Jonny L’s deal with XL Recordings in the early 90’s was a big deal for jungle. They were, and still are, a major player in the dance music community and helped push his releases to the world. While maybe not as commercially successful as Jonny’s other work like 2 Of Us, Piper, or Magnetic, the This Time EP is just as good. The title track is a sauntering, buttery smooth jungle tilt featuring a lovely (uncredited) female vocal telling you, “it’s time to break free,” interspersed with hip-hop “aww yeahs.” If you’ve never heard it before then put your headphones on, crank it up, and press play.
I haven’t gone in on a B&P in awhile, so allow me to write some words about some music that’s either available now or out soon.
Mako – Do You Feel The Same – Warm Communications – OUT NOW
The A side, Do You Feel The Same? gives us some nice, dark, moody atmospherics before breaking down into a nostalgic No U-Turn-esque kick to the face. Meanwhile, All We Can Do feels like an antithesis of Do You Feel The Same? and showcases some of the duality of Mako. Finally, Too Broke To Get It, has me falling for the texture and layers flooding over everything. It just feels full and lush.
Blu Mar Ten Music – Marso & Gala – Promise/MonoChrome – OUT NOW
A male/female production team from Siberia that are creating an interesting soundscape with this release on BMTM. Promise feels very melancholy despite the name, unless that promise is supposed to be broken. Very despondent synths rising out of the staccato beat. A wistful vocal sample rises and falls throughout the tune giving it even more melancholia. Monochrome is a much brighter flip compared to Promise. It has a sunny disposition with a musing cheer, but there’s still some coldness there. Maybe that Siberian upbringing and environment is reflected in the music?
Fre4knc – Chain Of Command / Sinjek – Plasma Audio – OUT NOW
Fre4knc seems to be hitting his stride with this release and new bits on Invisible, Dispatch, and Samurai. Chain of Command is a mean, floor killer for Plasma Audio’s third release. It’s meant to turn the aggro level up to 11 and that’s allllright by me. Sinjek is grittier and darker, a bit more foreboding. It’s the quiet guy in the corner that would be the bigger threat if this release were an action movie and the duo were about to square off against the protagonist. Chain of Command would soften em up, before Sinjek would come in with purpose.
Macky Gee – Black Widow EP – Liondub International – Out Soon
Maybe I’ve been in a hole, but I wasn’t very aware of Macky Gee until the Black Widow EP slithered it’s way into my inbox. Most of it is a pleasant surprise as some of the sounds aren’t generally in my wheel house. The particulars are pretty straight forward…a five track EP showcasing jump-up party anthems. The stand-outs for me are Be The One and The Hood. The former has a bit of a Playaz vibe to it, while the latter changes things up a smidge with a slightly dirtier bass riff. Both would get pulled up in the right dance.
Spearhead – Ten – Out 6th April
Ten is Spearhead’s compilation that celebrates the past and future of the label featuring a best-of compilation and a pile of future classics. If you’ve followed Spearhead, or even drum & bass, at all for a few years then most of these tunes will be familiar. They’ve wound their way into many playlists and sets over the last ten years and done serious damage. All of the tunes on Ten encapsulate what label don, BCee has been pushing with the imprint since its inception. Top quality.
Spearhead has a double vinyl gatefold package planned that includes a triple CD pack included for Ten. If that’s not your thing, you can opt for just the CD triple pack or a digital-only release. The CD release will have the remastered selections, 13 brand new tracks, and a 70 minute megamix by BCee. The mix is only available on the CD release, so head’s up. Listen to the above linked tracks for a taste, but click HERE for all the details.
C.I.A – Classified V1 EP – OUT NOW
Four brand new tracks from Calibre, Total Science (and Riya!), Mako, and a Chroma for about $5? Yes, please. I don’t really need to go into a big description of the tracks, just re-read those names again or, if you STILL don’t believe me, click play on the embedded player….but I will say that, that Calibre tune is retro atmosheric drum & bass personified.
Quentin Hiatus – Passive Boycott – Translation Recordings – OUT NOW
Mr. Hiatus has been one of the more prolific artists to roll across my desk in the last twelve months. He’s done tons of stuff for Free Love Digi, but now he’s got a release on DC’s Translation Recordings. He’s always ridden a genre-bending line and this is no exception. Big 808 bass and killer drum patterns weave in and out of the track making it more quality future bass material.
DistantStarr – Vibe – First Moth Records – Out 20th April
Last, but not least, comes a tidy little hip-hop album, Vibe, from New York MC DistantStarr. I typically judge hip-hop by it’s repeat playability. What that means is that I generally ask myself, “How many time will I listen to this album?” Usually, a cursory listen is all I can get through (unless it’s Kanye, then 0 listens), but I’m far from the world’s biggest hip-hop aficionado. Distantstarr’s Vibe has had me hooked for four full listens already. Everything I’ve heard is tight, catchy and infinitely re-playable. Even my 18 month old son found his groove to the album and that’s high praise indeed.
One of my all-time favorite mixes is the classic AWOL – Live in London 1995 mix featuring Darren J, Mickey Finn, Dr. S Gachet, Kenny Ken and Randall rinsing out a packed house while GQ and Fearless handle mic duties. From the first drop on DJ Biggs’ The Hunter and that “Jezusss Christ!” sample you know the whole thing is just a balls to the wall amen tear-out.
These days it’s rather rare for a new track to capture that same feeling, but I’ll be damned if Stivs and Katch Pyro haven’t captured it with Yuh No Badman! They dive right in with a filthy likkle guitar lick and waste no time drilling you in the face at the 43 second mark with 808 madness. It got me way hyped for a mundane Wednesday morning at the office so I can’t even imagine how it’d do on a dancefloor. I love jungle.
In addition to the original mix is a chunky, slowed down remix from Fleck and a straight-up darkside drum & bass chaser from Gold Dubs. All the tune previews are available in the soundcloud below.
The music, the clothes, the place, the time. Shot on location in Peckham in 1993, this 29 minute short film will put a smile on your face.
From Dazed Magazine: “Working with a purely improv script and local grassroots cast, Julian Henriques’s We the Ragamuffin provides a fascinating glimpse into the hybrid world of ‘ragga’, gun play, and dancehall in the British-Carribean community of Peckham.”
Julian Henriques: “The whole film was shot on location in Peckham, but the Ragamuffin culture -the current version of reggae at the time – was inspired by Jamaica. If you listen to the music, you can hear all kinds of beats that hearken back to Africa. But the artists featured in the film developed a distinctive crossover style, like Mikey General who sings the main song. It’s a uniquely British black Carribean–inspired music scene.”
MC DRS’ second full length EP, Mid Mic Crisis, just dropped on Marcus Intalex’s Soul:R HERE and I am fucking stoked!
I am a full-on, unapologetic MC DRS evangelist. I’ve supported every project he’s been a part of because 1. they’re great and 2. he works his ass off for his craft. It isn’t hyperbole when I say that he has literally changed the the drum & bass MC game by showing the world that it’s not just double-time, bar repeating cokeheads chatting shit. He’s brought structure, timing, lyrical content, and quality production to this world when other guys just mail it in for a check. That’s why DJs and producers want him on their tracks and not just toasting their sets and being forgotten (or worse, being unplugged mid-set).
Much like his prior release, I Don’t Really Like MC’s But…, Mid Mic Crisis delivers a host of collaborations with some of the heavyweights in drum & bass. It’s like an all-star game on the damn album. You want Calibre? Ok. What about SPY? Yep, he’s done a tune with DRS and Shola Ama. Lynx? Die? Marcus Intalex? He’s gotcha. It makes me wonder how many tracks from other producers didn’t make the cut and how many VIPs are floating around out there…
Two tracks on this album, The View (with LSB) and The Puppeteer (with Jubei), have been doing epic dancefloor damage all over the world. Now, there’s 15 other tracks with the aforementioned producers ready to create their own havoc. I’m only on my first listen through this morning, but here’s what’s caught my ear so far…a subdued downtempo bass workout with Toddla T on the title track, Mid Mic Crisis. The follow-up to the tune that put “bun” into my vernacular, Bun Ya Too with Intalex, Chimpo, Fox, Rolla, and Strategy. The absolutely disgusting Diablo with Dub Phizix and a nice hip-hop number, Try Out, with Micall Parknsun.
Instead of buying your grande mocha latte with half calf-decaf, take that $7 and drop it on the Mid Mic Crisis.
You can listen to previews and purchase the album at the DRS – Mid Mic Crisis at Soul:R’s Bandcamp page.
Fox just released his solo debut, the Shiddleywiddleyskangdangdiddleywoi EP (that’s a mouthful),on Estate Recordings with Chimpo supplying the beats. You might know Fox best for his work with My Nu Leng on the massive Masterplan and his turn on Claude Von Stroke’s Oakland Rope. However, he’s LONG been a staple of the Manchester MC community…maybe even an elder statesman…flexing his lyrical chops in that city’s various musical endeavors from hip-hop to grime to drum & bass.
The feature beat on the EP, War, is a uniquely timed Mancunian grimer. Obviously the message of the track is apparent from the first bar and while the message isn’t new, the delivery mechanism is certainly fresh. You can hear the rest of the tunes at the link below and I encourage you to give it a go.
Everywhere I turn, I keep seeing Fre4knc’s moniker! He is alllll over the place these days.
He’s got bits coming out on Melbourne-based Plasma Audio, last year’s Tellurian EP on Samurai Music, and Oxide with Amoss on Dispatch. The latter release is the one we’re concerned with since it’s the next one up and is the reason for the nasty promo mix that Fre4knc has done.
01 // Fre4knc – Sinjek [Plasma Audio]
02 // Mindmapper & Fre4knc – Apparatus [Dispatch Recordings]
03 // M Set – All Consuming Fear (Amoss Remix) [Unreleased]
>> Tactile – Caravan [Dispatch Recordings]
04 // Signal – Existence [Unreleased]
05 // D Bridge – True Romance VIP [Unreleased]
06 // Skeptical – Imperial [Exit Records]
07 // Fre4knc – Cardiome [Invisible Recordings]
08 // DLR – Regeneration (Metamorphosis Mix) [Dispatch Recordings]
09 // Freeway – Touch It [Free Download]
10 // Amoss & Fre4knc – Oxide [Dispatch Recordings]
11 // Disprove & Signal – Arkaik Twelve [Unreleased]
12 // Code 3 – Chasm [Exit Records]
13 // Vertigo – The Drained [Droppin’ Science]
14 // Skeptical – Process Of Elimination [Dispatch Recordings]
15 // Fre4knc – Chain Of Command [Plasma Audio]
16 // M-Soul & S27 ft. P-Fine – Illuminate [Unreleased]
17 // Halogenix – Laika [Dispatch Recordings]
18 // DLR – Los Angeles [Dispatch Recordings]
19 // Hanzo & Randie – Try [Avantgarde Recordings]
20 // Amoss – Rollpipe [Dispatch Recordings]
21 // Disprove – Wardrive [Unreleased]
22 // Noisia, Hybrys & Mefjus – Reptilians [Vision Recordings]
23 // Skeptical – Fluctuate [Dispatch Recordings]
24 // ?? – ??
25 // Survival – Exile [Dispatch Recordings]
26 // DLR – Tugboat (The Moneyshot VIP) [Dispatch Recordings]
27 // Amoss – Skittles [Dispatch Recordings]
28 // Policay – Maestro (Fre4knc Remix) [Free Download at 4K]
Boston, a young Welsh producer and not a Southie from Mass, helms the 20th release on Break’s Symmetry Recordings. It’s a turn of styles for the imprint as there’s a decidedly mellower texture on both tracks.
The A-side, and my tune of the day, is Catch Your Breath. Bostom kicks it off with a two-step kick before opening with some bluesy guitar and keys work that showcase his own musical prowess. Then at the break (pun intended), it gets a smidge darker and sub-by but maintains as slow rolling stunner.
I’m a sucker for the bygone jazzstep sound and the B-side, For Grace, fills in that sound gap with distinction. It’d do well with classic EZ Rollers, early Hospital, and select Full Cycle tunes of yesteryear. Both tracks are top notch and worth your pennies.
The upload on this is only two hours old and I’ve already tracked to the beginning of it, after 20 minutes, twice. I’ve essentially rewound a digital mix on my computer. I love you, internet.
Calibre, Ireland’s most prolific and lauded drum & bass producer in the world, helms the first 56 minutes before Craig Richards takes over with some spacey techno for the final hour plus…I know this because I had to fast-forward and listen through after my second rewind so I could post this piece.
You can view all of Mixmag’s In The Lab streams here.
Just a preview of the bass line from Fracture and Chimpo’s From Early (out now on Metalheadz) grabbed my brain and gave it a good shake. I had to hear the whole fucking thing, but alas, I couldn’t until it was released today. Now I own a copy and and I’ve already smashed down my keyboard and had to get a new one. An easy tune of the day.
I can’t wait to drive around downtown during SXSW with the windows down in my Subaru bumping it like the middle-aged dad that I am.