Drum & bass: where it’s dubplate season every season.
There’s never a time in the genre when exclusive, unreleased tunes aren’t one of the strongest characteristics and driving forces in the genre – it’s what drum & bass and jungle culture was built on – but these last few years have definitely seen a return of longer build ups and much more high profile hype for key releases.
Perhaps this is down to years of piracy and leaking worries that have caused labels to send out promos closer and closer to the release, denying them natural time to develop their own momentum. So when early airings of big tunes do happen we really feel the benefit of a proper build up and natural sense of anticipation?
Perhaps it’s because online groups and video clips have become so popular, there’s a much bigger audience to feed this thirst for information and circulate clips of new tunes? Or that some labels have some sharp minds on their marketing teams right now? Or because everything is available at a swipe or click, it’s human nature to want what we can’t have?
It’s all of the above and one other main factor: there’s been loads of genuinely stand-out tracks coming through in recent times. Case in point: these 13 tunes.
Some have been out for a while but were in demand for months (and months) prior to release. Others have been popping all summer and are set for release very soon. Others, in drum & bass music’s longest standing tradition, will remain on dub and that’s that.
All of them, however, absolutely bash and serve as examples of a much bigger wave happening across the genre; if only half of the ID requests we’ve all been swimming in since Let It Roll and Boomtown as DJs come out then we’re in for a good season. But that’s drum & bass, though; where all seasons are good seasons.
Benny L – Vanta Black
Preceded by Police In Helicopter, Vanta Black was on many dubplate wish-lists since Benny started playing it in spring 2018. Demand for this reached fever pitch when videos of Andy C mixing it with Goldie’s Inner City Life surfaced after his Wembley Arena show… Then continued to rise for an entire seven months until it dropped. Just like Police In Helicopter, it proceeded to smash the Beatport overall number one. Read the full story here.
When’s it out? Now!
Sub Focus – Siren
Classic Subby; just when you think he’s going in one direction, he’ll flip things with a curveball. And what a curveball. A lesson in hair-raising tension, Siren reminds us how he got to where he is in the first place. Savage, to the point and a complete, hyper-coloured subversion of the current fog horns du jour. When a clip of this being debuted at Glastonbury came up late June everyone wanted to know what it was and who it was by. Rumour has it that demand was so intense its release was pushed forward to go with the equally massive Solar System (which was also so big that crowds were singing along quite some time before the track surfaced properly online) It’s since become one of the most universally supported tunes in the genre this summer… And sets us up nicely for the also heavily-requested Illuminate which is due (hopefully) before the year is out.
When’s it out? Now!
Adam F – Circles (Pola & Bryson Bootleg)
They say you shouldn’t tamper with the classics. Usually they’re right, too. But in the instance of this respectful update from Pola & Bryson the rules are out of the window. Everyone lucky to have a copy of this have been dropping it and doubling it up creatively with different tunes. One of the most regularly heard tunes at Let It Roll, Boomtown and pretty much any other festival, this has been massive.
When’s it out? Don’t hold your breath on this one.
LoKo -Bassline Secret (Skantia Remix)
As Skantia told us himself a while back, this remix was being slammed by Andy C within days of him sending it to the label at his legendary XOYO shows. While it’s clear the droning basslines are eking closer and closer to the end of this stage of their lifecycle; when they’re done in frankly surreal and unique ways like this, Skantia reminds us there’s still plenty of gas in the foghorn tank. Anticipation for this has persisted throughout the year.
When’s it out? Soon!
T>I & Inja – Flip The Switch
Instantly recognisable in the mix because that female spoken ‘pitch black’ vocal on the fills is just too good not to chop in, this heavy-chugging session has already featured on both Andy C and Kasra’s Essential Mixes this year. Led by Inja’s distinctive flow – where he seems to unlock a whole new lower octave and go all Chimpo on our asses – and powered by T>I’s steamroller signature, it’s the sound of two artists at the top of their game going toe-to-toe in the best possible way. Night vision, deep space nine business…
When’s it out? When T>I’s album drops
Critical Impact – Pitch Black Featuring Coppa
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“Pitch black” ft @coppaworld apologies in advance if anyone is sick ? after hearing this ?? forthcoming on @rundnbuk big up @raykeithdread for dropping this on @pyroradio and expect this and MUCH MORE when you see me @innovationdnb easter party ? @lstdbristol @rumble_insta_jungle_bristol @hospitalitydnb so go get your tickets online now ?#dnbmusic #dnb
Not to be confused with above, this one also features a ‘pitch black’ vocal on the fills. But this time it’s Coppa and he’s in weapons grade mode as Mr Creeper himself Critical Impact rolls out one of his most savage basslines to date. Warped, woozy and twisted, imagine a gaggle of wayward foghorns sneaking out at bedtime and getting wavey on moonshine and you’re kinda close. Another big track this festival season, it’s expected very soon on D*Minds’ RUN Music imprint along with more Critical Impact goodness including another big Coppa-fronted dub entitled Tired.
When’s it out: Very soon
Serum, Paul T & Edward Oberon – Moon In Your Eyes
Another LONG-awaited, universally-supported track of 2019 has been this soaring vocal beauty from long-standing V Recordings duo Paul T & Edward Oberon and serial collaborator Serum. In circulation since last summer, just like their previous success Take My Breath Away, Moon In Your Eyes expertly rides the fine line between gully and soul appealing to DJs and fans across the entire spectrum. As Serum explained on this site not so long ago, Moon In Your Eyes has been so popular it’s even developed its own meme-like momentum with the chorus of ‘all I ever wanted was fish’. Big tuna.
When’s it out? Now!
Shy FX – Original Nuttah (Chase & Status Remix)
Some dubs develop ‘must have’ status through canny dispersal among key DJs who break a record over time. Other dubs, however, just blow up instantly because of the original tune and the scale the remixer is at. Like this; a seminal blueprint from Shy by two men who are clearly in their element right now as they celebrate and investigate their original inspirations with the RTRN II Jungle project. Following their remix of Valley In The Shadows, it’s less of remix and more of a strident homage that pays full respect in all directions with a fresh set of elements cooked in a way on Will and Saul know how. Massive.
When’s it out? Friday August 23 (Tomorrow!)
Skeptical & Mefjus – Amber
Skeptical and Mefjus: what a dream team. Word of their occasional collab studio sessions has been around for a while with a clip of Runway floating online for at least a year or so. Now they’ve unleashed Amber, a squelchy little pumper comprising minimal elements but maximum punch. Trippy percussion and a strange tension riddled throughout, from what we’ve heard in mixes it’s a classic lesson in fierce restraint and gold dust in the hands of any DJs who had it so far. We’d expect nothing less from these two. We also expect it to be little time before it’s dropped.
When’s it out? Straight from Skeppy himself: “There’s no release dates, but there are plans for it come out soon.”
Need For Mirrors – Lambo
The sonic equivalent of a 100mph motorbike ride with no helmet, this is less of a tune and more of a hurricane. Just pure tension rising in an urgent Germanic technoid way; early evidence of this goes back at least a year now when Bryan Gee opened his Total Science’s legendary Sun And Bass set on the night to celebrate Duncan Spirit. Proper fast-lane business with that off-beat finger-click funk the Soul In Motion co-founder has made his own with tracks like Maxim, Hurts and Ethos. No decent clips are online but you can hear BLAZE into the mix at 26 minutes in the awesome Radio 1 guestmix Need For Mirrors did earlier this year.
When’s it out? Late September
Baby D – Let Me Be Your Fantasy (DJ Hybrid & Dope Ammo Remix)
Another absolute classic updated for the modern-day raver. This time from 1992, reboosted by Deep In The Jungle / Audio Addict bossman DJ Hybrid and longstanding weapons expert Dope Ammo. Bringing the iconic rave anthem bang up to date with an absurd groaning drop and wobbly subs, it’s been heavily spun by anyone lucky to have it and championed by Rene Lavice on his Radio1 show. Requests for this have been causing DJ Hybrid and Dope Ammo inbox meltdown since they first dropped it at the start of the summer.
When’s it coming out? Watch this space – there have been some very encouraging rumours.
Koffee – Toast (Clipz Remix)
No audio of the remix is available as an embedable clip so here’s a picture of Clipz SMASHING Boomtown to piece. It’s clear the Clipz return does not stop at Down 4: he told us in his first interview as Clipz in over 10 years that if things go well, and people are into what he’s doing, potentially a whole album’s worth of Clipz material could drop. And things are going well – the reports from his Boomtown set as part of Chase & Status’s RTRN II Jungle show have been firing at nine-thumbs-up levels and ID requests have been floating around for this since it was played at Hospitality On The Beach by none other than Andy C. Paying full respect to the phenomenon that’s been Koffee’s original, but with added light-footed jungle breaks and a big belly bounce bassline, a lot of people are keen for this to drop.
When’s it coming out? An official release is being discussed by as Clipz tells us for now “it’s strictly dubplate mate.”
Bungle – Cocooned (Kiril Edit)
Bungle’s Cocooned: the tune that simply will not quit. Still as cantankerous and hooky as it was when it first landed in 2017 then proceeded to damage 2018 in VIP form. Now there’s this very cheeky edit from Kiril. Just a persy for his sets, he’s add an extra halftime section before the drop that takes anyone by surprise when they first hear it. Strictly in the hands a few DJs – and recently heard over the summer on Kasra’s impeccable Essential Mix – when this version drops in mix everyone knows about it.
When’s it out? Strictly dub for now mate…