Lenzman is one of the toughest artists I’ve examined for Classic Track due to the sheer consistency of his discography! I distilled his numbers down to a handful of tracks that I felt were his best, and then I employed one of the more natural methods I could think of as a music lover to determine the one to post here: choose the track I listen to most often. While it took some time for me to come to my conclusion, Close To Me pulled off a decisive victory in the end.
Released on Future Retro (a sublabel of BCee’s Spearhead Records) in 2007, Close To Me brings all of the spirit and sophistication to be appreciated in a classic liquid Drum & Bass track. Tight, energetic break-work and warm bass establish a foundation of rhythmic precision and sonic purity. Subtle tones dance along in the background of downbeat rolled chords from an electric piano layered with other harmonious sounds. Lastly, the enticing yet seemingly distant sounding vocal provides just the right touch of deepness. All elements are synthesised into an entrancing liquid tune that’s jazzy, soulful, and irresistible.
Fokuz Recordings celebrates a mighty 15 years in the game this year and to celebrate they’ll be releasing six 12″s and double CD packed full of their brand of rolling, emotive D&B.
Kicking things off is Episode 1, three 12″s featuring a selection of the labels trademark liquid vibes. Command Strange’s Rocksteady gets the Lenzman summer remix treatment on the first plate, with Reds turning in a deep, warm roller on the flip. Plate number two sees Malaky deliver the soft strings and soulful vocals of Connected, while Impish delivers the more dancefloor oriented bassline modulations of With U. Finally the third single features the simple, infectious hook of Emery & Dreazz’ Things backed with a jazzy take on the old school D&B roller from Reds.
If you like your D&B musical and rolling it’s difficult to argue with the selection on offer here. Check out the clips below and watch out for these dropping from June 9th.
After too many years of staring at the lineups and wishing I was there, 2013 was finally the year for a pilgrimage to Sun & Bass. Held in San Teodoro on the beautiful island of Sardinia, the festival offers eight nights of the best D&B DJs in the world. If you don’t believe it, have a gander at the lineup. Given the length of the event, this review will be split up into separate posts. Read on for part one…
Lenzman teams up with vocal partner in crime Dan Stezo to deliver a lush liquid mixtape in advance of his appearance at Outlook 2013. True to form the mix is packed full of smooth rollers from the likes of Calibre, Artificial Intelligence, Marky, Random Movement and Lenzman himself. Check it out below and grab yourself a free download!
Metalheadz bring us another must have 12″ from Lenzman! A side Empty Promise covers all the bases nicely; rolling breakbeats, soft pads, soulful vocals and just enough grime in the bassline to give the tune some teeth. Then over on the flip Makoto gives Broken Dreams the remix treatment, making the song his own while retaining the trademark vocal that made the original such a big hit on release.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, the ‘headz camp are also giving away a nice little freebie in the form of Subwave’s remix of Lenzman & Riya’s Open Page. Grab yourself a copy here and look out for the Empty Promise 12″ dropping on April 29th.
Those who keep an eye on Lenzman‘s soundcloud will have noticed that he releases an excellent mix every month or two, usually with the accompaniment of a talented yet understated MC. Past mixtapes have featured DRS and Riya, and this time Dan Steno steps up to the mic and helps Lenzman bring in the new year with a selection of drum & bass spanning deep minimal and warm, soulful liquid. Highlights include new cuts from Critical, Soul:R, and the beautiful new Makoto remix of Lenzman’s Broken Dreams which is forthcoming on Metalheadz later this year. Yes selecta!
The release of new material on Total Science‘s CIA Records imprint is always a pleasure, with the boys always keeping the quality ridiculously high and only putting out releases when they’re good and ready. This latest LP (the sequel to Tuned In some eleven years on) showcases that quality from a variety of artists across pretty much all the styles of Drum & Bass, and even among a year of so many LP releases shines through as a great album.
The LP delivers deeper tracks like Lenzman’s remix of Past Lives and the beautiful Stolen Moments from Riya & Zero T alongside techier numbers from the likes of Spirit, 8-Bits & Q-Project and Beta 2, along with some standout leftfield drumwork from Fracture on The Breaks. You can stream a few of my favourites below, so check it out and go grab yourself a copy from your favourite store!
MCs in dance music; often a contentious topic. And one that has been prominent in the drum & bass scene in recent times, with the rise of MC-led (or at least MC-imbued) tracks, particularly in the wake of the huge success of Dub Phizix’s smash hit Marka. So despite the excellent track record DRS has in the scene, I must admit I was a little ambivalent when I heard that he was doing a full length album of solo material. Would there be the necessary variation here to justify a solo LP, or would this merely amount to 14 similar tracks chucked together to cash in on the current trend for MCing over half-step D&B beats?
While the initial single from the album was promising, it was treading familiar ground for the MC. Thankfully the album doesn’t disappoint in any way – lyricism and production (from the host of guest producers including dBridge, Lynx & Genotype) are both top notch, and most importantly the album shows real variation in tone and musical style.
The first welcome surprise of the album comes on Autonomic, bringing the tempo down to the 120 range for a slice of stripped back but supremely funky hip-hop. “This beat’s so autonomic, automatic, supersonic” goes the chorus, with DRS settling into a beautifully laid back yet insistent flow that instantly has the head nodding. It Ain’t Easy provides another, with a pleasant cross between grime-esque 140 beat patterns and warm, soulful synth lines.
Even when the tunes are occupying more familiar drum & bass led territory there is a good selection of different offerings, from soulful liquid funk affairs like Star Voyager and Keep the Faith to slightly predictable but nonetheless high calibre grimey half-steppers like Play With Fire.
If MCs are stepping up to become a bigger feature of the drum & bass scene, on record as well as in their more natural habitat of the club, then DRS has certainly set the bar for what an MCs album should be on every level. Watch out for the full release via Soul:R on Monday – and to whet your appetite you can check out a teaser mix below.
Marcus Intalex‘s Manchester based Soul:R imprint is gearing up to release the debut album from MC DRS, and ahead of that they’ve put together a quality 12″ taken from the album. The A-side sees DRS teaming up with Russian producer Enei, with tight rhymes over a classic “steppa”-style D&B beat. Over on the flip is Holding On with Lenzman, Jehst & Riya, an altogether more soulful, liquid-funk affair with a warm, uplifting chorus.
DRS has also put together a youtube playlist of his influences which features a wide variety of quality tunes from the likes of Goldie, Otis Reading and The Pharcyde – well worth a listen!
Check out the video for Count to Ten below, grab the single (out Monday on Soul:R from all good outlets) and watch out for the album over the next few months.