Review: The mysterious Bakground returns to Lobster Theremin and he's rolling with esteemed company as Sangam adds his deep threads to the weave. "90s Living" lives up to its name; big immersive atmospheric jungle, all loose around the edges but held together so firmly. "Intermission" provides no respite - the only break is the one that rolls beneath the shimmering keys. Meanwhile the flip "Keeper Of The Lost" takes us down to 150 on a robust set of rolling breaks before "Carousel" brings us back down to earth softly, deeply and ambiently.
Review: Russian donny deepsmiths Bop and Subwave team up for the first post-Med School (RIP) signing to Hospital and it's a bit of a special one. A full showcase of styles, it gives us much more than you'd ever expect from either individual. "Teardrops" is a glistening oceanic steppy, all spiralling, cosmic and sensual in all the right places, "Space Warp" is the dancefloor bomb of the package with its swooping droning bassline, "Don't Wake Me Up" takes us into shoegazing, head-tickling indie dance territory while "The Touch" closes on a sexy UKG tip that none of us would expect from the duo. What an impressive debut collaborative EP statement, we can't wait to hear what's next.
Review: TeeBee's Subtitles Music operation are on fairly unstoppable form right now and their latest 12" drop offers an enlightening glance into the label's near future - it's an exciting place clearly! The appropriately titled Mad pairs up Russian producer Brain Crisis with Spline for two of the nastiest drum and bass cuts we've subjected the Juno office stereo to this week. "Mad" is as hard and heavy as they come; perhaps that's why the punishing beats momentarily drop away to briefly allow some breathing space soundtracked by plucked guitar before the madness descends again. If anything "Camatcho" is more of a skull crusher and it has us quite excited for the upcoming album on Subtitles from Brain Crisis.
Ill Truth & Satl - "In Your Soul" (feat Charli Brix - Lenzman remix) (5:17)
Total Science & FD - "3 Way" (4:54)
Review: One look at who's involved here should raise any drum and bass head's eyebrows. All genre A-listers, it's one of those release schedule entries that's guaranteed to get everyone excited, and thankfully the pudding is just as tasty as those ingredients. Break & Kyo lead the charge with 'Past North', a summertime anthem-in-the-making opening on acoustic guitar chords that wouldn't sound weird on a Me One record. Definitely one for festivals, boxfresh percussion ensures it fully fires off once the poppier elements temporarily subside. That said, DJ Marky's 'Hard Hands' trumps it for crisp drum work, delivering some typically exotic vibes. Ill Truth and Satl's 'In Your Soul', or at least its Lenzman remix, keeps the sexy and smooth warmth alive, with '3 Way' closing out on a dub-influenced tip courtesy of Total Science and FD.
Superior Selectionz & Ben Soundscape - "Justa" (5:37)
Roygreen & Protone & Ben Soundscape - "Ruffneck" (5:39)
Luch & Joakuim - "Lifespan" (5:41)
Review: Since 2003, the Intrigue crew has been providing Bristol clubbers with regular doses of liquid funk and musically expansive drum and bass, first at their regular parties and, since 2008, on their offshoot label. Predictably, there's much to enjoy on this celebratory 12". Old pal Break steps up first with a veritable warm summer breeze of a roller, "Mind's Eye" - all punchy, snare-heavy beats, acoustic guitars, rumbling bass and dreamy freestyle vocals - before Superior Selectionz and Ben Soundscape join forces for the slightly more weighty but no less attractive "Justa". Over on side B, Soundscape returns to action alongside Ryogreen and Protone on the wobble bass-propelled stepper "Ruffneck", while Lurch - a lesser-known stalwart of the Bristol scene - delivers some delicious, Afro-tinged liquid funk alongside Joakuim. Rock solid.
Review: Defrostatica's latest release features a veritable rogues gallery of new and established drum and bass talents. Chief amongst them is long-serving producer Digital, who kicks things off with the pop-gun synth-bass, intricate percussion edits and manipulated rave stabs of "Uprock". Speaking of razor-sharp, quick-fire drum edits, you'll find plenty more on the post-jungle madness of 6Blocc, Calculon and Shamanga's superb "Call Out". Turn to the flip for Fanu's fearsome "Machine Drum Machine" - think punchy D&B with added pots and pans percussion - and the hot-to-trot, early morning sub-bass pressure of Agazilla's dark and creepy "Tessellation".
Review: Czech label Detach launched back in 2015 with some low key firepower from Moll+, and now they're back with a split release that showcases some fiery upcoming talent in the field of experimental electronica. The sound DYL is exploring on "Phrases" is rabid and deconstructed, but equally bristling with analogue energy. Senking jumps in with DYL for the more rhythmically structured "Destroyed City Lights", which balances sweet and savage tones beautifully. DYL and DB1 create a stern, percussion led variation of electro on "Uniformity Of Nature" and Senking's solo piece "Launch" jettisons off into misty blue pools of synthetic expression, making this a record that surprises and satisfies at every turn.
Review: Just the words 'Break' and 'remix' alone should pique your interest regarding this 12" from the Fokuz crew. Break tackles the touching sounds of Taking Facing Jinx and Alexsia Louca collaboration "Now You're Gone" and adds his trademark drum punches and snarling-but-never-OTT bass. The results? Break has, once again, smashed it. Flip for a full scale soul shock out from label mainstays Soligen, Type2 and Vandera. Wonderful.
Review: "Gazillions" marks a first VA offering for the Fever AM label. It calls upon emerging producers from around the world and kicks off with Russian duo Formally Unknown. "Lotus Turbo" is a squelchy electro workout with kick drums to die for. CCL and Flora FM then come together for "Iridescent Lake", an utterly wild drum workout that will blow your socks off. London based brothers Ed and Rob work together as Paper on the old school bleep techno cut "Beaman" before Silene rounds things out with "Jiro", the most experimental of the lot thanks to its hall of mirror feel, slithering synths and jerking rhythms. Fresh indeed.
Review: This is how you kick off a new decade. Skeleton have been consistent with their brutalist dispatches since re-rising in 2014 and this new V/A levels things up once again. Jem One lights the fire with darkcore grit as layers of distorted breaks and strange alien rave textures twist in and out of the mix. Section follows with nasty rave stabs and a two-step so well chiselled you could trim your whiskers on it before Future flips things for an entirely different vibe on the minimal, subby and loose-limbed "Daffy's Secret Project". Finally Sicknote, Sweetpea and Dissect bring the funk on "Jahlocia". Once again the breaks are the focus but there's more than enough groove in the bassline to put on meat on everyone's table. Bad to the bones!
Review: The words 'Technimatic' and 'remix' should be enough to whet most junglists' whistles right here... Taking Macca and Loz's 2014 breezy, break-fuelled roller and stripping back into something a little more delicate and hypnotic, it's straight out of the remix rule book. Flip for a brand new original from Polish player Silence Groove. Conjuring up similar feels to Brookes Brothers "Tear You Down" but with heavier emphasis on the orchestral sample, it's coated in so much emotion you may have to provide post-drop counselling to the more sensitive members of your dancefloor.
Actraiser - "Starsigns" (Random Movement remix) (5:45)
Naibu - "Clouds" (Electrosoul remix) (5:21)
DJ Trax - "Just Breath" (6:53)
Review: Techmosphere 03 is a monstrous 25 track album on Scientific Records that will be available digitally soon, but before that comes a sampler packed with six gems from it, three of which are originals, and the other three are remixes. Silence Groove's remix of "Northern Light" and his original "Patterns" are two silky and liquid rollers that go super deep, while Electrosoul's take on Naibu's "Clouds" is much more ragged and rhythmic thanks to its crisp hits and rasping bass. There's more raw energy on the crashing loops of DJ Trax's "Just Breath" but a heavenly vocal will also suspend you in a celestial atmosphere in between drum breaks.
Review: Now this is how you do a 002... Following up their almighty launch release earlier this year, Bournemouth darkside imprint Rotation Audio let rip with another heavy multi-artist release, this time bringing more respected and hugely talented acts into the fray. Mono follows up his Shiro release with the crushing bleakness strikes and slams of "Machiavellian" before Slider returns to the label with Expose for the raw jungle breakbeat slammer "Dark World" followed by the late 90s Virus style snub-nosed pressure cooker "Charge" from Sicknote and Dissect. Last but not least Drum Cypha gives us some much needed grooming tips on "Bad Hair Day" by way of ravey stabs and heavy hardcore grit.
Rawmance - "Mondonotte, La Mattina Dopo" (Security re-drums) (3:30)
Review: La Beaute Du Negatif's fourth multi-artist EP arrives with little fanfare or fuss. Instead, the Rome-based label has decided to simply offer-up the EP and let us come to our own conclusions. For what it's worth, ours is that it's well worth checking - especially Monomorph's blissful, acid-flecked IDM opener "Rystal", which previously appeared on a hard-to-find CD way back in 1996. There are plenty of highlights elsewhere across the EP, though. Head first for the sparse, spacey cheeriness of Brainwaltzera's "Phos Harbinger", before getting your ears around the ambient jungle-techno brilliance of "Opener" by The Jaffa Kid. This is followed on side B by the shuffling, sun-kissed downtempo grooves of SSIEGE's "Sogno In BB" and a drowsy, mind-altering chunk of late 90s Warp Records style electronica by Rawmance.
Msymiako, Sneaky Tom & Muscles Mouse - "Make Up The Dance" (Msymiakos remix) (6:19)
Msymiakos - "Take Your Socks Off Firs" (5:01)
The Meditator - "Mash Down" (Msymiakos Ruckus mix) (5:50)
The Meditator - "Mash Down" (Msymiakos Rollers mix) (6:39)
Review: Snappy snappy! J.Robinson's King K Rool series hits a big fat eight with this massive US/Norway free-for-all as young Nashville producer Ontology and rising Norwegian junglist Msymiakos get busy with a whole selection of originals and remixes. The twisted amens of "Serious Business" set the tone before we get progressively heavier as the EP rolls out. Highlights include the sultry soul of Ontology's remix of "Need It Bad", the dreamy-yet-slamming feels of "Take Your Socks Off First" and the straight-to-business ragga stamps of Msymiakos's remix of "Mash Down". In a while crocodile.
Review: The London-based Modern Ruin Records label arrives with a mission statement to showcase some of the most talented and innovative artists making moves on the juke and footwork scenes around the world, and the label's first EP gets things off to an incredibly strong start. Pawn kicks off with "Do U", a dancefloor destroyer melding footwork textures with punishing D&B-influenced rhythms and bass, while The Renegades' "The Warmup" offers a jazzier number which places deft amen breaks throughout. On the flip, Sideswipe's "Be With U" offers a gospel-influenced, funky take on footwork with its vintage sample, but it's Vorres' "One Of These Old Days" that takes the crown, with delicate 808 rhythms fluttering across more soulful vocals. Essential stuff from a label to watch.
Review: More 20/20 goodness from longstanding Dutch imprint Fokuz. First up is a Total Science refix of Phaction's 2015 liquid vocal workout "Stratos" where the duo add more weight to the drums, space between the elements and big dubby plunges to the bass. Flip for a brand new original from label mainstays Malaky, Sati and Silence Groove. Blessed with breathy vocals, slinky drums and big washy textures, it's a great warm-up device that builds with cinematic effect throughout.
Review: Refreshingly far-out beats from the ever-understated Profane. "Guardian" jitters like a robot on a pogo stick in a sea of bass sludge and there's a touch of the Dilla on "Iceberg 74" as the Torontarian artist splices a rattled-snare and hot tin roof break with faltering dreamy waves. Flip for some darkside pummelling from Shift: "Juju" is a rattling roller with heavy cymbal accents and freaky loose string bass twangs, "Totem" flexes a fretless bass and more sinewy drums. Speaker shattering.
Review: The Elementar crew follow up on the promise of their first split 12" with another impressive collection of breakthrough names exploring the deepest shades of shimmering D&B. The tracks here lean more towards the armchair than the dancefloor, striking a chord with the Mosaic compilations on Exit from around 2011. There's a languid 80s new wave tone to Silent Mind's "Farwater" while "Wildhoney" by Elusive Elements has a tender slow jam feel to it, but the primary sound palette across these five tracks is glacial pads and needlepoint, techy beats crafted with precision. It's a strong, cohesive statement from a label definitely worth keeping tabs on.
Review: Original Commix member Conrad Whittle returns under his Saikon alias via BCee's Spearhead and the results speak for themselves. Proper authentic foundation jungle D&B, loaded with pensive moods and tension, each cut is an instant back huncher; "Badman Can't Dance" paints a contemporary scene using colours strictly from a classic hardcore palette, "Subway Writers" rolls with dreamy charm courtesy of some of the warmest drums we've heard on Spearhead in years while "Shadows Of The Sun" whips a classic Alex Reece style vibe, laced with a perfectly measured haunting sensation. "Years Gone By" seals the deal with a lavish breakbeat and big jazz feels in every chord and majestic harp flurry. Timeless to the core, Conrad's comeback stinks of longevity. Essential.
Review: Fresh off releasing a fine second album through regular hub Auxiliary, Sam KDC switches down formats to 7" on this 45Seven collaboration with The Untouchables. They combine for A-side track "Alliance", a production where sense of space is key to the vibe and suggests Sam KDC is fully steeped in the dub science you expect from a 45Seven release. The Untouchables go solo and so low on flipside production "Suffa Ray Shun" which has a touch of the vintage Skull Disco about it.
Review: Earlier in his career, SATL seemed to have a new record out every week, mostly via Fokuz Recordings. He's a little less prolific these days, though as this first outing on The North Quarter proves his quality threshold remains impressively high. He starts in smooth and dreamy fashion via Steo collaboration "All My life" - all twinkling keys, simmering strings, skittish breaks and soulful vocals - before offering up a dustier and even more poignant diversion in the shape of rich liquid roller "Supposed To Be". On B-side opener "Drifted" he peppers a heavy stepping beat with late night techno stabs, while closing cut "Coming Back" is another slick, dewy-eyed chunk of soulful D&B bliss.
Review: Fresh from releasing a massive co-lab album "Underground Vol 1" with the mighty Peshay, Sense jumps on J Majik's blueprint-setting Infrared imprint with two authentic jungle bashers. "The Edge" is a bonafide brockout, all pitched drums singing and elephantine reverse wobbles while "Let You Go" flips for a deeper experience. Velvet pads, sensual vocal samples and breezy skippy breaks. Both absolutely slay a dance. Don't sleep!
Review: Part of a series of releases on the legendary Basement, Shadow Cartel pay homage with a two part suite dedicated to the Blue Note school. Steppy, stark, spacious and icy, all attention is on the sub, moody atmosphere and minimal rhythmic elements working together. Pay attention: part two is where the drums perform magic tricks before your very ears.
Review: Sicknote's been on absolute fire this year what with his dubplate cutting business and a whole slew of collaborations firing on the likes of PAWS and Sonic Force. Here we find him returning to Abstract Illusion's 2017 "Lo Fi Selassi". The original (if you were lucky to get it) still cuts heads clean off to this day and Sicknote's maintained that tradition with even more bass rawness and savage amens. "Swiftly", on the B, sees him tagging in longstanding mates Dissect and Justice for more of a jazzy, spacious work-out. It's dreamy... But you know with these guys dreams can turn into nightmares very quickly. And we love it when they do. Limited so don't hang around.
Review: Longtime sparring partners Sicknote and Dissect go toe-to-toe on this limited press from Silent Records' sister label Sonic Force. As you'd expect from the duo, the drums are rough and diced and spliced within millimetres of their lives. The title track tickles with a little plucked bass funk before heading into the brazen savagery while "Aqua" is a tidal affair, splashing you with breakbeat tsunamis every fresh bar. Grand designs for heavy times.
Simply Dread - "This Ain't Back In The Day" (5:45)
Omen Breaks - "Don Teifion" (6:22)
Supa Ape - "Leviathan" (5:07)
Junglord - "Pabst Blue Ribbon" (5:14)
Review: UK Jungle Records continues to set a fine standard with its third EP. It's a various artist affair that kicks off with Simply Dread's old school roller, complete with summery flute lines and old school vocals that bring good time vibes. Omen Breaks then grabs you by the synapses and runs with you down a darkened rabbit hole on "Don Teifion" and Supa Ape brings more celestial and soulful vibes on his widescreen gem "Leviathan". Junglord closes down with "Pabst Blue Ribbon", which is hard hitting and intense.
Review: Having set our world alight with his third Ilian Tape 12", 2012, back in the spring, Munich man Skee Mask delivers another essential collection of loose-limbed, broken techno workouts. Typically, he's on point from the word go, enveloping swinging, off-kilter techno breakbeats with swirling chords and cascading melodies on brilliant opener "Inti". His love of African-influenced polyrhythms is explored further on the ghostly, percussion-rich club cut "Kappelberg Chant" (which, incidentally, makes great use of choral chants), while "Routine" is a warm, loved-up and evocative tribute to rave-era British breakbeat-house. His debt to British dance music's formative years also comes to the fore on killer proto-jungle jam "Skreet Lvl Dub".