Related Sections: Drum
and Bass - Bass
Guitar - Drums
music of the 1990s largely rejected the simple, jovial,
hedonistic approach to body movement that had ruled since
James Brown invented funk music in the 1960s. Disco-music
and techno/house had simply imported new technologies
(both for rhythm and arrangements) into the paradigm of
funk. The 1990s continued that process, but further removing
the "joy" of dancing from the beats, and, in
fact, replacing it with fits of acute neurosis. One of
the most important ideas to come out of Britain was "jungle"
or "drum'n'bass", a syncopated, polyrhythmic
and frantic variant of house, a fusion of hip-hop and
techno that relied on extremely fast drum-machines, epileptic
breakbeats and huge bass lines.
of jungle included, in the USA, Bug In The Bassbin (1989),
the rhythmic workout of Carl Craig's Innerzone Orchestra,
and, in Britain, Perfecto's Baz De Conga (1989). The experiments
of Plaig and Meat Beat Manifesto also laid the foundations
saw the light in 1992 in London with tracks such as Leakage
Trip's Psychotronic, Nebula II's Flatliners and Johnny
Jungle's Johnny, followed by Andy C's Valley Of The Shadows
(1993), Ed Rush's Bloodclot Attack (1993), Omni Trio's
Renegade Snares (1993), and especially LTJ Bukem's Music
(1993), which invented "ambient jungle". The
name originated from the London club that first promoted
the new style, the "Jungle". Jungle (the style)
spread like wildfire through other club venues, such as
"Roast, "Roller Express", "Telepathy",
"Desire", "A Way Of Life", "Jungle
Rush", "Jungle Fever", "Thunder And
Joy", "Thrust", etc. In 1994, the style
began to be called "drum'n'bass", and in 1995
Goldie turned it into a mass phenomenon. The London club
"Rage", thanks to disc-jockeys Fabio and Grooverider,
became the epicenter of drum'n'bass.
genres of popular music underwent so many changes and
reached such ambitious heights as jungle did. Within a
few years, jungle musicians were already composing abstract
and ambient pieces, integrating breakbeats with pop vocals,
adopting jazz improvisation.
golden era of drum'n'bass
Hero, the duo of Dego MacFarlane and Mark Mac, coined
a sort of "armchair jungle", a groundbreaking
marriage of fusion-jazz and ambient music that even employed
lush strings and free-form electronics, With the sci-fi
concept album Parallel Universe (1994) and with the ambitious
Two Pages (1998).
first star of jungle, Goldie, born Conrad Price, made
his name with the extended singles Terminator (1993) and
Timeless (1994), which were mini-symphonies of hardcore
techno, and the groundbreaking Timeless (1995), that used
breakbeats to construct atmospheric music. Thanks to his
skills at sound manipulation, he turned songwriting into
sound painting. And the hour-long composition Saturnzreturn
(1998) removed any boundaries to his studio explorations.
milestone for "ambient jungle" was the tour
de force of Waveform (1996), by T Power (Marc Royal).
Size, the leader of Bristol-based dj collective Reprazent
and one of the first "auteurs" of drum'n'bass,
blended jungle's breakbeats with live instruments and
singing on the monumental double disc New Forms (1997),
and reconciled dance music's suite format with the traditional
song format of pop/soul music.
musicians who merged drum'n'bass with jazz were Photek,
born Rupert Parkes, with Modus Operandi (1997), and James
Hardway (real name David Harrow), with Deeper Wider Smoother
additions to the drum'n'bass canon came from varius directions.
Fila Brazillia, the duo of Steve Cobby and Dave McSherry,
were perhaps the most adventurous in cross-fertilizing
different genres, particularly on their later albums,
such as Power Clown (1998) and A Touch Of Cloth (1999).
Adam Fenton's Colours (1997) was also an album of diverse
stylistic experiments. Boymerang (1), the new project
of former Bark Psychosis frontman Graham Sutton, sculpted
Balance Of The Force (Regal, 1997), a conceptual work
of art that straddled the boundaries between pop, jazz
and avantgarde. The imaginary soundtrack Exorcise The
Demons (1999) qualified Source Direct, i.e. veterans Jim
Baker and Phil Aslett, as jungle's equivalent of Barry
the meantime, new styles continued to emerge from London
clubs, such as "techstep" (a fast, brutal fusion
of techno and jungle probably invented by DJ Trace in
1994), "speedgarage" (mainly a production technique,
developed by Armand Van Helden in 1996, of huge breakbeats
and bass lines, which he himself defined as "a cross
between house and drum'n'bass"), "two-step garage"
(interplay of frantic breakbeats and velvety soul vocals,
emerging in 1997) and "drill'n'bass" (very fast
drum'n'bass). Garage music (only vaguely related to Larry
Levan's "garage" of the 1980s, and closer to
the style perfected by DJ Tony Humphries of New Jersey's
"Zanzibar" club) was refined by groups such
as the Dreem Teem and Tuff Jam, and began to climb the
British charts with Shanks & Bigfoot's Sweet Like
Chocolate (1999) and Dj Luck & Mc Neat's A Little
Bit of Luck (2000).
Panacea i.e. Mathias Mootz, borrowed elements from death-metal
and industrial music for the "drill'n'bass"
sound of Low Profile Darkness (1997).
Bisk, born Naohiro Fujikawa, introduced a very ornate,
baroque, manically-crafted style on albums such as Strange
Or Funny-haha (1997).
i.e. Alex Gifford and David Arnold, led "big beat",
the subgenre of drum'n'bass that assimilated tribal African
beats, with Decksandrumsandrockandroll (1998).
to ever more intricate beats and to free structures borrowed
from jazz, Jungle music rapidly became the foundations
for a new kind of avantgarde music, "conceptual jungle",
pursued by the most austere of the genre's visionaries.
Heel Jack, the project of John Coxon and Ashley Wales,
subverted the rules of ambient jungle with the symphonic
extravaganzas There Are Strings (1995) and especially
68 Million Shades (1996). The experiments with jazz and
minimalism of Busy Curious Thirsty (1997) blossomed on
Treader (1999), a wild excursion into 20th century classical
music. Most of its tracks sounded like symphonic poems:
lush, thematic orchestral narratives built out of samples,
loops and echoes. The jazz elements became predominant
with Disappeared (2000), a work that alternated calculated
geometry and Wagnerian intensity. Storming, Foetus-like
spasms crushed a steady flow of sonic debris, while elsewhere
melodic fragments morphed into alien structures. Masses
(2001) completed their conversion to avantgarde jazz with
a chamber concerto performed by the sensational ensemble
of Matthew Shipp (piano), Evan Parker and Tim Berne (saxophones),
Roy Campbell (trumpet), Daniel Carter (flute and saxophones),
Ed Coxon (violins), Mat Maneri (viola), William Parker
(bass). And Amassed (2002), featuring Han Bennink (drums),
Ed Coxon (violin), John Edwards (bass), Evan Parker (saxophone),
Paul Rutherford (trombone), Matthew Shipp (piano), Kenny
Wheeler (trumpet), and the "shoegazing" guitar
of Spiritualized's Jason Pierce, was one of the most exhilarating
stylistic orgies of modern jazz, straddling not one stylistic
border but pretty much all possible borders.
Jenkinson, better known as Squarepusher, coined a cubist
version of drum'n'bass on Hard Normal Daddy (1997): a
wild assembly of manic breakbeats, spirited electronica
and disjointed samples concocted a whirling cacophony
a` la Morton Subotnick. Visceral intensity and impeccable
fluidity coexisted and enhanced each other. If that was
cubism, then Go Plastic (2001) was surrealism: placated
his "punk" spirit, Jenkinson indulged in distorted
structures and nightmarish patterns.
Amon Tobin well impersonated the classical composer in
the hip-hop age. Instead of composing symphonies for orchestras,
Tobin glued together sonic snippets using electronic and
digital equipment. Adventures in Foam (1996), released
under the moniker Cujo, and especially his aesthetic manifesto
and masterpiece, Bricolage (1997), unified classical,
jazz, rock and dance music in a genre and style that was
universal. Tobin warped the distinctive timbres of instruments
to produce new kinds of instruments, and then wove them
into an organic flow of sound. Tobin kept refining his
art of producing amazingly sophisticated and seamless
puzzles on Permutation (1998), Supermodified (2000) and,
best of his second phase, Out From Out Where (2002). In
effect, Tobin carried out several philosophical debates
at once (e.g., on the irrelevance of the message, on the
irrelevance of time), while entertaining his audience
with catchy numbers of an extra-terrestrial music hall.
Tobin was debating on the meaning of music itself, on
the nature of composition, on the viability of communication,
on the ultimate constituents of sound. His neglect for
form was a new kind of form, a form that had reduced form
to the annihilation of form. The dualism of content versus
form was resolved by the post-modernists as a non-issue:
Tobin redefined it as a process, a process of form-abatement
by which content is created, as if content and form were
the same substance, and more of one meant less of the
Elliot's Third Eye Foundation evolved from the atmospheric
blend of guitar textures and jungle breakbeats of Semtex
(1995) to the sample-based disorienting puzzles of Ghost
(1997) and especially You Guys Kill Me (1998).
Science, the project of disc-jockey Jon Tye, was to techno
what Sonic Youth were to rock'n'roll: a scaffolding of
hard-core techno was brutalized by layers of abrasive
electronica, distorted hip-hop beats, jungle polyrhythms
and industrial cacophony on Blown (1997).
born John Roome, contaminated drum'n'bass with gothic,
techno, industrial, dub and ambient music on Explorimenting
the brainchild of clarinet player and studio wizard David
Kosten, fused chamber music, industrial techno and free-form
noise on the melancholy multi-part sonatas of Closer Colder
(Tom Withers) indulged in intricate and psychotic arrangements
on Casual Bodies (1998).
Parker, a classically trained cellist, a disc jockey and
an electronic composer with a penchant for analog synthesizers,
mixed string orchestrations, hip-hop beats and heavy bass
to create the highly seductive music of Kiss My Arp (1999).
the project of female electronic dance musician Riz Maslen,
offered a dreamy, deconstructed version of trip-hop and
drum'n'bass on 15 Levels Of Magnification (1996), although
the tracks floated weightless (and beat-less) in the fragile,
haunting electronic soundscapes of La Prochaine Foix (2001).
the London-based duo of Ollie Bown and Sam Britton, dislocated
beats and melodies on Fijaka (1998) while adopting a digital
and minimalist aesthetics that would lead to pieces such
as Three False Starts, off I Tweet the Birdy Electric
(2004), at the border between ambient, jazz, concrete
and glitch music.
York's progressive jungle
came to the US in the second half of the decade, thanks
to British expatriates such as DJ Dara Gilfoyle, sculptor
of the cerebral, sinister, post-industrial soundscapes
of Rinsimus Maximus (1997). New York became the main center
for American jungle. We (1) demolished the cliches of
dub, trip-hop, drum'n'bass and jazz on As Is (1997). Datach'i
(2), Joseph Fraioli's brainchild, spun the chaotic high-speed
digital novelties of 10110101 (1999) and the hyper-kinetic
pandemonium of We Are Always Well Thank You (2000). Dylan
Group (2), i.e. percussionist Adam Pierce and dj Dylan
Cristy, retooled drum'n'bass for the post-rock generation
with the jazzy, vibraphone-driven It's All About (1997)
and the more relaxed More Adventures In Lying Down (1999),
even expanding into progressive-rock with Ur-Klang Search
(2000). Dylan Group's multi-instrumentalist Adam Pierce
also had his own project, Mice Parade (1), that was even
more adventurous on The Meaning Of Boodley Baye (1998)
and on the the symphonic Ramda (1999), a dazzling take
on dub, jazz and techno.
musicians of the New York school created such bold experiments
that the term "progressive jungle" was more
the same time, New York was home to the "Illbient"
Miller, better known as DJ Spooky (4), the star of the
Illbient movement, opted for a chaotic flow of rhythmic
and non-rhytmic electronic sounds that harked back to
Italian futurism and to electronic-music pioneers such
as Morton Subotnick and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Songs Of
A Dead Dreamer (1996) explored the least visited interstices
of genres such as ambient, dub, electronica, trip hop,
drum'n'bass. The tracks Riddim Warfare (1998) were not
so much dance grooves as catalogs of sound effects that
turned drum'n'bass into an electronic symphony. His most
ambitious work, Viral Sonata (1998), credited to Paul
D. Miller, was an amorphous aural architecture that evoked
a post-apocalypse wasteland roamed by ghosts. File Under
Futurism (1999) was chamber electronic music. Optometry
(2002), performed by the quartet of pianist Matthew Shipp,
bassist William Parker, saxophonist Joe McPhee and drummer
Guillermo Brown, was one of the works that blurred the
line between live and sampled jazz music.
Illbient disease contaminated even avantgarde composer
Bob Neill, a former member of La Monte Young's ensemble,
who collaborated with DJ Spooky and DJ Olive on Triptycal
Los Angeles, Medicine's guitarist/keyboardist Brad Laner
used the moniker Electric Company to carry out a study
in deconstruction of drum'n'bass as Kraftwerk would have
done it, Studio City (1997).
Francisco-based disc-jockey Jhno (John Eichenseer) offered
a bold fusion of ethnic, ambient, jazz and techno music
on Understand (1995), while Kwno (1998) mixed drum'n'bass
and computer-generated improvisation and Membrane (2000)
focused on inventing a new vocabulary of irregular rhythms
and eerie soundscapes.
n Bass is fast rhythmic music influenced by hardcore,
techno, reggae and hip-hop, characterized by very low
bass lines and complex percussion breaks (see break noun
12). Also (popularly) called jungle.
and bass (drum n bass, DnB) is an electronic music style.
Originally an offshoot of the United Kingdom breakbeat
hardcore and rave scene, it came into existence when people
mixed reggae basslines with sped-up hip hop breakbeats.
Pioneers such as Fabio, Grooverider, Andy C, Roni Size,
DJ SS, Brockie, Mickey Finn, Kenny Ken, Goldie and other
DJs quickly became the stars of drum and bass, then still
is no universally accepted semantic distinction between
the terms "jungle" and "drum and bass".
Some associate "jungle" with older material
from the first half of the 1990s, and see drum and bass
as essentially succeeding jungle with the newer, post-techstep
developments. Others use jungle as a shorthand for ragga
jungle, a specific sub-genre within the broader realm
of drum and bass. In the USA, the combined term "Jungle
Drum and Bass" (JDB) has some popularity, but is
not widespread elsewhere. Probably the widest held viewpoint
is that the terms are simply synonymous and interchangeable:
drum and bass is jungle, and jungle is drum and bass.
in the UK
jungle (music) was an offshoot of rave (US readers may
think of this as techno music but "rave" is
very different from the stripped down Detroit "techno"
sound) music (colloquially known as 'hardcore', as played
by Spiral Tribe) that focused on the breakbeat. As stated
previously it mixed basslines from dub tracks with fast
hiphop breakbeats during the very late 80's as rave and
ecstacy culture blossomed in the UK. As a more and more
bass-heavy and uptempo sound developed, jungle began to
develop its own separate identity. After being further
developed by a number of pioneering producers, the sound
took on a very urban, raggamuffin sound, incorporating
dancehall "ragga" style mc chants, dub basslines,
but also increasingly complex, high tempo rapid fire breakbeat
percussion. By 1995, a counter movement to the ragga style
was emerging, dubbed "intelligent" jungle, and
was embodied by LTJ Bukem and his Good Looking label.
Some say that the move to intelligent jungle was a conscious
and concerted reaction by top DJs and producers against
a culture that was becoming tinged with "gangsta"
and violent elements. Intelligent jungle maintained the
uptempo breakbeat percussion, but focused on more atmospheric
sounds and warm, deep basslines over rough vocals or samples.
heroes of dnb music include A Guy Called Gerald (seminal
track "28 Gun Bad Boy") and 4hero ("Mr
Kirk's Nightmare") who later developed their own
styles, leaving the drum and bass mainstream. However
most of the early producers and djs still produce and
play, a decade on, forming a jungle old guard. Another
characteristic of drum and bass music is that most producers
dj and most djs produce.
to drum and bass
the same time that intelligent jungle appeared, the ragga
jungle sound mutated into a more stripped down hard percussive
style, Hardstep, and its more hiphop and funk influenced
sister style Jump-Up (exemplified by artists like Mickey
Finn and Aphrodite with their Urban Takeover label, and
the Ganja Kru's True Playaz label), while other artists
pushed a smoother, dubby style of tune, referred to as
1996, Hardstep and JumpUp sounds were popular in the clubs,
while Intelligent jungle was pushing a sound more accessible
to the home listener. Stylistically things kept getting
more and more diverse, as well as crossbreeding with other
styles of jungle. In 1997, a funky, double-bass oriented
sound came to the forefront, and gained some mainstream
success with Roni Size Reprazent's New Forms album winning
the UK's Mercury Prize.
birth of techstep
the other end of the spectrum, a new dark, technical sound
in drum and bass was gaining popularity, championed by
the labels Emotif and No U-Turn, and artists like Trace,
Ed Rush and Optical, and Dom and Roland, and commonly
referred to as techstep. Techstep took new sounds and
technologies and applied them to jungle. It is characterized
by sinister or science-fiction atmospherics and themes,
cold and complex percussion, and dark basslines.
the 1990s drew to a close, techstep came to dominate the
drum and bass genre, with artists like Konflict and Bad
Company amongst the most visible. Techstep was becoming
more minimal, and increasingly dark in tone, and the funky,
commercial appeal represented by Roni Size back in 1997
was waning. By 2000, there was an increasing movement
to "bring the fun back into drum and bass".
There was a new revival of rave-oriented sounds, as well
as remixes of classic jungle tunes that brought things
full circle back to the origins.
2000, the scene has become very diverse, to the point
where it is difficult to point to any one form as dominant.
2000, Fabio began championing a form he called Liquid
funk, with a compilation release of the same name on his
Creative Source label. This was characterised by influences
from disco and house, and widespread use of vocals. Although
slow to catch on at first, the style grew massively in
popularity around 2003-2004, and by 2005 it was established
as one of the biggest-selling subgenres in drumnbass,
with labels like Hospital Records and Soul:R and artists
including High Contrast, Calibre, Nu:Tone, Marcus Intalex
and Logistics among its main proponents.
decade also saw the revival of Jump-Up. Referred to as
"Nu Jump Up", or pejoratively as Clownstep,
this kept the sense of fun and the simplistic, bouncing
basslines from the first generation of Jump Up, but with
tougher, harder production values. Prominent Nu Jump Up
artists include Twisted Individual, Generation Dub, and
figures for 2004 suggest that liquid funk and Nu Jump
Up combined probably account for a significant majority
of the drum and bass market.
period also saw the rise of Dubwise in popularity. Although
the dub-influenced sound was not new, having long been
championed by artists like Digital and Spirit, 2003-2004
saw a significant increase in its popularity and visibility,
with new artists like Amit at the forefront.
whilst there has long been a niche dedicated almost entirely
to detailed drum programming and manipulation, championed
by the likes of Paradox, the first half of this decade
saw a revival and expansion in the subgenre known variously
as Drumfunk, "Edits", or "Choppage".
Major labels include Inperspective and the new wave of
artists in this style include Fanu, Breakage, and Fracture
new millennium also saw a fresh wave of live drum and
bass bands. The likes of Reprazent and Red Snapper had
performed live drum and bass during the 1990s, but the
re-creation of London Elektricity as a live band focussed
renewed interest on the idea, with acts like The Bays
and Ultra-Violet pursuing this avenue.
global scene in 2005
other major development largely occurring since the turn
of the millennium is geographical: from firmly UK-orientated
beginnings, drum and bass has firmly established itself
worldwide. There are strong scenes in other English-speaking
countries including the USA (home to Dieselboy, Hive),
Canada (Ben Sage, John Rolodex), Australia (Pendulum),
New Zealand (Concord Dawn) and South Africa (Counterstrike).
It is popular across Europe, especially in Benelux (home
to Black Sun Empire, Noisia), Germany (Typecell, Simon
V, Panacea), Scandinavia (Teebee, Polar, Future Prophecies,
Rawthang), Hungary (Tactile) and into Poland Ostro, Croatia
(Lekke, Gekko) and Russia (Paul B, Prode, Subwave, Sunchase).
It is also popular in South America, with DJ Marky and
XRS hailing from Brazil. São Paulo is sometimes
called the drum and bass Ibiza. Brazilian drum and bass
is sometimes called Sambass.
of drum and bass
are many views of what constitutes "real" drum
and bass as it has many scenes and styles within it, from
heavy pounding bass lines to the relaxed vibes of Liquid
funk. It has been compared with jazz where the listener
can get very different sounding music all coming under
the same music genre, because like drum and bass, it is
more of an approach, or a tradition, than a style. As
such, therefore, it is difficult to precisely define;
however, the following key features may be observed.
breakbeat is what loosely speaking defines the music as
drum and bass. A breakbeat, musically speaking, is characterised
by an element of syncopation, in contrast to the straight
4-beat found in techno, trance and house.
breakbeats are directly sampled or are produced from drum
fills found in old soul and funk records. However, since
the mid-nineties, many producers use 2-step or other break
beats programmed from individual drum samples that emulate
the sampled funk breaks, but are often starker and heavier
sounding. It is also common to create drum tracks using
a combination of both techniques.
common breakbeats used within drum and bass include:
The "Amen Break", by The Winstons (and its descendant,
* Cold Sweat, Tighten Up and the "funky drummer",
by James Brown
* Think, by Lyn Collins
* Apache, by the Incredible Bongo Band
* Assembly Line, by The Commodores
and bass is usually between 160-180 BPM, in contrast to
other forms of Breakbeat such as Nu skool breaks which
maintain a slower pace at around 130-140 BPM. A general
upward trend in tempo has been observed during the evolution
of drum and bass. The earliest Old School rave and breakbeat-descended
jungle was around 155-165 BPM, whilst 21st Century material
rarely falls below 170BPM, and often hits 180BPM.
importance of drum and bassline elements
name "drum and bass" should not lead to the
assumption that tracks are constructed solely from these
elements. Nevertheless, they are far and away the most
critical features, and usually dominate the mix of a track.
The genre places great importance on deep sub-bass which
is felt physically as much as it is heard. There has also
been considerable exploration of different timbres in
the bassline region, particularly within techstep.
the most part, drum and bass is a form of dance music,
designed to be heard in clubs. It exhibits a full frequency
response and physicality which often simply cannot be
fully appreciated on home listening equipment. As befits
its name, the bass element of the music is particularly
pronounced, with the comparitively sparse arrangments
of Drum and bass tracks allowing room for basslines that
are deeper than most other forms of dance music. Consequently,
special sound equipment is needed to fully appreciate
Drum and Bass, and nights are often advertised as featuring
uncommonly loud and bass-heavy systems.
and bass is therefore typically heard via a DJ. Because
most tracks are designed to be mixed by a DJ, their structure
typically reflects this, with intro and outro sections
designed for a DJ to use while beat-matching, rather than
being designed to be heard in entirety by the listener.
The DJ typically mixes between records so as not to lose
the continuous beat. This is often referred to as the
"mix and blend" style of DJing. In addition,
the DJ may employ hip-hop style "scratching","
"double-drops" (where two tracks are synchronized
such that both tracks drop at the same time), and "rewinds."
mixing points begin or end with the "drop".
The drop is the point in a track where a switch of rhythm
or bassline occurs and usually follows a recognisable
build section and "breakdown". Frequently the
drop is used to switch between tracks, layering components
of different tunes. Some drops are so popular that the
DJ will "rewind" or "reload" by spinning
the record back and restarting it at the build. This is
a technique which can easily be overused as it breaks
the continuity of a set. DJs are typically accompanied
by one or more MCs, drawing on the genre's roots in Hip
hop and Reggae/Ragga.