Review: Fresh on the recently rejuvenated Utopia, Hydro & War are about to drop their powerful debut album "Lateral Thinking". And these are the first two tastes of what's to come. "New Territories" cuts straight the point; a gritty roller laced with layers of percussion, a high voltage bassline that's soothed by the glacial chords. "Sagarmatha", meanwhile, shows off the pair's more emotional side as it takes us to the summit with its breezy, spacious barbed soul charm. Bring on the album.
Review: It's nothing but stark steppery from the off on Transmute as Law & Wheeler sharpen their drums and space things out on a Source Direct level. Driven by the steps but powered by the warped low end, it's a timeless piece that swallows you whole. The consistently on-point Tim Reaper delivers some mind-altering drum edits on the junglised "Floating Through" while Mac 2 affiliate Trex nods his head to the likes of Krust with "Stay High", a cosmic sojourn that develops with increasing layers of trippiness. Powerful.
Review: Must Make made a fine start with their first EP back in May, and now they follow it up in quick time with a second volume of "Late Night Soundtrack". Once again, Workforce is the man in control and in case you missed it, that is the new alias of SpectraSoul's Jack Stevens, who is also behind the label. "Two Words" is smooth liquid with a distinctive nocturnal feel, soft focus piano chords and heartfelt vocal murmurs layering in the soul. SP:MC spits on the much more ragged and angsty stepper "Overnight Express" and "So Good" sits somewhere in between: the drums are frantic, the textures soar, but the vocal is sweet. "Common Interests" is minimal roller with focus on warped low ends and rattling jungle percussion. Hot stuff.
Review: One of drum & bass's most in demand and distinctive singers Collette Warren gets her first artist EP on Marky's Innerground and she's rolling deep. Marky provides an Intalex style hurricane for Warren and current golden soul man Tyler Daley to duet on, while Random Movement gets his little jittery clipped funk flare on that complements Warren's jazzy signature perfectly. Halfway in, Calibre turbo charges up the amen and organ machine for one of the strongest cuts of the set before Seattle's Quadrant & Iris cook up a rolling pacer for the most energetic, insistent cut on the 12". Four unique designs, one singular voice. We hope an album drops in the future.
Review: Hospital offshoot Med School has long served as a breeding ground for future D&B heroes. The latest to graduate is Coventry-raised youngster Whiney, whose debut album, Talisman, should be filed under: "quietly impressive". Largely punchy, energy-packed and club-ready in tone, the set's strongest selling point is the subtle variety evident across the 12 tracks. Compare, for example, the surging sub-bass, red-raw jungle percussion and spacey synth-strings of "Portal" (or, for that matter, seriously weighty opener "Talisman", the exotic, skewed post-dubstep beats of "Minds Collide", and the slowly building, sunrise euphoria of liquid roller "The Farthest Shore". As debut albums go, Talisman is pretty darn good.