When it comes to D&B MCs, you can count those worth hearing outside the rave on one hand (and even those worth hearing inside the rave on a few hands more…). The jump from host in the club to the true lyricism required to spit bars on record isn’t one that all wannabe microphone fiends have the talent for, but thankfully Sense has more than proven himself worthy of the task.
Many years in the making, The Elephant In The Room sees the self-described “illegitimate offspring of a scouse and a cockney” land on Diffrent Music accompanied by some of the best producers in the scene, with a plethora of material spanning D&B and hip-hop, dark and light, hype and chill. There are plenty of highlights in the uptempo region, from the coy and playful rhymes of Lynx-produced Disconnected to the aggy lyrical duel of After Dark, where Sense is joined by longtime friend and equally talented MC Codebreaker.
The lower tempo beats tend towards beauty and introspection, such as album opener Love Is… which muses on romance against an eclectic beat from Frank & Furter that brings to mind Frederick Robinson’s work. Two Planets brings in jazzy influences and rhymes on an intergalactic tip, while Just A Ride closes the album with thoughts on the meaning of life.
Descriptions struggle to do the work here justice; the important point is that The Elephant In The Room is a polished selection of songs with depth beyond the usual hype-man lyricism or catchy verses found on MC-led tracks. We’ve no doubt this is only gonna get better on repeat listens too. Check out some of the tracks below and hit up the Diffrent Store to grab a copy on digital, CD or vinyl…as they’ve been telling us for weeks, #BuyTheAlbum.
The four track EP has a fine heritage in drum & bass, and with good reason. While everyone loves a solid two track single, the EP format allows for the exploration of a theme, either by a single artist or a like-minded collective. It doesn’t carry the pressure of an album, but it provides a great platform for creative expression across an easily digestible four-course musical meal.
While the heritage of these EPs very much lies in the distant vinyl heyday of the scene, the format has nonetheless carried through to the digital era and its appeal proves undiminished by the digital format. Enter Soul:R, and their hugely enjoyable Four:fit series, which now delivers its eighth volume courtesy of label chieftain Marcus Intalex.
With a host of strong entries to the series from the likes of Calibre, Seba and Skeptical there was a high bar to meet here, but the ever reliable Intalex has turned in a solid selection more than worthy of the existing legacy. From the deep halftime growlings of Mixed Bag, through the stark, moody Step Forward and into rowdy amen smasher (and Dojo highlight) Jupiter, this is vintage Marcus through and through, and the EP closer sees Lynx hop on board for a fantastic roller on Stingray.
Once again Soul:R are at the top of the game when it comes to deep but still dancefloor worthy D&B. Check out the tracks below and hit up their Bandcamp store to grab a copy on vinyl or digital right now!
I’m gonna be totally honest here; I wasn’t expecting much from this LP. Lynx’s previous productions have been incredibly hit and miss for me, and his recent EP for Hospital struck me as pretty average. Nonetheless, I always try and keep an open mind when listening to new promo in the inbox, and I Am Lynx proved to be a very pleasant surprise.
The first thing that struck me about this album as I listened through was the diversity of the productions on show. From the punchy dancefloor tech of Clap Track to the womped-up hip-hop swagger of Drop That, through the staccato rhythms and rap of Lights Out (which is absolutely boss, by the way) and the blissful rolling liquid of Chord Time, this is a record of many delights and little laurel-resting.
While it’s not all gold (I found the Zinc-esque jump-up of Satisfaction pretty tedious) the LP definitely has way more hits than misses, and it’s good to see a producer stretching themselves. Doubtless Lynx could easily have knocked out a dozen soft liquid rollers and called it a day; bravo for pushing the boat out a bit further.
As usual with Hospital releases you can find this on CD, vinyl and digital at the Hospital Store; check out the clips below and grab yourself a solid 12 track selection right now.
If you want a wee bit more of the Lynx flavours you can also check out his 60 minute mix for Mistajam below. Nice!
Today’s classic track selection comes from Lynx on his own (now sadly dormant) Detail Recordings imprint. Released in 2011 as the flip to the altogether darker Dirty Red, 5am Soul City lives up to it’s name with a deep and melancholy vibe set to a crisp, rolling break. If Drum & Bass were to play the Blues it would sound like this!
Fokuz continue their 15 year anniversary celebrations with another three 12″ releases of crisp, rolling D&B. Plate one sees Spearhead boss BCee delivering two beautiful slices of his trademark uplifiting liquid funk, with Praying Man ticking all the lush melodic boxes while Magic Mirror goes in deeper with blues guitar on the intro and a slightly more muted tone.
Scott Allen graces the second single with a rolling slice of dubwize, replete with horns, reggae vocals and warm sub bass vibrations. Soligen & Type-2 provide the flip, showing their appreciation for classic hip-hop style loops on the intro before dropping into a hefty combination of jungle-style breaks and big gnarly bass hits. Danger!
Last but by no means least, the third piece of wax sees Lynx getting his remix on, turning in a jazzy relick of Enei & Intelligent Manners’ Midnight Runaway. The sheer funk and groove on show here is impressive to say the least, and as ever Lynx pushes the boundaries of what drum & bass can be. Finally Amaning & Dramatic turn in a disarmingly simple blend of rolling breaks, sub bass modulations and piano riffs to close out the triple pack.
As with part one Fokuz have truly outdone themselves both in terms of quality and originality. Check out the clips below and watch out for the 12″s dropping each week starting June 30th. There’ll also be a full CD and digital release dropping June 7th. Don’t sleep!
To celebrate his new Sound of the Rain EP on Bad Taste Recordings, Australian producer Royalston has been nice enough to put together a 30 minute mix of tunes old and new (and up for a free download no less). The selection features some tunes from the EP alongside a mixed selection of tunes spanning the spectrum of drum & bass. Check out the mix and the tracklist below!
Royalston – Sound of the Rain
Technimatic – The Unspoken
J Majik & Wickaman – Old Headz
Rene Lavice – Perfect World
MA – If Thats How You Want it to Be (Royalston Remix)
Culture Shock – Troglodyte
Audio – Headroom
Rewind – I Got a Feeling
Lynx – Disco Dodo
Nu Logic – Grizzly
Quadrant, Kid Hops and Iris – Hovercraft
Royalston – House of Mirrors
Xtra – Discordance
Paul B – Drop By Drop
Rene Lavice – The Way you love me
Royalston – Dead Hollywood
Metrik – Genesis
Not content with mighty releases from Phil Tangent and DRS, Soul:R are back with more, this time from eclectic producer Lynx who delivers a great little 12″. Balloons is a half stepper with tons of character, cheeky bleeps and bloops ambling through the tune, but for me it’s all about the deep roller on the flip Passing Time.
Watch out for this one dropping on Soul:R on Decmber 17th!
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.