Classic Track: Soul Intent – Cold Blooded

This week takes us back to the early days of Samurai Music, a label that has been on the forefront of the more unconventional realm of Drum & Bass. Cold Blooded by Soul Intent marked the beginning of a shift in musical direction for Samurai Music that would gradually come to fruition over time.

This criminally underrated 2008 classic shows us a completely different side of Soul Intent, who savagely doles out coarse bass stabs, swells, and wobbles tempered with contemplative atmospherics. The rhythms here are measured in a military-esque discipline. Cold Blooded is an excellent balance between visceral and calculated, minimalist and elaborate. Definitely fitting for a label with the name of Samurai Music, Soul Intent’s intimidating tune entices us to become one with the way of the samurai.

Written by Luke Kessler

Seba & Method One Singles

When you’re presented with two dope new singles from the same production duo within a week of one another, clearly there’s only one legitimate response; review double feature!

Everyone’s favourite Swedish D&B producer Seba has teamed up with stateside experimentalist Method One once again and they’ve crafted some pretty groovy tracks. Dawn Patrol leads their 12″ for Commercial Suicide, featuring customarily floaty Seba pad work and crispy breaks a plenty, while Eidolon takes things in a heavier direction with more crunchy breaks and a funky bass hook. Noice!

Not content with a more than capable outing on Klute’s label, the boys have also signed a pair of moodier tracks to Samurai Music, featuring more polished drum work, deep sub and creepy synth leads; atmospheric business. Silicon Nature edges out as the Dojo fave on this one, but both tracks are top notch as you’d expect from producers with this much experience.

Personally we’re hoping to hear more from Seba & Method One in the not too distant future! Hit up the Commercial Suicide and Samurai stores respectively to grab these on vinyl or digital right now.

Tokyo Prose – Dawn Chorus EP [Samurai Red Seal]

Tokyo Prose is a rare producer in the scene, a man whose creations never fail to put a smile on my face. While Sam Reed certainly wasn’t the first to ply the deep, melodic style of Drum & Bass, he’s certainly developed his own voice over the years and his latest work is amongst his best.

Following last year’s Presence LP was always going to be tough given the quality and diversity of that record, but the Dawn Chorus EP feels perfectly pitched in that regard; lesser in scope but finely crafted and showcasing that warmth and emotion that makes his work so special. Whether on the beautiful string section of Dawn Chorus, the effortless downtempo of Vanishing Point or the bright chimes and crisp breaks of Windtalkers, the instrumentation remains beautiful and evocative.

Anyone yet to be persuaded by the gentle depth of the liquid sound may not find anything new to change their mind here, but if you appreciate the more musical side of Drum & Bass then the Dawn Chorus EP provides four tracks you will lose yourself in again and again. Serenity and bliss, softness and speed, feeling and thought, all lovingly packaged at one hundred and seventy beats per minute; it doesn’t get much better than this.

Check out the clips below and hit up the Samurai Store to grab a copy on wax before it inevitably sells out.

Homemade Weapons – Clarion Call EP [Samurai Music]

Seattle based producer Homemade Weapons has carved out quite a reputation for himself as a purveyor of stark, militant beats and his latest EP for Presha’s esteemed Samurai Music imprint is possibly his finest work to date. The title Clarion Call (and indeed the cover art, featuring images of riot police fighting protesters) should give you some idea of what to expect; this is angry music with more than a little edge to it.

The EP’s first half hits the hardest, with tough break chopping and brooding sub a-plenty, with highlights on the positively snarling Clarion Call and the relentless kicks and breaks of Mileena VIP. The digital only tracks on the second half take things deeper, keeping the ominous tone but reeling in the breaks in favour of more spacious halftime stylings.

Overall the EP is a fearsome selection of material for those who like their beats at the moody end of the spectrum. Check out the clips below and hit up the Samurai store to get a copy on digital now. Vinyl heads, if you haven’t already grabbed a copy direct from Samurai you’ll need to keep an eye on the usual outlets when the record reaches general release.

If you’re looking for more from Homemade Weapons the man himself has just mixed the latest installment of the Samurai Podcast; check out his murky selections below.

Theme – Scenes 1-4 EP [Samurai Red Seal]

Berlin-based producer Theme returns to Samurai Music after a popular release on their Horo imprint with a new EP blending halftime D&B with elements of dub techno, and the results are pretty stunning. Shimmering synth progressions, reverb drenched snares and a muted yet euphoric vibe characterise the tunes, and the compositions really draw you into the abstract world of their creator via a hypnotic, enveloping array of sonics.

While words like “hypnotic” and “meditation” get thrown around willy-nilly when discussing electronica that draws on ambience or floaty synths, these descriptions seem entirely fitting here. What exactly Theme is meditating on via these tracks is probably known only to him, but the body of work certainly carries a serene, thoughtful aesthetic which isn’t common in drum & bass…but then to many this isn’t drum & bass, and isn’t really trying to be either. The overall tone certainly shares more in common with dub techno, though the tempo and drum structures give away the influence of 85/170BPM music, call it what you will.

Pointless chin stroking regarding “true genre” aside, Scenes 1-4 is a breathtaking selection of tracks and one of the best attempts we’ve heard recently at the kind of musical zen producers of Theme’s ilk endeavour to create. Check out the clips below and lose yourself in it all…then head over to the Samurai Store and grab a copy on vinyl or digital, out right now.

If you want more from Theme, be sure to check out his mix for the Samurai Podcast below; 58 minutes of dubbed out halftime selections.

Erkiu – YRA EP [Shiro]

Apparently not content with already running three of the most esteemed labels in the scene, Samurai Music are launching their fourth imprint in July, named Shiro. Focussed exclusively on new artists who’ve never had a vinyl release, the label will produce limited white label runs with the first due on July 13th.

The music on this debut release comes from Polish producer Erkiu, who’s previously had digital releases on Cylon & CX:Digital. The EP showcases his gloomy, atmospheric sounds, blending techno influences with halftime D&B to create tracks that are minimal yet engrossing in nature.

Hollow Idol stands out as the Dojo favourite for it’s insistent groove, creepy pads and intricate percussive flourishes. Check out the clips below and hit up the Samurai Store to pre-order now.

Djrum – Plantain [Samurai Red Seal]

Samurai Music continue the relaunch of their trio of labels with a new single from Djrum on Red Seal. Samurai’s expansion beyond the confines of traditional D&B and into the wider worlds of electronica seems set to continue, with the tracks on this single melting down the merest hints of jungle into a sonic pot alongside a plethora of other influences to create something almost impossible to pigeon-hole.

Plantain brings together ethereal soundscapes, hewn from soft strings and mournful vocal samples, with constantly evolving percussion lines which at once seem quite junglist in heritage and on the other hand are anything but. The unusual combination of sounds bring to mind some of DJ Shadow’s best work, albeit without the hip-hop shine.

The rather obtusely titled What I Was Doing When I Was Doing What I Was Doing ups the tempo somewhat, with more insistent yet unusual drumwork layered under a tapestry of weird samples and spaced out atmospheres. The detail present in both tracks is incredible, with every crackly edit and drum hit seeming perfectly and lovingly placed. As usual Samurai can be counted on to push the envelope in exciting and unusual directions, unconcerned with genre tropes or mainstream popularity. Check out the clips below and grab this one from the Samurai Store now!

Best Albums of 2014

2014 has been a great year for D&B and another great year for LPs, so with the year drawing to a close we thought we’d run down our favourite full length releases this year. In no particular order…

Kimyan Law – Coeur Calme [Blu Mar Ten Music]

Kimyan’s debut LP impressed us greatly upon it’s initial release, and it’s an album that has only improved upon repeated listens. Blending influences from D&B with elements of soul, world music, ambient and plenty more besides, this is one of the most musical releases this year and a great start to what should be a promising career.

Tokyo Prose – Presence [Samurai Music]

Samurai’s reputation for quality and depth is legendary, and the debut LP from kiwi producer Tokyo Prose fits that MO perfectly. Featuring some excellent collaborations with the likes of Synkro, LSB and Lenzman, the album features a coherence and flow that many LPs lack, and some of the finest deep liquid tracks of the year. Essential listening.

Cern – Under Another Sky [Dispatch Recordings]

Cern’s LP slipped under the radar here at the Dojo on initial release, but thankfully we got the chance to catch up with it over the holiday season. The level of atmosphere and depth on show here is stunning, not to mention the precise engineering, intricate drum programming and overall detail that Cern has brought to the table. The album is an unapologetically dark, experimental release, with few (if any) of the tracks aimed at the dancefloor, and is all the better for it.

Future Beats: The Album [31 Recordings]

31 Recordings late entry to the 2014 LP battle has garnered near universal acclaim, and with good reason; few other compilations bring such a breadth of styles at such a high quality across such a massive selection of tracks. It’s great to see the label supporting new producers alongside old hands like Calibre and Klute, not to mention pushing the envelope with truly innovative sounds.

Ulterior Motive – The Fourth Wall [Metalheadz]

Last but by no means least, Ulterior Motive’s sonic journey through their experiences of Drum & Bass has provided both dancefloor anthems and deeper vibes. Tracks like Tape Pack and INTA-National have been killing floors at raves across the world since the LPs release, and the duos range has never been stronger.

Tokyo Prose – Continued Presence [Samurai Music]

It’s not often we love an album so much that we blog it twice, but Tokyo Prose’s debut for Samurai Music is not just any album. Presence has been on rotation here at Dojo HQ pretty steadily since it’s release earlier this year, and being fans of vinyl we were excited to see more of the label’s tracks getting a wax release. Continued Presence sees four more of Sam’s favourites from the album being committed to a beautiful blue and white disc, and you get a free digital bonus in the form of My Soul. Check that out below and head to the Samurai Store to pre-order the 12″ now.

Kiyoko – Fragments EP [Samurai Horo]

Synkro & Bering Straight’s Kiyoko project returns to Samurai’s vinyl-only Horo imprint with another lush EP of downtempo beats. Fans of the duo’s work will know what to expect – effortlessly beautiful compositions with massive, sweeping pads, soft percussion and a decidedly “less is more” approach. The whole EP is stunning but the achingly beautiful echoed guitar melodies of Lost Object stand out in particular. Check out the clips below and head to the Samurai Music store to grab this one now.