Unbelievably excited for today’s exclusive as we can share brand new music from Hydro’s forthcoming LP for Utopia Music! Featuring the engineering talents of War, Tribal Times lives up to it’s name with an intricate array of unusual percussion powering the tune along. Far from being just another bongo-powered roller, the depth in the composition here is breathtaking, with eerie synth bleeps, soft strings and a stunning breakdown all contributing to a tune that really rewards repeated listens. Look out for the whole album coming Apr 12th; preorders are up right now on the Utopia Bandcamp.
Methlab’s dark and minimalistic BNKR imprint returns for it’s 3rd outing with Utopia Music’s Hydro on the buttons accompanied by familiar partners in crime Villem, War and Mateba.
Unsurprisingly given the artists involved, the release has a very ‘headz-y vibe, combining crisp modern production with the influence of golden era techstep D&B from the likes of Source Direct and Photek. Despite the grimey basslines and dark, ominous atmospheres there’s still an emphasis on funk and groove which can be lacking in some of the hyper-clean productions of 2016. In amongst the sharp snares and carefully tuned reverbs there’s still plenty of analogue distortion and warm, organic tones, melted together into compositions that feel both driven and hypnotic.
The drum programming on show here deserves a special mention too; after the more straightforward steppers beat of opening track Ethos Hydro and friends have gone in on hyperactive funk drum chopping that is an absolute joy to listen to; think somewhere between the chaos of a Paradox break and the sharpness of DLR’s best efforts and you’re in the ballpark. This back to basics approach, revelling in the origins of the genre and the most central elements of the D&B sound while still leveraging modern techniques is what makes these tracks such a joy to listen to.
If you’re a fan of precision, dark edged techstep with depth beyond the dancefloor then BNKR continue to deliver right at the top of the game! Check out the clips below and look for the EP dropping at all good digital stores from Nov 29th.
Dispatch are truly spoiling us right now. On top of their impending 100th release extravaganza and a ton of top notch releases over the last few months, Ant and the gang are treating us to a full length DLR album, barely more than a year on from his solo LP debut Seeing Sounds. Christmas comes early it seems!
The themes on the album couldn’t feel more topical either with the recent Brexit debacle in the UK and Trump’s election victory in the US. Where Seeing Sounds felt at times abstract and introspective, Dreamland is pointed and political, from the leftwing anti-capitalist patter of interlude tracks like Living The Dream to Gusto’s angsty attacks on modern society on standout title track Dreamland. Lyrics like “course politicians got their hand in the till” paint a vivid picture of disbelief at the status quo, and that fire in the belly comes across in the razor sharp production of whiplash snares and growling bass.
Production-wise this is very much evolution rather than revolution, honing DLR’s well tuned style of groove-laden tech-edged D&B. While this isn’t a tedious collection of “bangerz” by any stretch, pretty much all the tracks feel more than capable of causing some screwfaces in the dance, with Mako collab Anxiety Attack and the ominous, stalking basslines of album closer Time is Everything proving to be standout moments.
Dreamland is unlikely to convert non-believers to the DLR sound, but fans of his previous material will definitely be all over it. It’s great to see an artist using their music as a platform to make a statement and encourage social change too, especially in an age where so much music has little to no message beyond the intent to rip up a club. Props to DLR for balancing the dancefloor with a deeper message, and props to Dispatch for their continued belief in original independent music. Check out the clips below and hit up their store to grab this direct; Dreamland drops everywhere this Friday.
Methlab are back with the third release on their BNKR imprint with Utopia Music regular Hydro at the controls! The Ethos EP showcases the deeper, more minimal sound that BNKR have been making their mark on and this is exemplified in the stripped back aethetic of Hydro & War’s Faux Amis (or ‘False Friends’ in English).
Intricate drums, myserious vocal samples and growling bassline grit characterise a typically introspective track from a production duo that always bring an exciting take on the D&B sound. Check it out below and watch out for the EP dropping from Nov 29th.
Mako’s Utopia Music imprint has been relatively quiet lately, probably due in no small part to Mako’s increasingly busy release schedule and his work on an LP for Metalheadz with DLR (which we can’t wait to hear). Busy schedule notwithstanding, it seems the label is still getting some love as evidenced by their first new 12″ since Inner Revolution dropped at the start of the year.
Both tracks on the latest release come from super-collab style lineups, with Hydro at the centre of each. He’s recruited Habstrakt, War and Mateba for a chunky halftime outing on The New Age, which is all heaving sub bass and perfectly placed percussion, plus a few ominous pads for good measure. The track carries a really deep, tribal vibe and the overall effect is absolutely hypnotic.
Over on the flip Hydro is joined by Samurai Music/Auxiliary mainstay Sam KDC and unknown quantity Modabke for the achingly beautiful Voyage Nocturne. This one goes well outside of what can really be called D&B, hitting more of a downtempo/ambient vibe but still with those super crisp drums and an element of dark bass gargling away in the background behind the wash of jazzy licks, spacey synths and other instrumentation. If the first track was hypnotic this one is full on trance-inducing, and defies a worthy description.
Utopia Music continue to be one of the most exciting and innovative labels in the game, and we hope their strong tradition continues around Mako’s journey to the upper echelons of the scene! Check out the clips below hit up your favourite store to grab this on vinyl or digital right now.
Utopia Music have had something of a hiatus recently (probably due in no small part to Mako’s extensive work with other labels) but the label is back with a new EP and for the first time they’re going digital only. According to the press release the previous strict vinyl-only release policy is now being relaxed to try and get more of the label’s signings out into the world, so expect to see more digital releases over the coming months.
As usual from the Utopia Camp the tunes are all top quality, but the vibes are even deeper than usual, with the imprint making it’s first forays into halftime D&B. Hydro, War & Mateba go in on 87 with some pretty spooky synths over a chunky back beat, while Coerce serves up floaty, almost ambient business on Merkava.
Israeli producer PLK switches things up with a chunky slice of angular D&B with a techy edge, leaving it to label boss Mako to close things out with a blissful “ReDub” of Sunchase’s previous release for Utopia, Nathennia. The track lives up to it’s name, being entirely dubby and almost entirely unrecognisable from the original.
For the latest in our exclusive mix series we’re extremely excited to welcome Utopia Music’s Hydro & War to the DNB Dojo decks. The boys have crafted a fantastic mix spanning rolling techstep, deep halftime, downtempo, hip-hop ambient and even a little jazz. We hope you’ll all enjoy the varied selections as much as we do!
No tracklist on this one but be sure to listen out for Hydro, War & Mateba’s latest cut for Utopia, 87, and forthcoming Hydro, Habstrakt, War & Mateba cut The New Age (again out on Utopia very soon).
The wait is finally over – DLR’s debut solo LP Seeing Sounds has arrived, and it’s every bit as good as I’d hoped it would be! Having deliberately avoided listening to the preview clips I sat down with the full LP for a start-to-finish listen, and I wasn’t even remotely disappointed.
Understandably enough, this record feels like a spiritual successor to Octane & DLR’s 2012 LP Method In The Madness. The same cinematic sampling and atmosphere is present, as is the sonic detail and creativity. DLR’s sound has been refined further over the past three years, and the album seems less bent on complexity for complexity’s sake; the emphasis seems to have shifted slightly towards groove and weight over technicality, and the compositions really shine for that emphasis.
Above all else this is a record that firmly injects the funk back into the techstep sound, from the playful basslines of Charlie Brown and Break collab Human Error through the chunky lower tempo breakbeat workout of I Found Out and plenty more besides. There’s room for some surprises too, such as the melancholy liquid of Hydro collaboration Empyreal and the jazzed up tech of Minds Eye. There are also two fantastic MC-led steppers, with Gusto repping the mic on The Author and Fokus providing vocals on the politically minded Ask The Question.
Many of the LPs best tracks have been pressed loud and proud onto four slabs of that black crack we love so much, and having given them a thorough mix on the decks I’m happy to attest they all sound as tight and punchy as you’d expect from the Dispatch family. The vinyl releases are already sold out via the Dispatch Store, though the digital version is still available and the vinyl plates can all be picked up via Redeye.
The first couple of listens give me the distinct impression that this is an album which will grow and grow over the coming months while we wait with anticipation for DLR’s collaborative LP with Mako. Check out the clips below and go grab yourself a copy of what is undoubtedly one of the best D&B albums we’ll hear this year.
Horizons Music celebrate 10 years in the game with an excellent new compilation featuring 14 fresh cuts from names that will be familiar to anyone who’s been following the label in recent times. The compilation takes a look back at the label’s very first release, with Jubei and Amoss both turning in remixes of Skitty’s 10 Steps, but for the most part they’re looking forward with new material from some of the best names in the scene.
It’s difficult to pick highlights from such a strong selection, but a few stand out from the pack. Silent Witness brings a perfectly balanced combination of melodic elements and rolling, dancefloor tech on Fields, Amoss explore their deeper side on the subby liquid of Piano Licks and DLR turns in a trademark chunky stepper on Outta Time. The whole LP is well worth a listen, so check out the clips below and head to your favourite outlet to grab this on CD, vinyl or digital now!
Blendits return with their biggest release yet, snagging a pair of techy rollers for the label’s increasingly impressive discography. Hydro & War provide the A side, combining crisp beats and techy bass with a layer of spooky melodies and atmospherics, apparently passing some comment on the production of pop music in the process.
Eastcolors comes in for remix duties on the flip, bringing a new slant to Mindmapper & Silvahfonk’s Polygraph. The soft pads and chords of the original are embelished, richer and fuller, and the previously steady mix is swapped out for a frenetic array of chopped breaks. The mixture of musically beautiful elements and rough and tough drumfunk beats is a potent combo! Check out the clips below and look for this one on vinyl and digital from November 24th.