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.
Continue reading “Under The Counter (Volume Six)”

Under The Counter (Volume Five)

Reviews of new releases and fresh promo’s.

Dead Man’s Chest And Posse – EP (Sneaker Social Club)

Without a doubt, Dead Man’s Chest is one of the most prolific and reliable producers out there right now. With a string of releases on labels like Rupture, None60 and his own Western Lore imprint Alex kick starts 2019 with this four-track EP for Sneaker Social Club (DJ Mag’s 2018 Label Of The Year). The 12” features three collaborations and one new solo track. Collaborating with Western Lore artists Sonic and Response on “Pum Flex” and “We All Go A Little Mad Sometimes” respectively whilst “The Dead Will Dance” features DMC on the controls alongside Coco Bryce.

Alex has a distinct style, often utilising gritty drum samples, pulsating four four kicks, odd film quotes and unusual arrangements, his songs can be quite unpredictable. These tracks demonstrate that perfectly, they’re raw jungle inspired by the past but with a focus on doing things differently.

This EP is in the true spirit of early Drum and Bass 12’s, varied and adventurous with each track brimming with character. An essential purchase and a great start to the year for both Dead Man’s Chest and Sneaker Social Club. Continue reading “Under The Counter (Volume Five)”

Under The Counter (Volume Four)

Reviews of new releases and fresh promo’s.

X-Altera – X-Altera (Ghostly International)

The debut self-titled album by X-Altera (otherwise known as Tadd Mullinix or Dabrye) is a perfect example of reflective yet entirely modern composition, a digital love letter to the ghosts of 20 plus years past.

Fusing jungle and techno elements in a 93-95 style will draw obvious comparisons to Jacob’s Optical Stairway (a 4 Hero project for R&S) which whilst arguably justified overlook the influence of other artists on the album. These range from high profile protagonists Alex Reece, Wax Doctor, Justice and A Guy Called Gerald through to the 96 excursions into techno by Photek, the early 90’s breakbeat experiments of The Black Dog and Reinforced releases by Covert Operations, Tek 9 and Project A-KO.

Richly electronic this LP references an era when drum and bass pioneers were injecting a fresh vibrancy into techno. Jungle producers were replacing their Detroit record samples with hardware and synths to craft their own melodies. It was this period of creativity that led to some of the scenes most forward-thinking experiments, much of which were neglected at the time yet revered today.

The album has many stand out tracks including the opening song “Compound Extraprotus” with its alluring build and unexpected piercing stab centerpiece, the 2018 equivalent of Rufige Kru’s “Manslaughter”. The juxtaposition of heavenly atmospherics and nasty bass of “In My Life” and the elegance of “Parallel Rites (Kepler-452b)” and “Holotyd Neo-Optika”.

Whilst heavily influenced by the mentioned producers X-Altera successfully takes this inspiration and crafts a sound truly his own. The LP works in part due to the individual quality of the tracks but its the overall structure of the album that makes this a modern classic. Harmony, balance, rhythm and character are abundant throughout its entire sonic journey. More than a collection of tributes this is a beautifully constructed debut that is polished, adept and an essential listen for anyone who coverts their early Rivets. Continue reading “Under The Counter (Volume Four)”

Under The Counter (Volume Three)

Reviews of new releases and fresh promo’s.

Q-Project – Guitar Thing (MJAZZ Unreleased)

This year has seen a plethora of unreleased 90’s music finally see the light of day with a rare few being true sought after “holy grails” from the golden era, “Guitar Thing” falls into this category. Originally played by Jumping Jack Frost, Ratty and LTJ Bukem during the Summer of 1994 it has until now remained unreleased in any form.

Anything with “unreleased” and “as played by LTJ Bukem” in the description is bound to help shift units but like the Peshay & Roger Johnson track “Crazy Daydreams” (finally released last year on Basement Records) there has always been an air of mystery around “Guitar Thing” which only adds to the interest surrounding this release as not much is really known about it. Always believed to be from the Legend Records stable no one knew who it was by with the Invisible Man at one time suggesting he may have worked on it with Quiff whilst also admitting his memory of that era was a “little hazy”. No original release information was mentioned when it was played on KISS and it was also mooted that the track was never finished or properly titled which also added to the intrigue.

Fast forward to 2018 and Tony Justice has managed to secure its release on his new MJAZZ unreleased imprint backed with “Wild Pitched” and a sublime remix of one of their finest Good Looking moments “The Instrumental”. Taken from DAT and remastered by Macc the twelve inch sounds glorious with “Guitar Thing” taking up the A-Side and “Wild Pitched” and “Instrumental (Remix)” sitting comfortably on the flip. A must for any collector of Good Looking or Legend Records this would have been a seminal release when it was originally made and has lost none of its edge now. Minimal yet affirming drum and bass and arguably some of Q-Project’s greatest work from the early days of jungles evolution. Continue reading “Under The Counter (Volume Three)”

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. Continue reading “Under The Counter (Volume Two)”

Under The Counter (Volume One)

Reviews of new releases and fresh promo’s.

Vroom – For The New Dawn (Cosmic Bridge)

First time I heard “For The New Dawn” I was reminded of “Universal Love” by 4hero. Blending live keys, horns and reflective vocals courtesy of Agama the title track is a wonderful example of space jazz fit for bass lovers. The flip side features the mesmerising opus “Stargazing” featuring label boss Om Unit. Coming in at almost ten minutes imagine a modern drum and bass collaboration between Weather Report and Autechre and you should get an idea of what to expect. If you like your jungle experimental and expressive I can’t recommend this EP enough. Continue reading “Under The Counter (Volume One)”