2017 has been a massive year for Drum & Bass labels.
Not only we have had a host of artists opening new imprints but there has been a hell lot of music on offer and we have also seen an influx of new artists being notched up by established labels.
Here are the labels we think have pushed beyond the boundaries this year.
1. Fokuz Recordings
If there is one label that has poured blood, sweat, and tears into everything they’ve accomplished thus far, It’s Fokuz Recordings. The Rotterdam based label has delivered some of the crispiest sounds all year and dare we say that they haven’t gone wrong at all. Releasing music from the likes of Seba, DBR UK, Zero T and many more, Fokuz have had over 20 EP/album releases this year, making them one of the most consistent labels out there.
2. Med School Music
Med School music’s releases have been so delightfully varied and consistent this year. From a groundbreaking albums courtesy of Keeno, Whiney and Royalston, the label seem to inspire the very best output from their artists and the music speaks for itself, and in volumes. We’ve admired the way they’ve been able to stick to their roots, all the while pushing forward-thinking production, striking a perfect balance of vibes along the way.
3. RAM Records
We could bang on about Andy C’s and epic XOYO all day but RAM Records really surged ahead and gave us exciting new names, brave sounds and a diverse repertoire of inspiring sounds this year. With a seminal album from Camo & Crooked and monstrous LP’s and Frankee and sister label Program, and a stupendous RAM25 compilation, RAM Records have aced their game in 2017.
4. Critical Music
Artistic integrity and freedom are at the core of Critical Music’ philosophy, and this philosophy shines brightly in each and every release they’ve put out this year. Their releases have been on point this year and have covered a whole new spectrum of drum & bass music. Sam Binga, Enei, , Ivy Lab, The Upbeats, label don Kasra himself, along with some really exiting artists such as Kiril, Kumarachi and QZB have all championed releases on the label, releasing some breathtaking sounds thie year making Critical Music the most exciting label of 2017.
5. Eatbrain Records
After an epic opening night at Let It Roll last year, the Hungarian label have burst on to the scene in 2017. Eatbrain are known for their dark and intricate sounds and some really sinister artwork, the lable have delivered immaculately this year. Eatbrain have released some swashbuckling music this year from the likes of Telekinesis, Gydra, AKOV, Mizo, Mindscape and the Trans-Euro project Magnetude, making them the label to watch out for in 2018.
6. Hospital Records
When was the last time Hospital Records haven’t surpassed our expectations? Releasing sublime LP’s from the likes of Hugh Hardie, Fred V & Grafix and Nu:Logic, Hospital have been producing pure fire and they have given us a truly memorable year. Each year the label seems to substantially grow, reaching out to more fans across the world. This year has been particularly special not only for the music, but also for the ambitious Hospitality In The Park day festival the label curated. While there are many labels making waves at the moment, there’s no doubting the fact that Hospital currently represent everything good about drum and bass.
7. Shogun Audio
Not everyone can boast such a creative and genre-spanning catalogue as Shogun Audio. Having curated some of Drum and Bass’ most talented artists over the years, Shogun Audio have some of the finest, filthiest and funkiest beats this year. From Ulterior Motive’s ridiculous ‘The Real’ EP to Pola & Bryson’s soul-soothing numbers to Augmented to My Nu Leng’s mind bending ‘Portal’ EP and loads more in between, Shogun have steadily slapped us with uncompromised smashers throughout the year. Setting us up for the firm balance of established names and new talent, 2016 has been a year of steady, almost stealth-like evolution for Shogun.
8. Viper Recordings
Futurebound’s Viper Records have had a fantastic 2017. Spreading the D&B vibe loudly and proudly, Viper have released some really emotive music from the likes of Koven, BMotion, Jaguar Skills, Dossa & Locuzzed along with a fantastic LP from Brookes Brothers. Viper have steadily grown their presence in other parts of the world and proving why they are such a revered label in the industry. Another label to keep an eye on in 2018.
9. Soul Trader Records
Soul Trader Records is by far the most underrated label in the drum & bass spectrum and it’s definitely too under the radar at the moment. To anyone who thinks originality in underground drum & bass is a thing of the past, or to anyone who’s simply bored or looking for inspiration – check out Soul Trader. They have released some of the most emotive tunes this year with releases from the likes of Satl, Dave Owen, Silence Groove, and Phil Tangent making them THE label to watch out for in 2018.
10. 1985 Music
It is a norm that everything Alix Perez touches turns to gold. We have had the Belgian do exactly that with his music for a decade and now he has aced it with his label as well. Founded last year, 1985 has already grabbed the prestigious ‘Best Newcomer Label’ award at the Drum & Bass Arena Awards this month. Any label that can release delicate, soul-stirring songs by Spectrasoul one minute and the jaw-breaking EP by Halogenix the next commands respect in today’s headliner-focused, numbers-addicted market. Bonus points for introducing us to the majestic tones Monty. Definitely our choice for the best label this year.
Do you agree with our list? Let us know your favourite in the comments’ section below.