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 triumphant RAM Records have come full force this month with a spate of multiform announcements to intrigue every nook of the drum & bass community. Followers of the Essex based label breathed a sigh of relief when debut sensation Bensley finally delivered his first ever release through the titan label with his Next Generation LP - a sparkling ten track inauguration from the 20 year old Canadian - cordially welcomed into the spotlight nearly 18 months after the revelation from the RAM camp emerged that the wunderkind had accepted an on-the-spot signing in late 2013. The surefire producer, wildly championed by RAM’s Ray Rampage and Andy C, proceeded to silently craft Next Generation on the down low as an ocean of hype surrounded him. Needless to say it was quelled at last by its release on the 26th April. This complex, melodic offering won’t disappoint the more musical of palates; with its dreamy astral pads, instrumental soundscapes and a holistic connection between each track. Next Generation is highly impressive both in its sonic merit and virtually unprecedented success story.
Musical tear-out torchbearers Calyx & Teebee had many an eardrum reverberating last week with the surprise premiere of their latest track ‘Long Gone.’ Fueled, once again, by the RAM Records gang; the formidable duo have embarked on a conscious drive for exploration and progression in their sound, fearlessly stepping outside of their comfort zone as a means of innovation. The track, which is slated for release alongside AA side ‘Sawn Off’ at the beginning of June, features the silky smooth timbre of Larry Calyx’s own vocal performance (à la 2013’s smasher ‘Elevate This Sound’) and the delectably sessioned string instrumentation certainly sets this tune apart from the pack.
Viper Recordings mainstays The Prototypes have also been very busy indeed. Having embarked on a flourishing series of their own events beginning last year with The Prototypes Presents…, the enterprising Brighton-based production force have whipped up a storm with their City Of Gold album tour; culminating in a boat party that set sail from the banks of the river Thames this month with a tear-out lineup including RAM Records insignia, Frankee and rising ’Blackball’ trio, Klax. Having torn up the digital sales charts this month with the dancefloor destroyer ‘Pop It Off’ featuring the ragga vocals of Mad Hed City; their latest single has assumed the number one spot on Beatport this past week, readying fans for the landing of their debut album, which drops on 15th May. You can catch the duo shred this bank holiday Sunday 3rd May in their hometown alongside genre giants Calyx & Teebee, The Upbeats and Klax plus support at Brighton beachfront club Coalition and at FABRICLIVE on 5th June when Viper Recordings take the stage in Room Two.
A Good Month For Tech
Those tech luminaries Noisia are back and they’re solidly in the limelight after dropping the Incessant EP this month through their prestigious Vision Recordings imprint. The Dutch heavyweights have again assembled a sonic arsenal to annihilate; conscripting neurofunk royalty Mefjus and Hybris to the ranks for two of the four tracks - the earth-scorching ‘Clusterfunk’ and ‘Reptilian.’ Heady from a stretch of European parties in celebration of the 10 year milestone anniversary of their internationally lauded record label; the trio drew their tour to a close last Saturday in their hometown of Groningen, treating fans to a larger-than-life lineup that included kiwi bass botherers, The Upbeats, German precision engineer Phace, new noise the Teddy Killerz and OWSLA superstar Skrillex. With spirits high and ample energy remaining; the drum & bass giants announced their decision to top the ten-date anniversary tour, rewarding their loyal legion with a Noisia Invites open-air festival in their hometown on the 18th July. The lineup is still to be announced but there’s been a public pledge to ‘showcase a broader scope of music’…
Maintaining the techy vibe; this week saw Emperor’s return with the fantastic Into Black EP from the cutting edge exponents, Critical Music. The established offering marks the young producer’s arrival to big league; with four percussive epics (plus two digital exclusives) that effortlessly exhibit Emperor’s self-styled brand of tech-funk. The EP’s standout track takes the form of ‘Mind Games’ - a personal favourite; this turbulent murker whips the listener into a state of rapture with a hail of kicks, searing bass and ultra-clean drumwork. A high octane injection to any dance floor set…
And lastly, we begin to contemplate the summer with the festival hype inbound after another in a round of firsts for RAM Records this month. Fans grappled for their credit cards when the label casually dropped the landmark announcement that Andy C Presents RAM had been slated for South West Four’s first ever drum & bass showcase. Representing the sound on Clapham Common’s big stage this August the lineup pulls out all of the stops; festival ticket holders will be privy to scene giants Sub Focus, Wilkinson (Live), Loadstar, DC Breaks, Culture Shock, Camo & Krooked, Jaguar Skills (Live) and Roni Size’s Reprazent (Live)!
Going from the greenery of Clapham Common out to the Croatian coastline for the world’s leading bass music festival, Outlook: they announced the final touches to their blistering 2015 lineup this month with an additional handful of drum & bass acts, again including headliner Roni Size’s Reprazent Live show alongside DJ Hype, Maztek, Digital & Spirit, Keaton, Bad Company, Ant TC1, Cold Fusion, Break featuring KYO live, Renegade Hardware’s ’20’ featuring Loxy & Ink, plus frontrunner MCs Stapleton, Fokus and Mantmast. With Outlook’s 2015 d&b artist directory now reading like a who’s who of 170bpm music; the festival, which is now in its eighth year, continues to thrive upon its solid reputation for bringing together the most exciting names in the game and this final announcement ensures exactly that for this summer’s revelers. Scene giants Metalheadz were quick to announce an eight-leg Outlook warm up tour this month, spanning six European countries and boasting a twenty-strong roster of DJs; whilst Critical Music also nabbed our attention with the announcement that Kasra and co. would be taking over the phenomenal Moat Stage on the opening night. And just a few days ago dBridge’s Exit Records announced their takeover of the Mungos Arena with Skeptical, Fracture, Mark System, Fixate and Stray all in tow. With the boat party announcements just around the corner on May 20th and a UK launch party coming to a town near you shortly, you’ll be hard pressed not to get swept up into the buzz that surrounds this keystone of the bass music calendar.