Review: The GS Dubs team, being an offshoot of the incredibly consistent Garage Shared collective, are always pumping out exciting new drops, with this new compilation selection being one of the strongest in a hot minute. In anticipation of the clubs and raves reopening properly, they have gathered together ten original dancefloor anthems for garage DJ's the world over to enjoy. The tracklisting and roster is pretty monstrous, featuring tidy new creations from the likes of Tuff Culture, Chimpizm, K9, Deja, Aki and more of the active Garage Shared. There are a couple of real highlights for us, including the super spicy VIP mix of Miss L.A & Bunka's 'My Love', which was already a belter to begin with, alongside the choppy chord progressions and skippy percussive textures of 'Carbon' from Howden and system busting wobbles of ADuki's 'Make Noise'. With additional killer creations from Oh My Daze, Rebz & Ollie Weeks, this is definitely not a compilation to miss.
Review: With summer finally kicking in, Faze Action Records has decided to unleash a fine retrospective of some of the label's most summery, Balearic-minded sounds. It's a bumper collection of cuts - mostly from founders Robin and Simon Lee under a variety of different pseudonyms - which effortlessly drifts between piano and synth-laden Afro-Balearic (Faze Action's 'Chiiko'), tongue-in-cheek Gallic disco (Face Action re-editing Micky Milan), new age ambient ('Windchimes' and 'Secret Garden' by Rudy's Midnight Machine), Andreas Wollenweder-style Balearic synth-pop (Faze Action's 'Hapana'), slo-mo goodness (Max Essa reworking Faze Action's 'Vamos Pinter') and colourful dancefloor cheeriness (the vibrant Baleaaric nu-disco wonder that is 'Body Wave' by Rudy's Midnight Machine). In a word: excellent!
Review: Following on from two very popular editions of the compilation series, the Wang Records team once again return to the fantastic 'Avirex Airwaves' project for a sparkling third collection. If you are looking to find the hottest new names in UKG music, then you really need look no further, with this selection including the fantastic sounds of Phil Murray, Dominus, Tuff Trax, WZA, Zefer, Just Jack and more throughout. They never seem to drop the ball in the Wang camp, with this latest collection focussing on much more abstract sonic themes, from the glittering melodic twists of Badger's 'Canopy', to the punchy snare flicks and sweeping atmospheric textures of IndiAlman's 'Infatuated', which give us two different ends of the garage spectrum. Our highlights have to include the super clean basslines and distant vocals of 'Falling' from Sensa, alongside the fabulous chord work of 'Be', created by Mar'One and LPACA. Awesome work!
Review: Despite boasting an existential title, veteran producer Ramon Tapia's debut on Drumcode is the opposite of introspection. The title track is a thunderous affair built on a throbbing bass and pounding kicks that support dramatic melodic sweeps. "Song of Sirens" sees Tapia go for a deeper approach and features swirling synth lines, but underpinning these musical elements are dense, tribal drums. "Screwdriver" is more typical of the Drumcode sound, as Tapia fires off bursts of white noise against the backdrop of intense bass drums, while he rounds out the EP with the soaring hooks and ghostly vocal samples of "Hold On".
Review: Mark Broom draws on his own rich back catalogue for the opening tracks on Fast Funfzig: with their rumbling bass tones, swirling synths and hypnotic tribal drums, both "Fingers" and "Slow" draw on the raw techno soul that pervaded his 1996 debut album, Angie Is A Shoplifter. Meanwhile, "Wild Style" sees him embark on a different route; led by a spiky electro rhythm and an ominous bass, the veteran techno producer weaves vocal snippets into the woozy arrangement. On the final track "Facteur" Broom goes deeper, with hollowed out drums providing the backdrop for a tapestry of dreamy melodies that flow and ebb elegantly.
Review: When we explore the masterfully crafted catalogue that 1Forty find themselves sitting on, it's hard to imagine them ever dropping the ball. This sixth edition of their Funky & Garage compilation series is another straight success story, as the smooth vocal presence of the one and only Lyrical Strally teams up with the highly underrated UKG designs of Kobe JT for the party-starting vibes of 'On My Way'. This is followed closely by DJ Ayy Den & Murder He Wrote joining forces for a tidy collaboration in 'Pressure Dip', which again pushes the sonic boundaries one step further. The Phat Controlla then arrives with a typical display of brilliance as 'IMSONORF' lights up the room with fluttering chord progressions and charming drum pulses, before Ronnie Loko signs us out with an intense, drum-heavy creation by the name of 'Kingdom Power'. Awesome work as per from all involved!
Review: The last year has been a pretty successful one for the Brighton based duo of Cortese, who have continued to elevate their popularity through numerous top quality future-breaks releases. This latest drop sees them team up with the incredible Time Is Now imprint, kicking off with the alien-like landscapes and smooth drum processing of 'Abbey Park', with the glittering vocal processing and colourful percussive flickers of 'Where You At?' following in hot pursuit. Next, the sultry strings and hypnotic melodic circles of 'Floaty' lead the way into 'Things That Make You Go 'Hmm?'', a much more hard-hitting approach to the darker side of breaks music. Finally, 'Figure 1' sees us explore a gorgeous soundscape of twisted synthy twirls and colourful harmonics to close off a truly phenomenal release.
Review: On his latest EP, Yan Cook channels the energy and intensity of late 90s techno. The sweeping chords and pounding kicks of "Nocturnal" sound like an update of the Magnetic North / Dave Clarke style, while on "Empty Dancefloors", Cook weaves in the kind of searing, wiggling acid lines that Emmanuel Top specialises in over booming drums. The title track sees Cook do what he excels at, namely delivering killer peak-time material with just a few elements - in this case, he uses concrete-weight kicks and relentless hi-hats in combination with a looped stab - while "Exomoon" is a deeper but still effective rolling club track.
Review: After a succession of acclaimed releases for Soma, Norbak drops this coruscating release for Bas Mooy's label. "There Are Only Victims Left" is a dense, industrial broken beat workout, populated by a looped vocal and a series of effective filtered drops.The title track is straighter and sees Norbak drop a rolling tribal techno track that recalls Mills at his most visceral. "His Faith Will Be Our Defeat" is in a similar vein and the fast-rising techno producer focuses on bruising kicks and an industrial rhythm. He maintains this style for "Anomalisa", but adds swirling dub chords to the pounding bass drums.
Talik - "I See Faces In The Trees" - (5:19) 136 BPM
Sobolik - "Like Like" - (5:38) 136 BPM
ADG - "Sibi" - (6:02) 135 BPM
Laurence Kapinga - "Headrest" - (6:25) 135 BPM
Review: Next up from the 3024 team, we have yet another top quality exploration into the more experimental side of dance music, here assembling a top quality lineup which happens to be jam-packed with the perfect combination of creativity and production ability. There really is something for everyone on this fantastic compilation, which takes the title 'It Was Always There', from Sobolik's 'Like Like' original which takes a seriously colourful approach in both its melodies and percussive beauty, to the hardcore-inspired drum skips of 'Let The Seasons Drift' and 808-driven subs of Pharma & J Weaver's 'Red Shift'. Despite the fact the EP works so nicely as a long-play project, we do have to point out a couple of highlights, those being the stunning 'Drum On' from CCL, which performs absolute wonders with a pulsating low end and clicky drum designs, alongside the gorgeous synth-hums of Laurence Kapinga's 'Headrest'. It's a special compilation to say the least!
Review: As a label, Idle Hands have been known for exploring the more abstract zones of electronic music, with this brand new four track display from Dream Cycle being another great adventure for us all to enjoy. We kick off our dive with 'Jump Blue', a gorgeous exploration into punchy percussive pings and distant soundscaping above, giving a real sense of airiness, followed by the crunchy yet organic sounding drum breaks of 'All The Things' which calms down the flow a tad. Next, the stuttered 808 booms and glittering arpeggios of 'Sonntags' keep the relaxed atmosphere rolling with some seriously cool harmonic structure, before the title track 'Deep Dream Generator' fuses moody longue instrumentation with crunchy half-time drum expressions and bubbling melodies above for a perfect touchdown. Wicked work.
Review: Crime As Service may be a relatively new name in the techno scene, but they make a compelling debut on Modularz. Inspired by the tribal / loop sound of the late 90s and early 00s, Solid State takes all of the most dynamic elements and recasts them in a dynamic, contemporary setting. "Dara Storm" is a cavernous affair, built around dubbed out effects, a pumping groove and the deepest sub-bass since Basic Channel set out their stall. In contrast, "Sandworm Team" see the duo favour a noisier and darker approach, with electronic blips swirling in over a relentless groove. Meanwhile, "Carbanak" is a spaced out but still forceful workout, with Jeff Mills' sci-fi sensibilities merged with Ben Sims' looped tribal sound. It's an exhilarating release and one gets the sense that Crime As Service have only got started.
Review: A legend in the house to be spoken in the same sentence as Ed Rush, Optical, Zinc and Roni Size, Bristol's own Krust takes it strangeways on Crosstown Rebels - and the label's third installment of album remixes. Diving back into that deep and hopeful sound of '90s drum and bass, breakbeat and soul is a rare UNKLE remix of "Hegel Dialect", that like Hodge's remake of "Constructive Ambiguity" lifts its inspiration of course from the halcyon days of hardcore, jungle and rave with ghostly atmospheres to boot. With a most fitting wildcard entrant to cap off this great remix series - that has so far included Masters At Work, Four Tet, Damian Lazarus, Batu, Calibre, LCY and Flynn - sweet New Yorkian house vibes and ambient percussion come through in DJ Nature's remix of "Deep Fields Of Liars". Krust & Crosstown equals result!
Review: It's always an enjoyable experience to see labels expanding further into their potential, which is exactly what Matt Jamm Lamont and Echelon's 'Undagrnd Freqz' is up to here with this fabulous three track thrill ride from Artifact entitled 'From Russia With Dubs'. We kick off our journey with the super groovy vocal chops and colourful drum skips of 'Won't Cry', which conjures up memories of JME's 'Tropical' instrumental album with it's unique pitching and bass tonality. The chunky kick punches of 'Touch Me' then follow with some proper nostalgic feelings, again manipulating a cool vocal line at every available opportunity, before 'Home Alone' moves in for a fantastic outro, switching up the rhythms into a more 2-step style shakedown.
Review: Clone's always epic West Coast Series surfaces for a third time in 2021 with PRZ's badass & intergalactic Wishmaker EP. Pushing hardcore acid in "Hotspot", the newly minted Chateu Royal boss delivers some melodic overdrive and gnarly electro sequences in its pulsating lead track. Throwing down a gauntlet of Detroit electro, techno and Italo disco sounds, its numbers like "The Zone" that will make any DJ who plays it want to mask up and drop the mic DJ Stingray style, next to the ghostly strings of "You Don't Exist" and "Ok Electronic". A piping hot EP from an artist that's now up there with the likes of The Exaltics, Gen-y and CRISPR.
Review: The continued exploration into the UK sound from the Night Bass team has been very enjoyable to watch from a UK perspective, seeing the latest wave of garage and bass artists thrive on the international stage. Next up on their listing, they welcome the wonderful sounds of Oppidan to the team, who delivers three storming originals for our listening pleasure. We kick off with the groovy UKG flavours of 'Morning Miggy', which combines a stripped back drum approach with spacey, atmospheric pad textures and the occasional keyboard riff for a lively creation. Next, 'Colgate' sees Oppidan open up the jets and let her production skills run wild with one of the craziest garage originals we've heard in a hot minute, linking up super intricate garage rhythms with booming bass pulses and 8bit arpeggios with fantastic results. Finally, the classic, nostalgia-inducing sweeps of 'Motorola' put the finishing touches on another fantastic addition to the Night Bass catalogue.
Review: As far as labels go, there really aren't many that are as willing to explore the more abstract areas of the underground as much as Night Slugs camp. They push the boat out once again with this well thought out collection from CalvoMusic, kicking off with the beautiful harmonic arrangements and lively drum progressions of 'Atlantis Level 1.5' which gives us an energetic introduction to say the least. Next up, feat DJ Glo 410 joins us for the super bouncy bass booms of 'Ga$ton Rasta', with the more techno influenced drum sounds and trance-like synth leads of 'House Of Helix' following right behind. Finally, 'One My Side Cypher' is the first of two cracking closer, delivering sumptuous sub processing, ethereal flute lines and lively percussive rhythms, before Zfrek gets involved with the breaks-influenced breakdowns and chunky basslines of 'Shake My Ass', giving us a slower, more industrial sounding juke creation. Wonderful work.
Review: Owain Kimber's Innate imprint may only be a few releases strong, but its split EPs mean that it has become a go-to label for soulful electronic music. This fourth edition is no exception, and it starts with the atmospheric downtempo soundscapes of Aroy Dee's "Leegte". Frequent Innate contributor Gilbert impresses with the esoteric, acid-soaked electro of "Furthest Planet", the kind of track one would expect to hear from Cignol or Lost Trax. Meanwhile, on "Venusian Surface", Jonski serves up free-flowing, emotive deep techno, and DJ Guy closes out Innate 04 with the dense drums and atmospheric tones of "Aphelion Orbit".
Review: Following on from the first edition last year, Shanti Celeste and Gramrcy's label drops another killer compilation. Airbnd and Buen Clima both drop high-octane, percussive techno, while on "Parallel Sync", Gramrcy slows the tempo down for a murky, layered groove. An ominous sub-bass ripples its way through Happa's dubbed out "Not Right Now", while ISAbella's "Ces Dream" is a slower, introspective piece and Knopha's "Grove Emulator" revolves around a complex rhythm and layered organic drums. Even the fast-paced tracks on Peach Pals are imbued with a subtlety one would not normally find on club techno, with the offbeat groove and punchy drums of Peach's "Moonlight" impressing.