Searching For You
We’re always a fan of Vandal’s output, but this one really is something special. ‘Searching For You’ starts with the brooding emptiness and hauntingly modulated vocals that epitomised Burial’s sinister yet heart-stirring sounds way back when, but it’s not long before we’re introduced to a pulsing dark sub and sharp, itchy breaks. The key to this track's beauty lies in its sense of openness, which allows each sound to wash over you and the breathy vocal to envelop you.
Etherwood ft Anile
Just in time for the winter, this soothing liquid roller is like a drop of soothing chicken soup for the soul. Teaming up with label-mate Anile for his second single to be released from his forthcoming album, Etherwood uses warming pads to introduce this beauty. The track progresses into soft, tumbling breaks and progressive piano chords, with occasional vocals, but what takes this to the next level is the beastly bites of techy badness which give the track a balancing grit.
This year Integral are 10, and to celebrate they’re releasing a huge double album showcasing the label’s past, present and future talents. But for now we have this beautiful album sampler, and it certainly reminds us of why we love this imprint. ‘Defiance’ blends a sultry deep bassline with pitched-up vocals, twists of '80s R&B, and the result is absolutely stunning. The low-end is so smooth, while the occasional twangs of guitar add a seductive edge resulting in one hell of a sexy soundscape.
'In The Shadows '
Xtrah comes with some serious weight for his latest release on his own label. The track starts with an creepy cinematic intro (think salivating, flesh-eating alien lurking in the shadows and you’ll be on the right track) before dropping into an almighty, disgustingly fat, warping sub, which slithers slowly before oscillating. The beat is a basic pattern of claps creating a sturdy base for a collection of tech and sci-fi effects to cling to.
The low, rumbling, almost continuous sub sets the tone for this dark, twisted beauty. As the title suggests, the main body of the track is built around an onslaught of to-and-fro short, sharp laser shots, additional layers of heavily modulated low-end warping around a crazily infectious body-consuming beat. This track will set the dance alight. If this is Ozma’s debut work for the imprint, we’re holding our breath for the future artillery to be unleashed.
If you’re yet to hear of Kumarachi, you'd better jump on this wagon quick. The Nottingham-based newcomer is on track to smash the scene open next year, and this EP — which closes Critical’s Binary series for the year — shows us why. ‘NG’ the title track is a dark, twisting slab of jungle d&b, with an oscillating low-end which bounces about in mad patterns. Along with its futurist synths and crazy tumbling drums, it’s a track which couples the old and new perfectly.
'Secret Place (Benny L Remix)'
Benny L is hot property at the moment, with killer releases on Metalheadz and Audioporn, and was up for the Best Newcomer award at the Drum & Bass Arena Awards — he’s the name on everyones lips. He’s taken this sweet, lulling Hybrid Minds track and brought a raw, brooding darkness to it without evaporating any of the emotion. Warm subs, minor piano chords and Taffani’s original vocal draws you into a false sense of security before a massive and unexpected drop at the dirtiest of pitches.