Review: Out of the frying pan, into the "Fire Pit", long-time Sub-Liminal soldier Mentah heats things up once again with this epic six track EP. The title track takes the lead and sets the energy and tone with its scorched harmonics and ruffneck breaks. Elsewhere highlights include the warped elastic bass roars of "Observed" and the pummelling drums and theatrical dynamics of "Break This Down". Topped off with a crucial remix of "No Disrespect" from Jaydan and you've got yourself one of Sub-Liminal and Mentah's biggest EPs to date so far. Fire!
Review: Nuusic are a fantastic little label that have really burst out the stocks over the last couple of years, releasing a plethora of music with the common thread of rudeness and an inability to stand still. Kumo is jumping on this heritage with vigour this week, and Born Soldier rolls out across four tracks with a jumpy attitude that we're incredibly sad won't be heard on a danceflloor anytime soon.'Skeng Riddim' is an absolute percy, as a two-step drum pattern takes you in to a funky, flowing hip-hop arrangement with serious bite. 'Born Soldier' is packed out in the lows, straining against itself the whole way, whilst 'Virus' is another naught little roller. This one pops.
Review: When it comes to representing the future of dub and dancehall music, we can safely say that Liondub International have been doing a spectacular job. This latest offering sees the deadly duo of Lost City & Ward 21 link up for an electronic dancehall delight entitled 'Sicko'. The lead track is a certified piece of dancefloor dynamite, with emotive vocal sing-alongs and electrifying drum punches, making it an ultimate turn up riddim. The project comes with a killer JGNL remix as well, adding a new dimension to a stunning single. We can't wait to take this on a system.
Review: Metalheadz have been rolling out the artist albums this year, with stellar contributions from Adred, amongst others. This time it's the turn of Friske and he continues the trend of incredibly well thought out, resonant breaks-based music that makes you consider the meaning of life whilst blasting your face off at the same time. A whopping sixteen tracks long, there are too many highlights to mention them all but 'Destination' is certainly up there, as subterranean shudders creep into the arrangement underneath an inch-perfect set of clashing, cracking drums. There are no features on this album, it's pure Friske and all the better for it. Top stuff, and if you're into Mako, Autonomic or anything else clever and crushing, this one is for you.
Review: Northern scene legend Adam Wigglesworth sadly passed away on April 3. This is how his friends responded... By compiling one of the biggest tribute albums drum & bass has ever seen. Just look at the amount of talent on here: Pyxis, Euphonique, Nvrsoft, No Concept, Exile, Euphonique, Dawn Raid and so many more artists have contribute to this 45 track album of which all proceeds go to Adam's family. From the blazing bass riff of Sappo's late 90s style neck snapper "Hannibal" to Exile's turbine bass growler "Symbiosis" via Sl8r's jazzy, almost Detroit style vibes on "The Mill" and various bits from Wiggo himself, this is a heartfelt salute from the entire scene to a man who'll be sorely missed.
Review: Over on Bulletproof, things are getting heated as Stillz lands on the label for a rambunctious four-tracker with more attitude than a bull in heat. The title tune takes the cake for us as the standout, with a moody yet simple arrangement carved from an iceberg synth dripping in both tech and jump-up aesthetics. 'Looking for an Idea' takes things down a more foghorn route, with warped out sonics that bend into devastating low frequency oscillations. What an EP.
Review: Pick any of the most exciting new-gen names in D&B and we bet our bottom dollar they're repping in this collection. A debut V/A from Hedex's By The Producer brand, Collected 1 is bulging with the seams with fresh talent: Hexa, Disrupta, Dreadnought, Stokka, Klay, Bruk, the list goes on. With cameos from more established Gs like Total Recall and Jam Thieves - and a deep, rumbling, futuristic contemporary mood and sound running throughout - this captures 2020 in drum & bass perfect. Agitated, dark, moody, but hungry for a better future... And not afraid to have a little fun. One of the best V/As we've seen in a long time. Get collecting.
Review: As ever, it looks like the legendary Shy FX is out to cause a ruckus in the raves as he unveils this brand new remix project, inviting some of the most talked about names in D&B to get involved with official remixes for for last year's 'Raggamuffin' project. From start to finish we are greeted with a pretty monumental roster, as we see the likes of The Sauce, SPY, Kings Of The Rollers, Breakage and more get involved. It's a mark of Shy FX's untouchable status within the scene to see just how well put together this project is, from the gnarly, rolling subs we find within Bou's remix of 'Warning' alongside Gappy Ranks, to the special acoustic version of Maverick Sabre's 'Call Me' collaboration. The whole selection just oozes class, with our highlight having to be Skeptical's on point remix of Balaclava, which see's him rework MC Spyda, D Double E and Frisco's catchy vocal runs into a dark & dangerous piece of dancefloor dynamite. Amazing work!
Review: DLR's Sofa Sound label has become a pillar of the scene in barely a handful of years, and this week they're following up their previously successful Sofa King Sick compilation with a second edition, this one equally packed to the rafters with both new and old school talent. It's a tour-de-force of the tough side of the genre and it's exemplified by 'Baja', courtesy of Scepticz, a Belgian producer who knows his way around the controls and who proves it once more, as jagged synth lines cut across its snapping, two-step arrangement with all the force and subtlety of an underground train. Kodin makes an appearance on the superbly gruff 'Chronic', whilst The Sauce get deeper than usual on 'Ultrasonic'. Quintessential drum & bass that makes for essential listening.
Review: The Audio Addict crew are locked in once more to the sounds of the UK underground, their relentless focus on pushing hard drum & bass as consistent as ever and this time around their host is J Select. Kicking it off is 'Pressure', which has a lovely vocal sample focused intro that dissolves onto the drop into a narrow crevice of twisting bass energy, its drums inch perfect at the bottom of the range. 'Take Me Away' is similar, with a two-step drum pattern than supports a choppy, aggy arrangement of low frequency sonics. Dark and twisted, just how we like it.
Review: 2020 isn't all bad... Annix finally deliver their long-awaited debut album and every shade of grot and wonder you'd expect from one of the most influential D&B duos of the last decade. Masters at space, weirdo funk, unique sound design and the dark art of switch-flipping, it's no surprise this album is loaded with more twists and turns than an underground tube map. Highlights include the broken glass funk of "Stutter" (with K Motionz) the trippy turbine driller jam "Clapper" (with Skantia) and the curveball blast-ups like the techno-style marching title track "Tunnel Vision" and the beautiful euphoria of "Behind Time".
Randall & Ben Soundscape - "Rollin' Ruff" (feat MC Fats) - (5:24) 58 BPM
Review: The yearly escapades of Bristol's Intrigue Music are entering their seventheenth consecutive year, a huge achievement for the label. Like always, the album is full of a broad range of tempos and sounds that embody the ethos of an imprint known more for its consistent quality than any particular style. 'So Many Moments' by Philth and Farz, with Collette Warren on vocals, is a beautiful, floating track that rests on solid foundations but which carries a lightness, a deftness which sees it hover in hypnotic fashion. Randall, MC Fats and Ben Soundscape get jungley on 'Rollin' Ruff', Octo Pi gets even heavier on 'Battle Cap', and the album is all round just an ideal LP for all the heads out there. Big.
Review: This is not the first compilation to drop whose sole aim is to raise funds for NHS Chartities Together - R&S Records and Bass Agenda both delivered similarly epic sets - but "Care4Life" may well be the strongest and most diverse. As you'd expect, each one of the 45 tracks is previously unreleased, and the cast list reads like a who's who of dance music culture. Notable highlights include an ultra-deep, saucer-eyed number from Daniel Avery, an unheard rework of the Chemical Brothers' "Catch Me I'm Falling", a superb revision of Harvey's Locussolus project by Kiwi, Matthew Herbert in jazzy broken beat mode, a rare solo outing from Optimo's JD Twitch, a rip-roaring rave workout from Jas Shaw, and thumping peak-time bangers from Dusky, Eats Everything and Patrick Topping.
Review: Last spotted dazzling us with UKG science on Occupy Sound, Imprint returns to Deep In The Jungle with one of his biggest EPs to date. Broad in tempo and stylistic range, highlights include the glitchy, slightly wonky bruks and hip-hop vibe on "Haste", the sultry Halogenix style blues and sweeping breaks of "Introspect" and the sci-fi soul of the title track "Urbia". Loaded up with plenty more, including a colossal remix from Colossus, this is a very accomplished release from the rising talent.
Review: The Vanguard Project, not content with their superb album earlier this year, are back on Fokuz with jovial, upbeat expression of 174 music that is a breath of fresh air from our scene's more common gestures to the ghoulish. The title track sets the tone, with warm brass samples setting a trajectory of funk and soul right from the outset. Even the darker pallette of 'Mode 16' still feels playful in its low frequency pressure and it's a combination pulled off with considerable finesse across the whole five-tracker - excellent work.
Review: Man like Macky Gee slams back with his fifth studio album and it's an absolute tirade of the senses with a serious all-star cast of cameos ranging from D12's Bizarre to neuro don Mefjus. A full-on tour (not sorry) of his influences and ambitions, we're treated to bassline ("Destiny"), bouncy bass house ("Another Level") trancey D&B ("Demand") dubstep ("Take Me" - with Franky Nuts) and graveyard creeping jump-up ("Revenge") Complete with all the grotty riffy magic he's known and loved for in between, this is his ambitious and rounded album to date and a big stylistic twist from the Gee-man. Massive.
Review: Audio Addict don't tend to put out music that's weak, thin or otherwise not suitable for the dancefloor. Burnzy's Liberation EP is a testament to that, all six cuts do some serious damage and the release overall is certainly on the sharper end of the spectrum. 'On The Spot' is the best of the bunch and it's got a rough, Sofa Sound edge that injects a satisfying level of oomph into the arrangement. 'Take Over' is a close second and its incredibly unique concoction of swirling basses and gargling pulsars adds a wicked futuristic element. Top EP from the Audio Addict crew.
Review: One of the regular labels we feature are Sub-Liminal, a wicked little imprint that puts out a diverse sound ranging from techy rollers to jump-up steppers and even liquidy numbers. This week they've arrived with an EP from Prestige, who, across six tracks, spans various tones and styles, all of them rooted in a sense of dancefloor aggressiveness and all of them top-notch. 'It Must Be Destroyed' is a highlight, its rolling percussive line isn't the paciest but is loping and satisfying, whilst a gargling bass and sweeping reeces sit just above and inject all the force. 'A Snake' is also a wicked track, with a lovely, stripped back drum line that's full of moody sonics. Top stuff.
Review: Alix Perez's 1985 sets the bar again... Edition 3 is another instalment of their spotless V/A series which covers the label's broad range of shades. This one is a game of two halves as the first five tracks flex around the 140 region with crucial slabs from Halogenix's Lordel alias and dubstep men of the moment Ternion Sound. Meanwhile the second half flips to D&B with a whole clutch of impressive designs; Visages' "Memories" is a mournful stepper, Bredren get bad-ass with the thumpy, bumpy "Only One", Machinedrum brings some outstanding soul on "Braided Leaves" and Perez delivers three of his finest. Bring on Edition 4.
Review: Originally released in 2018, Dope Ammo's Influence album is the gully gift that keeps on giving. And right here it reaches the peak with the full remix set. Delivered throughout the year, this is the full collection and it takes Ammo's broad sound to the furthest possible places. Ranging from Kleu's gritty distorted take on "Old Times" to the Audiomission's piano-tickled purring steppy twist on "Take Me Back" by way of some of Ammo's own refixes like the sick tempo flexing on the Indian-flavoured "Repent" and turbo-growls of "Risky Business", these remixes don't just reflect the range of the original album but boost it even further.
Review: Everyone likes a good compilation, right? What's better than having as big a range of artists as possible in one condensed place? It's essentially an album with the ease of listening of a single, so we're all for it. Weapons of Choice have come out with the first edition of The Wild Bunch and it's packed full of bangers, one of those albums which doesn't try to be cool or sophisticated by chucking in a few fillers for the sake of diversity - it's just hard stuff here, with a couple of exceptions llike Viewer's liquid number 'Way to Express'. It works great, with Meladee's 'Weed & Walgreens' the highlight, its driving, bubbling basses intermingling with a fresh sense of movement.
Review: Over on Helix, Teej is doing absolute bits with this EP. It opens with the title track, a Serum-esque array of drawn-out, dirty synths that stretch and stretch with an other-worldly quality that just sounds amazing. 'Nova' has a spooky intro, an eeriness which puts you in the mood for the unique, minimal-led steppiness of this tune. - a seriously cool bit of music. 'Smoke' is more minimal goodness, a proper little roller that creeps from phrase to phrase in menacing fashion. 'Keepin It' Real' finishes things up in more rolling style, a fluid back end flowing in underneath yet more perfect drums. There's loads of detail etched in to every second of these tunes - sick.
Review: With some massive Metalheadz dubs causing hype this year, Phaction super-charges his golden vein of form with this powerful package on Bcee's Spearhead. It's an all-star cast, too; the equally unstoppable Bristolite Charli Brix links in for the dreamy title track, Riya adds her gilded tones to two tracks - the subdued waves of "The Fall" and the skippier sunshine charms of "Obsession" with Hugh Hardie. Elsewhere we go deep on "Cherished One" and sign out with an exceedingly naughty take on Technimatic's 2013 Spearhead jam "Mirror Image". Premium dude, premium.
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: V Recordings sublabel Chronic has developed a reputation for putting out beats that are even more venomous than its big sister, and their long-standing rollers series is getting a beef up with the fourth instalment. Featuring a litany of acts from a range of eras and a diversity of styles, Chronic Rollers Vol. 4 is a perfect addition to the arsenal of any DJ. 'Blindspot' from Nectax blends a soulful sample with an oscillating warp of juddering bass energy; Mancunian upstart SL8R gets subby and rolling with 'Roundabout'; and Brazilian label long-timers Alibi roll things out tidily on 'Sentinel'. Banging.
Review: Ray Keith's Dread Recordings has paid host to a litany of memorable tracks and infamous artists over the years, and this week's remix single is no different. Featuring T>I and Benny L on remix duties for two tracks by Ray Keith and Dark Soldier, it's a release whose finger is firmly tacked onto the pulse of the scene. T>I's minimal VIP of 'Renegade' slams from start to finish, with delicately placed piano riffs moving apart for its smash and grab portrayal of T>I's signature style. Benny goes junglist on the flip side, and 'Dark Soldier' is as moody as it is aggressive. Top form here.
Review: Must Make maestro Jack Workforce has presented slabs galore since activating his solo project last year with "Late Night Soundtrack" volume one. Since then he's delivered the absolutely huge "Your Moves" on Exit, collabs with The Upbeats and Rockwell and delivered two more EPs in this series. Now comes the full album. Every release in the "Late Night Soundtrack" series plus two dope new pieces; the grimacing, oily steps of "Really Obnoxious Rich Kids" and the sombre soul of "Heart Crossed". The final pieces in his late night puzzle, they wrap up an exceptional year for the SpectraSoul member. We're excited to hear what he makes next...
Review: As Cole Odin emerges as a producer we've got to know from the San Francisco area who once appeared on Golf Channel compilation in 2015, he now brings some extra attention to the eclectics label with this new EP. Using looping, motorik momentum and endlessly inventive guitar motifs to create a sonic landscape that's satisfyingly familiar yet littered with signposts to new and exotic destinations, one can't help but hear flashes of The XX through to Stereolab's "Simple Headphone Mind". Take in Bristol remixer DJ Jack Priest for something spiralling and Italo alongside Adam Warped's folkier remix, and you have that perfect blend of the organi and traditional with the surreal. Happy days.
Review: Original Key are back and true to form they've come out with something huge, courtesy of Mr Explicit who, with Blind Reality, has made an EP that's quite special. The aesthetic here isn't new school jump up but old school, rough and tumble tech which bounces and flows in a manner that's both contradictory yet complimentary to its heaviness. The title tune has crashing breaks, pulsing basses and eerie samples, a triage of attack that results in a fearsome dancefloor instrument. 'Watch This' is the other highlight, a punishing roller with a superbly crisp set of drums and a soaring, no holds barred bassline that is packed full of little switch ups and small details. Unreal.
Review: High grade sounds! Chopstick Dubplate celebrates the fact it's been 4/20 all month this year with a selection of stick-icky celebrations. "Herbs Toast" opens the extended EP and sets the scene. The perfect complement to a nice strong cup of coffee, it flips a modern classic with a cheeky herbal vibe before things get darker and danker... Highlights include the gnarly bass moans and trippy diced vocal textures of "Herb Affi Burn", the dancefloor twist of Grimesy and Speaker Louis's dramatic remix of "Police Officer" and the bubbling feel-good finale "Respect The Ganja" where Natty Campbell lays down words of solid gold wisdom over a bouncy digidub blend that will spark up any dancefloor. Smoking.
Review: Mystery Manny badmen Think Tonk undergo the remix treatment with two of V's most consistent and forward-thinking artists. L-Side takes "What A Ting" apart and flips it into a brutal steamroller, continuing the high-grade uppsettery he's been doing with his remixes of Dillinja and Krust. "How We Do It Tonight" meanwhile gets boosted by Command Strange. Another V don who's yet to deliver a bad jam, he gives the original a super-tasteful treatment maintaining all the soul and heart of the original while adding a little extra weight. Thinking man's crumpet, thonking man's trumpet; everyone involved in this release can do no wrong.
Review: The Book of El - not to be confused with the AAA movie by a similar name starring Wil Smith - is courtesy of Dubplate Dread and it's a raw, jungle inspired journey through sampled soundscapes and urban, dance music culture. The snares are tough, the breaks are gruff and the overall vibe is one of a by-gone era of cutting houses and Fabio on BBC Radio 1. It's nostalgic and yet sounds fresh, especially the liquid tones of 'Soundsystem', and it's a combo that we dig.