all these years. Essential for all drum & bass heads.
Review: Unfettered jump-up jungle styles cooked the American way: Will Miles's release rate seems to be upping by the month since emerging at the start of the decade. His Mac II debut follows support from labels such as LD, Rubik, Faction and Intrigue and it's a bit special... Firstly we have the Tyke style grunts of "Takers", then we have the darker, DLR style rumbles of "Family Man" but it's his remix of Randall's classic "Broken Plate" that closes the show with the biggest statement thanks to its near-overwhelming amen batterage. Genuinely monstrous.
Review: "ShoNuf" begins strong with a tactical assault of vintage style breaks and a whole load of thick, dubby bass. "Warning" follows up with the vast emptiness of an industrial roller, the US producer showing how minimal fuss can create the heaviest of sounds. "Ruff N Tuff" packs deep bass with the top-end rattle of rapid fire snares, while Jaybee's elastic bass pulls tight and digs deep in "Don't Even Try It".