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Survival Tracks: Drum & Bass



As Data Transmission turns seven years old, we also mark the start of a new weekly segment: Survival Tracks. We know how hard it can be staying afloat as ever more music floods our lives, so each week we’ll be handpicking five essential new tunes (plus a tried and tested killer) to help you survive!

So, we’re a month in, and already 2015 is setting itself up to be a cracking year for drum & bass. Although I’m slightly worried last year’s jungle resurgence may be winding down a bit (and I pray daily to the Jungle Council that it isn’t), we’ve kicked off with sterling releases from the likes of Skeptical and Kid Drama, the latter of whom simultaneously launched his new sub-label, CNVX, to continue his autonomic explorations.

This week saw the return of Metalheadz subsidiary Razors Edge, with the first in a year long series of downloadable, remastered classics. I can almost hear the vinyl purists screaming at their sudden, imagined lack-of-ownership, but please guys, anything that gets a new generation listening to J Majik, Peshay, Source Direct and Grooverider, can’t be a bad thing. In fact, the only reason that none of the remasters claimed spots in this week’s top 5, is that they don’t really count as new music. Anyway enough with the yammering and on with the show; here for your eyes (and ears) only, and in no particular order, are our first ever drum & bass Survival Tracks.

Anonymous – BLND#17 (Blind Music)

Focusing purely on the music rather than the artist, Blind Music‘s experiment in anonymity continues this week with the label’s 5th EP. As the standout track, ‘BLND#17’ marries an eery, tribal wilderness with the industrial age. Wave after wave of metallic hammer-strokes provide a bitterly cold accent to the pop of skin drumheads, singing out in unison whilst each tries not to be swallowed by the gurgling sludge of the low end. The only problem? The more it’s played, the stronger the curiosity about who made it.

EP.5 by Anonymous

Gamma – Empathy Control (Dispatch Recordings)

Techy roller anyone? Thought so. Leading with an ever-building sense of unease, Gamma unleashes a torrent of pit-a-pat percussion and futuristic computer babble; seems like those Jawas sold someone a dodgy droid… A digital bonus from the Zion EP, ‘Empathy Control’ isn’t particularly breaking any new ground – presenting a Gamma cut from the same cloth as EBK and Spinline (which is no insult) – but its humming backbone and unstoppable bounce do offer a perfect example of the music that’s made Dispatch such a success.


Thing – Last Night (Dubthing Recordings)

Thing‘s output over the past few years has been consistently exceptional. Through endless streams of free downloads, his efforts for Blu Mar Ten Music and ThirtyOne Recordings, and the regular outings on his own Dubthing imprint, the Estonian has earned a loyal following, and deservedly so. Cinematically encapsulating, a ghostly chorus plunges into the subterranean caverns of ‘Last Night’. Persistent hi-hats drive the track at slightly faster pace than usual for Thing, but it’s a welcome change and prevents the track getting lost in the abyss.


Emphasis – The Change (IN:DEEP Music)

Deceptively liquid to begin with, the latest effort from Vienna-based duo Emphasis quickly reveals its funky skin hides positively grimy innards. Harking back to some of Octane & DLR‘s groovier angles (See: ‘The Jazz Club’ and ‘Weird Science’), and with a nod to Roni Size, ‘The Change’ is more than a little cheeky. Key licks, bass plucks and brass – the band is in session; watch out for that guttural sub and grinding sideswipe though, they’ll have your face screwing up faster than you can say “Oiiiii”.


Current Value – Tremor (Yellow Stripe Recordings)

Skittering hats wait on the precipice; then in begins. An unstoppable juggernaut, hell-bent on levelling stacks, dancefloors, and just about everything else in a 3-mile radius, meet Current Value‘s inner beast. All pneumatic kicks and high-impact snares, the demon drummer displays relentless zeal for his craft. It’s actually surprising that ‘Tremor’ doesn’t come with a warning label, as listening to this track can surely only result in one of two things: exhilaration or insanity.


Tried & Tested

Clarity – Malformation (Samurai Music)

Selecting a single track from an entire album of serious tunes is a difficult task, yet there’s just something about ‘Malformation’ that ticks all the right boxes. A primeval death march, spurred on by ominous blasts that could wake the mighty Kong, the track combines a variety of themes found throughout Clarity‘s fantastic debut LP, Infinite. Having risen through quickly through the ranks, under the guidance of scene stalwarts such as dBridge and Presha, Clarity has developed a trademark gloom and talent far beyond his years, both of which he uses to full effect here.