Reviews

DRUM N BASS: JUNE

31 May 2012
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DRUM N BASS: JUNE

ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Utah Jazz
Groove Therapy (Vintage)

One of the shining lights of the noughties’ liquid funk boom, Luke Wilson’s much envied library of rare soul samples continues to earn him legions of international fans and a unique position in the d’n’b galaxy. True to his defiantly old-skool production ethic, album number three is awash with the dusky sax trills, lilting piano rolls and shuffling breaks that have become his smile-inducing signature – a treasure trove of unvarnished rollers entirely devoid of mechanoid modern gloss or studio gimmicks. You’ll also find sassy, reggae-flecked funk (‘The Warning’ feat David Boomah) and loping 150bpm breakbeat grooves (‘Infinity’), but it’s the tear-jerking brilliance of mournful piano gems like ‘Loops For Days’ that do it for us. Get those jazz hands ready, people: summer has officially arrived. 9/10
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TUNE OF THE MONTH
Dub Phizix feat Fox
Never Been (Critical)

Picking up where tribal torpedo ‘Marka’ left off, Manc maestro Dub Phizix tops the charts again with another half-time ragga-step wrecking ball. Anchored by a swaggering vocal hook, it’s all controlled volleys of drum edits and delicious Amen snippets hopscotching around a thunderous bassline stutter, and an innate funkiness that delights as much as it menaces. This is the cutting edge of d’n’b, right here – and it’s sharp as a shark. 10/10
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Fracture
Get Busy (Exit)

The brilliantly leftfield Fracture has really come up trumps here, unleashing an infectious half-step percussive groove-fest preceded by a brain-twisting 90-second broadside of tribal madness. The naked staccato breaks build up into a frenzy, and just when you can’t take being pummelled by ceaseless waves of sonic arrhythmia any longer, the whole genius mess bottoms out into a half-time skank you can’t resist. Exit is on fire right now, and from the sound of this, Fracture is peaking in new ways too. Get involved. 8/10
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Alix Perez
Myriads (Jubei remix) (Shogun Audio)

Shogun’s ‘Evolution’ series of EPs seem to be going toe-to-toe with Ram’s ‘Dimensions’ four-trackers, and that kind of competition is fine by us when the tunes are this heavyweight. Instalment No. 3 lays down a serious challenge in the shape of Rockwell, dBridge, Total Science and Jubei, with the latter’s stripped-down tech-
step heatseeker the simplest and deadliest of the bunch. Miltant, thwacking breaks are just the sideshow for a brain-busting bassline that growls, lurches and funks its way along, aided deliciously by warping FX that recall C4C’s all-time classic ‘Carrier’. Gnarly dancefloor darkness. 8/10
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Nymfo
Under Fire (Commercial Suicide)

Talented young Dutchman Nymfo has bagged an album deal with Klute’s fabulous leftfield label Commercial Suicide, and he’s worth every penny. This, the lead track from the LP sampler, is a no-nonsense roller very much in the vein of Calibre’s recent smash ‘The Hummer’: a morphing slab of low end that bucks and oscillates endlessly like some runaway sci-fi ghost train. Listen closely and you’ll hear echoes of classic Aphrodite jump-up deep in the bosom of the bass – which effectively gives you a licence to buy a massive horn and pogo like a loon the next time you go out raving. Do it. 7/10
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Jubei feat Flowdan
Say Nothing (Metalheadz)

Following Goldie’s era-defining 100th Metalheadz release ‘Freedom’ is no easy task, but d’n’b’s own King Midas appears to have found his ultimate disciple in Jubei, entrusting him with several of the label’s recent releases and here allowing him to push the boat out with a demonic half-
time vocal cluster bomb. Spacious, pendulous breaks throb metronomically as Flowdan’s taut London delivery lays waste to speaker stacks and eardrums. Offering more of a stealthy vibe than Dub Phizix’s aggy take on the tribal template, this is a cultured slab of lyrical bassline badness. 7/10
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Survival & Ant TC1 feat Christina Nicola
Locked (Dispatch)

Every junglist loves a massive, buzzing Reese bassline, and given that the three-minute intro to this epic industrial aria begins with a full-throttle wave of electronic sizzle, we can confidently predict it’s going to be a big hit. This is militant and muscular rolling funk from two seasoned campaigners, but the frightening mid-range growls are joined by moments of beautiful breathing space, too, where touches of reverbed guitar meld with Christina Nicola’s delectable coos to take you somewhere deeper and calmer. Not for long, mind – that sawtoothed bassline is all over this baby like a poisonous rash. And it rocks. 8/10
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Phace
Stresstest (Neosignal)

Phace and Misanthrop’s label project is a lesson in über-cool branding and dynamite dancefloor filth, and this futuristic tech-thumper is a typically knotty affair, all waspish synth shards and compressed bass punches. The amount of midrange layers that snipe and divebomb in hectic formation here is scary – only Rockwell manages to pack more into a track. Speaking of whom... flip over for a spine-shivering, spidery roller courtesy of Rockwell & Alix Perez. Neosignal doesn’t mess about, does it? 7/10
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Total Science & Spy feat Riya & Dam Funk
Piano Funk (Toolroom)

Total Science always manage to squeeze the best out of the heavenly Riya, and this A-list dancefloor-soul gem is no exception. Her dulcet tones swim effortless over punchy, rolling breaks, widescreen orchestral glimmers, gorgeous piano rolls and the odd spot of synth sizzle that’s hidden deep in the mix. Riya is easily our favourite d’n’b vocalist right now: instantly recognisable, and with the perfect mixture of sass and depth. Hats off. 9/10
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Nickbee & Sunchase
Mangup (Invisible)

Noisia’s gilt-edged Invisible label is a byword for quality: only four releases have surfaced thus far, and all have been collector’s items. Now, in yet another killer move, burgeoning Ukrainian bass scientist Nickbee is given his own EP, promptly delivering four seismic nuggets of dark, deep, tech-roller twistiness to rival Ulterior Motive. ‘Mangup’ throbs with textured dancefloor menace, an epic two-minute intro of eastern wails and Star Wars strings giving way to a caterpillar of a bassline that writhes and corkscrews around fluttering drums and sizzling midrange squelch. It’s filth, but from another planet entirely. 9/10
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TAGS: DRUM N BASS / REVIEWS / TUNES

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