Renegade Hardware: One of the most influential and well known brands to push, develop and ultimately celebrate the harder, techier end of drum & bass has announced that after 20 years of industrial strength business, they are shutting down both their label and event operations.
Hardware directly inspired the likes of Noisia and invited guests that we all know and love such as Pendulum, Friction, Calyx & TeeBee and Chase & Status to play and release beats alongside residents such Loxy, Ink, Raiden, Keaton and Hive.
Support and respect has been publically shared by DJs from pretty much every corner of drum & bass and the brand’s closure will leave a large gap in the harder D&B market. This potted history Renegade Hardware and 25 essential tracks is our own salute to a brand that’s chiselled its name and sound without compromise….
Trouble On Vinyl
Before we even start talking about Renegade Hardware it’s really important that Trouble on Vinyl gets a big mention.
Renegade founders Clayton Hines & Mark Hill kicked things two years before in 1993 with a mixture of breakbeat hardcore and jungle. Trouble On Vinyl came at a great time as the rave scene then was exploding all over the UK and back then, only a handful of labels really existed. You could probably compare the early TOV output to that of Formation Records or Impact Records.
Maldini (of Bad Company fame) switched up the TOV sound in 1995 with the Flav E.P. This was potentially the start of Trouble On Vinyl’s big imprint on the scene and one early demonstration as to how the label embraced change. Daze swapped out breakbeats to that of hardstep jump up, fusing hip hop vocal samples and crunching basslines with a faster BPM. Maldini would continue to play a role in the early chapters of both TOV and Hardware.
It was around 1996 that the Trouble On Vinyl sound had really been crafted. Although the label didn’t stick to the incredibly popular jump up sound of the mid 90s, it was certainly a label known for its big DJ support and the memorable logo always drew hoards of buyers to record stores week in week out.
No discussion on Trouble On Vinyl can be had, though, without mentioning the Tekken 3 remix of DJ Red’s Enta Da Dragon, possibly one of the most anticipated relicks from dubplate ever created (in my opinion). The likes of DJ Hype, Micky Finn and Kenny Ken battered this prior to general release and the clever unofficial use of Namco’s classic PS1 fighting game in the title may well have prompted the start of Sony’s sponsorship at many raves across the country.
Nu Balance (half of 175 Crew), Friction, Drumsound & Bassline Smith, Total Science and DJ Probe were some of the big producers to sign music to TOV later in the label’s life, not forgetting Dillinja and his massive Twist Em Out which was also featured heavily in the Ali G series
Two years deep into Trouble On Vinyl Clayton and Mark noticed a harder, techier sound appearing that would benefit from its own label. Renegade Hardware was born. And it launched with Future Forces – Flash Gordon / Jeep Beats. Future Forces comprises one Darren White (AKA the mighty dBridge) and Maldini.
From the early years of destructive jungle breakbeats Renegade Hardware quickly developed a reputation for some of the most twisted, brain mangling tech step and sound design that has long since become a signature of the scene.
As these sounds developed, so did Renegade Hardware’s events. Just as well known – if not more – than the label. Its most legendary parties were those at London’s most influential underground club The End but the brand stamped its sound across a range of venues in London and beyond.
While memories of parties fade into the haze of history, Hardware’s discography and repertoire will, without doubt, stand the test of time. For example, within three years of their production career Pendulum, Friction and Chase & Status all appeared on the label…
They were in good company: the label’s core residents Loxy, Ink, Raiden, Keaton and Hive plus Dom & Roland, Paradox, Grooverider, Prolix, Evol Intent, Konflict, Resonant Evil, Cause 4 Concern and a whole host more drum & bass premiership players have peppered the label’s 100+ strong release history. And below are 25 of the best and most influential releases.
We could have picked 50, and gone for the more obvious names or bigger cuts, but these (curated with the help of the Drum&BassArena forum community) 25 tracks don’t just represent the sound of one of drum & bass’s most enduring labels but the sound of a genre that has championed sound design and uncompromising dynamics and arrangements since day one. Or, to put it another way, drum & bass could potentially be an entirely different genre without Hardware’s output.
Dig deep and get to know….
Future Forces – Dead by Dawn (1996)
Konflict – Messiah (2005)
Future Forces – Strontium Jazz (Dillinja Remix) (1998)
Spor – Dreadnought (2005)
Absolute Zero & Subphonics – The Code (1998)
Keaton and Hive – The Plague (Trace Mix) (2003)
Konflict – The Beckoning (2005)
Loxy and Ink – Dutty Rock (2004)
Raiden – Alpha Centauri (2010)
Ink – Murder Inc (Twisted Anger Mix) (2001)
Future Cut – Stealth (Dillinja Remix) (2006)
Keaton & Hive – The Plague (2003)
Cause 4 Concern – Research (2000)
D.Kay & Epsilon – Platinum (2003)
Chase & Status (Ft Vicious Circle) – The Grudge (2005)
Future Cut – Whiplash (2000)
Paradox – A Certain Sound (1997)
Noisia & The Upbeats – Sacrifice (2005)
Future Cut – Busted (2000)
Friction & K-Tee – Overtime (2006)
DJ Reality – Detroit Blues (1999)
TeeBee – Choices (2006)
Genotype – Angry Business (1997)
Tech Itch – Soul Snatcher (2004)
Calxy & TeeBee – The Shape Of Things To Come (2007)
Maximum respect to Renegade Hardware. For full details on their final events and their closing statement, visit their Facebook.