As the year comes to an end, we've taken on the challenging task of collating a list of what we think are the 15 best drum & bass releases of 2018 - no easy feat considering the plethora of strong releases coming out every week. Check out our selections below and let us know what tracks you think deserved to be in the top 15.
1. Dossa & Locuzzed – “Shag” VIP (Viper Recordings)
Released right at the start of 2018, the duo from Austria somehow managed to make the funky fun original of their iconic “Shag” into even more of a banger by adding a jump-up flair to the drop while turning the funk levels up several notches. Groovy, high-energy, and oh so fun, this track has been making crowds go wild all year long.
2. Ownglow – “Eyes Wide Open” (Pilot)
Part of one of our favorite compilations of the year (Destinations), Ownglow’s contribution to the album is one of his most emotive, alluring works yet. Capturing the strangely familiar mix of feelings associated with frequent travel, “Eyes Wide Open” is a poignant rendition of the melancholy goodbyes, the loving embraces and long-awaited reunions, the hours spent in silent introspection on planes, trains, and buses, the excitement, longing, reflection, and, of course, the seemingly endless time spent just waiting that any traveler will be familiar with.
3. Danny Byrd – “Devil’s Drop” (Hospital)
Released as part of one of the year’s strongest albums, Atomic Funk, Bath-based Danny Byrd pays homage to the genre’s jungle roots with new energy and an infectious groove that appeals to new and old fans alike. Easily one of the catchiest tunes of 2018, “Devil’s Drop” is set to be a classic for decades to come.
4. Serum – “All Ganja Man” feat. $pyda (Basslayerz)
Serum has had such a strong year that we couldn’t put together this list without a mention, and “All Ganja Man” has to be one of the most fun releases of the year. Plenty of Serum’s signature wonky basslines steal the spotlight, arranged simply yet guaranteed to be stuck in your head for days on end. Add to the mix $pyda’s inimitable flow and the result is seriously catchy.
5. Joe Ford and Document One – “Care for Me” (Shogun)
All of Joe Ford’s album, Colours in Sound, is absolutely phenomenal, but if we had to choose a favorite, it would have to be “Care for Me” with Document One. Opening on an elegant note with just subtle hints at the groove to come, the track uses luxurious, sultry vocals to create a welcoming ambience while incorporating a captivating mixture of some of the cleanest and most creative sound design in drum & bass with organic textures that make it beyond outstanding in every way.
6. Culprate – “Subsonics” (Inspected)
Taken from one of the year’s most highly anticipated albums, Culprate’s “Subsonics” is indubitable proof as to why he is so widely hailed as one of the most talented (albeit underrated) producers in the game right now. Exuding creativity, the track boasts a huge array of different sounds, all incredibly crisp and clean, put together in weird, unusual, yet totally intelligent ways – Culprate is nothing short of genius.
7. Break – “Last Goodbye” feat. Celestine (Symmetry)
Break is undeniably an integral part of the drum & bass scene – not only is every release flawless, but he’s also a huge supporter of his local scene in Bristol, constantly scouting out new talent for his Symmetry Selects series. “Last Goodbye”, taken from this year’s Another Way LP, is elegant, luxurious, jazzy, sophisticated, and incredibly tasteful – essentially, everything we love about Break and more. It’s also the kind of track that we’ve shown to literally everyone from our fellow heads to our mom – it’s just that good, whether you like drum & bass or not.
8. Mefjus – “Pivot” (Vision)
Taken from another really strong album this year, Mefjus’ “Pivot” is a shining example of the quality stuff on his album Manifest. A suspenseful intro paints an eerie, slightly quirky picture, slowly building up into one of the most vibrant drops of 2018. Highlighting his insane production skills, the track features an impressively large array of all sorts of different sounds, a lot of which we’ve never heard anything like before. Simultaneously murky and bright, the juxtaposition of his traditional neuro leanings and lively string plucks leads to a hypnotizing end result.
9. SpectraSoul – “Organiser” (Circuits Rewire) (Critical)
2018 saw the birth of Circuits, the divine collaborative effort of InsideInfo and Kasra. Entering the year with a bang, the duo have had a slew of huge releases, but their take on Spectrasoul’s “Organiser” is definitely one of the biggest releases of the year. A quiet opening allows for the subtleties in their sound design to shine, capturing listeners the world over with just a few seemingly simple sounds before detonating into a visceral, rolling drop that is totally evil.
10. Levela – “Exhale” (Get Hype)
Levela is another producer who has had a really strong year, showing everyone his versatility with a slew of releases on nearly every major label in 2018. One of our favorites is the almighty “Exhale” – this one has been a favorite of DJs left and right as well, and with good reason. An instantly recognizable introduction that gives the track its namesake, Levela uses a rather eerie breathing sound effect for the build-up that’s definitely hair-raising, but the real star is the drop. Sinister and dark, Levela has created perhaps the dirtiest bassline of 2018, and with a simple, rolling pattern, the track is an absolute stinker.
11. Mark Dinimal – Criminal (Program)
Making a strong debut in 2018, newcomer Mark Dinimal has been turning heads since his first release on Ram Record’s sister label Program back in January. Ending the year with his Criminal EP, the title track is perfect proof as to why Mark Dinimal is certainly a name to watch. As the producer’s name might suggest, the track is dark and minimal, with a mysterious tone and a murky groove that has us waiting somewhat impatiently for the next Mark Dinimal release.
12. LSB – “Potshot” (Footnotes)
LSB has consistently proven his remarkably diverse talent over the course of his career, pushing quality over quantity each and every time. His highly anticipated Roots EP released this summer stood as a huge testament to his ability, and “Potshot” is perhaps one of the most memorable tunes of the year. While relatively simple, the track’s clean drums and room-filling bass are what really make it stand out – sometimes, simplicity really is the ultimate sophistication.
13. Cyantific – “Bloodline” (Hybrid Minds Remix) (Viper)
While Cyantific’s Bloodline album was certainly a highlight of the year, the series of remixes that came out after have certainly been another, especially Hybrid Mind’s rendition of the album’s title track, “Bloodline.” Maintaining the elegance and sophistication of Raphaella’s original vocals, Hybrid Minds successfully infuse their unique brand of emotive, opulent drum and bass that tugs at the heartstrings.
14. Alix Perez and Monty – “Caligo” (1985 Music)
A collaboration that was truly meant to be, Alix Perez teamed up with label mate Monty for the technically stunning “Caligo” earlier this fall. A frantic, frenzied intro sends shivers from the get-go, while the track slowly layers in new elements to the mix, highlighting their ridiculous sound design amidst the chaos. Things get pretty funky with the drop, and is a perfect fusion of two of the most brilliant producers of our time.
15. Edlan – “Whatever You Said” (Pilot)
One of the most sophisticated, elegant, soothing, and all-around emotional tunes of the year comes from relative newcomer Edlan on UKF’s Pilot imprint. A tender piece from start to finish, the sheer amount of emotion infused into the track on its own is truly remarkable. Faint vocals add a raw touch to the graceful melodies and complex layers of the track, while the drop offers a sensational explosion of passion and feelings that reminds us of the true power of music.