I was sitting down recently and I decided that I want to start a series where I talk about albums, tracks, or instances that sparked my interest in a particular discipline or genre.
These tracks are in no particular order, but each played a huge role in piquing my interest when I first got into the Drum & Bass genre.
Aural Imbalance: Realm of Innocence
Honorable Mention(s): Icefields of Proxima, 98 State, Recall.
If I remember correctly, RoI may have been the first track I ever heard from Mr. Imbalance. I was traveling down a YouTube rabbit hole of 90’s jungle and stumbled into it one way or another. This was a defining moment for me as it introduced me to some of the indie labels he had been releasing tracks for and essentially “finalized” the sound and atmosphere I had been searching for all this time. It still possesses one of my favorite bass lines from any genre. It’s clean, but still manages to be deep, gritty, and resonant. The bass coupled with a beautiful delayed synth, what sounds like some vocals (could just be a synth but it sounds like it’s going “ooowee”), and that perfect break puts this song as one of my all time favorites.
Icefields of Proxima from the outstanding Legacy album is a very, very close second as it does an incredible job of marrying elements of contemporary DnB with some order vibes, but is still a bit more restrained. It’s a toss up really, but RoI has the slight edge.
Honorable Mention(s): Desideradi, Sun Voyage, Just For You (As Shogun)
Artemis’s Fairlight is in my opinion, the perfect, versatile chill-out roller. Sure you could dance to it, but i’ve found myself listening to it on walks, exercising, and even cleaning. The strings coupled with the lovely bass line and simple but effective break really makes this song stand out in my book. It’s very different from some of the other tracks on the list as far as tone and atmospherics go, but it is a must listen and extremely underrated piece from the Good Lookin’ catalogue.
To me, this track is the embodiment of what old school Drum & Bass could accomplish emotionally and spiritually.
Alaska & Seba: Back from Eternity
Alaska: Denali’s Realm, Mauja, The Vortex
Seba: Anything from Producer 06
I didn't want to have this list dominated by these two so I decided to make them one entry.
There isn’t much that I can say about these two that hasn’t been said already. Back From Eternity is the most underrated and under appreciated track in the entire genre in my opinion. It’s big, cinematic, and epic. I remember hearing this on YouTube and literally watched the chills slowly run up my arms when the bass hit. Alaska’s Jasheri is also about as close to perfect as I think any piece of art can get as well. Back from Eternity is an experience and a delight for anyone who loves this kind of sound.
The Invisible Man: Stormfields
I love this track. Infused with killer bass and an outstanding synthscape, Stormfields is a real marvel. Hands down my favorite part of this piece is the vocal sample that comes in towards the middle of the song (still haven’t been able to discover where it’s from) that adds an interesting metaphysical context to the track. Check this one out if you haven’t already, you most certainly won’t be disappointed.
LTJ Bukem: Demons Theme II
Honorable Mention(s): Atlantis (I Need You), Coolin Out, Inner Guidance.
Come on, you didn't think we'd make it through this list without some Bukem right? There are quite a few tracks from Bukem's body of work that I found myself enjoying over the years, especially the excellent Journey Inwards that combines outstanding jazz elements with delicious breakbeat. However the flute in Demons Theme II sets it over the top for me. Hideki Okugawa's Killing Moon from Street Fighter: 3rd Strike is another track that features this same flute and it's fantastic. Love this track and what Bukem contributed to the pantheon.
These are just the tracks that had a noticeable impact on my tastes and would ultimately shape my pallet in the beginning. There are tons of tracks that i'm missing but here are some others that immediately come to mind:
Big Bud: Chill, Indian Summer, Way of Life.
Future Engineers: Cerulean Seas, Fragments, Images.
Nu-Moon (Moonchild): Sea Town, View of Life.
P.F.M: Cruisin' Detroit, Inertia, Wash Over Me.
Tayla: Bringing Me Down, Language.
The Architex: Altitude.
This was actually very fun and I had a blast reminiscing over how incredible it was to have found a new genre that I could enjoy, explore, and dissect. I felt like a kid in a candy shop all over again. I will most certainly do another one of these for other genres. Let me know in the comments below what some of your starter tracks were.
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