Review: German beat mutant Acid Lab dents the discogs on provocative burgeoning imprint AGN7 with four cavernous beasts. All flexing around the Samurai/Metalheadz axis in terms of space and palette, each cut hits hard with authenticity. "Secret Weapon" hits like it's 97 but on a halftime flex. "Unleash" is a savage Rupture level piece of breakbeat chaos. "Shadow Recruit" goes on some cosmic 160 Tipper style elastic bass funk while "Before The Storm" takes you right into it eye then blasts you out with a creepy breakbeat hurricane. Serious tackle, this.
Review: Here's a piece of history right here; Aphrodite goes back to his first ever release. Fresh from 92, both sitting in the hardcore breakbeat chapter of the UK rave explosion, "Raw Motion" has a big beat hip-hop energy to it while "Dub Motion" is a full-on bongo roller with dreamy detuned rave sprinkles and a vibe still set to max 28 years later. Firm foundations.
Review: Absolute flames from the Transmute crew as they put together this sweet trippy VA three-piece. Booca takes the lead and sets the tone with "Breath Of My Spirit". Jazzy keys and baggy breaks, there's a lush summery feel running throughout the blend and it's backed by the much more direct and classic sounding jungle of DSP's "Just A Touch". Dalston Chillies' founder Ben Kei closes the EP with the heaviest cut of the set; nasty breaks, evil mentasms and ominous strings. This is war music.
Review: Freddie Dixon returns to The North Quarter with his first full release since last year's TNQ album Better Days. Five tracks deep, each one reps his many nuanced shades. "The Creatures From Planet 9" kicks us off on a dark pranged out roll while "Dedication" follows the same momentum but brings a little soulful twang to the mix and "This Is Not Science" bumps and bruises us with badboy science. On the lighter, more soulful side of FD, "The Feeling" sees TNQ regular KinKai reflect on the other side's green grass over dreamy feels while "Lie To You" is all about the dusky sombre tones of Akemi Fox and more of FD's stunning drums. Light up your nights.
Review: Cruising off the heat of their Mayor Massiv outing just last week, long-time collaborators Jahganaut and Duburban collide once again for this shiny badass doubloon. One track, gold vinyl (naturally) and limited, it's another example of the collective's authenticity. Brazen drum funk, classic time-stretches, ragga vocal shots and rolling 4x4 drums rule the roost before some ice cold pads sweep you off your feet last minute. Timeless.
Review: Pioneer Ant Miles unearths two more unreleased gems from the DAT preservation. This time he's taken us back to 98. Made during the time Ram Trilogy were triple-handedly changing the game, both cuts have a gritty, stripped back charm of the era. "Warp One" has an almost "Turbulence" or "Ska" vibe with its wriggling twisted bassline infectiousness while "Lifeform" captures the techstep vibe of the time. All steppy and samurai with a touch of icy jazz. Timeless.
Foul Play - "Black Sun" (Skeleton Army remix) (5:19)
Denham Audio - "Mercury Tint" (4:50)
Mani Festo - "Spiral" (6:34)
Review: Relooping the generations; John Morrow (AKA Skeleton Army AKA 4 Horsemen Of The Apocalypse AKA Foul Play) serves up a collection that nods in both directions. 4 Hero's Marc Clair takes the lead under his old school hardcore alias Manix. Bouncy and loaded with positivity, it sets the scene before Morrow remixes his 23 old Foul Play track "Dark Horse" into a slinky, technoid breakbeat jam. Flip for some future flavours: Denham Audio looks to early Good Looking for inspiration on "Mercury Tint" while Mani Festo goes wild on a percussive dnb finale. Smile or kill trying.
Review: Pressed by dope demand! Pan-Al's debut EP from last year gets the wax treatment and it sounds all the heavier for it. Ranging from dreamy, contemplative ambience ("It's Nice To Miss You Too") to harmonic, spine-tingling Border Community-meets-Photek drum & bass ("It's Rigged") by way of lazy, ambling zoney beats ("Trace & Locate"), it remains every bit as emotional and sincere as it felt when we first heard it last year. Grab it while you can.
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: Back to 95! One of Source Direct's earliest cuts - prior to changing the game on Metalheadz - "A Different Groove" gets a 2020 remaster and its first repress since 96. It comes courtesy of the label where it all began: Odysee, home to early cuts from the likes of Photek as well the seminal St Albans duo. Recently rekindled with new remixes and reissues, this rampant piece of breakcraft still sounds every bit as full and future as it did 25 years ago. Loaded with a remix from original label co-boss Andy Odysee, this still knocks spots off the competition.
Review: Vibez 93 is keeping shut on who they are, but word on the street is they are an already huge and established artist. Frankly, who cares, because the music has plenty to say for itself. This is the latest in a long line of big hitters that jungle fans old and new will immediately fall for. There are airy, spring time vibes on the lovely opener "One" and more dark and complex drums on "Evil Forces". "Passenger" ups the ante again with a flurry of snares and driving bass stabs, then "Ten Eighty Eight" closes out in elastic fashion with a real face melter.
Review: Those interested in the roots of UK bass music have been well-served of late, with a number of books and compilations focusing on the first wave of British dance music in the late 80s and early 90s. Soul Jazz's latest compilation is a superb addition to this growing list. It showcases music made in the post-bleep and early breakbeat hardcore period, where basslines got bigger, drum breaks faster, and ragga influences started to come to the fore. The selections are on-point throughout from the dub-wise rave rush of Babylon Timewarp's "Durban Poison" and the bleep-and-breaks-meets-proto-jungle shuffle of DJ Dubplate's "Tings A Go On", to the rave-rap goodness of The Freaky's "Time & Age" and the heavily edited darkcore/early jungle insanity that is Krome & Time's terrific "Ganja Man". In a word: essential.