Review: Audio, AKA producer Gareth Greenall, has been releasing tech-step and "neurofunk" for the best part of a decade. In recent years, he's found a home on Ed Rush and Optical's similarly minded Virus Recordings imprint. Here, he drops his third album for the label, a collection of heavyweight, mind-altering D&B slammers entitled Force of Nature. It's an apt name. There's plenty of power and aggression to be found throughout, as well as a cheeky sense of humour (not always the case with this kind of balls-out jungle) and plenty of attractive funk. The album's real standouts are its rare vocal moments, with Ryme Tyne hook-up "Aftermath" providing a particularly effervescent blast from the past.
Review: It doesn't seem so long since the last album from serial badman Audio but lo and behold he brings us something new to soothe the soul on Ed Rush & Optical's legendary Virus Recordings. "Soulmagnet" is every inch the killer tech-stepping, neurofunk-mashing collection of tracks one might expect. After the intro "Fringe", we are treated to an array of dark, twisted flavours. Particular highlights include "Creature Comforts" with its stuttered, punchy kicks; the epic "Point Of No Return" and of course the title track itself "Soulmagent" with its driving, tech-y energy.
Review: Yes: Ed Rush & Optical are still at it, almost twenty years on. The drum and bass vanguards still have it too, executing their darkside futurism and bass science on the underground. The sick laboratory experiments are documented in all their perverse glory on No Cure, their sixth album on their very own Virus Recordings imprint. The title track (featuring the rhyming talents of longstanding collaborator Rhymetyme) comes tearing out of the speakers like a dark horse galloping through the dark. The jittery "Falling Down Stairs" trips all over itself but with such grace; its breakbeat finding itself and locking together again with the bass eventually. But if you ask us, it's all about tracks "Angry Birds" and "Nemesis", true steppers which nail that classic Virus sound that still sounds as fresh as ever. Ed Rush & Optical: accept no substitute.
Review: Nasty and noisy, Gridlok returns to spread his audio violence with this long-awaited two header. Darker than the underworld and with more pressure per pound than a depth charge, "Bitcreep" is a total showstopper, already moving crowds towards the dancefloor by force. Alongside this club-kettling vision, opening track "The Call" is a rolling nightmare of dystopian lyrics and sub-frequency bass. Nobody ever said Gridlok was one of the nice guys, but this? It's something else.
Review: Oh boy... Last time these two roustabouts collided in the studio "Mythos" happened... And became one of the biggest D&B tracks of 2013. Expectations have been set high since both parties teased us earlier this year. And thankfully we've not been let down; "Footpath" (which also features the perennial Kiwis The Upbeats) is a savage roller that sounds like live electricity lashing out of your speakers. "Leibniz" takes us deeper into the neuro badlands with full emphasis on the undulating bassline and strange textured loop. One for the build-up, one for the pay-off... Insideinfo and Mefjus never disappoint.
Optical - "What's The Difference?" - (6:56) 56 BPM
Ed Rush - "Medicine" (Matrix remix) - (6:10) 169 BPM
Review: What's the difference between a killer and one of us? We'll tell you; killers produce genre-defining weapons that are still in demand over 20 years later. Rated as one of Optical's best long lost dubs, "What's The Difference?" has such a perfect balance of shades and textures; at once disarmingly deep and brutally heavy it remains in a league of its own. Matrix's timeless remix of another chapter-galvanising era tune follows suit with a brand new remaster. Still as iced-out and pranged as it was in 98, this is a straight up history lesson of the future... And always will be.
Review: The first non-Ed Rush & Optical related release on Virus since Insideinfo and Mefjus's "Footpath" in 2015, Optiv & BTK hurtle into the fray with two supreme agenda-setting tech rollers. "Crowd Control" is a rowdy piece of work with mosh mastering commands from rising Methlab-signed MC Kryptomedic, "Supernova" is a dense weave of futuristic basses twisting and turning with hype heaving with momentum on every bar. Both, in true Virus fashion, absolutely kill it.
Review: Want a non-stop drum and bass LP of 13 tear out bangers? Optiv & BTK offer no respite on Blackjack with its hi-octane fuel for the dancerfloor. Tracks like "Shredder", "Weapon Of Choice", "Dirt Box" and "Snake Bite" are as knees up as they sound, while "Ground Shaker", "Nemisis" and "That Sound" are as rolling as they are breakbeat. Featured MCs include Ryme Tyme waxing casual drawls over frenetic arrangements while Nuklear takes you down 'deeper deeper deeper'. No misfires here.
Review: A banger from 2003, this classic gets a huge rerub from London producer Prolix on Ed & Optical's Virus label. Already on top form after his Scourge EP, his take on "Get Ill" is just what the doctor ordered - a huge and hectic killer that adds gliding synths by the bucket load to make it an absolute destroyer. Backed up by the Dyke and the Blazers-sampling "40 Channels of Funk", this is yet another essential slice of Virus.