Really nice free track from Southampton producer Photon.
Really nice free track from Southampton producer Photon.
After 15 years and over 30 releases, Toronto native Stranjah is set to release his first full-length LP on DJ Ink’s seminal Architecture Recordings. One of the first producers to gain international acclaim out of Toronto’s storied Drum & Bass scene at the turn of the century, Stranjah (real name Alan Lam) saw his early productions catch the ears of some of D&B’s elite. This lead to releases on foundation imprints like Metalheadz, 31 Records and Flex Records. His style has always involved incorporating a melting pot of influences and experimenting with the full spectrum of Drum & Bass. “Visionz of a Future” sees Stranjah turning in a whole album centered on the core sounds that got him his initial attention in the nineties. The album’s dark and minimal aesthetic relies heavily on moody, atmospheric overtones with an emphasis on brooding sub bass and pulsating drum patterns, all drenched in a melancholic soul that makes the project just as playable at home on headphones as it does on a huge rig.
Opening cut “Eminence” builds a hazy smoked out groove with head nod bass anchoring languid melodies and chord progression. “Decadence” ups the tempo using steppers beats and garagey tones, combining ravey synth leads and a low growling reese bass that builds the track’s tension as it twists and turns. “Assassinz Redux” continues the Rave theme encapsulating the essence of late night journey sets on a massive system. It’s rolling Jungle vibe, uplifting piano hooks and melodic vocals fit right in pocket with some of Commix and S.P.Y’s similar leaning output. Title track “Visionz Of A Future” employs stark melodies over crashing breaks creating a futuristic, robotic soul soundscape underpinned by lethal sub bass. “Interrogator” feat Evidence slows the tempo down to 140 bpm, a pace that Stranjah’s style fits perfectly with. Low slung, gritty techno tinged dungeon dub that is in direct homage to the brand of dubstep championed by the likes of Youngsta and LX One. “Changeling” goes down Headz at Bluenote territory combining chunky hardstep breaks with a vicious speaker rattling bassline and chill inducing atmospherics. A huge dance floor workout and album stand out. The bass cone pummeling continues on “Krypwok” where Stranjah’s mastery of creating tension and aggression out of minimal components is on full display. B Boy beats, Kilimanjaro subs and spine tingling synths layer up to bruising effect. “Medusa” feat the gruff vocals of rapper Greezy proves to be an excellent collaboration as Greezy’s rugged voice gels perfectly with Stranjah’s signature moody dub wise. More of this partnership in the future? Teaming up with fellow Toronto producer Evidence again on a half step tip, “Undertow” is just as the title suggests: Murky, submarine bass and lurking bleep textures gel with dubbed vocals and 808 woodblocks. This is another fruitful collaboration whose possibilities excite for the future. “Sorry” feat Tiff Mak on vocals showcases Stranjah’s proficiency at the 140 bpm tempo once again. Stuttering bongos, swampy bass and eerie analogue grit create the perfect backdrop for Tiff Mak’s mournful crooning. Finishing on a style near and dear to Stranjah’s past body of work, “Amen Fury” is exactly as it sounds. Dark side Jungle chords build to high pass amens before the full power of the break is unleashed with a destructive combination bass line that rips through your whole body. The MC doesn’t need to call for it, as rude boys scream their throats raw and slap which ever flat surface they can reach: Pull UP!
“Visionz of a Future” culminates a decade and a half of production skill and musical exploration into one concise package that reminds you of the beast lurking within the soft spoken kid from Canada. The vision of the future for Stranjah is simple: Endless contributions to the Bass Music canon and his place set in stone as one of the greatest to ever do it from his well documented city.
‘Frequency / Looking In My Eyes’ is the perfect example as Wickaman and Hoodlum continue to update their decade-long collaborative discography while inviting two new faces to the fold. Say hello to London-based Mythz and soul-fuelled mic maestro Golden!
Mythz lives up to his name. All we know about the London-based artist is that he’s been working closely with Wickaman, perfecting his studio technique, and he’s got some series fire in the pipeline. You best get used to the name Golden, too. A tip-top toaster with a penchant for the melody, his skills can instantly be compared to fellow vocal luminaries Dynamite and Darrison.
‘Frequency’ leads… A whirlwind of sonic emotions, it opens with textured layers of piano echoes, wistful rave chords, firing beats and Golden’s urging vocals. Every element screams ‘euphoria’ and as Wickaman’s now trademark wriggle-bass eases its way into the mix we’re elevated from business class to first class. Complete with a spine-shuddering breakdown and a turbo-charged drop, it’s the ultimate in timeless, dreamy, rolling D&B that suits any shade of rave.
‘Looking In My Eyes’ continues this stunning vein of luscious, emotional drum & bass. Slightly deeper than its A-side counterpart, Golden’s yearning vocals move more towards the fore as the rave-tinged chords sweep across swishing hi-hats and yet another perfectly rounded bassline. Rich with layers of soulful elements, it’s the quintessential end-of-night smasher to bring the floor to a subtle, poignant finale.
We featured Default recordings first release a couple of weeks ago and we were really impressed so we took five minutes f
We took five minutes with Flapjack and Piercey to find out a bit more about the label
First off, you’re a new label, so why don’t you tell us about Default Recordings
Flapjack: Default Recordings first came about back in 2003 whilst i was experimenting making tunes with Coolhand Flex and vocalist Cat Knight in my home studio and getting advice from them in music production. In the early days we made many tunes together but never actually got round to releasing them. I already had vinyl releases back in 1997 on Dj Raps label Proper Talent (Dj Rap & Flapjack Rumble Remix) and sub-label Unique Muzique (Gulfbreeze”/”Lucid Dreams) and Desires label S.U.S Recordings (Final Solution”/”Reverb) and thought the next step is to have my own label and continue to hone my producing skills. For a while Default Recordings was on hold as I had a full time job and not much time on my hands but always had the intention to re-launch the label at some point in the future. After recently meeting up with Piercey who I met at work and found out he produced tracks I got introduced to IDC and I saw a lot of potential in them both. With this in mind and the other artists I had on the label previously (Coolhand Flex, QST & Cat Knight) i decided to re-launch the label with Piercey & IDC helping out. Having two others on board has helped alot in spreading out the workload getting the label up & running again and also bouncing ideas off each other. With the help of Cygnus Music for our digital distribution and label management Default Recordings was re-born.
What made you want to setup your own label? What do you feel will set you apart from the rest?
Flapjack: I set up Default Recordings to have an avenue to release our music without having to conform to the restraints of other labels and also having more control over what we release and when. I had played at many raves/events up and down the country since 1991 (Desire, Raindance, Dreamscape, Helter Skelter to name a few) as well as abroad (Lifeline in Germany, Amsterdam, Sweden), had some releases on vinyl back in 1997 and I just saw it as the next step to take. I think that with all the amount of years between all of the Default artists being active within the Drum & Bass scene this will show within our music and this will help set us apart and give us a unique label. We aim to produce music that will catch the attention of the listener incorporating styles that the Default Recordings artists have experienced from the early Acid House era and Hardcore days right through to the present Drum & Bass scene today. Our aim at Default Recordings is to bring you the best quality Drum & Bass to the masses with an underground flavor.
Your first release, from Q.S.T., is out now. Tell us a bit about it.
I first met QST back in 2005 when he approached me at a Raindance I was playing at, gave me a cd with his tracks on and asked me to listen to them, I knew straight away he had serious potential and have stayed in touch with him ever since. The first release on Default Recordings was always going to be a hard one as we wanted to make an impact straight away but we feel we have achieved this with QST due to his unique style and versatility. QST’s versatility is what prompted us to use his first release Yellow / Red Dwarf to showcase this and attract a wider audience.
Both tracks have a very distinctive sound. Is this a sound that you are going to be sticking with or will you be exploring other styles of Drum & Bass too?
We have many Artists on the label with each having their own distinctive sound but they are also all very versatile who don’t just stick to one sound. This is showcased by our first release from QST with Yellow being the more “Liquid” sound and Red Dwarf having a more deeper vibe. If the track is well made and has appeal then we will release it, Default Recordings is about promoting different styles not just sticking to one formula, if it’s a good, well produced track we will release it. With the artists under the Default umbrella we will incorporate the many styles that make up the Drum & Bass genre.
How do you approach finding music for the label? Do you rely on demos or do you actively look for new signings?
I have been lucky in the fact that some of the Artists on the label such as Coolhand Flex, QST & Cat Knight I have known for a long time so I already knew what they were about. We are always looking for new artists and we have a dropbox folder on our website (defaultrecordings.co.uk) that you can use to upload tracks to our soundcloud page.
What can we expect next from Default?
We have some great music coming from the Default artists which we are all really excited about. The next release after QST is the legendary Coolhand Flex with Master/Soundboy in July (DEFAULT002) then after that we have DSP, IDC, Piercey and then another release from QST. Cat Knight who has had releases on labels Viper Recordings, Subsonik, Metro will be working alongside the Default artists with her amazing vocals. We are also going to have a launch night for the label hopefully in June/July, watch this space for more info on that.
Anything else you want to tell us about?
In the near future we have Saxxon one half of Savage Rehab from the mighty V Records will be doing an exclusive remix of a Default track for us so keep your eyes peeled for that later this year……
Need For Mirrors (Joe Moses & Emilio Dimitri) come at us again with another slice of their own brand Drum & Bassin the form of the Reset EP.
Things kick off with the title track ‘Reset’, featuring Edward Oberon, which is a funky, chunky roller full of the typical Need For Mirrors groove.
Next up is ‘Sea Slug VIP’ followed by ‘Sour Diesel’. Both have a really nice old school vibe with a Need For Mirrors twist.
Rounding the EP off is ‘Debris’ which for me is the best of the 4 tracks. That big bass with those weird strings are all that is good about Need For Mirrors.
Release Date: 17/06/13