Review: Listen mate, when Bruk calls you a bobble head, you better pay attention and pay respect. He doesn't just tell anyone their heads are made of bobbles. He's too busy in the studio cooking up serious flames like the ragga-touched, full-fire slap-about 'Maui Mowie' and the finger-clicking dark and jazzy swinger 'Captivate', or releasing on crucial labels like Bagged & Tagged, Audio Addict and By The Producer, to be flinging around observations unless they weren't completely necessary. So deal with it, you're a bobble head... And this whole gosh-darned gully EP is tailor made for you.
Review: Ruffneck Ting are a label perfectly placed on the border between jungle and jump-up, and this EP from The Force displays their aptitude in selecting the best of both strains. It's a gentle, subtle yet damaging release, one which flows upon a bed of soul yet comes out with fists flying at the other end. 'Second Sight' has the type of funkiness that only reggae music can provide, with stabbing bass touches providing lift and sensation to its clattering, rough and tumble drums. 'Stop The Show' is heavier and has more weight packed behind its stuttering percussion, its bassline wonderfully bouncy and dripping with the sunny skies, eyes closed heritage of reggae and dub music. Wicked.
Review: Informal are rapidly picking up speed with their releases, and this week they're following up their previously successful compilation with a third 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 'Lava Cake', courtesy of Dutta and T>I, producers who know their way around the controls and who prove it once more, as stabbing bass notes and hypnotic vocal samples cut across its snapping, rolling arrangement with all the force and subtlety of an underground train. Jenks and Acp maks an appearance on the superbly gruff 'Big', whilst Dutta gets deeper than usual on 'If You Never'. Quintessential drum & bass that makes for essential listening.
Review: Feeling fine for Northern Line! Rantik and JAK's fledgling young label comes correct with their first full paid release. It's a VA and it's a beauty. Continuing the exceeding weight and exciting breadth of the sound they've built up through free downloads, these nine tracks rep the Newcastle label's parameters with deadly intent and features some very exciting new-gen names. Highlights include Hexa's pranged-out swinger 'Shanghai Knights', the volcanic bombastic bounces and blazes of Stompz' 'Funk Accelerator' and the Metal Work's gritty punisher 'Changes'. And that's just the tip of this northern iceberg. Firing.
Review: Vital is a drum and bass producer/DJ from Bournemouth, on the south coast of the UK. He has had releases on Subliminal Recordings, Samurai Bass Audio, Bulletproof Recs and Twisted Beatz. The Recognition EP features the wonky bassline action of "London", while "Culture" similarly infuses the street sounds of grime to impressive effect. Stepper "Recognition" has a somewhat dark jump-up vibe reminiscent of the True Playaz sound and "Disconnected" channels that classic techstep/neurofunk style of all on this roller from the darkside.
Review: K Jah kicks the doors of 2021 down with the launch of debut album Ravers Delight. This is the first sampler and it sets the scene perfectly. 'In Love' takes a classic vocal snippet and wraps it up all sassy and sweet around a harmonic bassline that nods respectfully towards the likes of Sir Clipz and Professor Serum. 'Status Concrete' digs deeper into a dark, moodier sound. Tension in those big drone basslines and full command from Natty D's vocal, it's very clear K Jah's door kicking is going to continue for some time to come. Delightful.
Review: St Albans-based Hansi serves up four more covers on this latest addition to the long-running 'Funky Grooves' series on his own Viking Grooves. 'Changes' gets the ball rolling, rendering Black Sabbath's classic heartbreak ballad in a tortured, southern soul style - it's almost like Otis's revenge for the Black Crowes! The other choices of cover on the EP are perhaps less surprising - Timmy Thomas's 'Why Can't We Live Together', Run DMC's 'Peter Piper' and The Jimmy Castor Bunch's 'It's Just Begun' - but in all cases Hansi puts his own distinctive spin on the original, making for an EP with more than its fair share of attention-grabbers.
Review: Hoax has been doing absolute bits for quite a while now and this forthcoming two-tracker for Audio Addict is a reminder that his ability to craft moody beats is right out of the top draw. 'Backstabber' exemplifies this best and moody doesn't begin to cover the grasping force of this track, a lows-heavy and ego-light rendition of pure dancefloor energy, with old-school brass textures providing the backdrop for a remorseless escape into clubland. Tickets ready please and leave your baggage on the door. The flipside is a remix from Kontakt, and he flips the bassline completely into a different beast, a remorseless set of stabs which hit with abandon. Insane.
Review: Bladerunner presents some high fidelity drum 'n' bass in the tradition of Goldie's Metalheadz sound on his new offering "Take Me Away" where angelic female vocals contrast the most fierce and rolling amens and the gnarliest bassline you'll hear this year. Courtesy of his imprint Hi Resolution, where 2020 was a banner year for the UK artist, with anthems such as "Bassline Terror", "Don't Break It" and "The Fall" (with Nectax) cemented his status within the d 'n' b scene.
Review: Metalheadz's march towards twenty five years continues, as does their revisitation and exploration of back catalogue classics, with a twist. Episode number three takes the furious sounds of Kaotic Chemistry's 'Drum Trip' and 'Jupiter' and reworks them, with production courtesy of Detboi, Madcap, Wheeler and Kaotic Chemistry themselves. Madcap's take on 'Drum Trip' is clean and precise, with a rolling drum break that builds through a gorgeous reece line for an instantly classic sound, one that's tied with the Metalheadz aesthetic both past and present. Detboi makes two contributions, and it's his Low Ends and Amens take on 'Drum Trip' that impresses most, with the rhythmic diversity he's become known for on full display, and Detboi sprints through downtempo breaks, stuttering claps and rusty percussive textures in his quest to create something with moodiness at its core. Finally, Kaotic Chemistry themselves turn 'Jupiter' into a fractious version of its former self, one which perfectly straddles the divide between jungle experimentalism and modern toughness. Seminal.
Review: One of Hospital Records' most renowned liquid craftsman is back. Nu:Tone has been a foundational artist on the label, releasing his first album in 2005 and following it up with four more seminal LPs. Little Spaces is arriving after a long break of 7 years, and we're ecstatic to see him return in such good form. It's an album that stays true to the Nu:Tone and Hospital traditions of bubbly, feel-good music and this entire piece of work ripples with the sort of good vibes that we all need right now. 'Souled Out' is a perfect example, a nonchalant track grounded with a simple four-note melody that slowly progresses amidst luscious guitar flicks and deft rhodes riffs. 'Girl On A Bike' is more stepping funk, and the album weaves through vocal features from DJ Rae, Ed Scissor, Lalin St. Juste and Lea Lea. An absolutely gorgeous piece of work.
Review: As ever with the Dungeon Kru, we are happy to see them back at it again, returning to Liondub International for a top quality display of collaborative energy across nine outstanding originals. The team invite the likes of T-Kay, Bandit MC, Yatuza, B-Plexx and more onboard to deliver a wide range of drum & bass and jungle creations, all doused in that classic dungeon energy. There's a lot to take in with this selection, from the super gnarly bassline growls of 'Navy Seal' alongside EzTee and ELE to the super choppy, unpredictable bass slices of 'Number 1' with SUV. It's definitely a project we would recommend exploring on long play, with our highlights including bouncing drum designs and clever dubwise sampling of 'Ganja Riddim' alongside Maurizzle, next to the screaming bass crunches of 'On Fire', which features additional work from Falco.
Review: The Next Gen Audio team are definitely an imprint with a knack for sniffing out powerful new releases, which is exactly what they have found here with this spicy new selection from Amplify. Kicking off with 'Human', we can tell we are in for a high energy ride as sizzling synth pulses lead the way atop clean breaks, before 'Seduction' sends us a little more leftfield with some unusual bass processing that just seems to work. Next, Fanatics join the party for 'Carousel', a super gnarly exploration of high ended bass stabs and choppy drum manoeuvres before 'Got You', alongside Master Error gives us a classic jump up outro, again pushing some super colourful bass designs for forward for a hell of a splash.
Review: present at raves up and down the UK as well as across the channel. This is his latest release on the inimitable Pick N Mix, and it shows off his credentials properly, as he's roped in all the tightest sounds you can think of for big six-tracker. We especially love 'Upside', which is just pure attitude encapsulated in a 170 beat and some basses. 'Pimp Shit' smashes it in a pummelling number that honestly doesn't seem like it gives any fucks, and that theme is brought to life even more fully in the diving sub tones of 'Drowzy'. Banging stuff.
Review: There are few things as exciting as a new Break LP dropping into the inbox. That tangible feeling of excitement is made all the more intense by the knowledge that any new music from the Bristol-based master is 99.9% certain to be incredible. Dusty Demos is no different, and it says a lot about Break that even his discarded music from years gone by is still right up there with the best of it. The tracks in this album span 2003 to 2012, and one of the earliest is 'Super Blue' feat. Mark System, who gets involved in a luxurious, lounging piece of music that's at its best in its crisp percussive highs and swelling, summertime pads. 'All In' from 2006 is foreboding as hell and packed with movement, whilst 2007's 'Take Me There' is possibly the dirtiest tune on the whole EP, with a torn bassline that moves in furious gestures. It's classic Break that spans the whole stylistic and temporal spectrum - unmissable.
Review: The name of this release - Big Money - is reflected in the colourful and playful artwork. It's the first ever EP from a brand new label, Tin Pan Sound, and we're hoping that this is the beginning of a flourishing new imprint. You can tell from the off both that this might be the case, and that this is a release which doesn't take itself too seriously; part of that nonchalant approach to music that stresses having a good time over chin-stroking analysis and perfect mixdowns. The title track is a rattling jump up stepper with a powerful undergirding of low-frequency pulses and tones, there's a slick little vocal over the top and it all comes together very nicely. The others are equally tough and straight shooting - big ups.
Review: Over on Sub-liminal Recordings, Yatuza is landing with an EP that blends the savage sounds of jump-up with effortless use of space and a clarity designed to impress but not overwhelm. 'The Divide' rests on finger-click drum hits that intersperse with a wobbling sub bass and choppy bass staps, it's got that head-nodding vibe to the drums we all love and it's an all-round masterclass of blending funk and aggression. 'Feel The Same' builds up with murderous intent above a body of furious kicks, before climbing the heights of euphoria into stabbing, flowing territory. Beautiful stuff, and we also love the wobbling gargles of the final track, 'Taken', which is just pure naughtiness. Big ups.
Review: Benny Page and MC Spyda have the first single out on Spyda's brand new label and with this single they take you on a rough and ready journey through rolling D&B, one that's characterised by its reliance on the best elements of the older school of 170 sonics: big drum hits, reggae-infused MC work and a complete lack of pretentiousness or over-engineering. 'Serious Time' is exactly that and we love the spoken vibe that rolls out over the whole tune, a proper piece of mic duty from one off the stalwarts of the scene.
Review: When we are discussing the modern greats of electronic music production, there's no way we can have that conversation without Calibre's name coming into the mix and blend. This brand new album via the team at Signature takes the title 'Feeling Normal' and is a straight up masterclass, from the stunning breakbeat-driven soundscapes of 'Barren' and 'Man Got Sandwich' to the colourful post-garage designs of 'Feeling Normal' and 'Time To Breathe' alongside Cimone. It has a touch of everything and the quality levels just don't seem to dip, regardless of whatever genre or style we are hearing. There are also some serious highlights, with 'Badman' alongside DRS being a somber, post-dubstep homage, 'Has To Happen' being a sumptuous, emotive roller and 'Predictable' being a futuristic steppers delight. Incredible work as expected!
Review: RISE is on Liondub International and is giving all of us a lesson in how to produce tough, stripped back sonics which carry more attitude than a charging bull. 'Crossbow' is the best example of this, as a no-nonsense drum line penetrates a precisely placed array of gully bass pulls and hair-rising low-frequency pushes. 'Feline' is more classic jump-up, as a potent blast of stabs combine into the type of hands-in-the-air dancefloor action we've come to expect from the genre. Proper stuff.
Review: Young Guns was originally set up in 2012 by Biological Beats head honcho MC Fatman D as a brand new event concept, showcasing fresh talent at live events across the country. Since 2015, they have evolved into Young Guns Recordings and here they present their latest courtesy of Hyn aka Chris Haynes, an emerging artist from Bristol with his twisted sound that has been heard previously on Brawlin Beats, OnlyJungle and Helix. The London EP features the wobbly grime bassline of the title track, the minimal roller "Dada" reminiscent of classic DJ Krust and the darkside tehctsep thriller "Change".
Review: For an artist with a name as old school as Pharoah, this man sure has some futuristic sounds. Following his previous epic dispatch on Liondub International ('Mirage'), once again he hits with more cosmic feels. Funky, forward-facing and full of surprises, there's a young Bensley or Whiney deep in the mix when you hear the glitches and shiny soul of cuts like 'Party' or 'Threshold' while darker sounds like 'Ganjaman' or 'B.I.G' show plenty of promise on his gullier aspects. First dynasty levels of talent here. Keep your eyes on this king.
Review: Ladies and gentlemen can we have your attention please? We are now ready for take-off so please fasten your seatbelts! At long last, the Dark Soldier unleashes two of the most in-demand remixes of one of his most seminal tracks 'Chopper'. Famed for its massive Shy FX remix back in the day, once again the tradition is maintained as Bou and Traumatize bring the seminal vibe into the 2020s. Both now pretty legendary on dub, Bou brings the bubbles and Zinc-like swing while Traumatize brings the twisted chunky swagger. Essential.
Review: EPs don't get more diverse and dancefloor ready than this one from Jak, who has roped in Mofes and Kumo to help him craft his devilishly made club-friendly sounds. Rather than a copy-paste exercise, Nuusic and Jak are living up to their reputations by bringing four unique, differentiated cuts to the table. 'Siren' feat Kumo is the pick of the bunch, as a rolling Break-esque drum line cuts through a sparsely arranged but effectively spacious array of Sofa Sound-type bass nodes. Proper sick, and there's clicky tech funk on 'Snow', jump-up force on 'Lace Up' and sub-heavy, sine-wobbling goodness on 'Akimbo'. Big.
Review: Madcap and the late Andy Skopes' Trouble EP on Dispatch exemplifies why this label is so legendary, and why Andy's premature passing was such a tragic loss for our scene. His music is living on, however, and him and Madcap have rolled out a true piece of dancefloor precision on this one. The title track is pure magic, a ducking and diving number that drops to effortless depths in its quest for low frequency excellence, a vision aided along by MC Fats' typically deft vocal work. There are superb breaks on 'Scatter', and fractiously deep jungle tones on 'Empty Soul' that's paired with a hauntingly melancholic vocal sample. Unmissable.
Review: It's hard to believe that Cocoon is celebrating its 20th anniversary, but what's not difficult to grasp is that Sven Vath's imprint is marking the occasion in style. Rampa and Emanuel Satie kick-start this compilation with emotive, tranced out tracks - in particular Rampa's "2000" is particularly poignant - while Cocoon mainstays like Gregor Tresher and Ricardo Tobar up the pace with the musical but clubby techno of "Nostalgia (Is The Enemy)" and "El Eterna" respectively. As always, Cocoon strikes a flawless balance between showcasing local producers and international names; 20 Years is no exception and features frazzled acid from Josh Wink as well as steely percussive bangers courtesy of Planetary Assault Systems and Jacek Sienkiewicz.
Review: Bristol beefcake Formula makes one of his biggest moves so far with this killer debut on Invicta Audio. All four cuts hitting with realness and showing a different side to the young producer, highlights include the deep-space wriggles and sultry house vocal snippets on 'You & Me' and the all-out party flavours of 'Bad Boys'. Switching from a classic twangy riff even your mum knows to a groany, gutter-chomping drop is a dramatic and funky move. We need more music like this.
Review: If you like your drum & bass packed with eerie soundscapes and created more with the intention of imparting an experience than packing out a dancefloor, this is the EP for you. It's classic moody Headz, and Quartz channels the hazy smoke-filled vibe of Blue Note and pumps it through an apocalyptic filter, transposing classical breaks onto futuristic landscapes. 'Folding Water' is perhaps the EP's darkest outing, as hypnotic kicks ground a steampunk aesthetic of churning metal and furious percussive energy, one with abstraction at its core but traditional breaks music in its heart. Superb release.