Review: Fresh from her Med School missions, Moscow's A.Fruit maintains the leftfield beat heat with another savage session, this time on Om Unit's evergreen Cosmic Bridge. "Make Them Shake" is a loopy ghetto/technoid mutant barbed with all manner of strange squelchy textures while "Polykarp" flips the motion sensors with a surprise drop into iced soul chords and skippy breaks. Meanwhile on the B we're struck with more beguiling gold: with its jazzy chords and pneumatic kicks "Deep Insight" stalks like a cat but punches like a bear while "Before You Go" brings us home on more of a mystic, percussive spacious trip. Crucial through and through, neither A.Fruit or Cosmic Bridge are messing around here.
Review: US skateboarding magazine Jenkem Mag has long hosted DJ mixes in a range of styles on its website, and in 2017 the spin-off Jenkem Records launched with a multi-genre compilation called 'Beginnings'. Now, over two years later (we're clearly operating on 'skater time' here), the label's second release is this four-track EP from Brooklyn duo and recently announced Rinse FM residents AceMoMa, and it's almost as eclectic as its album-length predecessor, taking in off-kilter melodic house ('Ethereal Stepping'), deep tribal techno ('Nothing Crazy') and drum & bass (the retro junglism of 'Lucky Number 12' and the Bukem-esque 'Soul Deep Management').
Review: Sub Terrain One is the first in a series of split EPs featuring high tempo bass music by ffliktion & dreamlogicc. Three cuts from ffliktion on the A side pair classic jungle breaks with hazy atmospherics and weighty basslines. Two cuts from dreamlogicc on the B side touch on hypnotic trance progressions with deep spacey textures.
Review: Artificial Intelligence welcome Austrian duo Air K & Cephei back to the fold with this gorgeous four-tracker. Their first full EP for the label, they've delivered in all directions; "All You Know" is a vocal hurricane armed with an equally hair-raising bassline, "Smiles" is an introspective-yet-sensual piano-tickler while "Reflections" is a genuine cosmic crusade built with layers and textures that go on for days. Finally "My Way" closes the show with a nice bit of closure. With added touches from Concept & Shnek, it's a powerful orchestral piece with all the essential drama you need in a summer set. Epic.
Review: Some 15 months after the first multi-artist "Folio" EP landed in stores, 1985 Music has dropped a sequel. It's another all-action affair, with all four cuts hitting home hard. Label founder Alix Perez kicks things off with "White Lies", a minimalist roller where metallic percussion hits and evocative soul vocals rise above a thoroughly filthy, wobble-powered bassline. Label favourites Submarine step up with sub-heavy hot-stepper "Grunge", before Scepticz and Lavance take things up a notch or two via the industrial strength distorted bass, mind-altering electronics and punchy beats of "Flatline". To round things off, Hyroglifics and Visages get together on the skewed but energy-packed creepiness of "Searching".
Review: The start of what many fans are hoping will eventually be an album later this year, Andy C let rip into 2016 with a brand new jump-up party track that smacks of "Twist 'Em Out" era jump up mischief (before things got a little too silly on that side of the genre). Now finally enjoying a vinyl outing, its ballsy sub matches the spiky riff with a dynamic that was seemingly written with wax in mind. The VIP is an interesting approach too; rather than being wilder than the original, it's actually deeper and more heads-down. Classic Andy C subversion... Let's hope it does build to an album.
Review: Previously spotted flexing his deep dark wares on Med School and Hospital, Kent craftsman Anile is now officially part of Lenzman's North Quarter collective. And he fits right in with his own sound and his own take on the currently unstoppable TNQ movement. Heavier and more spacebound than previous releases on the label; across the EP we're flatted by the rolling "Nothing Makes Sense", we're rocketed around the solar system on the already massive "Earth & Mars" and brought back down to earth with more soulful, piano laced charms of "Back On Days" before "Vitalogy" closes this stunning clear vinyl story with a creeping sombre twist. As with all TNQ releases; this pushes some serious buttons.
Unknown Error - "The Yearning" (Super VIP mix) (9:24)
Review: It's been seven months now since the death of Rob Dickeson AKA Apex stunned the drum and bass community. "Echoes" is the last known track that Dickeson completed and is being released by Hospital Records in order to raise funds for Help Musicians UK's Music Minds Matter campaign. It's rather good, too, with poignant pianos, stirring strings and melancholic chords floating over a snappy, liquid funk beat. It's accompanied on the flipside by a fantastic, floor-friendly "Super VIP" mix of "Yearning", a soaring 2006 cut Dickeson produced alongside Jim Gash as Unknown Error. Top tracks and a worthy cause: this should be an essential purchase for D&B heads everywhere.
Review: According to Integral head honchos Artificial Intelligence, their latest EP "comprises four exhilarating episodes that will take you on an exhilarating journey". It is, then, a box set of sorts: a short season of all-action cuts designed to entertain from start to finish. They fittingly begin with something suitably filmic - the sweeping cinematic movements, head-in-the-clouds atmospherics, punchy beats and sumptuous vocals of "Degrees of Separation", before fusing elements of soul and neo-classic on superb liquid roller "Missing Piece". The experienced duo cleverly ratchet up the tension on the creepy, heavy and intense B-side opener "Tannan", before reaching a triumphant conclusion via the smooth and life-affirming brilliance of "Street Scense".
Review: One of the great joys of James Clements' music as ASC is its thrilling unpredictability. While his productions have always been rooted in drum and bass, he's released little straightforward D&B for the best part of a decade. His latest outing on Samurai is dark and hard to pigeonhole, offering tracks that variously mix and match elements of intense acid, Autechre-style IDM, the sub-weight of D&B culture, the aural haziness of ambient and the skittish post-D&B rhythms that have long marked out his work. Our picks of a very strong bunch are the buzzing experimental techno psychedelia of acid-laden closing cut "Currents" and the sparse, sub-heavy haziness of opener "The Siren", where high tempo acid lines bubble away above a suitably hazy and paranoid backing track.
Review: Now The Future sees the return of Ram's heavily tatted neuro-monster Audio, offering up his first 12" salvo of 2016 for the drum and bass juggernaut and boy does it pack a punch! The sinister tones of the title track take you into the mind of Audio's twisted vision of the future, percussive elements ticking away under petrifying atmospheres, building up into an unstoppable bassline offensive. Complementing this, is the spine chilling "Drop It Human", a track that thrusts into a sonic array of growling mids and low end sub grit, delivering a devastating blow. Audio's precise, sharp, stepped trademark drum sound forms the backbone, marching the track through to inhuman perfection.
Review: Busta Rhymes has Flipmode, but Audio has Beastmode! After a slew of heavyweight albums on Virus, Audio is returning to the format with Beastmode forthcoming on the mighty RAM with this 12" sampler the first of many tasters. "Overdose" sets a high marker for the album, finding Audio returning with a brutish, rolling bassline, diced up with gritty drum loops and underpinned by quaking subs. Face down and Audio's signature RAM cut "Ultron" is given the Mefjus treatment, resulting in the sort of techy soundscape the Austrian producer reigns over. Mefjus moulds the original around the unfaltering guns of his peddled drums and wavering bassline.
Review: Goodness gracious; UVB-76 sublabel Droogs rises for the first time this year and it does so with these two troves of utter darkness. Both sides as tense and immersive as each other, coming from two rising new-gen artists, both "Carrier Wave" and "Echos" hit home hard. Holsten's former takes a while to set the misty theme before cutting through with a breezy rolling breakbeat while Artilect's latter kicks with more of a techstep bounce but heavily swung and wrapped up in taut strings and grizzly distorted bass. Absolute wounders.
Review: Following their razor edge four-tracker earlier this summer Rinse co-founder and foundation grime pioneer Slimzee and new partner in crime As.If.Kid maintain the heat as they declare "Judgement Day" once and for all. Bell-chiming brutality with a rugged slo-mo jungle charm, there's almost a rock-like looseness to the drums and grunting bass as it rolls out with unique energy. Flip for a remix from fellow OG DJ Garna who reinforces As.If.Kid's "Shooter" with an authentic jungle rinse-out.
Review: Integral by label name, integral to the scene full stop: Glenn and Zula's AI partnership has been a prominent and consistent voice over more than a decade. Since 2010 we've seen them dig deep into the album artform with "Stand Alone" kicking off a slew of LPs, currently climaxing with "The Series". Delivered over four parts - two last year, two this year - the full set spans their full gamut touching deep daydream rollers such as "Savour" to much darker, heavyweight pieces such as "Isolate". Each made for the club but executed with depth and restraint that lends itself to any scenario, it's a great way to sign out of this decade and prime us for what's to come. Integral by nature.