Soulful Nature – Going Nowhere EP

February 28, 2016 in Singles

Soulful Nature Going Nowhere EP NexGen MusicFour tracks of liquid D&B goodness from NexGen Music here.

Going Nowhere itself features a soulful male vocal and elements of piano, sax and strings, and is reminiscent of early Hospital material… the hype sheet’s “think Marvin Gaye meets High Contrast” is as good a description as any! Still Love U operates in similar territory, but it’s a female vocal this time, buried deeper in the mix and accompanied by faster-rolling breakbeats. Something New brings another male vocal and while still quite fierce is also a notch lighter/poppier, while completing the EP is Doing To Me, which has echoes of vintage Acen-style hardcore, but in a smoooooooth kinda way.

They’ve chosen the lead track well here, but liking Still Love U as well.

Out: This week

About: Find NexGen Music here, here and here.

Jigsaw ft Ziddy Sharma – Break The Mould

February 27, 2016 in Singles

Jigsaw Break The Mould E-Motion RecordsAnd from a deep house record that, confusingly, shouts “strictly drum and bass!” (see Alek Soltirov review below) let’s move on to an actual drum & bass record that, helpfully, doesn’t feel the need to shout “strictly deep house!”. Lord knows there’s enough confusion what those two words mean already…

Just the two tracks to choose from here. On the A, Break The Mould is a techy, minimal-leaning stepper with a downpitched male vocal from Sharma and a pleasing “dark n’ moody without getting stoopid about it” feel overall. Flip it over, and She Wasn’t Ready is a rolling liquid affair, much lighter in feel than the A but not without, in true yin/yang style, some inner darkness of its own in the bass department.

Both are cool but it’s Break The Mould I’m feeling the most.

Out: Tomorrow

About: This comes on E-Motion Records, a Birmingham-based D&B label who took a break for most of 2015 but are clearly back in full effect for the 016! Find ’em on Soundcloud and Facebook.

Subalpine – Outlook EP

January 24, 2016 in Singles

Subalpine Outlook EP Spring Tube LiquidA change of pace now, but not a massive change in mood particularly, with this latest from Spring Tube’s excellent Spring Tube Liquid offshoot.

On the A, Outlook itself is a dreamy but driving liquid D&B roller with pads that just don’t stop, lush piano chords and cut-up soulful vox. Flip it over and you’ll find Those Who Wait, which draws on a similar sound palette but, while slightly more uptempo in the beats department, has a more delicate, almost minimal feel overall, with the piano doing most of the work augmented by some mournful trumpet action.

Both are cool but the title track just nudges it for me.

Out: This week

About: Find Spring Tube Liquid, and the rest of the Spring Tube label family, on Soundcloud and Facebook.

BCee, Saxxon & Surplus – STR008

January 16, 2016 in Singles

BCee, Saxxon & Surplus STR008 Soul TraderAnother abrupt switch in style and tempo now with this excellent liquid D&B V/A four-tracker from Soul Trader.

Spearhead boss BCee gets the ball rolling – pun fully intended! – with Understanding, a hi-octane liquid dancefloor slammer that makes great use of a pitched-down vocal lift from Loleatta Holloway’s classic Dreaming. Saxxon keeps things pretty firing with Blue Harbour, which tops steppy beats and LARGE, subby bass with jungle noises, house-y pianos and snatches of reggae vox. BCee, Saxxon and Surplus then team up for Tripped Up, a just-slightly mellower affair with dreamy fem vox and a Korg M1 line that seems to have wandered in from the house room circa 1995 and decided to stay, while BCee plays us out with Only You, a riot of house-y female vocal snips, tinkling ivories, subtle nods to ’91-vintage rave/hardcore and an absolute MONSTER of a bassline.

There’s a lot of insipid ear-candy peddled in the name of liquid; the best stuff, though, will unite the scowling junglist man-dem and the happy-clappy househeads in one great surge of dancefloor euphoria. This superb EP sits firmly in the latter camp, so check it!

Out: This week

About: Find DJ Surplus’s London-based Soul Trader on Soundcloud and Facebook. As the more perceptive among you may have realised, this is the label’s eighth release.

Various – L.T.D EP Vol 2

November 29, 2015 in Singles

L.T.D EP Vol 2 Soul TraderWe ended last night in drum & bass territory, so let’s pick up there again tonight with this pleasingly varied V/A sampler from West London’s fledgling Soul Trader label.

Spearhead Records boss BCee is up first with the soulfully inclined liquid roller Thought I Knew, which sports melancholy strings, gently tinkling ivories and a looping female “I thought I knew you” vocal. HLZ’s Broken Lights sits somewhere between liquid and deep/minimal D&B with its cavernous bass drops, steppy beats and female vocal wails, while McLeod’s Stolen Kisses operates in similar territory but with more frenetic rolling beats. Salaryman’s more strident In The Stories then nudges towards ‘stadium’ territory, before the Simplification & Translate remix of Random Movement’s Chop Shop Burn plays us out on a mellower note once more, albeit when that bass drops you’ll know about it!

It’s the BCee and HLZ tracks I’d head for first, personally, but the range on offer makes this a package that should have broad appeal.

Out: This week

About: Find Soul Trader on Soundcloud and Facebook.

Mutated Forms – Let You Go EP

November 21, 2015 in Singles

Mutated Forms Let You Go EP Spearhead RecordsFinally for Saturday night, let’s up the tempo with some quality soulful D&B vibes from BCee’s Spearhead Records.

Let You Go itself starts with a long, atmospheric intro before bursting out into fierce rolling beats, a big ruff-edged bassline and male “I shoulda let you go” vox. They Know feat Luke Truth is a steppier cut with slightly saccharine R&B male vox counterpointed by the gnarliest of descending basslines. Your XTC operates in similar territory, while finally In Your Mind is the paciest and most frenetic of the lot, with cut-up soulful vox sitting atop stop-start bass rumble and militant rollin’ beats.

All four are plenty playable but the title track’s the one.

Out: This week

About: You can find Spearhead Records herehere and here.

Thomas B – Cavitation Project EP

November 16, 2015 in Singles

Thomas B Cavitation Project EP Plush RecordingsWe end tonight in the deepest of drum & bass territory with this superb EP from Plush Recordings.

Textured Red gets the balling, an uptempo but nonetheless fairly laidback lil’ roller that sits somewhere between ‘liquid’ and ‘minimal’ on the D&B spectrum, and that sports a melancholy muted horn riff I definitely should know from somewhere but can’t place right now. Tetrakt collab Nayam sits firmly in the deep/minimal camp and indeed veers towards the ambient in places, albeit there’s also a cheeky little break from days of yore if you listen closely. MDZ is a downtempo piece and quite cinematic – and at just 2:58, doesn’t outstay its welcome – while finally Sky Island starts out all delicate and ethereal, then introduces half-time steppy beats and ends up sounding a bit Massive Attack-ish.

A varied EP that’s home to some interesting sonic experiments, but it’s the more straight-up deep D&B vibes of the first two tracks that I’m feeling the most.

Out: This week

About: You can find Plush Recordings on Soundcloud, on Facebook or at their own website.

Riya – Sublimation

August 31, 2015 in Albums

Riya Sublimation Spearhead RecordsSome albums to catch up tonight, starting in D&B territory with the debut full-length from one of the scene’s favourite vocalists, Riya.

With a long track record in the D&B industry that dates back even before she started singing in the late 00s – she used to be on staff at DogsOnAcid – Riya (real name Laura Pacheco) has been able to call in some pretty heavy-hitting names to handle production and guest vocal duties here, with the likes of Hybrid Minds, Dynamite MC, Frank H Carter III and Total Science all making an appearance. The result is an album that takes in many shades of drum & bass: the emphasis is on uptempo, liquid-y rollers, but there’s room too for some darker cuts as well as one or two unashamaed stadium/Top 40-friendly belters.

It’s already been made D&B Album of the Month in Mixmag, so even bigger things look assured…

Out: Now

About: This comes on BCee’s Spearhead Records, who you can find here, here and here. There’s an interview with Riya at UKF, too.

Altered Perception/J2B – Catatonic/Day & Night

August 7, 2015 in Singles

Altered Perception J2B Catatonic Day & Night Plush RecordingsTIWWD is about to take a couple of weeks’ break, but there’s just time tonight to give you a quick heads-up on some of next week’s releases, kicking off with this split D&B release from Plush Recordings.

On the A, Altered Perception’s Catatonic is a deep, dark n’ steppy affair, quite techy in terms of its sound palette but kinda chilled all the same. Flip it over, and AA-side Day & Night from J2B is a pacier liquid funk cut with a lounge-y bent to its tinkling xylophone sounds and sweeping strings, albeit all that sweetness is counterpointed by a hefty droning bassline that can do ‘menacing’ with the best of ’em.

Fine stuff as ever from Plush, nuff said!

Out: Next week

About: Find Denver-based Plush Recordings on Soundcloud, on Facebook or at their own website.

Nymbus – Silica

July 30, 2015 in Singles

Nymbus Silica Slime RecordingsSome deep D&B vibes to kick us off tonight from Slime Recordings.

Silica itself is a smooth-rollin’ liquid funker with ambient synth washes galore, lovely gentle ivories and chipmunk’d fem vox, while Obsidian is a steppier affair but otherwise operates in similar territory, with the addition of some drifty jazz sax. There’s some serious script-flipping goin’ on in the remix department, though, as in Blackboxx’s hands Silica becomes a sparse future garage gem with nearly two full minutes of beatless intro, while Aaron Static’s rub is… actually I don’t even know how to describe this one! “A seven-minute epic that bridges the genre gap between garage, breaks and neuro,” is how the hype sheet has it; suffice to say if you like your beats on a more abstract tip, this is for you.

All good stuff, but it’s the original and Blackboxx mixes of Silica I’m loving the most.

Out: This week

About: You can find Slime Recordings on Soundcloud and Facebook.