It doesn’t get much better than this…we’re unbelievably hyped to have the premiere of Mako’s One Reality for you today! Taken from his Oeuvre LP for Metalheadz, this is a masterclass in razor sharp breaks, shimmering pad atmospherics and groaning bass tension. 100% trademark Mako business, and all the better for it. Hit up the Metalheadz Store to grab the album on vinyl or digital right now!
Utopia Music have been quiet for some time now as Mako concentrates on his work with DLR as OneMind and his forthcoming LP for Samurai Music, so it’s great to see the label making a return on this brand new 12″ from longtime label collaborator Mikal.
Under The Earth sees Mikal and Mako teaming up on a trademark Utopia cut; exquisitely crafted breaks, bassline scuzz and tons of detail. The fusion of jungle sensibilities with a hint of ‘headz and a taste of techstep darkness has long defined the Utopia sound and this one fits that bill perfectly.
On the B-side Mikal gets militant with an angular kick-drum rhythm and a selection of aggy bass hits. This one should produce more than a few screwfaces; proper stomper! Check out the previews below and hit up the Utopia Bandcamp to grab the release right now…
As individuals, these artists are arguably two of the most talented in the genre – certainly right now, if not ever. Impossible though it might seem, by joining forces, they have reached yet higher altitudes: OneMind’s EP2 is the second comprehensive testament to this. The EP’s opener, Pullup, is a future classic for certain. Only Mako & DLR combined could lace such a simple bassline with such complex eccentricities, and the result is frankly breathtaking sound design.
In every tune, you can hear both of their individual influences shine through. Mako’s old school vibe oozes through Late Addition, albeit with a little help from Total Science (and of course DLR). This collab definitely ticks the dBridge-coined ‘beautifully aggressive’ box, being both relentless and delicate – something many artists will never achieve. Early Daze is yet another example of the vibe OneMind are championing, intricate combinations of old-school vocals and one shots with modern-day sound design that provides such a rich texture to the track. The final track, Quiet Fire, features genre-agnostic Throwing Snow, whose Houndstooth & Moda Black heritage shines through in bags. I look forward to the prospect of more D&B from him.
OneMind have truly distilled all the ingredients that make Metalheadz the greatest label in the genre’s history – combining a pioneering integrity for sound design with a nuanced, yet deep-seated appreciation of the drum & bass past. Long live this sound; let’s end this before I run out of superlatives. Hit up the ‘headz Store to pre-order the EP ahead of the August 25th release date.
Written by James Austin, aka DJ Auzi, label manager at Terabyte Records
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.
As Dispatch draw close to their landmark 100th release their latest main-label offering treats us to some stunning reworks from Gerra & Stone’s Unbreakable EP, and as usual from Ant TC1’s seminal imprint the results are among the finest underground D&B in the scene.
First up, Dublin legend Zero T is on hand to turn in a rolling liquid refix of title track Unbreakable. The soft vocal flourishes and melancholy melodies of the original are still present and correct, but the quirky drums and off-kilter bass of the original have been swapped out for a thoroughly trademark Zero T bongo roller break and warm sub textures. This one is sure to prompt smiling faces and dancing feet, and there’s an instrumental mix included for good measure.
When it came to the thoroughly Photek-esque vibes of Plates there was only ever one production team we wanted to hear on the remix so we were more than happy to see Blocks and Escher on the buttons. The duo flip the script on this one, dishing up a moody, stripped back take which swaps the chopped up drums of the original for an ominous percussion routine that keeps the tension bubbling away.
Last but by no means least, Mako brings his signature funk stylings to Almost U with a new version that is all about the drums. This perhaps isn’t the most adventurous mix in terms of changing up the original melodic elements, but when the parts are this lush and the new drums are this sharp it’s still impossible to argue with.
Another sick release from Dispatch! We’re hugely looking forward to hearing what they have in store with DIS100… meantime you can check out clips of the EP below and hit up the Dispatch Store for full length previews and WAV/MP3/12″ purchases.
Time for another roundup of the best releases in the underground D&B scene; read on for new releases from Renegade Hardware, Flexout, Warm Communications, Invisible and more…
2016 looks set to be an exciting year for Mako. With another storming release for ‘headz just round the corner and more to come on his own Utopia imprint, not to mention the forthcoming OneMind LP with DLR, I grabbed the man himself for the lowdown on drum programming, working with Goldie and his forthcoming live show. Continue reading
Mako’s blend of tough yet nuanced techstep has won him plenty of plaudits over the last couple of years, with releases across some of the best labels in the scene, and his latest work for Metalheadz sees him at the top of his game.
There’s an old school tinge to a lot of the work here, eschewing the hyper-technicality of modern D&B in favour of simple but effective basslines and detailed break chopping, a combo which proves just as weighty and just an energetic as any of the ultra modern productions found elsewhere. Possibly the finest example on this release comes on The Gap, an exercise in high octane percussion concussion in collaboration with frequent partner in crime Fields. The tension and intricacy of the track are pretty breathtaking, giving the impression that every completed work for Mako is a labour of love.
Shades of classic scene originators (notably Photek) can be heard in the EP, but Mako’s talent is undoubtedly his ability to draw on these influences for inspiration without merely copycatting them. In a scene where originality is soon packaged and immitated, Mako succeeds in standing apart from other producers; The Narrator is a record that is distinctly ‘headz while at the same time not quite like anything else on their recent roster.
Overall if you’re looking for something with heft and soul in equal measure, this should be right up your alley. Check out the clips below and hit up the Metalheadz store to grab it 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.
CIA return with another fine and varied selection pairing the rough with the smooth over four new tracks for what appears from the title to be the first in a series of Classified EPs. Chroma step up first, providing a tough, rolling relick of Total Science & S.P.Y’s Whoonga. Next up comes a classic Calibre deep roller; not the man’s finest work, but instilled with that unmistakable quality and atmosphere that pervades so much of his work nonetheless.
The familiar and yet never played out combination of Total Science & Riya make a welcome appearance with a silky new composition featuring the usual hints of jazz and soul over a firm backbone of breaks and bass, leaving man of the moment Mako to close the EP with a hefty slice of chopped up techstep. It’s difficult to fault any of these tracks! Check out the clips below and look for the EP dropping at all good digital outlets from March 2nd.