The last few years, drum and bass has achieved an unprecedented popular expansion, appealing to wider audiences and receiving support and radio airplay by many non-drum and bass djs and radio producers as well as hitting top spots in the music charts. Going in circles, from the early hardcore/breakbeat days to contemporary drum and bass, it has been one of the most interesting electronic music genres to follow. Influenced by a plethora of music genres, whether it is hip-hop, techno, soul or jazz, drum and bass covers a wide spectrum to satisfy everyone’s taste and preference. The drum and bass road however, hasn’t been always paved with roses. Every now and then a new injection of fresh sounds and production techniques has been pivotal to refresh people’s interest, as it has happened several times during the 90s. Fast Forward to 2009…
Minimal drum & bass and the Autonomic initiative
For several years in the second half of the past decade, drum and bass had been fairly stagnant, focusing on dance floor smashers. Minimal drum and bass, as the term suggests, is a sub-genre (one of too many nowadays) of drum and bass, stripping down the sound, diverting from the traditional forms without however ceasing to be drum and bass. The tempo remains generally close to the average drum and bass speed (around 170 bpm), however many other aspects of the music contrast highly with contemporary trends in drum and bass. One of the main attributes is a half-time drum rhythm, reducing the perceived speed, while staying to the same bpm. The drum production versatility is retained; quiet percussions, deep sub-bass, eerie synths, subdued melodies and unusual beats are often used, similar to dubstep and future garage productions, hence the confusion that inevitably takes place due to the human need to pigeonhole.
Although there had been experimentation with minimal tracks by drum and bass producers for years, it was dBridge & Instra:mental who pioneered it as a distinct subgenre with their Autonomic podcasts in 2009. The Autonomic podcast series contain a unique and versatile blend of productions, primarily showcasing the new half-step drum and bass sound accompanied by sections containing tracks that have influenced the producers of the Autonomic collective. The release of their Fabriclive mix cd to critical acclaim the next year, illustrated the momentum Autonomic was gaining and the genre received wider attention, establishing dBridge & Instra:mental as the leaders of a new wave of dnb redefining the shape of the genre. (It has to be noted at this point that, despite mostly working at 170bpm and using broken beats, the producers of the Autonomic collective prefer to describe their music as simply electronic that happens to fall into the 170bpm range most of the time, rather than drum and bass).
The emergence of the new sub-genre proved highly influential, attracting the interest of established as well as up-and-coming talents of the drum and bass scene. The labels that championed the new sound have been Autonomic, Auxiliary, Nonplus, Critical, Med School, Exit, MJAZZ and Darkestral to name a few (Metalheadz & Shogun Audio have also flirted with the new sound). Apart from the aforementioned dBridge & Instra:mental, other notable producers who have engaged with the style are the likes of ASC, Rockwell, Alix Perez, Synkro, Abstract Elements, Bop, Consequence, Data, Jubei and the list goes on and on.
Whatever you want to call it; minimal drum and bass, ambient drum and bass or simply electronic music with bass and broken beats, it has been an injection of fresh air bridging musical gaps, elevating drum and bass to a whole new level.
Godisnolongeradj in association with Audio Theory Records presents a representative sample of what this sound is all about with an exclusive mix, courtesy of the label’s head honcho Cryogenics.
01.Sabre – One Man Jettison – Darkestral Excursions
02.Instra:mental vs dbridge – Translucent
03.Instra:mental – Watching You – Nonplus
04.Commix – Belleview (dbridge Remix) – Metalheadz
05.Spectrasoul – Organizer (Ramadnaman Remix) – Critical
06.Commix – Bear Music – Hospital
07.Dbridge,Instra:mental & Skream – Acacia Avenue – Autonomic
08.Anile – Intice – Broken Audio
09.Dbridge & Instra:mental – Detroid – Autonomic
10.Concequence – Pseudo Echo – Exit
11.Triad – Last Gap – DSM
12.Spectrasoul – Melodies ft.Mike Knight – Exit
13.Sabre – Marvel – Critical
14.Logistics – Murderation – Hospital
15.Commix – Justified – Metalheadz
16.Jubei – Patience – Metalheadz
17.Icicle – Minimal Funk – Shogun Audio
18.Spectrasoul – Lost Diciple – Shogun Audio
19.Halogenix – Possibility – unsigned, free d/l
20.June Miller & Syntex – Sleep – Horizons
21.Loxy & Resound – League Of Shadows – Samurai
22.Code 3 – Living Proof – Exit