Old School Drum and Bass Records




Emerging from the breakbeat and Hardcore movements of the early 1990s, Drum&Bass hijacked the mindless caravan of breakbeat and Happy Hardcore, and inflicted upon it a voodoo curse. Jungle, the first prototype, was the collision of two cultures: one European, and the other Afro-Caribbean. Naturally enough, South London was the crucible from which this concoction was born.

I was there at the beginning, more or less, the genesis you might call it, at the infamous Heygate Estate in Elephant&Castle. It was the full projects, London style: broken glass in the corridors, and lifts that smelt of piss. I was dossing there with two mad brothers, J. & J., both unemployed and constantly bickering. Unlike them I had to work though and every morning I would trudge off early to the Tube, where it seemed like I was the only white guy there. Certainly the only Australian. Returning home one evening, J. was playing a mixtape...

Burning Up

I was well acquainted with techno with its throbbing pulse but this beast was different, hyperactive instead of hypnotic, jarring, syncopated.. Like a gamelan played by a gang of ragamuffins, just with garbage cans instead of gongs. It was only after getting stoned one night, sitting in that bare living room, that I understood.

The snares dropped away, and a synthe began to play minor notes eerily, three subdued notes, trending down. There was something Arthurian about it, Dickensian, Victorian... the menace of the streets. A church bell tolled, grimly.... Over the top, a diva warned: "Girl I am starting to lose it...

I was soon to learn this was a "drop"... and that sample, an ecstasy (and horror movie!) reference. There are many samples in D&B, horror movie references, drug references... but that it not why I dig it so much. It was those eery synthe riffs what got me, so to speak. The drugs were just a gateway.

Drum&Bass is the musical equivalent of anime, or manga… a cartoonish celebration of the modern world, and the triumph of technology. Strokes of darkness and the light. The dark stranger, and all that jazz.. it has got that.

Jungle: perhaps London itself was the jungle, the urban jungle, the concrete jungle, with all its competing tribes. Rude bwoys in Jamaica, bad boys in England. Police in helicopters, police sirens the background of our lives. And the law of the jungle is the law of the gang.

Come 1997 the mood was darker, more clinical...

It is like the Borg, in that it assimilates all that it comes into contact with: jazz, soul, reggae, funk, hip-hop, you will be assimilated. There is a touch of blues too...

It is like the Borg, in that it assimilates all that it comes into contact with: jazz, soul, reggae, funk, hip-hop, you will be assimilated. There is a touch of blues too...

Like an endlessly mutating virus, tracks are sampled, and resampled. Elementary samples, like "Only you can give me what I want // Oh baby // Yes // I Feel for your touch, oh baby!". First you say yes, and then you say no. Tell me to stop, and then say to go. What kind of fool are you looking for?

I need you I want you.

Breakbeat: Two Bad Mice.

"Sharing our love, between the sheets..."

"Burning up..."

"Feel... feel good!"

"Sharing our love, between the sheets..."

DJ Crystl, "Paradise"

Johnny L.

Ray Keith.


Shy FX, Dom & Roland

Sharing Our Love, Between the Sheets (Visiting Sydney, mid 1990s.)

"Solar Glide": Late 1990s atmospherics.


Marcus Intallex… waiting for the Asian Affair!

Goldie's Inner City Life: crying over some silly crush.

Johnny Jungle Tango remix (1995).

Metropolis, Adam F.

DJ Crystl, "Paradise"

Johnny L.

Ray Keith.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, "Drowning in You".

By the late 90s, the 303 was creeping into a lot of DnB tracks.

If I had to choose between the two, my soul, or you.

"Sharing our love, between the sheets..."

John B, "Pressure" … A late 90s classic!

Ninja, Mi Ninja...

MIDDLE SCHOOL (1999-2009)

Hospital Records... I first heard them when I was in Tokyo. Stunna…

The sounds of my life: the fall of Nova ("Let the Hustlers Play").

Dextrous: "Loveable" (Visiting Sydney, mid 1990s).

"It was the middle of the night, when I first saw you."

Bristol: Time is the fire.

Elephant&Castle: "Raw Basic".

Liberty House: "All at once, I heard a universal horn."

Also my arrival at Liberty House: Skylines (Bungle remix). The Ladder.

London Electricity "One Minute of My Life".

Scribal (2012): Random Movement ("Day After Day, Night After Night").

Liquid (The Future).

Living in Shinozaki, returning from Fun Club: Australian Atmospherics, Storm, by Streetlife.

Shy FX, "Original Nutta"

"Awareness", The Interrogator

Let's wind this baby back, and start again.

"I have got something for your body, your mind and your soul!"

The Sounds of Round Two, "The Ladder" (featuring "Jacob's Ladder"). Or make that Randall.

"The day you were born, half journeys complete."

Alegria, "Drum Obsession"

There is a whole subgenre based on sampling horror movies, or at least creating a horror movie like effect. Kung fu classics, it has that too.

I could listen to the Liquid stuff all day long!

» DnB Lyrics Database

» Pirate Radio Station (Russia)