• drum & bass: the brave new world

    13 Sep 2008, 2:02

    There’s definitely something in the air in drum & bass right now.
    (Un)fortunatley, I’ve been around long enough that I can sense when change is afoot, and I can sense it now.

    For the last few months my conversations with other producers keep coming back to similar themes. What I’m hearing from people is they’re tired of the current sound and what they’ve been doing for the last few years. There’s a real hunger for something new, or at least if not completely new, then different to what has been the recent status quo.
    People keep saying they want to ‘go deeper’, a phrase that normally makes my teeth grind with hi-octane cringe. But these days I think I know what they mean.
    i’ve heard the same things being said by producers from right across the whole spectrum of styles - people who are known for jump-up, people who are known for atmospheric & drumfunk, people who have been churning out Pendulum-style dancefloor bangers, people who have been writing very polite generic liquid - everyone seems to have had enough of just going through the motions. They want something more musical, more complex, more subtle, more *involved*. Producers are wanting to reintroduce light and shade into their music, both in terms of the dynamics of the tracks and also the content. Many of us are tired of that wall of sound, of that relentless 2-step snare. Sometimes it’s just what you need, but often it just crucifies any music that you try and work around it.
    Finally producers are saying ‘enough is enough’ and one by one they’re stopping taking part in the volume war, not being afraid to make their music that little bit more delicate.

    What’s interesting to me is the tipping-point effect of all this. It’s all happened at more or less the same time, and people have clearly come to these conclusions on their own. Now that people have started talking openly about it to each other, momentum is starting to build and confidence in our collective ability to force the music into much more interesting areas is growing.
    Why has it happened now? I would hazard a guess at the rise and rise of Pendulum having something to do with it. The Pendulums have taken that stadium-d&b sound to it’s logical conclusion - the stadium (more or less), and while many of us wish them good luck with it, seeing it finally happen has, I think, made many people suddenly take stock of their own output. I suspect many people have suddenly realised that’s not a race they particularly want to be running in.

    As you may or may not know, we’re working on a drum & bass album right now. Around 6 weeks ago we got frustrated at how pedestrian it was sounding and tore lots of it up, vowing to take a swerve into the left-field and leave behind us all our concerns about whether the tunes fit in to what else is happening in the scene, or whether DJ [x] or DJ [y[] is likely to play it. Once we did that the music blossomed like crazy, giving us probably the best results we have seen for years.
    Will it get played by all the dancefloor merchants? Not a chance.
    Is it evocative, emotional, romantic music that I will want to listen to myself and be proud to stand by in years to come? Absolutely.

    vive la revolution imo
  • Blu Mar Ten tune competition results & free mini album - April 2008

    14 Abr 2008, 11:26

    In case you didn't know, we periodically run a competition in which we give away a handful of samples and invite people to make a tune out of them.
    The rules of the competition in this particular case were that the tunes should not be drum & bass, and no longer than around three minutes.

    This time around we had 23 excellent entries, and we're pleased to be able to make these available for your listening pleasure :0)

    You can download a zip file containing all the entries from the links below.
    It contains 192k copies of everyone who submitted anything, apart from Venkmon; whose track was played on the Blu Mar Ten radio show and from which we've included a low quality clip. Venkmon is undoubtedly in big trouble as he submitted a 6 minute d&b track instead of a 3 minute non-d&b track.
    The zip file also contains the original samples that we gave people so that you can see where they started from.

    THE ENTRIES (in case the first link doesn't work) (in case the first link doesn't work)

    Michael BMT has listed out the tracks below and reviewed each one with his own particular brand of tortured metaphor; Congratulations to the winners!

    We couldn't settle on just one, so.....Bong and The Shiznit take joint first, with the Mickey Tee special "most melancholy" prize going to Moak.

    Coming soon...


    1. Bong - JOINT WINNER
    Opting for a shift in key from everyone else, this is Photek-y in an unusual kind of way; fusing jazzy sounding hits with an optimistic piano line. Spring is here and this track quietly extols the virtues of the season with a quiet warm hopefulness. This was a hit with everyone in the BMT camp.

    2. Tha Shiznit - JOINT WINNER
    Expertly handled piano and lush moves and grooves allow this organic sounding track to spread a little warmth. Very very nice indeed.

    This one gets my vote for most melancholy track, really lovely arpeggio, really nice key... A lonely homeward motorway journey with the city lights glimmering in the background.

    4. Mickey Tee
    Christ; muddy as hell but what can you do lol.

    5. J Style
    Drums are very static sounding, adding to the stilted feel given to this track by the choppy use of samples; could maybe have used more - like a synth, or a rhodes, or a vocal.... A dubby feel with a warm bass; an introspective thoughtful day trying to make up your mind.

    6. A Preager
    Loving the stutters on the piano in this one, making for an atmospheric almost lighthearted track; really nice use of space in the mix too. Late night pulsing grooves provide a deftly handled soundtrack for a post club soiree.

    7. Dj Maltbread
    Nice shuffly drums and occasional pads broken up with odd jazz samples focussing around an unusual key. A moody restless Saturday afternoon watching the rain roll down the windows waiting for something to happen.

    8. Ben Vale
    Lol. A novel approach to the competition...Smacked it.

    9. Fratanize
    Taking a dubbier approach, with plenty of space in the mix and plenty of changes to keep things interesting. A night time walk in kingston JAH while the blue skies fade to black.

    10. Liteon
    Grooving in a tres french way, unusually chopped piano pushes this track forwards and backwards. A gentle stroll down a wide and sunlit boulevard.

    11. Dj Lively
    Heading for the dancefloor, lively opts for a two step and a juxtaposition of samples to create an unusual track. Heavy sub and an array of differing sounds presented in an unusual key. The filtered parts towards the end could've been used more, but a nice attempt at keeping things interesting.

    12. Lord Lucan
    As last time, a thoughtful detailed entry, a lush downbeat amble along a summer country path.

    13. Synthetic Media
    Unusual vocal sample leads the way for this drum machined track into some old skool sounding business, with samples strung together nonchalantly while the bass steadily offers a structure to the looped and retriggered sounds. Like several hours playing video games on the computer slowly losing your grip on reality as you start to hear voices.

    14. Diddy Doonican
    Photek inspired synths wash over loose pianos; minimal and downbeat, like an empty warehouse after a 1988 rave.

    15. Phorte
    Solid sounding track with nicely distorted bass and thoughtful strings. A late night home alone waiting for your girlfriend to come back from the night shift.

    16. Poschek
    Unusual polyrhythms picked out of a layered textural background, particularly like the analogue synths that appear towards the end of the track. Waiting for a train to take you off to some place you lived once but never really liked.

    17. The Neptones
    I think this one might be clipping out of whatever it was written in! Nice FSOL touches throughout and unusual unnatural sounding drums. Really nice live guitar (I think they said it was live); a walk through a long dark tunnel with the light at the end of it getting no closer.

    18. Purple Phyre
    Shades of FSOL, distorted and disjointed with only the barest of threads holding this track together. An abstract mise en scene with bags of attitude and no time for musicality.

    19. Amen Fyre
    Evoking a spooked out dusty wilderness, with haunting vocals from an unusual singer. I would've brought the breaks in a lot earlier. Nice use of space in the mix overall. Very eerie.

    20. Ultradark
    Drum machine led fatness with another unusual key picked out. Heavy with the bass and nods towards early hip hop and electro lend this track a swaggering style; all that's missing is a rapper.

    21. Uplink
    A minimal approach with cold synths and slowly looping piano. Walking on a lightly covered snowy path at dusk.

    22. Venkmon
    Oh the controversy! A d&b track, no mistake. Plus this clocks in at 6 minutes, which is double the length of the other tracks... we played this on the BMT ministry show; nice uplifting d&b.

    23. Emre Rona
    Nicely handled samples, with a good deal and a nice use of space, with no drums to really speak of. Nice control of the mood and flow of the track; looking out at the stars at night waiting for an extraterrestrial message from somewhere