Throwback Thursdays Drum and Bass

Techstep, Drill ‘n’ Bass & Intelligent Jungle
In the mid-90’s as Hardcore and Ragga Jungle started to plateau, newer innovations to the Drum & Bass sound were beginning to emerge. Never in the history of music has technology played such a central role in the evolution of a sound as it does in electronic music and nowhere is that more evident than in Drum & Bass. As with most sub-genres, Drum & Bass went through an identity crisis as producers, armed with more sophisticated production software, were looking for ways to put there own spin on the sound. The end result would be something very unique, and in some cases produced sound that was almost indistinguishable from the original.

With it’s moodier sound, with an emphasis on synthetic noises, Techstep took the template and added a healthly dose of dystopian sci-fi. The stripped-back sound and rigid drum-machine rhythm was devoid of any Dancehall, Soul or R&B elements, which led some to call the sound too clinical. As the artists who coined the term, Ed Rush and Trace were the primary architects of the sound. Other prominent Techstep artists include Ed Rush & Optical, Nico, Fierce, Teebee, Dom & Roland, Doc Scott and Technical Itch. But Techstep was just one of the new permutations of Drum & Bass at this time.

Ed Rush – The Raven

Drill-n-Bass / Intelligent Jungle
Drill-n-Bass, and it’s more mellow art school cousin Intelligent Jungle, aimed to take the bass-heavy sound to a whole different place. As a sound that was propagated largely by artists who are associated with IDM (Intelligent Dance Music), Drill-n-Bass was, according to All Sound, “a spastic form of breakbeat jungle that relied on powerful audio software and patient programming to warp old mid-tempo beats and breaks into a frenzied, experimental potpourri of low-attention-span electronic music.” In terms of origins, Aphex Twin and Squarepusher were earliest of this group in the mid-90’s to adapt this extreme production, but there were other artists such as Luke Vibert (as Plug), µ-Ziq, Venetian Snares and Kid606 who carried the torch for this deconstructed form of Drum & Bass. Intelligent Jungle, on the other hand, was the less frenetic, but was just as much of a departure from the Ragga sound.

AFX (Aphex Twin) – Hangable Auto Bulb

Squarepusher- Squarepusher Theme

Kid606 – The Illness

Atmospheric. Ambient. Intelligent. Jazzstep.
There were a lot of adjectives and opinions about what this strain of Drum & Bass was supposed to be called. There were as many different varients in tone and style on this spectrum as there were artists, but generally these artists were considered Intelligent Jungle. Characterized by the sweeping and smooth ambient quality of sound layered with rough and tumble breakbeats and bass sounds, this strain of Drum & Bass was the Chill Out zone. Goldie, LTJ Bukem, Roni Size, Alex Reece, Photek and A Guy Called Gerald lead a group of producers who were prominent names releasing this style.

The mid-90’s showed a shift in Hardcore and Drum & Bass, with more atmospheric sounds, frenetic energy and further technical innovation that would influence producers well into the 2000’s. In the mid-2000’s we start to see yet another leap in the evolutionary progress of Drum & Bass in the form of Grime, 2step and Dubstep, which we’ll talk about more next week in the 3rd and final installment of our Throwback Thursdays history of Drum & Bass.

Alex Reece – Basic Principles

A Guy Called Gerald ‎– Black Secret Technology LP

Roni Size – It’s Jazzy

Goldie – Innercity Life

Photek – The Hidden Camera


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