Review: Barrelling around the corner and into deep town is Ghxsty, whose newest EP on Sub-liminal Recordings excels in a gnarly, minimal and over the top fashion. The first cut - Isolate - smacks of the recent scene takeover by the likes of Serum and Benny L, it's rambunctious bassline swirling round in huge, naughty sub-bass pulses that'll leave you delighted by their length and scope. 'Simmer' is even more in your face and arguably the better of the two, a delicate balance being struck between percussive weight and the sensitive delineation of its elements. A proper smasher that will give you a naughty bass face and will definitely get your head nodding, a pattern carried across to the other four tunes here.
Review: Incurzion Audio have rapidly established themselves as the home of minimal drum & bass in South Wales and, whilst that doesn't initially sound like an impressive achievement given the region isn't exactly a hotspot, their music is bloody top notch. Septon is the latest to come through their doors and Sonar is unbelievably precise, a sub-heavy motion of movements that sways in the sound and sings in the sonics. It's such a pretty piece of music, not an accolade ordinarily attributed to minimal drum & bass but there's a quality here which makes it feel delicate, it's not just dancefloor-facing but 170 educating. 'Sonar' is our favourite, we love the drum pattern and just about everything else - proper tune this. Sick release.
Review: Every now and then, you just want a release that slams start to finish. No frills, no pretence of trying to be something that it isn't, just solidly banging D&B that gets your head nodding and your feet moving. Monss has done that here and this single is a run of attitude-packed jump up, all of which would sound fat through a sound system. 'Serial Killer' is a highlight, bright light synths and god vibes leading you in into a fluttering array of bouncy sonics and boom-bap drum hits, a vibe that's quickly transferred across into 'Too Emergency Call' - snapping percussive hits, moody bass notes and melody that oozes power.
Review: We're not quite sure how Jedi manages to put out so many releases, to be honest, because the man is just always on it. Always on a mix of labels, this time it's Brummy imprint Dubstomp 2 Bass. The title track is refreshingly heavy, creative bass work and stepping drum smacks forming archways of diving bass force, a joy to listen to and we'd imagine pretty devastating on the dancefloor. 'Sweet Gun' sees Jedi on familiar territory - naughty jump up that makes you want to hit your nan. 'Boner' is different again, a pummelling, fluid back end laid out beneath a rolling set of drums. Yes Jedi!
Review: The bright-light, groovy aesthetic of BLK PRL is back at the start of this year, so get out your Red Stripes and don ya wavey garms because Channel 2 isn't messing around with this one. Four ragga-infused numbers are here for you, uplifting samples abound and suddenly it's not January - it's June, July and August and the sun is shining. This doesn't stop 'Wait' from coming out the blocks in a moody way, though, and neither does it stop 'Boneman Connection' from attempting to knock your hat off. Channel 2 always manage to pull out the stops in a way that makes you nervously smile - this one is no different.
Review: Emotional Rescue presents the music ensemble Man Jumping, with a reissue of their experimental, post-minimalist meets pop debut album Jumpcut, to be followed by 2 special remix EPs featuring Khidja, Bullion, Reckonrong and more. Formed in 1983 out of the disbanded The Lost Jockey (Les Disques Du Crepuscule), Man Jumping's aim was to move on from the unwieldy nature of that collective to combine the 'systems music' of Steve Reich, Terry Riley, LaMonte Young etc with rock, funk, dance and world music and create a new cross over. Consisting of studied musicians and created from theory as well as technique, the liberation from formal restrictions took shape over four years that spawned 2 albums and one 12". Released on Bill Nelson's 'Cocteau' label in 1985, Jumpcut's was critically praised but destined for more discerning ears. The 8 songs - including here a 12" mix of Aerotropics - developed from 16 stave manuscript into live recordings straight to tape, with no sequencing to keep their live feel intact. Carefully planned but made in the moment, members Charlie Seaward, Glyn Perrin, John Lunn, Orlando Gough and Shaung Tozer's legacy is demonstrably durable, a testament to their originality of thought to an idea of what might be rather than an imitation of what has been.
Review: Jedi has been on a bit of a roll recently and he's back on Audio Overload, joined by Midst, for a stripped back, roughshod EP which showcases an interesting blend of the minimal sound with the jump-up side of the scene. This is a style that's been taking off recently and we're very much into it, it's a bit less full-on that jump-up and not as screechy, yet still has the wicked attitude and urban-edged toughness of jump-up . 'Werewolf' is an excellent example, with multiple criss-crossing strands of reverberating bass and an amalgamation of low-frequency textures which just roll out the whole way through. Sick stuff here and the rest of the EP pops off just as hard.
Review: R-Vee is landing on the Brazilian label DNBB Recordings for his first four-tracker in quite a long time, and you can tell him and the label are from Brazil thanks to the signature lacing of samba and funk influences throughout the whole release. Following in the footsteps of artists like Marky, DJ Patife and more, R-Vee rolls out a soul-sprinkled piece of music which flips wonderfully, time and time again. 'Let It Go' is out personal choice, with a stripped back junglist beat and funky licks floating in and out of the arrangement in satisfying style. Top stuff.
Review: Danish chillout label Music For Dreams wakes up to a new year in Kaybola, a place somewhere to be found in Turkish artist Islandman. It follows his Rest In Space LP on the label in 2018 and presents an interpretation of cultural and traditional sounds within a context of club electronics and sentimentality. Taking inspiration from a place of exotica that could come from sub-continental archipelago or a landlocked mass near the dead sea, a temperature of atmospheres make their way across the album, from sunny more relaxing days in "Sahara", to venturing deep inside the medina of "Sumeru". There's the bohemian clubs in "Dimitro", and for the best views find the rolling hills of "Kaybola".
Review: Ever turn up to a slightly strange but inviting house party to find a DJ playing a list of your favourite tracks - although you have no idea where they're from? It's label like Minimatic that keep the party going for another decade. Where electro-swing goes for sped up ballroom and big band jazz, Minimatic's approach to genre reformation takes the likes of UK pop (Oasis and "Owner of A Lonely Heart"), US hip hop ,(Eminem, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga) to slices of R&B via Ed Sheeran and dresses them up latin rhythms of baile and urban funk, adding touches of turntablism, jazzy horns and keys to lowriding grooves.
Review: Under the DJ Laurel alias, Lavr Berzhanin has proved to be one of Katakana Edits' most reliable re-editors of recent times. We've lost count of the number of EPs he's delivered for the prolific imprint, but they're all rather good - as is his latest expansive effort. There's much to get the blood pumping across the six-track salvo, with our favourites including the rubbery, bouncy and glassy-eyed disco bliss of "All I've Got", the soaring, horn-heavy soundscape disco-soul shuffle of "Battend Ships" [sic], the blue-eyed soul goes drum and bass bounce of "Cookie" and the wah-wah guitar sporting two-step soul goodness of closing cut "Annie Mae". In other words, it's another rock solid collection of tried and tested reworks.
Review: It's time to jump into yet another top quality compilation project, curated by the combined sounds of both Jonnypluse and JPSTOL, two sounds that are really carving out a niche for themselves in a crowded breakbeat marketplace. This full tracklisting offers up seven original smashers from Jonny, along with a Cut & Paste version of 'Funky Time', with JPSTOL supplying two original creations for good measure. There are a few clear standouts with MC Coppa's vocal assistance on 'Never Get Old' being one of them, along with the high energy, shuffling breaks and bubbling bass tones of 'Drop This In The Middle'.
Review: The Untilmyheartstops affiliated Welsh producer Leif returns, with more sublime genre-defying excursions in modern electronic music here for his new Tio-Series. The third release in the series explores off-kilter, shimmering, rhythmic and melodic abstractions. From the dreamy and hypnotic ambient house of "Montpelier" and its sublime polyrhythmic complexity, through to the more powerful and upbeat expression of "Rumex", a jagged tribal trance workout that you could imagine him playing in his own DJ sets - this one is truly emotive and with a real impact. Each TIO Series release features artwork from Gethin Moller.
Review: Breakbeat is most definitely back on the up this year, and it is primarily down to the sheer consistency of artists such as Morlack who tireless push forward with new projects on such a regular basis. This latest album episode goes by the name of 'Bluff' and encapsulates everything we love about Morlack's sound, from the stunning instrumental sampling and punchy drum work of 'Colibri Shine' to the dipping grooves of 'Sex Me'. For us, the highlights here have to include both the excellent vocal slicing of '2Be In Family', and of course the horn-heavy riffs of the title track 'Bluff'. Excellent stuff from the breakbeat mastermind!
Review: Fresh from their massive V/A collection in April, new Norwich-based drum & bass label Virtuous continue to put their solid stamp down on the scene with this fearless four-tracker from young Brighton duo Stillz and Vsylum. Like all good things in life, it kicks off with a VIP of an early free download they gave away. Totally coated in bullet proof rolling armour, "Afraid VIP" sets the tone for the whole EP. Elsewhere Stillz own "Damage" lives up to its name with a swampy bassline and spitfire bars from Canning MC while Vsylum goes solo on the sinewy metallic spacebound croaks on "Overload". Finally the EP packs its trunk with the biggest cut of the bunch: "African Elephant". Heavy, dangerous and prone to flattening anything in its path; Stillz, Vsylum and Virtuous are not messing around here. Be afraid, be very afraid...
Review: The unstoppable Katakana Edits series rolls on, with Vol 85 coming from label regular(s) Padcore. First to get the Katakana treatment is the Beasties classic 'Intergalactic', while 'Sweetback' revisits Viola Wills' 1969 ghetto funker of the same name (which predates Melvin Van Peebles' Blaxploitation flick by two years, fact fans). 'All The People' cuts up an unidentified, lounge-y soul take on Blues Magoos' 1967 garage/psych nugget 'The People Had No Faces', while Esther Phillips' 1971 cover of Gil Scott-Heron's 'Home Is Where The Hatred Is' provides the basis for the EP's standout cut, heartbreakingly melancholic closer 'Home'.
Review: Virtuous is a relatively new record label who have jumped into the scene all guns blazing, having released a string of singles over the past few months. Now, they're launching their first ever VA LP and it's top quality, with sounds that span a wide variety of styles, from rolling liquid to dirty naughtiness. 'Damage' by Code Lost is definitely in the latter category and it's definitely one of the best on the release, with a cavernous bassline of spinning twirls and a pulsating epicentre that pushes out the rest of the track in a slick fashion. One to cop, this.
Review: When an EP's entitled 'Retro Funk' you kinda know what you're getting, but what's really impressive about this five-track EP is the range of ground covered within just five tracks. Opener 'Silverdory' has distinct echoes of both Fatback and The Average White Band. 'Believe In Me' has a slightly jazzier feel, with the saxophone taking centre stage, while 'Come & Touch' looks to the deep funk of the late 60s for inspiration. Shut your eyes and 'Give Up The Funk' will have you mentally cruising 70s Harlem in your stretch Lincoln, before the brassy, soul-infused 'Betty Day' plays us out.
Review: Since making his bow on Katakana Edits last April, Amsterdam-based Brit Gary Shepherd AKA Streamer has become a reliable source of cheeky re-edits and reworks. Unsurprisingly, the producer's latest outing - his first of any kind since July 2018 - contains four more high quality revisions. He begins by joining the dots between stab-happy funk, hip-hop heroes House of Pain and acid funk on "Pain Around", before turning a Cajun style hoedown into a skittish, rap-sporting drum and bass roller ("The Fastest Gumbo"). Arguably even better is his punchy, horn-heavy bossa-boogie take on Beats International classic "Just Be Good To Me", while "Feel Good (Funksploitation Version)" is a dub-wise workout rich in James Brown samples and fuzzy horns.
Review: Well, it's most certainly hit the time to get funky as we take a stroll through this high energy collection of breakbeat chops from Morlack, who lands on the Funk Blasters imprint with fantastic results. We are treated to some absolute sauce buckets on this one, from the irresistible melodic grooves of 'U R The Rap Machine' to the old school vocal sampling of 'Family Anime' and gritty bass work on 'Movin' Alright'.Following this, the high energy bassline movements and hard hitting drums of 'Get Down' certainly strike a chord, with the EP rounding off well on the smooth vocal lines of 'Crazy Wig'.
Review: In which no fewer than 24 rock and indie classics get reworked for the dancefloor. Admirably, the mysterious V avoids the temptation to simply whack a 4/4 kickdrum under everything - in fact, many of the cuts could better be described as remixes or reworkings rather than simple re-edits. Inevitably, some of the resulting concoctions work better than others - and which you think that applies to may depend on your views on the original source material - but if you're looking for a way to drag non-house/disco lovers onto the floor, this collection should serve you well.
Review: We can usually identify the source material of Padcore's re-edits, but he's got us well and truly stumped with the four cuts featured here, though the overall cinematic vibe leads us to suspect he may have been rummaging in bins full of soundtrack albums! In any case, 'Kayne' is a slow, looping affair with a vaguely western-ish feel, both of which are qualities it shares with 'Play With Fire', while 'Track 02' is a livelier number with what sounds like a mariachi brass section. 'Track 04' completes the EP on a more straight-up funk/soul tip. File under 'obscure esoteric pleasures'.
Review: Valique celebrates six years of consistent edit gold on his 12-year old Vehicle imprint. Digging deep across the collection he whisks us through the feels with a supreme range of instant party-pieces. From the blonde ambition of the slinky "Appelle Moi" to the freaky upbeat ground control of "Oddity" via the insane stretch and slap of "What The Hell?" and his versions of "Human Nation" and "Give Me Shelter", this is an immense set that brings us all up to speed and gets us excited for the next six years of edits. V stands for Very good music.