Remember that time when loads of drum & bass acts got their 140 on and turned out some killer dubstep tracks?
Well the shoe is on the other foot right now, and it’s feeling pretty damn comfortable.
This year we’ve seen more dubstep acts turn their hand (or return their hand) to 170 than ever. And there’s been some really impressive results.
Both UK-born genres, both fueled by dynamic sound design, both gully: The lines between dubstep and drum & bass have always been blurry and open to creative interpretation. Even back in the golden era of dubstep some acts, such as Reso or Synkro, were always been tricky to pin down to one genre. Skream made tracks with the Autonomic crew and Rusko’s sets always included a huge dose of D&B.
Then there was drumstep and, much more recently, the heavier side of the halftime movement (such as Decimal Bass’s recent chop-slapper Work For Nothing), both of which owe as much to dubstep as they do D&B.
Cross-pollination and experimentation are key characteristics of electronic music: No artist feels comfortable being associated with just one particular sound. So, just as the likes of Nero, Black Sun Empire, Noisia, Chase & Status and loads more showed us five/six years ago with their dubstep tracks, some big names in dubstep have all flipped some big D&B switches over the last year or two.
Here are nine of the best examples featuring J:Kenzo, LX One, Funtcase, Cookie Monster, Eptic, Modestep, Barely Alive, Proxima and Virtual Riot
J:Kenzo – Rum Punch (ThirtyOne Recordings)
Out this week, Tempa trailblazer Kenzo picks up where he left us on Ironclad with a three-headed late 90s-referencing beast on Doc Scott’s ThirtyOne imprint. Applying all the same space and weight signatures as he does to his 140 work, both Rum Punch and Airwalk are straight-up ageless drum & bass. (The final track on the EP Dirge is essential listening for all halftime lovers too)
Cookie Monsta – Darkside (666)
Remember that Rick Or Treat thing Circus did a few weeks back for Halloween? This was the treat. Cookie Monsta slapping down a dramatic cinematic stepper will bass grizzles and gurgles so crude and colourful they could make Beelzebub blush.
The McMash Clan & Katie Mullin – Requiem (Funtcase Erebus Remix)
Sticking with the Circus soldiers for a second, Funtcase blew our heads off with this McMash Clan remix earlier this year. His first production in over a year, it was a daring move. But not surprising… Funtcase started producing D&B as DJ Dose. “Compared to the drum & bass I was making six years ago, my skills are so much better now,” he told us about this track when we last interviewed him. “It’s amazing to have this opportunity to showcase myself in this genre again.” And how.
Proxima – Jibber
Proxima is no stranger to drum & bass… The first three years of his career saw him dish out bangers on labels such as SGN:LTD, Frequency and Renegade. But most of this decade has seen him focus on some dark techy dubstep designs (climaxing with his impressive album Alpha late last year) But he’s now back on the 170 wagon with tracks like this. Grab an airhorn and blast it at the 2.15 mark when the big switch hits. Look out for his new track Nasty too. Dropping soon, it’s another level on from this again.
LX One – So Gully
So Gully: The name says it all. This switchy, glitchy number was tucked away right at the bottom of LX One’s debut album Motions earlier this summer. The whole album is essential listening; this is the sweet jungle cherry atop of a tasty bass cake. While this is one of the first LX One D&B productions to be released, he’s no stranger to the genre… He often MCs for the likes of Calyx & TeeBee.
Barely Alive – Fireflies (Feat Ewol & Espired)
Another album gem, this co-lab with Ewol & Espired can be found towards the end of Barely Alive’s debut album We Are Barely Alive. Gritty, scuffy neuro sounds, “It made us kind of nervous to put our first drum & bass tune out on our debut album,” admitted Willie when we last interviewed them. “It was very experimental but we love how it came out and look forward to seeing the reaction it gets!” Not surprised.
Modestep – Nightbus Home
And another album track: Modestep dropped this big feels roller halfway through their all-genre-assault London Road. It ticks a lot of boxes; Josh’s emotional vocals are delicate enough to leave space for the soaring strings, mid zeroes-style bass and sporadic darker twists. Can’t think of any of D&B tunes about nightbuses either, so that’s a first too.
Virtual Riot – Paper Planes
Virtual Riot’s done a few cheeky D&B experiments now. A lot of them landed around spring / summer last year with a free download Rampage and a pretty savage remix of Skrillex’s Fire Away. This NCS-released liquid track is one of the best though. Currently crushing the dubstep sound (and collaborating with Skrillex if his Facebook updates are anything to go by) we reckon VR needs to get back on the 170 flex.
Eptic – Space Business
Okay so this isn’t quite so new. Released in 2013 but still sick AF, Eptic dug deep into his original inspirations for this Original Sin-esque jump up cut. It’s almost as silly as that time he dressed his cat in human clothes…