I can listen to drum & bass any time, all the time: early in the morning, before coffee—in fact, it acts as coffee—and very late at night, while the neighborhood snoozes around me. When I’m working on my home computer, blasting it through my headphones, sometimes I don’t even hear it; while some find it abrasive and chaotic, it’s thin and atmospheric to me. An element of the air.
In my May 2010 “On the Drum & Bass Tip, Part I” post, I shared the tracks that were on heavy rotation at the time. Like many, I no longer shop for CDs in stores; I also don’t buy music via iTunes (with the exception of one album purchase a few days ago entitled Natural History: Revision by D&B crew Blu Mar Ten. It’s good: lush, complex, atmosopheric stuff. Listen to it, especially “Believe Me,” “Above Words,” and the “Believe Me” remixes, particularly the “5-Foot Nothing & Anarchy Rise Remix.” Exchanged a few words on Twitter; they seem nice).
I’ve been collecting tracks on my YouTube account, which I created specifically for drum & bass and some house, techno, and old-school stuff. (Armand Van Helden’s garage remix of “Spin Spin Sugar”? Yep, it’s there.) Random favorites are sprinkled in, too—think Bauhaus, Nine In Nails, Sonic Youth, and nineties hip hop.
I wish I could present these favorite tracks to you in a proper mix, but ha! I don’t own any vinyl, don’t have turntables, nor can I spin records. Sorry. It’s a big regret of mine, and I know I still have time to pick up the hobby, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. Someday. I also apologize if some of the videos below are lame (which is the case for the “Bright Lights” video, so don’t bother watching it!), or if the track isn’t there in its entirety. Just focus on the music. These aren’t listed in any particular order—I love them all the same. Enjoy.
Jonny L, 1 N 2: I’m selective when I share music on my Facebook wall, as I know 85 percent of my friends don’t have the same taste in music as I do. But I had to share this song one night: it’s catchy, bouncy, yet smooth. I love his voice, and his vocal makes the track a bit more accessible to a non-D&B listener. A unique track and instant classic for me.
BCee & Lomax featuring Deeizm, One Year: Dig this chick’s voice. So, so much. Got a bit of soul, this one. Often, D&B tracks with female vocals are heavy on the sexy—a distinct soundscape.
Die & Interface featuring William Cartwright, Bright Lights (Lenzman Remix): Apologies for three things: the ad in the beginning, the announcer, and the cheesy video. That aside, the track is smooth. Interestingly, I’m not familiar with the original, but it doesn’t matter—this is slick. Well-layered. Effortless. I generally don’t like this type of male vocal in standard R&B songs, but it sounds so good here.
Trei, Day Away (Original Mix): An all-around solid track. I listen to it at least once a day, as I don’t feel complete without hearing it. I like the slight slowdown at 2:57, although it doesn’t lose its momentum and rolls right back in.
Snow Patrol, Open Your Eyes (Marky & Bungle Remix): So, Snow Patrol is a band, eh? (I’m pretty clueless when it comes to current rock, alternative, whatever-the-kids-call-it-now on the radio waves.) I’m surprised I adore this song, as I’m usually iffy about remixes of popular songs like this. I bet if a Snow Patrol fan heard this, however, their ears would bleed. I can understand that.
Alix Perez & Youthman, Promise Land: Ah, Alix Perez. The dude is consistent. I don’t know about you, but this song makes me want to party. Or, at least be at a party where others are partying. Smiling. Bopping their heads. Toe tapping. Jumping up and down. Um, yeah.
Nero featuring Alana, Solid Air: I shared this song on my Facebook wall, too. (No one commented.) I described it as M83 meets Venetian Snares: immediate, frantic, yet controlled. You’re propelled somewhere else, somewhere far, in seven minutes. The prominent strings are what I love the most. It’s fantastic.
Quivver, Chasin’ a Feeling: I didn’t discover this song until recently. I love the sound at 0:53, which becomes the sentimental motif of the song. Then the guy comes in at 2:36, and I just fall for it. Hard. It’s got a soft, nostalgic bent to it, but it also maintains its edge toward the middle (3:47 and on), which is why it works well.
Trei featuring Thomas Oliver, Lead Me On: This song was awkward when I first heard it; I thought it had an identity problem, as it initially didn’t sound like D&B. Then the track turned up a notch at 1:06, and I got even more confused. It’s different, but it’s grown on me. I’m a sucker for moments that build up (re: 2:58).
D Kay & Rawfull, Be There 4 U: Another all-around solid track that I find myself listening to at least once a day, usually in the morning over a cup of coffee, to rev me up. Love the vocal that comes in at 1:52.
Zero Frequency, Missing Blue: Ah, another soothing female voice. I’ve warmed up to liquid D&B quite a bit—it’s a background sound that helps me fall into a groove when I’m writing. When I hear this song, I think about after parties and bean bags.
Glamour for Better, Architects of Discotech (John B Remix): This, like “Lead Me On,” perplexed me at first. I had to figure out if I liked it, which required me to listen to it again. And again. And again. So, I think part of the reason why I love it is because of incessant drilling! That aside, it has this epic, anthemic quality that I can’t shake, and—despite its rough(er) vocals (re: 1:26 and 3:35)—it somehow all comes together. (The pause at 1:47 softens it, definitely.) The song is odd at times, but ultimately cohesive. (It sucks that the announcer comes in at 1:13 and 4:41.)
Cold Jazz and Wezzler featuring Joey Fever, Serious Things: I love the energy here. Hearing this makes me long for hot weather, outdoor parties on the grass, cruising down the freeway with my windows down, drinking cold beers at a BBQ, summer festivals. Ah.
Bcee, Generations (s.p.y. Remix): This woman is certainly on a journey, and we’re taking off with her. She’s scared, but ultimately comforted (re: 2:44). By what? I’m not sure—perhaps our company, or maybe simply knowing that things will be okay with a bit of time.
Peyo, U Can Make It: And finally, this song. It creeps up on you, builds oh-so-slowly. You don’t think anything of it, really, until he comes in at 1:50. And even still, his vocal is not forceful; the track is mellow all the way through, which I appreciate. Delicious.
Cheri Lucas Rowlands
Blogger at Writing Through the Fog. Story Wrangler at Automattic.