Shades – In Praise Of Darkness [Deadbeats]

When two of the best producers in their respective scenes come together on a new collaborative project it can yield something pretty special, and that’s definitely the case with Shades. Combining the D&B chops of Belgian native Alix Perez with the low slung bassline wizardry of West Coast USA’s EPROM has yielded three absolutely deadly EPs, and now their debut album In Praise of Darkness is upon us.

That title definitely rings true in the sounds on show here; as with previous releases the vibe here is very much dark rooms, oppressively heavy basslines and a militant, thuggish swagger. This is bass music’s answer to doom metal; an electronic Sunn O))) for 2018.

As you’d expect from previous output there are some obvious club ready rattlers; lead single The Saga stands out, as does the warped G-Funk of Faultline and the stomping bassline wobbles of Kolumbo. There’s plenty of exploration into more experimental corners of their sound too, including a cracking track featuring the vocal talents of Killa P.

Some listeners may find elements of this album a little esoteric compared to the more accessible beat-led rhythms found elsewhere in the scene, but if you’re looking for something a bit different then this is an impressive voyage through some of the best sound design around. In Praise of Darkness is out now on Deadbeats – hit up your favourite store to grab a copy now.

Alia Fresco EP [CNVX]

Kid Drama’s CNVX imprint has always been an eclectic outlet; from the IDM-esque melancholy of his Mikarma alias, through beats from dBridge, Resound and Abstract Elements, the label certainly doesn’t like to be pigeon-holed. All of which brings us to the imprint’s latest offering, a quirky and sublime slice of autonomic pop courtesy of Drama himself and vocalist Alia Fresco, who you may recognise from her collaborative project with Loxy and Resound, The Levels.

The production here is stripped back to the barest essentials, minimalist arrangements that bring to mind The xx, albeit entirely lacking in indie-rock guitar twang. This use of space gives Fresco ample room to breathe, and her voice fills the tracks beautifully. From the brooding reflections of Ordinary Thing and Guys Like You through the more uplifting Let You Go and into the absolutely electrifying Break Me Out, the EP is powerful, gripping and original; a pure blend of autonomic aesthetic and heartfelt lyricism. My only complaint is that at 15 minutes, it’s nowhere near long enough. Give us an album!

The Alia Fresco EP is out now on vinyl and digital via CNVX.

Audeka – Lost Souls LP [Methlab]

Methlab’s foray into record label territory over the past few months has resulted in some seriously impressive releases, and their latest from US production trio Audeka is undoubtedly the label’s most ambitious project to date.

Unsuprisingly given Methlab’s heritage and artist roster and Audeka’s previous work, the first thing that jumps out about Lost Souls is the quality and detail of the sound design. Bassline production geeks will definitely find plenty to be impressed by here, but despite the technicality the results are powerful and emotionally resonant. Neurofunk and it’s related lower-tempo cousins can sometimes become a biggest-bassline dick-waiving contest and thankfully Audeka have avoided falling into that trap.

There’s also a versatility on show here with the album’s first two tracks alone showing a huge range, jumping from dubstep-esque industrial-tinged destruction to beautifully soft trip-hop. Most of the tracks on the LP definitely lean more towards the former than the latter, but even within that signature Audeka sound of groaning bass distortion and heavy hitting percussion there’s room for tons of experimentation with both rhythm and sonic texture.

Most ambitiously still the album attempts to tell a complex story of a man’s journey from a small village through a forbidden underworld as he attempts to rescue his wife from the clutches of a dark magic. Given the album’s largely instrumental nature it’s difficult to imagine this narrative coming across without prior knowledge, but it’s nonetheless interesting to bear this in mind when listening to the sounds and moods of each track; it certainly conveys a journey through myriad fantastical landscapes.

Overall if you like your electronica a little avant-garde and have ever enjoyed productions from the likes of Broken Note, Amon Tobin or Noisia then this album is absolutely essential listening. Lost Souls is available right now from the Methlab Bandcamp; grab it straight from the source and net yourself some attractive artwork posters into the bargain.

Premiere: Nuage – Shining (The Levels Remix)

We’ve got something a little different for your ears today as we present the premiere of The Levels stunning new remix of Nuage – Shining. For anyone not familiar with The Levels, it’s the collaborative project of Loxy, Resound and Alia Fresco, and their take Nuage’s original blends pop, R&B and years of D&B experience for a shimmering and understated rework with tons of soul.

Watch out for this dropping from August 5th alongisde remixes from Blu Mar Ten, Bop and Nuage on Translation Recordings, vinyl and digital.

The Levels:
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Translation Recordings:
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Owneath – Bokomaru EP [Demand]

Demand continue their Selects series with an EP from Ukrainian newcomer Owneath. Channelling the 20/20 LDN halftime sound which Ivy Lab have been championing of late, the vibes are low slung and full of swagger from start to finish.

Deeper cuts Overload and Juku will probably appeal to fans of the grittier breed of halftime, but for us the best outings are to be found on the more hip-hop influenced beats. Title track Bokomaru brings together an infectious hook and a cracking swung drum line for a sparse, crunked out banger, while Pay Me follows a similar line but with a slightly more menacing edge. Gun fingers at the ready!

Check out the clips below and hit up your favourite digital outlet to grab a copy right now.

Koronis – Weave

In case you weren’t aware Mar 28th is Piano Day (the 88th day of the year for the 88 keys on a full size piano) so we figured we’d take a break from the usual coverage to celebrate one of the oldest and best musical instruments around.

Experimental composer and multimedia artist Koronis has put together a beautiful minimalist piece entitled Weave for the occasion and crafted a unique animation to go with the piece; we think you’ll agree they’re both soft, understated and generally awesome. Check it out below and go find yourself a piano to play with!

Quentin Hiatus – I’m Neither Quentin Nor Hiatus Vol. 2 [Free Love Digi]

US beatsmith and sonic experimenter extraordinaire Quentin Hiatus returns with the second volume of his split LP, I’m Neither Quentin Nor Hiatus. After the mostly experimental and introspective sounds of the excellent Vol. 1the second instalment seems to shift focus towards the dancefloor while keeping that trademark QH playfulness when it comes to sitting slightly outside convention.

There’s certainly plenty of variety on show here; After Image kicks things off with a hypnotic slice of rolling, tech-edged D&B, while Always Sunny immediately flips things around into a moodier and more techno inspired groove. Elsewhere we’re treated to lower tempo garagey vibes on the fantastically groovy Danny Tanner, jacking house on Steppin Out and scuzzed up footwork on Edison before I Stop closes the album out with a slice of IDM-infused halftime hip-hop.

If Vol. 1 was the sound of a man’s innermost thoughts and feelings wrapped in an eclectic array of electronic instrumentation, Vol. 2 is that same man jumping out of the armchair and heading straight to the dancefloor to throw some mean shapes. Another thoroughly enjoyable outing from a producer who constantly impresses us here at the Dojo. Check out the clips below and hit up your favourite digital outlet to grab the LP now!

December Roundup

Another month, another massive wealth of new drum & bass! We check out the best of the rest from Conduct, Skeptical, Benny L, Cybin and more… Continue reading

Grand Royal Vol. 1 [Vandal LTD]

Vandal LTD’s latest release sees them celebrating a collection of tracks at the edge of the halftime D&B sound where the waters begin to get muddy and the influence of hip-hop, footwork and other bass music mutates the sound in new and interesting ways.

Signs, SKS & Skank get together for the EP’s opener, the swaggering and audacious Bliss Flop. This one undoubtedly owes a little to Ivy Lab’s seminal Sunday Crunk, but it’s still a fantastic slice of halftime hip-hop with a grin-inducing bassline and heaps of attitude.

Tim Reaper’s contribution to the EP (alongside Vanar and Mieur) takes things in a totally different direction, with a distinctly techno influenced beat driving along under spooky soundscapes for a hypnotic journey through 5am clubland and into weird early morning psychedelia.

Elsewhere the EP features some nice tracks influenced by the Chicago footwork sound, the best of which is undoubtedly Lumumba’s Exhale. Frantic high hats and rap vocal cut ups may well be overplayed by now but this one is still a hugely satisfying listen, and it’s nice to see this sound spreading and being played with by so many in the D&B community.

The Grand Royal EP is out now at all good stores, so check out the clips below and grab yourself an unconventional selection of beats at your leisure.