Review: Rub-a-dub-dub, a bunch of producers in the tub, none of them are clean because they're all making proper stinkers for Ghetto Dub. And these are a handful of examples. As the label unleashes the parts to some of its many key recent releases to four exciting talents. Man-of-the-moment Sikka takes the lead with a crucial tear-up of Vinyl Junkie & SR's "Peace Pipe" while Ly Da Buddah adds a whole new twist to Rachel EC's "All Rudeboys & Rudegirls" with an immense chainsaw bassline that cuts right through the mix. Elsewhere we get tremendously woozy and wonky with DJ Gaw's remix of Bill & Ed's "These Streets" before Dublic closes the show with an absolutely savage junglised slap-down of "Paradise Lost". Rerub? Rewind more like!
Review: Greek producer Chris GS returns to Israel's Thunder Jam with four more slices of reworked vintage funk/disco goodness. He's dug nice and deep for this set, so the original source material remains a mystery in most cases, but in his hands 'Shake It' is a strings-drenched disco number that would've sounded right at home on the 'Saturday Night Fever' soundtrack, while 'Lady' rocks a slightly rawer funk vibe. The same goes for 'The Funk', which reworks Positive Force's 'We Got The Funk' from 1979, while finally 'About It' leans a little closer towards early 80s boogie territory.
Review: Bizarrely, Running Back boss Gerd Janson describes this multi-artist EP as "a sampler for a hypothetical mixtape". Perhaps he should make that imaginary mix a reality, because all four cuts are quality. Check first the throbbing and pulsating brilliance of Storken's "Lille Vals", which sounds like an Italo-disco obsessive's take on Bobby Orlando's mid-1980s work (with a little NYC freestyle thrown in) before donning your extra-special dancing shoes to shuffle along to Alan Dixon's new dancefloor "Drums Mix" of his synthesizer soundscape "Ambient Braindisk". Zombies In Miami predictably deliver the goods on bleeping, synth-laden nu-disco throb-job "Panoramica", while Hokaiido's "Talisman" offers the perfect combination of delay-laden proto-house drums on steroids, bold freestyle bass and cheery synthesizer melodies.
Review: We've come accustomed to the Helliker-Hales brothers delivering dusty, musically intricate deep house that tends towards the jazzier and more dub-flecked end of the spectrum. It's therefore something of a surprise to find that their latest two-tracker is an altogether bolder and more warehouse-ready affair. Title track "Come Together" features distinctive, alien-sounding lead lines, trance-like female vocal snippets and stabbing, warehouse-ready riffs rising over forthright drums and a chunky, retro-futurist bassline. If anything, "Digital Sound" is even heavier, with dub-wise vocal snippets, bleeping electronics and foreboding chords dancing around heavy tribal drums and the kind of muscular riffs that were once a hallmark of Junior Vasquez and Danny Tenaglia's mid-90s productions. In other words, it's a suitably sizable "big room" record.
Review: Original Nuttah is one of the, arguably the biggest, most seminal jungle track of all time. It's been 25 years of this track tearing up the dance and to celebrate, this very special single has been dropped with an updated VIP of the original and a huge Chase and Status remix. 'Original Nuttah 25' stays true to the original but switches up the intro a bit, making it a tad more spacious and injecting an extra element of wobbly energy. Chase and Status' remix has been doing the dub rounds for quite a while and deservedly so, with a ridiculously hype-inducing build up and another vocal layer from IRAH of 'Program' fame. Unreal stuff from some of the biggest legends in the scene.
Review: Belgian techno heroine Charlotte de Witte presents the first of a new double EP here. On the subject of the release, De Witte says that this duality is essential to explore her interests, both as a producer and DJ, and it was only natural to release them simultaneously for release on her ever reliable KNTXT imprint. The Selected EP features three stark and austere expressions in main room, peak time techno such as "Form" and "Time" - all featuring the signature grunt of the Roland TB-303 throughout, while final cut "Amar" is a sublime and soothing ambient cut that's perfect to close the EP out.
Review: Ed:It continues his "Sihouettes" series with another wide-armed collection of precision D&B. As with the previous editions in the collection (that will eventually comprise to form his debut album) the range is wide, incisive and reveals his deepest influences and knowledge of proper foundation drum & bass. "Can't Stop Thinking" lights the fire with an introspective, dark and sexy vibe (think Shogun era Perez) while "Empty Eyes" gets proper sultry on the vocal side and proper heavy on the bassline / production side. "Endings" takes the crown for the darkest jam of the EP, though; pure grumpy funk, not dissimilar to the recent work of Tyrone (or FD when he's in a badboy mode), there's something very classy yet disgusting about it. Finally he tags up with fellow Shogunites Pola & Bryson for "The Ticket", a slinky, subdued creeper that gets darker, deeper and more immense as the track builds. Just the ticket!
Review: There are super-collabo and then there are genuinely epic hook-ups like this. Plasma bossman Safire and MC/poet/soulman extraordinaire DRS are the consistent figures across both tracks as two of the best producers in the game join in for each piece. Skeppy takes the lead with the purring, deep breath creeper "With You". The ideal glacial bed for Del's cold bars, if you're not goosebumping to this there's something wrong with your soul. Similarly, if you're not swooning in good vibrations to "Set The Bar" - this time with absolute OG Zed Bias joining them on dials - then you should call a doctor ASAP. What a release.
Review: In sporting terms, statistics tell us that teams do better on "home turf". It seems a fitting title then for House of Disco's latest multi-artist extravaganza, which is the musical equivalent of a thumping 5-0 home win with free beers and hugs at full time. The standard is uniformly high throughout, from the bounding bounciness of LPM's rap-sampling disco-house cut "Get With It", to the impeccably warm and sun-kissed jazz-house vibes of Purple Ice's "Adeus". In between you'll find the rolling, synth-heavy warmth of Mix & Fairbanks' deliciously loved-up "Shergar's Revenge" and "Me, You, Us", a chunky sample-house number by Shee full of swirling strings, looped guitar riffs, hazy chords and righteous spoken word samples.
Review: Ed:it is now on part two of his Silhouettes album series of EPs and this one is even better than the last, with four cuts that straddle rhythmic, stylistic and sub-genre boundaries. This man has such a rich sense of vibrancy to his productions and it really shines through here. From the soulful yet hip-hop 'Undertone' featuring Rider Shafique to 'Slate Grey' featuring Technimatic, the end result on this release is always a combination of grit and funk, of basses that pulsate but do so with purpose and sophistication, of proper D&B that tells a story more complex than pure hedonism. Our favourite is 'Broken Dawn', a steppy rendition of force, frequencies and fantastic production. Epic work.
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: Derby has given us some incredible inventions over the years including railway roundhouses, the waterworks system and hotdogs but all those things pale in comparison to this new bash-up sesh from DJ Mackz. Straight outta Derby and into our hearts, the whole EP is tailored for proper dance damagement: "Finesse" fuses up a little sensual R&B flavour into the mix, "Magnum Boy" has a classic vibe Mackz midlands jump-up forefathers were best known for while "Freaky Tonight" is freaky 24/7 and not just the night times. Throw a naughty VIP in the mix and you've got yourself a Derby demolition on your hands.
Review: Knee Deep In Sound chief Hot Since 82 is still riding on the success of his wicked '8-Track' LP, and not content to rest on his laurels, he's back in action with a single taken from the album - the dancefloor thriller "Tilted". A euphoric and mesmerising cut with progressive house influences, this one is sure to work the floor into a higher state of consciousness with its razor sharp bassline, neon-lit melody and altogether powerful groove. If that was not enough, Egyptian producer Raxon gets onboard with a riveting remix, taking the track down a slightly moodier and definitely adrenalised route with added dancefloor dynamics - it's a sure shot to drop right before the peak time.
Review: Masterworks Music's latest thoroughly enjoyable EP is a collaborative affair. It sees sometime Midnight Riot artist Ladies On Mars join forces with fellow Beunos Aries resident Gus Fastuca for the very first time. The pair first offers up two versions of "Moody Boody": a rubbery, P-funk flavoured original version built around elastic synth parts, sweet female backing vocals and bustling bass guitar, and a chunkier "Club Mix" that features a tougher, Italo-influenced groove. Elsewhere, "My Baby" is a rugged romp through guitar-sporting disco-funk re-edit territory and "Party People" cleverly combines samples from an early '80s disco-funk cut and a thunderous new, Girorgio Moroder style groove.
Review: Mexico's Deep Sense serve up a six-track EP that shows there's more than one way to go about repurposing a classic. Rather than simply looping up chunks of the original, the edits here get a little more creative - Sauco & Manuel Costela's 'Are We Ready?', for instance, takes the vocal from Fatback's 'Bus Stop' vocal and places it over a fresh (and utterly irresistible) funk backing, while on 'Last Nite' Tony Disco uses a similar trick to reinvent an InDeep classic in altogether sultrier, jazzier form. An equally well-known chanted vocal tops the brass-tastic 'Flamingo' from Hot Mood, and there are three more very playable nuggets where those came from!
Review: With such a star-studded line-up of old and new talent involved, it's little surprise to find that De La Groove's latest multi-artist EP is seriously good. Check first the breezy and soulful US garage revivalism of Art of Tones' impeccable "So Sweet", before turning to the slightly more UK garage influenced "A Quiet Love" by Scott Diaz, a track that somehow manages to be both deliciously bouncy and seductively soulful. Elsewhere, Cody Currie's "As of Yet (featuring Joel Holmes)" is a vibraphone and Rhodes-heavy chunk of deep house dreaminess, Pontchartrain's "Don't Change Up" is a loopy slab of bespoke disco-house and Goddard's "Almasti" sounds like a nu-disco era riff on Pepe Bradock deep house classic "Deep Burnt".
Review: Guidance remain in full control this year as yet another powerful EP from Ulterior Motive's label lands. This time it's from Was A Be, no longer signed to Shogun and now just a solo act, it's another bold statement. "Passive Aggressive" takes the lead with, ironically, no passivity whatsoever. Subverting a ravey riff over a real growler of a bassline, it's another certy stinker from Italian stallion. It's back by three more gully blunderbusses: "Mirrored" (with Visages) strips things back and drags us down the bassline sewer with one of the grumpiest basslines you'll hear all season, "Shell" follows suit with more low-end toxicity and a sweet roll to the drums while "Double Tap" takes the Was A Be to some pretty cosmic, warped places. Last but not least we have the dramatic "Blue Roots" where more of a techno influence can be felt in the pulsating bassline. Immense.
Review: Some fine re-edit action here from KS French, AKA Mr Given Raw. 'Funkymama' lifts almost the entire vocal from Ann Peebles' 'Come To Mama' and places it over a heavy funk backdrop, with house-y overtones and much use of the filters. 'Funky Overdose' is a near-instrumental based around a funk bass loop and brass stabs, while 'Magic Your Eyes' is classic-style filter disco topped with the vox from Circle City Band's 1983 boogie gem 'Magic'. 'Glad Bae' has a similar MO to the latter but with an unidentified male soul vocal, while 'World Geto' closes out the EP on a more laidback, jazzy/lounge-y tip.
Review: Co-Lab Recordings is Heist's label and is accordingly renown for putting out hard-hitting beats faster than you can say 'f**k off', a testament to the production and curation skills of the man himself. This time the focus is on Oz and the wider Co-Lab crew, as Oz gets his Abstract EP remixed and updated with some fresh new twists. The Teej remix of 'Assassin' is definitely up there as one of the best on the EP, a deeply growling track that is packed with attitude and foreboding notes of synth and sample-based power. Heist himself steps up for the remix on 'I.C.Y', flipping this one into a wobbly number with a wide, slapping snare drum and plenty of angst. Bangers galore here.
Thief In The Night - "Ancient Magic" - (4:31) 129 BPM
Review: We have said it before and we will say it again, there is simply no stopping the Strictly Flava rampage this year as they continue to collect and amass some of the strongest UKG releases on the map. This latest project sees them return for the second edition of the Strictly Flava Allstars, featuring tasty pieces from Sampladelic, Thief In The Night and GE to name a few. Our favourites have to be MPH's incredible texture building throughout the well layered harmonies of 'Feel It', along with the stripped back, pulsating sub tones of 'On Sight' from On1.
Review: Grid Recordings have been on an absolute tear the past year or so, with everything that comes through their doors sounding slick and firmly on the pulse of D&B in 2019. This time around it's a compilation featuring some of their most reliable producers, who, characteristically, have come through in a big way. Jayline & Macpherson's 'Look & Listen' is a spacious, atmospheric creeper than packs a serious punch, one that emerges through a soundscape of celestial tones. Nick The Lot definitely has one of the standout tunes with 'This Planet', keeping up the space theme and also keeping up the trend of twisting, expansive basslines that ripple with energy - proper roller this. KY's 'Dreams' is in the same vein and even more futuristic and techy, which shows that Grid can do things in all styles. Head Nodders indeed.