Review: When breakbeat hardcore and "darkcore" were slowly morphing into jungle around 1992-93, few artists delivered quite as many revolutionary and mind-mangling cuts as Northampton's Foul Play. For proof, check out this must-have retrospective of their earliest EPs on Hypercolour. From start to finish, it bustles with proto-jungle gems, from the mangled rave stabs and boisterous breaks of "Dubbing You" and the warehouse-ready voodoo of "The Alchemist" (a kind of prototype liquid tune which also pays tribute to Nightmares on Wax's earlier "Aftermath"), to the blistering rhythms and bassbin-bothering sub business of "Screwface" and the early ragga-jungle brilliance of "Ragatere". If you have any interest at all in the development of UK bass music, then you need this in your life.
Review: Those interested in the roots of UK bass music have been well-served of late, with a number of books and compilations focusing on the first wave of British dance music in the late 80s and early 90s. Soul Jazz's latest compilation is a superb addition to this growing list. It showcases music made in the post-bleep and early breakbeat hardcore period, where basslines got bigger, drum breaks faster, and ragga influences started to come to the fore. The selections are on-point throughout from the dub-wise rave rush of Babylon Timewarp's "Durban Poison" and the bleep-and-breaks-meets-proto-jungle shuffle of DJ Dubplate's "Tings A Go On", to the rave-rap goodness of The Freaky's "Time & Age" and the heavily edited darkcore/early jungle insanity that is Krome & Time's terrific "Ganja Man". In a word: essential.
Review: Bristol-based badman Borai has been quietly issuing some of the city's most immense club wreckers for many years now, sometimes in partnership with October, and sometimes flying solo (as on the crucial Anybody From London for Hotline Recordings). Here he's inaugurating Higher Level with some absolute dance slayers, kicking off with the mammoth pitched-down drum funk and gut-wrenching bass of "Razor" before switching stance for the dreamier but no less rowdy "Predators." Both cuts are a masterclass in classic breakbeat science, delivering the foundational UK sound with panache that sets these weapons far apart from the rest of the pack.
Review: In 2019, there were no rules when it came to who played what. Feeding into that was a resurgence in higher tempos, trance, rave, gabber, hardcore and just about anything. That's why this monster fifth release on Raver-R is going to be so well received rather than laughed at, as it most certainly would have been in previous years. And why not, because it sure is fun, with slapping drums, mentasm stabs, horns, whistles and overblown female vocals all exploding time and time again. This then is mad decent, and utterly destructive club weaponry.