Critical Music are back with a vengeance with the Underground Sonics LP, a various artists compilation straddling all the styles of Drum & Bass via 18 tracks of cutting edge 170 BPM production from the label’s extended family. The compilation sees many artists exploring new territory away from their usual styles, to interesting effect.
Dub Phizix turns in an unusually mellow and unusually rolling beat in the form of The Clock Ticks, while Ivy Lab up the ante compared to their previous releases with a tougher and more energetic beat paired with the musicality we’ve come to know and love from the trio. Foreign Concept teams up with DRS to turn in the dark, skanking, hip-hop influenced halfstep of Falling Stars while Sam Binga and Redders blend trap, footwork and ragga to great effect on Lef Dem.
Elsewhere we’re treated to two surprising collaborations from tech heavyweights, with InsideInfo and Mefjus turning in a surprisingly minimal slice of tribal tech with Repentance while Noisia & The Upbeats put aside their usual aggression for a hypnotic deep liquid roller on Little Fling. Fans of brutal tech need not worry though – Stealth and Phace are both on hand to provide the dancefloor darkness, as are Emperor & Centra with the huge digital exclusive The Saboteur.
Enei and Kasra turn in a selection of characteristically heavy hitting beats, while Stray and Halogenix look to the experimental/hyperactive end of the spectrum with their individual takes on frantic drum syncopation with a footwork bent. Finally Blocks and Escher give Enei’s Thinline the old school tech workover with a huge beat and some serious menace on the low end.
Overall it’s hard to argue with this as the first essential release of 2014. Check out the tracks below and grab yourself a copy now from the Critical Surus store.