“Love and other tragedies are recurring themes in the series. Whoever thought that d&b is cold, emotionless and monotonous music, clearly haven’t been paying attention…”
I realize that the series read like another generic countdown list, however there are deeper connotations to me. It’s a retrospective musical diary; a timeline that reflects and documents what I’ve been listening to in various periods of my life. Over time, my militant musical views have – thankfully – attenuated and I’ve come to embrace and appreciate a broader musical spectrum. Hence, all the producers who feature on the series are artists that have resonated with me and have steered away from rigid, formulaic corners.
The third part of the mini-series covers the period 2000-09. At the dawn of the new millennium the majors had turned their backs to drum & bass and adopted a more chart-friendly policy. The halcyon days seemed abruptly over, artists turned almost overnight from media darlings to pariahs and the music press headlines proclaimed the death of the genre. But drum & bass was too cool for that. After a short period of introspection and re-invention, d&b returned stronger than ever. A new wave of artists and record labels pushed the musical boundaries beyond genre confines and soon d&b regained its well-deserved place in the electronic music map; from a limited connoisseur circle to a global audience, from sweaty basements and midweek slots to headlining club main stages and festivals.
The second part of the blog’s mini-series covers the period 1997-99. What may have started timidly for artistic purposes or exclusive dj promotional use, by 1997 it became almost de rigueur for record labels to commission drum & bass versions for selected singles and various remix compilations. The niche underground genre infiltrated the mainstream and many d&b producers signed with major labels to curate collections or record personal albums. On reflection, it turned out to be a double-edged sword.
On one hand, d&b found its well-deserved place on the electronic music map. Artists were finally rewarded and vindicated for their efforts and their work was introduced from a limited connoisseur circle to a wider audience, providing them with a vital and creative space for experimentation. Commercial success and critic appreciation motivated accomplished, as well as up-and-coming producers to master their craft, pushing the musical boundaries beyond genre confines. On the other hand, the roller coaster of media exposure, politics, cloudy distribution and licensing agreements, self-indulgence and the drama that inevitably occurs when money and temporary fame enter the equation, terminated careers and friendships untimely and ingloriously. Effectively, drum & bass re-entered a phase of introversion, darkness and belligerence marking the end of the romance. An injection of fresh air was desperately needed and a new breed of producers and record labels emerged to fill in the gap created by those who helped the scene flourish, but sadly realized that they no longer fitted in the d&b reality of the new millennium.
The second installment of the series is dedicated to one of the most influential labels of the jungle/drum and bass scene. From the early hardcore days to the second half of the 90s, Creative Wax fostered an enviable stable of producers and artists, releasing a plethora of classics during its activity. The mix-up of Detroit techno influences and later jazz established Creative Wax as one of the most innovative outlets of quality music in the drum and bass scene of the 90’s. The purpose of this article is to shed light on the massive contribution of Creative Wax to the ever-changing drum and bass landscape, having been the point of reference and an indelible influence to the next generation of jungle/dnb artists.
Creative Wax was founded in 1992 by Ashley Brown aka DJ Pulse (1/3 of Dance Conspiracy and Jazz Cartel) and Jack Horner (Bad Influence). The label roster includes some of the biggest names in engineering and production of that time, collaborating frequently with each other under various monikers. Early releases have been predominantly by label owner Pulse alongside Wax Doctor, with Alex Reece and Professor Stretch (Underwolves) taking care of the engineering duties. The label also had various collaborations by Alex Reece and Wax Doctor under names such as Fallen Angels and Unit 1. Other notable names in the camp were The Underwolves, who went on to record for Ross Allen’s Island Records imprint Blue and Compost Records, Tango, who also recorded with Pulse on the legendary Moving Shadow, Justice another Moving Shadow artist, who now runs his own Modern Urban Jazz label and finally Digital (a well established artist from the Metalheadz and Timeless Recordings collective among others). Continue reading