There are few drum and bass artists that are truly accepted across a multitude of styles and sub-genres. Calibre is almost certainly the apex of these select few. Another several blog posts could be written arguing about the other alumni of this club, but in this piece, I wish to suggest that Alix Perez is as good a bet as any another. His latest 8-track, Without End, is testament to this. The build-up and indeed acclaim to date feels very much as it did when his seminal 1984 album was released over a decade ago.
Whilst a shorter body of work than 1984 and his 2013 follow-up album Chroma Chords, Without End feels punchier for it; quality over quantity. Unlike his work above, Alix focuses purely on the 170 range, yet still encapsulates a variety of moods and vibes.
Sombre and melancholic tracks like the opener Wondering at Loss, Someone Else and the single Lost & Proud featuring the exceptionally talented Liam Bailey on vocals, are woven perfectly alongside more upbeat tracks like Moving On – again with Liam Bailey – and even the more style-agnostic Perfect Stranger with Halogenix. Distant Figures proves another highlight, featuring long-time friend and collaborator Workforce.
Despite these variations, Without End still feels like a holistic body of work, laced with the signature touches that make Alix Perez so universally adored. The deep sine wave basslines, the carefully measured and considered vocals – both sampled and recorded – and his elegant keys and chords, are clear and in abundance.
If 1984 was Alix Perez’ extraordinary freshman folio, and Chroma Chords his sophomore sound after several years of learning and devotion to his craft, Without End represents a most hard-earned (and quite long overdue) graduation ceremony into the genre’s hall of fame – if you still needed to be convinced, that is.
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.
Portsmouth producer Kusp is someone we’ve had an eye on for a while. Through a slow trickle of releases for Authentic, Context and now Lynx’s Detail Recordings imprint, he’s slowly been carving a rep as a versatile producer capable of slinging traditional 2-step rollers and bassy halftime growlers alike. As he gears up for his debut album on Detail, we asked Kusp to give us the rundown of his top 5 halftime cuts. Check it out…
Alix Perez has much of the drum and bass scene in the palm of his hand. With a career spanning 12 years he has constructed masterpiece after masterpiece across several different styles; Alix has come a long way from Get It On in 2005 and his latest EP Nighthawks is concrete evidence of that progression.
The EP features an enticing menu of sounds and vibes; Blip stands out as a harsh, stripped back stepper perfectly punctuated with one-shots and FX that give it texture and depth. Similarly, Lucky Charm has drum work that is characteristic of Alix’s output in recent years, matched to a rolling low-end that will see this track being reloaded again and again.
If steppers don’t tickle your fancy, there’s plenty more to satisfy your D&B cravings. The EP’s title track Nighthawks takes the listener down a deeper road, although that doesn’t tell the full story here. Nearly two minutes in the mids start to growl at you in this dBridge-esque way that remind you of the variety of sounds Perez is so adept at manufacturing.
Finally, for those that don’t have a taste for the darker sounds of the genre, there EP is rounded off by a killer collaboration with Javeon, which reminds me a lot of Alix’s earliest material. Javeon’s cool voice gives this tune an R&B vibe that rolls out endlessly; something achieved by only a handful of artists playing in that space.
So, the EP in a nutshell: something for everyone, but by no means generalistic. Alix Perez clearly demonstrates he is at home designing all styles and all vibes (although there is a notable absence of half time on this one). But after the musical journey he’s had and his rise to the top of the pile, he barely needs to demonstrate anything to anyone anymore.
Written by James Austin, aka DJ Auzi, label manager at Terabyte Records
Once again we’ve been inundated with quality music in the Dojo inbox and despite the bonus extra day February has vanished before we could write it all up! Here’s some coverage of the best of the rest including new music from Alix Perez & Ivy Lab, Calibre, Hanover, SCAR, Bone and more…
After an initially slow cycle of releases Melbourne’s Plasma Audio have kicked things into gear this year, knocking out some really forward thinking music. Their latest release sees them close out 2015 in style with two new remixes from none other than Alix Perez.
It’s always a pleasure when a label picks one of your favourite artists to remix one of your favourite tunes from their catalogue, so when I saw the promo land in the inbox I knew I was in for a treat. Fresh from his storming collab work with EPROM, Perez has taken the chunky hip-hop spirit of Yoga and put his own distinctive touch to it, healthy with that low-slung, crunked-out vibe that he’s so good at dishing up.
In addition to the more obvious club mix, we’re also treated to a less convention bound (and less DJ friendly) rearrangement on the warped mix. My only complaint here is that it could be more warped; asides from the intro the deviations from the club mix aren’t that pronounced, which is a shame given the possibilities for experimental wonkyness. Still, this is a minor quibble in the face of a really enjoyable rework.
This one will be dropping on vinyl in January; hit up the Plasma Store to pre-order the wax, and look out for the digital at all the usual outlets from December 14th.
Alix Perez’s output has taken on many forms over the years, spanning rolling liquid and hard edged techstep in the early days, through the varied styles of his second LP and on to the more hip-hop and footwork infused beats he’s been producing recently.
His latest release for Exit takes a sharp u-turn from previous material and heads back to the smooth liquid rollers he first made his name with, and while there’s nothing like the innovation found on last year’s U EPthe tracks offer depth, warmth and seem to look back fondly on past exploits; even the title Recall & Reflect seems to imply a producer taking a trip down memory lane.
As you’d expect from a producer with the wealth of experience that Perez has built up, the tracks are precision engineered, with those all important liquid breaks sounding crisp, fresh and funky and the mixes as smooth as butter. Sometimes warmth and depth of feeling can be just as important as pushing the envelope, and that’s never been truer here. Check out the clips below and hit up the Exit Store or Bandcamp to pre-order the EP now ahead of the September 18th release date.
Alix Perez’s latest collaboration with US bass-slinger EPROM sees him completely eschewing the D&B template in favour of lower tempo shenanigans, but if you’re a fan of bass heavy electronica with a hefty dash of hip-hop swagger then you should definitely give the Shades EP a listen.
Dropping today on LA imprint Alpha Pup, the four tracks feature some serious low end weight and a head nod inducing groove that is just irresistible. Check out possibly the EP’s biggest cut, Chiron, below and hit up iTunes to grab the EP now; vinyl should follow shortly.
Friction’s Shogun Audio are celebrating 10 years in style with a massive bundle of new tunes. The 10 Years compilation features brand new beats alongside remixes of some Shogun classics, and comes in a beautiful six piece vinyl box set.
Dancefloor tech is well represented among the new tracks with beats from Icicle & Prolix, Friction, Joe Ford and Fourward all bringing the hard and nasty vibes. There’s also rolling liquid from LSB and Technimatic, a new genre bender from Rockwell and something a little unusual from Spectrasoul in the form of Ben. On the remix front, Spor’s anthemic Aztec gets a pretty hyperactive rework from Calyx & Teebee, Aliz Perez and Spectrasoul get the liquid refix treatment from Calibre and Etherwood respectively, and Fourward turn in a chunky new mix of Dark Days. Last but by no means least, Total Science & S.P.Y bring us a new VIP of another back catalogue fave – 2010’s Gangsta.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, the set also includes a poster, stickers, 3 CDs and a DVD; the CDs provide the new tracks in digital form, a selection of classics from the Shogun back catalogue and a fresh mix from Friction, while the DVD features a 10 Years documentary. There are only 500 copies of the full bundle available so head over to the Shogun Audio store pronto if you want to bag one, or save your wallet and grab the CD or digital package.