Week 42: Essential Drum & Bass Releases [Oct 2014]

Reviewer Ryan Origin covers some of the best October Drum & Bass releases for Kmag.uk

Big. Beautiful. Epic. These are all words that describe Metrik’s new album on Hospital, “Universal Language”. Melding flavors from modern EDM, festival D&B, and the classic Hospital vibe, this LP is a fine example of accessible, well-crafted D&B.

The more roughneck junglists among you may find the dreamy, vocal-led tracks a bit poppy, but the world of D&B in 2014 is a diverse one, and there is something here for everyone.

The title track, “Universal Language”, does it’s name justice as it’s pounding drums, rollercoaster sequence, and of-the-moment rave synths would appeal to any fan of popular Electronic Music. Next up, the gargantuan “Want My Love” has been an anthem since making it’s initial rounds earlier in the year, and with good reason. It’s ability to straddle the line between massive and minimal is a major testament to Metrik’s skill in the studio.

Continuing the sonic trend of the album, “Slipstream”, “Believe”, “Freefall VIP”, “Human Again”, and “Infinity” all offer different takes on the signature Metrik sound. Expect well-produced vocals, top-notch synth work, and a keen sense of what works on the dancefloor.

Not limited to one’s expectations of Metrik, the album reaches more aggressive highs with the beautifully intense “Reykjavik” and the stuttering electrofunk of “What’s Out There”. Further moving away from the norm, Metrik drops the big room energy in halftime with “Aftermath” to devastating effect. By contrast, the nearly beatless “Borealis” could sit on the end credits of a big budget sci-fi flick, and “Dream Sequence” does away with rhythm entirely, leaving us with flowing synth strings and our own internal dialog.

Quality from start to finish from Metrik and Hospital. Essential.

What I’m playing: “Want My Love” and “Aftermath”.

With the third installment of Famous Lost World remixes, Blu Mar Ten offers up 3 high-quality reworks sure to get your introspective wheels turning.

The eponymous remix from Nuage channels the best moments of Autonomic with throaty vocal chops hovering above minimal drum machine rhythms. Before you have a chance to get distracted, airy synths blanket the area in texture, further pushing the listener into a dreamstate.

Kimyan Law’s relick of ‘Half the Sky” features the juxtaposition of minimal two-steppin beats and the moody, clanking melodies of the original.

The most dancefloor of the trio has to be Ulterior Motive’s re-imagining of “In your Eyes”. The classy, surgical beats teeter somewhere between Metropolis-era jungle and modern halftime. As musical as it is intense, this one is not easily forgotten.

What I’m playing: “Half the Sky (Kimyan Law Remix)”.

KLAX – BINARY 002 [Critical]
Quality stuff from UK Trio “Klax” on the second edition of Critical’s Binary series.

These guys have been a favorite of mine since being introduced to their insane remix of Mok’s “Rufio”, and the next-level vibes continue with this stellar EP.

Putting the funk back in neuro, “Blackball” is all of what’s best with moody and minimal tech. “Cornerstone” darkens the palette a bit as the entire track is doing it’s best to pound the floor into submission. The template is classic, but the implementation is modern and interesting to hear. It’s worth noting that the spacious and open breakdown is the perfect tool in the right situation.

“Hoodrat” ups the urgency further, and the frantic beats complement the sinister atmosphere and vocals perfectly.

This EP rewards repeated listens, as there is a ton to discover within. Solid stuff from three producers to watch in 2014 and beyond. Well played, boys.

A most looked-forward-to release for me in 2014, this innovative EP from Astrophonica does not disappoint in any regard.
One cannot listen to these tracks without thinking that this might be the sexiest bass music release of 2014.

Starting off strong with “She Want It Ruff”, the dancehall-esque beats drop seconds after the intro, and is quickly set ablaze from the first words out of Rider’s mouth. A halftime 808 workout of the highest order.

Taking a more minimal route to the same place, “Back It Up” combines finger snaps, 808s in place of a kick, and some salacious lyrics appropriate to darkened rooms of all sorts. Cut from the same cloth as the previous two modern dancehall numbers is “Bubble”. It doesn’t cover any ground untouched by the other vocal tracks, but it’s inclusion here is welcome still as everything sounds fresh and new.

I don’t throw the word “innovative” around a lot, but this EP completely deserves that distinction. Bravo.

What I’m Playing: “Back It Up”

Tempo records drops 3 fantastic tracks from the legendary Digital.
Hearing reports of Digital smashing his gigs this summer, I was excited to see a trio of new beats from the man himself in my inbox.

“Africa” doesn’t mess around, as it’s dirty, metallic drums are the perfect foundation to the signature Digital sound. Modern dub for the warehouse set. Cleaning things up a bit with “Fire”, the beats and percussion push and pull the listener toward the sporadic percussion and occasional amen turnaround. Classy, dubwise stuff from the don of the minimal rinse out. “Logged In” is an amen workout of the highest order, and feels like an homage to the classic Metalheads/Reinforced sound.

Solid, cohesive stuff from one of the kings of the jungle.

I’m an unabashed sucker for halftime, and with “Yoga”, Sabre has touched a nerve.

Don’t sleep on the intro, as I can think of few better opening tunes than the grinding start to this one. Attention-grabbing for sure. While the aggressive synth line appears, you are almost immediately swinging with the traditional 808 drum beat. Fantastic dark, head-nodding stuff.

Though I am less enamored with Cruel Culture & Keosz’ “Threat”, it serves as a nice companion to the A side. Modern, skittering and minimal beats feature below whirling tech textures. For fans of the sound and in the right situation, this one could be devastating.

What I’m Playing: “Yoga”

I’ve been following Chimpo since his first collabs with Dub Phizix and was immediately a fan upon hearing his unique, low-register vocal style. If you imagine a 500 pound gorilla with a machete in one hand and a lager in the other, you have an idea of what Chimpo sounds like as an MC.

No slouch in the studio, the 5 tracks on this EP are fantastic examples of the UK’s modern take on bass music. (Though I suspect Chimpo would credit Manchester.)

Opening things up with a bang is “Restless Legs Syndrome”. Absolutely stomping, juked-out beats provide foundation for hype vocal shot trickery.

Next up, haltempo simplicity finds it’s way to the EP with “Haymaker”. Grinding, dirty, and well worth a spin.

Chimpo finally gets on the mic with “Out An Bad”, and there was much rejoicing. Brilliant, dirty hip-hop of the highest order, featuring fiery, clever bars from the man himself. The verses are punctuated with infectious synthwork descending from the heavens.  I’m not sure this song could get any more likable.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Fixate on two collabs here. Both “Bun It” and “Dumb” are hectic, bassy, and intricate. Vocals flying all around, brutal drums, and a heavy dose of drugged-out energy permeates both tracks. It’s exciting to see Exit pushing in some different directions recently, and I think it’s time for the music world to sit up and take notice.

What I’m Playing: Out An Bad

Sinistarr and Bcee & Saxxon on remix duties here, offering up two distinct interpretations of Random Movement’s “Dancing Feat”.

Upon hearing the Sinistarr rework a few months back, I was taken by it’s ultra-minimal composition. The elements that comprise this piece are so simple and tightly-wound, I wasn’t surprised when I found myself dancing around at the first drop. I suppose the remix does it’s title justice.

As for the Bcee & Saxxon rethinking of Dancing Feat, things become a bit more lush and manicured. The textures weaved within their version are a wonderful counterpoint to the knocking drums.

I tend to lean toward the immediacy of the Sinistarr version, but the second remix is clever enough to earn it’s place here. Well-crafted, trippy, and unique vibes from Rubik.

What I’m Playing: Dancing Feat (Sinistarr Remix)