It’s the end of an incredible year for drum and bass music, with so many great releases it would be cruel to ask anyone to whittle down to their favourite, a task nigh on impossible. But as tradition dictates it’s a task we must do, so we asked some of our writers to shout about their favourite tracks of the year.
Watch The Ride X Emz – READY4DEM
Undoubtedly one of the heavyweight link ups of the year, when Watch The Ride linked up with Emz something special was created. At the time, no one in the D&B scene really knew who Emz was and what he was capable of, but after READY4DEM was unleashed, everyone soon knew of the talent the grime MC possesses. It’s no wonder why he has since released an EP on Hospital as part of their Ultrasounds series. From Emz’s fast and furious flow to the catchy bassline his lyrics roll along beautifully, READY4DEM is a huge tune that is sure to be doing the rounds at raves for many years to come. (Jake Hirst)
“Higher” – Daniel Avery feat. Sherelle
An unexpected source of pure unadulterated jungle magic this summer was Daniel Avery’s “Higher”, the first single to come off his homage to all corners of rave culture, Ultra Truth. Is there anything more satisfying than hearing an artist expressing how a certain music makes them feel? That’s what we got with the track’s introduction from Sherelle, who touches on dance music’s cathartic properties when she enthuses, “Whatever my feeling is in that present moment, you know, whether I could be upset, whether I could be, you know, happy, those emotions had to go out somewhere.”
Avery proceeds to take us on just such an emotional journey, starting with the gorgeous, soaring synths that prick our ears before that classic breakbeat drum loop takes hold. Propulsive bass rises like a tidal wave, carrying us higher and higher (appropriately) throughout the track into a crashing crescendo (with a touch of glockenspiel). It’s a brilliant testament to the rising tension on a dance floor before the drop hits – arguably the most delicious feeling to be found in the rave. (Becca Inglis)
Friction Weed & Wine ft A Little Sound
One of the only earworms for me this year, I heard it once and the deed was done. Weed & Wine burrowed into a comfy little sweet-spot in my brain where it resided for months on end. Taken from Friction’s second studio album After Dark, the track sees the Shogun Audio boss collaborate with the vocalist of the moment- A Little Sound, and for me it’s the beauty of her unique voice that really makes this track stand out.
Weed & Wine is a track with a definite vibe, a subtle track that echoes the effects of its namesake. The eerie synths, ever so slightly skewed from normality, the layers of hazy atmospherics, and the understated hollowed low end all work together to create an intoxicating wave. (Whisky Kicks)
Monty & Trail – Ferns
What a lovely track this is. After hearing it teased into countless mixes throughout the year, the release came in late October. It arrived amongst a smorgasbord of 1985 sounds on the Atlas / 2 VA compilation, from slugdey 140 to scatty breakbeats – it was obviously all great, but ‘Ferns’ hit all the right notes for me.
With acoustic guitar strums, surrounded by wobbly piano chords – there’s a lot of activity in the mid-high frequencies from the outset and throughout. Before the mid-low-end even enters, it’s already soaked with vibes. But then the warmth of a sub and a bass riff wraps it up – making use of the full spectrum in interesting ways, these two are world-class.
We heard something similar last year on Monty’s ‘Hit The Lights’ album when they collaborated with ‘Cinnamon’ – another fantastic track that holds almost all the same qualities. Ferns however rolls a little quicker, and has a little something extra about it that puts it as a firm favourite for me – maybe it’s that little inaudible vocal I’ve been mumbling for months. Those Toulouse boys need to give us more! (Sam Yates)
Voltage & Shy FX- Amazing ft Agent Sasco- Digital Sound Boy
In recent years Voltage has been the man with the Midas touch, teamed with living legend and the original digital sound boy, Shy FX and we know that we’re in for a banger. Amazing was without a doubt the feel-good, sunshine vibe tack of 2022. In a year that has been heavily musically dominated by loud, large, and heavily distorted sounds this track’s stripped back reggae influence made it a welcome change of pace in many sets, especially throughout the festival and carnival season. Jamaica’s formidable Agent Sasco on lyrical duties adds to the tracks Caribbean flavour and gives us all an incredibly catchy hook to sing along to on the dance floor. I have no doubt that Amazing will be a track that we’ll hear for years to come. (Whisky Kicks)