Drum & Bass in totality had a fantastic 2016. We experienced a year full of quality over quantity and it was a year filled with inspired releases.
It started off with the sublime ‘Arkestra’ EP from London trio Ivy Lab and Alix Perez. The EP was elegantly crafted and soulful yet still hard-hitting, each track was well rounded and sophisticated, but also contained the rougher beats and grittiness we love.
Arkestra was followed by “Who Is Richie Brains?” by the Richie Brains collective consisting of massive heavy hitters in the genre such as Alix Perez, Stray, Chimpo, Sam Binga, Om Unit, Fracture and Fixate defined drum & bass in 2016. Produced by some of the most passionate innovators in the industry, the EP is an infusion of Drum and bass with footwork, hip-hop, jungle and even grime. The main take-away of Who Is Richie Brains? is that the producers used traditional drum & bass minimally. Each and every track was meticulously curated by artists whose individual catalog had a common thread which wasn’t really Drum and Bass.
Dutch legends Noisia for delivering probably THE most groundbreaking album we’ve ever come across. Noisia’s second studio album “Outer Edges” was the most futuristic bunch of music. Its ability to transport you to different worlds, and its bar-raising production and execution made it THE release of 2016.
And the year was capped off by an album from the genre’s most prolific and long standing trios, Blu Mar Ten. Empire State is the trio’s seventh studio album and their fourth for their own Blu Mar Ten Music imprint. The album was a journey into all the facets of D&B, focusing on the deeper and more melodic side of the music but with some unashamed dance-floor rollers thrown into the mix. Genius Productions to say the least.
It’s 2017 and we are already into the third month of the year and boy we have witnessed some fantastic music already. 2017 has kicked off exactly the way 2016 did, full of quality and emotive productions.
We have already seen a solid, well-rounded EP from Spectrasoul – ‘Second Chance’. It is a persistent roller with pristine drums, an evocative faraway vocal refrain and lush grainy textures, “Fade Away” is just absolute darkness with a gruff, ruff BC-style grit to the bassline, “On & On” is a dreamboat roller with so much emotion you’ll melt any crowd you play this to. Finally “Beat Keeps” taps into a halftime mentality with a whole gamut of gully twists along the way. Powerful stuff.
Another fantastic piece of production was delivered Soulvent Records dons Pola & Bryson. I’ve always been a huge sucker for liquid drum & bass and Pola & Bryson gave me exactly what I was looking for. ‘Find Your Way’ is an absolute masterpiece. Starting off the EP with the signature track Find Your Way, Charlotte Haining blesses us with her beautiful vocals as always and continuing to establish her mark on vocal drum and bass. ‘Phantom’ or ‘Moment’s Notice’ are our favorite tracks for a few different reasons. Phantom has that heavy bassline but also a very ambient and floating theme to it, whereas Moment’s Notice has the trumpet as an added touch which makes the track come full circle.
We also witnessed the Drum & Bass Awards 2017. Donington Exhibition Centre, the venue for 11th annual The Drum & Bass Awards was rocked by huge sets from the likes of Chase & Status, Sigma, Sub Focus, Camo & Krooked, Friction, High Contrast, Hype, Roni Size and many more. There were over 20 categories to win, with highlights including Best DJ (Hazard), Best Live Act (Chase & Status), Best Track (High Contrast ‘Remind Me’ 3Beat Records), Best Album (Noisia), Best Producer (Guv), Best Female DJ (Lady V Dubz), Best Label (Ram Records), Best Breakthrough DJ (Mollie Collins), Best Breakthrough Producer (Total Recall) and Best Festival (Hospitality In The Park). The Stevie Hyper D Memorial Award For Life Time Achievement was also awarded to Jumpin Jack Frost.
The most accomplished piece of music was delivered by newcomers In:Most. The English/Australian duo released ‘Pictures In My Mind’ on Mitekiss’ Goldfat Records. The EP features four super soulful tracks with the title track ‘Pictures In My Mind’ featuring Mr. Porter on vocals, a Goldfat regular and frequent drum and bass vocalist across the scene. Four tracks of some of the most accomplished and beautifully elegantly crafted drum & bass to have emerged so far this year.
The genre’s most influential person, Goldie, drum and bass and jungle visionary, has also announced a new album, The Journey Man. The double-album release, slated for June 16, will be his first solo studio project under the Goldie moniker since 1998’s Saturnz Return.
Journey Man features sixteen new tracks, including collabs with vocalists like Natalie Duncan and Jose James. Goldie’s also shared the first single from the project.
2017 has gotten even more exciting after the announcement of the ‘Outer Edges Remixes’ by Noisia. The Dutch trio have have revealed the remixers for their forthcoming ‘Outer Edges Remixes’ album. To be released on 7 April, the compilation brings together remixes of last summer’s ‘Outer Edges’ studio album from the likes of Bassnectar, Ivy Lab, Machinedrum, Amon Tobin, Camo & Krooked, Mat Zo, Dyro, The Upbeats, Mefjus, and more.
Handpicked by Nik, Martijn, and Thijs, the artists range from across the electronic music spectrum, with many of the mixes taking the original versions outside of drum & bass entirely – something Noisia were keen to achieve with this project.
Ivy Lab have given us yet another fantastic EP. The ‘Peninsula’ EP features some of the most deepest and deadliest tunes by Ivy Lab features four bone crushing half-time tunes.
There we go! It’s just March and there’s so much supreme quality music already, and it has basically given us a glimpse of what we can expect this year. Yet another monstrous year filled with fantastic music has already begun. Sit down, hold tight and gear up for yet another massive year.