Here's what the critics have to say:
If you know something about D&B culture in North America, you probably know that Toronto, Canada is considered to be one of this continent’s few true Meccas; if, like me, you lacked evidence of the merit of this reputation, correct your shameful ignorance now with Oscillate. The tracks on this album are spectacular, from Dynasty w/ Sunya’s exquisitely Autumnal "Glass Slipper" (and its masterful mix out of Illfingas’ "Union Station"), to Liquified’s balanced but propulsive "Perspectives," to Visionary w/ Sol Azul’s lugubrious, Latin–based anthem "Sola Bossa." Former Vancouver D&B deity Andy B also contributes with "October," giving the already impressive Toronto natives’ tracks some healthy competition—and proving that Vancouver is a vital and talented scene in its own right. The narrative flow of the track selection is sinuous and ambitious but clean. The only drawback is the digital mixing, which lends itself to some uncreative transitions on the last half of the album. All told: more than worth tracking down, and go see the nicesmooth.com website while you’re at it.
Nice & Smooth
techno,jazz,electronic,drum and bass,dance,house,down-tempo,
By Joshua Ostroff
October 08, 2002
With most major label product lacking individuality, indies have long made their names by representing a certain niche, be it a shared sound or attitude. Samplers like Nice One, from Toronto's multi- faceted nice+smooth label, provide the only easy, non-downloadable way of getting a taste of what a label is all about. After listening to the dozen tracks (all of which are previously available on myriad artist albums, compilations and twelve-inch singles), nice+smooth seems to be about class. They offer an older-skewing, dress-up vibe, from the ultra-deep jazzy house of DJ Shine and the muted beats of Teknostep to the squelchy breaks and down-tempo of Kinder Atom and the Latin drum & bass of Visionary ("Sola Bossa") and the German jungle of NME Click. The tracks tend to favour functionality over personality, but the quality level is high enough to help quash the perception that Canadian dance producers pale in comparison to our DJs.
Various Nice One (Nice + Smooth)
Cat No: nice 0011.
Toronto’s prime exponents of a surprisingly diverse array of
electronic music expose their wares, laying a wide variety out of
material on this low priced sampler. From break neck paced D&B,
to deeper housier moments via luxurious downtempo compositions,
there is something for all. A teasing introduction to this label, that
should get pulses racing, and listeners eager to explore Nice +
Smooth’s catalogue further. DJ Shine’s
“First Snow” takes trippy keys, a pointed trumpet, meaty
percussive claps and synths which slightly dampen
proceedings, on a thoughtful outing. Visionary feat Sol
Azul’s “Bossa Azul” is Latino D&B to rival that Brazillian
sound favoured by Marky et al, as bouncy energetic
percussion, serene vocals, an uncharacteristic
(considering the genre) understanding bass and a
melodic guitar combine perfectly. NME Click’s “The
Puzzler” isn’t really that confusing at all, with its patient
synths, twinkle keys, perfected synths, rugged
percussion and an addictive bass groove. Kinder
Atom’s exquisitely titled “Slushy” relaxes all, thanks to a
smile-inducing bass, a floaty bi-instrument melody, rain
pattering keys and tight guitar cuts. Smoothly does it…
VISIONARY feat. SOL AZUL - "SOLA BOSSA"
[2002 - Oscilate Recordings, CAN] www.nicesmooth.com
A very impressive introduction to the growing Canadian drum'n'bass scene. 'Sola Bossa' is a standout latin-infused, 'Bukem vs Marky' type track comprised of spanish guitars, snare driven beats and sweet, sexy, sultry Spanish vocals. Definately a chill-out track, but with enough funk to move the floor with its groove. Think Great Ocean Road, summer, road trip, clear skies, fat joint... and you're halfway there!
The B-Side ('Feel It') opens up with an old jungle vibe; plenty of snare, sweeping synths, dance samples etc, before dropping in the bass. A different track, very much true to the drum'n'bass titles, as it's quite minimalist. Easily mixed, but not as impressive as 'Sola Bossa'.
FREEDOM + DORC - "TEST TONES"
[2002 - Oscilate Recordings, CAN] www.nicesmooth.com
Here Freedom + Dorc push the d'n'b envelope to the extreme with a track that is above all else - different! Opening up with a breaky, hip-hop groove, 'Test Tones' then transcends into a nice, fuzzy, electronic, bass-powered experiment. Beats are similar to Bukem circa 1990, but dirtier. Lots of cut and pastes, breaks and wierd effects whilst still remaining fairly simple to the ear.
The B-Side ('Organic Love') by STUHR/MOONRAKER is a very tasty addition indeed. An awesome low range bass line, (think Bad Company but without the distortion), is complemented by nice atmospherics and fitting, soothing feminine vocals. A good early or late set track, building from atmospheric to something a bit more sinister, but upbeat.
Visionary / ~ feat. Sol Azul
Feel It / Sola Bossa
A kanadai elektronikus zenék fokolomposának, Gerald Belanger új d&b címkéjének bemutatkozó lemezén két Visionary (Marcus Sills és Dave Whalen) felvétel kapott helyet. Az A oldal csaknem nyolc percnyi unalom, hiába kántálja megszámlálhatatlanszor a noi hang, hogy Feel It, nem érzek semmit a kongák, subok, fantáziátlan effektek és egy szintidallam eszköztárát felvonultató roller hallatán. Fordít.
Még valamikor szeptemberben egy Radio 1 musorban hallottam eloször (és ezidáig utoljára) a Sola Bossa címu Sol Azul dal Visionary változatát, így a jellegzetes brazil vokál elsore is kellemesen ismeros volt füleimnek. Aki nem hallotta, azt úgysem tudnám meggyozni a dal nagyszeruségérol, így elég, ha csak annyit mondok, szerintem veri Patife-ékat. Kérdés, hogy egy friss, kis labeltol mennyire figyelnek fel rá, mert úgy akár a nyár egyik slágerévé is válhatna. Nagy nagy hiba volt a B oldalra tenni!
icr | 06.10 18:58
Stuhr/Moonraker / Freedom+Dorc
Organic Love / Test Tones
Júliusban érkezik a kettes korong, rajta rögtön egy igazi nyári, kellemes dallal a számomra mindeddig ismeretlen Stuhr és Moonraker kettostol (Organic Love). Mai szóhasználattal élve talán a likvid kategóriába sorolhatnánk - ha nem lógna ki onnan, és nem emlékeztetne annyira Adam F színes, szomorkás számaihoz. Atmoszférikus, lágy szonyegek, bájos vokál, végére pedig - elozo állításomat erosbítendo - szaxofon szóló. Nekem ennyi elég is a boldogsághoz. Lovely!
A kettes oszcillátor túloldalát két hölgy, Freedom és Dorc teszteli (Test Tones- kezdetben altatnak, néha néha egy amen hang feltunése és egy baljós harsona jelzi csak, hogy készülodik valami. Három perc környékén meg is érkezik a rave stab és a dobok is felpörögnek, majd úgy ahogy jöttek, feledésbe is merülnek. Fura egy darab, van benne valami gonosz. Egy tesztet megért!
A promókért köszönet Geraldnak!
Knowledge Magazine UK
Various - Metro Breaks Nxt Level (Nice & Smooth)
Mixed from exclusive dubs, and featuring tracks
from Canada, America, Germany and the UK, this
third volume in the Metro Breaks series is quite an
upfront affair. And it's pretty damn good too, as
DJ Freedom mixes up a tight blend of tuff funk licks,
raw techno stompers and dangerously dirty roll-outs.
None of your household names, but there's flava in this.
Klublife CD Reviews
Damned Straight! It's nice to see Toronto artists'
continued efforts to stake their claim as the jungle
capital of North America, a loyal massive since
the beginning, just ask any UK jungle DJ. What
makes this all the more sweeter is that it's sister
DJ Freedom aka Amanda Lachapelle representing
a cast of mostly Toronto producers along with a
few tracks from Dallas (where she currently lives)
and one from England. The third in the Metro
Breaks compilation series, Freedom unleashes
a monsoon of a mix including her newest release
"Chamber", a collaboration with members of
Germany's Basswerk label. This mix puts her
in the league of drum 'n' bass giants, right next
to DJ Rap, Storm and The Angel.
NXT Level is quite a bit different than the usual
Nice and Smooth session. The NXT Level is
about beats, rollers and a sort of dark soul type
of drum & bass. Mixed expertly by Toronto's
DJ Freedom, this is the next step in the Nice
and Smooth releases. "If I Had A Dollar" spats
about an acid-y bass line and the drum sample
is off time just by a bit, making you listen just a
bit harder to appreciate the tune. "Expand" is a
weird conflict of a hard biting bass line and
jazzy horn and organ riffs that I like a lot.
"Hand Over Fist" is a track full of deadly rollers;
it's almost like German drum and bass producer
Panacea's work. The Green Man remix of "Illegal"
is a smooth tune, mixed with low down funk and
smooth bass lines. The album has its share of dark
tunes, but there's always a bit of jazz influence,
such as Nemesis' "Liquid Bass." The artists
on the NXT Level are definitely maturing with
every release. The production is definitely tighter
than on past Metro breaks releases and more
original. In the fast forward world of drum & bass,
where a novel sound is the difference between
musical obscurity and popularity, it's a pleasure
to listen to this album.
To The Next Level
DJ Amanda 'Freedom' Lachapelle hasn't cut
home ties - Toronto Star
by Ben Rayner
Expat Toronto drum 'n' bass DJ Amanda 'Freedom'
Lachapelle might have vacated Canada for Big Steer
Country to get some much-needed distance from the local
scene, but she hasn't cut her ties completely.
Since moving to Dallas a year ago, in fact, Lachappele
somehow found time amidst trying to establish a DJ-ing
prescence in her adopted home and taking a startup
role in two seperate businesses to curate the third installment
in nice+smooth's Metro Breaks series of Toronto-centric
drum 'n' bass compilations.
Metro Breaks: NXT Level maintains the tradition
established by its predecessors of showcasing unheralded
breakbeat explorations culled from the active, but enderexposed
This time, though, the Metro BReaks net was cast a little wider,
taking in contributions from electronic artists based in London,
Cologneand not surprisingly, Dallas to compliment a solid T-dot
And, unlike the previous two discs, NXT LEVEL features all the
tracks stitched together from dubplates on two turntables
by Freedom herself.
Getting all the contributions in hand was one thing, but
"throwing them together in an organized manner" proved
slightly more challenging than assemnbling a regular DJ set,
says Lachapelle on the line from Dallas, since she - succeeding
Kinder Atom's Gerald Belanger as Metro Breaks' overseer -
was pulling from just a 15-track menu.
Drum 'n' bass flavours represented on NXT LEVEL
range from loose, skittishly funky outings by Texan Milad Nazeri
and Toronto's Classic Man to slightly spacier, densely percussive
tracks by London's Amorphia and Lucien Palermo, to the more
ominous, industrialized sounds of Dallas' HandOverFist and
Clynt B and a thunderous trans-Atlantic collaboration between
Freedom and Cologne's Green Man & Kingz.
Lachapelle also shifts gears towards the end of the disc,
winding things down with a couple of chilled out downtempo
gems by Toronto's LAL and Aureola.
"I didn't ask for any paricular style - I just let the artists do
what they're doing" she says.
Depite all the headaches and the stylistic mismatches,
Lachappelle has come up with a mix that flows remarkably well.
Tonight's METRO BREAKS NXT LEVEL CD-release party at NASA
Dance Pub will feature a live performance by contributor Nemesis,
featuring Demonbass, and a DJ set from Belanger. But it'll be at
least the spring before Lachapelle considers a move back home.
"I needed to get out of Toronto - to much politics, too much
bullsh-," says Lachapelle, who co-founded a drum 'n' bass club
and a clothing store after her move south.
Production work nevertheless holds more of an allure than DJ-ing
these days for Freedom. Encouraging, since "The Chamber" - her
formidable Metro Breaks track, is one of the disc's standouts.
Beats Per Week
by Denise Benson
The Metro Breaks crew take things to The NXT Level,
with a mix cd by the same name. Jungle fans will
want to check DJ Freedom's selections as she
weaves her way through the edgy mix.
Taking It To The NXT Level
Toronto Drum'N'Bass Label Making Waves In The
Electronic Music Scene
by Dave McDonald
The rolling basslines and the ripping of the snare in a rave
or nightclub is a sirens song for some of us; it appeals to us
on a purely emotional level, touching and reaching out to our
most primal thoughts. The drum'n'bass scene in North America
is formidable. With a huge representation of talent in cities such
as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, drum'n'bass
has emerged as a musical movement across the continent…
but one undeniable fact is that Toronto has established itself as
perhaps the most prominent and diverse locale for this unique
and intoxicating form of music. Nice and Smooth, a Toronto
record label, is a perfect example of this trend, and have
proved it again with their most recent release,
"Metro Breaks : NXT Level". Run by Gerald Belanger
(a.k.a DJ Gerald), Nice and Smooth is "an underground
digital facility and record label, home-base to Metrobreaks,
Kinder Atom, Lazer Caps and DJ Gerald". Since 1996, they
have established themselves to promote a sound ahead of its
time, as is proven by their latest release.
The emergence of drum'n'bass in the music world
has given a new means for comparison; considering
the uniqueness of the sound, Metro Breaks has taken
this sound to yet another level.
Third in the series behind Metro Breaks and Metro Breaks 99,
and mixed by the well-known DJ Freedom, NXT Level has taken
unique dubplates from Canada, the US, UK, and Germany to
bring one intense compilation as the latest release from the
Nice & Smooth label. The sound is a far cry from the typical
techstep, hardstep and ragga sound heard at raves and clubs
in Toronto. The sound from this CD is a more intelligent,
mature sound that most would be hard pressed to find in a
public venue. The CD is packed with a wide variety of tunes,
ranging from the pulsating basslines of "Chamber", to the
almost hypnotic flow of "The Surface". Combining conventional
rolling bass, along with an almost jazzy beat complete with
the odd guitar riff. This is not only a sound you can dance
to, but one you can read a book to, drive down the highway,
or just sit with friends and relax with. The mixing is
seamless by DJ Freedom, leading each track smoothly
into the next without missing a beat, leaving the listener
with a clean, original sound.
The emergence of drum'n'bass in the music world has
given a new means for comparison; considering the
uniqueness of the sound, Metro Breaks has taken
this sound to yet another level. In a form of music
where change is in its very nature, Nice and Smooth
has put together an album that takes over its listener
from beginning to end. If Nice and Smooth continues
to produce this caliber of compilation on a regular basis,
they will become a main player in the North American
drum'n'bass scene. Watch out London; Toronto has
established itself as a centerpiece for the drum'n'bass
reprinted from tripledecks.com
WHAT THE REVIEWERS SAID
ABOUT METRO BREAKS 99
REVIEW REPRINTED FROM VICE
Emphasis is on the smooth+nice with this, the second
Metro Breaks compilation. Not to be confused with
Matrix's London-based Metro Recordings, These Metro
Toronto cats are dropping sweet breaks and chilled-out
vibes with only a few cheesy moments to speak of.
Check out the other side of the T dot drum and bass scene.
REVIEW REPRINTED FROM EXCLAIM!
The first Metro Breaks compilation may have solidified
Toronto's over-hyped reputation as the North American
capital of drum & bass, but the material of the second
volume is so much stronger, it doesn't even need the
geographical signifier to give it creditability. It's a
diverse selection of music, ranging from the Photek-like
solitude of Tigger's "Tuesday," to the kitschy lounge vibe
on Lazar Nesic's "Sweet Victory." The stabs of dark
bass on Visionary's "Rising," and the flight of the killer
bumble bees scored on Don Renk's "Hornet" comprise
the harder side of the collection, but none of them unleash
the kind of physicality that might parallel the music that
comes out on labels like V and Full-Cycle in the UK.
Dave Whalen's "Elastic Bass" sounds a lot like some of
the stuff that DJ Krust has been playing out, but that's
about it. This is not so much a dis as it is an indicator
the differences between London and Toronto hardcore.
There's an element in both scenes to rock the heavy-beat
pressure, but for some reason there's a balance between
sounds for the body and the mind on Metro Breaks.
J. Hayne's inventive beat-slicing on "Newmelt" and
Freedom's ethereal vocal dubs on "Pineangel" demonstrate
that in their individual ways. Again, this also comes back to
diversity. Kinder Atom embodies that to the fullest, with
the roots reggae sound clash featuring Michael Rose on
"Illegal" at the beginning of the disc, and the dreamy
vibes of "Mmmm…" at the end.
Prasad Bidaye - September 9th 1999
REVIEW REPRINTED FROM URBNET.COM
Various Artists - Metro Breaks 99: $$$$
Deeper Drum & Bass from Darkest Toronto
The second installment of Metro Breaks comes as a welcome
effort into the drum and bass scene. The collection of tracks
on this compilation complement the wide scope of sounds and
vibes of the genre.To be honest the depth and production
complexity of some of the tracks surprised me. There is a definite
improvement to the complexity and production. Michael Rose's
voice brings back haunting memories of Reggae sensation Luciano -
behind an Alex Reece style production. That's not to say that the
track isn't unique; the beats them roll. Not surprisingly, the tracks
that have longevity are created by those artists that have come
to create the Toronto D&B scene. Visionary, Dave Whalen
(producer profundo), Freedom, Don Renks, and a few others
are the producers making sure that this compilation stays on
Toronto's dark side. If anything pay special attention to "Rising",
"Elastic Bass", and "Tuesday" these tracks echo some of
the finer points of the latest d&b - including the moving wave
like acid bass line that is the de-rigeur of drum and bass production.
Hornet by Don Renks is a fun tune that has some dance floor
opportunity - the old style movie sample intro is worth two bits.
Freedom's "Pine Angel" - is characteristic of the rare
DJ who thinks in themes, building and breaking elements in
sequence. Simple, yet beautiful vocal samples and complex
drum and bass loops create an almost choral feel.
Metro Breaks 99 is the kind of recording effort that can only
help the drum and bass scene in Canada.
It is fine and dandy to play those amazing tracks from
across the continent - but let's start bringing in some
homegrown talent. There's my Cancon comment for the day.
[T h e B r o w n M o n k e y]
REVIEW REPRINTED FROM THE NATIONAL
CHART MAGAZINE sept 99
Various Artists Metro Breaks '99 (nice+smooth)
Subtitled "deeper drum & bass from darkest Toronto", this second
collection of jungle and breakbeat rhythms curated by the ubiquitous
nice+smooth studio crew presents a wide and well selected variety of
sound. Kicking off with the dubwise track "Illegal" recorded by
nice+smooth "house band" Kinder Atom in collaboration with legendary
reggae vocalist Michael Rose (Black Uhuru), the set touches on pretty
much every aspect and subgenre of the drum'n'bass spectrum, including
the Indian and jazz flavoured "It's On" by DOY (featuring well known
Toronto DJ Denise Benson), the skittering and sinister soundblast of
Transformantra's "Lover", the soulful grooves of "Pineangel" from
Freedom, the minimalist electronic approach taken by Jeff Haynes
on his track "Newmelt", and loads more besides. An all-round excellent
release that is not only superior to its predecessor, but solid enough to
hold its own against any other drum'n'bass comp on the racks,
Canadian or otherwise.
REVIEW REPRINTED FROM
THE ASYLUM - UK sept 99
Various - Metro Breaks (Nice & Smooth)
It's a word I've used before but this is a true showcase of the talent
that was until now "bubbling under" in Toronto, Canada. "Deeper drum
and bass" the LP's cover promises, and its an accurate description –
from the soulful vocals on the first track to the Good Looking-esque
calm of Pineangel and the brilliantly experimental bassline of Dave
Whelan. I'll admit that if I'd seen this on the shelf I would not have
been immediately drawn but this is an album packed with surprises
and a deafening wake-up call to the remaining few who believe the
only good d&b comes from the UK.
REVIEW REPRINTED FROM
WWW.TRIPLE-BYPASS.COM sept 99
Metro Breaks 99 is the second drum & bass compilation to be released by
Nice + Smooth and like the past oneit has some great tracks. For those
who have been unaware of the Nice + Smooth releases, the compilations
feature artists from the Toronto Metropolitan area in Ontario Canada.
Michael Rose + Kinder Atom, Visionary, DOY, Don Renks, Tigger,
Dave Whalen, Transformatra, J.Haynes, Lazar Nesic, Freedom and
Kinder Atom make up the artists featured on this new release.
There is a great selection of drum & bass styles, some with their own
unique sound while others may have been fueled by sounds reminiscent
of the chart topping producers that everyone love and respect.
I was glad to hear the jazzy styles of Lazar Nesic on the track,
"Sweet Victory" and the great vocal representation on Michael
Rose + Kinder Atom's track, "Illegal". It seems that a lot of the
great ragga style jungle has fallen off the face of the earth, so it is
very fresh to hear a song like "Illegal". One of the familiar names
on the compilation would be Freedom, whom has done some
extensive touring in the past 8 months, which brought her to our
neck of the woods. Freedom has shown that her DJ skills are only one
part of her arsenal when it comes to her involvement in the
drum & bass scene. - Heatattack
REVIEW REPRINTED FROM
www.drumandbass.de sept 99
Metro Breaks 99 (Metro Breaks Toronto) CD & 2x Vinyl
Eine Zusammenstellung verschiedener Interpreten aus
der 3-Millionen-Stadt Toronto, in der Drum&Bass teilweise
auf großen Raves zelebriert wird wie hierzulande in Mannheim.
Die Metro Breaks mit ihren DJ's Gerald Belanger und DJ Freedom
vertreten dabei auflegenderweise einen sehr tanzbaren Sound
mit einer gesunden Portion Darkness und Breaks der alten Schule.
Von der Produktionsseite her ist diese Compilation sehr abwech
slungsreich mit den verschiedenen Ansatzpunkten für Drum &
Bass gestaltet: dunkel, raggalastig, electroid oder jazzy, wobei
besonders der Visionary Track "Rising" ins Auge sticht. Visionary
haben u.a Releases auf dem Vorzeige-Label "Vinyl Syndicate" und
faszinieren mit schnellen, innovativen, präzisen Drums, gepaart
mit einer faszinierenden Mischung aus jazzigen Flächen mit böseren
Bässen und Sounds. Ein paar Tonnen leichter wirds bei Lazar Nestic,
der perfekte Chillout Track, Barjazz der neuesten Generation.
Athmosphärisch, tief und sicher mit am besten produziert ist
"mmmm" von Kinder Atom, hinter denen sich u.a. Labelchef
Belanger verbirgt. -tgm
WHAT REVIEWERS HAVE WRITTEN
ABOUT THE FIRST METRO BREAKS CD
Article reprinted from The LA WEEKLY - Aug 13/1998
Metro Breaks Tour with DJs Freedom and Gerald Belanger
at Atmosphere at the Viper Room Aug 18, Los Angeles
While the U.K. is credited with spearheading the drum 'n' bass
sound, Canada is the place where this vibrant musical style
first flourished. Back in '92, groundbreaking junglists from
England frequented Toronto's early raves, and it was only a
matter of time before the locals constructed their own
explosive, multi-elemental jungle grooves. Metro Breaks
(nice+smooth/Hypnotic) showcases the city's best turntable
talent, including tonight's two performers, DJ Freedom
(a.k.a. Amanda) and DJ-producer Gerald Belanger. Freedom
spends her time spinning soulful, R&B-laced drum 'n' bass
out in clubland (via her hometown residencies and around the
globe at special events like this; whereas Belanger, the creative
force behind electro-trip group Kinder Atom, makes his mark on
the dance floor and in the studio with atmospheric, ambient
recordings including the spacy Atomika and Super Nice
Hippy Pants (nice+smooth/Hypnotic).
This pair is known for inciting dance frenzies,
so prepare to sample a sonic slice from Toronto's
diverse electronic scene.
(LA Weekly/Lina Lecaro)
"Toronto is one of my favorite cities, and a place
which boasts one of the best underground music
scenes in North America. Drum n' bass has been
popular there for longer than just about anywhere
else except the UK… (METRO BREAKS) should satisfy
anyone looking for new music they haven't heard a
million times before…"
Andrew Rawnsley, Managing Editor
XLR8R Magazine, San Francisco
"A drum n' bass scene of surprising diversity."
(Metro Breaks listed in position #2 of monthly chart)
Mixmaster Morris, Mixmag UK,
"Canada is representin' large…Left all alone up in the
cold north has pushed these DJ's to brew up some
real fresh shit."
Vice Magazine, Montreal