Just earlier this month Criterion Records released their 20th EP and with the ever powerful Alaska & Paradox at the helm it’s definitely a cause for celebration. If you’re unaware of this Greek Drum & Bass label with an affinity for the amen break, today is your lucky day. With their first EP release dating back to 2013, these vinyl junkies have persevered through the years to deliver some of the best Drum & Bass on wax without ever making a digital release.
Yes, you read that right.
This label only releases music on physical mediums in this digitally ruled age. Keeping true to the craft of vinyl and dj alike, Criterion Records has made it it’s mission to bring energetic and deep atmospheric music to the masses. With an A-class roster right out the gate, this label has procured arrangements from the likes of MsDos, Tim Reaper, Phuture-T, Champa B, Ricky Force, FFF, Drum Cypha and a slew of others that really highlight the quality CR provides.
So before we move onto CR’s twentieth release I’d just like to make a quick note about their post production team because it is unlike any other out there. If you’ve ever bought a Criterion plate before, you’ve probably noticed that the legendary DJ Sappo handles their mastering department. This artist has been making big jungle/drum&bass tunes since 1995 and has now turned his hand towards fine tuning the sounds of Criterion’s vinyl mastering. After Sappo gets these tunes to gleam under the needle, they are sent off to be cut by the mighty Beau Thomas at Ten Eight Seven Mastering. With his name spread wide across the music industry, Beau has been and still is a sought after sound technician. Just in the jungle/drum&bass scene alone he had left his mark on labels such as Exit Records, ThirtyOne Recordings, 117 Recordings, 20/20 LDN, Astrophonica, Cosmic Bridge, C.I.A. and many more. This list is just a surface glance, as we haven’t even checked out other genres, on the vast amount of music that Beau has had a hand in making. Now you can truly imagine the level of excitement that has come from this ground breaking 20th release.
Leading off this EP are the alluring sounds of “Out Of Darkness.” This track opens with lush atmospheric synths and pulls us into the deepness of space with the sparkling sounds of playful stars in the distance. Lost in the vastness of the unknown we hear voices from the black exclaiming, “The Prophecy, Comes, Out Of Darkness.” With that, our bodies are driven forward by shuffling drum beats and sub lines that give warmth to the cold drift of space.
On our B side we have the aptly named tune, “Nostalgia.” Catching the vibe of late nineties classics, Alaska & Paradox bring us back in time with this one. Ringing synths, chopped up drum breaks, and perfectly placed snares light up speakers instantly as not long after sub bass follows to dub out this jungle ripper. “Nostalgia” sways in intensity as layers of sound gradually build and retract to create swells of energy throughout it’s entirety.
As we turn our gaze to the new year and look back on the days of 2017, it’s quality releases like this from top notch labels such as Criterion Records that make audiophiles excited for the what the future will bring. Be sure to check out what limited stock of pressings are left for this stellar release at Criterion’s website here and if you really want to dig deep, check out the label’s page on Discogs to find older plates available.