Under The Counter (Volume Six)

Reviews of new releases and fresh promo’s.

Marenn Sukie & Drummotiv – Had Enough Rain / 77 Astro Black (Next Phase Records)

Next Phase Records presents two tranquil yet powerful excursions into the leftfield world of 125-130 BPM electronica.

“Had Enough Rain” by Marenn Sukie fuses jazz and soul samples with a propulsive drum pattern. Reflective vocals and soft horns unite with techno stabs and spaced out chords to craft a captivating and hypnotic soundscape. Layers of FX build as the beat drives on with individual elements melting into one unstoppable energy.

“77 Astro Black” by Drummotive is a rich blend of old and new. An opulent synthesis of 1970s jazz fusion and modern-day unconventional house. Serene strings and delicate keys bind together creating an elegant beauty full of freedom, space and texture as the steady drum rhythm provides direction and structure.

Marenn Sukie has had previous releases on Apollo Records (R&S sister label) and Bannofee Pies (Bristol, UK). Drummotive is a Next Phase regular and has also recently appeared on the well-respected Drum and Bass label Subtle Audio Recordings.

DYL – The Subsurface Project (Literature Recordings)

Literature Recordings welcome back DYL to the label with two further pieces of abstract drum and bass to launch new series, “The Subsurface Project”.

Following on from his 2018 release on the label, “Erosion/Link”, DYL once again sculpts leftfield beats that go against the grain. He mentioned to me once about sampling field recordings and you get the impression that he could record the most beautiful birdsong and he would still morph it into an agonizing drip of dark texture. I think his music is all the better for it as there is more expression, style and emotion locked into those twisted grooves than simply using factory presets and standard beats. As a result of this investment into his sound palette, there is more opportunity to connect with the artist for a greater personal journey.

The sound is mechanical, think robotic not industrial. Everything is methodical and with purpose, like the sound of droids at work. White noise and black textures fill the atmosphere as electronic beats and bleeps control the direction.

Pushing the boundaries of what is considered drum and bass is how we got here, if you’re happy to indulge in a warped vision of modern jungle then I’d recommend this as a starting point into the often weird land of 170 experiments by DYL and the crew.

Available as a strictly limited edition bespoke cut 10″ vinyl by Sicknote and Dexta from 1-800-Dubplate featuring a black sticker on black vinyl in a black sleeve. The epitome of class and mystery.

DJ Sense – The Edge/Let You Go (Infrared Records)

DJ Sense returns to Infrared with his first solo release on the label, a pivotal part of the crew since it’s rebirth last year. For me, his joint release with label boss J Majik “First Contact/Originate” was a glorious blend of the old and new schools that seemed to be sadly overlooked by many. The combination of bass fuelled jungle and melodic piano on “Originate” offered something different to a lot of releases, modern drum and bass that would have been perfect for the large events of 95, uplifting without crossing the border into cheese, a Foul Play style anthem for 2018 with a massive middle piano section. “First Contact” had a heavier edge, it was far from subtle and able to carve up dancefloors, mainly due to its frenetic amen invoking memories of classic Ram (probably as a result of the same Richard Nixon vocal sample that was used on “Truly One”).

For this solo release, DJ Sense once again strikes gold with a fine balance of old and new, heavy and melodic. “The Edge” samples MC Conrad’s introduction to LTJ Bukem’s set at Dreamscape 4 when he uttered the now-classic words “Hardcore it, jungle it, come with it!” Amens slip and slide under dred bass and melodic piano triggering the same excitement often associated with a 90s Moving Shadow or Second Movement release.

“Let You Go” once again pays tribute to LTJ Bukem, this time in style rather than a sample from one of his sets. A great example of a Good Looking style roller, remove the tightly chopped amen and piano from Peshay’s “The Piano Tune” and you have a fair idea what to expect, ethereal chords, uplifting house overtones and large “Think” drums. The amen is still in there but it’s programmed to roll out rather than for dancefloor impact. Familiar female vocal samples add a layer of nostalgia and character to this elegant track that reflects the deeper side of drum and bass.

Necrotype and Tim Reaper “Exclusive To Bandcamp EP” (7th Storey Projects)

Necrotype and Tim Reaper supply two tracks each for this split 12″ from 7th Storey Projects misleadingly titled the”Exclusive To Bandcamp EP” (it isn’t actually available on Bandcamp, blame their twisted humour for that! You can pre-order direct from 7th Storey Projects now though).

The release features four untitled cuts of breakbeat charged, retro drum and bass complete with pitched-up vocals and catchy melodies inspired by 1993. A time when chipmunks were acceptable and no-one would question it if you used large chunks of samples taken from a single song as everyone was too busy experimenting, having fun and pushing boundaries. The music was care-free, positive and creative as is this EP.

As you make your way through the release keep your ear out for an excellent use of a famous house track that helped influence a Moving Shadow classic.

Mastered and cut by Beau Thomas this vinyl-only release is available to pre-order now direct from 7th Storey Projects featuring an amazing illustration of the artists by Malx George.

Skeleton Army – Catchy Schisms [Remixes] (Killer Smile)

Killer Smile return with four fresh mutations of the “Catchy Schisms EP” by Skeleton Army (John Morrow), including a drum and bass mix of the Foul Play influenced “Touch” reworked by Dutch jungle Don Coco Bryce.

Coco’s version of “Touch” builds on John’s legendary work in the 90s drum and bass scene as a member of Foul Play. The gentle piano keys and soft vocal samples shine over a backdrop of tight amen chops and uplifting Reese bass fit for any early morning rave epiphany.

Etch delivers a heavyweight slice of breakbeat science with his take on “Catchy Schisms”, mixing up the tempos, dismantling then reconstructing drums and adding plummeting deep bass in a dark sci-fi voyage.

Lowering the tempo Army Of Ghosts craft a unique version of “Bedlam Jennie” with their twisted techno mix, using multiple layers of abstract samples, thuggish four-fours and swirling FX designed to disorientate and surprise.

The final track on the EP is a breakbeat driven mix of “Bedlam Jennie”, revisited by Skeleton Army himself. Maintaining the themes of the original EP, this version is melodic yet firmly rooted in leftfield territory, a fresh excursion into an abstract vision of house music.

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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