Critical Music Presents… Underground Sonics
Label: Critical MusicScore: 9/10
There’s very little, if anything, Critical Music gets wrong when it comes to output. Kasra has an uncanny knack of always managing to get the best out of his own artists, as well as anyone guest starring on the label. Setting the bar incredibly high from the jump in 2014 he has compiled one hell of an album, featuring some of the finest names making some of the crispest beats around.
Underground Sonics represents the sound of Critical in the now. Its diverse nature is what sets it out to be so good. No two tracks are so alike that you’d want to skip past anything. From Dub Phizix’s haunting The Clock Ticks, a track two years in the waiting, with it’s looping vocal and melancholic chords to Sam Binga and Redders’ Lef Dem. Picking up the baton from where last years massive Ayo! left off, it’s more drum & bass/hip hop hybrid madness tailored for Redders to bust more scattershot bars over the top. Believe me it’s catchy as fuck. There is something rather unexpected from Noisia & The Upbeats on here too. Primarily known for their face melting bass workouts, here they mellow the edges on the beautiful Little Fling. The drums roll and the pads drift, showing that when they want, Noisia & The Upbeats are able to do something subtle. Other guests come in the form of Phace on the suitably techy The Set Up, plus a scene stealing turn from Mefjus & Inside Info on Repentence. Tribal style drum arrangements aplenty it’s again something a little left of centre from two producers who are reknowned for punishing neuro cuts.
The home team is represented well too. Emperor gets in on the act with Control, Enei on Slender and Ivy Lab on the beautiful Baby Grey. Even Kasra gets in on the act with only his second solo tune date. DFM steps and clicks as pitched down vocal sample flits amongst some warped bass stabs. More solo material from him now please.
At 18 tracks deep there is more than enough to have your tastes catered for but the overall point is that Underground Sonics is an excellent collection of drum & bass. Whether you’re a hardened Critical fan or this is an introduction to their style and sound, I can’t stress enough how essential this is.