2021 was another strong year for D&B, but the one thing that stood out was the harder edge of the genre got a little less beard-stroking and lot more funky with rolling tunes aimed squarely at the floor becoming the flavour of the day. A lot of producers looked back to the sounds of the 2000s for a more stripped back, bass driven sound with less complicated beat work. But what the tunes lacked in complexity they gained in groove and that can never be a bad thing.
This is a compilation of all the tunes in 2021 that rinsed and rolled out across the year. Special shouts to the Bristol crews like DLR, The Sauce, Fox and labels such as Sofa Sounds, Dispatch and Metalheadz who all had a BIG year.
Ninja feat. Singing Fats – Soul Silhouette Technimatic – Mirror Image (Phaction Remix) John B – Up All Night (Data 3 Remix) Universal Project – Lost In It The Sauce & Fox – Everything Boss DLR, Script & MC Fokus – Perception (Trail & Debby Remix) Inja – Take Me Home T>I – The Locksmith BCee & Charlotte Haining – Reminds Me (S.P.Y Remix) Monika & Akuratyde – Amber Inja feat. Charlotte Haining – Reach Out DLR – U.D.O Came & Krooked, Mefjus & Sophie Lindinger – No Tomorrow (Tom Finster Remix) Bop – Surfing the Anxiety Waves PFM – For Caron (Are You Ready) QZB & Rider Shafique – The Banker S.P.Y – Is Anybody Out There (S.P.Y VIP) Punctual & Nabiha – The Step (Pola & Bryson Remix) Conrad Subs – Love 4 U Inja – Stranger L-Sides & MC Fats – High Times (Break Remix) Shades of Rhythm – Sound of Eden (Benny Page Remix) Payback – Inter-Connected DLR – Make My Mind Go DLR – Sufferation Tony Anthem feat. Doctor – Tears Of Mine (Gunmen & Specimen A Remix) Jubei – Slipstream Akuratyde – Evergreen Paul T & Edward Oberon feat. Cleveland Watkiss) QZB & Gardna – Music’s Got Soul Mystic State – Whole Half Cosmology – Something Different
A bit of the old and a lot of the new in this mix of tuffer D&B beats. S.P.Y. doing his own remix duties on Is Anybody Out There (S.P.Y VIP) and Sub Focus’s bass heavy Deep Space (Date 3 Remix) are just some of the new highlights. Nico’s rework of Bill Laswell early work Oscilations and Quadrant & Iris remix of Marcus Intalex & Future Cut classic Plastic are representing for the OG vibes.
Inja & Singing Fats – Soul Silhouette DLR, Script & MC Focus – Perception (Trail & Dibby Remix) Inja – Take Me Home DIsrupta & J Select – Tequila Mikal – Resampled DuoScience – Mismatched Cauzer – Form One S.P.Y. – Is Anybody Out There (S.P.Y VIP) Bill Laswell – OScilations (Nico No U-Turn Mix) Marcus Intalex & Future Cut – Plastic (Quadrant & Iris Remix) Gest – Futurism Particle – Nosedive Payback – Inter-Connected DLR – Make My Mind Go Sub Focus – Deep Space (Date 3 Remix) Jubei – Slipstream Shades of Rhythm – Sound of Eden (Benny Page Remix) DJ SS & Azpect – Feeling Blessed (DJ SS Remix) Foreign Concept, Enei & Magugu – Sticks Paul T & Edward Oberon feat. Cleveland Watkiss – Music’s Got Soul QZB & Gardna – Landline
Going a bit deeper and darker in this mix of new-ish tunes. 2021 has been a good year for harder styles, and even though there isn’t as much minimal techy stuff coming out there is still a decent selection of deep beats and darker cuts still being produced.
Probably the deepest and darkest of them in this selection is the Missive triple play close to the beginning. Cavernous bass and stripped back beats characterised Missives top quality Lithos EP which came out around the middle of this year. Other tunes to keep an ear out for are T>I’s The Locksmith and Let it Go which both shred, Foriegn Concepts ragga tinged Kultja and Zero T’s killer VIP reworking of Goldie feat. Jose James – Truth.
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve hit up the rougher side of D&B, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some excellent heavy hitters out there at the moment.
Workforce continue to kill it with their giant roller Back Up. The ever reliable Muffler has smashed it again with the suitably titled Super Heavy. And ever the usually laid back and atmospheric Rain Forrest has come out swinging with his shot at hard and heavy, Shadow Work.
With a good mix of of old and new producers, this mix is one worth turning the volume and sub up on.
Q Project & Myth – Demonz John B – Up All Night (Data 3 Remix) Workforce – Back Up Blood Trust – Transparent Blue (feat. Kid Drama) Hexa – No More Mikal – Resampled Muffler – Super Heavy Physics – Cultivator Conrad Subs – Love 4 U Jem One – Sunday Rain Malign – Tearaway Jubei – Slipstream MKD – Krill Rainforest – Shadow Work Airstrike – Radials Doctor feat. Tony Anthem – Tears of Mine (Gunmen & Specimen A Remix) Paul T & Edward Oberon – Music’s Got Soul (feat. Cleaveland Watkiss)
We’re back to some contemporary beats after the 200th Anniversary sets with a mix of rollers from 2020-21. These tracks are almost a genre on their own with their tuff but rolling beats and dirty basslines. They feel a bit more accessible and floor friendly that the usual hardcore D&B tracks and give a bit of a nod to the older Jump Up sound of the early 2000s.
Artists like Buunshin, Mikal and Was a Be are definitely leading the pack along with players like Workforce and Breakage in this sound. This set features work from Mikal’s amazing Metalworks LP which was packed full of tuff rollers and definitely a highlight for Metalheadz late last year.
As hard as some of these tracks are, it is almost impossible not to nod your head and have a smile while you’re at it.
Degs feat. Pola & Bryson – Sleepless (Bladerunner Version) Buunshin – Descended Kidsonic & Swift – Follow Me Substance – Be Forgiven Mikal – Resampled Mikal – Doesn’t Matter Mikal – Journey into the Reverb Was A Be – The Walk (Radiax Remix) Mikal – Turn it Around Goldie feat. Natalie Williams – I Adore You (Total Science Remix) Mikal – Strident Breakage – Valhalla Was A Be & Radiax – Beijing Banger (Was A Be Remix) Soul Intent & Ms Tempz – 2 Bad Breakage – As We Enter (Break Remix) OAKK, Rider SHafique & Radiax – Growning (Radiax Remix) Duoscience – Shallow Kidsonic – Deeper Love John B – up All Night (Data 3 Remix)
The final in the silly season mixes is all about tough beats and booming b-lines. Rough D&B never really goes out of style, but it does eveolve and this year saw artists like Dom & Roland, Conrad Subs and Bungle bring back an original jungle vibe with a heaping serve of heaviness.
Metalheadz had a stellar 2020 with so many great LPs dropping it felt like every month there was something worth dropping from Goldie’s stable of production talent. But they weren’t alone with Dom & Roland’s self titled label, Doc Scott’s 31 Recordings and a whole host of other bringing the absolute heat.
Goldie – The Mirrored River (Grey Code Remix) Goldie – Prism (Dom & Roland Remix) Heitor Leal Farnese – E näo foi à lápis (Thermal’s Black Dog Remix) T95 & DRS – On Site Soul Intent & Acid Lab – Clash of Headz High Contrast – If We Ever VIP Conrad Sub – Bump & Grind Conrad Subs – Love Me Tender Goldie feat. José James – Truth (Zero T VIP) Hyroglifics – God Given Bungle – Runaway Polaris – Eternal Conflicts DJ Marky & Pola & Bryson – Run the Streets Myth – Long Time Muffler – Super Heavy DJ Marky – Parlet Total Science – Lightweight (Break Remix) Goldie – I Think of You (Digital & Spirit Remix)
Some of the first Tech Step tunes I got into were on compilations such as Sound of the Underground Record’s – Nu Skool Flava and Emotif Recordings’ – Tech Steppin. These were dark moody tunes full of Hip Hop samples and hard beats. While they weren’t the best tunes in terms of sound production, for raw energy and intent they still hold up today as some of the most upfront D&B tunes ever written.
This mix is dedication to SOUR, Emotif, Prototype and all the other labels who pushed the sounds of Elementz of Noize, Ed Rush, Trace, Ray Keith and all the other pioneers of the Tech Step sound that went on to influence D&B for decades afterwards.
DJ Trace – Mutant Revisited Elementz of Noize – Hit The Deck Dylan – Witchcraft Shapeshifter – Talkin’ Mad Shit Skyscraper – Liberty One DJ Kane – The Way It Goes Down Elementz of Noize – Mars Needs Women DJ Trace – Jeamland ’96 Ray Keith – D4 Toxic Waste (Elementz of Noize Remix) Skyscraper – The Difference Click N’ Cycle – Trippin’ Tonic Remix (Tonic’s Re-Animated Mix) TC Islam & The Alien 3 – Let The Bass Boom T.Power – Amber (Shy FX Extended Version) DJ Trace – Mid Town (Level II) Ray Keith – D4 Toxic Waste B.L.I.M. – Onza Shapeshifter – Communicate With The World Shapeshifter – Mass Hysteria Freq Nasty -The Shadow Microburst – Punkmutha
I don’t often dip into the heavier side of D&B, but always enjoy it when I do. With old classics being remixed like Benny L’s remix of Dark Soldier and T>I’s Minimal VIP of Ray Kieth’s – Renegade, plus new drops from the likes of Adred on Metalheadz, A-Sides and Amon Tobin and Double Click’s – Two Fingers project there is plenty in here to be happy about.
Special shout out to Thermal for his Black Dog Remix of Heitor Leal Farnese – E näo foi à lápis. Remixes don’t come much more obscure, or tougher than this. Thanks for thinking of me.
Hard times call for hard tunes and this mix is full of new heavy hitters designed to make you pogo around your lounge room.
Shouts to Kings of the Rollers, Work Force and all the other producers keeping me sane during the lock down. Special shout out to Thermal and Boredome from DOA for the free tunes. keep up the great work.
Naibu – Use of Weapons (Fracture & Neptune Astrophonica Remix) Rene LeVive & Future Cut – Deeandbee L Plus – The Planet Boredome – Rush Hour Survey – Far Gone Seba & Jr Vallo – Wasabi DLR feat. M-zine & Scepticz – Still Alive Madcap – B-Boy Klute – Broadside Rene LeVive & Future Cut – Eyes Jaybee, Dave Owen & D-Lo – SXSW (VIP) Ed:it – Generally Speaking Hybrid Minds feat. Charlotte Haining – Higher Love (Particle Remix) Kings of the Rollers – You Got Me (S.P.Y. Remix) Acid_Lab – Life FD – Blue Sky Research Ed:it – the Limit Digital & Need for Mirrors – Deadline (Need for Mirrors Remix) Work Force – So Good
Inspired by the tougher sounds of Blue Note era Metalheadz, this mix proves that not all hard D&B needs to be mid-range bass lines, high pitched snares and screeching synths to make an impact.
The classic heavy sound seems to be making a serious comeback lately and is moving forward by looking back to the golden era of the sound. Fixate’s – Ripgroove remix being a perfect example of a classic reworked for modern day sound systems and listening. Other’s such as Brazilian producer Bungle, D&B super group Kings of the Rollers and new kid on the block Pasha Solecci are following suit bringing a new production techniques to the OG sound with devastating effect.