Review: Captivating us since he first emerged on CIA in 2015, US jungle representor Adred fires off another four track flare on Headz, this time on their Platinum series. Once again traversing the widest spread ranging from breath-taking Marcus Intalex remix of the Manos-fronted title track to the gnarled dark rolls and stuttering drums of "Happnast" (with fellow New Yorker Dave Owens), everything about this EP is acutely on point. Elsewhere we find Ant TC1 getting elbow deep on the dreamy steps of "1238" before "New Soul" brings us back down to reality softly in a deep dream haze. D&B bliss.
Review: Fresh from the eastern district, Adred adds another definitive label to his spotless discography. Now joining CIA, 31 and Soul:r, Metalheadz are also big fans of this New Yorker's work. The whole EP thunders with authentic dark stepper science with highlights firing from all corners; the barbed soul of long time friend Robert Manos on "Lazy Jungle", the relentless push and Detroitian textures on "160 Breaks", the blindsiding space ricochet funk of "Famished" and the soft hazy keys and delicate introspection of "You Know" are just a handful of incredible moments on offer here. Instant classics.
Review: New York's Adred returns to Metalheadz with two outstanding cuts right here. Both of which feature some major league collaborations, too. The wonderfully deep "Valley Groove" takes the lead with Commix on board; dreamy, purring and laced with just a smidgeon of hazy jazzy undertones, it's a total lesson in restraint. "Stuck In Loop" (with Ant TC1) maintains the soulful tendencies but with much more of a barbed touch as DRS lays down his lyrical raw emotion. Both are absolutely stunning.
Review: Now this is a very interesting release... Metalheadz have unleashed this with a statement that raises an eyebrow at the dubstep-loving D&B cognoscenti and a reminder that Amit has been bashing out half tempo D&B for nigh-on a decade now. These two dubby joints prove his skills in the area, and tick completely different boxes in the process. "Killer Driller" punches with a gritty, tonked up Massive Attack / Tricky style skank and vocals spat by the very Devil himself while "Color Blind" is a much more melancholic love affair with traditional dub. A noteworthy move by D&B dons Metalheadz, and a killer message (literally).
Review: Long-time Metalheadz mate AMIT returns to the label for the first time since 2012 with three unruly schematics. "Naked Fuse" lights the touch-paper; necksnap breaks, graveyard pads and groaning low end creating more and more tension on every 32. Deeper again we strike "Divide & Rule", a killer drilling halftimer with those big spacious rolling tank-like drums AMIT is best known for while "Knuckle Duster" closes the EP with a total K.O. Ain't nobody getting up even if the count was 100. No one darks man out quite like AMIT.
Review: Sardinian producer Arp XP should be a name all D&B fans know and love by now. A constant source of innovative rolling tunes somewhere between deep and liquid, his presence at Sun & Bass each year has become mandatory. Joining Metalheadz with Polish Cylon crew member Reza, "No Control" is laden with razor-sharp production and laced with an inky blackness reserved usually for the likes of Enei and Icicle. "Unknown Feelings" has an unbelievable resonating bassline - if you've heard it out, you'll remember. We can't recommend it enough, each tune is a diamond. Buy this EP.
Review: The D&B scene wouldn't be the vibrant place it is today without the existence of Artificial Intelligence, so it's surprising to be reminded that they've "only" been around for a decade. Still, in those 10 years they've managed to cement themselves as true pioneers of their sound, pushing soulful drum and bass in ever darker directions. Tracks like "Deadly Melody" and "Thundercloud" showcase their love for all things deep and destructive, but opener "Forgotten Truths" is truly beautiful, albeit with rumbling stormclouds overhead. A stunning start to 2015.
Review: Five years have passed since Artificial Intelligence last gave the world an album. The world of drum & bass has changed vastly since then, but they continue to plough their timeless path uncompromisingly. Like the first sampler, this EP features some very well selected guests (Terri Walker who has worked extensively with Spectrasoul and Swindle and the anonymous Dawn Wall) but the real stars are Zulu and Glenn. "Is This Real" is a purring double bass glider a la Full Cycle, "Scrolls" is a majestic diva-peppered dreamer (think early High Contrast or Logistics) "Justify" is a big old soul shock-out that's up there with their modern-classic "You Can Dream". Album hype doesn't get more beautiful than this.
Review: Artificial Intelligence's new album is en route... And if this first sampler is anything to go by it's loaded with serious next level goodness. Two major league collaborations at play: First up DRS spits his distinctive barbed bars over a dystopian cymbal splashing grit-fest. Next up is a filth-ridden growler with the equally unstoppable SCAR. Just a snifter of the bassline is enough to intoxicate you for a week. Powerful sounds; bring on the album!
Review: Barely half a year has passed since their long-awaited second album Timeline and Glen and Zula return with four more alluring constructs: "Stand Firm" flexes into the darker side with deft navigation from Visionobi while "Ghost Racoon" goes all-out darkside with its pneumatic hammers and tongs. For deeper experiences head for the sub-rattled "Reunion" and the sublime "Shrine". With its swooning chords and rich orchestration it's near-classical in its dynamism and weight. It's not the title track for nothing... Shrine on you crazy junglists.
Review: Five years have passed since AI's debut album Stand Alone. Five years worth waiting: After a string of universally received samplers, Glen and Zula finally unleash the whole set. Clearly in journey mode, the LP works really well as a listening experience as much as it does in the dance. From the gentle wafts and breezes of "Aroma" to the much darker DRS-drenched designs of "Pass The Buck" and the gritty, Metalheadz homage "The Source" back the majestic touches of two Dawn Wall collaborations, this is Artificial Intelligence at their most comprehensive and clear. Attention to detail has been paid to the finish of each track, ensuring a sheen and consistency that you really don't hear in drum & bass albums that often. Timeless.
Review: Glenn and Zula return to the Headz mothership with four more unchartered adventures. "Reprisal" sets both scene and benchmark with a unique textured jazz theme and time-defying glitches in the rhythm, it's joined by the switch-flipping ice cannon blasts of "Sicario", the yearning cinematic guitar soars and rushy uplift of "Intimacy". Finally "Force Of Habit" brings us to cosmic, 23rd century climax with its dense weaves of futuristic bass, thundering drums and hypnotic atmospheres. Matchless.
Review: Artificial Intelligence need no introduction after the tunes they've given to the D&B cause over the years. Smashing out hit after hit, it's no surprise that their latest from the ever-prestigious Metalheadz camp is an all-out hurter. Stepping hard with techy breaks, there's no doubt "Dillirious" is well on it's way to crowding out dancefloors across the globe. Reining back the crazed passion for a minute on the flipside, warm vibes and smooth, soulful lyrics are juxtaposed against crisp percussion. Showing both sides of the AI coin, this release proves there's still nothing they can't do.
Review: With previous on Program and Spearhead, Battery now take another bold leap and make their Metalheadz debut. Three tracks deep, each one showcasing their stark, spacious sound. "NoNo" is a 150mph drive down country lanes blindfolded. No escape, no surrender, no seatbelt. "Air" is slightly deeper with more of a human element thanks to subtle vocal touches from Rumour. Finally we hit "Hornsey Dub", a heads down roller laced with dense drum textures, tight edits and sneering toxic sub. Killer label debut and definite radar-lockers for 2016 hype.
Review: It's finally here! After almost a year on dub, man of the moment Benny L and Metalheadz drop one of the most anticipated and distinctive tunes of the year so far. Wheezing under pure reese bass pressure, restrained and stripped back to the barest of bones, every miniscule element from the pranged pads to the skippy hi-hats and funky little double kicks plays the perfect role as Benny takes us darker than ever before.... Not once but twice as Inja joins the fray on "Vanta Blackin" adding a sharp-tongued twist to this unique noir narrative. Actually make that thrice because they've thrown in the even longer-awaited VIP of Benny's breakthrough "Low Blow" for good measure. Blacker than black.
Review: It's nearing the end of summer, you've rinsed your playlist from every angle at every set. You need new groaners in your life. New tunes that are going to slay a crowd on a whole new level. Who are you going to summon? Benny L of course. Still man of the moment, still capable of making you collapse under major foghorn pressure; he's back on Headz with five of his heaviest, most forthright thumpers to date. From thunderslapping title track right through the last blasts of the mischievous "Trick Or Treat", it's the sound of Benny summoning us all to the dancefloor... And ain't nobody going nowhere until he's done.
Review: Unlike his more prolific counterparts on the scene, Beta 2 has been working away quietly and sporadically over the past few years, spreading his talents sparsely but effectively, like a stealth bomber. With a timeless quality only a few producers manage to evoke, his tracks always bring the glory years of D&B to mind, transitioning smoothly from 1994 to 2004 to 2014 in the blink of an eye. "2nd Page" is a masterpiece in smooth, swaying drum and bass, picking up swooning strings as it rolls past. Second track "NOD" is made of harder stuff, with rough breaks and empty, minimal atmosphere. Moving into techier territory, "Time Traveller" takes beats most familiar to fans of the likes of Burial and Four Tet, speeds them up and sends them on their way with a gorgeously soothing rumble of velvety bass and soaring atmospherics. A true gem.
Review: Unstoppable Russian artist Black Barrel follows his slew of Dispatch EPs this year with yet another level up: Metalheadz. As any debut on Goldie's blueprint label should, it's a chance for him to reveal even more depths and textures to his nature. Opting for the glacial soul and star-gazing side to the Headz sound, these are BB's deepest tracks to date; the soaring vocal and elastic space bass of "Elevate With Me", the Nucleus and Alaska-style oceanic ripples of "Lost Meaning", the heads-down cosmic grit of "Hear The Sound" and the savagely emotional finale "Leah". Each track hitting right in the feels, Black Barrel keeps on shooting.
Something Borrowed, Something Blue - (6:57) 57 BPM
Your Ghost - (5:50) 170 BPM
One Touch - (4:59) 170 BPM
Review: One of the most eagerly anticipated drum & bass albums in years, Blocks & Escher break their near-four year silence with three divine slices of ice cold drum magic ahead of the full release later this month. "Something Borrowed, Something Blue" is a lavish, spatial affair with broad atmospheric swipes, lighting break flashes and basslines that plunge you deep down into the deepest blackholes of your mind. "Your Ghost" flips for a much more intense and rigorous rolling affair with clatter-bashing snares and a mood so icy it could freeze tea on the devil's lap while "One Touch" reminds us of Blocks & Escher's softer, emotional side with its smoke-stacked jazz aesthetics and lush brushed beats. This is just the starter course. If you like this, the album will blow you away...
Something Borrowed, Something Blue - (6:57) 57 BPM
Review: It's time.... After years of speculation and anticipation, Blocks & Escher finally unveil their debut album and you don't even have to ask if it's worth the wait - you just know it is already. 11 tracks that rip up the floor up but work overwhelmingly well as a pure LP, highlights include the subdued jazz pressure of "One Touch", the eerie sweeps and poignant cries of "Witch Hunt", the skittered drum thunder of "Your Ghost" and the vast concord swoops and dives of "Wings", but that's just scratching the surface. What we're dealing with here is album of the year potential. Essential.
Review: Featured on Marky's recent Fabriclive 55 mix, this solo single sees the ineffable Cambridge-based Commix duo on fine, fine form. Their recent forays into techno have garnered much attention of late, but this proves that the boys are not neglecting their D&B either. "Double Double" builds from an eerie intro, full of anticipation into the main tune, which is dominated by terse breaks, thudding drum kicks and echoing vocal snatches. There are tense, toying synths and enormous subs rumbling ominously below, making for a compelling listen from start to finish.
Review: Despite releasing enough singles to fill a small set of IKEA Expedit shelves, Cambridge D&B duo Commix have been pretty slow on the uptake when it comes to albums. So far, they've only released one original full-length, Call To Mind - a pleasing set that won many plaudits on its release in 2007. Curiously, this second full-length is not a new album per se, but rather a collection of previously unreleased cuts recorded between 2003 and 2008. It is, though, a superb set, perfectly showcasing their brand of melodic, musically inclined drum and bass. As ever, the beats are loose, organic and snare heavy, the basslines hooky and the melodies sparkling, offering a near perfect balance of dancefloor chops and home listening nous. Highly recommended.
Review: Commix returns: fresh from his Endian techno adventures, George Levings (now running solo ops) presents his first new D&B release in over four years. Has the wait been worth it? Immerse yourself into the deep rumbles, rolls and sound designs of "Generation" or the heavy meditative complexities of "Deepdubs" and the answer is clear... Yes, the wait has been worth it and it comes with the long awaited official release of Spectrasoul's remix of "Justified" to boot. Apparently there's a whole stack more in the Commix cannon too. Big yesses.
Review: One of 2016 many welcomed return stories (Bad Company, J Majik, Full Cycle, Pendulum...) Commix eased himself back into the game with two new super-deep originals and two long lost dubs. Now back with four originals, "Generation EP2" sees him reengaging with even broader, bolder brush strokes. "Freefall" is straight out of the "Music" era - spaced out, synthetic and sci-fi soul. "Honey" continues the deep dream feels but with a much harder, Photek-style super-chiselled drumset while "Behold" is an early morning run along a misty beach with big leaping kicks and a sense of unknowing ahead of you. Finally "Arplong" winds us down on a classic electro tip laced heavily with mild nuances of Underworld-style layering. No mucking around now .... Commix is back in the building.
Review: Commix returns with the final part of his "Generation" trilogy. Two years have passed since the first two EPs but these four cuts more than make up for the wait with their beguiling, & and often foreboding charm. The supernatural punch and atmosphere of the heavy stepping opener "The Time", the deep Amazonian halftime odyssey that is "Fragile State", the lucid skips and vapour trails of "Cherry" and the sci fi grand finale "The Divide" that throws us deep into cyberpunk mode with no signs of escape. Generation bounding; Commix only crafts ageless music.
Review: Critical Impact lives up to his name once again with two big MC cuts that have been doing the rounds for the big boys on dub for a while. "Crazy" brings a little Manchester heat as DRS digs deep into his complexities for a unique chorus hook and class A spitfire bars over an almighty, skin-melting Critical Impact drone bass. "Far Away" flips the vibe for something a lot more soul soothing as Fats does his dreamy dulcet thing over a purring subtly jazz-tinged roll out. Crazy good.
Review: The man otherwise known as Darren White, previously one third of Bad Company, and now Exit label boss, Autonomic pioneer and legend within is own right, is back with more musical badness, this time on Goldie's Metalheadz imprint. "The Little Things" is a deep, brooding number with heartfelt vocal, razor sharp beats and warm, throbbing bas, full of that late night, stripped back sound he has become famous for. "Cornered" builds from a sparse intro into a quirky tribal roller with undulating bassline, powerful sub bass grumblings and a curious, stuttering beat and chopped up vocal snatch. Highly recommended.