Recently I was in London and kept seeing an ad for a compilation on the walkway walls of the Tube - Drum & Bass Arena 2017.
The thought - Drum & Bass, in 2017 - did my head in. Because 2017 is twenty years since 1997, the last year I fanatically followed every twist 'n' turn in the drum & bass dialectic (by 1998 I'd switched pretty much wholesale to UKG which was then mutating into 2step).
I've checked in every so often since then, heard the occasional encouraging flicker of renewed invention, but for the most part it's been a mutual divergence of paths.
20 years! That's a hell of a lot of history, though. That's four times as long as the first phase of the genre, even interpreted rather generously as summer 92 to summer 97.
That first phase - the emergent years of darkside>jungle>drum&bass (artcore-vs-techstep-vs-jump-up) have been covered quite thoroughly, but there isn't a book that looks at the whole arc of D&B's lifespan - then and now and all points in between.
Renegade Snares is the title of a project launched by Carl Loben and Ben Murphy of DJ magazine to take on and fulfill that mission. The book is being funded via Unbound. Check it out and lend them your support.
A fusion of Jamaican dancehall, American hip-hop and Belgian techno, drum & bass is a uniquely British concoction born in multi-cultural London. From its roots in the underground over 25 years ago, drum & bass has gone on to top the pop charts, fill concert halls and sound-track movies. It’s an amazing, futuristic creation that has resonated around the world.
Drum & bass has given rise to charismatic figureheads like Goldie and Roni Size, had the patronage of Björk and David Bowie, and periodically mutated into new forms, staying one step ahead of trends and fads. It’s an underground, outlaw sound that has had a remarkable impact on popular culture.
But drum & bass doesn’t, yet, have the definitive book. A few have told individual stories or given accounts of the early years, but Renegade Snares tells the whole tale. It charts this extraordinary genre from its fiery beginnings, through its mainstream acceptance and periodic movements back into the underground, gaining unique insights from all the scene’s biggest players — both established and brand-new.
Written with the blessing of the scene’s leaders, including Goldie, who’s kindly agreed to write the foreword, Renegade Snares tells the stories of DJs like Fabio, Grooverider, Hype, LTJ Bukem, Andy C, Roni Size, Randall, Ed Rush & Optical and Bryan Gee, and of lesser-known mavericks like Dillinja, Omni Trio, Remarc or Calibre – the renegades who’ve stayed true to the scene every step of the way. We’ll shed a light on the new school trailblazers too, from High Contrast, Noisia and London Elektricity, to futurists dBridge, Kasra and Fracture.
From warehouse raves and hardcore, through soundsystem jungle to intelligent drum & bass; from the Bristol sound to tech-step; the Brazilian connection to a second surge into the charts; heavy metal and neuro-funk, to its influence on genres like nu-breaks, dubstep and bass music, this is the true unexpurgated history of drum & bass we’ve been waiting for.
Carl Loben is the editor of the internationally acclaimed DJ Magazine. A music journalist for more than 25 years, he wrote for Melody Maker for most of the 1990s before joining the staff at DJ Mag toward the end of that decade. He has also written for many other titles including MOJO, Guardian Unlimited, FACT, The Quietus, the Huffington Post, Muzik, Generator, Vox, Attitude and lots more. In 2003 he wrote the Electronic Music section of the Billboard Music Encyclopedia, and has also worked as an Associate Lecturer at Solent University in Southampton.
Ben Murphy is the former editor of DJ Magazine. A music journalist for over 15 years, he’s also worked in artist management with acts including Roots Manuva and Leftfield. As a freelance writer he’s contributed to Bandcamp, Clash, Crack, Electronic Sound, FACT, The Guardian Guide, Highlife, i-D, Record Collector, Red Bull Music Academy, Songlines, Time Out, Vinyl Factory, XLR8R and more, while also providing sleeve-notes for record labels Warp and Harmless, and giving introductory talks for the respected Classic Album Sundays record listening sessions.