Drum ‘n’ Bass’s Class of 2009

Drum ‘n’ bass has had its share of ups and downs over the years. Originally spawned from the UK rave scene, tracks like Origin Unknown’s “Valley of the Shadows” and Ed Rush & Nico’s “Bludclot Aarttack” paved the way for a whole new generation of music. Since then it’s been proclaimed dead and then risen from the ashes like a proverbial musical phoenix. These nine artists will no doubt take the genre to the next level in ‘09.

Words: Jeryl Wilton

DJ Blame

1. Blame
Who is he? Blame blew up way back in ’92 with the original rave anthem “Music Takes You” on Moving Shadow, followed by a stint on LTJ Bukem’s Good Looking label throughout the late ‘90s. More recently, Blame’s dropped tracks for Metalheadz, Charge and Hospital, including the immense “Stay Forever,” which was the soundtrack of last summer.
What does he sound like? Take one part euphoric strings, one part energetic breakbeat pressure and one part diva-esque vocals, blend them together and you’re getting close.
What makes him special? His unique mixture of uplifting melodies and vocal arrangements have made him a hit on British airwaves, with his latest single getting dropped left, right and center on BBC Radio 1’s daytime shows.
Blame says: “I feel like I’m making the best music of my entire career right now. Hearing my music on daytime Radio 1 is right up there with the highlights from the last 15 years. Currently, I’m working hard on a brand new album. This will be the sound of Blame I was always trying to capture!”


2. Chase & Status
Who are they? Chase & Status are two lads from London. Getting a rep for crafting a wide range of diverse styles, the boys found early success on Renegade Hardware, Bingo Beats, BC Presents and Breakbeat Kaos before finding a permanent home on Andy C’s Ram Records.
What do they sound like? If their rather awesome ‘08 debut album More Than Alot is anything to go by, they sound like any style of music they bloody well please! Taking in a wide selection of sounds, that long player was clearly one of the best of last year, and 2009 will no doubt prove even better for this pair.
What makes them special? The fact that they can knock out a piece of dubstep one minute, a smashing d’n’b anthem the next, and then top it all off with a UK hip-hop track that gets everyone hot under the collar. If diversity were an Olympic event, these boys would clearly be disqualified for pumping themselves up on performance enhancing drugs.
Chase & Status say: “Since the album came out we’ve been inundated with work. We’re currently working on album number two as well as an album project for Takura and other production work. We’ve recently remixed The Prodigy and Estelle and have more coming up. We’ll be stateside for the WMC so catch us down there and again in June. The goals for this year are changing all the time; let’s see what happens.”


3. Commix
Who are they? Commix came up as part of the Future Sound of Cambridge crew, also including Logistics and Nu:Tone. Cutting their teeth with tracks on Hospital as well as high profile remixes for Breakbeat Kaos and V Recordings, they were then snapped up by Goldie and his Metalheadz label.
What do they sound like? Their debut album Call To Mind featured a bunch of different styles, most notably the rather disturbing blend of rolling breakbeats and heavyweight bass pressure that was “Talk To Frank” (a reference to a series of drug awareness adverts on UK TV).
What make them special? Other than the fact their signature sound has everyone from jump-up loving pill munchers to nerdy neurofunkers slavering for more, they were the first artists ever to be asked to do an album for Metalheadz and their incredible DJ skills have had them asked to contribute a mix for Fabric’s renowned Fabric Live series.
Commix say: “It’s been over a year since we released Call To Mind, and this year is all about finding a new avenue to explore within our d’n’b stuff as well as pushing ourselves as producers by exploring other tempos and styles. Drum ‘n’ bass seems to be going through a transitional phase right now and we’re excited to see what the next 12 months will bring for the scene as a whole.”


4. Craggz & Parallel Forces
Who are they? Craggz & Parallel earned their rep with the incredible funky guitar-led “Fizzy Piglets” on Dillinja and Lemon D’s Valve Recordings followed by a succession of crossover style musical d‘n’b tracks culminating in their debut album Northern Soul. Now they’re all about their own imprint, Product Recordings.
What do they sound like? These days they’re dealing out a more stripped back and rawer sound than their previous efforts. Tracks like “Shake The Disease” and “Magnetise” offer up some minimal, bass heavy goodness that shows maturity.
Why are they special? Having straddled the chasm of drum ‘n’ bass success and rather cleverly re-invented themselves, this pair have proved they have what it takes to last in this game. 2009 will be a huge year for them with plenty more lined up including the aptly named Product Placement EP due in May.
Craggz & Parallel say: “After releasing Northern Soul we felt we’d gone as far as we could with the sound we had developed. We’ve had to take a step back and re-assess where our music was going. In the past year we’ve seen a lot of refreshing developments in electronic music, which have inspired us and given us an exciting new direction for our next album.”


5. Icicle
Who is he?
Jeroen Snik is the Dutch wunderkind who’s taken d’n’b by storm with his distinctive rolling releases on labels like Ram, Soul:R, CIA and, of course, DJ Friction’s Shogun Audio. If you swing that way, you can dig a bit deeper and check out his rather good techno tracks too!
What does he sound like? Like Commix if you fed their basslines a strict diet of chest-clogging red meat oozing with fat. Tracks like the infamous “Franky Mountain” on Ram Records sum up this guy’s sound—minimal but with more bass than a Jamaican sound system convention.
What makes him special? Having knocked out a succession of the hottest tracks for the biggest label in the scene, Icicle finally inked an exclusive deal with Shogun Audio which should see the release of his debut album before the end of ’09.
Icicle says: “I want to make an album that will unmistakably sound like Icicle, but really push that sound to its full potential and maybe go slightly outside of drum ‘n’ bass, too.”

Read the rest of this article in Issue 26!

Darren Ressler

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