Soothe My Soul (94) (Blame’s Mix) by Justice & Mercy is an undeniably unique tune. Blame’s mix of Soothe My Soul is a decidedly different take on the original that blends curious interpretations of Techno and Hip-Hop into a striking fusion that graced the White House Records catalogue in 1994.
Smart drum programming, wonderful sampling, and clever arrangement come together in a song that could understandably be played on repeat; I certainly had to hear it a second time immediately after the first play. This charming classic emanates a warm and cheerful vibe perfect for welcoming the summer months! Even better, the tracks were recently remastered from the original DAT; the vinyl release is already sold out but you can hit up the Modern Urban Jazz Bandcamp for a digital copy.
This week takes us back to the early days of Samurai Music, a label that has been on the forefront of the more unconventional realm of Drum & Bass. Cold Blooded by Soul Intent marked the beginning of a shift in musical direction for Samurai Music that would gradually come to fruition over time.
This criminally underrated 2008 classic shows us a completely different side of Soul Intent, who savagely doles out coarse bass stabs, swells, and wobbles tempered with contemplative atmospherics. The rhythms here are measured in a military-esque discipline. Cold Blooded is an excellent balance between visceral and calculated, minimalist and elaborate. Definitely fitting for a label with the name of Samurai Music, Soul Intent’s intimidating tune entices us to become one with the way of the samurai.
The Neurofunk scene was really developing into its potential when Phace’s 2007 debut album dropped. The delightful delirium that is Psycho evokes the neuro trappings of Phace’s contemporaries such as Noisia (who make an appearance on The Feed) and Misanthrop. The expertly realized theme of this album makes for an intense rush through menacing vibes and low end sounds.
From the raucous Reservoir, the titular Psycho, to the titanic Tranquilizer, every track is a belter of artistically techy proportions. This album doesn’t miss a beat. Psycho is a wild ride not for the faint of heart; yet if you dare to listen, you’ll find an outstanding album full of seriously enjoyable songs.
A tune that still finds its way into my rotation, Judda’s Pressure Plate is an undeniable slice of quality that pulls me in every time. Gritty bass and clean percussion effortlessly coalesce to form this 2010 gem released on Modulations, Critical Music’s innovative, yet sadly short-lived, sub-label. Pressure Plate is just as fresh sounding as the day it came out – a tightly grooving stomper for those of a dirty yet refined taste.
As I was putting this write-up together, I happened to find that Judda has just released a freebie tune – a Drum & Bass rework of one of his early house tracks. I know I’ll be keeping an eye out for more developments on what might be Judda’s return to Drum & Bass…
The colossal RAM Trilogy earned a name unlike many others in the domain of Drum & Bass. Each artist that comprised the trio had their own reputation forged before joining forces: Andy C, Origin Unknown, and Shimon. RAM Trilogy broke onto the scene as a trio with three immense singles on RAM Records that built up to their aptly-named 1999 album, Molten Beats.
Relentless beats and brutal basses are synthesized with expert precision across the entire album. Molten Beats explodes out of the gate with a bang(er): Evolution effectively sets the tone for a rolling Drum & Bass album of epic proportions. The unforgettable No Reality sounds as otherworldly as ever with its distorted bass glittering of harmonic gold. Near the end of the album, Mind Overload is a gnarly tune that, to me, defines the essence of the whole record. Of course, every song that graces this album’s track list is solid, meaning that Molten Beats can easily be enjoyed from start to finish.
RAM Trilogy locked in on a tightly focused sound and motif for this LP that results in a consistently heavy and intense experience. The combinations of bass, breaks, FX, and atmospheres blend so well, feeling thematic of bustling metropolises and the zeitgeist of the pre-Y2K era. The albumfittingly received the remaster treatment from RAM Records in November just last year, its first half of which was released 20 years later to the exact day from the original. There’s no better time to check out this masterful work from some of Drum & Bass’s finest.
It’s dark, it’s weighty, it’s relentless…it’s Konspiracy by Kemal + Rob Data, better known as Konflict. Top notch drums and gnarly bass are the name of the game here, with instrumentation that grooves and moves – which will get you moving too. 2002’s Konspiracy from Industry Recordings is almost criminal in its potency.
Even better, this year this classic has been remastered and put on Bandcamp for digital download!
While I had some difficulty choosing which Mouly and Lucida tune to select for this week’s classic track, I ultimately let the vibes guide me. The smooth glide through the cool cosmos that is Chilled ended up being my choice, but don’t let that in any way discourage you from giving the amazing Inertia a listen as well; both are equally quintessential examples of the Intelligent Drum & Bass sound that has aged like a fine wine.
Who could deny this 1995 charmer from the top-quality Timeless Recordings label? Serene synth chords underlaid with a soft, gritty texture invite the listener, followed by alluring vocal fills and snappy drums. Strings that sing as well as percussive pops melt into this blissful blast from the past. The song’s second half carries a catchy Rhodes improv that speaks to Mouly and Lucida’s skill in capturing unique sonic portraits. The overall mix here is brilliant – Chilled is an ethereal piece that sounds as if it were wrapped in silk.
In times of hardship such as what we’re currently seeing in the world, a respite, an escape, is sorely needed. Today we dig deep to find a 1997 Drum & Bass gem by Parallax that can offer a breath of fresh air. This delightfully mellow A-Side comes from the archives of Urban Flavour Records, the brainchild of Tricksta, that would eventually evolve into Nu-Directions – a label that featured notable artists including ASC, Need for Mirrors, and BCee, among others.
Watercolours paints a picture of rich tones filled with pleasing, even pensive, auras. Gentle stabs punctuate phrases that emanate vibrant, ambient acuity. This song glides about with an elegant air, aided by tasteful piano and synth runs. A pure bassline and smart breaks congeal into a jazzy groove that breathes a dynamic spirit into the track. And that switch-up in the latter half? A stroke of genius. A much needed escape, indeed!
In the mid-90’s, the sound of Jungle/Drum & Bass was forever changed with the arrival of the Techstep style, showcased brilliantly by Spider Net’s Awake. Spider Net was an alias used only once — for this particular release — by none other than No U-Turn label boss and collaborator, Nicholas “Nico” Sykes.
A fat B side by any standard, Awake is a 1996 jolt of Techstep that stomps heavy and hard. The rough and rude bass here is characteristic of the No U-Turn sound for the time, and is quite honestly one of my favourite sounds in the world. Protean drum sampling establishes a decisively wicked groove comprised of three break flavors. Sparse samplings of complementary sounds provide just enough atmosphere to round out this monster of a classic.
No U-Turn’s catalogue boasts a heap of bangers like these, making it easy to see how the label’s trademark style indelibly marked the scene.
Jazz Juice (previously known as Unit 1) was the ephemeral two-piece collaboration between Alex Reece and Wax Doctor, featured on the equally ephemeral Precious Material label formed by the steadfast Phil Wells, better known as Basement Phil (side note – an excellent account of the Precious Material label can be found over on God Is No Longer a DJ).
Jazz Juice’s self-titled song on their 1995 self-titled EP is a beauty of a tune beloved by those who are enchanted by its soothing vibes. This ramble through a languidly lush soundscape is speckled with the unmistakable Do This My Way break from Kid ’N Play that cleverly captures a cadence marked by 90s techno influence. Alex Reece and Wax Doctor employ an impeccable palette of colourful sounds, each one tastefully complementary to the last. Perhaps my favourite aspect of this tune is its clever phrasing, highlighted by alternations between just beats to beats with melodic backing. No doubt a unique track, give Jazz Juice a listen below to discover (or remember) what makes it so special.