Digital Soundboy turns the grand old age of ten this November and will be celebrating with a party at one of Leeds’ most iconic clubbing establishments, The Warehouse, on Thursday 26th November. As a music label that started back in 2005, Digital Soundboy has prided itself on its cutting edge releases that take the form of anything from grime to dub, drum and bass to breaks, with a number of these releases having helped launch the careers of several British DJs.
Headed up by jungle stalwart Shy FX, Digital Soundboy has released music from the likes of B. Traits, Zinc, Donae’o and Benny Page and picking 5 tracks for this Top 5 was definitely a difficult one. There was a long list and then a shortlist and we eventually chose the following, which are in no particular order:
Shy FX – Soon Come
As he is the proprietor of Digital Soundboy Records, it would be a crime not to include Shy FX in this rundown of our favourite tracks from the label. Although he has had a huge number of releases on his own imprint, which are equally good in their own right, this track from 2013 saw Shy FX break fully back in to the mainstream as the single stormed the UK Dance Chart in a similar way to his jungle classic Original Nuttah. As what are arguably his two most popular singles to date, they have resonated hugely with the UK, however this collaboration with vocalist Liam Bailey sees him veer away from his furious jump up jungle/D&B style to bring us a slo-mo reggae tinged tune that makes you feel really, really good.
Skream – Diam / Mood To Funk
Skream’s transition from producing dubstep as part of Magnetic Man and by himself to making house music under his solo alias seemed to happen so fast. He was hugely revered for his 140 tracks and is now praised for his music that has seen him perform for VIVa Warriors and even at Elrow in Barcelona. Last year’s release on Digital Soundboy saw a throwback to that bygone era. Diam sees a house rhythm sped up to 137 beats per minute complete with trance-like synths, whilst Mood To Funk heads straight back into dub territory with a dirty, edgy wobble.
Breakage – Treading Water
Breakage has been a mainstay on Digital Soundboy since 2007’s debut Loved U So. In a similar feat to the label owner, there have been a heap of Breakage tracks here to choose from, with his chart topping single Fighting Fire almost clinching it, however this release from last year steals it as his best for us. Mostly thanks to the introductory synths that detect strong trance influences that can be heard on a number of his singles, Treading Water is immensely euphoric and unique the way that a beat never actually drops. Pressed on 10” vinyl, this is a tool that could be used to facilitate a serious peak on a dance floor and I have no doubt that James Boyle will have used it for just that.
Ms Dynamite & Shy FX – Cloud 9
Shy FX deservedly appears on our chart again here, however this time with grime mistress Ms Dynamite, who will be known to music fans of all types, not just those akin to Digital Soundboy. Once again, there’s no jungle here… Oh wait! There it is. The first verse of the tune sees Dynamite singing about how high she feels (not in that way) and that she doesn’t want to come down. Just as you think you’ll be doing no more than slightly nodding your head to this one, the D&B littered chorus initiates and the dynamic changes completely. Mirroring Skream’s attest to his early days of making music in our earlier mentioned Top 5 choice, here Ms Dynamite has provided vocals to one of Shy FX’s modern day hits, however here there is an added spice from the days that saw him crowned one of the kings of jungle music.
Dismantle – Stranded
Our final choice for our Digital Soundboy Top 5 is Dismantle’s brand new EP Stranded, which was released last month. Released just before August bank holiday weekend, which as many will know is carnival weekend, these 4 tracks are made to set the streets of London on fire with music and dance. The first track If Not is a straight up bass and snare driven stomper with some beautiful piano keys, whilst Minnion is a little grungier with distorted synths and crackles that create some serious tension. The highlights here however are the remaining two. What’s Happening, which is our personal favourite, contains several different arrangements of drums, hooks and bass that create a flurry of consistently good intermittence; It’s a track that would most certainly gravitate a hoard of people to a dance floor. The title track Stranded is the one tailor made for the weekend it was released before. Whistles, horns, steel drums and the noise of cheering crowds fathom a peak time track that will have no doubt been a highlight of carnival weekend this year.