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The history of (dark) drum and bass
The roots of Drum 'n Bass can be found in Jungle. The Drum 'n Bass we know today is actually the Techno kinda version of Jungle. Jungle is classified ad dance music and comes forth from (hardcore) breakbeat music from the rave era in the Uk during the 80's. By 1990, at the height of British rave culture, the Amen** began to appear in an increasing number of breakbeat hardcore productions. Hardcore emphasized a unique, harsh, aggressive sound that drew strongly from hip-hop and early acid house. It added a hip-hop influence with the addition of breakbeats and increased the tempo. A strong reggae and ragga influence emerged in 1991 and 1992, with uplifting piano melody loops or Jamaican reggae samples used at normal speed layered on top of frenetic 150 to 170 BPM breakbeats. This sound quickly evolved to a point where sliced and diced drum breaks in conjunction with low frequency bass lines became the important features of many tracks. This style was initially referred to as Jungle...
In response to Jungle, some producers started focusing on darker, more aggressive sounds. Strange noises and effects, syncopated rhythms made from rearranged funk breaks and loud bass lines defined the genre. These tracks were not widely called jungle or drum and bass by the mainstream media at their time of creation (although the terms "jungle" and "jungle techno" were in common use in the rave scene by then, with "drum & bass" appearing here and there on particular mixes of several vinyl releases), but they can nevertheless be found on later jungle and drum and bass compilations. The first major round-up of these tracks which was to use the term 'drum & bass' was probably "The Dark Side - Hardcore Drum & Bass Style": a compilation on React Records, released March 1993. However, as the early nineties saw drum and bass break out from its underground roots and begin to win popularity with the general British public, many producers attempted to expand the influences of the music beyond the domination of ragga-based sounds.
As a lighter sound of drum and bass began to win over the musical mainstream, many producers continued to work on the other end of the spectrum, resulting in a series of releases which highlighted a dark, technical sound which drew more influence from techno music and the soundscapes of science fiction and general film. This style was championed by the labels Emotif and No U-Turn, and by artists like Doc Scott, Trace, Ed Rush, Optical, and Dom & Roland. It is commonly referred to as techstep, which in turn gave birth to the neurofunk subgenre. A significant influence on techstep producers was the effect of high THC content marijuana on sensibilities as compared to the earlier ecstasy-fuelled rave scene. Techstep focused intensely on studio production and applied new techniques of sound generation and processing to older Jungle approaches. Self-consciously underground, and lacking the accessible influences of much other drum and bass, techstep is deeply atmospheric, often characterized by sinister or science-fiction themes (including samples from cult films), cold and complex percussion, and dark, distorted basslines. The sound was a conscious move back towards the darker sounds of Belgian Techno and Darkside Hardcore, albeit with a great electro / techno emphasis.
The sound also marked a period when drum and bass became more insular and began to draw inspiration from itself rather than other musical genres. The sampler at this time became less important with home computer equipment and generated beats and sounds becoming capable of creating an entire drum and bass track from scratch.
As the 1990s drew to a close, drum and bass withdrew from mainstream popularity and concentrated on the new more ominous sounds which were popular in clubs, rather than on mainstream radio. Techstep came to dominate the drum and bass genre, with artists like Konflict and Bad Company amongst the most visible. As time went on, techstep became more minimal, and increasingly dark in tone, and the funky, commercial appeal represented by Roni Size back in 1997 waned. A characteristic of this was the increasing disproportion of male to female club goers and a generally more aggressive and dark atmosphere at clubs.
The withdrawal of drum and bass from the mainstream was not only a result of its growing fascination with its own (progressively darker) sound, but also resulted from the explosive birth and growing popularity of UK garage (2 step and 4x4 garage, aka speed garage), a musical genre heavily influenced by jungle, with similar beats, vocal and basslines but slower speeds and more friendly (or at least radio-friendly) beats. Drum and bass suddenly found itself losing popularity and established drum and bass producers expressed shock at its sudden alienation and abandonment by the general public. This turn fuelled the harder sound of techstep.
Since the revival in popularity of the genre in circa 2000, the drum and bass scene has become very diverse, despite its relatively-small size, to the point where it is difficult to point to any one subgenre as the dominant style though techstep appears to be losing its previous dominance, with a "return to old skool" movement apparent in tracks & clubs.
This modern period has also seen the development of the style known as "dubwise", which returns drum and bass to its reggae-influenced roots and combines them with modern production techniques which had advanced immeasurably since the early days of jungle. Although the dub-influenced sound was not new, having long been championed by artists like Digital and Spirit, 2003-2004 saw a significant increase in its popularity and visibility.
The current state of the Drum and Bass scene is excellent, the genre is splintered with so many different sub-genres but still the music is strong. Such energy and life is encased within the Drum and Bass sound. Gapes are closing between many different styles. From The Netherlands the hardcore(gabba)/Drum n bass sound is evolving and spreading thru the scene, but much bigger is perhaps Dubstep! Drum 'n bass at a slower pace with very deep and much stronger baselines and its spreading fast al over the world! And also like the history of jungle and drum 'n bass there are similar paths.. The reggea influenced lighter style and the techno harder dirty style. Raw and dark, just the way we like it!