Under The Counter (Volume Two)

Reviews of new releases and fresh promo’s.

Lewis James – Praying Out Loud (Laundry Zero)

Lewis James follows up his recent releases on None60 and Rua Sound with this sublime take on modern electronic soul. The first release on his new vocal label Laundry Zero “Praying Out Loud” also features an Om Unit remix which plunges the track further into a bittersweet cinematic territory. Lewis once again takes inspiration from all forms of electronic music to create a sound that is both heartfelt and personal. Telling the tale of how it’s a fool’s errand to try and change someone vocalist Dan Dans K delivers the message of the song with emotion and intent. A collaboration between friends the first release on Laundry Zero demonstrates a real desire to create meaningful songs that leave the listener with hope and a sense of community where feelings and emotions are shared. Gospel music for the electronic generation.

Dillinja – You / King Of The Beats (Dubs From The Dungeons)

Dom from Dom & Roland pulls off the at once unthinkable and secures “You” by Dillinja for vinyl and digital release. Originally slated for a Vinyl Distribution compilation back in 1996 “You” was previously only available as part of the LP’s 30 test press release with copies since trading hands for in excess of £300. Produced in 1994 “You” is Dillinja in his prime, a young and hungry producer who was pushing boundaries and at the forefront of experimentation. Distorted bass and filtered amens alongside sparse chords and scattered female vocals create a trademark Dillinja tear out up there with his iconic Metalheadz releases. On the flip side “King Of The Beats” is a standard Dillinja roller from 1997, rigid beats, squelchy bass and hip hop samples with a house style melody. Let’s hope Dom can secure the unreleased Studio Pressure and Hopa & Bones tracks from that VDLP7 compilation as well.

Peshay – All Night / Ride The Rhythm (Infrared Records)

Hot on the heels of last months releases by J Majik and Adam F Infrared Records unleash two new tracks by legendary producer Peshay. Brimming with energy and positivity these new songs sit firmly in the middle of the artists early Good Looking period and his later Disco phase. Uplifting pianos, familiar soulful vocal samples and explosive amen drops result in a twelve perfect for the summer and a wonderful insight into both the producers and labels next chapter. Music with the emotion of the nineties using both modern day and old school production techniques created to rock all kinds of dance floors.

Howitzer – Blackjacks / Strider (Sweetbox)

The latest release from DIFFRENT offshoot Sweetbox features two modern day drum and bass excursions produced at an old school 160 beats per minute courtesy of newcomer Howitzer. “Blackjacks” launches with an ominous string intro, distorted bass and sharp snares follow before a short breakdown of Dirty Harry style atmospherics take the track to its main drop of razor-sharp drum processing in a subdued Limewax style. “Strider” drops the 70’s vibe but continues with the soundtrack inspiration (albeit more of an 80’s horror theme) with a massive creeping bass line and clinical yet funky drums. A promising debut on the experimental label “Blackjacks” has seen support from Noisia.

Conspire – Intellect EP (Kriterion Recordings)

The first release on new digital entity Kriterion (sister label to the vinyl only Criterion) sees four deep takes on drum and bass by Conspire. “Intellect” and “Odysee” both focus on the classic dreamy Bukem sound featuring looped drums coupled with soothing bass and hypnotic pads. “Riot” is the only track to unleash an amen, sci-fi samples and sirens add to the energy alongside the classic Bomb The Bass sample urging you to “keep this frequency clear”. For me, the highlight of the EP is “Supernova” with its looped Hot Pants drums and sultry jazz samples. Hip hop vocals blend with gentle Rhodes, enchanting sax riffs and warm sub bass to create the perfect B-Boy roller just in time for Summer.

Forest Drive West – Set Free EP (Rupture)

Rupture continue to dominate the tougher side of modern jungle with this excellent five-track EP courtesy of Forest Drive West. Channelling the creative spirit of mid-nineties drum and bass luminaries every beat and sound is dissected, sculptured and placed with scientific precision. Rhythms constantly build under layers of ambience and FX as classic drum breaks playfully bounce off each other creating new patterns and vivid textures. Amen drops are executed perfectly, rugged, intimidating and hard-hitting.

Saying that, for me, it’s the sections when the staple jungle break isn’t used that the EP truly shines. Photek himself would be proud of the first four minutes of “Nothing Else” and the Apache edits on “Prism” are accomplished and polished. Overall this is a perfect example of drum and bass in 2018 that proves that once again breakbeat science is truly alive and well.

LMajor – Dig The New Breed EP (WNCL Recordings)

LMajor, ex-member of liquid trio BrokenDrum, abandons soulful Rhodes and light crispy beats in favour of rowdy bass lines and scattered snares on his debut WNCL Records release. Dropping the tempo by over thirty BPM doesn’t diminish the energy of LMajor’s production. In typical West Norwood Cassette Library style hardcore stabs, MC samples and weighty sub bass join forces to create a vibrant fusion of jungle, techno and grime.

The four-track EP features two original songs, “Danger” and “Raving Cru”, plus a remix by label mates Ténèbre and Caldera respectively. “Danger” begins with bold breaks and atmospheric pads before an injection of Tuff Crew and Lyn Collins samples build to an obnoxious bass line and dub samples. “Raving Cru” is more sparse but no less deadly. The space between the tracks different elements give breaks room to morph and contort whilst the bass and pads distort and echo creating the atmosphere of a sweaty nightclub in the early hours enriched by the MC sample urging you “to find a space in the venue”. Heavy bass fuelled music for sleazy dance floors.

JunglisMonk – Dark Dolla / Angelface (Modified Magic)

The latest vinyl release from Modified Magic features two new tracks by JunglisMonk and a tearing remix courtesy of Phuture-T. “Dark Dolla” is pure unadulterated 1993 hardcore featuring Foul Play style cuts and scratches, Reinforced inspired mentasms, pitched vocal samples reminiscent of early FBD Project and time-stretched Funky Drummer loops. Wild and frenetic it seems to abandon the concept of a standard arrangement instead opting for a more experimental approach where each individual element gets a turn to shine in the limelight at the front of the track invoking the true sound of early hardcore. The Phuture-T remix builds on the above by adding fierce amens, a brutal reese bass line and a rave stab section. “Angelface” layers traditional drum breaks and mutates them via Terminator style time-stretching and throws in a 4/4 section for good measure. Set against a backdrop of eerie movie samples taken from a certain De Niro film with a similar name JunglisMonk recreates a perfect early 90’s trip to the Darkside. It’s also worth mentioning the dope graffiti artwork on the label by Modified Magic boss Jude that adds an additional layer of 90’s drum and bass nostalgia.

Words: Dave Sector

Many thanks to the artists and labels who send me music. If you would like your release considered for inclusion on Two Hungry Ghosts please email your submission to twohungryghosts@gmail.com

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