The Black Dog - Virtual
Remarkably, the history of drum ‘n’ bass can now be traced back 20 years. To celebrate this landmark, here’s a list of 20 DnB classics, one for each year from 1989 onwards.
We kick off with The Black Dog’s Virtual, which was one of the first records to combine breakbeats, techno synths and big basslines in a recognisably DnB-like fashion. What’s more, it still sounds fresh today.
The Scientist - The Exorcist
An early darkside jungle tune, The Exorcist combines a collision of funky hip-hop beats with sinister horror samples and a sprinkling of rave-style synths.
Son'z Of A Loop Da Loop Era - Far Out
Far Out is a pure slice of piano-fuelled fun that fuses the then-emerging jungle sound with more euphoric elements.
Liquid - Liquid is Liquid
Foreshadowing the sounds of atmospheric drum ’n’ bass, this cinematic, dub-influenced roller was well ahead of its time.
Omni Trio - Renegade Snares
A rave anthem to this day, Omni Trio’s masterpiece showed the musical possibilities of drum ’n’ bass, as well as the potential for audacious drum edits.
LTJ Bukem - Horizons
This breakbeat classic took the mellower side of DnB to new heights, combining chilled chords and hypnotic riffs with crispy beats and epic 808 hits.
Alex Reece - Pulp Fiction
A true game-changing moment for DnB, Pulp Fiction boldly moved the focus away from the chopped breaks of jungle to the funky sound of two-step.
Ed Rush - Skylab
Ragga jungle’s dominance gave way to the bleak, gritty sounds of tech-step, focusing on fills and edits more than polyrhythmic madness, as this minimal masterpiece perfectly illustrates.
E-Z Rollers - Retro (Guardians of Dalliance remix)
Retro’s catchy chords and brilliant vocal sample make it a timeless and accessible DnB classic, and one of the Moving Shadow label’s finest moments.
Ram Trilogy - No Reality
The Ram Trilogy series of 12"s took tech-step by the horns and injected it with faster beats and bouncier, more twisted basslines.
Bad Company - The Pulse
Bad Company utterly dominated the DnB scene at the turn of the century, and this classic release on Grooverider’s Prototype label sums up their sound to a tee.
John B - Up All Night
The iconoclastic John B brought the rave back to drum ’n’ bass with this tribute to the chipmunk vocal-fuelled sound of breakbeat hardcore’s early 90s heyday.
J Majik vs Hatiras - Spaced Invader
Fusing house and DnB, J Majik’s filter-tastic take on Spaced Invader pumps up the energy to previously unimaginable levels.
Adam F and J Majik - Metrosound
Metrosound combines Adam F’s Metropolis and J Majik’s Your Sound into a cacophony of tearing synth lines and rolling breaks.
Pendulum - Spiral
Before they got their rock on, Pendulum were dab hands at the trance-tinged DnB sound. This euphoric vocal anthem was their first release and a real corker.
High Contrast - Twilight's Last Gleaming
In this old-school-R&B-influenced epic, the Welsh wonder cleverly fuses a soulful vocal and filtered David Shire samples. A classic Hospital release.
Clipz - Slippery Slopes
This notorious chav-stepper from the Bristolian legend is dancefloor dynamite, and love it or hate it, you can’t help but admire its brazen basslines and rolling beats.
Noisia & Mayhem - Moonway Renegade
The ultimate combination of kung-fu samples, slamming beats and gnarled bass, Moonway Renegade is glitchy DnB at its most intense.
Sub Focus - Druggy
Sub Focus is a true master of big beats and basslines, and here he combines them with a catchy percussive hook and electronica-esque breakdown to create a dancefloor monster.
Icicle - Spartan
A moody, minimal roller, Spartan’s back to basics approach to DnB brings the beats and basslines to the fore, supplementing them with dubbed-out vocals and Amen edits.
Disagree with our selections? Got a nomination for the finest drum ‘n’ bass track of 2009? Let us know in the Comments below.