Review: Prepare to fire! Skeppy's got a brand new cut and he's and everyone's allowed a cheeky buzz on it. Yes it's finally time to get your grubby paws on the long-awaited "Musket". One of the Exit Records artists' most divisive of tunes, unlike his darker deeper tackle it's a jaunty, spiky jump-up tune. Addictive, fun to mix and guaranteed to get the crowd all wound up, this has all the hallmarks of a festival D&B anthem this summer. Grab it while you can.
Review: Kasra's Critical Audio is once again the showcase for the distinct production talents of Russia's Enei, serving up Stonehead, a four track selection presented across this heavy weight double 12 pack. All the hallmarks of an Enei arrangement are here, as the title track sets the mood with rigid click clacking rhythms dextrously rippling over beams of aggressive dark side bass. This sense of aggravation is matched by the vocal sample that literally barks at you. "No Fear" operates on a similar level, Riya's vocal contribution aligned with the tight stepping syncopation. Those seeking some sort of classic drum and bass solace will find respite in the amen heavy tear out sensation of "Moving Fast" and Jubei's rattling refix of "Cracker".
Review: Icicle is arguably the best new kid on the jungle block. On this Critical release he teams up with fellow Dutchman Nymfo for "Shadows Of Tomorrow", bringing their own brand on space age funk. A heady mix of neuro style beats and deep brooding dancefloor bass are combined exquisitely with futuristic textures. This has support from Friction, Logistics, Cyantific, Flight, Commix and many more.
Review: The latest Critical Music drop pairs the fresh faced with the established, as newcomer Foreign Concept shares twelve inch billing with label boss Kasra. Shotgun calling duties fall on Foreign Concept with the finely sculpted excellence of "Mob Justice" which pairs drums that slap you in the face with sub bass. Flipside and Kasra allows some reverberant melody the space to breath over the tightly wound liquid drum step on "Show You" with the dark splurges of bass matched by the slightly ominous vocals that float around the shadows of the mix.
Review: Christmas comes early for fans of Critical output as the label presents a luxurious double 12" various artists EP that bristles with talent from their razor sharp roster. Enei, DRS, Ulterior Motive, Phace, Jubei and label boss Kasra himself all feature on the killer Sequence One EP. Enei opens proceedings with the 24th century slab of future funk that is "Obsession", featuring typically dextrous lyrical assistance from MC DRS, whilst Ulterior Motive plunges you into the dark side with the jagged roller "Divergence". The second slab opens with "Freedom Of Filth" an equally jerky, industrially charged hard stepper whilst "The Rift" sees Kasra and Jubei get their sub bass on with immense consequences.
Review: A much loved figure across the D&B spectrum, Break brings us his next utterance on none other than Critical Music, who are enjoying their time in the limelight at the moment, following Kasra's recent Fabriclive mix. Here, we see Break doing what he does best in "Here We Go" as he goes in hard and fast, with pounding bass; those unmistakable Break er, breaks; and plenty of fury in the grinding synths which pepper this spectacular release. "Soundwaves", in some ways a slightly less intense cut, pairs a muffled reggae vocal, with almost impenetrable sub bass and low-end frequencies.
Review: Confirmed Luke Vibert-watchers will recognize Plug as another of the Cornishman's many pseudonyms. It was briefly used back in 1996 for a one-off album entitled Drum & Bass For Papa, a splendid set of typically off-kilter jungle cuts that didn't quite fit his Amen Andrews or Wagon Christ projects. Here, Vibert attempts a resurrection, offering up an album's worth of Plug material recorded in the mid '90s but only recently rediscovered (or so the story goes). In typical Vibert fashion, the tracks that make up Back On Time still sound fresh despite their vintage. Sure, there are clear echoes of jungle's past, but also plenty of material that could still be considered ahead of its time 16 years on.
Review: With the neon funk of the Shobaleader One project dividing opinion, you might think it would be back to business as usual for Tom Jenkinson as he goes back to the Squarepusher moniker proper. If you did you'd only be half right - whilst the album nevertheless trades in the hyper stylised D&B that made his name, it's saturated with melodies rooted in 90s rave, riffing on trance tropes. Whether he's been listening to the saccharine sounds of younger label mates Hudson Mohawke and Rustie is unclear, but those into the intricate sugar, coated complexities of those younger artists will find much to admire in Jenkinson's direction here.
Review: Despite being only 20 years of age, Kazakhstani liquid funk maestro Command Strange has already built up a discography of well over 50 releases - including 12s on Hospital, Fokuz and Influenza. Say what you like, but the kid's got some work rate. Of course, this would mean nothing without skills and musical talent, but Command Strange has both in bundles. As a result, this second full-length - a follow-up to 2010's impressive debut album Soul Booster - is something of a delight. It mixes typically deep and cosmic concoctions (see the brilliant "Just Relax & Look At The Sky") with serious liquid rollers and occasional forays into straightforward downtempo territory ("Untitled"). If you like your D&B deep, liquid and musical, you should be all over it.
Review: It's been two years since the release of Dynamic's gorgeous debut album for Fokuz, Discoveries of the Deep. As luscious as its title suggested, it was an album that impressed those who demand more musicality with their jungle rhythms. Model Lounge offers more of the same. Scuttling between hip-hop tempo groovery (see "Re-Indulge"), hissing jazz breaks (check "Night Train To Montmatre" or the dubby melodies and fluid beats of "Cosmic Soiree") and, most satisfyingly, impeccable liquid D&B, Model Lounge is never less than brilliantly musical. If LTJ Bukem, High Contrast and Rainer Truby made an album together, it would probably sound something like this.