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.
Review: Lost On Purpose takes four tracks from Random Movement's 15 track full length and offers a great cross section of his style. The title track is a philosophical journey on crisp boom bap and rolling liquid drums, while "Somewhere Back There" is defined by its exquisite piano chords, which add plenty of tenderness to the drum work. "Breaking The Mold" gets down and dirty with a spraying baseline that will screw up any face, then the good times roll thanks to the feel good vibes of closer "Living In A Dream".
Review: A proper piece of history here, reissued for the first time since 1992; Tight Control was none other than A-Sides, one of drum & bass music's most long-standing and consistent contributors since before it even began. Here he is in formative hardcore mode, laying down three completely different designs: "Reggae, Reggae, Reggae" was a primer for ragga jungle with a high-vibed Dandy Livingstone sample, "Hardcore Piano" was a stately trip to outer space while "The Way Forward" takes you back down to earth through a shower of meteorite. It's really the way forward, too. A-Sides has always been in control.
Review: Long-time sonic sparring partners and kindred fusion spirits Paradox and Nucleus return to their Esoteric imprint for more glacial goodness. "Beatbox" is a perfect example of the two OGs' sonic palette. Unhurried, spacious and colder than an overnight party-for-one in a morgue. "Plexus", meanwhile, takes us even deeper down their rabbit hole. Stripped back to a well-chiselled two step, rolling break, cosmic pads that constantly mutate and a velvet sub bass that really pops when you drop this on a big rig, it's perfect hypnotic fodder for the 4am crew.
Review: Hanzo on Repertoire. You don't even need to press play on this one. Both artist and label are making consistently sharp moves, exploring jungle and drum & bass' furthest quarters and this one is no exception. "Maya Warfare" puts you in the driver's seat. Skittered breaks and haunted tones, there's a schizoid sense of tension running throughout. It's backed by three more remarkable schematics; the ghostly, pipe-wield "Kali Ma", the dark mind-altering pads and classic hardcore elements of "Mindblock" and the dense, swathing rain forest romp "Nodowa". Immense.
Review: It's about time! Berlin-based badman Ill K returns with his first release in two years, and the wait is most definitely worth it. Three stinking cuts ranging from dubstep to hardcore, "Warp 6" takes the lead and brings us all up to speed with its rolling breaks, cathedral-sized bassline and ethereal tones. Two hefty collaborations follow; "Ninja Technique" sees Chad Dubz joining the fray for a stern-and-spacious mechanical funk tear-up while "Walking Home" (feat. Koobas) flips the 140 feels into a savage breakbeat workout. Watch out for the classic GQ sample and be careful where you park your car next time.
Review: Back to 94! AKO bossman Stretch digs deep into the DAT vault for these hefty piece of jungle dubplate history. "Dem Want It (VIP)" is all about those rolling percussive breaks and that bulging sub. Minimalism with clarity and soul, this still pokes the hell out of systems to this day. "Ganja Dub" on the B brings a little more soul to the jam with some beautiful keys before dropping back into Stretch's signature ruffage, sub-led sound. Released as part of AKO Beatz 150th release celebrations - and already sold out on picture disc - neither track have seen the light of a full vinyl release until this year, yet both sound as future as they did 25 years ago. Beatz working.
Review: Have a word. One of Special Request's heaviest, most sweat-inducing tune of 2019 getting remixed by Mall Grab and Sully on a pink vinyl? Is this even real? Yes it is. And these remixes absolutely slap. As the titles suggest, Mall Grab takes it down to 135 and in doing so has created even more of a heavier punch to the mix. Man-of-the-moment Sully, meanwhile, flips the original "Vortex 150" into a 164 jam. Once again the breaks are set to throat-slice, the processing makes you feel like you're being zapped by high voltage electricity cables and the whole vibe is 100% long dark tunnel. Immense remix business here.
Review: Seba and Paradox... If ever there was a D&B dream team, it's these guys. With collabos going back to 2005 on labels such as Hospital, Critical and Bassbin (to name but a few) their complementary vibes reach a new height as they set up a label strictly for them. And it starts right here. "Over Now" is pure cosmic soul sent from the year 2319, all planet-bounding breaks and hazy atmospheres, while "Jupiterize" whisks us off on a dreamy magic carpet ride around the galaxy as a jazzier spring is added to the evocative mix. Precision tag-team business, both men bring their a-game as always.
Review: It's been 10 years since Alix Perez blessed the world with his debut album "1984". To celebrate, Shogun Audio are re-releasing the album with all tracks available on vinyl for the first time and it sounds every bit as good as you'd hoped it would. A stark statement of intent that's aged incredibly well, this is where the London Belgian sowed some of his deepest seeds; from the beat variation and playful twists of space on tracks like "Voices" to the evergreen soul of "Forsaken" (still the only Peven Everett-fronted drum & bass track to this date) via the glitchy grime of "Calm Of Cast", it was clear, even back then, that Alix would go on to set whole new levels and benchmarks. This is a pivotal slice of history.
Review: Fire in the hole! Following his Metalheadz EP earlier this year, Newcastle's Tyrone steps over to good mates Ulterior Motive at Guidance for a full four-track slab of D&B excellence. The title track is an absolute beast that slices through the air and space with incredible weight and width while elsewhere "Beg Of U" takes us on a tour of Tyrone's deeper space-aged side, "Lost Witness" rolls out with rattling menace and muscle and "Velvet" closes the deal on a deep introspective one with the label heads. Prepare to be severed.
Review: Eliphino continues to explore his emotionally charged, modern sound with this new mini LP for Secretsundaze. Following the trend laid out by his previous turns on Hypercolour, The Love Below and Meda Fury, he unfurls a richly harmonic sound that places emphasis on melodic progression to tell a particularly personal story, ranging from the emotive "Studio Time" to the crooked break-flecked "Old Lemons". "Second Sunday" flirts with electro and "Breaking Up Is Hard" veers towards jungle, but throughout Eliphino's personality binds the record together in fine style. Thoroughly contemporary and unbounded by genre restrictions, this is the sound of someone making the record they want to make.
Review: We've been waiting a LONG time for this! Loxy & Resound's most demanded dub since 2008, "New Age" has cult status and it's not hard to hear why; super spacious and so broad and vital in its sound, it still sounds futuristic to this day. "Stone Cold" kicks ass for a 2009 track, too. Once again unreleased and demanded by the heads for the last 10 years, this one takes us deeper down Loxy & Resound's rabbit hole, before that divine vocal cuts through the mix and it's game over. Ageless.
Review: Andre Sobota is Bungle, the Brazilian producer tearing up the contemporary drum & bass landscape with his hard hitting rhythms. He only tends to put out one EP a year, but that changes this autumn with three missives all landing in the space of two months. This is the first and features four cuts on two slabs of wax. "Mutant" starts out as an icy liquid roller before being ripped apart by rasping synths, "Dictate" is a glistening stomper with raga vocal stabs and melodic shimmers while "Enigma" is a dark, twisting and turning track that takes you down a rabbit hole. "Step Two" finishes things off in rump-wiggling jump up fashion and closes out a devastating release.
Review: Brussels mandem Bredren get all arsonist with this scorching EP debut for Alix Perez's 1985. Four tracks, each one a flamer, we kick off with the forthright headbutt of "Inferno" where T Man holds court with savage bars. Deeper into the EP we hit their classic stripped back rolling sound on "Get Physical" before "Flick Knife" cuts straight to the chase with some sinewy, creepy low end flourishes. Last but not least "Undress" gets everyone naked with some beautiful light-at-end-of-tunnel barbed soul. Four out of four, Bredren are firing right now.
Review: A master of all things dark and gritty when it comes to jungle and drum & bass, Ray Keith is back with a vengeance here across two devastating cuts. A side "Jungle Fi Dread" is built on his archetypal dread bass sound, stepping breaks and flailing hits, and it adds up to a controlled bit of dance floor frenzy with numerous peaks and troughs. "What Time Dread" on the flip has a rude vocal stretched and warped over rinsed out breakbeats that shimmer while a droning bassline conjures up some sort of doom-laden final level boss scene from your favourite RPG.
Review: Nodding to the days of widespread dance anonymity, where the focus was firmly placed on the music rather than reputations and brand hype, Bring Back's fourth release is soaked in hardcore and jungle tones in keeping with both the mysterious artist tip and the label's name. Basically music to make you sweat. 'Night Selector' is perhaps the least rave-y of the lot, and that's saying something considering its stretched amens and mysterious, futurist ambience. 'Light In Ghetto' throws itself fully into the revivalist movement, beautiful female lyrics and pitched vocal cuts crying out over a rhythm section that's stripped enough to make room for choppy, distorted keys. 'Lobster', meanwhile, plays with time signatures, paying respect to the roots of these sounds- dub and soundystem culture- in between full-throttle nastiness.
Review: Moscow-based Okbron Records has been doing a terrific job in serving up long lost and previously unreleased cuts from the formative years of jungle and drum and bass. Their latest white label 12" offers up two tracks from long-serving quartet Pariah, which were recorded during the late 1990s around the time when they were weighing up a "major deal" with LTJ Bukem's "Good Looking Records". Bukem used to rinse the dubplate of "Urban Score", a wonderfully warm, spacey, bass-heavy and dreamy chunk of intergalactic drum and bass underpinned by the classic Amen break. Flipside "Montage" is, if anything, even more intergalactic in tone, with an extended ambient intro making way for bustling electronic beats and wavy, supernova synths.
Horace Andy & Marcus Visionary - "Sound Killer" (Jungle VIP) (6:25)
Visionary - "Hustlin" (feat Camp Souljah) (6:26)
Truespirit - "Deep In The Jungle" (4:06)
Review: Reissue time! As New York jungle pillars Liondub International celebrate 10 years they've put together some of the hardest hitting bangers of their previous "Jungle To The World" collections on this powerful piece of wax. All the right vibes in all the right places, these all sound future fresh: DJ Hybrid's swashbuckling Dread bass backflips on "Special Request", the absolute bashy bless from Horace Andy and Marcus Visionary on "Sound Killer", the warmer reggae soul bubbles of Visionary's "Hustlin" and Truespirit's purring late 90s two-step homage "Deep In The Jungle". No filler in sight whatsoever.
Review: Brand new Marky! It's about time... Four years after his "My Heroes" album landed (and two years after his last single - "Silly VIP") the Sao Paulo don returns with two perfect soulful D&B gems. "Should I" looks back to the early 2000s with its powerful sample and Bingo-style bubbling bassline while "Love Break" takes off where "Silly" left us; swooping instrumentation that will have you leaping behind the decks and a break that will never ever quit. Don't leave it so long please Marky!
Review: Now THIS is how you launch a label. Response and Pliskin present Northern Front's first release and it contains three highly respected names across the game. First up is a collab with Deadman's Chest, "Control State" sets the glacial tone and some cold hard truths over a hardcore jam that stinks of 1992 before Digital joins the fray and adds a little cosmic poetry, mystical pads and hurricane breaks on "True Story". Finally, Need For Mirrors glides into the mix and brings a deeper, rolling vibe on "Ruins", a track that gets darker the deeper as we progress. Three blinders, three totally different shades. We can't wait to hear what the Northern Front deliver next.
Review: Liondub's 10 year anniversary celebrations continue with this savage slab of ragga jungle. This time the captain Liondub takes to the controls himself alongside fellow US jungle veteran Jah Boogs while vocal guidance comes from one of the most distinctive MCs in the game: Bristol's Blackout Ja. Here we find him in fiery form as "Touch Up The Key" brocks out in all directions over a precision-tuned subby bass wobble. "Dread" flips for a sunnier side of the stack as Blackout pays homage to his roots with more of a melodic flow to his signature gravel-toned bars. Loaded!
Shine On Through (feat Mountain & Karina Ramage) (4:11)
Kosa (feat Keeno) (5:58)
The Encounter (feat Bop) (5:40)
Miles Ahead (feat DJ Marky) (4:11)
Morning Sunrise (feat Danny Wheeler, G Force & Blu James) (4:55)
Tokyo '96 (feat SPY) (5:24)
Show Me How You Feel (feat Lorna King) (4:52)
Dive (feat Polaris) (5:42)
Liberta (feat Urbandawn) (4:34)
Living For (feat Paul T & Edward Oberon) (5:28)
Transparent (feat Whiney) (4:57)
Mystic Crystals (feat Technimatic) (5:16)
Nexus (feat Pola & Bryson) (4:13)
Merchant Blessing (feat MC Conrad) (4:31)
Review: Makato is often cited as one of the pioneering founders of Japan's drum & bass scene. He's now up to his sixth studio album and it finds his airy, rolling, sweet flowing beats all present and correct. "Tomodachi Sessions" derived from a series of collaborations with close friends who have all played a part in his 25 year career. DJ Marky, S.P.Y, Bop and MC Conrad all feature and lend their own personalities to an album that offers celebratory hands in the air tracks like "Shine On Through" next to more late night dancers like "Transparent" and melodic explorations like "Show Me How You Feel".
Review: Heavy co-lab business, Bristol boys Mako and Mikal tag-up for a serious lesson on Mako's Utopia. "Under The Earth" takes the lead and you can spot the breaks as they fly by, all switching and cutting almost every beat at points before suddenly dropping out of the mix and leaving you in a bewilderingly oceanic breakdown. "Switch It", meanwhile, lives up to its name with a fantastically strange beat. Kinda 4/4 in spirit, there's a new sound lurking in this which is only just being explored here. Switch? Completely flip things beyond belief more like.
Review: Sometimes the road gets too rough. Sometimes you just have to annihilate a punching bag due to the high levels of gully coming into your ears. Whatever you do when things get too stinky, however you deal with the body-blowing pressure of absolutely foul tracks, we know you're going to do it to this new EP from Perez who is on such a roll right now it's crazy. Following his dubstep EP "Last Rites" comes this awesome back-to-dnb-grit session. Opener "Trinity" is just utter high voltage darkness, "Phantonym" takes things even deeper with some proper gruesome bass bubbles while "SWRV" takes us back to Alix's soulful side and "Vibrations" plays the perfect game of contrasts and shade. What an EP.
Quadrant, Iris, Ulterior Motive - "Intuition" (6:04)
Review: Guidance strike again! Two sides, two vibes: first up the label bossmen Ulterior Motive continue their ripping vein of form with the weapon's grade stepper "Trip Hammer" that hits with serious space around every gritty funk element. Flip for a hook-up with dynamic US duo Quadrant & Iris as we're taken down a wormhole of dark delights at a white knuckle pace that doesn't let up. Huge shouts to Guidance right here.