Review: One of the best things about following the career of Etch has always been it's unpredictability, with the Brighton-native always ready to push the boat out and explore new sonic destinations. He arrives on Tempa with five groovy creations, with the title track 'Dodgy Acid Tax' focussing heavily on moogy synth flutters and stripped back drum breaks, topped with eerie vocal samples to kick start the EP in style. From here, the more industrial drum chops and horror-core atmospheric drones of 'Blood On The Mound' move into view, before 'Int%^1___' gives us a lesson in sonic manipulation and unique compression methods. From here, a more classic-sounding display as 'All Circles Vanish' focusses in heavily on cymbal-lead drum skips with an original jungle feel, before 'Soft Fog Dystopia' uses slower beats and organ-like synthetic melodies to round the project off with a soft landing.
Review: The fractious tones of old school jungle are in full effect here and, just like back in the day, they're bedded down amongst the sample culture of funk and soul. That's the story on 'Still Waters', a lounging soul track that's almost hip hop in its form, a really cross over piece of work that balances out the EP nicely. 'Shields Down' is the most raucous of the three, as a furious amen rattles the cage like a monkey on a mission, except here the objective is full on dancefloor mayhem. Big.
Review: Tempo continue to dig deep and reinforce the foundations with their series of releases from the most respected pioneers. Following the likes of Krust and Trace comes Source Direct with two deep space odysseys. 'Dangerous Curve' is rough/smooth personified. Those grizzly breaks but that purring sub and gliding guitars. Close your eyes and this is Creative Source. 'Game Play' plunges us much deeper into the darkness with a precision two-step occasional echoes of moody guitar work. Timeless.
Review: DJ Krust is a bonafide legend of the scene and has been for nearly three decades, and although the last of those decades hasn't seen the highest number of releases, he's on his way back this single is part of it. Comprised of two superbly well put together pieces of music, Krust has well and truly smashed it. The A-side and title track is a nine-minute epic of left field drum and bass that feels a bit like an odyssey of sound and progression, an industrial ballad, an omage to the foundational elements of the music. The flip is also long, reaching almost eight-minutes, and is recognisable in its arrangement but no less tough, with distortion all the over shop and a genuine scariness to its vibe. Masterclass.
Review: DJ Trace is rolling with the old-school artwork and the gritty vibes of the early 2000s are present all the way through this tune, as he splutters grey textures over spitting drum lines to great effect. 'Twister' is a pummelling one, with a spinning and gurgling bassline that pushes the track forward with great momentum. The flip is a bit more foreboding, with sweeping pads that swoop down into the range and make it an aggressive affair to say the least. Big.
Review: A fierce n' firing D&B four-tracker here from Joe Rossiter and Liam Bailey, better known collectively as Chromatic, a UK duo who've appeared previously on Dope Plates, New Playaz, Formation Records and Flexout Audio, among others. Opener 'The Prayer' (feat Tim Cant) brings the mid-90s jungle vibes, while liquid, minimal and jungle influences collide on 'Roots' (feat Soul Intent). On the flip, 'Kavos' (feat RV) is another old school-sounding roller, and then finally 'Blend' itself is a smoother ride - liquid in feel without being all wishy-washy about it. It all adds up to an EP that'll do the pair's ever-growing reputation no harm whatsoever.
Review: Essex-based DJ Trax has been churning out the hits since 1993 (first hit single "High Time on Moving Shadow), making him one of jungle's survivors. He doesn't release that much these days, but what he does put out tends to be rather good. "20,000 Beats Under The Sea", the title track from this first solo single since 2014, is a wonderful blast from the past: a punchy, party-starting fusion of original jungle drums, jazzy samples and the kind of dreamy electronics frequently found on late '90s Good Looking Records releases. You'll find more ballsy, bass-heavy jungle pressure on the cracking "This Station" is a head-in-the-clouds early D&B roller built around metallic carnival percussion. On "No Name" KJ Sawka (Pendulum) delivers his live drums!
Review: Digital (Function Rec) protegees Response and Pliskin collide on Frodo's Tempo Records for more dark drum funk. "OT Blues" is straight out of the good book of Paradox, slap-happy amens and a cold lead texture that raises more hair on your back than you'd care to mention. "Seal Clubba" lives up to its cruel title thanks to a thundering kick/snare combo, wrapped tightly in a gritty, guttural bass tone alongside "Inta" vocal samples. Finally "Future Uncertain" looks to the past with hurricane pads, iced out piano delicacies and a steppier drumset that's reminiscent of Marcus Intalex/ Doc Scott / Blu Mar Ten's star-gazing output. Outstanding.
Review: Some fierce drum 'n' bass from the darkside that deconstructs and reconstructs jungle era breakbeat science on the Give Me A Dub EP by Nottingham's (now London based) Soul Intent on Tempo. Appearing for a change outside of his usual home, Lossless Records, he throws down three killer tracks here. First up the title track smashes through the audio spectrum like a battering ram with the kind of drums that even Dillinja would stand up and notice. "The Dread" is more minimal and stripped; the kind of stuff that DJ Krust was throwing down back in the day. Finally "Heaven" is definitely the most highly engineered offering; a futurist techstep journey with an emotive atmosphere and liquid breaks.
Review: It's been a while since both Pennygiles and Tempo have served up any gold, but they've both made up for lost time with these three understated rollers. "Looking In" hammers with a really interesting snare sound, unrelenting kicks and buried vocal texture not dissimilar to Break or Digital. "Without Worry" is a jazzier, heads-down affair that wouldn't go amiss in a 3am Marky slot while "Lie Through Me" has that minimal, sparse construction that LSB does really well too. Classy.