30/09/2019: “6 Million Ways To Die” by Dopeskillz

Dopeskillz is an alias of DJ Zinc. So it is no surprise that this track is a banger, combining a heavy duty bassline with a rapid fire drum break.

The song, like many jungle songs, takes inspiration from hip hop. The vocals here are from a song by Method Man and Redman, called “How High”. The 6 million ways to die” line is originally from Cutty Ranks, on “A Who Seh Me Dun”, released in 1992.

The bassline is a heavy warp affair, and provides a lot of the melodic push. There’s also a more hip hop type bass, which plays in the slower breakdown parts of the song.

The effects are numerous. The high pitched squeal is very light in comparison to the rest of the song, but there’s also a classic paranoid jungle pad too.

The drums are brilliantly frenzied, switching up periodically and incorporating a range of time stretched rolls and offbeat hits.

The track was released in 1995, at the time where jungle was unmistakably turning into DnB. Make no mistake though, this is jungle!

13/09/2019: “Lord Of Null Lines (Foul Play Remix)” by Hyper On Experience

Foul Play were renowned for their tight drum programming, especially since it was common at the time just to layer breaks and maybe chop/stretch them at points.

It really shows on this one. The drums are so intricate and interesting, like a sonic kaleidoscope spiralling through the night.

As with all classic 1994 jungle, the bassline is a doozy. The 808s beat out a steadfast groove right from the start. Then, about a third of the way through, the bass morphs into a hollow, rounded sound, and is joined by skittish, paranoid synth string hits.

A particular favourite of mine is the echoing bell sound, which underpins the percussion-less section so brilliantly. It’s how a certain kind of jungle ought to be – dark and dangerous.

The original hardcore song was released in 1993, but this remix came out in 1994 backed with a Ray Keith remix.

05/08/2019: “Love Has Gone” by Netsky

Netsky is one of the biggest stars to come out of modern drum & bass, and he has mainly done it without sacrificing too much authenticity. Of course, a song like this is very different from his liquid productions; it’s much more pop focused, with a catchy vocal hook and solid gold riff!

But nevertheless, the dancefloor potential is strong. The song retains the energy D’n’B is known for, delivering a fearsome low end kick. The main riff is a starry siren call, hitting each note boldly as the quick notes of the string synth faintly play in the background. There’s a vibrophone-esque synth in the middle too, creating a serene pause.

The vocal sample which the song is loosely constructed around is from the smooth 1976 R’n’B track “Love Ballad”, by L.T.D. In Netsky’s hands, the sample becomes a powerful, searing cry.

The song was released in 2012 on Hospital records, and did well in his native Belgium, the Netherlands, and the U.K. It appeared on his aptly named second album, 2.

27/07/2019: “Ska” by DJ Zinc

DJ Zinc has been knocking about the U.K. electronic scene since the hey day of acid house, and was at the forefront of a very interesting movement as the head of the Bingo Beats label.

Some of his best stuff is drum & bass, which he produced in his own style, with distinctive use of breaks and bass sounds which tend to mark out a DJ Zinc production from the crowd.

“Ska” was released in 2002 on the True Playaz label as part of the Present Tense E.P., with a very good remix by DJ Zinc himself in 2004.

The bassline is a classic Bingo Beats style, slightly rough yet ineffably bouncy. There’s a very natural rhythm in that bass!

There’s also a heavier bassline of the more basic square wave kind, to keep things moving.

The drums are beautifully constructed, with a supremely danceable shuffle in the hi-hats.

11/07/2019: “Chopper (Shy FX Remix)” by Ray Keith

Two massive names in drum and bass for the price of one!

Shy FX’s remix of this is a huge banger, ripping apart dancefloors from the moment of its release in 1996.

Ray Keith’s original, released under the moniker The Terrorist in the same year, is a more straightforwardly jungle tune. This means that it has deep 808 bass, big breakbeats, and just a general dark vibe.

The Shy FX remix has a distinctive buzzy bassline that rises at the end of every few bars, and a much tighter drum pattern. It’s a big anthem because of its catchiness, blended with a strong dose of heaviness!

If anything the song is a bit too relentless, but it has enough of a bounce to stop it becoming to breathless.

The intro is a very cool one, with that time-stretched “we’re now ready for takeoff, so please fasten your seatbelts”.

27/06/2019: “Pulp Fiction” by Alex Reece

This is one of the undisputed classics of the drum and bass scene. Not only did it bring stripped back 2-step drum patterns into vogue, it’s also just a flawless tune.

The track has a killer bassline, overlaid with an anxious sounding synth pad. The drums are snappy, but have a very cool second snare and hi-hat pattern in the background. Together they’re almost mesmerising.

The female vocal sample, dubbed out with delay and cut short, is incredibly effective. Along with the jazzy horns, they give the track a sophistication which simply can’t be reduced to a formula.

A further bit of energy is provided by the ominous, repetitive percussion noise in the latter third of the track.

There was some disagreements between Reece and Goldie, the Metalheadz label boss, over Pulp Fiction’s release, because Goldie wanted it on a compilation album and Reece wanted it on his own album.

This landmark song was released in 1995 on Metalheadz.

16/06/2019: “Mr. Maverick” by Calibre

Calibre is a stalwart of the D’n’B scene, often associated with the mellower Liquid subgenre. He does have a knack for the heavier stuff too though!

This roller is a skilful symphony of the classic “Think about it” breakbeat, a murky Jamaican vocal sample from a King Tubby dub of “Slavemaster” by Gregory Isaacs, and a growling, shifting bassline.

The song is quite minimal in a sense, with only a few elements to flesh it out. It’s a masterclass in building and releasing the flow, so that even if the second drop is very similar to the first, it feels fresh.

The drums are a true joy, giving the song a natural head bopping verve and securing its status as a classic.

The song was first released in 2004, although a lot of the internet will say 2016 because that’s when the digital came out.

09/05/2019: “The Dark Stranger (Origin Unknown Mix)” by Boogie Times Tribe

The original mix of The Dark Stranger is a fantastic hardcore tune, paranoid but still with healthy dose of euphoria.

The Origin Unknown remix ramps the paranoia to nail biting levels, stripping back the sound and adding the trademark beeps of the type heard on their textbook drum & bass banger, “Valley Of The Shadows”.

This eerie arpeggio is coupled with a sharp breakbeat and a deep, smooth bassline, creating a dark and nervous soundscape.

The synths in the second half of the song add another layer of fear and sonic texture, and all the elements come into their own.

The song was released in 1993 with a Johnny Jungle Remix. There was also another version called the Origin Unknown Re-Remix, which is less stripped back.

As to all the main versions and remixes of the Dark Stranger, it’s hard to say which is the best. They are all different styles, except the Q-bass remix, which is by one of the two guys in the Boogie Times Tribe.

Drenched in fear!

13/04/2019: “Pacman (Ram Trilogy Remix)” by Ed Rush & Optical

Ed Rush & Optical are one of the pioneering groups behind the neurofunk subgenre of Drum & Bass, which is a more flowing and repetitive style. Ram Trilogy is similarly a massive name in that scene.

The original mix of “Pacman” was released in 2000 on the album The Creeps (Invisible And Deadly!). It’s a classic in its own right, but the Ram Trilogy remix is far catchier, elevating the song to a truly legendary status.

The remix is unrelenting, with a fast and full drum section, and the trademark neurofunk rolling bassline. The melody of the song has a lot more variation than the original, and is genuinely catchy.

The breakdown sections are ominous and alien, leading into a second half that is not particularly different from the first. The start and finish of the song use a slower bass part, which “hits” rather than rolls.

The Ram Trilogy remix was released in 2002, as a single backed with “Vessel” by Universal Project.

24/02/2019: “Atlantis (I Need You)” by LTJ Bukem

Technically, this is a remix of a hardcore track, the superb “Return To Atlantis” by Apollo 2, of which LTJ Bukem was a member. That song samples the bleeps from “Surkit” by Reel by Real, a 1990 techno banger.

It’s one of the most iconic tracks of the “Intelligent” sub-genre of Drum & Bass, and provides a master class in atmospherics. LTJ Bukem is a versatile producer, but this style finds him at his best.

The syncopated 808 bass hits deep, providing much of the dancefloor appeal of the track. The drums are programmed exquisitely, with a fluid and interesting breakbeat.

The intro is dreamy, which sets the tone for the song as a whole. There’s an otherworldly, yet reassuringly relaxing feeling to the song.

There’s also a spread of conga drums for the middle section, where the relaxing feeling intensifies.

The song was released in 1993 as the B side to the Apollo Two version, although it is arguably more famous than the original.

A glorious track!