Christ alive it’s hot, I’ve been working with my laptop out on the balcony and have tanned myself to a state of boyband-perfection, bring on beachbod season amirite ladies?!?! I do wonder what my lockdown life would have been like without working from home, maybe these fucking moodswings would have been less intense due to the wonderful, integrally human (we were originally nomads, look it up bitch) experience that is movement. Here to give us a little insight to this phenomenon is Longeez, the UKG hero whose previous picks was so great we simply had to have him back, and phwoar there are some gorgeous mental health-benefitting nuuukg gems in here, just as you’d hope. Take it away (Spotify-able tunes are gathered here)…
I work almost full time. When I’m not at home making tunes, I’m mostly likely in work or on a bus to work. The bus journey, however, has become one of my favourite times to listen to new music. It’s the perfect setting, you have a constantly changing view, people coming and going, and just a general hustle and bustle that makes for an interesting setting to experience music. This list is ten of my favorite tunes to soundtrack my commutes, ranging from UK garage, jungle, 140 and electronica.
Starting off my picks with an undeniable classic. New Energy is the Ninth studio album by UK electronic music wizard Four Tet and has been a huge inspiration for me since its release in 2017. Choosing a single tune feels like a miscarriage of justice, as it’s really best enjoyed start to finish. As cliché as it sounds, New Energy is a full-bodied listening experience, with sonic textures and melodies that that make you want to laugh and cry all at once.
The donny of soundscapes, Sorrow has been pushing out some of the most musically driven 140 tunes in recent years. Homesick is the third tune off of his 2019 album Carpe Noctem, which much like New Energy is really best experienced from start to finish. However, Homesick has a certain vibe that just keeps pulling me back in; the piano line, and choppy, melancholy vocals and hard hitting drums and stitched seamlessly together by a wall of beautiful ambience.
Perhaps a lesser-know Burial track, Rough Sleeper came out in 2012 alongside Truant. It’s a 13 minute epic, dripping in all the dystopian sonics that we have come to expect from Burial, making a track into its own story. This track is drenched in soul, with an upbeat tempo, luscious pads and some of the most incredible usage of vocals and foley sounds I have personally ever heard. If I had to describe it, I would call it a “dying dream”.
Stepping up as the first new school UK Garage artist on the list, Arfa gifts us this beautifully musical number. Released in May 2020 as part of his self-released DEMO EP, Driftin is a dreamy, funky 2step number, showcasing the young producer’s knack for melody and fine details, laced together by a groovy, smooth bassline. If this track is anything to go by, our lad Arfa has a pretty bright future ahead of him. R.I.P DEMO.
Garage heavyweight Main Phase should be no stranger to the ukg-savvy audience. Tell a Man is the first track I heard by the man himself, and it’s still one of my favourite 2step tunes. It’s moody, overtly urban vibe, paired with Main Phase’s consistently tight drum grooves create a truly unique atmosphere of dystopia, laced with dubbed out vocal stabs.
Ease Up George, if you are not aware, is one of the key players in the new UK Garage scene, with releases spanning all across the spectrum of UKG, including releases on Practice Rhythms, EC2A and INSTINCT. Blaze Up is one of his latest releases on the shiny new Jam Dem Sounds imprint, and I think it’s some of his finest work to date. The EP is slightly more down-tempo then some of George’s previous releases, but the level of production here is on another level. George’s gentle 2step grooves, soulful chords and high levels of sonic detail make for an absolute listening experience, taking you on a journey of just how good UK Garage can be. There’s even a footwork track at the end that’ll blow your socks off!
Getting into the higher tempos, Alaska & Seba have always been a huge personal influence. I can still vividly remember the night I discovered Back From Eternity, sat at silly o’clock in the morning, blasting that tune through my tired old pioneer monitors. It blew me away, the sense of space, the powerful drums and the knife edge atmosphere provoke such a powerful feeling of emotion for me, a feeling I’ve been chasing ever since. Alaska & Seba, I salute you.
Part of the Mighty Blunted Breaks Volume 1 VA on the Bristol based jungle label Western Lore, Deep Into Space & Back is the second atmospheric Jungle banger to make the list. This track is simply huge, building from a luscious ambient soundscape into one of my favourite Amen-rinse outs to date. Whenever I need a wake up or a pick me up, I stick this track on, never failing to make me crack a smile.
Lenzman is well known as one of the pillars of Drum and Bass, with releases on some of the genres finest and mightiest labels. Cool Breeze is a tune from his 2019 album Bobby, which is one of the finest examples of the modern liquid-funk sound. My favourite part of this track has got to be the Reese bass line, the wobble on the high note makes my face screw up every time I hear it drop. Much like the previous tune mentioned, this tune is one of my favourite pick-me-ups, you can’t help but grin when that Reese starts kicking.
Last but by absolutely no means list is a little slice of 140. This is a bit of a strange one, because as far as I’m aware it has never seen a proper release, existing as a two and a half minute clip on CHOKEZ’s Soundcloud. However, despite only being a snippet, this is one of my favourite 140 tunes I’ve heard in a long while. The level of production prowess is on a different plain, eery sound feeling as if it's perfectly positioned to create a razor sharp, spacious atmosphere, driven by a big fat bass line and tight drum. CHOKEZ, if your reading this, release this god damn tune!!