Review: A cool, calculating new character to emerge on the Shogun ranks with no introduction or backstory; Abacus makes his/her/their debut with this respectful NRG cover. Rolling at an authentic 160, laced with goose bumping pianos and powerful vocals from Cimone, this will either take you back to 92 or make you wish you were 20 years older (temporarily at least) This needs your loving.
Review: Friction's Brighton-based imprint are doing things in style with this one, as Pola & Bryson meet DJ Marky for a flourishing example of high-level production chemistry that has now yielded its first full length EP: Run The Streets. It's darker than you might expect from two producers who are definitely known more for their contributions to the liquid side of the scene, and whilst 'Trouble' definitely ticks thatt box, it's the pummelling low frequencies which will really get your head nodding. 'Dogfighter' is the highlight in that regard, its striding percussive line walking boldly through a shimmering outer mirage of underground oscillations. Ed:it lands on the remix for track four to tie things up in style.
Review: Having teased us with a little "LSD" earlier this year, then a sneaky peak of the EP with the well oiled sci-fi soul flips of "Reaching Through" earlier this month, Document One deliver their first full EP for Friction's label and it's a blinder. "Cosmic Funk" steps and slams like it's 98 on Virus all over again, "Aiight" is all about the tightly coiled spring groove, spacious dynamics and croak funk textures while "We Got It" plays the aggy UK stinker of the set. They got it... So can you.
Review: Oi oi! Document One cement their arrival at the Shogun estate with this deliciously bendy, switchy multi-shade bass flashback. Fittingly loaded with myriad ideas all compounded into one epic, precision-barbed freakout, it is - unquestionably - Document One's best track to date with perfect levels of funk, fury and outright trippiness. Get on it.
Review: And the Shogun album heat just keeps on coming... Fresh from launching Ed:It's album series, Friction's label flings Document One's debut upside our features. And it's another essential addition to our collections. As an act renowned for covering the spectrum and subverting the styles, the album format is perfect for the Oxford duo as they guide us through the spectrum... Launching with sing-along sunny-side jungle ("Shutdown") and closing with epic Sigma-esque gospel business ("Newborn") they pack every shade and style in between from soothing chime-laced deepness ("Temporal"), introspective soulful steppers ("Fortitude") and absolute grizzlesome grit ("Holy Moly") A highly accomplished debut album.
Review: Document One dropped their debut album on Shogun Audio last year and it was packed full of wicked dancefloor anthem, as well a a number of liquid and jungle cuts. Anamorphic is their first outing since then and it's gone down the heavier route whilst also incorporating some junglist tones, a wicked combination that represents the diversity present on Friction's label. 'Rave Culture' exemplifies that best, with a ferocious breakbeat and chopped up vocals combining to make a monstrously heavy and catchy club-focused riddim. Lovely stuff.
Review: Document One and Joe Ford aren't the most obvious partnership but they're clearly one that kicks arse in all directions. Both parties bring their finest skills to the table with something for everyone: strong musicianship, scalp-singeing bass, a soaring vocal and a beautiful jazzy drop that swallows you whole and spits you out alive on the second drop. Take care with this one.
Review: Ed:It continues his "Sihouettes" series with another wide-armed collection of precision D&B. As with the previous editions in the collection (that will eventually comprise to form his debut album) the range is wide, incisive and reveals his deepest influences and knowledge of proper foundation drum & bass. "Can't Stop Thinking" lights the fire with an introspective, dark and sexy vibe (think Shogun era Perez) while "Empty Eyes" gets proper sultry on the vocal side and proper heavy on the bassline / production side. "Endings" takes the crown for the darkest jam of the EP, though; pure grumpy funk, not dissimilar to the recent work of Tyrone (or FD when he's in a badboy mode), there's something very classy yet disgusting about it. Finally he tags up with fellow Shogunites Pola & Bryson for "The Ticket", a slinky, subdued creeper that gets darker, deeper and more immense as the track builds. Just the ticket!
Review: Fresh from signing exclusively to Shogun Audio, Ed:It justifies his position on the Team Assassin with four rush-whittled rollers. "Pathways" is loaded with ghostly vocal textures and structured around a super sharp two-step, "Viewpoint" is a much bulkier affair with detailed drum work that's produced and positioned so well it sounds like your own personal drummer sitting right beside, in front and behind you. "Night Creeper" takes us deeper into the darkness with the careful lyrical guidance of Linguistics. Finally we climax to the techy rolls of "All Away". Penned with the help of Pennygiles, it's a smart way to end a sharp EP.
Review: "Kovacs" is Scavoks in reverse. Scavoks in Welsh means 'absolute banger mate'. Coincidence? No, just something we've just made up because when the music's this good it hypes up itself. Teased ahead of his four track "Junction" EP, "Kovacs" is a grainy, heads-down stepper with a springy sense of momentum to the drums and a gurgling bass that's up there with DLR or Skeppy in its lean-but-direct energy and funk. An understated and uncompromised way to introduce his biggest EP on the label to date; ED:IT's on a ninja mission right here.
Review: 13... Unlucky for some but not for yung Ed:It as it's exactly the amount of months since his last Shogun four-track breath-taker. As with everything he's dropped on Friction's label, the EP is an exciting full-vibe spectrum that explores myriad dark corners of the dance. "Junction" is all about the emotional power with its evocative vocal and touching chord progressions, "Nevermind It" flips the vibe with contrast as we're treated to a naked subby two-stepper before "Wander Away" takes us on an all-out soul juggernaut that tips its hat towards the Breakbeat Era style of vocal jazz-tinged drum & bass. Finally we have the grumbling bass stepper that Ed:It teased us with earlier this month: "Kovacs". All bases covered, there's a strong argument to start calling Ed:It Edward Winnerhands here. A very strong argument.
Review: Surely one of the most consistent-yet-stealthy operators on Shogun this year, cool-handed Eddie Ed.It delivers yet another barbed soul dispatch on Friction's stainless stable. With its mild dubby touches and heads-down focus there's more than a whiff of classic Total Science to "Babylon Step", "Heaven Sent You" keeps our focus firmly on the floor with a beautiful BMT style far-away vocal technique and grumbling, sludgy bassline, "South City" will be the highlight for many thanks to its sunset vocal harmonies and angular Break-style drop while "Isolution" closes the show on a much gnarlier note with its depth-plunge bass funk. Four examples of D&B properness right here.
Review: Ed:it has been away for a while and, based on the quality of this release, he's spent the majority of that time locked away in the studio, getting busy and building beats. This EP is the first part of a forthcoming LP and it's absolutely blown us away, with all four cuts resonating on multiple levels in a manner not many artists can pull off these days. With a distinct sense of layered funk, Ed:it has pulled out all the stops with four dancefloor cuts that still pack sophistication and soul. 'Dayz' is possibly our favourite, it's too hard to tell, but its double-bass enthused, low-frequency shakedown certainly makes it a strong contender.
Review: Ed:it is now on part two of his Silhouettes album series of EPs and this one is even better than the last, with four cuts that straddle rhythmic, stylistic and sub-genre boundaries. This man has such a rich sense of vibrancy to his productions and it really shines through here. From the soulful yet hip-hop 'Undertone' featuring Rider Shafique to 'Slate Grey' featuring Technimatic, the end result on this release is always a combination of grit and funk, of basses that pulsate but do so with purpose and sophistication, of proper D&B that tells a story more complex than pure hedonism. Our favourite is 'Broken Dawn', a steppy rendition of force, frequencies and fantastic production. Epic work.
Review: It's been a while since Ed Warrener blessed us with newness but all this is expected to change over the coming months with a new slew of Shogun sounds. And it starts right here with "Brink". Featuring the confident vocal prowess of Lady Soul, Ed.it gets his head down and drives out a restrained-but-barbed groove that sizzles and grunts in all the right places. Welcome back Ed.it.
Review: Following the massiveness of his collabo with Roni Size, Rockwell teases us with another subversion excursion from his forthcoming "User" EP. This time tagging in with one of grime's most iconic and crystal clear voices Flowdan, "Inventor" is a bashment stamper with militant drums and serious sermons from the Roll Deep professor. The results speak for themselves. Bring on the full EP.
Review: Having impressed with his debut on Shogun earlier this year, it's little surprise the label have tapped young blood Joe Ford for some new material. Lead cut "Off Centre" may well be Ford's deepest production to date, with a touch of techno to its loopy hook, yet it still rolls with an undulating warmth building into a beautiful atmospheric drop that will pique the interest of many. Thirsty for the firing Ford who first smashed into the game with Noisia-levels of neuro angriness? Flip for the brutal, no-holds-barred "Knock Down". The title says it all. Shoe-off time!
Review: Joe Ford is one of those producers who manages to tie up sound design with hard-hitting beats to create the type of noise that'll rip through the fabric of existence. Exclusively signing to the biggest cult label in the business, Shogun, in 2013, Joe has made it his mission to produce increasingly heavy UK neurofunk since his early days at Bad Taste and Med School. This EP shows just how many bad habits he's picked up while touring with Noisia. If nasty's what you like, this little beauty is right up your darkened nightmarish alley.
Review: Cementing its position as one of D&B's most essential labels with this round-up of the year's biggest tracks, Shogun Audio has outdone itself. From Rockwell's bafflingly precise electronic meanderings to Icicle's considered approach to minimal bass and drums, Technimatic and Spectrasoul's beautiful synergy of sound and feeling and newcomer Joe Ford's unique slant on experimental soundscaping, this is an unashamedly outgoing collection. Shogun has been running the gauntlet for some time now, focusing all the experimental energies harboured by its own terrifyingly impressive host of signed artists. As always, it's been worth the hard word. An essential release for an exceptional year. Long live Shogun!
Review: Smashing into the harder end of the scene in 2009, the Fourward chaps have been hard at work for years making the world inside your headphones a scarier place to be. Heavily influenced by the likes of Ed Rush & Optical, Noisia and the Bad Company crew in general, the guys have become known for their knock-em-sideways brand of drum and bass terrorisation. "Foot Soldiers" is no exception, giving the electrical-storm atmos, a workout through devastating drums and an even deadlier bassline. "Tingod" ramps up the fear factor, rolling out good and proper.
Review: Unstoppable Austrian powerhouse Fourward do the damage once more: "The Storm" sees them teaming up with Friction's MC of choice for a shadowy tear-out that avoids neuro's dramatic dynamics and retains a certain sense of restraint throughout. "Mashed" has a stronger techno feel to it thanks to the use of FX and sonic manipulation as the main riff. Fourward have dropped nothing but unadulterated heaviness since singing to Shogun, this single does well to show more complexity and depth to their output.
Review: It's a biggie: Vienna quartet Fourward deliver their second album and they're not pussyfooting around. Whether they're flexing their fuzzy, gritty muscles (the Jakes-fronted "Bites The Dust", the vortex-ripping bass rolls on "Belly Of The Beast", the twisted mania of "Sequencer") or they're dipping into more experimental pastures (the rolling halftime pumps and textured vocal layers of "Empty Soul", the AI-style future space anthem "Over") or teaming up with another Austrian heavyweight with obscene tech funk (the Mefjus collaboration "Everytime") the whole collection works well in three ways: the dancefloor, your headphones and their position in the premier D&B league.
Review: The first fruit to be plucked from their highly anticipated debut album Expansion, Austrian four-piece Fourward fine-tune their crafty balance of tech grit and digital funk with "Sequencer". Turbo charged with harmonically-honed layered basses, polished with just the right amount of vocal element; the elements come together with a pacey sense of white-knuckle funk that adds serious hype to the imminent album arrival.
Review: Friction knows how to throw a party... Their "100" celebrations started in March and they're still going strong three months later! A chance for the label's artists and friends to stretch their skills and signatures, there's been some really exciting, subversion work throughout the series. This final piece in the puzzle is no exception; "Fourward" deliver their funkiest track to date, Karma gets all soulful, Total Science get all drifty and ethereal while Break simply reminds us why we love him. All four cuts glistening with long-lasting gold, Shogun can carry on celebrating their 100th release for as long as they like as far as we're concerned.
Review: The concept behind Friction's Vs series is simple: hook up with as many mates in the studio as possible and write straight-up floor-flatteners. No theme, no pretention, just talented producers working together and playing off each other's strengths. Following epic co-labs with the likes of Icicle, Technimatic and Total Science comes the fattest edition yet as the BBC broadcaster teams up with Dimension (hooky and euphoric), Prolix (outrageously nasty and techy), Metrik (unabashed evangelism with a very well-known vocal hook) and Ulterior Motive (old school references wearing new school armour). Each one repping all player's finest attributes, Friction has brought out the best in his peers... And his own work. Essential.
Review: The d&b world can always count of Friction for an injection of huge, shady roll-outs, but this release is special - it's the first in his "Vs" series. Putting his skills up against some of the biggest names in the game, his contenders this time around begin with heavyweight veteran duo Total Science who brings colossal old school vibes and a ton of eccentric production values to the table in "Scatter", giving the straight-down-to-it bones of the track a massive unique twist. On the other side, new Shogun signing Fourward rattle along on a runaway techy drag race, pushed along by the unmistakably dark vocals of Jakes. Massive.