Category Archives: Releases

15 Years of Secret Operations

15 years is a long time in music. 15 years from the time of writing, Nelly’s Hot in Herre was top of the US billboard charts – a position it had occupied for 6 weeks previously, and would surrender the following week.  15 years is an even longer period of time to be pushing music; some flash in the pan artists are lucky to go a five-year stint in the limelight. This makes Seba’s seminal Secret Operations label even more important.

Reaching 15 years of age, Swedish-sprung Secret Operations has decided to look back, not forward, to appreciate all that has gone before it to date. Seba has selected 18 tracks to represent the label’s ever-expanding history, including collabs and features from the likes of the timeless Robert Manos, the genre stalwart Paradox, and an unusual track from the ever imaginative Resound.

Musically, the LP features that signature Seba sound, carefully constructed breaks alongside a musicality so often overlooked by today’s brightest producers. Tracks like Pieces, Wake Up Call, and Forever amongst others capture that vibe expertly. That said, there’s also room for the darker side of drum and bass that has woven its way in and out of this genre’s discourse since the early 90s. Cuts such as External Reality, Fire Like This, and Day By Night are my go-tos as far as darker material goes.

But my wanton pigeonholing of tunes here doesn’t allow for some of the classics present on here. Before I Can Breathe from Seba & Physics was one of the first tunes I heard getting into the genre, and much of the rest of the album will represent similar audible milestones for you, too.

Distilling 15 years into 18 tracks would be hard for any label manager, but I think those selected for this compilation both reflect the outstanding musical ethos of the label, as well standing the test of time. Here’s to 15 more years of Secret Operations.

Written by James Austin, aka DJ Auzi, label manager at Terabyte Records

Facebook: facebook.com/auzidnb

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Razlom – Thriller EP [Bad Taste]

The trio known as Razlom seem to be releasing EPs with rapid fire succession, as their new EP, Thriller, is out only one month after their Arrival EP. Thriller is out on Bad Taste Recordings, which is a good choice of imprint for them due to the weird and slightly retro nature of this sophomore EP.

The EP opens with the title track, which is an excellent mix of old school dnb beats, tech step synths and vocal samples, and modern sound design. The inter-beat is so fast it almost makes the track sound a little like gabber, but make no mistake: this track is well inside the drum and bass wheelhouse, with classic wind ups, drops and sweepdowns.

Another highlight is the neuro-fueled Storm is Coming, which also has some nice techy grinds to it as well as a techstep backbeat. This will likely be a single other producers will play out, but it’s still more arty and not as easily mixable as it sounds in the opening. Voyager is probably the raviest track on the EP, while album closer No One (Feat. MC Temper) has a more melodic quality, if Razlom are capable of such a thing.

While neuro seems to be the term of the day for many acts like Razlom, Thriller seems to be much more in the techstep realm, but done in a really modern and interesting way. Razlom are here to shake up the drum and bass norms with their brassy, techy way, and it’s definitely none too soon. Thriller is available now on all major platforms.

Written by Layla Marino

Blog: (Dropping) Weird Science
Twitter/IG: @dropweirdsci

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Spirit – Think / Bounty Killer [Inneractive]

A fresh release from the legendary Spirit is nearly always a treat and the latest single for his own Inneractive imprint proves to be exactly that. As with many Spirit compositions Think carries more than a little of the old school flavour, with big floaty pads, analogue reverb and crunchy breaks a-plenty; energetic, but dubbed out and spacey at the same time.

Over on the flip Bounty Killer once again invokes the aesthetic of days gone by, but this time swapping the calmer elements of the A-side for a vintage-style jump-up workout based around hard hitting breaks and an infectious bass hook. This one will take you straight back to the late 90s and a sold-out sweatbox rave! Check out the clips below and hit up Bandcamp to grab it on vinyl or digital right now.

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Delta – EP-1 [Microdot]

Younger heads may not recognise the name Delta, but older D&B fans (and particularly connoisseurs of the deeper end of the sound) should recognise him from his productions in the early 00s alongside production partner Format. Their concise but influential discography from that period is well worth a look, with cuts on legendary labels like Dread, Creative Source, Reinforced and Hospital for those who fancy crate digging a little.

Fast forward to 2017 and Delta is back with a fresh EP on the pair’s resurrected Microdot label. The pioneering and experimental spirit remains as exciting as it was 15 years ago; there’s an old school aesthetic at play, with everything from classic vocal sampling techniques to acid-y basslines weaved into the tracks. Opener Dreaming From The Hip combines a hint of b-boy funk a-la-Paradox with rolling breaks and soft pads more reminiscent of the old “intelligent D&B” style. Feel meanwhile takes things tougher, with hard edged rhythms and a stabbing set of vocal cut-ups punctuated by sections of warping analogue bass bleeps.

Kundalini Serpent goes out into jazz jam territory, combining a playful break and bassline with echoing piano and sax for a distinctly unusual take on the D&B sound. Last but not least, Second Wave throws the 2-step beats out of the window for a hypnotic bass-loop workout driven along by a truly bizarre drum arrangement. Lilting, swung and spaced out, this is possibly our favourite track on the release, and it sounds like nothing else you’ve heard this year.

Overall this EP shows a true pioneer of the sound back in the groove and on fine form. Broaden your horizons and head to the Microdot Bandcamp to pre-order a copy now on vinyl or digital. The release drops August 11th.

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Soul Intent – Delusions of Grandeur [Lossless]

The LP format; still a lofty goal for many D&B producers, and not a project to be embarked upon lightly. Making the transition from single and EP releases into a coherent body of work across an entire album is a quite a feat, and perhaps it’s for this reason that Soul Intent’s debut full length is only surfacing now, ten years into a healthy career.

Thankfully that decade honing his skills both in the studio and the DJ booth has left Alex more than equipped to create Delusions of Grandeur. As anyone familiar with his recent work would expect, the album has a huge range; it basically plays like a love letter to all the facets of drum & bass, or at least as many of them as Alex has had time to explore. Melancholy liquid rollers are represented in force, with a smattering of dancefloor smashers, some spacey halftime and a hint of jungle.

The string that joins the tracks together is definitely soul; apt given the production moniker in question. Even harder tracks like Test Fire and Cry For You bring character and emotion to the table, with analogue sensibilities and clever use of vocals giving the tracks depth and character. While more than punchy enough to compete, this album is the antithesis of the hyper-clean, slightly sterile production that dominates some corners of the scene.

Overall the album succeeds admirably in delivering ten tracks of emotionally charged yet dancefloor worthy D&B, and while not necessarily pushing the envelope it makes for a hugely enjoyable and genuine listen. Check out the clips below and hit up the Lossless Bandcamp to grab the album direct from the source.

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Silence Groove – Blue Sky EP [Fokuz]

Polish-born, Bratislava-based Silence Groove has been impressing us a lot over the last couple of years and his latest work for Dutch liquid powerhouse Fokuz Recordings finds him at the top of his game. From the smooth and summery Blue Sky, through the rapid amens and floaty melodies of Shift and out into the funky hometown ode that is Bratislava, this is a masterclass in uplifting rollers.

Granted there’s nothing especially ground-breaking about an EP of lush melodic drum & bass in 2017, but Silence Groove has found that elusive sweet-spot where shimmering melodies, crisp breaks and warm basslines connect, and better still he manages to make tracks that are positive, even euphoric without ever running into the cheesier territory that ruins some of the more obvious liquid productions. We know what our summer soundtrack looks like, and this EP is definitely gonna get some heavy play; check out the clips below and hit up your favourite digital store to grab it now.

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Kursa & Seppa – SLG001 [Slug Wife]

Slug Wife is a burgeoning record label out of the UK focusing mainly on strange, experimental halftime beats, and who have recently signed producers Kursa and Seppa to do a series of EPs, beginning with SLG001. This four-track EP is full of aggressive basslines and hip hop samples, and has a crazy side story to go with it. The Slug Wife Soundcloud features a burn reel of the album and the first chapter of the story about a race of intergalactic slug people and their fearful plight. Beyond that, there is nearly no information to be found about these freshman producers, but the beats and the story are enough to get audiences’ attention.

Lard Monolith is the opener on the EP and goes well with the story. The funky, distorted melody on the intro could well be played at Jabba the Hut’s bar; one can almost hear the slime, in the best possible way. The track then evolves into a simple hip hop drum beat before the absolutely crushing bassline appears, washing out almost everything else in the track. It’s a chugging bassline but it also goes all over the place, morphing in different directions as the funky melody and old school vocal laser samples compose a sort of break in the action. It’s a wonked out, dirty track which represents the most creative ends of bass music, not to mention encapsulating the feeling of the weird, silly “Slug Wife” story.

While Lard Monolith is produced by both Kursa and Seppa, the EP also contains solo tracks by each artist: Watch Me is another bass-heavy chugger by Kursa, while Get Burned is more reliant on its repetitive vocal samples. The EP closes with another collab, Fucko Posse, which is a complete left turn from the rest of the EP. It contains what will likely be labeled as Kursa and Seppa’s characteristic bass, but it seems slower than the other three tracks, with more space between beats and more recognizable breaks. It’s a surprising way to end this weird, fun EP and will definitely leave listeners wanting more, both from the music and the story.

SLG001 is out now on Slug Wife records; grab it now on the label’s Bandcamp.

Written by Layla Marino

Blog: (Dropping) Weird Science
Twitter/IG: @dropweirdsci

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Moby – The Drum & Bass Remixes [Shogun Audio]

Shogun Audio present a very special release this month as four of their label family go in on remixes for the legendary Moby! Tackling such iconic and recognisable material is both an honour and a daunting challenge, but thankfully each of the artists has risen to that challenge and turned in some really memorable new versions within the D&B template.

Pola & Bryson and Technimatic turn in perhaps the most obvious remixes of the collection, sticking to their strengths and bringing some delicious liquid reworks to the table. The P&B remix of Porcelain in particular is just so lush; all the instantly familiar parts of the original are there, within a crispy framework of rolling breaks, warm bass and bubbling arpeggios.

Fourward also do a commendable job on their remix of Go, with the classic string segment matched by swelling reese basslines before a rough techy drop. Possibly the best of the bunch comes from Icicle though, harnessing the piano and vocals of Natural Blues into one of the wonkiest halftime compositions we’ve heard in a while. The beats and bass are positively lurching on this one, giving a really seasick lilt to the lyrics. Sick!

As with all the best remixes these are instantly recognisable yet entirely distinct from the originals; the Shogun camp have smashed this one. Check out the clips below and hit up your favourite digital outlet to grab the EP now.

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Rognvald – R.O.G.N.V.A.L.D [Love Love]

Love Love Records are back with a seriously tasty jungle EP from Richard Wilson under new alias Rognvald. Best known for his eclectic acid output as Beatwife, Wilson’s latest sees him chopping the breaks and drawing on influences from classic jungle, drumfunk and breakcore for a dark and chaotic selection of tracks.

From the outset it’s obvious that any concerns about DJ friendliness or adherence to the common confines of electronica have been chucked straight out of the window in favour of the open ended progressions and freeform danger that makes modern jungle and ‘core so enjoyable. Opener R.O.G.N.V.A.L.D wastes no time in building terrifying atmospheres amid a whirlwind assault of beats, segueing effortlessly into a haunting beatless bridge and back out into more of those crunchy drum chops. Next up, Whistle Posse lightens the mood with a distinctly tongue in cheek ode to classic nonsense jungle; wobbled up bass, helter skelter snares and of course, whistle samples a-plenty!

Out into the second half of the EP, Lowcol Junglist employs spacey pad sounds and distant ragga vocals for a tripped out ride as the beats crash down around the listener’s ears. Once again the pace is breakneck and all the tools in the breakbeat arsenal have been employed with just the right balance of precision editing and low-fi scuzz; mid 90s vibes updated for 2017. Last but by no means least, Asbiorn voyages into intricate drumfunk territory with the beats coming up a little cleaner and crispier. Replete with satisfying drum edits and haunting samples, this one is truly hypnotic.

Love Love are on fine form once again with possibly their best jungle release yet! Check out the clips below and hit up the label Bandcamp page to grab the EP on vinyl or digital now.

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Current Value – Scalar EP [31 Recordings]

News that Current Value would be dropping an EP on Doc Scott’s much revered 31 Recordings imprint came as something of a surprise. For all that 31 has showcased dancefloor tunes over the years as well as deeper fare, they’ve certainly never been known for the abrasive, hyper-technical sounds which have characterised most of Mr Value’s recent output.

Perhaps it is to be expected then that the Scalar EP sees Current Value showcasing his softer side, though that’s not to say he’s betrayed his roots and put out an EP of liquid groovers. The tracks on show here almost sound like CV remixes of deep rollers; the trademark precision percussion is there, and there’s certainly some bassline grit, but there are also lush pads, and a general air of reservation. If the average Current Value tune is up at 11 on the energy scale, these ones weigh in more in the 6-7 range.

The resulting aesthetic makes for some of the most interesting material the German producer has come out with in recent times, with more emphasis on contrasting sonic elements and interesting grooves. The atmospherics in particular are top notch, particularly on EP highlights Bigger Picture and Reconsider. Here’s hoping Current Value decides to give us more of these delicate compositions in future! The Scalar EP drops May 5th; hit up the 31 Store to grab it on vinyl or digital.

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