Between the staff employed here we spend a whole bunch of our time seeking out, reacting to, recommending and playing each other new music. Understandably it’s an integral part of what we do. So, in simplistic terms, we wanted to create a place for us to share the things we share internally, with you, externally. But rather than have that be screenshots of hundreds of different and badly spelled Skype IMs we decided to make it a little bit more curated, so we asked Hanna Wiggins (@Wiiigz) to put together her take on the month just gone in drum & bass music...
A Timeless Performance
Since the advent of social media, one of the most charming characteristics of the UK drum & bass community is the way that every once in a while we converge. Fans collectivise as friends en masse, seemingly more so than any self-regarding native electronic music culture; pouring over events and major talking points to the extent that you notice something beautiful happen. After rounds of hazy weekends spent, fragmented by the alienation sustained within the doldrums of noxious day jobs and the shitty British summertime; a few times a year a prestigious event will take centre stage, enacting collective energy reserves and sparking a buzzing commentary across social media, pub benches and living room sofas.
That phenomenon was sparked this month by no less than the heads’ golden boy, by name and by nature, Goldie of Metalheadz. Last year, the drum & bass legend quietly set about the orchestration of his 1995 masterpiece, Timeless alongside the Heritage Orchestra. It mostly went under the radar, with teasing video recordings trickling across the web from revered guest listeners and London’s more discerning crowd, leaving some fans kicking themselves for not being more astute - myself included. Thankfully, Timeless (Sine Tempore) was brought back once again this summer, returning with two consecutive slots at London’s Southbank Centre on the 22nd and 23rd and a third at Bristol’s Lloyds Amphitheatre - an outdoor venue in the city’s Harbourside area on 25th July. I attended the first of the three, dedicated to no other than Diane Charlemagne* who breathed such life into this seminal LP, with the indelible vocal performance on ‘Inner City Life’. In stark contrast to the heaving and blackened nightclubs synonymous with the original breakbeat sound, the audience sat mesmerised in the sold-out Royal Festival Hall, bathed in sweeping lasers as the Metalheadz bossman bounded excitedly across the stage while the orchestra brought his analog vision to life. Stunning vocal performances from Cleveland Watkiss, Espa and Vanessa Haynes also brought something very magical to the performance that will be remembered for a very long time by all in attendance.
The Return of Commix
It's been a pretty big month for all things Metalheadz who've unleashed a spate quality releases from Ulterior Motive, Nucleus & Paradox and Lenzman's Looking At The Stars Remix EP, but the big[ger] guns were rolled out to announce the official return of George Levings, aka Commix, with not one or two, but three EPs' worth of freshly mastered material at the ready! The huge news was delivered last week on the ‘Headz facebook page, confirming an impending three part series from the now solo artist, which set a wildfire spark across the drum & bass community with billowing nostalgia, harking back to the eminent sounds of 2007’s Call To Mind LP and classic tracks such as ‘Talk To Frank’ and ‘Roots Train’.
It might seem like the Cambridge born producer Levings has trodden water since the announcement of the split with co-producer Guy Brewings back in 2012 but he continued alone as CMX for a little while and began releasing techno under the Endian moniker. He more than kept up appearances with tracks on two of the most acclaimed compilations of last year as CMX with ‘Tesserae’ for dBridge’s Exit Records housed Mosaic Vol. 2 and the half-time creeper ‘Ghost Loops’ on Doc Scott’s Future Beats LP for 31 Recordings so we're more than keen to hear what he's been working on.
FABRICLIVE 82: Ed Rush & Optical
As bastions of drum & bass at FABRICLIVE since day dot, Ed Rush & Optical came through with the eighty-second instalment of the FABRICLIVE mix series this month. The Virus Recordings pair who engendered a generation of artists off the back of their highly acclaimed ‘92 collaborative LP, Wormhole, delivered a fast and furious 39 track mix of darkly frenetic dancefloor d&b. Guaranteed to satiate the fans of their twisted, tech sound; the visceral, gut punch of the artwork featuring a pig's head is allegorical of what’s to come on FABRICLIVE 82. This mix compilation is the gold standard of the pair’s signature style; a sonic lecture in the dark and relentless tear-out that has secured their enduring pre-eminence in the genre. The tracklist reads like a tech-head’s dream, featuring a selection bursting with exclusives, unreleased material and a generous helping of classics. Ed Rush & Optical cite this rounded mix compilation as “…a good representation of all of the amazing music and talent that is in our scene at the moment.” We can’t argue with that.
FABRICLIVE 82's launch party is in RM1 on 21/08. Tickets/info here.
Since setting himself off on an exceptional footing for Critical Music’s digital-only Binary series last summer on BINARY001, Kasra’s latest signing, Hyroglifics, is busy gaining a lot of traction right now. Signposted earlier this year by FACT Magazine as one of their '10 Drum & Bass Producers to Watch In 2015’ and securing a late addition to the prestigious Red Bull Music Academy class of 2015 last month; there’s seemingly no limit to the appeal and dynamism of this fresh, young producer. Championed within the playlists of the most progressive tastemakers of the genre (people like Alix Perez, Doc Scott and Ivy Lab), the thunderstorm of hype is inarguably befitting for Critical’s golden boy, with futuristic teaser artwork (pictured) and genre bending previews of Hyroglifics’ forthcoming No Drama EP already melting the minds of DJ’s and journalists alike prior to its worldwide release on the 17th August. It’s probably safe to say that he’s about to blow up.
Staying focused on Critical; their super-group, Ivy Lab, unleashed a special treat for the fabric Blog readers at the beginning of the month in the form of the delectable free track, ‘Focus’. The downloadable ditty upholds their distinctive formula of tightly rolling drums, futuristic pads, emotive vocal chops and a hearty dose of sub bass that we’ve come to adore from trendsetting trio; Sabre, Stray and Halogenix. You can download it here:
On The Fringe
With a remix EP released today, Stray’s eclectic Paradise EP has been given a second lick by label head dBridge and Exit Records affiliate, Machinedrum, following its release at the beginning of June. Left wanting by the polished and smoothly swelling glitch of the original title track, dBridge pushes the limits of experimentation with a caustic, left field expansion the original slow/fast formula in his chopped and screwed ‘Paradise dB's Glitch Slap Edit’, that’s as compelling in composition as it is uncompromising in bass weight. Machinedrum delights in the transformation of Stray’s woozy, hip hop number ‘Movements’, into a fractal envelopment of polyrhythmic sumptuousness that warms you from the inside out. Your patience will be rewarded by the drop - a full body, skin tingling sensation that’s both made for late night headphone consumption and rattling the club inside out.
To compliment this extended project, Stray posted up an engrossing studio mixtape of ‘paradisiacal treats’ on his Soundcloud, in which the trendsetter lays down a multi-genre cross-section of his sonic palate.
Sticking with the fringes of d&b, the staunch experimentalist Alix Perez is vying for cross-Atlantic success in a collaborative EP with Portland’s, EPROM, on Daddy Kev's eclectic LA based label, Alpha Pup. The bass heavyweights from both sides of the pond are already affiliated, having shared productions on Foreign Beggars’ Modus EP and their respective appearances on the IAMLEGION Remix LP last year. Scheduled for release today, the distorted footwork funk of teaser track ‘Chiron’ spells out big things for this hook-up, with the Shades EP set to engage fans of Perez’s increasingly frequent transgressions from 170bpm music and to broaden the reach of this multi-genre producer.
Blocks & Escher’s Narrative’s label arrived at their 10th release benchmark this month with the Light Leaks EP by Rhyming In Fives. The scant schedule of this electronic label has always let the music speak for itself since its genesis, favouring quality above quantity for its three years of existence. Startling in its beauty, Light Leaks is the second batch of material on Narratives from the mysterious producer since the Hindsight EP dropped in 2013. Deeply cinematic in its expansiveness, the sprawling autonomica of the four tracks (plus two digital exclusives) emote an eighties cadence which is bound by a synth-laden melancholy and layers of introspection that calls to mind Cliff Martinez’s score for the film, Drive. This EP is a highly stylistic and artful release from what some leaders in the genre are referring to as ‘the most exciting new label’.
* The UK singer, revered by the d&b community with frequent appearances in the decade following on Tony Coleman’s Hospital Records for High Contrast, Netsky, London Elektricity and S.P.Y, is currently in a fight against cancer and we wish her and her family all the best.