Under the expert tutelage of multi-talented label boss and soul-supplier Lenzman, homegrown Dutch label The North Quarter has firmly established itself as the premier location for soulful, vocal, liquid-infused drum & bass, never afraid of diverging into their foundational hip hop, funk and downtempo influences, as well as cherished dips into the more weighty, rolling corners of the 174bpm sound and beyond. Formed in 2016, their roster is a globetrekking ode to the musical artform TNQ call home; Lenzman, Redeyes, FD, Satl, Anile, Echo Brown, Tokyo Prose and Submorphics, plus shining vocalists and micmen Fox, Dan Stezo and Abnormal Sleepz, all have honed their sublime art on the imprint. Close friends and guests to the label have included Children of Zeus, iamddb, Myth, KinKai, Akemi Fox and [ K S R ], adding to that quintessential family feel; this is the ethos of the always consistent TNQ. With a fresh, groundbreaking aesthetic and artstyle, luxurious LP’s and full length albums, emotionally educatory EPs, thoughtful, diverse compilations like ‘Quarter to Quarter’ & ‘NQ State of Mind’ and events all over the world; The North Quarter is truly a unique, once-in-a-lifetime musical phenomenon.
Review: An album from the Dutch master is always welcome, and A Little While Longer is Lenzman's latest foray into lounging, soulful drum and bass. It's world he leads, and all eight tracks on this LP ripple with the sophisticated funk and hip-hop influences him and his label are so known for. The first track, 'Lil Souljah', exemplifies this blend perfectly; a whimsical piano riff, a crunchy yet light set of rolling drums and a vocals perfectly peppered through the range by Slay, an MC who has been picking up serious steam in the scene these last few months. It's a team effort, as Danny Sanchez joins the melancholic euphoria of 'Gimmie A sec' and label regular Satl amps up the pressure on the sub-heavy 'Combo'. Another special album from a special producer.
Review: FD hides his ingenuity behind deceptively simple, stripped back productions. His music relies on the basics done unbelievably well and A Vision Of Hope is a six-track embodiment of how effective this method is, as he rolls things out with clarity in the percussion and high quality in the low frequencies. 'Hazmat' featuring Fox is a perfect example and the pair are a force to be reckoned with, as FD lays out an unbelievably crisp percussive basis for a bouncing, infectious bassline, both of which pair superbly with Fox's little-is-more approach to vocal magic. There's just a quality to this EP, it's organic and well-meaning but still tough and gutsy; the bassline on 'Vienna Circle' lopes in purposeful steps, but squirms with anger on 'Bully'. There are liquid notes on 'Here With Me' and an instrumental to rounds things off, North Quarter style. Sublime.
Review: Echo Brown is the newest addition to the North Quarter roster, and following appearances on label compilations, he is now appearing with a six-track EP in that signature long-form, North Quarter style. Struggles is diverse and comes with something for everyone, from the lounging hip-hop roller that is 'Affirmations' feat. KinKai, to the stripped back funk of 'So Good' and the stepping rap verses of 'Tug O War'. 'Love Won't Do' is our favourite, an Ivy Lab-esque percy of a deep one, with gentle, featherweight drums and a superb vocal sample that hangs above the instrumental in delightful fashion. 'Phenomena' rounds things out in choppy dancefloor fashion, and there's even an instrumental of 'Affirmations' to get your teeth stuck into. More amazing stuff from the Dutch crew.
Review: New kid on the block, Echo Brown, is following up his superb appearance on the recent NQ State of Mind LP with this single, Love Won't Do, which stretches across two tracks and shows off his versatility over a liquid beat. The title track is Ivy Lab-esque in its penetrating depth and sultry vocal layer, with torn basslines that ripple through the arrangement, and nostalgic ambience courtesy of beautifully nostalgic pad work. The flip sees KinKai, a vocalist who is becoming a regular on this label, sit above Echo Brown's stripped back and barebones rolling beat with urban aplomb. Lovely.
Review: The North Quarter is rounding out their 2020 with the first in a new Various Artists series: NQ State of Mind. We're assuming this name is a hat tip to Jay-z and Alicia Keys' NY State of Mind, and the focus on urban funk comes through clearly across this album's 10 tracks. It starts with the long-awaited Tokyo Prose remix of 'All My Life' by Satl, and Tokyo has stretched out Steo's incredible vocals over an elegantly simple piano riff and solid percussive basis, a timeless sound that gets right to the heart of what makes this label so good. Zero T gives his 2017 album cut 'Slightest Moment' the remix treatment, taking it up from hip-hop tempo to full drum & bass to form a rollicking, nonchalant roller which skips along with such purity of spirit you'll forget where you are. There's a superb original contribution from Redeyes with 'Original Soul', a stripped back remix of 'Late Night Jam' from Lenzman, and a dirty old school roller from Sam Binary. What an album.
Review: Satl is back on Lenzman's North Quarter with another fluid, rolling release that pushes the boundaries of liquid and merges them with darker, minimal touches. It's a wicked six tracks long, a necessary length given the considered nature of Satl's production, and the whole package has the cohesive art direction so fundamental to Lenzman's work on TNQ. It opens with 'Portal', which swims on arpeggiated synth nodes on intro before rolling out into a dark, twisted fantasy of gruff basslines and hostile atmospherics. 'Motor City Justice' is another highlight, featuring Submorphics, which is stripped back and deep in its approach, channeling the sounds of detroit techno with its chord progressions and analogue feel. The whole release is incredibly well put together and absolutely worth your time.
Review: Myth has been one of the scene's major success stories over the last 12 months. Known previously for his work as a part of Ill Truth, Jay has been killing it on the solo front by becoming known for a strictly stripped-back, jungle-focused approach to hard-hitting beats. This time around he's releasing on Lenzman's North Quarter imprint, who have moved away somewhat from their typical focus on dreamy liquid but have stayed firmly true to their commitment to organic, free-wheeling beats. 'Long Time' is quintissential Myth and packs serious smacks of Breakage in the drums and the structure'; the sampling is superb and the whole mix is clean, precise and devastating in the extreme. 'Reboot' rises up on a bed of funky sampling, before settling down into a loping, simple and yet masterfully effective bassline. It's a rough, raw and rambunctious release that relies only the bare minimum - perfection.
Review: The North Quarter's most consistent soul merchant is back with his third album on the label, and Selfportraits is another exercise in how to craft liquid drum & bass that's both velvet at its core and rough round the edges. There's bite behind the bliss, and Redeyes' expert use of samples and vocalists provides a human, hip-hop-infused attitude to a LP that's distinctly Redeyes. 'A Thousand Times' is the sing-a-long crowd pleaser and stands out simply for its exquisite marrying of [ K S R ]'s vocal perfection and a lusicous bed of instrumentation - a true ballad. The rest of the LP blurs into one as Redeyes nails the fine line of cohesion and repition, each track unique but part of a broader project. 'Carry Me Home' flies above a sultry piano riff; Monty joins on 'Belong' for a pacier offering; 'Delicate' has the best intro on the LP, with flowering jaunts of subtletly breathing themselves into the drop; 'Low Key' is a tad heavier, a dub-infused roller which still has plenty of soul; the LP finishes on the soft-spoken 'Change.Illusion', which is both upbeat and melancholic its rhetoric and its posture. Simply stunning.
Review: Redeyes has his third album on Lenzman's The North Quarter coming very soon and the first single is upon us. It's a double-sided number that serves up a double helping of rolling soul, and the Frenchman is starting to become truly unrivalled in his ability to gentle daub licks of sample-driven funk over a rolling basis. The A-side ropes in fellow France-based producer Monty, who is known for his work on Perez's 1985 Music, and the duo have joined their respective skillsets to superb effect; crisp drums and bubbling synths courtesy of Monty, and floating samples and wispy pads from Redeyes. The flip is classic North Quarter, as Mancunian MC [ K S R ] gets involved for an R&B-soaked, vocal-led soul ballad that moves and flows to the umpteenth degree. Unbeatable.
Review: Zero T has returned to Lenzman's The North Quarter imprint for his second full release on the label following Baby Grand several years ago, and he's doing so with a serious sense of purpose. Made up of five tracks that he wrote in order to capture the breadth of sounds he loves in the genre, Former Self starts off on a liquid tip with another gorgeous Steo collaboration, followed by a melancholic yet hopeful remix of Lonely Night by Mango x Mathman. Things then take a turn into tougher territory, as the Irish producer lays out an almost-jump up slew of force on 'I Want More', before rounding things out in true Bristol style with 'Clash' featuring Myth. Exceptional.
Review: Freddie Dixon AKA FD has been doing his thing across a variety of labels for some time now, but it's in the last couple of years, and under the tuterage of Lenzman's The North Quarter, that he's really begun to shine. Lanta Nights is a couple cuts of gorgeous liquid and then three bassy, naughty rollers that smash of dub and soundsystem culture. It's a potent blend, and Akemi Fox is especially fantastic on 'Lie To You', a lounging, hip-hop endeavour that rolls out with the nonchalance it deserves. It's a superb EP and capped off with The North Quarter's typically well-refined aesthetic. Fantastic.
Review: Lenzman's imprint serves up its first V/A right here with Quarter To Quarter. Featuring exclusive tracks from the likes of FD, LSB, Total Science, Kyrist, Tokyo Prose, Break, Zero T and so many more, it's a full spectrum representation of the label that ranges from sublime, sun-kissed soul such as Redeyes' "Lust", Atlantic Connection and Steo's "Night & Day" to bouncy, vocal high-vibe affairs such as Break's remix of "In My Mind". Along the way expect stunning strident, cosmic hypnotic workouts (Tokyo Prose - "Rescue"), dubby dreamers (Kyrist - "Untrue") unlikely rudeboy slappers (Total Science - "Killa") and every other authentic, genuinely crafted D&B sound you associate with the label. Quarter To Quarter ... No half measures.
Review: The North Quarter have their first full label VA coming very soon and the third sampler preceeding the launch is here, featuring liquid giants Submorphics and Pola & Bryson on a collaborative tip, the result of which is 'Albion Road'. This tune is simply gorgeous, with fluttering drums that perfectly underpin its idyllic blend of atmospheric pads and tentative, caressing piano chords. It's a soulful number to say the least and presages a fantastic LP from the label.
Review: US-born, Netherlands-based soulful D&B nomad Greg Submorphics takes away to sunnier, more wholesome climes on this immaculate debut album. Gilded synths, hazy feels, stacks of woozy warmth, just the right balance of nostalgia; every cut ripples and flexes with a timeless liquid feel. The dusty horns on "Memories Of You", the velvet boogie, silky synths and syrupy dulcets of Big Brooklyn Red on "Daydreaming", the dreamy bounce of "Faded Images", the list goes on. As you'd expect from The North Quarter and Submorphics, everything about this album hits the spot. Close your eyes and think of better times...
Review: The North Quarter welcome another kindred spirit to the family; Satl. One of the most exciting newcomers to emerge since LSB, there's a soul and depth to his music that's won him friends like Digital and TNQ bossman Lenzman. This is his most comprehensive and revealing EP to date as he goes to town on the blank canvas with more shades than you might know him for; as well as the poignant ("Supposed To Be", "Coming Back") and the soulful ("All My Life") and the blissful ("Self Reflection") there's also some exciting variations in tempo ("Modern Jah" hits like a Dominic Martin record and "Aadje" is pure modern dub) and shades of Marcus-inspired techno in the mix ("Drifted")... Trust us, this man is just warming up and TNQ is the best place to give him freedom and encouragement to reach the next level.
Review: Toulouse soul man Julien Salvi returns to The North Quarter with another prize-fighting package of deep, authentic drum & bass. Opening with a smoky intro track that's more jazz than dancefloor, he slowly take us deeper and deeper down his D&B rabbit hole. Cuts like "Fine Again" and "Next To You" breeze with that sad poignant spacious feeling he's made his own in recent years while "Evergreen Dub" (with FD) reminds us of his darker rolling side and "The Rhythm" is a direct homage to the man like Marcus. Stunning through and through.
Review: Three varied cuts here from FD, a house producer with roots in London's jungle and garage scenes. 'Ribs' (feat Issac Rosie & Maverick Soul) is a very noq-sounding affair with insistent shakers, shimmering synths, barely-there party vox that drift in and out of the mix and a neat Rhodes-like piano line. 'Ribs (Interlude)' then drops the pace for 1:18 of downtempo ambience, before the Byron The Aquarius Mix of 'Ice Cream' blends shuffling deep house beats and soulful vox in a way that harks back to UKG's earliest days, its title perhaps a tribute to the seminal label of the same name?
Review: Every time you see a release that's forthcoming under the moniker of The North Quarter, you know it's going to be very, very good. Label honcho Lenzman doesn't take prisoners with his A&R skills and he definitely doesn't do so when it comes to FD's debut album, not that FD needs much oversight in order to be an outstanding producer. Better Days is thus unsurprisingly amazing. 16 songs in length, including preludes, FD takes you on a journey through hip-hop influences, jungle vibrancy and full-on D&B that'll leave you quivering with excitement. 'Better Man' featuring Fox is arguably the stand-out, with serene jazz elements blending into Fox-led funk and bouncing bass stabs. Unreal.
Review: The North Quarter has rapidly become the premier destination for 170 sonics which tickle the soul as much as the eardrums, music which aims to speak on a more substantial creative level than most. Lenzman has now brought in Anile for the next chapter in that journey and boy, it's a stunner, 7 tracks of carefully considered, deft music which rolls out with a tangible sense of wistfulness. 'Earth & Mars' is a perfect example, a deliciously deep track that swirls in the low ends and soothes in the high ends, each second gorgeously precise but also noticeable carefree. There are acid vibes, summer vibes and winter vibes; lots of highs and lots of lows. It's a journey in itself and we absolutely love it.
Review: Toulouse D&B OG Julien Salvi returns to Lenzman's The North Quarter with his third album Broken Soul. An album rooted in heartache's slow recovery, it's his most personal and hard hitting long player to date, and also his most eclectic. Laced with poignant tones and textures throughout, tracks such as the DRS-led "The Hurts" and "Late Night Jam" with Tyler Daley really capture Redeyes soulful D&B foundations but there's more than enough space for hazy house steppers such as "All Blues" and a strong presence of hip-hop via cuts such as "Oooo Laaah" (with KinKai) and "Blessed" (with Abnormal Sleepz and HMD) that create the most honest and authentic picture Redeyes has painted to date. Another premium dispatch from TNQ.
Review: The full set is finally here... Having teased us with the surprise guerrilla drop of EP1, Tokyo Prose presents the entire 13 track album Wild Grace. And it's every bit as beautiful, touching and textured as the hype as foretold. From the emotional chords and halftime slink of opener "Ascension" to the last brushed drum jazzy breeze and amen wheeze of the finale "Gusts" and all vibes in between, the New Zealand artist has excelled himself. Other highlights include the long awaited "Trick Of The Light", the smouldering soul of "Runaway", the heart breaking pianos of "Innate Motion", sunset shakedown of "In The Breeze" and so much more. Once again The North Quarter have smashed this out of the park.
Right Stuff (feat Need For Mirrors) - (5:00) 174 BPM
Let It Rain (feat DRS) - (4:53) 174 BPM
Feel The Need (feat Colonel Red) - (5:01) 66 BPM
Lazybones (feat Lenzman) - (5:15) 174 BPM
Tears (instrumental) - (5:18) 174 BPM
Let It Rain (instrumental) - (4:52) 174 BPM
Review: For this one, drum and bass revelations Zero T and Unitsouled join forces on a smooth, liquified composition entitled 'Baby Grand'. The guys at The North Quarter have struck gold with this one as luscious chords are dual wielded with precisely layered subs to form a perfect high energy harmony.
Can't Get Over You (feat Lenzman - instrumental) - (5:26) 172 BPM
Weather It Out (instrumental) - (4:29) 172 BPM
Review: Lenzman's The North Quarter smashes it once again with another XXXL soul dispatch. This time Submorphics is at the controls. Best known for his work in SGN and Hospital, here he takes a deeper dive into the soulful sound across hip-hop ("Hot Ish"), dreamy early AI-style power liquid ("Don't Be So Cold") sensual hazy steppery ("Watchudo" with the one and only T.R.A.C) and all-out gutsy vocal gold ("Can't Get Over You" with Big Brooklyn Red and Lenz himself) Loaded with interludes and instrumentals, it's another ridiculously on-point collection from the hottest soulful D&B label in the game right now.
Review: What a year it's been for Lenzman's North Quarter. Putting the extension back into extended player, every release has been a gold mine of drum & bass, hip-hop and soul. Following the label boss, FD and Redeyes comes LA's Submorphics with mate Satl flexing an equally shimmered shaker. Wavy jazz-tinged chords, woozy backing vocal licks, a loose, restrained drum arrangement and a killer flow from man of the moment T.R.A.C, it's yet another precision piece for TNQ... And, we suspect, is likely to lead to another full-strength EP imminently. We can't wait.