Review: The beast has landed! Ram Records' most important releases in recent times, the pioneering label celebrate quarter of a century with this insane collection of 25 seminal cuts and 17 selected reversions. Roots and future all in check, every cut reminds why Ram and its founder Andy C have the status they do in drum & bass. Total Science's tasteful jazz touches on "Cool Down", Metrik's growling Aston Martin style rebuild of "X-Ray", Bladerunner's precision update on "Quest", Shimon's personal update on his and Andy's "Night Flight", Chase & Status's elephantine shake-up of "Valley Of The Shadows". We're just listing perfect remixes for the sake of it now... You already know how big a deal this is.
Review: Selector! Jungle Cakes' Welcome To The Jungle series welcomes a bonafide legend to the controls: Ray Keith. Digging deep across the board he's put together over 40 killer tracks from an obscene rollcall: Serum, Vital, Dillinja, Bladerunner, Margaman, T>I, DJ Hybrid, Turno, Filthy Habits, Ed Solo, Deekline and many many more artists are responsible for the savage soul and badman bounce on offer as we're rattled and shaken from pillar to post. From the naughty ragga skanks and turbo reverse bass lashes of Deekline & Ed Solo's "Hot This Year" to Ray's very own seminal "Chopper" via Bladerunner's evergreen breezer "Jungle Jungle" via two mixes and 10 FX tools, this is one of Jungle Cakes' tastiest ever projects to date. Big up the Dark Soldier
Review: It's the album that spawned Benny L's "Police In Helicopter" remix... Hospital hooking up with one of the most prolific reggae importers in the UK during the 70s - 90s opens up a whole trove of roots and connections between the genre and its soundsystem roots. As such as the whole album is awash with classics remixes by many of the label's best artists and friends. Highlights include T>I's soul-slapping sing-along take on Alton Ellis's "I'm Still In Love", Nu:Tone's broader than broadway bump-up of Barrington Levy's "Here I Come", London Elektricity's hurricane soul switch up of "Skylarking" and Saxxon's insane twist of John Holt's "Ali Baba". A truly unique collection that celebrates the full culture.
Review: Drum&Bass Arena: The longest-standing, and one of the most respected, platforms for all things jungle D&B celebrates an impressive 20 years in the game with this ridiculously hefty document that pays respect to the genre's every twist and turn. From scene-shattering megahits ("Tarantula", "Feel The Love", "Rock It", "Afterglow") to unarguable historical underground scene-smashing megabangers ("Machete", "Aztec", "Nasty Ways", "The View", "Champion Sound", "Turbulence", "Up All Night", "Deadline", Ram Trilogy's remix of "Pacman") by way of tracks that may have slipped under the radar ("Defcom 69", "What's Wrong", "Song For Lovers") the whole album is loaded to the lips with some of the most important records the genre's enjoyed in the last 20 years. Time to get nostalgic, time to fill those holes in your collection, time to educate your dancefloor. Here's to another 20 years!
Review: Cor blimey, Jungle Cakes aren't messing around with their Welcome To The Jungle series are they? Hot on the heels of Ray Keith comes another stone cold OG; Nicky Blackmarket. Digging deep across the classics and sparking up a whole forest of fresh fires, it's a 40 track, 2 mix, 10 FX tool trove of pure jungle magic curated with the wide-armed style you'd expect from an originator. With classic ranging from well known such as "Incredible" and "Pulp Fiction" to cult such as "Keep It Raw" and "Gangsters" and upfront jams flexing from all the right names (Serum, Aries, Serial Killaz, Drumsound & Bassline Smith), Blackmarket has absolutely smashed this out of the mark.
Review: 2018 is the second year in a row that Critical Music dropped a surprise release for us on Christmas Day, 2017 seeing the Modified Sonics album full of VIPs and exclusive remixes. New Energy Vol.1, however, is a totally different deal and that's because it's 18 brand new, exclusive tunes from those deep inside the Critical camp and those just entering it. The whole roster is represented: Kasra, Enei, Mefjus, Emperor, Foreign Concept, The Upbeats - and so on. But, excitingly, there's new talent in the form of Bou, Synth Ethics, Simula, Kanine and more. Mefjus' remix of 'Projections' arguably takes the cake as the best tune on here - absolute murderation. This is Critical's statement of intent for 2019.
Review: Hospital Records do compilations better than most, partly because there's always something for them to celebrate. This time around it's the second year of Hospitality in the Beach, their new 4 day exercise in beach-based beats, featuring some of the best artists in the game. A huge album, the LP has 33 tracks - 25 of which are brand spanking new. Whiney's remix of Etherwood's 'Begin By Letting Go' is a highlight, the original's smoothness roughly transformed into a pummelling display of techy force. With Bou, Kasra, BOP and others making an appearance, this LP has all bases covered.
Review: Eleven slabs of pure, authentic roots, Rebel MC's foundational agenda-setters (penned under various names such as Blackstar, Rebel MC and Congo Natty) have been tethered and tied up to form this on-point history lesson in breakbeat and jungle culture. From the 'heads down' drum magic of the previously rare dubplate version of "Alaska Ride" to the instantly distinctive hook of The Revolutionaries-sampling "Kunta Kinte" via the Buju Banton-fronted siren session "Stamina", this album is a reminder of just how much Michael West contributed to jungle's development. Forefather fire!
Review: 39 tracks, 10 FX sounds and a full mix. This isn't any old slice of afternoon cake you might share your elderly neighbour or distant relative, this is a seven-tiered wedding cake full of every type of unhealthy, fattening ingredient you can imagine. And we're not stopping until we've chowed the lot. If you've feasted on Deekline and Solo's Jungle Cakes before then you'll already know how tasty this is; a selection of their own releases and similarly spirited cuts from the scene, all laced with dubwise, dancehall and skank-soaked soul. Highlights hang from every corner but you'd be mad not to peak at Aries & Gold's soul-flecked massage of Mr Benn, or Dominator & Logan D's brokeback bust-up "Cowboy" or Serial Killaz' savage repurposing of Freestyler's iconic "Entertainer". High calorie badness.
Review: UK purveyours of funky breaks, Bombstrikes Records, may have a controversial name but there's everything to love about their sound. The fun loving and dancefloor bothering label run by Mooqee & Beatvandals was founded in 2004 and they claim that if you have been to a club since then you will most likely have heard their releases. Well then! Starting off with the low slug funk of A Skillz's "Mooger Fooger (dub mix)", Mooqee & Beatvandals themselves appear with "Back Up" and the legendary Cut La Roc is still at it; "Sunday Morning People" (Herbgrinder remix)" proves that he's still got his finger on the pulse. Other highlights include Pimpsoul's ever soulful "Is This Love (feat Pat Fulgoni - Pimpsoul funk remix)" the street attitude of A Skillz & Beatvandals "Simply Playing (feat Real Elements)" and the legendary Martin Solveig (remixed by the equally legendary Mousse T) who appears with the James Brown sampling "I'm A Good Man".
Review: Well well well... What a way to kick off a new year: Modified Sonics sees the entire Critical troop go to town on each other's work and celebrate the label's 15+ year contribution to the game. No stone unturned, no shoe unthrown; from long-demanded VIPs such as Emperor's sharp update on "Infrasound" and Mefjus's VIP of "Disrupted" come well-deserved re-ups of classics such as Binga's fuzzy take on Serum & Bladerunner's "Who Jah Bless", Benny L's gut-troubling twist of Enei's "Mosquito" and a crucial twist of Rockwell's breakthrough gamechanger "Underpass" from none other than Perez. With loads more dopeness from the likes of QZB, Hyroglifics, Klax and many more, this is one of the best V/A albums Critical have ever put together. Essential.
Review: Is there a doctor in the house? Hospital kick start the new decade with another stupendously massive V/A collection in the form of its latest Sick Music compendium. An album series that consistently lives up to its name, Sick Music 2020 does not disappoint in the slightest; from the powerful soul thrust of Degs and Unglued's "Levitate Your Mind" to the deep pads and sultry kicks of Tolima Jets' "Clams" via Urbandawn's truly electrifying euphoria/gully head shock "Egregor", this one covers the full spectrum from an exciting and super diverse range of artists. Look out for some fantastic remixes lurking in the mix, too; S.P.Y absolutely crushes Kings Of The Rollers' "You Got Me" and Serum flips Todd Terry's house classic "Bounce To The Beat" with a new sense of funk and groove. And these are just a few examples; this is a fantastic snapshot into how 2020 will sound... And it sounds great!
Review: Nothing says happy new year better than a 33-track jungle package. Ripping into the year in the same spirit they shredded 2016 with, DITJ have delivered something serious special here as some of modern jungle's finest creative minds: the never-failing DJ Hybrid slams the hammer down with the enormous VIP of "What Else", RMS continues his rich vein of form with some dagger-like samplecraft on the dancehall scorching "Burning Up", Section conjures up the spirit of Raindance past with some crafty drum-dicing "Black Magic" while Evade will turn you inside out on his trippy-assed amen omen "Reverse"... And that's just four of over thirty moments. Trust... We can't stress how massive this is.
Review: One of the savviest axis-flexors in the D&B / jungle game, DJ Hybrid has an all seeing eye across the soundboy spectrum with his two labels and mixed-style signature. Here the full focus is on his flagship label Audio Addict with his first exclusive-powered mix album that covers all the crucial corners. Every track rattles and shakes with energy and subversion: the jungle chaos of his own "Mix & Blend", the iced-out atmos and toxic drop of Swerve's "Massive & Crew", the gunshot bass holes caused by Lost Dynamics "New Funk", the jaw-dropping ruthlessness of Ray Keith's take on "Badboy", the list goes on... DJ Hybrid levels up once more.
Review: Double decade business: Total Science celebrate their label's big two-oh with an on-point collection of ageless constructs from friends old and new. Naturally, everyone arrives to the party in their sharpest finery; Break's cheeky rave references on the juiced up "Unified", the ugly undertones and system-melting weight of Total Science, Digital & Spirit's incredible "Apply The Pressure", Calibre's cosmic ping-pong jam "The Trot", Nymfo's dreamy harmonic heaven "Game Of Love", The Invaderz swashbuckled drum session "Be Around"... Not one player has tailored a shabby garm, ensuring well-suited jams for decade to come.
Review: We've come accustomed to SPY serving up cinematic, soulful drum and bass, so there's something a little disarming to hear him revisiting his original jungle roots with an album that's as "back to basics" as the Brazilian producer may ever get. The 15 tracks that makeup "Dubplate Style" are heavy, fuzzy, raw and punchy, with SPY peppering crunchy old school jungle rhythms with bombastic sub-bass, buzzing electronic riffs, sped-up hardcore style vocal samples, reggae toaster vocals, bouncy dub riffs and the kind of spine-tingling, warehouse-ready stabs more associated with turn-of-the-90s house than early UK jungle. The results are uniformly superb and joyously rush-inducing, making this unashamedly retro-futurist affair one of SPY's most intoxicating albums to date.
Review: When it comes to making drum and bass that strikes a balance between the needs of DJs and home listeners, few are better than Dominick Martin AKA Calibre. It's for this reason that the album format suits him so well. The Deep, his 12th full-length in total, could well be his best set yet. Jam-packed with effortlessly soulful moments, evocative piano flourishes, rich live instrumentation and yearning vocals, it's a far more expansive and ambitious set than most D&B albums. It also supplements his trademark, club-ready rollers with tracks that look to modern soul, jazz breaks, dub and R&B for inspiration. Throughout, Martin barely puts a foot wrong, delivering a set that more than stands up to repeat listens.
Review: Shogun Audio don their shades and stare into the blisteringly bright future of drum & bass with a brand new series; Point Of Origin. The idea is to represent some of the most exciting names (old and new) with an open mind to the many sub-sub-genres drum & bass seems to have right now. As a result we excitingly flicker from lush emotional jazz (Ed:It's "Centre Suite") to unruly sheet metal neuro in the space of a track (Posij - "Shieldbreaker"). Much deeper into the set we hit icy vocal soul from the likes of Need For Mirrors and Liz-E, we get flattened by Zero T's tribal thunder drums and experience a blissful rolling lullaby from Karma. This is the tip of the Point Of Origin iceberg, though... A must-check for all future-focussed junglists.
Review: Any jungle is festival jungle when dropped at the right time, but if you're looking for out-and-out skanky bumpers that guarantee arena meltdowns look no further as Vinyl Junkie and Rachael EC have selected 48 (yes 48) cuts that promise to raise all kinds of bodily temperatures, noises and movements. Serum's wobble-funk "Rat Trap VIP", Rob Blaze's system-slaying "Sound Boy", DJ Hybrid's Headz-style drone bass snake-wrestler, the iconic rave vocal emotion on Vinyl Junkie & Sanxion's "Ninja Bizznizz", Billy Bunter's chaotic dancehall skanker "Killa Sound".... We could list the highlights for days on end. An epic collection.
Review: Making their debut on Warp, Hudson Mohawke and Lunice proudly cross their beams to rain down a sick and slick kind of future-crunk, aptly demonstrated in in the introductory nature of bass-rich teaser "Top Floor" with its juke leanings and menacing posture. There's a detuned nature to the recognisable bleeps and wails on offer here while the beats remain crunchy and steadfast. "Higher Ground" is more overt in its use of juke to create a twisted kind of hype, while "Bugg'n" drips and drops in a loping vat of sub bass and slow-mo strangeness, leaving you with one of the oddest takes on the contemporary mess of electronic beats.
Review: Fire bun! Fracture continues spreading the most positive of vibrations with "Unite". Hot on the heels of his "Big Up The Ladies" EP on his own Astrophonica, he links up with the 1985 crew with four more absolute heaters. "Give Me Love" brings Fox into the fray to remind us why he's one of the UK's best melodic MCs over a freshly sharpened jungle riddim, "Feel 4 U" raises the spine-tingles with its rave pads while lowering your centre of gravity with its bashy beats and gutter-slopping bass shreds, "Realise" sees 1985 bossman Perez get mucky in the dark grumpy rolling mix while "Brothers & Sisters" taps back into the more techno-inspired aesthetics Fracture's been exploring lately. Imagine if Fracture was commentating a boxing match between Altern-8 and Rockwell down a dark alley and you're playing the right sport. Peace, love and "Unite"-y.
Review: Just look at the list of titans on this album.... The Prodigy, Sub Focus, Spor, Chase & Status, dBridge & Skeptical, Icicle, Benny L, Artificial Intelligence and so many more have all contributed to this worthy compendium from brand new mental and physical wellness festival Getahead. Not one contributor disappoints across the set as we're treated to 100 percent exclusives from across the board. From the rampant late 90s tech twists of Chase & Status's "All Crew" to the delicious halftime vibes of Proxima's "Trek" right through Halogenix's sense-melting remix of Koiya, this really is a massive piece of work... And proceeds going to Music Minds Matter. This is such an important release!
Review: Oh gosh!! Giant-among-men Swift finally drops the biggun we've been waiting YEARS for. And it's clear from the opening filth-flinger "Dogs Of War" (with Gino) that this album is the full-fat uncut high grade LP message we've been longing for. 20 tracks (including remixes of classics by the likes of Serum and A.M.C), this packs more punch than a night out MCing to naff jump-up with Tyson Fury. Seriously, from the militant charge of "Freebass" to the cheeky riff swagger of "Creeper" via the Virus-style techy thunder of "Origin", the savage jungle techno homage "Loftgroove" and the heavy 110 BPM slo-mo rave messiness "The Gully" this leaves no stone unturned whatsoever... And this is only the first part. Wow. Swift ain't messing around here.
Review: The first volume of remixes to come from Numa Crew's 2014 debut album New Underground Massive Alliance, Liondub take the skank-spanked opening tracks and commission a brace of on-point versions. "Impossible" version highlights include the classic bubble-bass jungle flare of Brian Brainstorm's twist, the sheets of overwhelming distorted bass on Samy Nicks' shake-up and Numa Crew's own dubwise strip down. "Kill A Whole A Dem" version highlights come from none than Vadim (piano-wise hook with Nextmen levels of funk), Serial Killaz (hype-charged steppery) and Upgrade (straight-up unashamed dancefloor hair-raising). As far as remix packages go, they don't get much heftier.
Review: Deep In The Jungle got picked out by UKF has one of the top labels of 2018 the other week and it's certainly well deserved, for they just consistently bang out some of the most vibey jungle around. They also represent forthcoming artists and we'll always support those who give a platform to people who otherwise might not. The album is a huge fifty tracks, spanning some well-known names like DJ Hybrid, SL8R, Conrad Subs, RMS and Kumarachi. The latter kicks off the album with a bang, 'Have You Here' sweeping down the range with its DLR-esque bassline and riotous attitude. It's a emblematic of the quality present on the rest of the album - check it out.
Review: We've been waiting for this since Doc Scott fired up his old ThirtyOne machine just over a year ago. A 24-track collection of stone cold exclusives, this bucks any expectations of the label and its remit and celebrates the very best creativity in all shades of drum & bass. Littered with the best names in the game (Calibre, Nucleus & Paradox, Bungle, Loxy & Resound, Scar, Marcus Intalex and many many more), each cut pushes the bass and riddim envelope with stark, uncompromised creativity and production muscle. The ultimate document of where the best D&B is at, this is nothing short of essential.
Review: It's been two years since Liondub last spun us around the globe with their long-running Jungle To The World series. But now biting into their 10th year, it's the perfect time to boost up the vaults with 18 specials, exclusives and unreleased versions. Pure high grade jungle through and through: we range from the utterly gully and industrial strength badness such as RAW's "Lock Up" to smoother skank-shined bubbly rollers such as Johnny Osbourne & Bladerunner's "Night Fall Dub" via slippery tech missiles like the dangerous darkside steps of Mr Explicit's "Crystal Blue" and the 24th century jazz of Jayline & Dutty Dubz long-awaited VIP of "Bacardi & Coke". And that's just four of the 18 weapons on offer here. Authentic jungle for 10 years and counting.
Review: Labels, artists and websites all tend to adopt a retrospective tone as the end of a year gets ever closer, so it's naturally quite timely for V Recordings head honcho Bryan Gee to crank out a third volume of his excellent Retrospect series. With it comes a wealth of old jungle riddims, influential classics and long forgotten favourites from the likes of DJ Die, Roni Size, Ray Keith, Krust, Lemon D and more. Gee opens in style with the Brizzle roller "Fashion" by the legendary Roni Size and maintains the pressure throughout, dropping gems such as DJ Die's "Something Special", Krust's iconic stepper "Check Dis Out" and the jazzy, liquid loveliness of Lemon D's "Get On Down" with its shimmying, sunshine filled vibes. For a trip down memory lane, this one's essential.
Review: From deep in the jingle, Deep In The Jungle arise from their Christmas chrysalis with their biggest album to date... 44 absolute beasts from some of their closest allies, freshest friends and long-time sparring partners. From the soaring synths and twisted drum switches of Kumarachi's "For You" to the classical rave feels of Demented Frequency's "Amens On The Nile" via absolute toxic gully from the likes of Galvatron, Didak, Veak, Redline, Epicentre, Sweet N Sikka, Conrad Subs, Martyn Nytram and the bossman DJ Hybrid himself this is a pure steel steal. Nothing short of essential.
Review: With an extensive repertoire that includes breaks, house and techno, Sam Binga's switch to future jungle rhythms has spawned some of his honest, his most exciting and his heaviest tracks to date. Sitting in the same unclassifiable field as Om Unit and Fracture, his productions wobble, writhe and punch sweetly around the 160/80 axis and feature a wealth of killer vocalists such as Warrior Queen, Rider Shafique and Romaine. Part dancehall, part jungle, part mongrel bass, Sam's skills are showcased succinctly across Wasted Days with a consistency that ensures the album experience is just as hard hitting as the individual tracks hit the floor. Get wasted.
Review: Best drum & bass album of 2016 b2b best remix album of 2017: 20 versions courtesy of some of the biggest, brightest and baddest in the bass game. From the thunderous bass theatre of Mat Zo's take on "Mantra" and Machinedrum's post-tropical twist of "Get Deaded" to abstract beat experiments such as Roly Poly's take on "Sinkhole" and Amon Tobin's movie-ready adventure on "Vigilantes" by way of a whole host of absolute killer drum & bass versions from Teddy Killerz, Neonlight, DLR, The Upbeats, this really is an incredible piece of work that stretches several times around the bass cosmos. Noisia never mess around. They even make hairy donuts serious.
Review: 1985 Music was founded by Alix Perez a year or two ago and, since then, has rapidly become one of the premier destinations for forward-thinking sonics that inhabit the 85-170bpm spectrum. With a fresh roster including Monty, Submarine and Perez himself, Edition 2 is a showcase of both the producers and sounds that Alix has in his orbit. There are too many outstanding tracks to recount here, but 'Drones' by Cesco stands out as one of the most creative: a subby, stepping halftime cut with an ingenious drum pattern. There's weighty rollers, too, including 'Swayed' by Bredren and 'Good To Me' by Perez and Monty, both of which are sublime examples in minimal construction. A truly sick collection of tracks.
Review: Even just glancing at the amount of killer collaborators Saxxon's recruited for his odyssey you know this is a huge album: Navi, Coppa, T>I, DJ Limited, AK1200, Jaxx, Blackout JA and Liondub all play a role in this ambitious affair. And that's before we even address the music itself; rollers, slappers and vibers hanging from every corner like ill fitting suits, highlights include the heavily rotated bassline bust up "Rollcall", the trippy tripletty swing, strange buzzes and piano bliss of "Way Back", the woozy soul and fat wobbles of "The Night Before 420", the loose limbed jazz of "The Dopest" and pant swinging bassline slappery of "Wile E Coyote". And that's just the tip of the Odyssey iceberg. Huge respect to Saxxon, this isn't an album, it's a statement and way of life.
Review: Exactly two years since their debut album Desire Paths, Shogun duo Technicolour & Komatic dish up their sophomore and it's even slicker and consistent than the first. With a finely honed signature that's unmistakeably their own, no other act do liquid in this way. From the cloud-bouncing floatation session of "Parallel" and raw string power of "Clockwise" right the way through to the final salvos of the soulful mourns of "Hold On A While" and the halfstep dreaminess of "It Must Be", every track here has a purpose without so much of a hit being chased or a vocal being added for feature's sake. Authentic and unashamedly deep.
Review: It's about time... Fresh off the heat of his Trevino album, Marcus returns to the D&B source with a full-fat foursome on his label's spotless Four:Fit series. Each cut a 24 carat diamond, shining in its own special way: "Mixed Bag" is a DRS-polished soulful addition to the ever-growing halftime annals, both "Step Forward" and "Stingray" are brittle two-step heads-down headbutts while "Jupiter" is an amen-rattled jungle shake-up. Timeless, deep and spacious; Marcus never fails.
Review: Not to be confused with the Julia Roberts classic, the Sound of Nuusic isn't a Bavarian epic but instead a UK underground epic of compilation sized proportions, with a whole raft of underground talents offering up a diverse concoction of jungle flavours. With Conrad Subs making several appearances, his stand-out contribution is 'Leave Dem', with a funked-up loping introduction that's seriously smooth but which quickly devolves into a stuttering balance of breaks and reece bass action. There's wicked jungle contributions from Kumarachi and RMS as well as Sheffield upstart Charla Green, whose knock-down breaks carry some serious weight. This is a must-listen for anyone who likes their jungle music.
Review: Fracture create some of the most experimental drum and bass out there, so bringing forward their dancehall-eclectic-inspired sounds with the help of Mancunian producer Chimpo was only going to create disturbances of the best kind within the scene. "From Early" takes the Fracture dancehall sound to the next level but it's in "Hard Food" that the rave and hardcore madness kicks in and things start getting a little wavy from there on in. To tidy up, "From Early" gets a reduction mix from Fracture, stripping back the shimmying and getting right down to the bare, bassy bones. A legendary collaboration in the making.
Review: In their official biography, Technimatic describe their particular take on musically rich liquid D&B as "hyper-coloured". In many ways, it's an apt description. Certainly, there's a baggy vibrancy to this belated debut album, which is gloriously breezy and deliciously soulful from start to finish. There's an almost horizontal feel to the duo's classic blends of vintage jungle rhythms, drifting vocals - most notable on the beautiful "Looking For Diversion", featuring the folksy voice of Lucy Kitchen - twinkling pianos, undulating strings and sun-bright chords. This kind of liquid jungle is always eminently listenable, but Andy Powell and Peter Rogers' particular take on the style is more cultured and mature than most. As a result, Desire Paths is an impressive and hugely enjoyable body of work.
Review: V Recordings do some of the best compilations in the business and their brand new Foundation series is a natural recognition of that fact. They're not being hyperbolic with the usage of the term 'Foundation' either, because this is truly an overview of some of the scene's most foundational producers. Old-school Dillinja, Krust, Roni Size and DJ Die, amongst others, make up the roster of acts that formed an integral part of the genre back in the day. The new crew is also represented, however, in the form of L-Side, Think Tonk, Nasza Linez and loads more, all of whom bring some of that V-style heat. Wicked album - one for the heads.
Review: Last seen on Exit back in 2012 with the excellent Get Busy drop, Charlie 'Fracture' Fieber returns to the label and shows off his Loving Touch on an EP that really ups the production ante. Centre stage here is undoubtedly the title track which looks to two eras of Chicago for inspiration, skilfully borrowing (officially no less) from Ralph Rosario's Chicago House classic "You Used To Hold Me", and rebooting it to a 160bpm footwork flex which retains some UK bassweight and elements of Fracture's own D&B roots. From here Fracture drops a carnival classic in the making in the shape of Machinedrum favourite "Werk It", collaborates with Sam Binga on the 808 club burner "Grippin' Grain" (apparently conceived during a wicked hangover) and ends on a decidedly rude note with the junglist breaks n bass line business of "Overload".
Review: One of the scene's most reliable beatmakers Foreign Concept returns to Critical Music with his most accomplished work yet. The Make Meals EP is, by his own account, a fresh approach to D&B, featuring explorations into more diverse and dynamic sounds. It's truly fantastic to hear someone who was a promising new artist take the huge strides necessary to become a voice to be reckoned with. Taking huge chunks of influence from hip hop in "Make Meals" and the darker side of electronica for tracks like the sublimely skewed "Ask Yourself", it's a real insight into Foreign Concept's creative world. You can hear what makes him tick in here; you can also hear that each track has had a real focus. He's not just into making heads nod now, he's got purpose.
Review: The thing about Mefjus is that despite being a name that causes many a true head to salute with immediate effect, he's not yet delivered a full-length LP - until now. Given the chance to fully explore the darker corners of his mind, "Emulation" is a culmination of years of work distilled into one drop of pure, dark energy. Featuring some of the most evil names in drum and bass (just a warning - Phace and Misanthrop each make a sky-shattering appearance), his influences are tasted but never heavy-handed, giving us all time to absorb his own unique styles. If you ever thought you needed to get to know the fella, this is the way to do it. 14 tracks down, you won't know where you are.
Review: Within the drum & bass community, dBridge's 'Exit' imprint has become synonymous with innovative bass music, pushing the boat out into plenty of steams a new. To finish off the year they join up with London's own Fixate for a firecracker of a six tracker. The title track 'What Goes Around' is an instant jungle favourite, complete with 8bit synths and rapid percussive elements. Other highlights include the half-time madness of 'The Rig Monkey' in collaboration with Skeptical, the techy unpredictability of 'Firewater' and the dancehall inspired arrangement of 'Murderers Dance Too', complete with wonky leads and awesome percussive riffs'.
Review: The wounds have yet to heal from their "Better Than Me" EP earlier this year and already Survival and Script are back with more salty sonics. Five tracks in total, each one punching with equal precision. From the space-chase bass and stretched sci-fi textures of the A.I collabo "Free Fall" to the really interesting drum arrangements and trippy switches of "Fall From Grace", this documents SCAR's trademark of forefront, industrial strength design. Elsewhere expect a physical rewind to the jungle homeland on "Return To Swerve" and prepare to be whisked off into snare and synth wonderland on "Your Move". Faultlessly rooted D&B futurism, nothing more, nothing less.
Review: Deep In The Jungle is a label dedicated to resurrecting the jungle stylings of yesteryear and bringing them back to their rightful place at the front and centre of the dancefloor. This behemoth of a compilation spans the full spectrum of jungle, from the ragga sounds of summer to the dark rollouts of the deepest basement party. With - count them - 22 tracks of pure jungle vibes, there's no stone left unturned here, offering the very best from newcomers and veterans alike. Expect to get feet moving on this one - it's an essential purchase.
Review: STOP: Your quest for "The One" is over. Willing to stand by you through thick, thin, sickness and health, a companion to help you through the hurt of this world, a soulmate who understands your emotions; You were mistaken if you thought your destined companion was a fellow human... It was actually a Mampi Swift classic and an immense, cleverly updated and subverted remix from InsideInfo. Love at first skank.
Review: Four massive remixes and the original "Inna Mi Draw" reach our eager ears in this blazer from Liondub Int. Messing with the smooth reggae and dancehall vibes of the original stylings, Potential Badboy add a swagger and sway for the first rework. The legendary Serial Killaz push their junglist flex, Curfew Steppas take things a little bit leftfield with on-point off-beat riddims and finally, Voltage twists the original into his own jump-up fantasy. A blistering release from one of the best labels of its type out there - get on it!
Review: Shogun soul soldiers Technimatic unleash the parts to some of their best tracks and share them with kindred rolling spirits. The results speak for themselves... Break adds a little dark Brizzle magic to the lads' already on-point west country homage, LSB flips "Parallel" into a seven minute rising feels-lifter while Perez licks up a little switch in the kicks on the bluesy Jono McCleery-fronted "Hold On A While" and Fracture tears "Parallels" a new one with his cutty/shutty break-rattling refix. Complete with two heavy VIPs from Technimatic themselves on red marbled vinyl and you've got yourself a winner.
Review: Rumours have been rife on this for well over two years now. Refusing to hurry as much as he refuses to compromise, Rockwell has taken his time and crafted one of the most distinctive, unique bass music albums: Obsolete Medium. Referencing ghetto-tech, classic hardcore (rave and punk) and formative jungle, every track, even the skits, justifies its place: from the torch-raising Banks-style leftfield ballad "Faces" through to the toxic waste bass and paranoia of "Guts/Bloods/Sex/Drugs" by way of the unadulterated rave mischief of "Please Please Please (Play This On The Radio)" and cosmiche bass of "Technoir", the whole album is detailed, precision articulated and full of surprises. Far from obsolete.
Review: Despite releasing enough singles to fill a small set of IKEA Expedit shelves, Cambridge D&B duo Commix have been pretty slow on the uptake when it comes to albums. So far, they've only released one original full-length, Call To Mind - a pleasing set that won many plaudits on its release in 2007. Curiously, this second full-length is not a new album per se, but rather a collection of previously unreleased cuts recorded between 2003 and 2008. It is, though, a superb set, perfectly showcasing their brand of melodic, musically inclined drum and bass. As ever, the beats are loose, organic and snare heavy, the basslines hooky and the melodies sparkling, offering a near perfect balance of dancefloor chops and home listening nous. Highly recommended.
Review: Unless you've been asleep since March or you've accidentally found this review while looking up an old school mate who happens to be called Richie (or Richard) Brains then you'll know EXIT played this mystery out in style. We all had suspicions on his identity but not even the biggest forum nerd could guess that it's actually Alix Perez, Chimpo, Fixate, Fracture, Om Unit, Sam Binga and Stray. Seven men, each one decorated and respected, their skills culminating in a body of work that's part funk ("Game Shades"), part Carptenarian cinematica ("Sk8 M8") part woozy, wonky halftime ("The Blips") part grime ("Bring Dat Back") part D&B beauty ("Voyage") and all gully. It's going to be hard to find a release more deserving of the title 'album of the year' this year.
Review: A second collection of Fokuz gems from the deeper and liquid side of D&B here from the likes of Technicolour, Well Being and Hybrid Minds among others. All 11 cuts here are more than worth checking out, from the blissful opener of "The Harp Tune" by Technicolour to the languid half-step of Well Being's "There's A Place" and RoyGreen & Protone's slightly more robust "Smoothie". An excellent long listener, take this on a car journey with you and discover something new today.
Review: It's been a killer year for DJ Hybrid's Deep In The Jungle imprint; kicking off with the Anthems album in January, he's proceeded to drop a cannon of rollers and brock-outs throughout '17... But this has to be the biggest yet: 20 brand new remixes from across the vaults by some of the label's closest allies, every track guarantees deep mix pleasure and heavy dancefloor appreciation. Highlights include DJ Cautious's outstanding rework of the Kartoon's "Soundboy Surrender", Galvatron's rifle-kick drum jitters on Bassflex's "One Amen A Day", Pull Up Collective's rough scuzzy bass on Sharpz "Junglist" and the absolutely brutal twist of Sound Shifter's take on Crisis & Ikon B's "Who Runz Tingz". Trust... Deep In The Jungle run tingz round these parts!
Review: Let's just list the amount of stone cold bass OGs on this collection: Krust, dBridge, Om Unit, Danny Scrilla, V.I.V.E.K, Von D, Moresounds, AU, Oris Jay & Chris Innersound and whole load more of soundsystem culture's most innovative craftsman working at the deepest levels of the low end coalface all feature on this immense and forward thinking document. Including the curator Amit himself. Every track is a highlight, each one and abyssal, immersive experience but essential highlights include the toxic bass bounces of Moresounds' "They Can't Handle It", the 23rd century UKG of Oris and Chris's "They Can't Handle It" and Krust's big screen masterpiece "Escape From Finland". Amit deserves a holiday. Or a massive trophy. Or both. Bass compilations don't get much bigger than this.
Review: Shogun dream duo Technimatic's third album is here. Without a doubt one of the biggest and most hotly anticipated releases that 2019 is likely to see, Through The Hours is another herculean collection of rolling liquid cuts, atmospheric jungle and slower, steppier numbers. It's vintage Technimatic, basically, and 'Through The Nightfall' featuring Jono McCleery is the perfect example: luscious, deep, smooth as can be and so, so well produced. 'Goodbye Kiss' takes the cake for us, though, with a stereotypically euphoric introduction that drops down into sublime D&B - this is the genre at its best. Make sure you check this - you'd be stupid not to.
Review: Holy moly! This is how you smash open a new decade; a 50 track album absolutely drenched in stinkage. Now a tradition for DJ Hybrid's label, this anthem collection is one of the biggest to date with names and vibes across the spectrum. Epicentre, Kumarachi, Conrad Subs, Stompz, Veak, RMS and many more all bring their fieriest artillery with highlights bursting from the seams. Every single track slaps the dance from the stripped back drumfunk and demented mentasms of Substrate's "Throwback" to the mystic sitar twangs and heavy bass bangs of Euphonique's "Moksha" via ruded up Dread bass badness of the bossman's own "Lost In The Jungle". And that's not even the tippiest tip of this anthemic jungle iceberg. Don't dilly dally.
Review: Volume 30 of Liondub's Street Series is courtesy of Kumo, the latest in a long line of artists to participate in this well-known EP saga. Liondub's sound is rooted in the underground of the UK urban scene, drawing especially heavily on jungle and ragga influences and this release is no different, if not slightly heavier. 'Technique' is an absolute slammer, moody wobbles of basic bass force curl and slide underneath a stuttering percussive line, injecting loads of groove into a proper weighty number. The other tracks all conform to this; 'Wiretap' has superb drums and a genuine sense of attitude to its bassline; 'Identification' takes things minimal over the top of a head-nodding double kick drum. Sick release.
Review: Here it is then, New Zealand's very own world-beating D&B LP from Tokyo Prose. Featuring some of the best names in the business from the lush sounds of Lenzman, Juno favourite LSB and the lyrical talents of Fox, DRS and Riya - even Synkro appears for a breathtaking moment. This is the most beautiful, inventive and musical drum & bass release of the year so far. It'll take some beating because, we're not kidding, it is phenomenal. There's no track-by-track here, just get it and play it and then replay it. You'll feel reborn.
Review: Version excursion: Liondub return to Numa Crew's 2014 album and issue a selection of on-point artists with remix orders. The sharp steppy jump-up of "Bass Hater" gets an added muscular murking from Sub Killaz, a classic jungle roll from Brian Brainstorm and a heads-down growl twist from Samy Nicks. Meanwhile on the dubstep side of Numa Crew's output, "Control" enjoys even more remixes from the likes of Piezo & D Operation Drop (rolling paranoia vibes that border on thoroughbred techno), Lost City (mystic dancehall business) Badjokes (dark style breaks), Liondub (grimy skanks with added voicing from Dirty Smirks) and Meeku (classic jungle Omni Trio feels) Genuinely something for everyone here.
Review: 48 tracks? Asbo you are truly spoiling us. The quality is as high as the quantity too; a selection of Asbo classics and brand new flavours we're taken from smooth silky rolling soul such as Westy's "Making Moves" and jazzy V-style thunder like Savannah's "Glide Away" to hurricane amen depth (Dawn Raid, Gold Dubs & Jinx - "Old Fashioned") and classic mid 90s style jump-up ruffage (Cabin Fever's remix of "Raw Dogs") via warm-as-toast dub soul a la Vinyl Junkie & Sanxion's "Talk Too Much" and Daffy's beautiful "Love Dub". And that's only an eighth of killer cuts on here. Easily one of the best tenners a junglist can invest this month.
Review: Outer Edges: One of 2016's best drum & bass albums just keeps on giving. First came the whopping remix collection from some of the biggest and best names in the game. Now come rubs from the top cats themselves (plus a few classic VIPs thrown in for good measure)... "Voodoo" gets the 172 treatment with a snare-slapping bashment riddim, "Dead Limit" is torn to pieces by a gurning halftime switch-up and "Surfaceless" enjoys a new industrial strength coat of arms. Beyond the outer edges we have 2011's classically-trained "Tommy's Theme" getting deaded 2017-style and "Diplodocus" finally rising from dubplate status in all its gritty, sheet-metal-bending glory. Five slices of serious remix toxicity. Essential.
Review: When news of the Systems offshoot of Critical Music was first announced, label CEO Kasra was quoted as saying it would follow the Modulations series as the next phase of "music that stands tall on its own but also as part of the Critical family". First up in the series is Halogenix -a Critical regular both in a solo capacity and as part of the production trio Ivy Lab - and this four track release sets a high standard of quality for any subsequent contributor to follow. "Her Waves" is a quite sublime production to kick things off, and from here Halogenix shows his range with real confidence. Eveson collaboration "Baby" sounds like a 21st C UK update on Timbalaand in his prime, whilst "Too Good" is a brisk exercise in icy vocal drum and bass and "Porcupine" is as spiky as the title suggests.
Review: Deep in the Jungle know how to do jungle. The clue is in the name, really, and they're proving it again with this huge compilation of 40 huge jungle anthems from some of the best rising stars of the breaksy side of the scene. RMS, SL8R and DJ Hybrid all make an appearance, as do Kumarachi, Veak, Schematic and Epicentre. This is a very strong roster and its reflected in the tunes, with Schematic and RMS teaming up on 'Take It' to combine roughshod, vibrant breaks and moody atmospherics in glorious fashion. Check this one.