Review: When it comes to making drum and bass that strikes a balance between the needs of DJs and home listeners, few are better than Dominick Martin AKA Calibre. It's for this reason that the album format suits him so well. The Deep, his 12th full-length in total, could well be his best set yet. Jam-packed with effortlessly soulful moments, evocative piano flourishes, rich live instrumentation and yearning vocals, it's a far more expansive and ambitious set than most D&B albums. It also supplements his trademark, club-ready rollers with tracks that look to modern soul, jazz breaks, dub and R&B for inspiration. Throughout, Martin barely puts a foot wrong, delivering a set that more than stands up to repeat listens.
Review: Celebrating 20 years of CIA (and switching from The Funky Technicians to Total Science) Quiff and Spinback have curated an almighty album with some of their label's most popular artists alongside a bunch of label debutants. Here's a taste of the LP with DLR's sinewy tech take on Quiff's 93 agenda-maker "Champion Sound", a sultry slice of piano gold from Calibre and dubbed out stepped jam from the guys themselves as they pay homage to the likes of Digital and Spirit with "Respect Due". Immense.
Review: No other artist in the game could pull a stunt like this off: Such is his proliferation, Calibre's Shelflife series are his way of gathering ideas that he felt weren't right for single releases, or dubs that he just never got round to putting out. As with previous editions, the whole collection rolls like an album due to his consistent, spacious signature. Highlights: How about every track? You need specifics? The piano-slapping sunny-side opener "Latin Way", the big jazzy washes and lolloping rolls on "Model Way", the pushy, gritty breaks on "Spirit Catcher", the wriggling drums, stark minimalism and mid 2000s techno feel to the hook on "Underfire". We could go on and on. It's Calibre - you know what to do.
Review: Signature drop Calibre's best work to date with "Steptoe." A deft halfstepper that displays rigid programming and sumptuous bass weight, this is a subtle killer from Calibre. It has hint of jungalism and the peaceful melodies set it apart from the rest of his work. B-side "Silence" is less refined but rolls out a worthy number in itself.
Review: Given his status as one of drum and bass's true heavyweights; you'd expect this eighth Calibre full-length to be one of the most hotly anticipated jungle sets of the year. Certainly, it's a fine effort, packed with emotion-rich atmospherics, fizzing rhythms and intricate, occasional beautiful, musical touches. He seems to be at his best when concentrating on musicality, as the delightful "Close To Me', soulful "Wilderness" and summery "Do Not Turn On" prove. There are, of course, rawer moments (see the tech-tinged "Simple Things" and dubstep flex of "Start Again"), but these don't hit nearly as hard as his effortlessly soulful compositions.
Review: Given his status as one of drum and bass's true heavyweights, you'd expect this eighth Calibre full-length to be one of the most hotly anticipated jungle sets of the year. Certainly, it's a fine effort, packed with emotion-rich atmospherics, fizzing rhythms and intricate, occasional beautiful, musical touches. He seems to be at his best when concentrating on musicality, as the delightful "Close To Me', soulful "Wilderness" and summery "Do Not Turn On" prove. There are, of course, rawer moments (see the tech-tinged "Simple Things" and dubstep flex of "Start Again"), but these don't hit nearly as hard as his effortlessly soulful compositions.
Review: Put your hands up if you remember Calibre's exceptional "Steptoe" from a few years back! Deep hypnotic dub made with a D&B mindset, it resonated with true sub low funk and that unique soul the Belfast producer has always maintained. Well here's another track cut from a similar sonic cloth; "Temple Step" is like "Steptoe's" meaner, moodier brother. More spacious than a Hummer glove box, darker than a Frankie Boyle joke, this is deep and deadly material. Meanwhile on the B "Simple Emotion" takes up back up the swift, lightfooted hats and fat kicks Calibre is best known for. With a warped bass groove and dark, minimalist production approach, this is guaranteed to add great texture to your next set.
Review: One of the most prolific and consistent men in drum & bass, Calibre returns to Total Science's CIA with a quartet of golden rollers: "Another" hums with silky subs and perfectly positioned vocal echoes, "Posh Boy" reminds us of Calibre's darker underbelly as alien bass tears squiggle and sneer over crisp two-steps, "Dreamz Dub" opens up with beautiful strings and distant horns before switching into an immense classic jungle retrospective while "Believe It" closes the show with another simple vocal sample that wraps itself around his lean skippy beats. Perfect.
Review: While Calibre's studio albums are invariably superb, his periodic Shelflife compilations of unreleased tracks and tried-and-tested dubplates are often even better. Predictably, this fifth volume in the series not only hits the spot, but also contains some genuinely grade-A material. Many will naturally gravitate towards high-class DRS hook-up "City Life" and the sought-after Marcus Intalex collaboration "Bluesday" (a typically warm, melodious and soulful affair), but there are plenty of other highlights amongst the 12 tracks on. These largely tend towards the more sun-kissed and breezy end of the D&B spectrum, though there are some tougher and darker workouts (see the low-slung sci-fi growl of "Jaboc") amongst Calibre's waves of dancefloor positivity.
Review: Majestic album from Calibre, who has long been heralded as a genius in D&B circles. His sixth studio album does nothing to dispel this belief and signals a return to his early noughties heyday when he knocked out sublime and understated but fully formed musical gems for fun. "Condition" has a slightly sunnier disposition than his 2010 long player Even If, but still retains the beautifully melancholic touch that has become Calibre's trademark. Standout tracks "Who's Singing" and "Mirage" are both haunting lessons in liquid and the tougher edged "Garbage Man" and "Schlager" are built for maximum impact. A must have.
Review: The A-track "Like It Is" is a subtle tune that leads into the healthier, more melodious side of d&b. Flip for a more basic and raw roller with some haunting samples. For the ones who doubt.. Calibre is still the man.
Review: Calibre on Marky's Innerground - do we need to say any more? Once again the Belfast auteur sends us dizzy with his broad strokes across the D&B spectrum. "Typical Things" plunges us into his darker dancefloor side, similar to that of his killer "4AM" EP on 31, with a pulsating bass warp and stripped back architecture while "Simple Sa" dusts off the steel string for more of a sunset lullaby loaded with his own gilded dulcets. A match made in heaven.
Review: Calibre on Exit... Need we say more? Four tracks deep, each one as subtle and classy as you'd expect. "Strumpet" balances swooning somnambulant strings, distant harmonies and a bumping bass that billows with the perfect amount of gruff. "Stranger" is a sharper, steppier blend with metallic twists to the undulating subs, "The Sweet" is all about the rhythm thanks to insistent percussive jungle shakers and a drum dynamic that switches from lean to mean at the drop of a snare. Finally we hit "Concrete". The hardest track of the pack; here we find Calibre in a more unrelenting mood as an array of bass tones ebb and flow over a thicker, more robust rhythm. The clue's in the title... Calibre is indeed a sonic strumpet of highest order.
Review: Exit launch the 'Aptitude' series, focusing on one off, beautifully packaged items for the collectors market. Debut release in this series features a sublime double header from Calibre and L.I.S.
Review: Calibre on Digital's Function. Life doesn't get much better than this. The Belfast doyen has brought along his mate Jet Li for the ride and the results are every bit as golden as you'd expect. "Push Through It" is an immaculate string affair with that classic Signature poignancy while "Trees In The Wind" echoes with a marbled synth texture, sudden flickers of piano and yearning guitar twangs. A match made in soulful roller heaven.
Review: Klute's imperious Commercial Suicide proffer the third double vinyl sampler pack from the excellent label compilation CD that slipped out in the final moments of 2011. Across the 48 inches of wax present there are some exclusive and naturally heavyweight contributions from some of Commercial Suicide's finest artists with Cern, Dose & Teknik teaming up on the opening track "Huntville" with suitably explosive results - not least the nuclear strength bass line that ripples throughout menacingly. Alongside it Break goes all 25th Century tech step on the quite brilliant "Freaks" whilst "Orion" occupies similar space whilst focusing on a more grinding bassline. The ever excellent Calibre ensures that age old adage about best till last is pertinent here with the paranoid steppahs delight of "Student Music" a considered highlight.