This Is Fokuz: Eighty Eight
Posted by Ben on 21st June 2017
There’s a bit of a feeding frenzy going in with various artist compilations. Loads of labels are releasing them in preparation for summer or to mark milestones including Critical, Technique and now Fokuz, all aiming to condense their respective messages into easily digestible bits of music.
Fokuz’s Eighty Eight follows on from their excellent Hateful Eighty VA last year, an airy journey with idyllic views of the best liquid drum n bass has to offer, including tracks from heavyweights such as Technimatic and Break all the way through to more unknown acts like Bert H or Drumcatcher. It’s Destination #1 this week for skittery breaks and warm basslines, more proof that the Fokuz/Celsius/Influenza umbrella is going from strength to strength.
Bcee and Villem are something of a superduo at this end of the spectrum and The Vanguard Project has consistently churned out the goods these past couple of years. Stocking the shelves with two tracks for this release, Spearhead’s finest ladle on the bouncy funk for Don’t Let Go before settling on a more introspective note for Lost Souls. The first’s relaxed but forceful vocal line edges out over a summer-drenched synth run, both working in tandem nicely to create a track that’s pop-y but still full of character.
A slightly more different cut is What’s On Your Mind by Dreamcatcher, which brings the tempo down but not in the usual fashion, stuttering drum hits forming a fluttering array of percussive movement, delicately placed but still roughly sewn together. Bert H’s Bring Away is another interesting one, better suited for the dancefloor and perhaps more recognizable, this bassline is gratingly rambunctious and doesn’t mess about. These two artists are a good example of the sorts of quality talent Fokuz have on their back benches, we mentioned Bert H in our countdown of artists to watch last year alongside others, so it’s good to seem them killing it.
Beautiful sounding drums are a constant throughout Eighty Eight and nowhere more so than in the Air.K & Cephei remix of Sweet Magnolia by Seba. Gorgeous vocals aside the drums take centre stage, defining the word ‘rolling’ with fluid majesty over a backdrop of scene setting brass, soundscape whirls and bass pulses. Jiving in behind is Sky Turns Black, a samba stepper that maintains the theme of percussive perfection whilst injecting a dose carefree ambience with its groovy guitar flicks. It’s not the only appearance from either Satl or Anthony Kasper on the album, and Lurch joins in too for an closed-eyed and smiling bit of drum n bass.
The less experienced artists are ear-catching in Eighty Eight, so the old guard have kept their standard accordingly high with Break on remix duties for Air.K & Cephei and, as per usual, straddling his own personal boundary between crazy and restrained. Desire is reminiscent of tunes like Hope and Music Is Better, the bringing together of more melodic elements with Break-level back end badness. Technimatic make an appearance as well, this time flipping Kasper’s Departure into a mirage of techy bass tones and sparse depth, something they do so well. I think I prefer their funky outflows more, but Departure still tickles that Technimatic itch.
This album is out on the 12th of June, and you can pick it up from the Fokuz store.