Review: Landing just in time for his album on Low Down Deep, Vital takes the reigns for the second Criminal Minds edition on Liondub International. This time soundtrack the vicious work of one Pablo Escobar, Vital rifles us through his most fully-charged packets. "The Creeps" is a screamer, "Road Rage" is the aggy piece, "Alternatives" is the gritty sweaty comedown paranoia while "6 Million" takes a very well known sample and wraps it round a tree in a state of pure paste psychosis. Not to be sniffed at.
Review: Sex sells but Hex smells... And that's just the way we like it. A proper stinker merchant, straight out of Newcastle, he's been killing things on all the right labels in the last 12 months and this Subway Soundz release is no exception. Two tracks of pure grit, "Alive" asks all the questions while "Black Hole" gives all the answers. Subway Soundz smash it once again.
Review: Conrad Subs has been teasing his next album over the last few weeks and finally it's here, courtesy of Nuusic, and boy what an LP it has turned out to be. Conrad Subs is very confident when it comes to constructing break beats and so it should come as no suprise that they make up a large part of Tides, to excellent effect. 'On a 90s Tip' is an especially potent track, with that classic rave piano sound driving an inch-perfect set of drums and a rolling reece bass. 'Obese' is yet more spectacular stepping sonics, whilst 'Little Vibey Thing' blends R&B vocal infuences with juddering drums and punchy, unforgetablly catchy bass stabs. It's a raw, gritty album and not one to be missed.
Oli Lewis & Teej - "Soundboy's Dead" - (4:26) 175 BPM
Review: Fresh from his appearance on the Weapons Of Choice Wild Bunch compilation, Oli Lewis steps up to Sub-Division with his biggest release to date: the six track heavy "Too Hot" EP. Instantly rattling cages with the ludicrous bassline on "Jeroboam", Oli gets to work on us limb by limb; "32 Papers" nibbles at all our digits as we pull furious gun fingers, "I'm Feeling High" eats us at the knees thanks to its wriggled-out bassline and endless twists and turns, "Too Hot" goes right for the jugular with its ominous hollow tones while "The Fog" scoops out our brain like ice cream with its high frequency bass groans. Last but not least we see Lewis team up with Teej for a full bodied feast on the slinky-but-sinister "Soundboy's Dead". Sizzling.
Review: Pick The Lock continue their ongoing rise to the top of new age jump-up with this single from Diskrete, who has come out the blocks with something seriously special that looks certain to be on repeat for some time. It's 'Harmless' that really shows things off, a bassface-inducingly spacious roller that's infectiously bouncy in the drums and disturbingly potent in its bass constructions. It's rolls, flicks, stabs and knifes its way through and it makes absolutely sure that you know about it. The flip is equally big, a bit steppier in the drums and even more aggressive in its punchiness. Wicked stuff.
Review: Bristol's baddest drum & bass crew are back on the road and back releasing fiercely naughty music that's just packed to the rafters with urban-edged attitude. DJ Gaw has been honing his craft for some time and the work put in is evident in Hand Sign, five-tracker that starts off with a bang and doesn't let up for one second. 'Signal' is superb, as Gaw samples the great David Rodigan, creating a wicked ambience which is then cut through by sharp-edged breaks and bouncing, wobbly stabs. The jungle destruction continues on 'Hand Sign', Joe Burn lays down the bars on 'Hyper' and Disrupta finishes the job with a feature on the superly gruff 'Rasta'.
Review: Undoubtedly the strongest selling point of Z Records' second set of "Dubstrumentals" (largely instrumental remixes to you and me) is the sheer number of previously unreleased mixes on offer. Sure, the quality of the disco and house cuts on show is uniformly excellent but it's unusual to get so many previously unheard treats in one place. There are some genuine gems, too, including a sparkling Hot Toddy nu-disco instrumental mix of Joey Negro's "Stomp Your Feet", an inspired Saison instrumental of Akabu & Linda Clifford's "Ride The Storm" that features two exquisite extended breakdowns, a must-have "Disco Blend Instrumental" of Joey Negro and Horse Meat Disco's "Candidate For Love", and a stellar, proto-house style dub of The APX's "Sweet Surrender".
Review: Maji's Sweet Tooth brings the puddings two courses early with this massive collabo release as the label boss goes toe-to-toe with one of the label's most prolific and influential artists Nu Elementz for "Never Forget". Laced with the star-gazing emotions of vocalist Jessica Luck, it's a deeper cut than you'd expect from both acts, and it hits the spot with lingering poignancy and barbed soul. Complete with original and slightly heavier remix, this will go down as a pivotal release for the label in years to come. Always remember "Never Forget".
Review: Coming to the table with their potent blend of modern drum & bass sounds and ragga vocal vibes are South Central Recordings, who have roped in a slew of acts to remix K Jah's singles 'SoundBwoy Weaponry' and 'Have Some Fun'. The first, from Crossy, features Natty D and Daddy G, whose vocal overlays sound extra menacing above the bed of fluctuating bassline textures that Crossy has constructed, their joint talents coming together to make a moody club banger. The flip is in a similar style and also features bad boy vocals, this time Crossy opting for a number of breaks-based interludes that spice things up drum wise and make the roll outs that more tantalising. Excellent effort.
Review: It's mid 2020 and we're all feeling a little distressed right now. Nothing to do with the current world situation, we're just feeling "Distressed" because it's such a banging EP. Jando's first big EP for Eternal, naturally he's sweeping us off our feet at every musical opportunity. Highlights include the skittering drums and big paranoid groans of "Shook" the intense euphoria and gully drop of "Distressed" and the eerie tones of the finale "Vigilant". This ain't no time for calming down.
Review: Deep in the Jungle have emerged as arguably the biggest standout new jungle label in recent times and, off the back of their growing family of artists, they've decided to try and represent both where the label and the genre are in 2020. With artists from DJ Hybrid, to Conrad Subs and beyond, it's a statement of intent from the imprint. The music reflects that intention as well, with jungle sounds throughout but punctuated with that modern, sharper edge that we've come to expect from our newly revitalised scene. DJ Hybrid's 'On A Riddim' is the best example, as a punchy bass note streams out of a bedrock of clattering breaks, whilst we're seriously digging the rolling reece's of 'The Rhythm' by Conrad Subs. All of these are proper percys.
Review: Following the slabs of drum and bass Dreadnaught has released in "Rig Killer" and tracks that made their way to compilations for labels like BYTHEPRODUCER, Virtuous and Within The Woods - Nasty Piece Of Work marks the producer's full debut. Issued by Sub-liminal Recordings out of the UK, Dreadnaught weighs in on the bass, inflicting numbers like "Villian" with murderous dubs vibes that hit the spot alongside subtle tips of UKG buried within the dub of "No Love" and bass of ""Syndicate". Crackly ambient and textural atmospheres float like a dream underneath the jungle rhythms of "Drugs" with stepping rhythms and razor distortion tearing at the tweeters in "Overtime". Straight up street poetry in Dreadnaught's "Blazing The Fire" remix too.
Review: Bringing a cross section of drum and bass to Eternal Muzic once again is Runnah who pushes a fast and hardcore style with this latest Multiverse EP. Delivering liquid numbers in percussive, piano-tipped tracks like "IGarden", beats are notched up a gear with gnarly lashing of lyrics in "Apocalyptic". Get chopped and screwed in the breakdown of tracks like "Get Down" or torn and dubbed out UK style by the basslines in "Der Vogul" and lead track "Multiverse".
Review: Liondub are experts at blending the heritage of drum & bass with that of dancefloor and reggae music, and there are few better MCs for the job than Rider Shafique, whose CV covers both traditions and who comes seriously correct on this EP. It consists of four versions of a single tune and it's the original which really stands out, as 'Focus' moves expertly from stepping halftime-come-dancehall sounds into more jungle-flecked territory, all the time underpinned by subway kick drums and vibrant basslines. There's an instrumental version, and then JNGL rolls out the remix into a more recognisable 174 number. Excellent.
Review: A disruptor on the drum and bass scenes for a few years now Hexa makes his way to Pick N Mix, a label with a storied discography that's getting bigger by the month! Having released with other labels like Audio Addict and most recently with a contribution to Dilate Recordings, Hexa's swung minimal style surfaces in mini LP form. Drawing from woozy Wu-Tang-esque samples in between liquid rhythms, heavier bass and steppy percussions sections, you'' find that in tracks like "Vicious Cycle", "The Manchu", "The Box" and "Train" - all tips! "On Guard" introduces a heavy rave element with UKG vocal stabs alongside the bassline driven "Absence of Light". Top pick.
Review: Fresh D&B in the house courtesy of newcomer Jak! Having only previously appeared before on Welsh label Incurzion through a collaboration with Concept One, Jak's solo debut for Audio Addict brings with it two extra collabs with Nautika and bossman DJ Hybrid. Receiving some personalised cover art in the process, Jak opens with the skippy, almost fidget-touched, half-time rave number "Back Around". Deep atmospheres enter the void when the first drop hits in "Dubplate Pulse" (and "Spawner") with the humming edge of Jak's basslines turning into something of a roar in the ambient pastures of "The Lion". Bouncier dub and reggae vibes in "Bun It Up" too matched by "Obstruction" only to be stripped back for some extra jungle percussion to make its way to the front of the mix.
Review: Like some kind of Human Traffic soundtrack to 2020, Hospital's annual House Party VA has arrived. Fresh for a summer of social distancing, house parties and clandestine diversions, it's a soundtrack that will get any D&B head through the lockdown status, BBQs permitted. Top and tailed by the poppy, liquid, sample based and acoustic sessions of both Villem & Leo Wood's "We Had A Sing" and Whiney's "Better With You", find playful aggro in MC LowQui's "Middle Finger" to some hyper fresh material in Degs' "Pressure Cooker". Aggy half time once more in tracks like "Saturn's Strings" with gnarly basslines in Voltage's "The Prophet" and Logistic's "Playing With Fire" bringing the heat.
Review: Satl is the Polish producer who is now firmly established in the top echelons of liquid, especially so following his sumptuous outing on the North Quarter last year, and his tendency to opt for longer projects is seeing its next iteration on 4Lyfe, an eight-track extended player on Artificial Intelligence's Integral. It's yet more dreamy, wispy music and Satl is one step closer to mastering the art of element-light but vibes-heavy music, a potent style with a long legacy in AI themselves, as well as Lenzman or Calibre. 4Lyfe spans both light and dark, with the soaring vocal notes of 'So Much Better' touching heartstrings, whilst 'Yin' is a furiously stripped back rattler that gets things done on the darker end. Genre defining stuff.
Review: If you love expertly made drums, this will be the EP for you and although the basses are potently heavy, they rest on a foundation of percussion that's just pure vibes. It comes from Parallel on Pick N Mix, one of the best new age jump up labels, and it's a six tracker of devastating proportions. 'Man of Many Skill' is a proper roller, a track packed with sheer guts, as a movie sample spreads out above a direct, pummelling bassline that finds its excellence in its own simplicity. 'Rockers' has a fantastically infectious drum line that bursts with movement, while title tune 'Dream' has wide synth lines and an edge-of-the-seat, stepping drum line. Pitch perfect.
Review: Conrad Subs has been doing his thing for quite some time and ahead of his latest album, this time on Nuusic, he's dropping samplers, and this is the second. It's a superb effort as well and he's joined in said effort by Redders, an MC known for his work with Sam Binga and others, and who is on top form here. 'I Got Somethin' rolls out with a heavy dose of attitude, Redders' urban-tinged style dredging up touches of hip-hop as well as funk and dancehall and he sits expertly above Conrad's bouncing, moody beat. The flip is classic jungle and Conrad excels on this terrain, his penchant for breakbeats shining through amidst a stabby rendition of broken dancefloor pressure. This album is going to be immense.
Review: Biological Beats are a chemically proven entity for the production of venomous music and they're in full flight once more, this time acting as the agar jelly for Telekom, whose villainous sounds are up to their most criminal of behaviour. It's a four-tracker and it kicks off with 'Bong Juice', an already heinous substance made all the more dirty by this tune's tear-down approach to bassline construction and its peppered drum lines that sit high in the mix and roll out with abandon. The highlight, though, is 'Villains', as a wickedly funky sample works in the intro smoothly but then flips on the drop into a knife-edge display of stabbing, jump up energy. Big.
Review: Three years on from his latest solo outing, Crazy P's Chris Todd AKA Hot Toddy returns to House of Disco with a predictably fine EP. Our pick of a strong bunch is the tough, revivalist electrofunk flex of "Wilde Touch", where clipped guitar riffs, crunchy Clavinet lines and colourful melodies ride a rubbery bassline, though the Paper Recordings-era Crazy P deep house/disco fusion of "Still We Are" is also impressive. Speaking of Crazy P, lead singer Danielle Moore provides vocals on the Imagination-ish Brit-boogie business of "Positive Emotion", while the EP's other track, "Synthesize", is a darker and more spaced-out chunk of weighty, bassline-driven nu-boogie goodness. This digital edition also features a fine IPG rework of "Still We Are" that turns the track into a bass-heavy, spaced-out nu-disco epic.
Review: First released on wax almost three years ago, Hade's first edits EP for Razor 'N' Tape has finally made it to digital download. This is undoubtedly a great thing, because it's arguably one of the Brooklyn imprint's strongest collections of cuts to date (and that's saying something). He opens via the sweaty, occasionally dubbed-out disco-funk goodness of "Say What You Wanna Say", whose combination of killer grooves and slowly building heaviness guarantees good times. He flips the script entirely on "Jeep Cherokee XJ", crafting a killer hip-hop jam out of dusty jazz samples and boom-bap beats, before dancing his way through an early slab of harmonica-laden disco-rap ("My Thang"). To round things off, Hade once more joins the dots between hip-hop and jazz on hazy closing cut "Range Rover HSE".
Review: Heist's forever consistent Co-Lab invite Warhead and Teej over for a bit of musical mischief. Two of the most exciting new names to emerge from the underground in recent times, naturally they hit the spot with two link-up tracks and two solo originals. "Activate" packs a heavy punch with a bassline sludgier than quicksand mixed with treacle while "Eclipse" is a heads-down gritty one with an almost techno flavour to its bass warps and loopy percussion. Elsewhere Warhead goes full-on rudeboy with the savage "Rasclart" while Teej hurls us into a dank slimy-walled dungeon with "Osiris". If you can find a more on-point new-gen collabo this month we'd like to hear it.
Review: Dutty Bass never fail to deliver and right here they've surpassed themselves with these two bumpy treats from new artist Wrekka. Two sides, two vibes, two chances to knock people sideways: "Addict" warms up with shimmering housey synths before dropping into a nice toxic sludgy roll-out while "Badboy" takes a classic Cutty Ranks vocal and smashes the nan out of it. Wrekka by name, wrecker by nature.
Review: Thanks to a string of rock-solid releases on Toy Tonics and Slam City, amongst others, Rhode & Brown has proved to be one of the most reliable deep house duos of recent times. Here they prove their growing eclecticism via a superb EP for Permanent Vacation. Opener "Aku Aku" is superb, with the Munich-based duo cannily combining dreamy female vocal snippets, undulating acid lines, stirring chords and bubbly bass on a track that blurs the boundaries between deep house and Afro-house. Elsewhere, "Not My Mind, Not My Planet" is a rushing chunk of arpeggio-driven piano house/Italo-disco fusion, "Break 2 Break" is another rushing retro-futurist peak-time workout laden with rave style piano riffs, and "Cliches & Romantic Arguments" is a Tuff City Kids style chunk of synth-heavy Balearic house warmth.
Review: Sheeesh, Liondub International aren't messing around this year. Proffering an onslaught of gully, regardless of any lockdown restrictions, it's been one of their best years in a long time... And it's just got even better now Toronto collective Dungeon Kru have served up their second extensive EP on the label. Like "Genesis" in April, the EP covers the full spectrum with vibes swinging from intoxicatingly funky (the double bass slapping "Sedative") to absolutely hellraising scattiness (the chainsaw bass buzzes on "Shut Ya Mouth") Elsewhere we've got a remix from the Young Guns championed Master Error, a VIP of "Impossible" and the beautiful finale "Dis Sound". Let's move forward....
Review: Given the sad loss of Andrew Weatherall earlier in the year, this posthumous release undoubtedly has added emotional weight. It was written and produced by the much-missed DJ/producer and regular studio partner Nina Walsh last year, and here emerges as the debut release on Pamela Records, an offshoot of Diesel, Dave Jarvis and company's long-running, edit-focused Moton imprint. It's a hugely impressive swansong, with Weatherall and Walsh drifting between ultra-emotive, strings-and-synths-laden electronic disco bliss ("The Moton 5"), slap-bass-propelled, glassy-eyed goodness (the hard to describe "Slap & Slide"), analogue-rich, late '80s style Balearic chug ("March Violets"), and fiendishly sparse, dubbed-out brilliance ("The Moton 5.2"). Rest in peace Lord Sabre.
Review: Everything is getting very rough and tumble over on Redrum, as Mentah steps up for four-tracker that moves between varying shades of insanity and intoxication. Title tune 'Perish' is the standout pick of the bunch and absolutely deserves that title spot, as distorted sweeps parry away filtered breaks that tumble off tthe edge of a cliff and into the blackness, the rotting vessel for a fearsome bassline that sweeps in like a wave and recedes like one too. 'I Want To See More' is a straight jump-up influenced roller, 'The Magic' steps and steps through bouncing basslines, and 'The Garden of Eden', packs a wicked funky edge to its darkness. Sick.
Review: Vandal's Modern Soul series of LPs has for a long time been a breeding ground for a wide variety of drum & bass, including formative tracks from Shield, Monty and others. This time around it's number five and the quality continues, kicking things off with a gorgeously light liquid number from Phase and Lameduza that brings old school vibes right to the forefront. Tech wizard Rizzle is known for his liquid depth too as 'Levitate' has a sumptuously mystical back end that falls and falls, whilst fellow minimal heads Invadhertz equally try their hand at wispy pads and far-off vocal samples. Monty makes an appearance, as does Amoss, SKS and Arcatype. A tour de-force.
Review: Across the full spectrum of bass music, you will be hard pressed to find a more dedicated and hard working MC and brand owner as Bru-C. Alongside the fantastic response to his new single with Charlie P, he teams up with CruCast here to unveil four fantastic rethinks of last year's summer smash: 'You & I'. First up, Bou arrives on the scene for an atmospheric roller-inspired rethink, before Notion steps up for rave-rejuvenating 4x4 overhaul. From here, Shapes gets involved with a seriously nostalgic organ-led garage incarnation, with a very unexpected acoustic version of the track seeing us out in time to tick all the boxes. Excellent work as per from the Nottingham native.