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Alt 21.03.2004, 20:16   #1
Diamond Head
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Registriert seit: 16.06.2001
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Post What Drum and Bass can learn from Techno


The moment when a massive tune drops to hammer the crowd into submission is something that everyone who has been raving to Drum and Bass can appreciate. Whether you're a seasoned DnB veteran who has heard it a thousand times before, or it's the very first time you've ever been smacked in the gut by the bassline in Trace's 'Sonar', or Konflict's 'Messiah', you can't fail to be impressed by the sheer damage that such a piece of music can do at thunderous volume. Indeed, it's the anticipation of these moments that drives thousands of junglists worldwide to go out and party until the early hours every week. But despite the carefully pinpointed nature of this release of energy, what happens when its 4.30 in the morning and only those with a gram of speed and 3 pills in their bellies can keep with the pace, let alone call for the rewind on a tune they've already heard 3 times that night? Surely the potential of this music can carry it far beyond a series of sporadic full on aural assaults broken up with the necessary interval of waiting for the next one. Are we really exploring the extents to which DnB could hold the listener's interest beyond the initial drop?

The one thing that seems to be missing from even the biggest drum and bass raves in the UK is the journey of an evening of music over a period of 8 hours. With 8 big name Dj's all eager to hammer the biggest dubs they've got, the same anthems are smashed time after time by different DJ's, at a tempo that's as regular as clockwork. The argument that promoters should be looking to book different styles of DJ's to play at various times at their event is of course an issue worth discussing, but ust as important, however, is the subject of this article; the structure of our music, and specifically the lack of concern for progressive percussion, most noticeably in the high-end.


If Drum and Bass is to progress beyond its current state (and there is no doubt it has achieved an incredible amount over the years, both musically and in terms of the growth of an associated culture), maybe its time to learn from the one genre it claims to have taken elements from, but which it has quite certainly never fully explored - Techno. If any drum and bass head were to accidentally stumble across the End on an evening when it wasn't Renegade Hardware or Ram running the show, but Ritchie Hawtin or Jeff Mills in control of the entire club between the hours of 12 and 6 in the morning , they would experience a very different approach to crowd control. No one tune would be repeated throughout the night, the tempo of the music would change throughout, and in all probability the listener would find themselves glued to the spot for the entire night wondering just what the hell is stopping them getting off the dancefloor.

The predictability of drum and bass just doesn't exist in techno; the tunes don't 'drop' in the same sense. They constantly change, build up and ebb away, always going somewhere new, albeit in a very subtle way. To take a recent (and absolutely awesome) example , Wink's 'Oakish' (Ovum recordings) is structured around a synth melody consisting of 4 notes. Nothing staggering in itself you might say. But what is fascinating is the ability of the same riff to hold your interest for nearly 6 minutes, always in anticipation of where it is going next, despite these 4 notes remaining the same throughout. One of the reasons it can do this is its constantly changing high-end percussion (coupled with subtle manipulations of the synth melody). It is this subtlety that the style of Drum and Bass getting the most exposure in this country sadly lacks. All too often, once the kick drum has been made heavy, the snare has been made snappy, and the bass has been made brutal, the actual rest of the tune has made itself in the eyes of the producer. It is simply a matter of copy and paste your way to dancefloor mayhem. There is a fundamental lack of consideration for high-end percussion, arguably the most important factor of techno. It is this percussive element that the structure of Drum and Bass needs to incorporate, and in doing so it could answer the problem of a lack of natural progression in the music.

In a recent question and answer session on dogsonacid.com, DJ Hype told hopeful up and coming producers that he would like to emphasise that the bassline is the most important part of any track. Obviously in a genre called drum and bass, the bass is going to be essential. And as Zinc tells us, Hype admits embarassing himself in Germany many years ago by playing a Zinc track with a bassline he described on Drum and Bass Arena as 'shit'. It would then appear that this statement holds true. But maybe after years of concentrating on getting the bass right, to the point where countless producers are struggling for the near perfect sound that Dillinja has spent so long mastering, is it not now time to take a considered look at the high end of our music? It may be the answer to the predictable, formulaic nature of some of our raves.


There have been some notable attempts at addressing this issue in the past. A prime example is Universal Project's 'Vessel'. A brilliant piece of techno influenced drum and bass, it is almost entirely based around mind bending techy bleeps and morphing high end and mid range percussion. But although generally acclaimed to be a great tune, it never got the same kind of recognition as the flipside, the Ram remix of Pacman. Relating back to techno, it is difficult to understand the minimalistic brilliance this kind of attention to detail can offer without being subjected to at least a couple of hours of subtle modulations to sounds and pattern changes. If more tunes like Vessel were being played (or even produced), then maybe we could see if this kind of approach can really do the same kind of damage at 175 bpm that it can at 132.

But with drum and bass being such a global scene these days, not everyone making DnB has the same influences. There is a much subtler, more progressive and minimal approach to production coming from all over the world, but it is not yet getting the exposure it needs in the UK. One label pushing this type of sound is Typecell's Protogen imprint from Germany. Not a kick roll, massive bassline or predictable drop in sight. But if you've heard any of Typecell's DJ sets, you can see how this approach can really work a dancefloor over an evening without resorting to the obvious big name anthems that are caned every week in the UK. Another group of artists paying more attention to a more techy sound include Trace's DSCI4 camp. Over the years their tunes have carefully balanced growling bass with scratchy high-end noises, a prime example being Kemal's remix of Mutationz.

So the future might not look too bleak for the high-end. Portsmouth's Raiden is perhaps the most exciting hope in the UK at the moment, and with the support of Renegade Hardware and many a big DJ behind him, things could definitely be changing. His recent 'Pinball' on Friction's 'Transparent' label has had a fantastic reception at all the parties, and the birth of his own 'Off-Key' label dedicated to pushing this sound is soon to occur. Perhaps the most forwar thinking example of what to expect if drum and bass can take on the best elements of Techno is Raiden's 'Alter Ego', featuring Kano. Set to be released on Klute's highly influential Commercial Suicide label, it is a devatating combination of hypnotic bassline, skittering top end and nightmare synths that will smash your head up big time. Honestly. Just wait and see. Not really surprising then that Klute is an old techno head himself. Lets just hope that more of the drum and bass fraternity will catch on to what can really be done if we look to polish the structure and the top end of our music as much as the bottom.
...so oder so änlich in der kommenden knowledge =]

Geändert von Typecell (21.03.2004 um 20:19 Uhr)
Typecell ist offline   Mit Zitat antworten
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