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New additions to the Watchlist

1 October 2010

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Time for a long-overdue update to the Watchlist, where I list artists and labels who have proven themselves worthy of close attention. And it’s also overdue to give some recognition to those who are forcing forward the field of drum&bass, so this time around the focus is primarily on them…

Before we get there though, let’s deal with the other artists making their way onto this exclusive list. First up is Opiuo, one of a good handful of Aussie guys who are breaking new ground in the midtempo glitch-crunk market. If we’re being brutally honest, Opiuo’s sound is so instantly recognisable and unique, that sometimes it seems like he’s recycling his own tunes a little too much… but nonetheless he deserves recognition as the fattest thing to happen to midtempo since VENT’s Bear Crunk.

Sensient has been around quite a while, but until recently I only owned one of his rare forays into breakbeat. That all changed on seeing him live at Ozora this year. Deep, driving, maxi-minimal, hypnotic, and uber-squelchy, this is another artist with a totally unique sound. It doesn’t necessarily easily fit into a mix, but it deserves to be shoehorned in wherever possible.

We have two new players representing psybreaks — not just that, but progressive psybreaks, the very genre I most want to hear more of in the world… At the lighter end we have Blazer, keeping it rolling, hypnotic, techy and trippy. At the heavier end, still very psychedelic but rising more to a electro/tech-funk/acid mentality, is Triple Agent, whose music I have been very excited about from the beginning but initially dissuaded me with a psychotic tendancy to have odd bars with odd numbers of beats right in the middle of the mixin/out zones. He hasn’t abandoned this trope entirely, but has calmed it down enough that his tunes are now mixable (thanks Luk!)

So then, we turn to the drum’n’bass…

There are two main subgenres of dnb that I’m all over at the moment: blissed out daytime progressive, and gnarly twisted psychedelic neurofunk. One label in particular has been promoting excellent examples of both styles, and generally pushing the envelope, and that’s Hospital Records’ experimental baby brother Med School. Meanwhile two smaller labels that have also been consistently delivering the goods are Mindtech (generally on the twisted tip), and relative newcomer Offworld (generally on the proggy side).

Of all the artists on that progressive, sunny-afternoon vibe, it’s LM1 who most beautifully combines emotive melody with kickass rolling beats, precisely engineered and produced to perfection. If you’ve downloaded my mix Chilliquid Drum’n’Bliss you’ll already be familiar with the power of his tunes, and Frontier remains my absolute favourite track in this style of the past few years. So far…

If there’s an artist or label you think I ought to check out, let me know… get in touch via the contact page

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