Review: It's been a crucial year for German breaksmith Acid Lab. Fresh from releasing his album A Matter Of Time on Soul Intent's Dope Plates and launching In Reach's new label and appearing on new label Next Phase, he now teams up with fellow German Scale for three dark designs on Monita's Skeleton. "Warriors" sets the tone with a rim shot blasting 45 King break and crypt delving atmospherics, "Environment" sets an even starker tone with eerie warped textures and a Krust circa "True Stories" style drum arrangement, "Underdog" wraps up with a dangerous dichotomy; the drums say jazz, the bass says gully. We know what your feet and head will say, too...
Bladerunner - "Sound Killer" (feat Blackout JA & Da Fuchaman) (4:54)
Brian Brainstorm - "Call The Police" (feat Da Fuchaman - album mix) (6:04)
Run Tingz Cru - "Go Back Home" (feat Da Fuchaman & Wippa Demus) (4:28)
Serial Killaz & Run Tingz Cru - "Jungle Love" (feat Da Fuchaman) (4:48)
Serial Killaz & Run Tingz Cru - "Bun Babylon" (feat Tenor Fly & Blackout JA - DJ Hybrid remix) (5:14)
Run Tingz Cru - "Women Dem" (feat Top Cat) (5:05)
Review: Bristol's Run Tingz Cru look back over the last year or so of releases, precision select their bubbliest, bumpiest bangers and cut them to limited 12". Featuring the likes of Bladerunner, Serial Killaz, DJ Hybrid, Brian Brainstorm, Top Cat, Tenor Fly, Blackout JA, Da Fuchman and of course the RTC themselves, vibes are high throughout as we're schooled in breakbeat science. From the opening warped dread bass wobbles of Bladerunner's "Sound Killer" through to Run Tingz Cru and Top Cat's grand finale silky sub roller "Women Dem", this whole 12" is bulging with timeless jungle goodness. Strictly limited; grab this while you can.
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: Ding ding, round two. Following the long-awaited "Deaddial" and "Revolution", Digital & Spirit's latest EP continues to shatter a second slab of wax. "Phantom 2018" brings their 1999 game-changing bleep hypno-hurter "Phantom Force" up to speed with a full rebuild on all the elements that punch with a perfect balance of modern weight but the classic Digital & Spirit wall of sound feel. "Small World" is a brand new construction laced with their signature fabrics. Pummelling breaks, treacle subs and a strident dubby synth hook that's tailored for 3am+ moments. No one does it like these guys.
Review: The mighty Digital delivers the second vinyl instalment of his Total Control album and it's a devilish dark affair. The moment those drums on "Total Control" hit you with hardcore mischief, you know what type of mood Digital is in right here. No prisoners taken! Dig deeper for the crystaline rave ripples "To Meeeeeee" with long time compadres Spirit and Q Project before "So Fine" closes the show with crafty rolling breaks and dubwise dynamics. Digital is in a good place right here.
Review: You don't get much more junglistic than Ed Solo and on this latest release from Jungle Cakes, you've guessed it, some sticky, sweet jungle is the order or the day. "Smoke The Weed" is a classic jungle mashup, and with Canadian bass master Stickybuds on hand to provide some serious breaks it quickly escalates to an all-out skanking session. Before you can pass it on, "Joker Smoker" adds retro brass and guitar to build the reggae funk as the track fragments into not one but two different breakdowns providing the basis for some serious dancefloor workouts. Don't sleep on this.
Sara Lugo - "Really Like You" (feat Protoje - Jamie Bostron remix) (5:15)
Sizzla - "I'm Living" (Ed Solo & Stickybuds remix) (5:33)
Review: Ahead of the Jungle Cake's third Welcome To The Jungle collection, Deekline drops two of the album's many heaters; Soulfire soulstress Sara Lugo gets the Jamie Bostron treatment as he retains the warm tones and emotional sentiments of the original while applying a slick rolling breakbeat. Looking for a heavier skanker? Flip for Ed Solo and Stickybuds' bass-flecked twist on the unavoidable Sizzla. Underpinned with a juicy bassline, Sizzla's urging lyrics and the dreamy melodica are both kept in check as we roll deeper into the dance. That's living alright.
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.
Pola & Bryson - "Find Your Way" (feat Charlotte Haining) (5:17)
Glxy & Gzb - "Yes Jah" (5:13)
Mitekiss - "Some People" (4:34)
Signal - "How Will I Know" (3:57)
Review: Shogun Audio dig deep into the vaults once again for a collection of long-demanded vinyl outings. Taken from right across the label's broad spectrum, we kick off with Pola, Bryson & Charlotte Haining's anthem sing-along "Find Your Way" before GLX follow with one of their darkest steppers to date "Yes Jah". Meanwhile on the flip Mitekiss's piano-massaging dreamweaver "Some People" before Signal's hurricane vocal headbutt "How Will I Know You" shuts down the session in timeless style. Grab it while you can.
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.
Redders & Sam Binga & Hyroglifics - "Vintage" (feat MC DRS) (4:50)
Review: MC-focused EPs aren't particularly common in D&B. They're even less common on Critical. In fact this is the first. And it's a delight from the off as Redders teams up with mates old and new for a body of work that's more album than EP. "No Go" is all space-funk oddness with barely a bar in sight, "96 In One" is rapid fire storytelling over a dancehall version, "Dem Ones" is Redders' take on a dry-humping love song while "Sexy Or Sweet" sits somewhere between Toddla T and Barry White. Winding up "Aphasia" sees Redders and Sam flip Ruffhouse's dark tribal stamps into a carnival killer and "Vintage" sees the Bristol-based MC go toe-to-toe with the best MC in the game. One of a kind.
Review: Whilst now widely regarded as a towering institution of the drum and bass world, there was a time when Hospital Records' uniquely melodic brand of "disco D&B" was thrillingly cutting edge. Tony Colman's label drops this second vinyl sampler to accompany their impressive Fifteen Years of Hospital double CD compilation which sees the boundary smashing Reso line up for twelve inch duty with the ever excellent S.P.Y. Londoner Reso is no stranger to gnarly, corrosive productions and "Voice From A Distance Star" ranks alongside his most impressive tracks, effortlessly melding foundation worrying bass with dubstep swagger. It's matched by "Untold Future", S.P.Y.'s contribution on the flip which is typically dystopian in tone, unfurling into a noirish, tightly wound sci fi roller of the highest order.
Review: Moscow murkery! S.Kid follows the likes of Kid Lib, Tim Reaper and Dwarde with this outstanding Amenology debut. On the A side he asks us to delve into his cranial matter by way of glacial rush-riddled pads and savage breaks before a big sensual rave vocal softens the necksnap blow. On the B side he reminds us of the reality of the situation with the even choppier, bashier marching jam 'So Real'. Downpitched vocals, pranged out textures and a sub that's chubbier than a politician's wallet. Never miss a brain day.
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: Polish wunderkind Satl returns with his debut on the mighty SunAndBass and not a moment too soon. "Bravehearts (feat Dan Stezo)", a track that's been on dub and on heavy demand since he debuted it over a year ago, finally lands in all its Dan Stezo-fronted fire-tongue glory and it's back by two more beauties; "Acid Trip" is all about the squelchy 303 drizzles and warm pneumatic kicks while "Low End Theory" closes with a resounding subby purr and church-like chords that burst into the track like the first rays of sun. Subtle, restrained yet heavy as hell; Satl's killing it right now.
Review: A year has passed since Script and Survival last blessed us with their rugged wares but the wait, as always, has been worth it. Four tracks of authentic, bulletproof block-knockery, it's the sound of two men who love the 90s rudiments as much as they love their machines; "Stalker" lives up to its creepy name, all dark, creepy and persistent. The tension-wrought "Hide In Plain Sight" takes a cinematic twist with its sample, drawn out strings and grainy synth squiggles, while "Sleep Talk" takes us down a much darker, tribal route that nods more towards the Samurai style of the craft. Last but definitely not least, "Hey You" finishes the EP with the most emotional, soul-stirring piece of the EP. Lingering pianos, unhurried, deep-breath pads and bassline so warm and voluptuous you want to live in it; like all Scar releases it leaves us hungry for more... Let's hope they don't leave it a year to wait.
Review: Now into his third decade as a full-time drum and bass producer, Seba continues to serve up high quality EPs at a furious rate. "Close To You" is the Swede's fifth 12" of 2018, yet it's every bit as alluring and essential as any of its predecessors. We're particularly enjoying the colourful, soulful flutter of the rhythmically punchy title track, though opener "She Looks Real" - a more foreboding, warehouse-friendly workout - and "Time Will Tell" are almost as good. Arguably best of all, though, is "Why Can't This End", where a poignant, heartfelt vocal from what sounds like house legend Robert Owens majestically rises above deep, spacey melodies and rolling drum and bass rhythms.
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.