Review: Onyx Recordings level up with their first artist album - 'Tokyo Nights' from one of their longest standing artists DJ Gaw. An interesting concept piece where all the tracks link or segue super smoothly into each other, it's one of those magic drum & bass albums that works perfectly at home while still kicking hard in the dance. Highlights come in all shapes, sizes, forms and flavours including the bulbous roller 'Kyoto Days', the sweet two-step delights of 'Feels Wrong' with A Little Sound and the devilishly stern and steppy 'Disillusion' with Madrush MC. These are just a handful of many highlights from this impressive and highly accomplished debut artist album. Big up DJ Gaw.
Review: The summer might be coming to an end, but raving season is only just heating up and is set to stay at this refreshingly positive high for the foreseeable. Together is a great example of why as a crack team of new generation talents and serious OGs collide for this special Moondance collection. Updates and new retro flavours galore as the likes of Danny Byrd goes stunningly loco on Acen's 'Trip To The Moon', Benny Page tears Shades Of Rhythm a new one on 'Sound Of Eden' and Dope Ammo, DJ Rap and Jasmine Knight team up for the rush-inducing 'Together'. Elsewhere Ray Keith takes us back to his 96 'Dark Soldier' era with his recent breakbeat assault 'Back In The Day', hardcore heroes Liquid and Billy Bunter lock horns on the euphoric 'Dove Removal Machine' while rising ravesmiths Origin8 & Propa close the EP with an update on their swaggering, stabby breakbeat banger 'Massive'. Come together now.
Review: It may have taken a while - his massive debut single 'Hyph Mngo' was released 12 years ago - but Joy Orbison has finally got round to recording his debut album. It's a highly personal affair, peppered with speech snippets from various family members (including his mum, dad, sister, cousins and famous uncle Ray Keith). It's a device that works well, providing a unifying thread throughout a woozy, musically eclectic concoction that sees the now veteran UK producer give his distinct spin on ambient, slow house, two-step garage, deep house, post-dubstep beats, dubbed-out soundscapes, British bass music, experimental electronica, cutting edge deep D&B and much more besides. It's perhaps not the all-out assault on the dancefloor some may have expected, but it is a genuinely brilliant and entertaining album.
Review: The Gimme A Break squad are out in force for this one as they deliver 'The 0113 Enquiry', exploring breaks and garage flavour across four dope new creations from some of the scenes finest soundsmiths. First up, BAKEY takes it oldschool with a combination of well-recognized soul and funk samples, atop a bed of precisely processed breaksy drums. Next, Papa Nugs takes it down a moogy route as 'Honey' delivers a sub-busting experience, laced with just a tad of rhythmic expression, before ANSZA unleashes a viscous soundscape of horn-like reese synths and skippy garage drums. Finally, Phasmid gives us a UKG-laden finale as the warbling LFO pulses and lively 2-step drum jigs of 'Deadpan' provides one hell of a final dance.
Review: When you see both The Bug & Ninja Tune involved in a release these days, there is an instant expectation of greatness, due to both their catalogues and history as musical entities. Therefore, this brand new album from The Bug entitled 'Fire' has a lot to live up to. Right from the off we can see that The Bug has taken the project in entirely his own direction, firstly by recruiting some of the most popular MC's to grace grime over the last decade, including FFSWhyThough?, Irah, Manga St Hilaire & more, displaying their unique vocal talents over the industrial introspective sound design behind them. It's safe to say that The Bug is in his own unique lane when it comes to sonic creativity, from the raucous, rapidfire drum punches of 'Hammer' alongside Flowdan, to the explosive reverberations of 'Clash' alongside Logan. There is a truly individual approach to this album, going no holds barred in exploring distortion and dissonant harmony with some incredible results, our favourites of which include the treacherous twists 'War', featuring the 'Nazamba', alongside two masterful poetic pieces with Roger Robinson, who recites a couple of awesome verses on both 'The Missing' and 'The Fourth Day'. This is definitely one you need to let yourself explore over time, allowing your ears the process the carnage in their own way.
Review: As always with the now infamous 1985 Music imprint, they have assembled the great and good to explore the darker realms of electronic dance music, primarily focussing on dubstep and neurotic drum and bass flavour through this fabulous new 'Atlas' compilation. The names involved are pretty mind-blowing with a roster including the likes of Alix Perez, Drone, Headland, Foreign Concept, Safire, DRS and many more heavyweight names. The entire project has a touch of finesse and musical class about it, from the beautifully processed drum clanks of 'Nibiru' from Visages to the stunning vocal processing of 'Do Me No Good' from Nymfo. There really isn't a low point to this project with the sweeping soundscapes and electronic destruction of Deft's 'Scars' original being a real high point for us!
Review: Ever since we heard that this link up was in the works we have been absolutely buzzing, as Chad Dubz dives onto the Wheel & Deal roster for a sumptuous new EP drop. We begin with 'BS5', a low-riding system rattler, driven by gnarly bass flips and unpredictable drum delays, before the subtle pad textures and engulfing sub pressures of 'Back 2 Basics' send us right back to a late night drivers vibe. From here, the grizzly 808 pulses of 'Light 'Em Up' make lively appearance, driving a minimal drum arrangement forward with some serious system enemy, before a killer link up sees Fiend join the party on 'Hypnosis' for a more stripped-back, melody-lead design to round off the EP in style.
Review: Agro is Ben Carvin, a drum & bass DJ/producer from Brighton and founder of Sub-Liminal Recordings. After nine years in the game, he has decided it's high time to release a full length - culminating in Bad From Morning. It features 14 killer tracks, many of them in collaboration with some hot names in the UK underground. From the title track; a moody sci-fi roller featuring Flowdan's wicked vocal delivery, to the dark side jump-up throwdown of 'War' (Ft. Dreadnaught & MC Foxy), mad steppa "Head Top" featuring Devilman is reminiscent of that classic Full Cycle sound, while "Everybody Down" with Flirta D is sure to give your subwoofers a good shakedown, as will "The Prophecy" featuring Velocity.
Review: Channeling a time just before trance, hardcore and rave went mainstream, Rotterdam producer FFF steps up to Lobster Theremin with One Tribe. With visions of Essex raves and free parties perhaps inspiring something of the sound here, it's hard not to think Prodigy "Everybody In The Place" when hearing "It's Official" - to the searing basslines and melodies in "One Tribe" and "Weak Capacity". An EP that boasts notions of nostalgia while keeping contemporary rave alive, "So Special" throws a slight touch of bleep into the mix with those classic UK rave keys. One Tribe.
Review: Hotflush unveils a diverse, dance floor-focused compilation full of original productions and high-quality remixes. Kiimi's "Breaking My Mind" and the Baltra take on label owner Scuba's "Never Forget" are vocal, dusky house tracks. Meanwhile, Truncate's take on the Hotflush owner's "Speed This MF Up" and the string-soaked "Hyperdrive" by Locked Groove both offer fine perspectives on deep techno. On "Mescalito", Nightwave drops a rolling tribal track, while underlining the diversity on offer on this compilation, Alden Tyrell's remix of TML's "Cell ID" from the 2019 Tensor release also features. It's a gnarly electro workout that sounds like it crawled from a sewer in the Hague.
Review: The recent run of releases from N-Type's marvelous Wheel & Deal imprint has been up there with the best in the catalogues history in our opinion, with this latest four track outing from Dalek One being a wicked example of the quality on show. We begin with 'The Damned' a sizzling sift through gritty synthesizer runs and syncopated drum rhythms, before the super-metallic sounding drum punches and eerie atmospheric pressure of 'Chain Breaker' sends us down an alley of delightful dissonance. Next, the fuzzy distortion and dungeon-fueled drum arrangements of 'Revolution' gives us another twist to the tale before we round off with system-busting subs and gnarly sound design of 'Dracarys', which through some unique sounding bass action rounds us with a bang.
Review: It's becoming a regular theme with the Dansu Discs team, that they continue to unleash gems into the world with their extremely precise A&R process. This latest exploration into garage and breaks from Alfredo Romero is a perfect example of that, kicking off with the chord-driven sonic drifts and unpredictable drum switches of 'Raspect', with Interplanetary Criminal's sub-heavy rethink giving us two alternate versions of a top quality creation. Next, we move up the tempo ladder into the realms of jungle as 'Pet Nat' gives us a precise look into the breaksy drum rhythms and powerful sub-processing, before 'Wan More?' unleashes a classic spread of UKG chord progressions and 2-step rhythms. Finally, the highly energetic sub-textures and masterfully crafted vocal slices of 'Mad Man' sees the project out in style, rounding off a seriously impressive collection.
Review: LMajor and Corporeal Face aka Local Group follow separate and collective releases on Furthur Electronix and Human Concrete Block with this EP for Lobster Theremin offshoot 10 Pills Mate. Steeped in the sounds of 90s hardcore, Big Beats... brings the listener through an array of sounds and moods. There's the raw break beat and chipmunk vocals of "Watch This Beat", while the release veers into a melange of hip-house vocals and sample-heavy elector on "Work That Thang". Most impressive however is "Rhythmic Trip", where the pair combine mysterious synths with evocative vocals over rolling breaks. Lastly Angel D'lite's remix of "Trip" pushes it towards the intersection of pop and happy hardcore.
Review: London Modular Alliance walk it like they talk it, running a synth outlet while also cranking our some of the freshest contemporary machine-led funk. LMA's raw production approach and signature aesthetic is crystallised on their debut album "Complex 2020" bristles with walls of menacing bass, while stripped back workouts like the twitchy "All Over" and the low-slung tonal emissions of "You're Tearing Me Apart" set out their stall when it comes to crafting contemporary electro. There's also a deeper, more esoteric side to their sound and the Detroit-inflected "Broken Remote" and the soundtrack-inspired "Bob's Rotten Head" reinforce the fact that Portable Sanctuary is a true tour de force.
Review: Preceding Lone's forthcoming album Always Inside Your Head that's due for release this October - his first LP in five years - Greco-Roman (aka Joe Hot Chip's label) sets up the single Mouth Of God. Tantalising Lone fans through a collaboration with British singer Morgane Diet on the deep and reverberating breakbeat number "Hidden By Horizons", a less ethereal option can be found on the title-track. Playing with spoken word notions of time, space, and the now, Lone dials in some epicly arpeggiated synths - celestial style - within a vast context of atmospherics and a killer acid-line to come out of leftfield. Get ready for this.
Review: As the second of two new releases from the Breaks 'N' Pieces gang this week, DJ Crisps has provided us with yet another fantastic exploration into breaks and garage fusion, kicking off with the old school drum processing and demonic melodic structures of 'Luvin U'. The lo-fi flavours continue with 'It's A Dark Day', sampling a classic 'Fine Day' vocal line to give us a chilling sonic experience. We then move into the title track 'Music Is My Life', which through a combination of warbling LFO tones and bright drum processing gives us something completely different from the previous two originals. This is then followed by the boy-racer style drum switch ups of Mani Festo's remix, closing out the EP with some high-octane arrangements.
Review: Mark Reeve has released a series of acclaimed EPs on Drumcode, and now he delivers his latest artist album for the label. "Silent Whisper" starts the release with tranced out synths and skeletal break beats, while on the title track, he goes for the dance floor jugular, with skipping drums supporting a menacing bass. "Pragmatic" and the rolling "Irregular Choice" both mark a more tranced out take on club techno, while "Take You Back" sees the UK producer unleash a killer tribal groove. However, Reeve's musical sensibilities are never too far away, and on "Theme" he drops the kind of dreamy, melodic techno that will have across the board appeal.
Review: It was only last year that we were officially introduced to the multi-instrumentalist sounds of Reuben Vaun Smith. His debut album Warm Nights was heavily reported to be the result of a footballing injury that introduced him to a synthesizer, and therefore: tropical and Balearic beats, to upbeat chords, keys and melodies. Having further honed his craft, Reuben Vaun Smith returns to Soundway Records with a sonic odyssey of Afro-Caribbean influenced synths, minimal beats and disco percussion. Continuing his exploration into improvised live instruments and programming, while venturing into new territories of music-making and genres including soca, benga and trip hop, the album channels his summer memories from a pre-lockdown period in the north-east. The result? A plethora of good feels, guitar-led melodies, distant vocals and lush pads.
Review: 20/20 LDN appear to have struck some real gold with this selection as they welcome some of the most potent names around the edges of the 140 musical spectrum for this spicy new 'Hyperkicks' collection. We begin with Hi5Ghost's involvement, who delivers an industrial yet spacious creation with 'I've Seen', pushing the grizzly side of the sound to the very limit, before 'GSC' sees Hyroglifics unleash a satanic spread of eerie melodic mischief and glitchy drum designs. Next, Drone arrives for more bassy badness as 'Love Lost' combines floating melodic textures with pleasing vocal samples and a booming sub below for a raucous encounter, before the celebratory harmonics and pulsating 808 basslines of Jook's 'Wise' sees us out in style.
Review: Following on from 2019's Aequilibration Sibel Ko?er aka JakoJako returns to Leisure System for another stellar release. "Viridis" is based on a jittery electronic rhythm and is populated by a combination of high-pitched 303 lines and sublime melodies. "Eos" follows a similar path, with a focus on delicate melodies and a lithe, fragile groove. While both "Sublividus" and "Ochros" sit in stark contrast to these infectious dance floor tracks, the same nuanced, considered production applies.
JakoJako creates a symphonic ambient soundtrack on "Sublividus", while "Ochros" exudes a Boards of Canada-style bucolic beauty, thanks to its frazzled, glitchy soundscapes. Lux consolidates Ko?er's reputation as a highly talented, distinctive artist.
Review: Over the past few years, there haven't been many labels or dubstep-centric projects who have been able to keep as up to date with the scene as a whole then the legendary Duploc. They came together for this new compilation project with the title 'Identity Of Dubstep', exploring the best of their previous creations. There's no doubting this one's potent tracklisting, which features corkers from the archives with artists such as ENiGMA Dubz, Juss B, SBK, Surreal, Ternion sound, Dalek One & more providing fearsome additions. As this is a compilation to celebrate the full depth of the label's catalogue, we felt it important to highlight tracks that may slip past people, with our favourites including the grizzly LFO expressions of Sweepa's 'The Circle', alongside the wonky rhythms and downright dirty bass designs of Sam Cosmic's 'Stickin Ona Rock', which again explores the more raucous side of the dubstep spectrum. A fantastic anthology of dubstep flavour.
Review: Since breaking through with the colossal 'Anybody From London' on Hotline Recordings five years ago, Boris English AKA Borai has proved to be one of British dance music's more cultured hardcore and jungle revivalists. He's at it again here, too, filling his Vivid label debut with a quartet of sub-heavy, breakbeat-driven bangers dripping in saucer-eyed, rave-style samples. He begins with the sharp riffs, pitched down Amen breaks and booming bass of 'In My Life', before upping the tempo on bustling breaks roller 'Dead Drop'. English doffs his cap to spacey early drum & bass on the loose-limbed 'Keep Steppin', while closing cut 'C'Mon' is an insanely weighty, pitched-down hardcore bomb.
Review: The Vantage team have been on a pretty solid run of late, with their last few releases stacking up some real popularity. This next batch of bassy goodness from Kodama is set to continue that theme, kicking off with the bulbous bass bulges of 'Ish', giving us a haunted introduction, before the hypnotic chiming melodies and more subtle drum designs of 'Strays' immediately steer us into a more left-field direction. The glistening arpeggios and stuttered bass pulses of 'Oshigata' then follow with an instant impact, giving us a breathy arrangement set to wow ravers nationwide, before finally finishing up with 'Yurei', an emotive combination with Dabbs that provides us with a perfect closer.
Review: We were thrilled to see this link up land into the store this week as Frenchless joins forces with the super-consistent Infernal Sounds for a hard-hitting two-track display of dubstep divinity. First up, we witness the monstrous bass displays within '3C 273', a system-ready scorcher jam-packed with a tonne of grizzly bass energy, smashing away beneath a fabulous showcasing of drum processing and organic rhythm. On the flip side, 'Grunks' strips everything back a few steps for a much more subtle roller, fueled by eerie atmospheric pulses and lively drum marches, providing the perfect alternative to the A-side. Fantastic work from both Frenchless at the whole Infernal Sounds crew.
Review: Unklevon draws from a myriad of influences on his latest missive for Boysnoize. "Cyborg Romance", with its monotonous bass and speak-and-spell robot vocal sample, is an unusual mixture of ebm and 80s electro, while on the title track, a frenetic rhythm underpins atmospheric synth sweeps. "Venus Aktivita?t" is darker, with Unklevon dropping tough kicks and niggling percussion to provide the backdrop for bleak industrial synth riffs. On "NJ Breakers", he delivers his own vision for underground electro, with a pulsating bass fused with air raid sirens and waves of metallic percussion. Teaming up with Brodinski for "Euroset Cobra", Unklevon conjures up a menacing soundtrack that plays out over skeletal beats.
Review: Following some essential drops from the likes of Etch and Yosh, Vivid welcome Tamoshi into the fold for some sweet and cerebral trips through cut up breaks and moody soundscapes. "Come In" keeps things meditative thanks to harmonious pads lingering in the distance behind the amen chops, while "Check One" has a certain cheekiness not least round the low end. "Five" gets a little breakstep wriggle in its groove, but there's just as much focus on the other old-skool tropes that make up Tamoshi's sound. "Hold Tight" gets further towards 2-step rhythmic accents as it charges forth, sealing the deal on a laser-focused, bassweight record for all the breaks heads to get lively to.
Review: As always it would seem with DUPLOC, we are once again for a treat as they deliver yet another killer dubstep selection, this time welcoming Oddkut into the fold for three trackers of steppers delight. We begin with the title track 'Loud', a raucous ride through twisted metallic synthesizer slides and precise vocal execution from Griz-O, giving us a high octane introduction to the EP. Next up, we move into more synthetic madness as 'Deposition' combines swampy melodies with gnarly bass grinds for another sonic masterclass, before the EP rounds off with the more stipped back drum rolls and subtle bass inflection of 'Hiding Rage', closing things out in style.
Review: Here's something of a rarity: a full-length excursion on Dam Swindle's usually EP-focused Heist Recordings imprint. It comes courtesy of talented twosome Makez, who last featured on the Dutch label two years ago. There's much to enjoy from start to finish, with the pair blending loose-limbed house rhythms, head-nodding hip-hop rhythms, and sumptuous downtempo grooves with subtle disco instrumentation, colourful electrofunk synth sounds, layered percussion, squelchy analogue bass, and occasional vocal snippets. The results are uniformly vibrant, atmospheric and musically rich, without ever becoming overly fussy or self-indulgent. There's plenty of floor-friendly material for DJs to savour and champion, but the album sounds just as good when listened to at home. Stellar stuff all told.