Origins and Influences:
Drum and Bass, often abbreviated as DnB, is a genre of electronic music that originated in England in the early 1990s. It’s an evolution of rave music, and it developed out of earlier forms of hardcore and jungle music, incorporating influences from reggae, dub, techno, house, and hip hop.
Characteristics and Sound:
Drum and Bass is defined by fast breakbeats, typically between 160 and 180 beats per minute, with heavy bass and sub-bass lines. The genre is known for its complexity and rhythmic variety, often combining layers of fast, syncopated breakbeats with slower, groovier bass lines. Synthesized sounds, sampled vocals, and a wide range of effects are also commonly used, contributing to the genre’s rich, diverse soundscapes.
Subgenres and Variations:
Over the years, Drum and Bass has evolved into numerous subgenres and styles, each with its own distinct characteristics. Some of these include:
- Techstep and Neurofunk: These darker, heavier variants focus on intricate bass designs and are known for their futuristic, dystopian atmosphere.
- Jump-Up: Characterized by its playful, energetic sound, often featuring catchy, high-pitched basslines.
- Liquid Funk: This more melodic, soulful style often incorporates influences from funk, jazz, and disco.
- Jungle: Though sometimes considered a separate genre, Jungle is closely tied to Drum and Bass, with a focus on breakbeats and influences from Jamaican music.
Notable Artists and Albums:
- Goldie: A pioneer of the Drum and Bass genre, Goldie’s 1995 album “Timeless” is widely regarded as one of the most influential Drum and Bass albums ever made. It was innovative for its incorporation of atmospheric, layered soundscapes and complex, detailed production.
- Roni Size: Roni Size, particularly in collaboration with his collective Reprazent, has been a major figure in the genre. Their album “New Forms” won the Mercury Music Prize in 1997 and is often cited as a landmark in the genre.
- Noisia: This Dutch trio has been hugely influential in the development of the heavier, darker subgenres of Drum and Bass, particularly techstep and neurofunk. Their detailed, high-production-value sound has made them a staple of the genre.
- Andy C: An influential DJ, producer, and co-founder of the RAM Records label, Andy C has been a key player in Drum and Bass for over two decades.
- LTJ Bukem: Known for his work in the atmospheric and “intelligent” Drum and Bass scenes, LTJ Bukem blends the high-energy breakbeats and basslines of Drum and Bass with more ambient, jazzy elements.
Cultural Impact and Current State:
Drum and Bass has had a significant impact on the broader landscape of electronic music and has influenced many other genres. Despite its origins in the UK, it has spread worldwide, with active scenes in many countries.
The genre continues to thrive today, with a steady stream of new releases and live events. While it might not have the mainstream visibility of some other electronic music genres, its high energy, rhythmic complexity, and diverse range of styles have earned it a passionate and dedicated fanbase. Furthermore, its influence can be seen in the work of many contemporary electronic artists, even those working outside of the genre itself.
In conclusion, Drum and Bass represents a fascinating, energetic, and diverse field within electronic music.