In the mid-90’s, the sound of Jungle/Drum & Bass was forever changed with the arrival of the Techstep style, showcased brilliantly by Spider Net’s Awake. Spider Net was an alias used only once — for this particular release — by none other than No U-Turn label boss and collaborator, Nicholas “Nico” Sykes.
A fat B side by any standard, Awake is a 1996 jolt of Techstep that stomps heavy and hard. The rough and rude bass here is characteristic of the No U-Turn sound for the time, and is quite honestly one of my favourite sounds in the world. Protean drum sampling establishes a decisively wicked groove comprised of three break flavors. Sparse samplings of complementary sounds provide just enough atmosphere to round out this monster of a classic.
No U-Turn’s catalogue boasts a heap of bangers like these, making it easy to see how the label’s trademark style indelibly marked the scene.
Anyone unfamiliar with the early history of Jungle / D&B would do well to investigate the now legendary One In The Jungle show. Broadcast on Radio One from 1995 to 1997 and spanning three series, the show gave Jungle a platform on the station for the first time and paved the way for the music to move from its roots in the infamous London pirate radio scene onto more legitimate broadcasters.
Some of the episodes have been lost forever but many have been salvaged from old tape recordings and a partial archive is available to download from http://oneinthejungle.co.uk/. Better still, many of the episodes are now on Mixcloud, and a few of the best are embedded below. Check it out, relive the memories, and feast your ears on the rise of a scene.