With one foot firmly planted in his own forward-thinking spin on hardcore and the other toeing the edge of a nascent jungle sound in the 1993 track Worlds of Confusion, Eze-G is underrated in my book. Just one of multiple aliases under which Gareth Oxby produced a tightly focused range of electronic music, Eze-G’s style fittingly represents a main tenet of what drum & bass has always been about: fusion.
Worlds of Confusion is the standout tune on the EP bearing the same name released by label Unatural Light (the remix of this tune released the following year is also great with a sound even more within the domain of jungle).
Noteworthy in the design is how much depth is added to the song through simple yet effective pitch shifting on the vocal cuts. Original use of the amen break, wispy pads, and enlivening vocal samples all come together to form a unique experience smack dab in the middle of hardcore and jungle – don’t miss it!
When I found this tune some years ago, one could say I was under hypnosis of groove; Machinist, by the short-lived Treo, carries one of the most vibrant and dynamic basslines I’ve heard in Neurofunk. Despite its 2012 release, which I’m a little loathe to identify as a classic predicated simply upon its recency, it will always remain a classic in my mind.
This Syndrome Audio slapper carries a groove so infectious that one is easily compelled to bop along with it. The dirty bassline and hefty drums are so fluidly intermeshed in a way that feels natural, belying a style that screams “tech”. The arrangement is refined, with quick synth stabs providing further rhythmic appeal, against backdrops of harmonic tones that gracefully fade in and out of the mix.
Amid a sea of amazing Neurofunk tunes past and present, Machinist is a stand-out classic.
The iconic and pivotal Valley of the Shadows…where do I start? Produced by none other than Origin Unknown, a duo consisting of Andy C and Ant Miles, this track played a significant role in shifting the paradigm of hardcore toward a darker motif. Heralded as one of the best songs in the Drum & Bass sphere, this iconic tune rolled onto the scene in 1993 (and re-released in 1996 as a stand-alone) from Andy C’s very own RAM Records.
The first edition of Future Music Magazine’s sample CD provided many of the track’s sounds, and likewise provided a bevy of other recognizable samples found across a broad spectrum of electronic and dance music during the same era. From the hypnotizing melody to the entrancing spoken samples, the hardy break to the bold bassline, Valley of the Shadows proves itself a time-tested masterpiece.
I’m excited to have recently stumbled upon Nebula, whose works capture the magic of the 90’s drum & bass sound to an exceptional degree. While there are many amazing songs to choose from in Nebula’s repertoire, Chords of Sorrow, released on Subtle Audio Recordings in 2008, is a beauty.
Drumfunk panache is provided here on a silver platter, and so elegantly at that; glossy harmonies wind around wispy choir tones that eventually swell into a poignant choral crescendo. Nebula paints us a picture of dreamlike ambience brushed with strokes of melancholy – all animated by dynamic, adeptly arranged drum patterns. Enjoy the dive into this deep vibe, and if you’re enjoying it you can grab the digital re-release direct here.
Better known as a DJ than a producer, Mace was a staple in the UK club scene after claiming the title of best up and coming drum & bass DJ in Kiss FM’s 1997 DJ competitions. Around the same time, Mace put production onto his resume. Mace’s standout release came along in 2003 on one of the premier imprints of Intelligent and liquid D&B: Creative Source.
Inside Your Soul’s sound resides in smooth and mellow expression with a rolling bassline and dynamic percussion exuding unabated exuberance. Here, a subtle-yet-powerful influence from jazz and funk can be felt – a demonstration of eclectic class. This tune is a perfect companion for enjoying the last of the summer vibes!
The illustrious R&S Records has played host to a wonderfully varied discography over the years, mainly catering to the techno and house crowds, yet has also delivered on some outstanding drum & bass tracks—one of which is a 1996 Intelligent gem that we bring to you today: Wind Dancer (Remix) by Shogun.
An airy melody congeals with lush strings and effervescent pads to form an ethereal vibe. Sparse congas lend an atmospheric curiosity in addition to ambient guitar and vocals. With a robustness spoken through the potent bass and precisely detailed percussive arrangement, the song rolls through apexes where both breaks intermingle into unified cadences of infectious grooviness. An all-time favourite that I’ll always appreciate, Wind Dancer (Remix) is a vibrant tune that continues to shine today.
No classic drum & bass fan should miss out on Twisted Anger, a duo whose tunes I continually find captivating. An off-the-wall slice of techstep wickedness from Dread Recordings sub-label Penny Black, Society is among the darkest of 1997 drops.
Twisted Anger are experts at creating sinister soundscapes in their tracks (especially in their earlier works), with Society being possibly their finest specimen. Ominous and gritty, heavy atmosphere fills the space amidst filtered break cuts that crash with aggression against an askew, unworldly bass. Conjuring images of sci-fi noir (or where ever your imagination takes you), brace yourself for this monstrosity.
Source Direct are often heralded as a top notch act in the history of Drum & Bass, having garnered critical acclaim as well as massive respect from Drum & Bass listeners across the board. To this day, their sound has gone largely unmatched.
We are reminded of the one-of-a-kind Source Direct sound (unless you keep their music in your usual rotation like I do) by the eclectic offering of their illustrious catalogue that has been recently remastered and released on the Odysee Recordings Bandcamp page in the last two weeks.
For this week’s classic track, we present to you the aptly named Rollidge by DJ SS, AKA Leroy Small (who has amassed an abundance of aliases to his production credits). Released on SS’s own Formation Records imprint, this track encapsulates the unbridled nature of the drum & bass sound especially during its nascent stage.
Rollidge is a jungle tour de force, bouncing in a bustling frenzy that will transport your mind to the dancefloor. Filled to the brim with delightfully deft amen edits and rude bass, this 1995 smash is as ripe for rinsing now as it was the day it dropped. A strong attribute here is the phrasing that lends to a fresh and varied flow through each section of this tune. If songs are like stories, Rollidge is quite the wild one.
Something different, you say? Look no further: we’ve got forward-thinking innovation meets cool finesse on Lemon D’s What’s Up, from Metalheadz’s 1997 Metalheadz Boxset 1, a noticeably leftfield album from the iconic label. Lemon D has shown a knack for crafting unconventional works for much of his career, and this track is an impressive example of his originality.
This classic features an onslaught of percussive hits at all the right times and tones, demonstrating the brilliance of an experimental approach over the backdrop of techstep proficiency. Lemon D’s blending of avant-garde arrangement with jazz sounds in What’s Up produces a distinctive feel and expression; timeless and refreshing.