2017 was a year where unifying the drum and bass scene became a real goal. Part of this was the palpable feeling that whatever gap had been between drum and bass factions in the UK and U.S. began to close in earnest. With the Bassrush and Viper collab featuring a number of up-and-coming U.S. artists, more UK talents touring America and the new all-inclusive Spotify playlist, it seems that unity is the name of the game in America, the UK and worldwide.
In America, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated as a day to be grateful for all the blessings throughout the year and in life, and we couldn’t agree with this policy more. As US’s American writer, I’ve been asked to personally give thanks for some of my own favourite artists and tracks of the year so far. These are in no particular order and of course there are many more tracks, EPs, tours, mixes and promoters who have made 2017 an epic year for drum and bass, but here are the five I’m most thankful for:
Klax – The Mute
As part of the massive Critical 15 year anniversary compilation, it’s possible that it was easy to miss this. But Klax’s The Mute was criminally underplayed in the U.S. and I am here to advise promoters, producers and DJs that Klax will definitely be a force to contend with in the coming year, not that they aren’t already. If you want to know how to make a dark, vocal drum and bass track, here’s your template. Truly spine-tingling work from this trio.
Drumsound & Bassline Smith – The Odyssey VIP
You can’t talk unity in drum and bass without mentioning these legendary veterans. Not only did Simon Bassline Smith help to create the now massive #iluvdrumandbass library playlist for all D&B labels and producers to use, but when Grooverider announced that he was re-launching Prototype Records the trio offered up their new VIP of 2004’s classic The Odyssey and its b side The Illiad to be the label’s first new release. Drumsound & Bassline Smith are both leaders and true team players in this scene. This track reminds us how diverse they are musically and that they stand for all the sub-genres.
Consouls vs. Zeal – The Atlas
The Viper/Bassrush 2.0 compilation was one of the main events this year in terms of huge, multi-artist, multi-genre and most uniquely multi-label releases. This comp was instrumental in the goal of reaching across the pond and collaborating amongst U.S. and UK artists. Consouls, the duo who sort of exploded onto the scene when they won the 2015 EDC Discovery Project and they have since made their mark worldwide have also done their part to bring recognition to both new and established talents from the U.S. They collaborated with Canadian up-and-comer Zeal on their track for Viper/Bassrush 2.0, The Atlas and also gave some heavy nods for the labels to pick up some of the other north American talent on the compilation such as The Voss, NC-17 and Theatrix. Aside from all that lovely stuff tying into my unity theme here, The Atlas is also my favourite track of 2017 by Consouls and possibly ever. Keep an eye out for these troublemakers/scene unifiers.
Misanthrop – Blurred
While drum and bass producers and fans alike were debating about how get the “funk” back into “neurofunk”, one of the subgenre’s heavy hitters, Misanthrop, went off and made an EP which started with jazz and ended with the lines of D&B totally blurred (not sorry). The title track frankly blew everyone away with how different it is to what may have become Misanthrop’s expected style and also challenged the notion that drum and bass even needs subgenres. Blurred is technically one of the cleanest tracks made in 2017 but it also has a soul and groove that no one would have expected. The EP still has plenty of high-quality neurofunk, mind you, but Blurred is definitely the most pivotal. It may also be a pivotal point for drum and bass and the new direction it may be taking. With Misanthrop and Phace’s NËU label announcement, they’re bound to be at the forefront there as well.
Run DMT feat. Vorso – Gamma Ray (Zaiaku Remix)
This halftime track will be all but completely unknown to UK audiences, but Zaiaku is a stateside secret that must be let out, and because of this absolutely mental remix he’s done of Run DMT and Vorso’s Gamma Ray, it must be now. The mad scientist producer from Vegas waffles between neurofunk and halftime. He’s been quietly releasing huge tracks from both subgenres on Multikill and You So Fat, but when Run picked him up on this remix for Kill Your Ego, he definitely took it to the next level. It’s impossible to even describe. Just listen and keep an eye out for this breakbeat prodigy… Yet another act I’m giving thanks for today and every day.
And this is the point: Whether it’s veteran OGs pushing for a more unified scene, new talent crossing the pond in their own way or even newer talent blowing the roof off the whole works, drum and bass has a lot to be thankful for both in America and around the globe. More importantly, the community at large are always thankful for this genre which has given us so much over the years. No matter where it is in its evolution, we will always be united by bass. Happy Bassgiving from America!