Here's what the critics have to say:
Oscillate - The Best in Drum and bass
Oscillate ist ein passender Titel für diese von Labelchef Gerald Belanger zusammengemixte Compilation kanadischer Drum-and-Bass-Tracks, denn es gibt für diese Szene nicht die resolute Festlegung auf einen Style, sondern sehr starke und deepe House-Einflüsse neben harten kompromisslosen Bassmonster-Ideen wie man sie in Amerika so liebt, ohne dass man sich auf eins festlegen wollte. Mal klingen die Tracks wie z.B. "Feel It" von Visionary, ein wenig wie Bassbin oder Skunkrock, mal trällern sie in einem darken Background mit einer sehr sympathischen Popstimme herum, wie Dynasty feat. Sunya (was einen an J.Majik erinnern könnte), oder sie steppen einfach in diesem Soulstil von Marcus Intalex herum. Und alles klingt sehr fett und rockend und so, als würde man gerne mehr davon als Vinyl hierzulande rumschwirren sehen.
#1 - Visionary feat. Sol Azul "Sola Bossa"
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!
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!
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. -RA
A driving blend of atmospheric drum & bass that builds, breaks, drifts, dips and progressively moves your spirit even higher into grooving levels. Out-of-control beats with trip-hop breakdowns and dark, hard basslines with layered guitar and metallic pings flow smoothly as Classic Man helps you to "Expand (Alter Ego Mix)." Just when you think there is no way the tempo could increase, HandOver Fist & Clynt B drive you through the outer stratosphere with the sonic sound of "Emergency Exit." Every track seamlessly mixed as one beautifully moving journey, never letting the listener rest a moment. Smooth and jazzy synthetic textures "Break Fu" as John Black vs. Transformer deliver smooth sounds and a hauntingly good bassline, like the deep pulse of a warehouse party. As the journey comes to an end, the beats are dropped down slow, hip-hop beats, 1930's drifting horns, the sound of swing and "Black Flowers" are visually created by the musical tones of Aureola. Life is good. Get this disk and drift into the blissful sound of Freedom. Wunjo 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. -Rusty
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. -Venk Chandran
To The Next Level
DJ Amanda 'Freedom' Lachapelle hasn't cut
home ties - Toronto Star
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 underground. 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 sampling. 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
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
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 movement.
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.
REVIEW REPRINTED FROM URBNET.COM
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.
REVIEW REPRINTED FROM THE NATIONAL CHART MAGAZINE
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
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
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
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.
"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…"
"A drum n' bass scene of surprising diversity."
"Canada is representin' large…Left all alone up in the cold north has pushed these DJ's to brew up some
real fresh shit."