Ronin – Once More With Venom EP

I’ve been a big fan of Glasgow producer Ronin‘s work ever since I first heard The Battledrums EP which saw release back in 2010 via Paul Reset’s Nerve Breaks imprint. Ronin has been a bit quiet lately but he’s back this month with a new EP of top notch tunes, and as with all his other releases it’s absolutely free!

Combining his knack for sampling, filtering and deft MPC work with a a raft of drum & bass influences, the EP is a stylistic departure from previous more hip-hop based work. The quality remains high though and somehow despite the tempo shift it feels very “Ronin”; fans of his previous output will find what the atmosphere, texture and detail that makes his work so special is present in abundance on this release.

Check out the tracks below and grab yourself a free download from Ronin’s soundcloud page!

Black Sun Empire – From The Shadows [BSE]

While Dutch drum & bass veterans Black Sun Empire have certainly been busy gigging and organising their Blackout nights (which have recently touched down in the UK, to great success) new music from the trio has been fairly thin on the ground since their last album Lights and Wires. Apparently the boys have been busy and just not telling anyone though, as the emergence of the sampler for their 5th album From The Shadows shows.

More of a tease than a true show of new material, the sampler nonetheless showcases some seriously stomping remixes of tracks from Lights by the likes of Jade, Neonlight, Mindspace and Telekinesis. If you like your drum & bass big, bad and thoroughly growling then look no further than this!

DRS – I Don’t Usually Like MCs But… [Soul:R]

MCs in dance music; often a contentious topic. And one that has been prominent in the drum & bass scene in recent times, with the rise of MC-led (or at least MC-imbued) tracks, particularly in the wake of the huge success of Dub Phizix’s smash hit Marka. So despite the excellent track record DRS has in the scene, I must admit I was a little ambivalent when I heard that he was doing a full length album of solo material. Would there be the necessary variation here to justify a solo LP, or would this merely amount to 14 similar tracks chucked together to cash in on the current trend for MCing over half-step D&B beats?

While the initial single from the album was promising, it was treading familiar ground for the MC. Thankfully the album doesn’t disappoint in any way – lyricism and production (from the host of guest producers including dBridge, Lynx & Genotype) are both top notch, and most importantly the album shows real variation in tone and musical style.

The first welcome surprise of the album comes on Autonomic, bringing the tempo down to the 120 range for a slice of stripped back but supremely funky hip-hop. “This beat’s so autonomic, automatic, supersonic” goes the chorus, with DRS settling into a beautifully laid back yet insistent flow that instantly has the head nodding. It Ain’t Easy provides another, with a pleasant cross between grime-esque 140 beat patterns and warm, soulful synth lines.

Even when the tunes are occupying more familiar drum & bass led territory there is a good selection of different offerings, from soulful liquid funk affairs like Star Voyager and Keep the Faith to slightly predictable but nonetheless high calibre grimey half-steppers like Play With Fire.

If MCs are stepping up to become a bigger feature of the drum & bass scene, on record as well as in their more natural habitat of the club, then DRS has certainly set the bar for what an MCs album should be on every level. Watch out for the full release via Soul:R on Monday – and to whet your appetite you can check out a teaser mix below.


Chris.SU – F.A.T.E. EP [Subtitles]

I’ve long been a fan of Hungarian producer Chris.SU. With well over a decade’s worth of top notch releases across labels like Commercial Suicide, Renegade Hardware, DSCI4, Black Sun Empire, Citrus and Subtitles, the man has carved an excellent niche for himself as a purveyor of top quality dancefloor drum & bass with a melodic edge. His tunes have always worked just as well in the club or the living room, and have a level of production values that put him right at the top of the game. Anyone new to the man would do well to check out the now legendary 2004 release Solaris Theme.

Naturally then I was excited to hear of a new EP dropping on Teebee’s Subtitles imprint, and I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. Opener F.A.T.E. drops straight into seriously rolling neurofunk territory, with the trademark morphing basslines of the genre shining through under Chris.SU’s typical melodic overtones. Next up comes First Snow, taking the EP to a slightly more liquid vibe, with twinkling, echoing melodies over a slightly lighter but every bit as insistent drum line. Warm synths float us up to the drop before a big growling bassline jumps out of nowhere and gets the track rolling!

Over on the digital exclusive tracks we’ve got a lovely rolling, dubby number called Higher, led by the soulful vocals of fellow Hungarian Mira. Lastly Disoriented closes the EP nicely with a chunky, angular number, all skittering drums and rising bass swells. Check out the previews below and grab yourself a copy from your favourite vinyl or digital outlet!

As a celebration of the new EP and hitting 5000 likes on Facebook Chris has kindly given away a 5th track called Restless which didn’t quite make the EP – you can grab that from his Facebook page. And just in case you can’t get enough of the man and his tunes, he’s also recently put together the 6th Subtitles Music Podcast!

Fathom Audio – Promises [Diffrent]

Fathom Audio have brought some seriously sinister vibes on their latest release for Diffrent Music. Minimal drum beats and a twinkling high end melody combine with some seriously dirty bass stabs that are reminiscent of early Photek tunes like Sidewinder to make Promises a really interesting slice of D&B.

Over on the flip Ridges actually delivers a more upbeat, cinematic number, with rising arpeggiated melodies and swelling synth bursts used to great effect over glitchy drum lines to deliver a soulful tune. Definitely more armchair than dancefloor, and all the better for it!

Watch out for the full release on September 3rd.

Survival – Secrets VIP

London based D&B producer Survival has been kind enough to give away his VIP of Survival and it’s definitely worthy of your attention! The attention to detail present in the track in everything from the crisp breaks to the growling but not over the top bassline is fantastic, adding up to an interesting yet still sufficiently dancefloor oriented slice of dark techstep.

Check it out below and grab yourself a free download from soundcloud.