There is always a concern in drum and bass, just like with any genre, that we will never surpass ‘the good old days’, that nothing will beat the raw edge of the pre-2000’s sound. However, whilst some may decide to completely ignore new entries to the genre and bask in the warmth of their original pressing of Alex Reese’s ‘Pulp Fiction’, we believe we have witnessed one of the most exciting years in drum and bass in a long time.
At the heart of it all is the music, and we certainly been spoilt for choice over the last 12 months. Not only have we had a huge influx of new producers and DJs that are currently shaping the scene, but we have also had some game changing releases from highly respected and established names. We have seen full length albums from the likes of Break, Skeptical, and dBridge, as well as watching newer labels such as 1985 Music or The North Quarter carve their unique place into the scene.
With great difficulty, we have picked out 5 tunes (in no particular order) that really stood out to us in terms of the quality, feel and wider impact they caused.
Spirit - Interval
Released on Dispatch back in May as part of ‘The Fourth Cycle’ EP, this tune is special for many reasons. Whilst Spirit has largely been known for his heavier cuts such as ‘Phantom Force’ with Digital or ‘Untitled MCR’ with the late Marcus Intalex, this tune saw him bring out a more melodic, and outright emotional liquid tune. The tune had been circling around for a long time before the official release, and after his unfortunate passing in August this year, the tune brought on a whole new meaning. Anyone at this year’s Sun and Bass will have heard this tune doing the rounds, and we hope the tune will continue spread his legacy for years to come.
LSB - Tripped
This one caused a stir from the beginning, with videos of the then unreleased tune circulating like wildfire on social media. LSB was probably not the name people were expecting to be attached to this deep track, with it being reminiscent of tunes in the earlier techstep days of drum and bass. This was released as part of his ‘A New Day’ EP, the first release on his brand new label Footnotes. Mostly known for his euphoric liquid, this tune encouraged a new side of LSB’s music, one that can also be seen in the later released ‘Potshot’. Tripped wins by a very small margin for us however.
Monty - Error 31000
Monty has been one of the rising stars of drum and bass for the last couple of years, and an artist that we have thoroughly enjoyed following at SINE (anyone catch him destroy Hoxton Basement at our warehouse rave in March?). 2018 has been a huge year for the producer, with his music often finding a home within Alix Perez’s 1985 Music, one of our favourite new labels. This tune however, was released on Melbourne-based Plasma Audio, and is the perfect example of Montys signature techy sound, with some of the crispest drums in the game. Never falling to repetition, the squelching bassline and synth constantly transforms and mutates throughout the five minute track in a fashion somewhat akin to techno. That second drop though...
Benny L - Skysteppa
Another artist that has been taking the scene by storm recently is Benny L, and someone that we were delighted to have play at the first of our warehouse sessions in 2017. Central to the heavily debated ‘roller’ sound that has been one of the most highly debated topics in drum and bass this year, Benny L has been creating some of the beefiest sounds we’ve heard in a while. 2017 saw ‘Low Blow’ released on Metalheadz, a tune that caught Goldie’s attention in no time, and one that helped to finally bring together the jungle purists and newer drum and bass fans. Benny L returned to Metalheadz in August with the ‘Summoned’ EP, once again pushing his gritty take on the new-age ‘roller’ sound. ‘Skysteppa’ however, saw him lean closer towards the jungle side of things, blending his heavy bass with a nostalgic Metalheadz twist.
Data 3 - Fractil
Finally, we have a tune from Data 3, a trio aptly named after a key of an Axiom keyboard. Released on Flexout Audio in September, the ‘Tyrant’ EP helped to develop their signature sound a whole level further, with ‘Fractil’ keeping the ‘Stranger Things’/80s synth vibes previously seen in their ‘Something Strange’ EP on Addictive Behaviour. Sitting somewhere in between liquid and the deeper end of the spectrum, this tune brings a unique energy to any club or rave. The Data 3 boys absolutely smashed their set as part of the Flexout Audio takeover at our most recent warehouse event, and we expect big things to come from these lot in the future.
Focusing here on club nights and one-day festivals, we have decided upon five of the top events of 2018. Once again, with so many quality ones to pick from it has not been an easy task.
Andy C All Night @ Wembley Arena
Combine one of the most hardworking and talented DJs in the scene with a sold out Wembley Arena and an all night slot, and you get perhaps the standout moment of all of 2018. The RAM Records head honcho and drum and bass icon rolled out for five whole hours in his unique style, digging out tunes from all corners of the genre, and from all eras. Where else do you get to witness someone double drop ‘Inner City Life’ with Benny L’s unreleased ‘Vanta Black’?
Hospitality in the Park @ Finsbury Park
Hospitality pulled out all the stops for this one-day festival, filling the surprisingly small space in Finsbury park with a lineup of sheer magnitude. The Hospitality tent was jam-packed with familiar faces from the label, from Kings of the Rollers, to High Contrast and his live band. The diversity of the festival truly shone throughout the rest of the six stages however, with a huge array of sets from the likes of LTJ Bukem, Breakage, Goldie, Alix Perez b2b Monty, and many more. Even the delightful British weather didn’t bring the vibes down.
Critical @ E1
Whilst Critical provided the weight in room one with huge sets from the likes of Halogenix, Benny L b2b T>I, and Hazard, 1985 Music took over room two with a lineup including Perez himself, Chimpo and Monty. The newly refurbed E1 (previously known as Studio Spaces, where we held the first of our warehouse raves) was an idyllic setting for the event, with the infamous wall of speakers helping to create one of the most impressive sound systems in London. The only real downside was having to decide between two hours of Alix Perez, or Kasra b2b Enei followed by Serum…
20 Years Of Virus Pt. 2 @ Steel Yard
This was a long awaited event for many after part 1 in February, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The night was heavy from start to finish, with huge sets from the likes of Mefjus, InsideInfo and a 2 hour b2b from Ed Rush & Optical. However, the highlight was the special guest set from none other than Andy C, who steered away from the commercial side that people often fear from him, and instead laid down one of the most brain melting sets we’ve ever seen him play.
SINE Warehouse Sessions Pt. 3 @ Hangar
We couldn’t help put this one in here. So much work went into our final event of the year, and we hope that you all enjoyed it as much as we did. Having DRS join LTJ Bukem for one of the first times in 20 years was something we will won’t be forgetting in a hurry, bringing a one of a kind vibe to the incredible new venue. On top of this, we had our resident DJs absolutely smash their sets, as well as witnessing Flexout Audio throwing down one of the best room 2 takeovers we’ve seen in a long time.
And a bit from us at SINE
2018 has been huge for us here at SINE, having proudly held three of our most successful events to date throughout the year. We have been lucky enough to host some of our all time favourite DJs/producers, including (but not limited to) LTJ Bukem, Bladerunner, T>I, SpectraSoul, Bryan Gee, Total Science, GLXY, Lenzman, Halogenix and Monty, as well as MCs and hosts such as DRS, Visionobi, Tali, and Stamina MC. We have also managed to host these events at venues that we hold close to our heart, from the newly refurbished Hangar, to one of our favourite venues Styx - one that will sadly be closing its doors very soon.
A strong sense of community is something we always seek out at SINE, and we have loved watching our small family grow into something much bigger. From our resident DJs, to our group of loyal fans that help to spread and build our brand, we couldn’t be more thankful to all of you!