The illustrious R&S Records has played host to a wonderfully varied discography over the years, mainly catering to the techno and house crowds, yet has also delivered on some outstanding drum & bass tracks—one of which is a 1996 Intelligent gem that we bring to you today: Wind Dancer (Remix) by Shogun.
An airy melody congeals with lush strings and effervescent pads to form an ethereal vibe. Sparse congas lend an atmospheric curiosity in addition to ambient guitar and vocals. With a robustness spoken through the potent bass and precisely detailed percussive arrangement, the song rolls through apexes where both breaks intermingle into unified cadences of infectious grooviness. An all-time favourite that I’ll always appreciate, Wind Dancer (Remix) is a vibrant tune that continues to shine today.
Source Direct are often heralded as a top notch act in the history of Drum & Bass, having garnered critical acclaim as well as massive respect from Drum & Bass listeners across the board. To this day, their sound has gone largely unmatched.
We are reminded of the one-of-a-kind Source Direct sound (unless you keep their music in your usual rotation like I do) by the eclectic offering of their illustrious catalogue that has been recently remastered and released on the Odysee Recordings Bandcamp page in the last two weeks.
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!
Russian producer limit lands in the premiere spotlight today with a slice of drumfunk. Channelling the largely forgotten sound of mid-2000s choppage pioneered by the likes of DJ Trax and Paradox, this one is all about the breaks…check it out and hit up the label Bandcamp to grab a copy from Nov 21st.
J Plates returns to Omni Music with his second EP for the label in only a couple of days, and we’ve got the exclusive on title track Telepathy! Intricate melodies, sultry vocal hooks and chunky breakbeat chops characterise a sublime slice of uplifting, intelligent jungle. Watch out for the EP hitting digital stores from Nov 24th; pre-orders are up now at Beatport.
Johnathan Thomas is back this month with a solo EP for Samsara Beats, and we’re hyped to have him back in the Dojo spotlight for a premiere of Clarity! Going in deep with influences from the atmospheric sounds of 90s Good Looking Records, this one is all about soft textures and crunchy breakbeats. Blissful! Look for the EP dropping Aug 27th at all the usual digital outlets, and on cassette via the Samsara Bandcamp.
Today’s premiere is a little special to say the least; we’re honoured to have an exclusive from legendary Drum & Bass pioneer Peshay! Taken from his first D&B album in over a decade, album opener Capricorn builds slowly with epic pads and soft piano, eventually breaking into a wash of jungle breaks, warm bass and melodic overlays; liquid that takes inspiration from the glory days of the scene while also looking forward to the future. Beautiful! Watch out for the Reflections LP coming on triple vinyl and digital via Belgian imprint De:tuned from June 1st.
Younger heads may not recognise the name Delta, but older D&B fans (and particularly connoisseurs of the deeper end of the sound) should recognise him from his productions in the early 00s alongside production partner Format. Their concise but influential discography from that period is well worth a look, with cuts on legendary labels like Dread, Creative Source, Reinforced and Hospital for those who fancy crate digging a little.
Fast forward to 2017 and Delta is back with a fresh EP on the pair’s resurrected Microdot label. The pioneering and experimental spirit remains as exciting as it was 15 years ago; there’s an old school aesthetic at play, with everything from classic vocal sampling techniques to acid-y basslines weaved into the tracks. Opener Dreaming From The Hip combines a hint of b-boy funk a-la-Paradox with rolling breaks and soft pads more reminiscent of the old “intelligent D&B” style. Feel meanwhile takes things tougher, with hard edged rhythms and a stabbing set of vocal cut-ups punctuated by sections of warping analogue bass bleeps.
Kundalini Serpent goes out into jazz jam territory, combining a playful break and bassline with echoing piano and sax for a distinctly unusual take on the D&B sound. Last but not least, Second Wave throws the 2-step beats out of the window for a hypnotic bass-loop workout driven along by a truly bizarre drum arrangement. Lilting, swung and spaced out, this is possibly our favourite track on the release, and it sounds like nothing else you’ve heard this year.
Overall this EP shows a true pioneer of the sound back in the groove and on fine form. Broaden your horizons and head to the Microdot Bandcamp to pre-order a copy now on vinyl or digital. The release drops August 11th.
This one shouldn’t need any introduction; today’s classic selection takes us back two decades to 1995 and the golden years of the jungle sound. Keeping those crispy breaks but swapping the darker vibe of many jungle tunes for a lighter tone based around floaty synth melodies, there’s no doubt that this served as the inspiration for many artists in the development of the intelligent and liquid D&B scenes in later years.
Interest in the track clearly hasn’t waned with the likes of LTJ Bukem dropping a new bootleg from dRamatic & dbAudio so maybe we’ll see a fresh mix hitting the stores soon, but meantime the original still does the business; check it out below and lose yourself in those synths…