Drum and Bass fans have been well and truly spoiled so far this year with landmark nights and anniversaries of some brilliant labels. We’ve seen some incredible parties celebrating 20 years of metalheadz and renegade hardware, and now it’s the turn of Horizons Music, who are entering their second decade in the business. Over the past 10 years, Horizons has been a platform for top quality underground DnB, ranging from smooth liquid to heavy rollers to the straight up gully. The label has played host to a long list of accomplished artists, for many of whom it was a platform in the early stages of their career, resulting in a rich and full back catalogue that is a joy for any head to explore. A quick look at the scenes top producers today is a testament to Horizons, with artists such as Alix Perez, Survival and Apex all having some of their first releases on the label.
Alix Perez’s first release on the label back in 2005
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s good to see the Horizons crew have come correct and are celebrating their tenth birthday in style. After a string of top notch 12”s lately, they’ve still managed to compile a ridiculous various artists album with a mouth watering track list, including tunes from the likes of: Break, Digital & Spirit, Jubei, Silent Witness, SCAR and more. We were also treated to a wicked birthday bash down at Plan B with some serious sets from Break, Jubei B2B Loxy, Digital B2B Spirit and more. All those lucky enough to attend experienced some killer sets and a night rammed with great vibes. Unfortunately for myself a combination of working late and me just being a bit of a dopey twat resulted in missing the last train from Kings Cross, meaning we had to bus it to Brixton. But as the saying goes, better late than never; we managed to catch the end of the legendary Digital and Spirit, and if what we witnessed was anything to go by, they tore it out in correct fashion. Wild amen breaks and huge bass lines left right and centre proved the perfect remedy for the stress of running through train stations at 12:36AM.
‘Starship’ from Spirit back in 2007, also his first 12″ on Horizons
Digital and Spirit are also featured on the anniversary album with an individual track each as well as a collaboration between the two. ‘Wayout’ definitely carries the classic Phantom Audio vibe, coming in with a choppy break on the intro along with some funky keys, before all hell breaks loose with the steaming bass line and constantly switching drums, which I feel hold a subtle Dillinja element.
Digital brings us ‘Major Hangover’ for his solo piece; fluid pads on the intro almost feel like a red herring as the weighty bass and strong half time beats roll out and get those bodies movin’. It’s an almost impossible choice but Spirit’s ‘Sharks’ is a big time contender for my pick of the album; I can’t stop rinsing this one! The intro builds piece by piece beginning with the metronomic bass drum, slowly joined by hats and then snares, and finally a bass line that is absolute fire! Trust me, this one will have your face screwed up like you’ve just had a mouthful of seawater.
Back to Plan B and Loxy and Jubei are up next bringing some of that Metalheadz goodness; Loxy started us off with his punishing half time rewiring of those legendary horns from Egyptian Empire’s ‘The Horn Track’; an appropriate opener for the 90 minutes of deep beats to follow. The two heavyweight selectors worked well back to back, with their similarly deep techy styles; Jubei drawing many of the latest bangers including Digital & Response’s ‘Slip Away’ of Mars Recordings, and Loxy as usual pulling riddims out of the air! Like true pros, they weren’t put off by my constant peering over the decks in an attempt to put names to some of these outrageous tunes, and kept the strength throughout. Jubei also delved into the smoother side a little towards the end of the set, with Baby Grey by Ivy Lab being a personal highlight of an excellent performance.
Loxy and Ink’s ‘Liberation’, released on the ‘Dream Thief’ compilation in 2008
Jubei’s contribution to the album comes in the form of a remix; Skitty’s ’10 steps’ (Horizons’ first release back in 2005) has received a rework from both Jubei and Amoss, who I’m told pulled out a ferocious set down at Plan B. Both remixes keep their intro close to the original with Amoss throwing a half time switch on the track. A strong drop that really explodes on a big system makes this a wicked modernisation of the original, topped off with the growling switch half way through the first drop. Jubei has come straight at us with some bouncing drums on the intro, which carry through to make this one a real stepper. The knocking pads at the end of every couple of bars are just signature Jubei, creating a well rounded track that has the power to rock any dancefloor.
After a quick breather outside and a couple of cheeky shots we were fully prepared for another 90 minute onslaught from the man they call Break. This is the fourth time I’ve seen Break in action, and he’s not disappointed me yet. High intensity, big bass lines and ferocious beats are a staple of any Break set and this one was no different. He wasted no time in reaching for the classics with the seminal ‘Be True’ (which never gets old in my opinion), with some of his own production close behind. His recently released track ‘Soldier’ went down a treat, as well as the VIP mix of ‘Love So True’. The feet didn’t stop moving even after the lights were turned up (about half an hour early for some reason), which was met with demands of “one more tune”; Break obliged with one last stomper to finish off a great celebration.
The A side of part 1 of the albums vinyl release (available here) is Break’s ‘In the Moment’. I think by now we all know what to expect from Break; his pummelling beats and tech goodness along with vicious bass lines never fail to impress. ‘In the Moment’ certainly follows this pattern and is a particularly bouncy number with a stuttering drum break working fluidly with some strung out vocal teases and buoyant keys. This limited edition vinyl also features DLR’s ‘Outta Time’ and SCAR’s ‘Unthruths’. ‘Outta Time’ is a real heavy stomper, starting off with an eerie vocal sample backed with soft chimes, forming a perfect prelude to the huge twisting sub bass. SCAR come at us with a similar vibe on ‘Untruths’ starting with a steppy drum break followed by a rough drop that fades out to make way for the passionate breakdown; the vocals radiate a huge atmosphere in preparation for the second growling drop, finishing off a great bit of wax.
Part two of the release is another 2×12” pack with another four delicious slices of d’n’b for you to feast on. In this pack its the A and C sides: NickBee’s ‘Raindrops’ and ‘Wayout’ from Digital and Spirit, that stand out for me. The aptly named ‘Raindrops’ begins with a fluid intro that increases gradually in aggression as it moves forward, with glitchy Noisia esque synths and a grooving bass line. The track seems to draw you into to its own world which makes it an easy one to move to, as is Need For Mirrors’ ‘King Tide’. There are big Reggae vibes flowing off this one via the vocal samples and jungle style bass. The remaining track on part 2 of the LP is ‘Fields’ by Silent Witness, who never fails to deliver. The intro builds fairly gently until a break down in the drums brings tension before a funky electronic drop.
The final part of the wax portion of the album features Amoss and a collaboration between Mako and Hydro on a single 12”. Amoss brings us Piano Licks; a supremely elegant little roller that’s as smooth as you like, but its not without a bit of bite either. Its definitely the drums on this one that get me; deep and perfectly arranged with that little stutter every couple of bars. Mako and Hydro are switching the tone to something beautifully relaxing that excellently displays the diversity of the genre. Simply a divine piece of music, although I suppose we shouldn’t really expect anything less from two of the finest producers in the scene at the moment. Both have been in fine form lately with Mako’s killer ‘Back To The Source EP’ on Dispatch recordings and Hydro’s recent collaboration with Ivy Lab: ‘Make It Clear’.
The second digital exclusive (along with Amoss’ ’10 steps’ remix) is Detail’s ‘Organic’, a real steaming electronic stomper to finish off the album. The intro emanates a lot of drama as the vocal declares ‘I wanna see the music’, followed by the growling drop.
So, no excuses now, get yourself over to the Horizons store and bag yourself a copy of one of the best drum and bass albums of the year 😉