Review: Two of Spearhead's most consistent liquid beatmakers are back on the Norfollk-based label and they're doing so with their signature funky style in tow. Their sampling and ear for musicality are unrivalled, and this release seeks to channel the legacy of soul music through a format of drum & bass. The first track - 'Whisper - is firm in the percussion but frivolous in its sampling, with a stabby brass note interspersing its otherwise quite barebones approach, a less-is-more methodology that's replicated throughout, including the title track 'Clarksdale', which is just effortlessly smooth. 'Deliteful' amps up the funk, whilst SoulMotion jumps on the remix for track four and makes things super deep. Lovely stuff.
Review: It's exciting when Roygreen and Protone get together because it's never an easy one to call. Maybe it'll be an old smoothie of a track, maybe it'll be a bit of a Rottweiler. That's the fun of their dynamic - they're a little unpredictable. Kicking off with slow jazz and beautifully arranged piano, "The Five Spot" immediately upturns their lasting impression by being slick and sweet and sexy. "Jazzypants" itself is more contemporary in its stylings but still very laid back and sleek. Working with Natural Flavour and Dorian for final tune "The Storm", it's a darker meander around moodier bass and playful toy piano that makes for an interesting round-off.
Review: Two of D&B's premium soul merchants are back, this time on the renowned Spearhead imprint. If you're a fan of Lenzman or similar artists, you'll love this. It's all about vibrancy, about reality and about the dulcet smoothness of sampling and instrumentation. There's no big, cheesy synths or tacky build ups, everything is pristine and the focus is on genuine soul, not manufactured hype. 'But I Found' is our favourite, a sublime jungle stepper with perfect double bass and oodles of atmosphere, brass sweeps abound and it's proper head nodding stuff. Absolutely beautiful.
Review: Hands should already be searching out the debit card when Demand Records gets mentioned but in case there was ever any doubt, let's look at Roygreen and Protone's credentials. Both still feeling the success of last year's Speak The Truth EP. Halfstep hurter "Warman" begins with a raw statement of intent, skipping beats, screeching out feral bass and snarling with dancehall fury thanks to strictly unique vocals. "Homeground" takes things at a smoother pace, offering old school sounds before diving deep into a knee-shattering bassline, while "Navarro" rounds off the trio with lush keys and rolling vibes; a quick re-visit to the RG/P heartlands. It's fire. Trust us.
Review: If you like stripped back breaks and sumptuous melodies then look no further than Roygreen & Protone. Their Tartagura EP on Fokuz kicks off with "Danube", in which lilting piano keys chime against tapping breaks and whimsical melodies before we move on to the title track, which is all pounding vintage drums. The remix of MsDos - "Reconstruction" is another treat, with quirky SFX and tripped out atmospherics. Then there's the dubbed-out "Puff Piff" with its murmuring bass and eerie SFX, before "Concentration" rounds the EP off in style.
Review: Roy Green, Protone and Monologue join forces in the next release from Fokuz. The "Midnight Walker EP" kicks off with the lovely sounds of "Lotus"; with its evocative title and melancholy, piano-dominated intro, it's off to a poetic and dreamy start. As the track progresses the light, breezy breaks take over but always with mournful overtones. Next we have the more contemplative production "Midnight" with its shuffling breaks, twinkling SFX and rippling atmospherics, before "Walker" draws the EP to an end with its murmuring bassline and ticking hi hats.
Review: The sadly departed Jaki Liebezeit was the kind of drummer whose influence will be continually recognised over the decades to come. Best known for his work in Can, there are also many more sides to this singular sticksman, and Emotional Rescue has chosen to shine a light on his post-Can period living in Stollwerck. First is the sound of Phantom Band with Linear Johnson & The Protons. "Rush Rush" has a spiky new wave bent to it, but still Liebezeit's drumming stands out. Then "Drums Off Chaos" need little explanation - it's the sound of one of the all-time drumming greats letting rip in a ferocious blast of percussive abandon.
Review: Binding soulful D&B with the melancholy cinematics of the more standard European manfestation of the genre has been Austrian duo RoyGreen & Protone's MO since they met back in 2010. Never holding back on the big bass but with a lot of time and effort spent manipulating delicate sound effects and snippets of live instrumentation, their output is always a cut above. Celsius may be a surprise choice of label to avid followers of the pair, however when the tracks are this good, who are we to argue? Head for the dancefloor and get smiling.
Review: With their recent collaborative effort on Celsius still ringing in our ears, Roygreen & Protone join forces for another three intricate rollers. "Left Behind In Sadness" kicks things off with a melancholic combination of cello strings, subtle vocals and sparing subs, pushed forward with brittle percussion, while "Found Love" offers a more introspective track, as the soulful vocals of Bokaboka and Krint glide on a cushion of jazzy piano and icy synths. Finally, digital bonus "Manitou" offers the sparsest, techiest cut, with a breakbeat feel to the rhythm that goes hand in hand with its buzzing, jaunty low end and sparse atmospherics.
Review: Celsius have a relentless release schedule, the benefits of which include getting the freshest new music out there before other labels have caught a breath. It's a strategy that's kept them ahead of the pack, such as on this new release, where regular collaborators Roygreen and Protone hook up with Paul T for a killer two tracker. "Outlaw" contains some seriously tough beats, haunting backdrops and creepy vocal snips, while "Sideways" keeps the tough beats but adds distant, echoey melodies and throbbing, menacing bass notes. Spooky!
Review: French D&B finesse: Vandal update their "All Cities" series with another sweet set of international groove luxury. Soul:Motion leads the charge with a roll-out of liquid twinkles. He's instantly contrasted and complemented by Joakuim who lays down a dangerously sharp stepper that recalls the most formative days of proto D&B. Digging deeper and we strike amen gold with Tim Reaper's "My Own Flying Island". Rolling at a slower 160, it's an emphatic headnod to the legacy left by Moving Shadow and the drum-sample science of artists like Paradox. Ending this spotless collection on a trippy jazzy flex, Austria's Protone and Roygreen give us "Laser Cats"; a sexy, spaced-out groove that's powered by the wonkiest triplet you'll ever hear, it will instantly whisk your floor to a faraway dreamlike state where both lasers and cats couldn't be further from your mind if they tried.