Music Review: Dragutesku - Dualism LP [DRG Series Limited]

Ambassador of the most introvert and mental Romanian minimal sound, Adrian Dragut aka Dragutesku is the man behind the DRG Series which is responsible for many marvellous edits and dancefloor anthems under the ever-popular unknown artist identity.



Buy "Dualism" LP on Bandcamp (digital) and decks (2x12" LP)


After more than 5 years spent perfecting his skills in the studio, the Bucharest-based DJ and producer has decided to drop the act, and he’s now about to release his debut album “Dualism” on his own DRG Series label. The LP consists of 8 tracks and ranges from his raw and organic trademark on the groove - to which often is joined by sinister synths and hefty basslines – to deeper and kind of emotive stuff. It is right this clear division on 2 parts to name the album, as on the first vinyl, Dragutesku proceeds with gloomy synths, intricated and harsh groove patterns to which are added a wide variety of nasty sounds, whilst on the other wax he opens himself to a sunny and joyful interplay, showing us an unprecedented side of his nature.




Moving to the single tracks, opening acts “Teribil” and “Paranormal” are imbued with blustery synths that together with pitched vocal shots create a very creepy atmosphere, as well as B1 and B2, which are accompanied by tricky speeches and breakbeat hellish visions.


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After having reached the lowest infernal ring, the ascension begins with the candid “Apus”, characterized by a dreamy pluck that thanks to its circular movement slowly brings us to the surface. Thus, “Polifonie” goes funky, focusing the listener’s attention on a compelling bassline and a catchy vocal, leaving “Plaja” and “Zen” the task of bringing us in heaven, suspended in mid-air between delicate synths and tender drums.





Words by Francesco Quieti

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Music Review: Various Artists w/ Direkt, Rowlanz, Sublee, Vern [BBR002]

Bread and Butter Recordings is a project conceived by Italy's Max Frisina. He's co-founder/resident DJ at Bread & Butter and he's been running events in London for more than a decade. Its ethos for the label is simple; various artists providing us heads down, hands up minimal cuts. 002 welcomes a sterling line up of UK and Romania talent including Rowlanz, Direkt, Sublee and Vern. The names alone bring a smile to your face as it is clear great things are to come.




We kick things off on the A-side with Rowlanz. The track is called "Colours" which transcends into the music itself. From the get-go there is a perfect arrangement of layers. The tribal and progressive nature of the synths, accompanied by bird-like pads takes us deep through the Jungle into an unknown land. The breakdown is truly hypnotic. You get completely lost turning off from the world around you. It’s safe to say this is some of our favourite work from Rowlanz to date as the artist stays true to form.




Bucharest’s Direkt follows on the A2. This is a track that instantly grabs your attention with a definitive thunderous kick coupled with a dubby raw bassline. Dark and mysterious pads and harmonic stabs lend to the track brilliantly. Layer and upon layer unfolds. It is the sort of track which will be completely transformed when played on a big system taking on a new entity and meaning.




On the B-side, the label continues the Romanian trend with Sublee, an artist who needs very little introduction. With recent releases on Rowle, RE.FACE and Baumbaum, not to mention his anthems on Meander and Serialism, the Romanian marvellous producer shows again a unique ability to experiment and play with sounds is really something to behold. The entitled "Simpa" has got a bomb written all over it from the off as the track explodes with deep driving kicks and a hypnotic grooving bassline. The track twists and turns as new elements are introduced with the skipping hats and percussion to keep the energy.




Last but certainly not least Vern steps up the plate bringing a more relaxed feel to the close of the EP. Pads and synths paint a picture of wondrous temples of ancient lands. Skipping hats coupled with a mellow continuous bassline keeps you moving. Intricate windpipes, chimes and strings can be heard throughout to create moments of peace. It’s very easy to get lost in absolute contentment.


This EP has something for all times of the dance; warm-up, peak and after hours, with all artists producing some outstanding work. Another A* EP from Bread and Butter!




Words by Jordan Diston

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Music Review: Decay Records celebrates its 7th anniversary with a very special VA wax release - Decay Made 7

Decay Records celebrates its 7th anniversary with a very special wax release


Founded by Davide Zeta, Decay Records is a London-based imprint that remains firm to its dubby ethos and elegant grooves, a signature sound that ages timelessly. To commemorate seven years of refined and hypnotic tech and deep house music, the label gives life to a massive VA compilation called Decay Made 7. The various artists' four-tracker EP is a special collection of dancefloor jewels that reunites leading local and international figures like Romanian minimal heavyweight Mihai Popoviciu, as well as German-bread, house and techno staple, Christian Burkhardt, alongside British talented counterparts, James Dexter and Ray Mono. The EP perfectly expresses diverse emotions that suit accordingly for different occasions within the characteristic label’s sound.




Mihai Popoviciu’s ¨Biology¨ takes form as a minimal house track that entrances the listener as it creates a profound, both visceral and introspective response. The percussive elements and bassline move back and forth throughout the piece, driving the body into an inevitable and unceasing motion. The heated rhythms along with refined dubby chord pads seamlessly fill in space as they exquisitely glide through the air. The short decay and reversed shotted percussions move along the eighth noted hi-hats that accentuate the straightforward high energy and warm dynamic atmosphere. The faded vocal sample brings nuances of dreamy tones as the synth pad passages deep within the track. Mihai Popoviciu conveys cross beating drumming that brings fire to the soul and dancefloor.




Thus, Inermu boss James Dexter delivers ¨And Then¨, a cool and elegant deep house cut with dubby pads that are perfectly suited for those leisurely moments of the night and day. The kick drum beats and resonates against, a high frequency sustained monophonic synthesizer along with splashing chords. The sizzling clap’s downbeat and hi-hat combination highlight its deep housey DNA. The bassline then simple yet effective follows along with clever flair. Reverberating percussions move swiftly as they evoke a deep tech minimal sound with an upbeat clave. ¨And Then¨ is one of those cuts that are meant to be blended smoothly as it slowly fades away.




German veteran Christian Burkhardt is next with ¨Quanta¨, a funky and groovy acidic roller that keeps the journey both fun and peculiar. Burkhardt weaves a solid groove foundation, using sixteenth noted clicks moving the drive onward alongside a dry kick drum. These polyrhythmic percussive arrangements provide a loose and electric cadence. The robust bassline pulsates intensely while the drumming responds firmly. The weight of the track is all in the bass section: rich, dynamic, and fun. In this cut, Burkhardt, opts for more of an experimental approach and result, skillfully crafting tension and ease through the eccentricity of a combination of modulating and piercing synthesizer and the wobbling, sawtooth waved bass. The tripped-out sonic details along with open filtered pads and sci-fi effects one-shots add to the character and richness of the track. Flanger modulations and phased out percussions contrast vibrantly with the natural timbre of the congas, as they bring a wrap to this tropical and psychedelic journey.




Lastly, Ray Mono’s ¨Uncut¨ closes off the EP with a raw and stripped-down minimal housework. The robust 808 kick brings a heaviness to the mix, which is also emphasized by the filtered sub-bass that drives along. The sharp and bright hi-hat’s presence in the track adds to its stripped-down edge. The 808 clave also brings a robustly saturated tint that keeps the middle range frequencies gritty and hearty. Dubby chords float in reverberated delays, with filtered synths to add a sense of depth and dreamy sounds. The simplicity of the filtered synth opening envelops subtly the melody that charmingly accompanies a vocal sample splashed in reverb, reminiscent of early 2000s progressive vocals.


Decay Records delivers another well-rounded recording as its newest addition to its quality catalogue, remaining faithful to its quality and vision which are not compromised despite the musical industry trends, aiming for endurance and uniqueness over hype.




Words by: Daniel Ordoñez


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Music Review: Ted Amber - 808 EP [Romana Records]

Promising new label Romana Records steps up to the plate with its third release. The new label is quickly becoming recognised for its sublime minimal beats and this release will do nothing but enhance its reputation. 003 brings us an original cut from Ted Amber and remixes from label head honcho Magnus Asberg and TIJN.



 Buy RR003 on or Juno


Side A gets dives straight into the action instantly grabbing our attention with a defined 808 kick that we all know and love. Choppy hats and shaking rhythms give the A-side plenty of energy accompanied by a hypnotic bassline providing the groove. Subtle synths and nimble pads paint a beautiful picture taking us deep into the depths of the ocean. This is Ted at his best with elements perfectly arranged throughout, keeping you in a continuous trance as a layer upon layer is introduced.




Label-head Magnus Asberg kicks off the B side as he cleverly brings out the synths as a more defined feature of the track. This really changes the dynamics creating a much-welcomed alternative cut with more energy. Thunderous kicks and a fat addictive bassline keep you dancing as you're serenaded by futuristic vocals.




TIJN steps up for the 2nd remix. He’s an artist who is already making moves in 2020 with his first live show near the start of lockdown and a string of new releases on Curtea Veche, Aesthetic, OFF Path and Constant Black. The track builds intricately giving the elements plenty of room to breathe and progress. Snares are crisp and defined accompanied by a dubby kick which complements the bassline. This is some perfect sunrise material which takes you on a journey from the moment you press play. Another solid remix from TIJN and an excellent addition to the EP.






Overall another tight release from Romana and we look forward to seeing what else they will bring to the table with future releases. If this is anything to go by we’re in for a treat!




Words by Jordan Diston


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Legit Trip - Dreams EP [Purple Box]

After the initial release by Lee Onel on the digital sister-label, newborn Purple Box is ready to raise the standard with a 4-tracker vinyl EP by Legit Trip, backed with remixes from Juliche Hernandez and Ilya Schulz. The entitled "Dreams" EP comes from one of the fastest rising talents in the Russian scene who literally took the Beatport charts by storm last year with his unmistakable deep-tech approach, releasing on labels such as DPE, Aprapta and Bla Bla to name a few. He now debuts on Purple Box, which will be responsible for constantly sharing fresh groovy vibes from the south of Italy, as the label is the result of the union of famous Pressology Distribution and Effetto Disclosure.



Click HERE to buy Dreams EP - PBOX001


Starting out with "Dreams", Legit Trip provides his trademark stripped-back groove together with a slick bass which initially covers only the lowest frequencies and gradually opens itself to the whole spectrum. When the pads and stab kick in, the piece immediately jumps into a groovy minimal tech dimension, whilst the open hats cut the mix super swingy. To complete the track, crisp jazzy riffs give another boost to the piece, remaining well-balanced with the addition of vocal chops that bounce nicely on the beat.




The joyful atmosphere of the first track is opposed to the darker "En Dehors". Airy pads almost sound like a choir, heavily processed. Drums roll tight and definite, with the right amount of thickness. Bass rumbles underneath the whole track, rolling and melting smoothly with the stabs. Hypnotic and intimistic, the piece goes round and round, rarely breaking the never-ending rotation. Trippy high-pitched percs flutter with their long tail, opening up to a new layer of tiny sounds.



 Legit Trip


On the flip, Spanish groover Juliche Hernandez (UNCANNY) signs the first remix and his strong temper emerges from the very start, as he delivers a classy and heavy minimal number. The stomping kick drum still leaves some room to the other elements, with the woody percussions in full-focus above a dynamic texture. On this version, the vocal is pitched down and brings even more drama to the floor, even if the biggest merit goes to the thunderous implacable bassline. Airy stab arises and starts wandering following the delay on top of the groove, creating a flawless interplay. When the piece gets dry again, once again we get swept up by the huge rolling bass and the powerful drums.




Lastly, Ilya Schultz takes over with his sunny re-interpretation of "Dreams". Starting with a bouncy stab, the track takes shelter immediately in a tunnel and starts speeding. Drums populate smoothly, with a pumping and swingy clyster clear groove that rushes the whole thing up to the break. The Moscow-based DJ and producer takes the jazzy riffs from the original, filtering them just a little, enough to make them look like bubbles about to blow, right before going down and then ascending quickly during the break. Slapping groove with loads of soul. 




Words by Francesco Quieti & Francesco Zambianchi

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