If you know me, it must seem as though I’ve been banging on about Jungle/Drum n’ Bass for what seems like decades now (and it has, two to be exact). From its early 90’s inception of hardcore breakbeats through Goldie’s 1995 classic “Timeless” and up to the already legendary Mosaic compilation albums from dBridge’s Exit Records imprint, the one thing that no one could ever take away from Drum n’ Bass is its constant ability to keep moving forward and to reflect the world around it in which it is created. Much in the same way that early Detroit Techno conjured up images of the automated robots of Henry Ford’s Detroit so to did Hardcore Jungle/Drum n’ Bass shine a light on the burned out factories of Thatcher’s England. Just as Hip Hop showed suburban America what was going on in the inner city of New York, Drum n’ Bass showed us what was going on in London’s bleak underbelly of the late 90’s. With that, what better example can I provide to showcase this progression? That would be the new Autonomic mix from dBridge’s newest project, HeartDrive.
The Autonomic sound began to come forward around 2009 and thus began a new and exciting time for Drum n’ Bass as an art form. Thankfully, this new musical maturity was so far removed from the early 2000’s machismo and over the top bravado (that really came to symbolize much of what Drum n’ Bass had become) that it gave some of the fans who had become disillusioned with the music a little hope that maybe all was not lost, that the music could, as it has always done, reinvent itself once more. Veteran producers like dBridge, Dub Phyzix, Sam KDC, ASC and Felix K to newer artists like Clarity, Consequence, Overlook, Ruffhouse and Nether are just a few of the artists who are, in this listeners opinion, at the forefront of Drum n’ Bass and are, in many ways, responsible for the scenes resurgence. To be sure, there are no bangin’ pianos, no hyperactive breakbeats and certainly no…..wait for it…..”drops” which have come to define much of what plagues more popular styles of dance music.
This new movement in sound isn’t focused on the dance floor and breaking into the top 40 does not appear to the be their aim. On the contrary, these artists seek success on their own terms. They value themselves and their work for what they have gotten rid of and for what they refuse to do. It has been said that Art has never really been about the nature of space or perception but rather its about the nature of society. If this is true then what a representation this is.