Tag Archives: Xtrah

Mikal – Wilderness LP [Metalheadz]

Mikal’s journey through the D&B scene has been long and varied, with appearances on a host of labels since his debut single back in 2007. The bulk of his recent material has been for Metalheadz, and it’s Goldie’s label that is stepping up to release his debut LP, Wilderness.

Perhaps the first thing that jumped out at me about this album is how “headz” it sounds; the label family have managed to craft a very distinctive sound in recent years and while each of the producers in question have their own unique take on that sound, there is a common thread running through it. It could be a shared appreciation of the heritage of the D&B sound, or a slightly old school tinge to the material, but either way if you’ve enjoyed recent releases from SCAR, Jubei or Om Unit then you’ll probably find Mikal’s new album floats your boat.

That’s not to say this is a copycat work, merely that there is a commonality of tone and vibe running through the recent headz releases. The distinctive feature which sets Mikal’s take on this sound apart from Om Unit’s halftime business or SCAR’s slick rollers is definitely the use of rhythm; tracks like At The Controls and The Ruff Life eschew the more traditional 2-step beat patterns for unusual, skittering syncopations which keep the listener guessing. The symbiosis between these unusual rhythms and the basslines and textures gives the tracks an undeniable groove and character, keeping things rapid without leaning too heavily on genre tropes.

Mikal has recruited some fantastic guests to aid him in conjuring said rhythms, with Xtrah, RIOT, Break and Chimpo all on board for a track each and some of the albums best moments. Chimpo’s distinctive vocal stylings certainly aren’t getting old for this reviewer, and he’s on fine form on the clattering drum workout of Brain Matter.

If you enjoy dark D&B with an emphasis on absolutely stunning drum programming then this is absolutely the LP for you, and it’s great to see an artist given the space to create an album of tonally consistent material that can focus on rhythm with such purity and purpose. Check out the clips below and hit up the Metalheadz store to grab a copy on vinyl, CD or digital right now.

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Break – Simpler Times LP [Symmetry]

Some things about Drum & Bass never change, and one of the constants of the scene over the last decade or more is the consistent quality of Break’s output. His third album, released this week on his own Symmetry Recordings imprint, is quite possibly his most polished work to date, and it’s certainly a focussed body of work – the LP weighs in at just 12 tracks and when you’re talking about a producer who knocks out a new single every six weeks we get the impression it could easily have been 30 tracks with less careful curation.

If Simpler Times has a theme, to our ears it is funk, or more broadly the incorporation of organic musical elements alongside the synthetic to give the tracks a less clinical and more musical tone. That funk certainly shines through in the drums, which are heavy hitting but still retain that natural quality that made early jungle so endearing and potentially makes modern D&B (and particularly neurofunk) sound sterile.

That musicality shines through on the likes of Kyo collab Nevaeh, with it’s lush, spacey intro and loose jazz drums, and on the smooth, loungey vibes of Pushing Me On, but there’s still plenty of dancefloor heft to be found even on the more musical tracks. While the LP doesn’t feature any out and out tech bangers a-la previous cuts like Kicked To Death or Too Much, there are certainly more upfront tracks to be found such as the punchy synth-led sci-fi vibe of Confidential and the bouncing halftime hip-hop of Kill Dem.

More than anything this LP sounds like Break having a lot of fun with the formula, whether on the fantastically crisp jungle of Late Exclusive or the exuberant album closer Hope. We can only imagine the grin on his face when he was chopping up James Brown for stripped back weapon The Flux! Another top notch album from one of the scene’s brightest talents; check out the clips below and hit up the Symmetry Store to grab it on vinyl or digital right now.

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Xtrah – Existence EP [Cyberfunk]

With a healthy selection of releases for the likes of Symmetry, Subtitles, Critical and Metalheadz, Yasin Elgohary aka Xtrah is the sort of producer worth paying attention to. He’s spent a few years cultivating a crisp, techy style with a nod to the old school while embracing modern production techniques to their fullest.

2015 sees Xtrah launching his own label named Cyberfunk (he apparently neglected to check that Quest already has a breakbeat label of the same name, but hey…) and the first release is out now, featuring two solo tracks from Xtrah, a beat from new discoveries Simple Technique and a collab with scene stalwart Break.

Operator opens things up nicely with a tune that owes more than a little to Dillinja’s classic material. That bassline scuzz! We Exist takes a slightly more militant, precise tone while hitting all the same techy boxes. Newcomers Simple Technique are up next with the appropriately titled Cold Steppin; as icey as the title suggests, this one is a tidy little slice of dancefloor damage. Last but not least Break & Xtrah get their breaks all chopped up for Forte, another cut that should be smashing up the dance plenty over the coming weeks.

A decent opening salvo for a new label then; few surprises but a solid offering nonetheless. Check out the clips below and look for this at all good stores now.

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Xtrah to release “extended project” via Dispatch Recordings

Fresh news from Dispatch HQ; it seems Xtrah is to release an “extended” project via Ant TC1’s label later this year, with a tentative release date of Autumn 2015 set. Between this and the launch of his new Cyberfunk imprint it looks set to be a busy year for Xtrah. Details are scarce as to what exactly this project might be, but we’ll bring you more as we hear it!

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Dispatch Dubplate Series

Dispatch have been making waves once again with the launch of their latest project, the Dispatch Dubplate series. Featuring new tracks, remixes and VIPs from the Dispatch Stable (including one vinyl exclusive track per release) and a limited press of 300 copies per release, vinyl fans will need to be quick off the block to lay hands on these!

The theme from the series so far has been no nonsense rolling techstep, with the first release featuring a big dirty Break remix of DLR, Hydro, Mako & Villem’s The Formula and DLR & Xtrah’s long sought after Direct Approach. Vol. 2 is no slouch either, with Survival serving up the Outlook VIP of Dub Soldier and the flip featuring two fresh cuts from SCAR, including a vinyl only VIP of Call To Arms.

Volume 1 has already sold out on the Dispatch store and volume 2 looks set to follow, so head over to Redeye or the Dispatch store swiftly if you want to pick up the vinyl releases; digital is set to follow from November 10th. The latest news from the Dispatch Facebook feed has unveiled the tracklisting for Vol.3 including Break & DLR’s Murmur VIP, a new VIP of DLR’s Tugboat and a fresh new DLR track in the form of Regeneration, while Ant TC1’s latest mix for Bassic reveals that Zero T & Alix Perez’s 2007 banger Ladders is set to finally receive a release via the Dubplate series.

Here at the Dojo we’ve enjoyed the first two releases so much we decided to put together a cheeky vinyl only Dispatch Dubplates mini-mix; check that out below (or directly on Mixcloud here) and head over to your favourite outlet to grab the plates while you still can!

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Sounds of the Baskerville

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Cardiff based record store Catapult Records have truly put together a stunning lineup for their Sounds of the Baskerville event in June. The lineup features DJ Marky, Break, Rockwell and Audio headlining a packed event featuring sets from Klute, Dom & Roland, Ulterior Motive, Xtrah and many, many more. Truly a D&B heads paradise! Early Bird tickets are already sold out but you can still grab £75 tickets here. Don’t sleep!

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Festive Freebies!

With so many artists celebrating a great 2013 with free giveaways, we thought it only wise to round up the selection of tasty freebies currently available!

Firstly Xtrah has been kind enough to give us the VIP of Soundclash, a masterclass in minimalism and drum edits. To grab this, head to his Facebook page.

Also from the Critical stable comes a cheeky VIP from Emperor who gives us the dubplate special of Monolith. Significantly wonkier bassline business than the original on show here, and again available for a wee like on Emperor’s Facebook page.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZgncwTBgq4]

State of Mind celebrate the impending release of their new album on BSE’s Blackout imprint with a free download of their BSE Collab Unconscious. As we’ve come to expect from both parties this is a stomping neurofunk belter imbued with faintly trancey chords and plenty of energy. Head over to the SOM Facebook page for your copy.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n42KbRXF_iM]

The ever unpredictable Dawn Day Night steps up with a freebie of his own in the form of A Christmas Carol…droney zombified slow-dance anyone?

Maztek & NPhonix have also gotten in on the act with a tidy slice of scuzzy neuro business, available for download either via Facebook or email – check out Maztek’s website for details.

Finally S.P.Y gifts us the VIP of the legendary By Your Side, still as majestic as the original but with a few subtle extra touches. Blissfull liquid roller territory. Grab yourself a download from S.P.Y’s website.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iw1XUt91m8Q]
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Foreign Concept – Donate to Download VIPs

Foreign Concept is kindly raising a bit of money for Water Aid this Christmas by asking folks to donate in exchange for downloads of a couple of festive VIPs! First up there’s the amen tinged madness of Foreign Concept & Stray’s Bang It (Amen Bang Out VIP), which does exactly what it says on the tin, and for desert Foreign Concept & Xtrah’s Harsh Reality VIP delivering a healthy portion of sub bass and heavy kick drums.

Check out the beats below and head over to the Just Giving page to donate. Go on, you know you want to. 

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Xtrah – Lost Time EP [Symmetry]

Xtrah returns to Break’s Symmetry label with a tight selection of techy beats. Lost Time gets things rolling nicely with a gritty vibe and crisp breaks that are nicely offset by an unusually melodic vocal from Codebreaker. Always New sees Break and DRS getting in on the action and the riddim dropping to half-time; this one is as much hip-hop and dub as it is D&B, and fantastic for it too.

Out into the digital only tracks and we’re back to full speed 170 territory; Groove Shadow heads for dark stepper realms while Break’s remix of Cyrax does the dancefloor damage with some serious bass modulation and hefty snare impacts.

Check out the beats below and watch out for the EP dropping on vinyl and digital from September 30th.

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In The Mix…Xtrah

To celebrate the release of the rather excellent Shock Treatment 12″ Xtrah has dished up a tidy little 30 minute mix for SGN:Ltd featuring a great run of techy selections. Emperor’s new cuts for Critical and the tasty Break remix of Cyrax (c’mon Break, release it already!) are some of the highlights in a mix full of great tracks, smoothly blended for your listening pleasure. Check it out below and grab a free download!

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