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".
Review: One thing we have noticed over the past couple of years with 2TUF4U is the fact they really are not scared to dive into old school sounds and flavours, which is very apparent here as we check out the tracks that feature on their new 'Musical Joose' LP. The whole project is a showcase of old school remixes and originals, from the potent synth stabs and shimmering textures of 'Faith Is My Fire' from Madd Tuff Project and Leanne Louise to the crunchy drum expressions found in Diy's Bubble Gum dub mix of Kele Le Roc 'Retro'. The whole project works as a selection, almost taking on the role of an old school garage mixtape, and we absolutely love it. We would also definitely recommend taking this one in on long play!
Eats Everything - "It'll Be Over Soon" - (6:29) 133 BPM
SCB - "KTS3E" - (4:51) 130 BPM
Lauren Lo Sung - "Lucid Dream" - (5:47) 130 BPM
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: Following on from his recent appearance on the label's A-Sides Vol.9 compilation, Victor Ruiz returns to Drumcode with this lean club techno EP. The title track is based on a muscular bass and firing percussion, while a foreboding industrial riff zings its way over the backing track. "Illusions" is more high-paced and linear, with Ruiz delivering another searing riff, this time realised against the backdrop of a pounding, linear rhythm. On "Senses", he takes inspiration from 90s disco-house loops to create a rolling, highly charged tech workout, underpinned by a frazzled acid bass, while "Existence" is a more stripped back affair, focused on dramatic percussive builds and bleak bass tones.
Review: Following on from an impressive run in the super popular Kiwi Kup, Yemi touches down for an incredibly vibrant four track selection on the ever-dependable Four40, whose productivity seems to know no bounds. We commence with a dive into the stunning piano lines and charming vocal slices of 'Easy Living', before the interesting melodic switch ups and pitch-alterations of 'Skippy' roll into play. Next, Tuff Culture gets involved with his contributions towards the incredibly nostalgic rhythms and harmonies of 'Don't Tell Me', which also happens to complete with a personal rework dub from Yemi himself. Awesome stuff!
Macky Gee & Axel Boy - "Another Level" - (4:11) 132 BPM
Macky Gee, David Zowie & Ruth Royall - "Ready For You" (Bass mix) - (4:10) 134 BPM
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: Maurice Fulton has made plenty of awesome records over the years, including a string of superb full-length sets as Boof. Here he returns with his first album under the alias for five years, and as you'd expect it's a belter. In line with its predecessors, Fulton delivers a swathe of ear-pleasing numbers laden with colourful synthesizer sounds, jazzy electric piano stabs, opaque chords and rubbery bass guitar. There are of course interesting and oddball diversions amongst the more straightforward house jams that are tricky to accurately describe - see "Ana's F Is Chillin", the intoxicating and exotic "Japanese Indian Shrimp Curry" and the kaleidoscopic space jazz that is the brilliant title track - and a handful of ultra-percussive peak-time beasts (see "Luam Has Found Her Z").
Review: Having recently notched up a sixth year in business, Fingerman's Hot Digits imprint is in a celebratory mood - hence this all-action round-up of recent delights and unheard treats from the disco-loving label. Encompassing no less than 30 tunes, the collection giddily skips between warming beatdown disco (P-Sol's "Walter"), Mark E style slo-mo loop jams (Vigi's "I'll Be There") and glassy-eyed Balearic nu-disco (Picklejam's "Untitled Love"), before raising its hands skywards as the peak-time party-starters begin to appear thick and fast. Highights in this category include the vibrant jazz-house flex of Dexter Jones' "Swing Thing", the bustling boogie re-edit business of Monsieur Von Pratt's "Let's Dance" and the hearty disco-funk heaviness of Chewy Rubs' "Funky Bee Bop".
Review: The campaign for real, modern UKG continues unabated over at Instinct, as another crew of like-minded bassbin botherers step up with their own fresh takes on the 2-step sound. Pinder is super speedy and tight as you like with "Forever", while Instinct regular 0113 gets freaky with the subtly tripped out "Hard Lines". Zac Stanton is perhaps the stand out turn on this EP with the absolutely surefooted and sharply soulful "Stop Tellin Me". Holloway comes in strong too though, channeling that impeccable Ghost sound for the stripped and spooky "Places To Be". Classy club gear throughout.
Review: Krafty Kuts & Bomb Strikes, two names that when combined leave us with potentially incredible results. They join forces here to curate and design the fifth edition of 'Bass Funk', showcasing some of the most prominent faces across the entire breadth of breaks. The tracklisting for this one looks pretty monstrous, featuring the likes of A Skillz, Dubra, Arteo, Fort Knox Five, K+Lab & more. There are a couple of immediate stand outs however, with the latin horn melodies and vibrant rhythms of Ninjula's 'Spanish Princess' and the pure rawcus devilry of 'AI' from the legendary Delta Heavy both standing out!
Review: All time great Alkalino looks to the headlines for a Dark Room Scandal! Sending in deeper house vibes for this three-track release, there's a playful spirit to the dark side of this EP. "Orson Welles" sees the slightest of disco influences maintained in the track's percussion alongside deeper basslines, melodies and tripped out vocals. Dubby bassline house is paired with starry synths loops in "Dancing With Somebody", with the title-track doubling down on its clap-track, industrial atmospheres and suspenseful strings. Alkalino goes deep.
Review: Since first appearing on Soulserious a decade ago, Sunday Roast has proved adept at joining the dots between British bass music's past and present. His last EP, for example, was heavily influenced by jungle, while this four-tracker combines elements from three of his biggest inspirations, UK garage, UK funky and contemporary deep house. He begins with the sub-bass propelled "UKF" roll of "Feel For You", where layered percussion and atmospheric, extended breakdowns catch the ear, before balancing the skip of 4/4 garage with the slick dreaminess of deep house on "Sleepless Nights". "Feeling Fine" manages to be both percussively weighty and musically opaque, while closing cut "Pressing On" is another dose of deep house/UK funky fusion laden with deep bass and spacey sounds.
Review: Well, it seems to be every week that we welcome a brand new drop from the Four40 team this year, however this latest drop is something truly special as the veteran imprint celebrates nine years of activity with a scintillating selection, showcasing some of their most important roster members over the years. The tracklisting is vast, featuring a colossal 51 tracks from the likes of Vital Techniques, Mistakay, PVC, Enigma Dubz, Tuff Culture, Earthnut and more. With such a stacked release, picking highlights is pretty tough, but for us the two stand outs boil down to super spooky drum twists and moody textures of 'You Or Me' from ZeroFG, alongside the classic Skepsis remix of 'VIP', originally featuring Hybrid Theory and Trilla.
Review: Album number six here from the northeast of England's finest neo-soul combo Smoove & Turrell. Coming like all five of its predecessors on the mighty Jalapeno Records, 'Stratos Bleu' sees the Gateshead gang exploring a slightly wider range of musical territory: 'This Time', for instance, operates at a soulful house tempo, while 'E.P.' has an almost Underworld-ish, indie-dance kinda feel. Synths n' samples play a more prominent role than on previous albums, too - though John Turrell's distinctive tonsils remain front and centre at all times, so existing fans needn't worry too much!
Review: Now the team at ONEPUF are gaining quite the reputation for extracting the weird and wonderful out of the producers they work with. This latest third edition of their self-named compilation series is a perfect example of that as they welcome 8 producers who all bring something very different to the table. Epoch provides us with an amphibious roller with 'Understand', followed by Exit 99's very unusual moogy creation 'Lemon Acid'. Next, some techy breaks action on 'Flugel Dance' from Coldpast before Kobe JT & Tuff Tax hit us with some original UKG flavour. Joedan keeps us on the garage tip with 'Black Everything', followed by the jersey club style sounds of 'Swisha Drop' from Killjoy and high speed acid vibes of Zeed's 'Fish & Chips'. Finally, DJ BMW lets loose some original techno flavour with the unpredictable moog stabs of 'Reactor Core VIP', with Headchef's 'Alarming Regularity' providing us with the perfect outro for this momentous compilation.
Review: When it comes to churning out sweat-soaked, rave-era revivalism, few producers are quite as adept as Chrissy, in part because he's genuinely studied the turn-of-the-90s styles he's emulating (and has the record collection to prove it). For proof, check the cut that kick-starts this EP, "Can't You Feel It". Built around bustling breakbeats, fizzing synth bass, simmering strings and sweaty female vocal samples, it's a thrill a minute ride - as is the stomping, acid-powered, bleep-laden track that follows it, "Depeche Moines". Soundbwoy Killah kick-starts the remix portion of the EP with a hybrid UK funky/UK garage revision of "Can't You Feel It" that boasts one of the weightiest sub-bass drops we've heard for yonks - seriously, it's massive - before Denham Audio re-casts "Depeche Moines" as a breakbeat hardcore-goes-tribal house smasher.
Review: It's that time of the year again as we welcome back the wonderful Night Bass crew for the 10th edition of their 'This Is Night Bass' series, featuring some of the biggest and most popular names the scene has to offer. The tracklist boasts a fabulous combination of established talent and newcomers, as we see the likes of Taiki Nulight, NuBass, Dommix, The Sponges, CAPOZZi, Sage Armstrong, Sqwad and more join forces to create a sumptuous collection. Our highlights have to include Riddim Commission's super smooth 'In My Soul', alongside the groovy horns of 'Funky Soul', from Nicky Genesis, Jace Mek's techy influxes on 'Bring It Back' and the stripped back debut of Tengu with 'Bad Girls'.
Bounce Of Thunder (Kid Panel remix) - (6:05) 130 BPM
Review: As ever, the Nipponeer Japan crew have outdone themselves with this one as they welcome back The Darrow Chem Syndicate for an exclusive remix project by the name of 'Not For Resale'. First up, we hear Kid Panel provide us with an excellent, euphoric rethink of the wonderful 'Bounce Of Thunder', which is then chased up closely by Kuplay, who unleashes some super groovy energy and vibrant rhythmic design into his overhaul of 'Hahppy'. Next up, Mob Ties & Mr. Moozit get involved for a cheeky, break-heavy edit of 'Aznable Gimmick' before we finish up with Rory Hoy, who goes to town on 'Cowper's Cooper', unleashing wave after wave of lofi drumwork and crunchy samples to see us out in style.
Review: Like its previous iterations, the ninth instalment in Drumcode's A-Sides compilation provides an invaluable overview of the big room techno sound. For this edition, that includes sounds as diverse as the tranced out, vocal-sampling "Fierceness" from Joyhauser to Dubfire's menacing, bass-heavy stepper, "Deadbug", and the pumping, exhilarating "Just Close Your Eyes" courtesy of Tronic boss Christian Smith. As these various strands attest, A-Sides is a broad church, but the end game is dance floor impact, and on Thomas Schumacher's "Intuit" and Reset Robot's searing "Grains", that goal is reached using bruising low end and heavy acid lines.
Review: Now when we saw the lineup for the latest CruCast selection, it was a pretty excitable moment here at Juno Download HQ as we see DJQ, Jamie Duggan and Booda link up for a spicy three tracker on the ever-ready CruCast imprint. The title track 'Sirens' is an original we can see tearing raves to pieces come the end of lockdown, with its viscous synth designs, satanic horn stabs and rolling drum patterns giving us some seriously energetic vibes. Next, 'Chimes' arrives with a more niche approach, using warbling LFO's to give us a bit of a different feeling, before 'Melody' lets loose more grizzly bass thwacks and jumping rhythms to see out the project in style. This one also comes complete with an official speed garage edit of 'Melody' for good measure!
Review: Next up from the Time Is Now team we dive into this stunning four track selection from Holloway, who delivers nothing short of a masterpiece. We begin our voyage into this one with 'Hold You Close', a super smooth garage hybrid driven by wavy guitar licks and a soulful vocal lead, followed by the more sub-orientated arrangement and bubbling percussive explosions of 'Bad Day's. From here, the vibes continue to expand as 'Homage 2 Claro' sees Holloway link up a selection of stuttered breakbeat inputs with swirling atmospheric pads and crunchy percussion, before 'MFCC' strips everything back for a good old fashioned 2-steppy roller, rounding this one off in style!
Review: Since 2006 Permanent Vacation has earned its reputation for releasing some of the best in contemporary house, electro, disco and leftfield music, showcased and celebrated most with their various artist compilations. As lockdown in some parts of the world begins to ease, maybe a sixth Permanent Vacation is in order, which this time introduces a fresh cast to the series with our ears drawn to the abstract dub, drum and rhythm tracks of Bawrut, and Cornelius Doctor & Tushen Rae in the tripped out "The Bukit Have Eyes". Smallville's main man in Paris Jacques Bon turns in a stair-sailing synth number of breezy, uplifting house in "Reverse Flight", with techier drums and club tracks coming from DJ Kuesse ("Tropicana Girl") and the au courant electro sounds of Eliott Litrowski's "Spray", and Sedef's Adasi's "Tender Trip" a highlight too.
Review: Especial welcomes Kim Ann Foxman to debut on the label with an ode to the power of the moon. The sample heavy, acid vocal cuts no slack and shows Foxman confidently developing as a producer and is backed with a stellar set of remixes from Roza Terenzi, Dawl & Sween and Violet. Revered by many as an on point clubber, dancer, singer, DJ and producer, her breakthrough in Hercules & Love Affair was a start, soon carving out her place as a solo artist and global DJ, while fitting in time to run the Firehouse - recently featuring Richard Sen and Kasra V - and SELF-TIMER labels - home to new project, Pleasure Planet. As veteran of the San Francisco 90s heyday, slipping breaks around a 4/4 kick is a blast of past meets acid future, as 303 meets M1, while Foxman's lyrics - written during the Blood Moon over London - extols the power of the tides, nature's internal and external flow. The remixes are a manner of breaks-heaven, as Roza Terenzi rips a steppas dub, Tone Dropout's Dawl and Sween master a latter day M25 anthem, before finally Violet, edits, strips, builds and takes things deep. Make me lust, make me bleed...
Review: This 14-track VA comp will delight anyone who loves UK garage but has really had enough of partying like it's 1999, as London-based Dansu Discs showcase new directions in post-UKG bass music. Opener 'December' does for Al Green what High Contrast's 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' did for Julie London, and sets the scene for an album that's full of surprises, from the prog-isms of DJ Life's 'Blue' to Pinder's broken beater 'Hot Feet' to Warwick's ominously rumbling 'Only Way'. Elsewhere, Suki's 'Mind Control' could cross over onto deep house floors, while 'Original Style' from Main Phase will please the ragga-garage diehards.
Review: Here's something to celebrate: a surprise collaboration between R&S regular Lone - a producer now best known for the colourful feel or his shimmering, retro-futurist workouts - and sometime Shall Not Fade and Unknown To The Unknown contributor Kettama (real name Evan Campbell). "The Way That You Feel" genuinely fuses the best of both producer's styles, with kaleidoscopic, neon-lit synth stabs and bubbly, eyes-closed electronic lead lines riding a busy bassline and 130 BPM techno drums that seem to fizz as much as they bang. The results are not only undeniably heavy, but also insatiably ear-pleasing.
Review: Audaz returns with this week's installment in their impressive Lolita series, taking the razor to the tape and presenting some respectful edits for maximum dancefloor impact. Munich-based Alkalino & Co. are up to number 30 in the series now, and it's jam packed full of disco goodies. Go deep into the outerzone (with bells on) with "291", then you'll definitely feel alright on the sexy vocal classic "293", or, you can get seriously cosmic (like a love machine) on "295". Elsewhere, feel the native love on the euphoric "297", or get low slung towards the end - with some good ol fashioned soul classics on "299" and "300" respectively.
Review: Despite their incredibly consistent catalogue, it feels like Roska Kicks & Snares as an imprint has become even more special over the past year or so, with every new release levelling up the labels output. For their next selection, we see them welcome MOTU for a vibrant 8 track selection simply entitle 'Motu Collection', showcasing his quite frankly outstanding skillset, jam-packed with rhythmic gems left right and centre. From the wavy bass manoeuvres of 'Screwball' to the more carnival style drum work of 'Yeah Riddim' and stripped percussive magnificence of 'KCU', MOTU well and truly has UK funky covered. We also wanted to send a nod to the vocal collaborations on this one, as Nico Lindsay returns in fine from on 'Have To Know' alongside Killa P's electric performance on 'Tek Weh' and the mega collaborative flavours of 'Move', featuring PRM Project, DJ Polo, Roska & Blase Vanguard.
Review: No mucking about Hardcore Energy. No nonsense breaks, hardcore and jungle. MKII in full effect! With basslines resonating here as much as pianos, tracks in this M1 EP are shrouded in hall reverbs and supreme compression to bring you the best in hardcore bliss. "Energy '92" kicks things off straight up with classic amen breaks that eventually succumb to breathy atmospheres and mellow chords, with stripped back jungle receiving the same treatment in "Make Me Feel" - while it's breaks and '90s free rave in "The Power", to trance and hip-house in "One".
Review: As ever, Punks have only gone and delivered a bombshell with this one as they unveil the third edition of their super celebrated 'BBQ Beats' series, featuring 20 outstanding break-inspired original creations. The roster for this one is pretty outstanding as we see the likes of Taim, Aurbs, Leda Stray, Jay Robinson, Plump DJs, Mafia Kiss and a tonne more join forces with label founders: Stanton Warriors for a fantastic display. Although this one really is jam packed, our immediate standouts would have to include the subtle subs and percussive licks of 'Love Theory' from Aylen, alongside Daze Prism's super techy 'Further', a spicy original indeed. Amazing work overall.
Review: Radio Slave is releasing his second album in three phases - and this first volume of Radio Silence sure to impress techno fans of all persuasion. This is largely due to the fact that the Rekids boss has drawn inspiration from a myriad of sources; these include Jeff Mills at his most esoteric for the swirling sound scales of "Ghost" and the break beat driven "Cell", while on "Contact", he opts for a visceral, grubby techno banger. On "Zqu", we get to hear Radio Slave at his most intense, with a pounding steely rhythm prevailing, while he quickly shifts into compelling abstract mode for the eerie tones of "Command Z Av".