Signature (or Signature Recordings) is liquid drum & bass and jungle legend Calibre’s label. Belfast-born/Cologne-based Calibre aka Dominick Martin launched his label in 2003 with the intention of primarily showcasing his own productions. Thought-provoking, stripped-back, raw, soulful, emotive, warm, deep and dubby are all words to describe Calibre’s Signature sound. The label is littered with some of his own stand-out releases, including: ‘Even If’, ‘Mr Majestic’ (featuring High Contrast), ‘Second Sun’, ‘Pillow Dub’ and ‘Amen Tune’ (featuring DJ Marky).
Review: When we are discussing the modern greats of electronic music production, there's no way we can have that conversation without Calibre's name coming into the mix and blend. This brand new album via the team at Signature takes the title 'Feeling Normal' and is a straight up masterclass, from the stunning breakbeat-driven soundscapes of 'Barren' and 'Man Got Sandwich' to the colourful post-garage designs of 'Feeling Normal' and 'Time To Breathe' alongside Cimone. It has a touch of everything and the quality levels just don't seem to dip, regardless of whatever genre or style we are hearing. There are also some serious highlights, with 'Badman' alongside DRS being a somber, post-dubstep homage, 'Has To Happen' being a sumptuous, emotive roller and 'Predictable' being a futuristic steppers delight. Incredible work as expected!
Review: Preceding the release of Calibre's so called 'first bona fide 140 BPM record' is two choice remixes that Signature have commissioned from legendary Berlin producer Mark Ernestus. Popularly characterised for his role in Basic Channel, Ernestus' dubwise remixes are only rivaled Chain Reaction's DJ Pete (aka Substance). Delving deep into the art of the saw wave, "Badder" sees swells of holographic synths float in the ambient textures of Calibre's original groove while occasionally buffered by light, skipping tops. "Bad", just the same only simmered down, allows its drums to cut through in a way that doesn't distract from its cavernous sound.
Review: Calibre returns with another collection of unreleased gems throughout the ages. Famously themed by his bewilderingly fast and consistent proliferation, once again it's a broad range of Dominick Martin's finest flavours. From the delicate smoky soul of the yearning "Years" to the already massive rubber-ball bassline vibe-out "Crazy For You" via the premium funk of "Latin 2000" and system-shaking rudeness of "Pillow Dub", every track on here hits the spot... But would you expect anything less from the don they call the Music Man?
Review: Dominic Martin returns with an EP that's deep even by his standards. Stirring corners of your soul you didn't even know existed, "Falls To You" is a heart-breaking piece of work that trembles under his lonely vocals and delicate layers of instrumentation. "Crawler" lures back into the dance with a mystical cascades and far-away beats while "The Spirit" breezes and rattles with a dubby, slo-mo 140 style. A one of a kind EP from a one of a kind artist; sublime.
Review: Magic happens when Calibre and DRS collide. Both masters of space, imagery and story telling; they complement each other so well. Especially here... The piano-massaging "Sunrise" is the light from the dark as the pair make sense of the night before and capture the essence of a brand new day. Meanwhile on "Broken Wings" we're taken right back to Swerve with a subtle velvet disco hook that rises softly while DRS puts down one of the most important messages since "Angels Fall": we need to work together for this to work. Calls for unity don't come with much more authenticity.
Review: When it comes to making drum and bass that strikes a balance between the needs of DJs and home listeners, few are better than Dominick Martin AKA Calibre. It's for this reason that the album format suits him so well. The Deep, his 12th full-length in total, could well be his best set yet. Jam-packed with effortlessly soulful moments, evocative piano flourishes, rich live instrumentation and yearning vocals, it's a far more expansive and ambitious set than most D&B albums. It also supplements his trademark, club-ready rollers with tracks that look to modern soul, jazz breaks, dub and R&B for inspiration. Throughout, Martin barely puts a foot wrong, delivering a set that more than stands up to repeat listens.
Review: It's by Calibre and it has balls in the title.... Does any more need to be said? Not really, but credit where it's due - no artist comes close in consistency, proliferation and out-and-out distinctive style than Calibre. Here he is in "Posh Boy" mode - all sizzling in the bass and hazy in the chords - "Iron Balls" is nasty but restrained, cruel but kind, furious but funk. "Angel Breach" takes us even deeper into Calibre's darker side with a ricochet drum set and bassline that ploughs deeper and deeper into the abyss. There's no mucking around here - just up dark style Calibre.
Review: Signature's digital reissues hits Nostalgia City as we're reminded of that moment when two true titans collided for two sides of utter rolling soul gold. "Mr Majestic" flexes on classic reggae horn blasts a la Horace Andy and a sweet vocal texture from King Jammy while "The Other Side" is more what we always suspected the duo would have cooked together thanks to its space, melody and dreamy haze. Over 12 years old but still spotless; if these aren't in your collection.... Now is the time.
Review: Calibre continues to digitize his Signature output with one of his label's most iconic, scene-uniting releases during its earliest chapters. 2004 was the year. Rolling sub funk was the vibe. Singing Fats was the MC du jour (and still is now to be fair)... "Drop It Down" was the delicious roller that brought us all together. "Bleep" echoes the originality of the main A-side attraction with its squelchy, slightly barbed but fun sense of character and funk. Timeless... But then you knew that already, right?
Review: Classic reissue: Calibre takes us right back to where it all began with Signature's very first release. As you'd expect, both cuts still rattle and hum with the same vigour and unicity as they did 13 years ago. "Peso" shows off Dominick Martin's most musical side with flamenco fire while the Marley-sampling "My Chances" reminds us that his versatility and love for spacious, cosmic designs has always been a key signature. Timeless.
Review: 11 years deep and still sounding crisp, soulful and unique: The second of what's now an album count of 10 (12 if you count his folky Dominick Martin albums) Second Sun is largely recognised as Calibre's strongest statement of intent (pre-Even If). While Musique Concrete showcased his skills, it's here where he really brought them together in a way that pleased both DJs and music lovers. From the car chase wah wahs of "Is It U" to the slower mood switcher "Don't Watch This" via the bold brass licks of the title track, this captures a golden moment in both the career of Calibre and drum & bass at large. If, for some bizarre reason, this isn't already in your collection now is most certainly the time rectify this matter.
Review: No other artist in the game could pull a stunt like this off: Such is his proliferation, Calibre's Shelflife series are his way of gathering ideas that he felt weren't right for single releases, or dubs that he just never got round to putting out. As with previous editions, the whole collection rolls like an album due to his consistent, spacious signature. Highlights: How about every track? You need specifics? The piano-slapping sunny-side opener "Latin Way", the big jazzy washes and lolloping rolls on "Model Way", the pushy, gritty breaks on "Spirit Catcher", the wriggling drums, stark minimalism and mid 2000s techno feel to the hook on "Underfire". We could go on and on. It's Calibre - you know what to do.
Review: Does drum and bass get any better than this? Two of the finest names in the genre club together for "Run Away", met in the middle by the man like Fox who puts his vocal stylings into the mix. Rolling out smooth, it's that lulling bassline and softly-spoken chorus that takes the edge off punchy drums and signature Intalex-style strings from the pad section. Fans have been waiting for a release on this for some time now - finally, it's ownable. Showing that they can still deliver tastier goods for the dancefloor, "Something Heavy" is a funk-fuelled hips-mover with Fox sending out his raggamuffin sounds over down and dirty bass. You've heard it in the dance, now get it on repeat.
Review: Drum & bass's most unique gentleman Calibre plunders his vaults to compile a new collection of unreleased gems through the ages. As you'd expect, the end result is a timeless assault of lush grooves, soulful sonics and sweet skippy riddims. From the soft jazz insistency of "Honey Dew" to the hollowed harrowed bass tones of "Bellamee" via the harder, rave-referencing "Sagan" and the deep bass gurgles and DRS's reggae-style vocals on "Eschaton", the only issue here is the fact Calibre hasn't released them sooner. Unarguably incredible.
Review: Mainly famed for his startlingly sparse, soulful grooves, here Calibre reminds us of the badman he keeps locked up within his creative mind. The slinky, menacing "Start Again" is one of the highlights of his recent album Spill; all paranoid and cinematic, the half-tempo groove is the perfect bed for Chimpo's distinctive, demonic spittage. In a classic VIP flip-switch manoeuvre, the remix takes us back to the mid '90s with a spiralling, tunnel-like bassline, classic rattling breakbeats and some added 'whoo's for good measure. Naturally Chimpo's vocal works equally as well over this type of lick. In fact if you didn't know any better you'd think he wrote it for the VIP in the first place.
Review: Given his status as one of drum and bass's true heavyweights; you'd expect this eighth Calibre full-length to be one of the most hotly anticipated jungle sets of the year. Certainly, it's a fine effort, packed with emotion-rich atmospherics, fizzing rhythms and intricate, occasional beautiful, musical touches. He seems to be at his best when concentrating on musicality, as the delightful "Close To Me', soulful "Wilderness" and summery "Do Not Turn On" prove. There are, of course, rawer moments (see the tech-tinged "Simple Things" and dubstep flex of "Start Again"), but these don't hit nearly as hard as his effortlessly soulful compositions.
Review: Ah Calibre, will you ever cease to make interesting, pigeonhole slamming tunes that intrigue as much as they sparkle? We sincerely hope not. "Temple Step" is yet another class example of his experimental adventures; following a similar path to his 2009 hit "Steptoe" it's loosely halfstep drum & bass with traditional dub tendencies, but a mere description will never suffice - the proof, as always, is in the listening. Or mixing; with stripped back principals like "Temple Step" it'll roll with anything you choose to mix it with. A genuine DJ delight. "Simple Emotion" takes things up a gear and into D&B territory, but it's carried with the same 'less is more' approach. Yet another fine Calibre release.
Review: The Irish master of D&B / jungle returns with this release on his own Signature imprint and wow, are we in for a treat! Continuing in the classic Calibre vein, these are dutifully considered, well refined and beautifully polished tunes, forthcoming from his next album due out later this year. "Foreign Bodies" is a super smooth roller with lilting b-line, whispering echoes of vocal, delicate SFX and crisp, clapping breaks. "Ugly Duckling", it's ruder, nastier and downright dirtier brother, contains rambunctious, late 90s style jump up drums and a rough b-line to please the crowds. A huge release; we eagerly await the album.
Review: Signature drop Calibre's best work to date with "Steptoe." A deft halfstepper that displays rigid programming and sumptuous bass weight, this is a subtle killer from Calibre. It has hint of jungalism and the peaceful melodies set it apart from the rest of his work. B-side "Silence" is less refined but rolls out a worthy number in itself.