Focus: 2nd Drop – Future Foundations

We love 2nd Drop Records – you know that. So when they announced a triple-vinyl compilation of tracks, the first of its ilk, we got just a little bit excited. The inaugural “Future Foundations” brings together tracks from label stalwarts and debutants alike, spanning different genres and exploring new territories across six sides of lovingly curated discs. Newcomer to the fold Alex Coulton shares a 12″ with Youandewan, mercifully back after a lengthy hiatus. It’s a stirring opening, with Coulton’s “Grande Swing” jerking and stuttering for its six-odd minutes. Percussion filters in and out as modulating riffs shudder and crash like collapsing ceilings. “Faith”, on the flipside, takes a well worn sample and breathes some new life into it – we’ll forgive the venture into such territory, solely by virtue of the sublime production that surrounds it. A nine-minute journey through crackling, echoey dreams, Ms Evans’ vocals are couched in a shadowy netherworld, one we hope Youandewan can inhabit all alone in future.

Stream: Alex Coulton – Grande Swing (2nd Drop Records)

Part Two sees LV team up with reggae artist Dan Bowskill for the delectable “Livin Up”. Further demonstrating the London trio’s versatility – after last year’s hyperactive “Sebenza” album – this love song combines Bowskill’s soulful vocals with garage-tempo beats and plaintive horns. It certainly doesn’t prepare the listener for the dark, acid funk of Pedestrian’s “Sliding Down Rainbows”. It’s not like anything you’ve heard from the man before, combining gurgling, low-slung basslines with ominous synth lines and incomprehensible mutterings. It’s a highlight among highlights. The second disc closes with Last Magpie’s foray into the world of the obscure R&B sample. Enjoying more success by opting for a less recognisable sample, this emotional journey uses rolling sub-bass and flipped-up “Think” breaks, ragga-style offbeat stabs. It’s an exciting look at this 2nd Drop novice.

Stream: Last Magpie – Without You (2nd Drop Records)

If any artist has stood out among the luminaries on this label in recent years it’s undoubtedly DjRUM. His tracks are built on a solid base of musical ingenuity and laced with sheer, unadulterated heart. “Blue On Blue (Voodoo)” is no different. An emotive and enthralling bass-led percussion jam for its opening minutes, it reaches a thrilling anti-climax as it drifts into an ethereal world of film samples, choral meanderings and orchestral delicacies. We can only hope that his album, forthcoming on 2nd Drop (where else?) in April, will continue in this vein. South London Ordnance has managed to remain somewhat ubiquitous without flooding the market with releases. “Daphne” is a hint at a darker psyche behind that perfectly managed hair, a pristine yet jagged techno workout. Recent performances on Boiler Room and Mixmag DJ Lab have showcased his DJ skills, even at 8pm on a Thursday evening, and tracks like this one – with its nightmarish vocals and a jarring doorbell sound throughout – key building blocks in such sets.

Rather than ending on a delicate note, it all comes to a close with the thrilling rush of Manni Dee and Deft’s “This One, Art of The Possible”. “Everywhere you went, garage, garage, they say hardcore’s dead, jungle’s dead, it’s all dead. We’re keeping it going!” a voice cries. This frenetic exercise in juke climaxes in triple time, proving that nothing is certain when it comes to this label. It’s appropriate that the compilation closes with some beginners, proving that the label has a keen eye on future prospects, not just paying lip service to the collection’s title. Twenty releases deep, they’re doing something right. Long may it continue.

Stream: DjRUM – Blue On Blue (Voodoo) (2nd Drop Records)

Various Artists – Future Foundations is out on 2nd Drop Records on March 4th. Preview here.

Aidan Hanratty

Dublin ...