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.
When I think of my favourite jungle artists, Just Jungle (also known by his Genotype alias) easily etches out a spot in my mind thanks to his repertoire of solid tunes. One of his very best? Double Crisp, from 1994’s The Gold EP released by Trouble on Vinyl. D&B history sidenote; Trouble on Vinyl was run by Clayton Hines & Mark Hill, the same duo behind the legendary Renegade Hardware. It’s now owned and operated by fellow D&B originator DJ Kane.
Beginning with a radiant pad that cascades into a sensational flurry of amenism and genius programming, Double Crisp is a hallmark of Just Jungle’s production prowess. It cannot be understated how striking the drum cuts are on this classic. You also get a sense dub and dancehall’s momentous influence on jungle through the flavorful sampling that serves as a proper homage to part of the genre’s roots.
While legendary MC Stevie Hyper D left us way too soon in 1998, his legacy thankfully lives on in both the memories of those who witnessed him live and through recordings of his lyrics adeptly MC’d over multiple Drum & Bass tracks and mixes. One of the most revered MCs to have graced sound waves with his words, you can read more about the man in this great retrospective article.
The anthemic Junglist Soldier, which happens to be De-Stress Records’ only release, is a quintessential jungle track that offers a sense of the dynamism dispensed by MCs, especially one so talented as Stevie Hyper D himself. Powerfully performed verses are delivered over a clean break accentuated by fitting Jungle fare. The bass consists of a thick reese that’s easily one of the best basslines in Drum & Bass history.
Junglist Soldier exudes a spirit that can bring together all junglists while serving as a reminder of how lucky we were to have Stevie Hyper D in the scene. A documentary that will reflect on Stevie Hyper D’s life and influence on music culture is slated for release this year; head over here to for more information on that.
It should come as no surprise that Drum & Bass is a genre that means a lot to us at DNB Dojo. We enjoy celebrating the vibrant legacy and culture of this music, and it is an undeniable fact that we have Black artists to thank for filling the world with the remarkable sounds and styles that we’ve come to know and love.
Drum & Bass as a genre was predominantly birthed by Black artists and is thus inextricably linked to Black culture. To pay homage to the indelible impact of Black artists in Drum & Bass we are dedicating the next four weeks of Classic Track to productions solely from Black artists, a special dedication to their visionary achievements in the scene.
Let’s take Classic Track back to the roots to what is considered one of the first jungle tracks ever: We Are I.E. released on i.e. Records in 1991. Lennie De Ice struck gold with this monumental work, becoming an instrumental force in starting a musical movement that would forever change the music world.
Soothe My Soul (94) (Blame’s Mix) by Justice & Mercy is an undeniably unique tune. Blame’s mix of Soothe My Soul is a decidedly different take on the original that blends curious interpretations of Techno and Hip-Hop into a striking fusion that graced the White House Records catalogue in 1994.
Smart drum programming, wonderful sampling, and clever arrangement come together in a song that could understandably be played on repeat; I certainly had to hear it a second time immediately after the first play. This charming classic emanates a warm and cheerful vibe perfect for welcoming the summer months! Even better, the tracks were recently remastered from the original DAT; the vinyl release is already sold out but you can hit up the Modern Urban Jazz Bandcamp for a digital copy.
This week takes us back to the early days of Samurai Music, a label that has been on the forefront of the more unconventional realm of Drum & Bass. Cold Blooded by Soul Intent marked the beginning of a shift in musical direction for Samurai Music that would gradually come to fruition over time.
This criminally underrated 2008 classic shows us a completely different side of Soul Intent, who savagely doles out coarse bass stabs, swells, and wobbles tempered with contemplative atmospherics. The rhythms here are measured in a military-esque discipline. Cold Blooded is an excellent balance between visceral and calculated, minimalist and elaborate. Definitely fitting for a label with the name of Samurai Music, Soul Intent’s intimidating tune entices us to become one with the way of the samurai.
A tune that still finds its way into my rotation, Judda’s Pressure Plate is an undeniable slice of quality that pulls me in every time. Gritty bass and clean percussion effortlessly coalesce to form this 2010 gem released on Modulations, Critical Music’s innovative, yet sadly short-lived, sub-label. Pressure Plate is just as fresh sounding as the day it came out – a tightly grooving stomper for those of a dirty yet refined taste.
As I was putting this write-up together, I happened to find that Judda has just released a freebie tune – a Drum & Bass rework of one of his early house tracks. I know I’ll be keeping an eye out for more developments on what might be Judda’s return to Drum & Bass…