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: The people's champion FD returns to Lenzman's HQ with four more supreme pieces. Each one flexing hard around the FD spectrum, we got every flavour you need right here... 'Shawn Kemp' is a real blaster jam with a rugged, crisp bass riff, 'Mama Told Me' sends us off to bed without tea for skanking too hard to Hella's prominent bars while 'Double Drizzle' is the consummate bubbler with its tubular bass glide and jazzy keys. Last but most definitely not least 'Sails' eases us back to earth with its silky soulful flow. The 'Pleasure' is ours.
Review: Everybody needs good neighbours... And they don't come much better than Zero T and his pianist neighbour Onj. The pair had been living next door to each other for years without even knowing each other, now, thanks to a local situation, they're writing whole albums together. As always with Zero T, the vibes are set at the highest possible flavours and range from soulful to savage at the flick of a switch. Blind pianist Onj is new to D&B production but clearly knows the vibe and articulates his musicianship over the breaks tastefully, skilfully and perfectly. Featuring vocalists such as the legendary Ursula Rucker, Steo and T-Man (to name but a few), this is a class body of work delivered in that elegant way that only The North Quarter knows how.
Review: The North Quarter's second mix project is headed by two of the label's leading artists: Redeyes & Fox. The Amsterdam-based label believes that the mixtape is an important symbol in the formative years of many artists and seeks to continue the beloved tradition. Featuring a bunch of TNQ exclusives, there's a whopping 31 tracks across NQ State Of Mind, Vol. 2, featuring premium material by the likes of Alexx A-Game, Echo Brown, Satl, Submotive and many more plus a continuous mix by Redeyes & Fox. Join the label in celebrating five years in the business and the artists that make the label the respected entity it is today.
Review: Veteran producer Ben Tyrone makes his debut on Amsterdam's The North Quarter with Hurt Index, which the Newcastle native recorded over a two year period and he challenged himself to step out of his comfort zone. Tyrone explains 'the entire process has in a way been very cathartic, sort of like a spring clean for the brain.' From the high-tech neurofunk of "Come Closer" and "Untitled Matrix", to the intelligent drum and bass roller "City Lights" and ending with the emotive steppa "Misconceptions" - here's a bespoke six track statement of where this talented producer is at right now.
Review: Calling all DJs and getaway drivers alike! Prolific groove wizard Zero T continues his rich vein of form with 'Off Broadway' and there's a strong twang of 70s New York underworld to a few of the tracks. 'Drama' set the scene with little jazzy echoes and a groove grubbier than Giuliani. It's backed by plenty more dramatic moments; 'You're The One' is a sultry lesson in restraint, 'Something Got Me' tickles the 4 Hero spot with its slinky double bassline and dubby beat effects, 'She Moves' is pure summertime spring while 'This Condition' is a whirling cosmic dervish. And that's not even the whole EP. What happens 'Off Broadway' stays 'Off Broadway.'
Review: This album from Fox manages to be both long overdue and perfectly timed, as the veteran MC caps off several years of superb features on The North Quarter with a sumptuous, expertly curated long player that touches on a myriad of personal, creative and aesthetic milestones. It's a coup of an album, and it begins with an utterly brilliant, vintage FD beat, 'Just Chillin''. Blind Mic takes the MC centre stage as Fox flutters in the background, providing the subtle depth that adds to FD's nonchalant, windows-open liquid roller that smacks of summertime festivals, afternoon car journeys and Friday feelings. It paves the way for an opening half which nails the liquid formula, including a stunning feature from Calibre and DRS. In the second half, the stylistic diversity underpinning Lenzman's creative direction comes forward and things get mixed up, beginning with lounging hip-hop from Redeyes and moving into filthy tech from DLR & Alix Perez and halftime hammers from Echo Brown. This is the art of making an album being perfected in real time by Lenzman and Fox, and we're lucky enough to be along for the ride.
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.