Compilation of the month
Tali: Dark Days, High Nights (AudioPorn)
When Roni Size first broke NZ MC and vocalist Natalia Scott back in the early noughties, it all felt a little pop-lite and manufactured, so the songstress deserves maximum kudos for hanging in there long enough to drop LP no 2: a bumper package of synth-grizzled dubstep and electro-charged d’n’b via an army of guest producers including Lynx, Ed Rush and Dirtyphonics. Those unconvinced by Tali’s melodic mishmash of falsetto crooning, quickfire urban spitting and occasionally bland subject matter should look no further than the additional live acoustic CD produced by RAM Records godfather Ant Miles – where the sassing, sparkling balladry of ‘Take a Chance’ neatly summarises our continuing affection for d’n’b’s first, and only, global princess.
Classically trained São Paulo producer André Sobota has been rolling out colourful, expansive funk since 2004 and this gem from his forthcoming second LP ‘Memories’ is the work of a serious musician. Distant horns wax and wane behind a clever rhythmic triad of Balearic synths, soft-soled breaks and gently fudging bass – but the track is definitely for the dance, coaxing as much as it lulls. Comes as part of a four-track vinyl package that puts the cream of the LP on wax – bargain.
2 (Dogs Down)
Respected US virtuoso Random Movement’s brand of soulful, divinely-detailed d’n’b has been vigorously championed by DJ Marky over the years, and sometimes you just have to applaud... which is precisely what this multi-layered funk-along does, all by itself. Endless ripples of joyous clapping form a dense percussive fabric to which delicate arpeggios and ghosting synths are also stitched – before a sudden switcheroo at the drop ushers in a surprisingly skanky throw-down. Not for long, mind – that percussion patchwork soon returns to engulf the track once more. Clever stuff. Bravo and encore, say we.
Body Double (Phace remix) (Neodigital)
German gigantics Phace and Misanthrop launch their digital-only sub-label with an absolute shin-kicker of a tech-roller. The track works by pitting spindly, psychedelic vocal echoes against the tumultuous wrath of mid-range and low-end that’s scissoring away beneath. There’s only one winner – the track collapses away into yet more broiling sub-bass layers – but the effect is a clever one: eccentric grandeur rather than full-on filth-off. Enormous.
Camo & Krooked
In The Future feat Jenna G & Futurebound (Hospital)
Austrian synth-fiends Camo & Krooked are a marquee signing for d’n’b’s fastest-growing superbrand, Hospital, and this laser-precise feelgood speedball sounds so fresh, clean and sanitised it’ll soon be coming to a Radio 1 jingle near you. Despite Manc chanteuse Jenna G adding some glamour to proceedings, however, the super-smooth breaks lack the edginess of previous offerings – which is where the TC-remixed flip ‘Make the Call’ comes in. Saved.
Need For Mirrors
LoWalk (Dispatch Recordings)
Need For Mirrors are taking a wrecking ball to d’n’b right now, popping up every-which-where to pound labels to pieces with their fearsome formula: cut-glass minimal production values combined with biting tech-roller grooves. ‘LoWalk’ has all the swing and heft of recent top-drawer outings such as ‘Skip Rope’ (the flip to Break & Die’s humungous ‘Slow Down’ VIP), but drops the gears down a notch to allow the pair’s patent techno influences to glimmer.
Born To Rise (Shogun Audio)
Friction’s bashy Brighton bloodhounds The Prototypes appear to be Shogun Audio’s shrewd riposte to RAM Records’ growing garrison of big-room rave-merchants – such as the unstoppable Loadstar. And it’s working. In this month’s synth-based epic-off, the Protos beat Loadstar’s ‘Berlin’ hands down with an eye-wateringly ambitious tear-up of 80s guitar slashings, double-walled synth riffs, hair-raising vocal harmonies and threshing drums. A bit like ‘Berlin’, in fact. But better. Seconds out, round two!
Bold move, calling a track ‘Epic’ – especially when it’s more of a low-slung brooding roller than a hands-in-the-air face-grater. But Swedish-born Mikal isn’t a rising Metalheadz star for nowt, and this standout track from the label’s third ‘Genesis EP’ instalment is undeniably thrilling: that scudding, phased bassline careens crazily beneath a stop-start drum groove, while delightful Indian vocal tics add widescreen, cinematic flavours. Epic? Of course it is.
Synth-souped euphorica is catching right now – and Radio 1 ain’t complaining. Curiously straying from his usual tech-roller sound, the excellent Prolix delivers a galloping slice of shimmering dancefloor funk, its chopped-up vocodered vocals taken straight from the Danny Byrd guide to Hospital bangers. This is fine work, mind, from the dreamy pads to the infectious LFO bass. Expect an airing by Annie Mac any time now – and deservedly so.