The Albums That Influenced Us
Posted by Adam on 9th April 2017
Depending on how old you are, where you grew up, who you kicked about with, and a million other factors, your love affair with Drum & Bass will be unique. Your favourite track, which reminds you of the first rave you went to, could be at the top of someone else’s shit list. Basically music, of any genre, is subjective so I, along with Ben, Dan, Ed and Jamie – the guys who write for the site – have picked the albums that influenced us most. Feel free to add your favourites and the stories behind them in the comments.
High Contrast – High Society (Hospital Records)
I can genuinely say that High Contrast was the reason I got into Drum & Bass. His music was the catalyst that started my passion for this scene. After tunes like Return Of Forever and Music Is Everything I was hooked on HC and when this album came along it blew me away. It was unlike anything I’d ever heard before and remains one of the all time great Drum & Bass LPs.
Pendulum – Hold Your Colour (Breakbeat Kaos)
Much in the same way that High Society did, Hold Your Colour came along and opened my eyes and ears to Drum & Bass like I’d never heard before. Tunes like Tarantula, Girl In The Fire and Slam became anthems and as such were the soundtrack to my late teens. Despite being released 12 years ago it still sounds great and remains to be one of the most successful Drum & Bass albums ever released.
Calyx – No Turning Back (Moving Shadow)
If you’re around my age (30…ish) you either played Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition on your PlayStation 2 or your parents didn’t love you and your mid-late teens were rubbish. Like those lucky enough to share that experience, I got my first real taste of this incredible album from that game, although realising shortly after that some of these tunes had been appearing in my tape packs for months and months before that. Whilst Calyx, along with his long time partner in crime Teebee, are more successful and more popular than ever I’ve always felt that some of the magic and the rawness of his music has been lost to become much more polished and clean. This album is dialled all the way up to 11 and is rough round the edges. It’s perfect.
Netsky – Netsky (Hospital Records)
As a baby-faced youngster still squinting into the sun’s rays and figuring out how to walk, Netsky’s debut album was the first real body of drum n bass I ever listened to start to finish, and holy cow what an album. This was back when Boris was very much the prodigy of DnB’s lighter side, still developing his sound and also still catering to drum n bass heads. It completely blew me away, I’d never heard such an aggressive yet welcoming sound, and the emotive impact he rammed into his arrangements still gets me going. If I had to name my favourite DnB track it would be Moving With You, and despite Netsky’s evolution away from the scene I still fanboy over everything he makes.
High Contrast – High Society (Hospital Records)
Since this came out in 2004, I wasn’t far off 10 years late to the party. Fortunately a High Contrast party don’t stop, and even now, 13 years on, this revolutionary LP still sounds unbelievably fresh and packing more classics that Lincoln Barrett could possibly have anticipated. I distinctly remember the first time I listened to it, hit play on Lovesick, leant back in my chair and soaked the next hour and a bit up, before promptly pressing play again right away. Lovesick, Brief Encounter, Racing Green and Twilights Last Gleaming are my personal highlights, all gems in a pile of gold.
Chase and Status – No More Idols
Now, if we’re talking influential Chase and Status albums the first one to spring to mind is More Than A Lot, because for most people that’s the LP that made them take notice of the duo. For me though, my aforementioned toddler status meant 2011’s No More Idols got more playtime and is therefore clearer in my head. There’s plenty of other genres represented on the album, grime included, and so for me No More Idols didn’t just change DnB but was a window into urban music in general. Featuring a wicked list of remixes and VIPs, No More Idols made sure I never picked up a pop record again.
Noisia – Split the Atom (Vision Recordings)
I’m pretty sure buying this album back in 2012 marked the beginning of my love affair with Drum and Bass. In my early teen years I was mildly into house, techno, ashamedly the more cringeworthy side of dubstep at one point, but I was always looking for something new, eager to broaden my musical horizons. I don’t remember how exactly I managed to come across ‘Split the Atom’, but I do remember being astonished at the sheer amount of creativity and ingenuity behind it, be it with the impossibly complex synth-work, the heavy yet intricately detailed drums, or its many other unique elements. Although it can be argued much of this album technically isn’t drum and bass, it was songs such as ‘Sunhammer’, ‘Shellshock’, and ‘Could This Be’, a track that still leaves me awestruck to this day, that really hit home with me, and became the foundations of my love for the genre.
London Elektricity – Power Ballads (Hospital Records)
Tony Colman, aka. London Elektricity, is easily my biggest inspiration when it comes to music in general; having run Hospital Records for the last 21 years, released countless albums, and organised two incredible live bands, it’s impossible not to admire him and his many achievements. This album in particular was a landmark for me; it showcased a much more organic, even orchestral side to drum and bass, and in my eyes displayed that the genre doesn’t have to be defined entirely by generations of producers sitting in darkness, staring at computer screens. The incorporation of incredible talents such as Liane Carroll and the Jungle Drummer adds to the brilliant authenticity of this record, especially on the opening track ‘Out of This World’, one of my favourite songs of all time. Being the youngling that I am, I sadly never had the opportunity to experience a London Elektricity Live performance during the early noughties – however, I am massively excited to catch the London Elektricity Big Band at Hospitality in the Park later this year!
Technimatic – Desire Paths (Shogun Audio)
‘Desire Paths’ is an album I will cherish for as long as the vinyl sits upon my shelf. From the minute I set this record on my turntable, and the gorgeous introductory tones of ‘Perseverance’ began to roll out, I knew this would be something special. There is an ever-present theme of journeys within this album, specifically the idea that we are responsible for the course our own individual lives take, that, with faith and determination, we should be willing to create our own desire paths. This concept reached out to me personally, and is to some extent responsible for my attachment to ‘Desire Paths’. Of course the music itself, the driving force of the message, is unbelievable too. Belters like ‘Beneath the Skies’ and ‘Night Vision’ transport you to ecstatic heights, while the deeper vibes of ‘Music is Music’ and ‘One Way’ create a much more thought-provoking and emotional atmosphere. And take them for granted though many may, the delicate interludes make for some of the most magical moments, in my opinion.
Remarc – Sound Murderer (SubUrbanBase)
Not only was this the first album that introduced me to the authentic jungle sound and took me away from contemporary ragga drum & bass often misleadingly referred to as jungle; but given the extensive searching this portal of an album set in motion, it still remains the benchmark for which I compare all other jungle records.
Unashamedly raw and intelligently constructed, the whole album is a tour de force. Sound Murderer (Loafin’ In Brockley remix), RIP (Remarc Remix), Menace (album favourite), Thunderclap, Unity. Each superb creations in their own right yet I have particular love for Ice Cream + Syrup (Hard Mix) as it’s one of the few jungle tracks that doesn’t include an amen break. To summarise, Remarc is a don and you should all buy this album.
Audio – Soul Magnet LP (Virus)
Upon hearing Neurofunk and the dark sides of drum & bass during my fledgling rave days, my mind was blown. The technicality and experimental nature of the sounds complimented by the thunderous energy and power it transmitted ensnared me almost instantly. It will be of little surprise to hear that Headroom was the first track that led me to explore this album as a whole, and how I enjoyed such a voyage.
Although Audio’s time as the king of Tech/Neurofunk drum & bass for me personally may be over, this album will always have a special place in my heart, and for good reason. The whole album embodies Virus recordings mantra to the letter and to hear Audio on the label again would be a dream come true. Genesis Device (the precursor to Soul Magnet) nearly made the cut and it was a difficult decision to put Soul Magnet first but in terms of an influential album that really catalysed my journey into the murky depths of Neurofunk, Soul Magnet took first place.
Source Direct – Exorcise The Demons (Astralwerks)
Now this album was a fairly recent discovery for me, and thus I cannot claim it was an initial album that got me into drum & bass, but I wish for the life of me it was. Source Direct is a name hopefully none of you will have to look up, and the dynamic duo have been forging astounding sonic activity for decades. Signed to Metalheadz as teenagers and operating under a number of aliases, these fellas are true drum & bass icons. Pioneering such an intelligent sound during a time where jungle and drum & bass was rampant, they managed to remain unique, amassing their own sound across a number of leading imprints.
Mind Weaver and Concealed Identity would be the best tracks on the album for me, but Dubstar, Wanton Conduct and Technical Warfare are also beautiful pieces. With song lengths ranging from 6:47 – 9:32 each track is it’s own unique journey. Technical Warfare drops after 4 minutes… They just don’t make songs like this anymore, and it’s a tragedy. Brutally dark and profoundly innovative, this is drum & bass at it’s most exquisite.
LTJ BUKEM – Producer 01 (Good Looking Records)
What an album. Released in 2000, Bukem just seemed to marry all of my favourite late 90’s trip hop/beat based elements with jungle breaks and crispy production. LP opener ‘Cosmic Interlude’ set the tone for the record – Musical and fantastically playful with beats that showed an artist’s high grade skill without the usual 6 minute egotistical jazz/jungle fusion intro. That playfulness didn’t mean the album wasn’t built on foundations of solid sonic wealth. With the richness of ‘Demon’s Theme’, the depth of ‘Music’ and the utterly anthemic ‘Atlantis’ (also one of my top 3 tunes of all time), Producer 01 was undoubtedly one of the most influential bodies of work that came to usher the late Jungle era into Drum and Bass.
Movement : Perpetual Drum & Bass Motion (Movement)
Ok. So it’s a compilation album and it’s blatantly cheating but allow it! Also released in 2000 this CD was the perfect click of a photographers lens trained on London’s Bar Rumba and a clubnight called Movement. While some producers these days feel like the word ‘liquid’ is akin to their precious work being set on fire or drowned like witches, Movement was a place where soulful rollers meant sexy girls would actually show up to a dance and you’d still get to hear ‘Terrorist’ and ‘The Nine’ whilst rubbing shoulders with their creators. Such an influential time. Such good vibes. Such good memories.
Cyantific – Ghetto Blaster (Hospital Records)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. He’s my mate. So I can’t chose it? F off. Right, I’ve had a good old scuffle with some pals about this. Yes, True Colours preceded this album. Yes, it’s good. But the first time I heard it I was like ‘this is well nice music’, but the first time I heard ‘Neon Skyline’ by Cyantific I literally fell over because I didn’t know what was happening. You could play ‘Ghetto Blaster’, ‘Cover Story’ and ‘Little Green Men’ today without them sounding dated. Such mature production from two youngsters still embracing an age when an album meant you had to make a proper body of work. Todd Edwards meets Ferris Bueller in The End while riding the hoverboard from Back To The Future. Thank you please.