Album Review: RAM Records Drum & Bass Compilation Series USA VOL. 1
Released on June 30th, and sent straight to my inbox, was RAM Records Drum & Bass Compilation Series USA Vol. 1. For the record, as a huge drum & bass fanatic, I was happy to see this show up. That being said, let’s switch it to the 174 BPM we all love to get crazy to and kick this review in motion.
“Who’s RAM Records?” If you don’t know, you’re not a true drum & bass fan and it’s in my duty to educate you a little. Founded in the UK in the early 90’s by none other than music pioneers Andy C and Ant Miles, RAM Records is the #1 drum & bass imprint in the world. Established on the vision to push musical creativity to it’s limits, RAM has successfully developed, changed, and influenced the genre for the past 22 years. With the EDM boom in full swing here in the states, RAM has sought to evolve and expand in the states with drum & bass, starting by releasing this US Exclusive Compilation.
But enough of the background, ON TO THE BEATS! Vol. 1 hits you with 10 tracks from some of the best artists in the industry; Calyx & Teebee, Andy C, Mind Vortex, Loadstar, Subfocus, and more. Upon first seeing the lineup, I got all tingly like a schoolgirl when her crush walks through the door. My only gripe? Sub Focus is on there twice. I’m gonna catch hate for this, but I’m over Sub Focus. I caught Sub Focus on his latest tour with Delta Heavy, and honestly, it should have been Delta Heavy headlining and Sub Focus opening. Sub Focus just doesn’t really FOCUS on drum & bass anymore (or so it seems). I mean, I like variety, and “Close” is an awesome House track, “Turn Back Time” has become some people’s favorite, but none of that is drum & bass. Also, they’re not on the album. What is on the album, however, is the age old classics “Timewarp” and “Rock It” While they’re awesome tunes, I could have stood for one of them being nixed and having a track from Delta Heavy, June Miller, or Wilkinson on there instead.
Which brings me to another point. If you’re looking for a compilation of the newest stuff out there, this isn’t it. What it is though, is a collection of AMAZING tracks over the years that have been brought to you by artist under the RAM banner. From a marketing stand point, I get it. Take your best tracks from your artists over the years and put them together on an album that will help people who aren’t drum & bass fans BECOME drum & bass fans and understand every aspect of what drum & bass is. This compilation is excellent, but if you’re looking for new stuff, you’ll probably be less than thrilled. But that’s the only problem with this compilation, and I fully understand the reasoning behind it. With that being said, those of you who haven’t heard drum & bass before or are interested in the genre, this is an awesome album to get you started. Now for the tracks…
Track one is “Calyx & Teebee – Elevate This Sound“. This is an awesome Liquid-style track with deep undertones and soothing vocals (not to mention the video is wild and artistic). If you aren’t familiar with Calyx & Teebee, I highly suggest checking out their soundcloud and listening to “Example – All The Wrong Places (Calyx & Teebee Remix).” They definitely some great tunes in their repertoire.
Track two is incredibly nostalgic for me. Welcome your ears to Andy C’s “Mind Rise”. Andy C is a BEAST in the industry, and one of the older producers/DJs in drum & bass. Donning a variation of the ever so popular Amen Break, Mind Rise is exactly that. If you’re blasting off, seeking enlightenment, or just pulling a wake and bake, this song has all sorts of crazy samples and sounds to really boggle your mind. Not necessarily a dance floor killer, but definitely a wild track. This doesn’t even explain the rest of his work. It’s all quality, all hectic, and his sets will give you a heart attack if you try and keep up.
Track three we have “Mind Vortex – Now It’s Time“. Mind Vortex has quickly plowed their way into my favorites and I’m constantly checking out their soundcloud. This particular track is an awesome blend of some funky sounds you might here out of Big Gigantic and mixed with a great drum & bass beat. Definitely a quality track.
Track 4 is a ridiculously killer throwback (1993) from Origin Uknown (Andy C and Ant Miles) titled “Valley Of The Shadows.” With some psychadelic charm tones, a drum & bass (dare I say drum & break?) beat, and your typical movie vocal samples, you have a classic track that got a LOT of play back in the day.
Track 5 is a track most of us have all heard. If you’ve watched TV or any video game trailers, it’s likely you’ve heard this song, possibly even in movie trailers! It’s “Sub Focus – Timewarp.” This is such a great track because it has so many different parts you can dance to and it switches up a bit, even though the beat stays fairly constant though changing slightly. Easily one of Sub Focus’s best tunes.
Track 6 we got Shimon & Andy C with “Quest.” This was an odd pick to me. For an album I’d think was to gain listeners and new fans of drum & bass, this is a very minimal track. I would have expected “Hush Hush“, the popularly remixed track “The Shadow Knows,” or Shimon’s latest,”Mandroid” (KILLER TRACK BTW!). In any case, for DJs just getting into drum & bass, this is a great track to use to layer another track on top of and play around with.
Track 7 we have an artist that climbed into my Top 5 for Best Live Performances recently. Loadstar growls are all over this track and it makes it sound awesome on the subwoofers. It’s another “mind” track where you can just zone out, close your eyes, and bounce around while meditating or whatever you might do to relax while staying in full energy. “A Link To The Past” is arguably one of the best tracks on this album. Loadstar has an amazing arsenal of tracks on his page as well, and if you can find his set from EDC Vegas 2014, I highly suggest downloading it. I was there, it was crazy, and I loved every minute of it.
Track 8 is Moving Fusion – “Turbulence,” a mixture of what the album really brings to the table. Great undertones, deep growls, a fast paced 4-to-the-floor beat, and some awesome mind warping sounds. This is one of those semi-minimal but high energy tunes that work great for creativity in sets.
Track 9 is that double Sub Focus I talked about. Maybe it’s because he’s the most commonly known of them all… I dunno. Regardless, “Rock It” is your number 9 track, and I’ll admit, this track is an incredible production and used all over the place from sets, to movie trailers, to game trailers…it’s just an all around great track. The first time I heard this track dropped, I thought to myself “NEW DAFT PUNK!?!?!” but instead, I was happily greeted by the amazing drum & bass sounds that Sub Focus put together on this masterpiece. If there’s gonna be a favorite track on this album for you, it will probably be this one. If you enjoy Hip Hop, track down the “Jay-Z – Dirt Off Your Shoulder” mashup of this tune that DJ WreckDown threw together. You won’t be disappointed if you find it.
Last but not least, we have Ram Trilogy – “Chase Scene“, show casing the powers of long ago with one of the biggest hitters in the RAM Chapters. A group effort between Andy C, Ant Miles, and Shimon, this track still has tons of life and competition to give, even in today’s artist releases. This track was used by many for powerful sets, energized gameplay music, and heavy amounts of dancing. Dark, punchy, and full of life, this track is an excellent way to end an album.
Vol. 1 is the first of three installments, so keep checking back frequently for new updates on Vol. 2 and 3!
MIND VORTEX MINI MIX