[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]

Drum and bass

Related: electronic dance music - jungle - UK music

Before drum'n' bass was called drum'n' bass, it was called jungle.


Drum and bass (drum n bass, DnB) is an electronic music style. Drum and bass, originally an offshoot of the United Kingdom breakbeat hardcore and rave scene, came into existence when people mixed reggae basslines with sped-up hip hop breakbeats and influences from techno. Pioneers such as raggamuffin DJ General Levy and other DJs quickly became the stars of Drum and bass, then still called jungle. Producers such as Goldie and 4 Hero transformed the current art and turned drum and bass in more instrumental direction, spawning sub-genres like techstep and moving the genre closer to techno. Some of the more popular and defining artists include Shy FX, Ed Rush & Optical, LTJ Bukem, Goldie, and Roni Size. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drum_and_bass


Based almost entirely in England, Drum'n'Bass (then called 'jungle') emerged in the early '90s. It is one of the most rhythmically complex of all forms of dance music, relying on extremely fast polyrhythms and breakbeats. Usually, it's entirely instrumental consisting of nothing but fast drum machines and deep bass.
As its name implies, jungle does have more overt reggae, dub, and R&B influences than most hardcore and that is why some critics claimed that the music was the sound of black techno musicians and DJs reclaiming it from the white musicians and DJs who dominated the hardcore scene. Nevertheless, jungle never slows down to develop a groove it just speeds along. Like most dance music genres, jungle is primarily a 'twelve inch' genre designed for a small, dedicated audience, although the crossover success of Goldie and his 1995 debut Timeless suggested a broader appeal.
Dozens of respected artists started fusing breakbeats with influences lifted from jazz, film music, ambient, and trip-hop. -- allmusic.com

Carl Craig

Take Innerzone Orchestra's percussive masterpiece "Bug In The Bassbin" for example. In 1995 as drum'n'bass hit the musical headlines, even Goldie was declaring that "Bug..." was a seminal influence on the music's development.

A History

What is now a complex mixture of influences and genres began from humble roots in the UK. Though many debate the original drum & bass record, it was a combination of Lenny De Ice's "We are ie" and the late 1989 Perfecto release 'Baz De Conga' which pioneered the movement. The cut was an amalgamation of ideas and sounds, combining the sax drop from "Monkey Say, Monkey Do" with Steel City bleeps and a gospel vocal lift. What producer Steve Bicknell brought to the cut however was attitude - the whole mix powered by a tumbling sub roll, clattering breakbeats and an unrelenting synth strike.

Wherever people sought their influence, what followed was a snowballing of interest within this new form of UK sourced dance music. London at the time was a flurry of activity as labels, shops and clubs grew, this fire fuelled by an ever expanding pirate movement. Although the formation of labels such as Mendoza and Reinforced in the spring of 1990 gave direction, as late as the closing stages of 1991 the music was being played back to back with other forms of dance music.

This wasn't to last however, as the months rolled on the tempo spiralled and the music moved further and further from its house roots, each producer developing a style of their own.

The music made a distinct split during 1992. The early months of the year saw the formation of Moving Shadow, who released Earth Leakage Trip's "Psychotronic EP" to critical acclaim, a breath of fresh air in the more dancefloor orientated releases of Sub Base, Ibiza and Sound Of The Underground, who were continuing on the rhythm based club cuts.

Nebula II's "Flatliners", typified the darkside sound of 92/93, menacing and unforgiving the sounds borrowed from Belgium techno wreaked havoc to the groove. Leeroy Small's Leicester based Formation at the forefront of this digression through the Dark & Moody series, the tempo again the deciding factor as it creept from the lower regions of 140 beats per minute all the way through to 170.

Two cuts turned around a darkside which had become somewhat overburdened with a cartoon horror film dynamic. Goldie's "Terminator" and a little known white stamped only as "Tic Tac Toe", the white bringing a new maturity to the sound, while Goldie brought the technical mechanics. His work at Reinforced, in addition to his legendary personality and enthusiasm for the music led to him becoming one of the first producers to sign for a major.

From this point the music continued to splinter, 1993 saw LTJ Bukem establish Good Looking Records. Although most quote "Music" as pioneer of d&b's more musical form, it was his earlier work "Demon's Theme" which laid out the framework for what later became known as ambient or intelligent drum & bass. What Bukem in fact pioneered was in fact neither ambient nor intelligent, moreover a more structured approach to the d&b production, which concentrated less on the percussives and more around the atmospheres of the track.

This increasing maturity became more evident through the work of Rupert Parkes, although 1994 had brought a number of releases for both Good Looking and Ipswich's Certificate 18 label it was on the establishment of his own Photek label, that his tracks truly began to charter new territory - his records unlike anything before or since - sub-orbital atmospherics caught in a mesh of beats and occasional bass pulses.

1994 also saw the advent of the drum & bass longplayer by way of the groundbreaking "Parallel Universe" from 4 Hero, a double album of pure abstract, bringing vocals and the first echoes of jazz to drum & bass. Marc Mac & Dego's technical prowess leaving most breathless - seventy minutes bringing more new breaks than had been used in the music within the last six months in addition to a number of new techniques one of which, filtering, has made an indelible impression on the way beat programming has been carried out since. This discovery and integration of jazz became a turning point for the music, these elements cropping up within a number of releases, perhaps most notably in Blame & Justice's "Icons" project released on Justice's own "Modern Urban Jazz" label as well as showing its head through D*Notes seminal "Criminal Justice" longplayer.

Bristol made an indelible impression both through a multitude of labels, Full Cycle stable and Brian G's London based V imprint leading the charge - releasing a wealth of tracks, responsible for bringing through artists such as Size, Krust, Die, Flynn & Flora and Bill Riley - who integrated jazz, dub and smokey trip hop elements into a whole new form.

1995 brought Techstep took its name from a compilation LP release by East Londons Emotif Recordings, though is widely hailed as the product of DJ Trace who, in conjunction with Nico from the No U Turn label and Grooverider's Prototype brought a new sound to the long-forgetton darkside. Releases such as Blame's "Planet Neptune" and Source Direct's "Snake Style", though based more within the technological side of the movement, influenced techstep's direction and sound - which continues to launch careers two years on.

1997 sees a number of developments in d&b's continuing expansion. The second wave of artists longplayers for majors are starting to appear - albums from 4 Hero, DJ Krust, Adam F, Goldie, Source Direct and Dillinjah are expected before the year is out, while many already released (Photek's "Modus Operandi" and "New Forms" from Full Cycle collective Reprazent) are receiving critical acclaim. In addition to this the work of labels such as Good Looking and James Lavelle's Mo' Wax are working at bringing d&b artists to instrumental hip hop and vice versa, while tours of the US and Japan by most major dj's in addition to clubs and pirates surfacing in most of the UK's towns and cities spread the word.

-- originally written in 1997 by VN's Kingsley Marshall


The Armand Van Helden remix of CJ Bolland's "Sugar is Sweeter" defined the whole [speed garage] sound with that huge breakdown and massive bass-line. He was the first one to really come up with any sort of formula for the music.

Armand, "For me when I first started to make speedgarage, I didn't term it as speedgarage. I'd been into drum and bass for years. The scenario was, I'm not gonna try and make speed garage , I'm gonna take it and put it with house and see what happens. That's all it is, that's the birth of Speedgarage."

One of these people doing it well is New Jersey based producer Todd Edwards. Van Helden cites Edwards as the best of the "other side" of Speedgarage, that of tight beats with an underlying garage influence. This style is most evident on Edwards' single "Dancing for Heaven". [...]

A History

BREAKBEAT Glory - What's The Story? Is there a year zero with clearly mapped co-ordinates for the beginning of jungle? When did we first fall in love with subsonic bass, breakbeats and digital creation? You can trace the raw concepts back to Meat Beat Manifesto's 'Radio Babylon' or DJ Kool Herc's pre-hip hop invention of breakbeats. Perhaps you prefer to root the whole thing in 'Amen Brother' by The Winstons or 'Think' by Lyn Collins - the two tracks that spawned drum n' basses favourite drum breaks. You can wait until after acid house then travel through the drug/technology interface into acid, rave and the well documented waves of hardcore, artcore, Bukem, techstep and darkcore again. Beyond this there is no clear history, just endless rogue production units swapping names, sounds and identities like militia working black ops both in and out of ever-evolving micro-genres.

Some say Fabio and Grooverider are the story of drum n' bass yet current darkstar Ed Rush was turned onto the scene after checking Spiral Tribe play hardcore while the derided ragga-units worked inside a loop of producers cutting tunes for the pirates where new sound spread across the airwaves. At the moment ideas move simultaneously underground and overground, fresh sonics coming off leading DJs' dubplates, baby label headz signing to majors, new crews appearing all over Europe and US or the efforts of Bowie and Everything But The Girl to communicate/emasculate drum n' bass for the global mainstream.

Drum n' bass is control versus chaos: hi-fi-sci-fi beat programmes that expand and contract, roll and squeeze, rinse out and explode to generate physical abandon on the floors. Some people reckon Fabio, Groove, Doc Scott and Goldie (Cleveland Watkiss introduced him with "the Goldicus has landed" on the mic at a recent Metalheadz) control drum n' bass but no one posse can hold onto the sound for long. Teddy Riley's started cutting breaks, James Lavelle and Coldcut's Ninja Tune reintegrate the sound into old skool/nu skool breakz culture while everyone from the acid jazz, ambient and gabber crews is claiming and making a version of drum n' bass for themselves. Is drum n' bass the music of the aftermath or just the music of now? Years after rave's chemical countdown pushed new sounds into being drum n' bass functions both in the comedown for older soldiers while all over the planet fresh kids take it as their sound of choice. Drum n' bass is old and new, drugged and clean, veteran and fresh, black and white, pop and underground, ambient and hardcore, ever-expanding, changing, mutating, rolling and moving. Destination unknown. - author unknown

A History

History of Jungle / Drum & Bass - Unknown author 1998

Breakbeat was an underground music which had originally come in from the USA in the late 1970s. Frankie Bones, at his early DJ-ing stage had created breakbeat irregular music, whereby he had overlapped two same records on turn-table decks at slightly different speeds and slightly delayed. This would create asynchronous beat, which would drive the crowd crazy. His track named "Bones Breaks" was a pioneer if not discovererof breakbeat which has remained strictly underground since. In the late 80s, house scene erupted in UK, especially in London. As house scene had progressed, the ecstasy rave culture had emerged from the youth, suppressing the football hooliganism. House from one side and breakbeat from the other side had created a combination, which later led to production of what was called jungle and what is now called drum & bass.

It was around 1990, when jungle started emerging from the general dance scene. Kickin' and Shut up & Dance record labels started fusing breakbeat, house, hip-hop, reggae, techno and most importantly dub to produce what they called Jungle. In fact the name originates from one of the experimental clubs in London, called "Jungle" where the first fusion experiments were played. The term "jungle", though, had remained in the underground until 1993.

DJ Hype creates breakbeat feeling by mixing house and hip hop at 45 rpm on Phantasy FM. Later co-produces some of the first jungle tracks under the name The Scientist, with the tracks like "Excorcist" and "The Bee". Telepathy - one of the first hardcore jungle clubs kick starts in November. Mickey Finn creates the track Bionic Man, which uses the same idea as the Excorcist. 1992 was the year when the hardcore music was peaking.

Jungle was often confused with hardcore, which was quite similar at the time, but was directed more towards 4/4 base beat, rather than looped asynchronous rhythm. Jungle had just made its way to a larger audience, while hardcore was a total novice to the dance scene. Both jungle and hardcore were played at the same raves and sometimes the artists didn't even know whether the track they made was jungle or hardcore. Both of the styles were co-existing under one roof and so there was no separate jungle scene.

Johnny Jungle (today known as Pascal) had released a hit called "Johnny" which was a beginning of the new era. Johnny L created "Hurt You So" on XL recordgins, which highlighted the breaks out of the hardcore formula. 4Hero, LTJ Bukem, Grooverider, DJ Hype and other future jungle producers started heading in the new breaks direction. The true jungle was ahead.

1993 was the end of confusion. Hardcore and the twin brother happy hardcore moved towards a more progressive rhythm, while Jungle remained on the breakbeat side. Though still reminiscent of 1992, artists such as Wax Doctor, headed the darker bassline sounds. At that point, jungle had finally gained its own identity - dedicated club venues such as Roast, Roller Express, Telepathy and Desire start operating on a weekly basis. Andy C comes up with the "Valley Of The Shadows" - the timeless jungle hit. Ed Rush throws the darkcore "Bloodclot Attack" while LTJ Bukem rolls out the ambient "Music". It was, not to understate, Moving Shadow's year. Artists such as Omni Trio stormed the jungle scene with the "Renegade Snares" and Foul Play remixed it even better, leaving it in our minds forever. As the producers moved away from hardcore towards breakbeat, their technical skills grew, which had relieved jungle of the ordinary mockery of the speeded up vocals.

1994 was the peak of Jungle. The clubs such as AWOL (A Way Of Life), Jungle Rush, Jungle Fever, Thunder And Joy, Roast and Thrust were spinning jungle on full. This year, jungle was most influenced by ragga basslines and rasta vocals. This was a revitalised year of jungle rave madness. Dream Team (Bizzy B. and DJ Pugwash) came up with the track "Yeah Man" which remained on the pirate stations for another 4 months. DJ Hype along with DJ Zinc and Pascal created an label called Ganja, which later became one of the major labels on the scene.

The number of jungle pirate stations had enormously increased. Kool FM pirate station was the main source of jungle refreshment to the crowd. Although raided more than 5 times, it still kept going strong. Jungle managed to conserve what rave had lost two years before. Krome and Mr. Time had made a classic, legendary track called "The Licence" with the sample of Papa-Levi & Saxon Sound - a track which made the crowd go hyper.

The jungle atmosphere remained fresh and happy. The phenomenon was purely London based and had no equivalent anywhere. Labels like Tearin Vinyl, Rugged Vinyl, Ganja Kru, Joker, Reinforced, Certificate 18, Photek Recordings, Prototype, Liftin Spirit and Ram were a refreshing source of jungle music. DJ Rap at her label, Proper Talent had created a symbolic ragga influenced track "Intelligent Woman" with vocals by Candy. DJ Hype rolls out "Tiger Style", while Dillinja brings a mellow track named "Sovereign Melody".

By that time, even Fantazia and Telstar had realised, that jungle was very popular, which led to production of the compilations called "Fantazia takes you into the Jungle" and "Jungle Mania" by Telstar. A mad junglistic rave named "Telepathy" provided the unforgettable experience for many. World Dance's main arena now becomes jungle oriented. At the end of the year, a daughter style started developing. Under the name "Drum & Bass" - representative of the Jungle's content, the style was directed at the new school technique to approach the same concept of music.

Among the creators, strongly stood the DJs such as LTJ Bukem, Fabio, Doc Scott, Grooverider, Photek and Dillinja, who had changed their direction towards a fresher sound and greater acoustic effects. At first, though, Drum & Bass remained along the same strands as jungle, which still makes people confuse both these days. It is easier to look as one being the continuation of the other, rather than worry which is which. As Drum & Bass slowly but steadily was heading its slightly different way, jungle kept rinsing out the underground culture.

1995 - Rolling tune is being invented. P-Funk's "P-Funk Era" is the tune to define the rolling future. Rude bwoy style overwhelmed the jungle scene: DJ Krust comes up with a deadly track 'Set Speed' along with 'Angels' - "When you can't see the angels no more, you're in trouble!"; Firefox rolls out 'Bonanza Kid' while Urban Shakedown brings "The Arsonist" with its ragga influenced vocals. Though rougher, the atmosphere remained similar to 1994.

1995 was also the year of commercialisation. Goldie had released 'Timeless', which sold 150,000 in UK, let alone worldwide sales. Goldie then concentrated on creating his own label called Metalheadz. Here the junglist DJ Dextrous reveals himself as J Majik. Goldie gathered the artists such as Doc Scott, Dillinja, Photek, Peshay and Lemon D, to push drum & bass. 4 Hero releases the remix of their legendary track "Mr Kirk's Nightmare". Towards the end of 1995, the jungle atmosphere started disappearing. It is generally thought, that the scene's decline was caused by the swing the leading artists made, in order to catch up with developing commercial mainstream. DJs generally wanted to take up their niches in the new commercial sphere, before it was too late. The concept of underground was somehow betrayed for money. Despite this changeover, jungle kept on going. At the beginning of 1996, clubs like AWOL and Roast were demised. Club DLB was one of the few left to keep feeding fuel into the jungle's fading fire.

1996 was also the year of drum 'n' bass style splitting. Grooverider's term "Hardstep" gains mainstream acceptance, which was a further re-fusion of jungle and hip-hop (what was earlier called the roller tune). The "step" was a rougher, stronger beat, and had more in common with 4/4 rhythm than breakbeat. Most people think that No U Turn should be credited for Techstep, which is in fact wrong. It was an album released on Emotif records (A daughter label of the now closed S.O.U.R) in 1995 entitled "Techsteppin'" that defined both the term and the music. The No-U-Turn posses fiddled with the "Terrorist" bassline (Ray Keith's 94 classic) to make it sound more acidic and analogue - the element that is most present in Drum & Bass today, and placed it over a tech-step 4/4 pumping technoid beat.

"Intelligent drum & bass" classified tracks, which had ambient/jazz licks on top. "Dark" or "Darkstep" drum & bass was pushed by Grooverider, where the name speaks for itself. "Experimental" drum & bass had never really caught up from the underground, and remained a sphere where drum & bass couldn't really be defined by any of the terms above, jungle was pushed to the back by drum & bass. Logical Progression takes it by storm nationwide, yet Good Looking is nearly at a point of bankrupcy. Adam F comes up with the legendary track "Circles", "Valley of the Shadows" known to most people as "31 seconds" by Origin Unknown gets re-released on Ram and becomes one of the years jungle anthems. The 96/97 New Year parties were somewhat reminiscent of 94 and 95 new years' eves, but have nearly lost the jungle atmosphere.

1997 - Drum & bass DJs are booked for house oriented clubs; Ministry of Sound has drum & bass sessions. What's going on? Roni Size forms a Reprazent campus, where DJ Die, DJ Suv, Krust and Roni Size come together. Roni size releases a track entitled "Share The Fall", immediately followed by Grooverider's dark remix.

Different styles of drum & bass are heading in their own directions. Roni Size's "Brown Paper Bag" becomes an anthem immediately after its release. There are many newcomers to the scene such as Boymerang. LTJ Bukem has teamed up with Blame to present Logical Progression 2. Techstep seems to be the ultimate style of the year, with Jonny L resurfacing from the past, and bringing the hardcore "Piper". DJ Krust's "Soul In Motion" is released after being 15 months on dubplate.

The jungle breaks (amens) as we know them had totally disappeared from most tunes, making it quite hard to find a tune odd one out. World Dance put on their "last" (as they said) rave at Lydd Airport. "Here is your last chance before another chapter in 'Rave History' comes to an end!" say their adverts posted around London. 5 Telepathy Raves and Last Innovation Ever is held at the Camden Palace on August 30th. Goldie's album, originally planned for the summer gets delayed. Goldie walks out on Rob Playford.

But in 1997 there were labels, that tried to overcome the "fashion" - Juice, Splash, Back 2 Basics and Second movement kept releasing the tracks that were hard and underground - MTS' "Hard Disk", New Concepts 14.98 and many other hard amen tracks including Dom & Rolands excellent work which was surprisingly overlooked.

1998 -End of style-splitting. The scene is back together, finally. Nothing is techstep, hardstep, intelligent etc. etc. it's all drum & bass. And, together with that, the amens are coming back: labels like True Playaz, Frontline, Juice, Splash, Timeless, Dread start putting out break tunes - Slow Down, the Real Vibes album and the never forgotten top tune Frozen Remix by Dom & Roland. The Labyrinth was nearly shut but then moved to the Pleasure Rooms in Tottenham, meaning it would hit it's 10th birthday and still provide the best line ups. DJ Ron makes the finest comeback with the Future Dubwise E.P. - unknown author, taken from globaldarkness


  1. The Rough Guide to Drum 'n' Bass - Peter Shapiro [1 book, Amazon US]
    The Rough Guide to Drum 'n' Bass Music covers the breakbeat and its circulation through the world in genres such as Jungle, Hardcore Techno, Trip-Hop, and Big Beat. This pocket-sized but encyclopedic tome traces the innovators and apprentices, with hundreds of reviews and recommendations. Drum 'n' Bass is divided into two sections--one focusing on Jungle/Drum 'n' Bass/Hardcore and the other focusing on Trip-Hop and Big Beat--and comprises 200 entries organized in A-Z fashion. [...]

Broken Beats

Also called the West London sound, with names like IG Culture (aka New Sector Movements), Modaji, Phil Asher, Alex Attias, Dego, Domu, Modaji, Nubian Mindz, Seiji, Kaidi Thatam, Orin Walters

As Drum&Bass has been ailing for a few years, a new genre has emerged from UK's West London merging afro-beat with "broken" breakbeats, Soul Jazz with electronic sounds...

"Broken Beat to me, it 's a term I have never really got to grips with. I don't do "broken beat", my beats are quite fixed thank you!" -- Excerpt from Colin Lindo interview featured at Hyperdub

"That's something I've always tried to fight against, the notion of West London and 'broken beats' and such. I think that when people give us those sorts of labels they tend to make us look a bit parochial. It just makes us look like we're a clique and we're not really about that." -- Excerpt from Modaji interview featured at Dotmusic


  1. 4Hero - Creating Patterns [Amazon US]
    Fourth full length from the amazing London Acid Jazz / Nu-Soul / Down-tempo act. Includes the beautiful first single 'Les Fleur'on which Carina Anderson reworks Minnie Ripperton's vocal against a 16 piece string and brass section. It is truly an unbelievable and gorgeous version. All you Jazz heads must hear it to believe it. Stunning. Other highlights include Jill Scott lending her vocal talents on 'Another Day' which could have easily fit on her debut album. Ursula Rucker contributes vocals to 'Time'.

your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

Managed Hosting by NG Communications