For many of us, the phenomenon and culture of 90s rave will always be something that we can only ever look back on and try to envision. Whilst the current state of contemporary club land is perpetually moving forward, there was no real scene back then; it was a whole new territory being formed by the actions of a few for the eyes of those who were actually there. A new movement powered by warehouse raves, mammoth soundsystems and bpm fuelled subcultures, it not only inspired a fresh generation of artists and party goers but it also created a new sonic template that would essentially foster the sound that we know so well today as pivotal labels and nights forged their imprints for the very first time.
One artist who was paramount in shaping the sound and also pretty imperative in the direction of 90's rave culture was the DJ suitably dubbed the 'First Lady of Drum and Bass', DJ Storm. Still solidly representing the Metalheadz clan, one that celebrated their 20th year in the making at our haunt last Friday night, Storm's contribution to the label and beyond has been critical. From her early days spanning the circuit as half of a pioneering d&b duo, with the late DJ Kemistry - who she formed the aforementioned MHDZ label with alongside Goldie back in '94 - to now representing the cornerstones of the 170bpm arena as one of, if not the best female DJs around.
So ahead of the coming weekend, where we've invited the d&b luminary to play alongside newly announced FABRICLIVE 76 maestro's, Calyx and TeeBee in Room Two, we asked Storm if she wouldn't mind taking us back to the beginning, and giving us a little insight into how it all started for her as she picks her top ten most important d&b tracks of all time....
After thinking about this long and hard I have decided to chose 10 tracks which have pivotal importance to how drum and bass developed. These first 5 tracks were important to how and where the inspiration came from for the early beginnings of drum and bass...
1. Mentasm - Joey Beltram - R&S Records This track has to be one if not the most important track not only of it's time but also for all eternity. It has been the most sampled track ever, and was played by every DJ at the time. It was simple but had massive appeal, and homage has to be paid to Mr Beltram for creating it.
2 . Luv Dancing - Underground Solution - Strictly Rhythm This was coming from the house side if things. I first heard this being played by Fabio at Rage and instantly fell in love with it . The production was beautiful and the vibe of it was so funky and a polar opposite to Track 1, but early drum and bass DJ's could play both these tracks in the same set. It was part of the original way that tracks were being mixed together not just formatted as either house or techno but creating a whole new sound in the mix.
3. Egyptian Empire The Horn Track - Tim Taylor - R&S Records Another classic from R&S which I have to say was a good part of any DJ's record box in '90 / '91. The horn is the key in this track, hypnotising from start to finish but what made this really stand out was the breakbeat beat moving away from a techno sound to something more original.
4. Hurt you so - Jonny L - Tuchwood This was a tune that was ahead of it's time and brought together many genre's in one perfect track .It had a touch of techno, house and acid and Jonny L was a genius with his arrangement as it sits so perfectly on every level. It was proper breakbeat which made it stand out and be defined as early drum and bass.
5. Mr Kirks Nightmare - 4 Hero - Reinforced Records Moving forward in time to 1994 when this gem arrived. After discovering Reinforced I never let a release pass me by and I hunted down all the colours that each release brought. This track encompassed so much of what was going on at that time and 4 Hero managed to squeeze it all into this fantastic piece which is still as relevant today as it was then. Without Reinforced and their forward thinking ways drum and bass would have never have been do good.
These next 5 tracks were born out of influences from the first 5 tracks and paved the way for the drum and bass of the future and the genre becoming hugely aspirational...
1. This is Deranged - Doc Scott + Keith Suckling - NHS Records I first heard this being played on Radio 1 by Grooverider and starting shouting for Kemistry to get a tape so we could record it, we got about 3 minutes of it, but it was enough to keep it playing over and over. This to me was the epitome of "darkness " with a very cold edge . "Darkness" was sometimes misconceived as a track in a minor chord with a nasty edge but if you really want to feel "darkness ", listen to this. It never fails to make me feel unnerved in a brilliant way. The tension in it is incredible and always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
2. Horizons - LTJ Bukem - Good Looking Records Again, a classic but it really paved the way for producers to get musical. This track was so perfect and really hi-lighted a different side to drum and bass.
3. Space Funk - Digital - Function This again was a classic but was also a benchmark for how The Amen break should roll neatly to become the backbone of so many drum and bass tracks. This track was the perfect execution of that break. Digital was also able to create tension with no vocals and so much suspense before he hit you with it. This also retained the essence of Jungle with it's heavy bass line.
4. Angel's Fell - Dillinja - Metalheadz I could go on and on and on about how much influence Dillinja has had on the scene and how many producers he has inspired but I would be here forever. To me, this EP on Metalheadz was a culmination of many of Dillinja's styles could be presented to the world in one perfect package. There is no denying Dillinja knows how to make you dance with his oh so heavy bass lines and crisp inventive breaks, but with 'Angel's Fell' there was that little something extra in all the drama he created. The perfect arrangement allows me to walk effortlessly through the track, each and every time I hear it...it's one if the best tracks of all time .
5. Terminator EP - Metalheadz - Synthetic Hardcore Pornography Up to this point Goldie, under the guise of Rufige Kru, had made some incredible tracks, but when he came home and played Kemi and I 'Terminator' we were absolutely floored. It was dynamic, futuristic, dramatic and ultimately a game changer. When I hear a track that really moves me I feel exhausted at the end and 'Terminator' did exactly that and more. Not only is 'Terminator' on this EP but also the track 'Kemistry' which demonstrated that Goldie really knew how to work with vocals and boy, did Diane Charlegmaine deliver. The whole EP which also included 'Knowledge' and 'Sinister' gave any budding producer a master class in cutting edge drum and bass.