Review: Responsible for influencing every card-carrying jungle craftsman since 1996, Adam F's "Metropolis" is one of drum & bass's true blueprint tunes. 21 years old and still sounding future (both aesthetically and technically), this set such a high benchmark that DJs still talk about the first time they heard this in the cutting house to this day. If you haven't already got this on vinyl it's nothing short of essential.
Review: Metalheadz aren't known for their vocal smashers. But they are known for flipping the biggest switches in the game. And this collaboration between Italy's ARP XP and Poland's Reza is a fine example... "No Control" oozes post modern, paranoid soul as Kayka soars over the dreamy piano echoes and sharp steppy beats with the same level as Riya. Vocalist compliments don't come any higher. "Unknown Feelings" also incorporates a breath-taking vocal but here the focus has been shifted more towards the deep bass drones, stark, alien sound design and heavyweight kicks that Metalheadz is very well known for. An absolute gem of a 12", take control today.
Review: Its not like Metalheadz have ever been away, but it feels like the label has been working with a renewed creative vigour in 2014. Fresh off dropping the excellent Ulterior Motive LP, Metalheadz switch it back to matters of a 12" nature with this killer double upper cut of moody rollers from crew members Arp XP, Nitri and HLZ on the METHXX series. Up top Arp XP & HLZ collaborate on the prime slab of 97 style D &B that is "Good Old Days" watch out for that ghostly saxophone wedged deep beneath the finely cut drum edits and twisting bass. Down below HLZ goes solo on the agro "Gaia", a cut where the drums are rolled so tight you can feel the tension almost snapping, whilst classic jungle flavours abound on release highlight "Makes Me Wonder" from Arp XP and Nitri!
Review: After many one-off 12"s and compilation appearances on the label, AI finally deliver an entire Metalheadz EP. And it's flexing every which way but loose... Alluring contrast abounds from the off as the opener "Frozen" (with long-term vocal compatriot Steo) oozes soul while "Deadly Melody" is straight of the badboy bassline bible. Deeper again we're dumbstruck with deep delight as Lenzman adds a new dynamic to "What You Had" while "My Soul" rockets us straight into the furthest realms of the cosmos with only a soaring vocal to keep us strapped in. You won't forget "Forgotten Truths" in a hurry.
Review: Barely half a year has passed since their long-awaited second album Timeline and Glen and Zula return with four more alluring constructs: "Stand Firm" flexes into the darker side with deft navigation from Visionobi while "Ghost Racoon" goes all-out darkside with its pneumatic hammers and tongs. For deeper experiences head for the sub-rattled "Reunion" and the sublime "Shrine". With its swooning chords and rich orchestration it's near-classical in its dynamism and weight. It's not the title track for nothing... Shrine on you crazy junglists.
Letting It Go (feat SCAR - sampler exclusive) (5:40)
Review: Peeping over the precipice of their second album, AI tease us with two unruly mood-setters. "Pass The Buck" features D&B's most consistent MC voice DRS who delivers in style over a stark understated bass tear that rips only when needed. Flip for an exclusive sampler-only collab with the ever-impressive SCAR: here the bass is anything but understated as it churns and groans and grizzles with twisted creativity. Two sure signs the album is going to be important when it drops later this month.
Scrolls (feat Dawn Wall - sampler exclusive) (5:57)
Justify (feat Terri Walker) (4:12)
Review: Five years have passed since Artificial Intelligence last gave the world an album. The world of drum & bass has changed vastly since then, but they continue to plough their timeless path uncompromisingly. Like the first sampler, this EP features some very well selected guests (Terri Walker who has worked extensively with Spectrasoul and Swindle and the anonymous Dawn Wall) but the real stars are Zulu and Glenn. "Is This Real" is a purring double bass glider a la Full Cycle, "Scrolls" is a majestic diva-peppered dreamer (think early High Contrast or Logistics) "Justify" is a big old soul shock-out that's up there with their modern-classic "You Can Dream". Album hype doesn't get more beautiful than this.
Review: Five years have passed since AI's debut album Stand Alone. Five years' worth waiting: After a string of universally received samplers, Glen and Zula finally unleash the whole set. Clearly in journey mode, the LP works really well as a listening experience as much as it does in the dance. From the gentle wafts and breezes of "Aroma" to the much darker DRS-drenched designs of "Pass The Buck" and the gritty, Metalheadz homage "The Source" back the majestic touches of two Dawn Wall collaborations, this is Artificial Intelligence at their most comprehensive and clear. Attention to detail has been paid to the finish of each track, ensuring a sheen and consistency that you really don't hear in drum & bass albums that often. Timeless.
Review: Despite a production history that stretches back to the turn of the millennium, Artificial Intelligence has only ever released one album, 2010's Stand Alone. Five years on, they return with a belated follow-up. Happily, they've skillfully avoided the pitfalls of "second album syndrome", delivering a rich, entertaining and soul-flecked set that arguably tops their impressive debut full-length. Heavily influenced by vintage jungle, classic liquid D&B and - more surprisingly - the celebratory pump of vintage Chicago house, Timeline is dancefloor-focused, but musically expansive enough to encourage home listening. They've roped in some great guests and collaborators, too, including Terri Walker, DRS, Sense and Dawn Wall.
Review: Flipping the switch from their recent disco funk collaboration with Kathy Brown, AI delve deep into D&B's dark history books with this incredible tribute to the mighty Dillinja (the clue is in the title). "What You Had" plays the perfect foil, not only soothing your soul with Steo's honey-coated vocal but showing yet another side to AI's seemingly never-ending list of talents. Deliriously good.
Review: Has it really been over ten years since the last Platinum Breakz compilation? Ahead of Metalheadz dropping Vol 4 of the most revered compilation series in Drum & Bass, a second two track sampler arrives to further whet appetites - as if that needs to happen - with cuts from Artificial Intelligence and DRS and the Rufige pair of Loxy and Resound. Glenn and Zula sound on inspired form with "Warhorse" a powerful, snarling steppers anthem that's made all the more venomous thanks to DRS's vocal contribution. Face down, Loxy & Resound rep the Rufige sound and indulge in some vintage Metalheadz flavours on "Paradigms" which is pitched perfectly between elements of darkness (Reese drops, mangled breakbeats) and light (haunting vocal harmonies and swirling synths).
Review: With previous on Program and Spearhead, Battery now take another bold leap and make their Metalheadz debut. Three tracks deep, each one showcasing their stark, spacious sound. "NoNo" is a 150mph drive down country lanes blindfolded. No escape, no surrender, no seatbelt. "Air" is slightly deeper with more of a human element thanks to subtle vocal touches from Rumour. Finally we hit "Hornsey Dub", a heads down roller laced with dense drum textures, tight edits and sneering toxic sub. Killer label debut and definite radar-lockers for 2016 hype.
Review: Longstanding D&B figurehead Beta 2 steps up for duty on Metalheadz for the first time in many years with 2nd Page, a 12" that brandishes three blistering original productions. Both the dreamy roller "2nd Page" and the beautiful palpitating "Time Traveller" feature Steo, a man who - thanks to his work with AI - is swiftly becoming one of the genre's most distinctive and in-demand vocalists right now. Wedged inbetween is"NOD", which offers a much more upfront and direct testament of Beta 2's undoubted production class. More please Metalheadz!
Review: After a few years away from the scene, Zero T has returned to remind us who's the boss. Up there with Calibre and Break; his productions rattle with effortless funk and soul while exposing enough dark underbelly to appeal to fans of the harder sound. Hence this appearance on Metalheadz with Beta 2. "Election" is a growling, grunting roller with a simple-but-deadly bass lick while "What's Wrong" flips for a slower tempo halftime slinky session that nods deftly at the very early days of dubstep when UKG took a turn for the dark. For balance Beta 2 goes solo "The Edge". A bulbous roller a la late 90s Moving Fusion, watch out for those strings... When they come in, they'll sweep you off your feet.
Review: Despite releasing enough singles to fill a small set of IKEA Expedit shelves, Cambridge D&B duo Commix have been pretty slow on the uptake when it comes to albums. So far, they've only released one original full-length, Call To Mind - a pleasing set that won many plaudits on its release in 2007. Curiously, this second full-length is not a new album per se, but rather a collection of previously unreleased cuts recorded between 2003 and 2008. It is, though, a rather fine set, perfectly showcasing their brand of melodic, musically inclined drum and bass. As ever, the beats are loose, organic and snare heavy, the basslines hooky and the melodies sparkling, offering a near perfect balance of dancefloor chops and home listening nous. Fans will lap it up.
Review: Despite releasing enough singles to fill a small set of IKEA Expedit shelves, Cambridge D&B duo Commix have been pretty slow on the uptake when it comes to albums. So far, they've only released one original full-length, Call To Mind - a pleasing set that won many plaudits on its release in 2007. Curiously, this second full-length is not a new album per se, but rather a collection of previously unreleased cuts recorded between 2003 and 2008. It is, though, a superb set, perfectly showcasing their brand of melodic, musically inclined drum and bass. As ever, the beats are loose, organic and snare heavy, the basslines hooky and the melodies sparkling, offering a near perfect balance of dancefloor chops and home listening nous. Highly recommended.
Review: George Levings and Guy Brewer may be primarily known as a drum and bass act - and this release is issued on Goldie's Metalheadz label - but the remixes will undoubtedly endear them to other audiences. Pedestrian's version of "How You Gonna Feel" is as understated as it is atmospheric, with Spacek's dreamy vocals melting into a wall of dreamy textures and hissing, lithe breakbeats. Marcel Dettmann's remix of "Satellite Type 2" meanwhile is more upfront, with the Berghain resident laying down a relentless drum track and raw, twitchy bassline. Having said that, it's not as ass-quakingly intense as say "Apron", and the eerie organ riff midway through has echoes of Robert Hood at his menacing best.
Review: Whilst the first Re: Call To Mind vinyl sampler was very much a post dubstep affair with D Bridge, A Made Up Sound, Pangaea and Instra:mental, Metalheadz gather up the finest house and techno reworks from the heavyweight Commix remix album. Across two suitably weighty slabs of vinyl your senses are treated to the superlative reworks from Dettmann, Kassem Mosse, Two Armadillos and Sigha. The first twelve is kind of bossed by the suitably sludgy industrial locked groove of Dettmann's remix of "Satellite Type 2" though Sigha's treatment of "Emily's Smile" will find fans thanks to the Basic Channel groove, fizzy atmospherics and midway introduction of emotive strings. The real gold here though is Kassem Mosse's edit of "Strictly" which opens proceedings on the second platter. Mosse drops some cheeky slo mo vocal samples from Goldie's most famous moment on top of a bumping deep throb which is augmented by a scattergun rhythmic pulse which jerks between lull and piercing energy throughout. The deep house rework of "Strictly" from Two Armadillos on the flip seems a little too straight in comparison. Mosse is Boss!
Review: "Call To Mind", by Commix, is a subtle fusion of the purest techno, the deepest Philly Soul and drum & bass rhythms. When asked what inspired them to produce music, Commix (aka George Levings and Guy Brewer) are quick to talk about their love of Billy Paul, Dexter Wansel, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, Carl Craig, Plastikman, Digitalism and Matthew Jonson. Their debut album is out on Goldie's legendary label Metalheadz.