There’s an exciting dark sound brewing in Italy right now. It’s not the result of one particular city or crew but disparately from shadowy studios across the country from Sicily to Turin via Rome, more drum & bass acts are appearing from the Mediterranean motherland than ever before.
Evidence: In the last four weeks the Beatport Drum & Bass charts have been topped by Italians with Inward, Hanzo & Randie’s exceptional debut album Consistency Of Error on C4C and Kiril’s Binary EP on Critical. There’s also the not-so-small matter of Disprove, a producer who’s had the tech world blushing for several years on Ammunition before damaging us on Eatbrain last year. Or Maztek, a true Italian OG, who’s had us all gushing for nearly 10 years on labels such as Renegade Hardware, Program and Dutty Audio. And we haven’t even mentioned the consistently on-point sounds of The Dreamers crew and their mates Was A Be who are now signed to Shogun.
On the production-front Italy is definitely enjoying something of a drum & bass renaissance (no pun) Yet, as Inward, Hanzo and Randie explain, while international recognition is picking up there’s little-to-no support in their home country (besides, of course, Sun & Bass which is much more of an international gathering anyway)
“It’s complicated,” they explain. “Drum & bass is very underground and the longer it stays underground the more underground it’s become. Usually it’s the opposite, right? But it’s gone the other way here. It’s very difficult to find a drum & bass gig in Italy. The problem is how music is associated. You have club music such as house, techno, minimal. Then you have rave music like hardcore and breakbeat and sometimes drum & bass. Italian people split these genres. They only listen to club music if they go to clubs. It’s difficult for drum & bass to grow because people still consider it a rave music, so they don’t let it in the clubs. It’s an acute cultural problem unique to Italy.”
As for Rome-based Hanzo, Inward and Randie, they came from a different scene altogether. Like their album hints, their shared background is one of metal, punk and breakcore. The result is a rough, no-nonsense tech attack with a raw, abrasive sandpaper funk aesthetic that could smash any rave or club… If they can find a club that plays drum & bass.
“But this is the music we love!” they explain. “We are part of many great producers coming from this country now, all trying reach the global drum & bass universe even if they don’t get the music here.”
And these are 10 Italian producers they rate the most…
“He makes a unique and exciting sound. But he’s moved away now and lives in Berlin. That’s proof you have to move out of Italy to make it. Maztek did this too and moved to The Netherlands. You have to escape – we’re thinking about it too!”
“He’s the man. He’s been very influential here and a good friend of ours. We’ve known him for years since before his first releases. He was really supportive of our music gave us our first break when he signed them to his label Subculture.”
“An original drum & bass solider for at least the last seven or eight years. He’s quite a veteran and very talented and versatile from deep to neuro to jungle. He’s been on everywhere from Eatbrain to Dispatch.”
“We’ve been listening to a lot of his stuff on The Dreamers, Dispatch and Critical lately; Kiril is doing some very great sounds right now.”
“These guys have been making some very interesting sounds with a lot of footwork influences. Their style is very different because they’re from a different part of Italy, up by Turin where the musical influences are different.”
“A duo from Pesaro. They’re very silly guys we have to say. When we go to their studio we have a lot of fun. They’re very talented and do a style that’s soulful but also deep and aggressive.”
“We’re doing many collaborations with this man, he’s so talented. He’s quite neuro oriented but more melodic than a lot of neuro. He uses a lot of Arps and is very inspiring musically. We’re mixing totally different things with him to create a new sound.”
“An awesome friend of ours. He has a very heavy approach to production with a lot of great sounds on labels such as Prspct and Blackout. He’s a very hardcore person.”
“A friend of ours from Venice with a very heavy neuro style and a lot of talent. He deserves a lot more attention and will get it because he’s doing great things.”
“A young guy from Sicily who’s very very talented. He’s been on Neodigital and has a very cool sound!”