Over the past few years Critical Music have cut a fascinating middle path in drum & bass, appealing to heads and punters in equal measure. Every time they have a minimal DJ tool release, you can bet that the follow-up will be a rude banger. Their latest, Xtrah's Soundclash, seems to do both at once. The A-side sets uncredited reggae-style spoken word underneath a tension-filled foreground until Xtrah unleashes a blaring bass hit, pairing it at times with what sounds like a submerged air horn for added effect. There's an enormous amount of things going on here, but it's to Xtrah's credit that nothing seems to get lost in the mix.
"Discordance" is more in-your-face, leaning closer to the shirtless gurner side of things. (You almost want to respond to the woman who insists "I know it sounds deep" with a "Compared to what?") This one'll likely hit harder on dance floors than "Soundclash" but it's also going to be forgotten sooner as well: It fits well into the mainstream of drum & bass, but doesn't go far enough to stand out in the genre's "bigger is better" arms race.