Monday, 14 March 2016

What you asked for... indepth description of all current drum and bass sub-genres, of course :). "It's just a load of clanking and banging" "It all sounds the same" etc etc YAWN. Basically drum and bass (evolving from jungle) has been around for 20+ years and has split into many different forms from stuff you could play to your gran to stuff you'd get arrested for if you played it to your gran. So someone needs to sort it all out and make a presentable list for the general public, and here it is.

This list assumes the reader knows the basic form of drum and bass i.e. complex breakbeats at a 170-ish bpm tempo (rather than straight repetitive drums like techno) combined with a prominent looped bassline. I've tried to use commonly accepted genre terms although there is much variation, many grey areas, and many artists dabbling in a lot of sub-genres (e.g. my knowledge of the minimal / halfstep / drumstep genres is vague, some artist examples are guesswork). I've also included tangential genres that are not true dnb, and some older no-longer-used genres for reference and context.

Abstract - a less rhythmically smooth form of dnb where the beats and sound effects can seem more jarring with a less obvious, but still usually present, groove, and a neutral vibe, somewhere between breakage and minimal. E.g. Clarity, Overlook, Blocks & Escher

Atmospheric - spacey effects and sparse haunting melodies, often with crisp jungle style breakbeats and mellow bass. E.g. DJ Fox, Acid Lab, Pixel

Breakage - very breakbeat-orientated often with sparse effects and variable bass. Often uses the classic amen breakbeat or more complicated breaks. E.g. Equinox, Paradox, Bizzy B

Breakcore - harder and often much faster tangent of drum and bass, with emphasis on breakbeats sometimes mixed with irreverent samples and heavy metal effects. Similar in intensity to skullstep but usually less industrial-sounding. E.g. Shitmat, Bong-Ra

Clownstep - derogatory term for modern jump-up/wobble when it was first introduced, particularly when said genres have very simplistic childlike basslines. E.g. DJ Clipz, Twisted Individual, Generation Dub

Crossbreed - tangential blend between harder drum and bass and gabber, usually at the standard 174bpm tempo, but with the drums switching between drum and bass breakbeats and straight gabber kickdrums, and aggressive vibes. E.g. Outside Agency, Hellfish, Thrasher

Dark - emphasises dark sounds and atmospheres, often with a deep droning bassline such as the "reece" bass. Breakbeats and melodies are more variable but generally support the dark atmosphere. E.g. Paragon, Cern, Stranjah

Deep - roughly between dark drum and bass and liquid funk, having some of the dark-ish atmospheres of dark, but with the smoother musical melodies of liquid funk (or the spacey atmospheres of atmospheric but with simpler beats). E.g. Response, Seba, Klute

Drumfunk - see Breakage.

Drumstep - slowed down tangential drum and bass similar to Minimal / Halfstep but with more prominent, if slower, beats, not necessarily at a dnb tempo. E.g. Om Unit, Amit

"Electrofunk" - my own term for the lighter and most funky neurofunk, usually distinctly less intense than neurofunk with quirky, sometimes "clicky" beats and a strong upbeat groove. E.g. Mefjus, Rockwell, Noisia, Lynx

Halftime (or Halfstep) - minimal style of drum and bass, very similar to normal minimal but with distinctly stripped down beats at 1/2 or 1/3 of the 174bpm norm. E.g. Loxy And Resound, Kid Drama

Hard - harder end of pure drum and bass before it gets as industrial and mashed up as skullstep. Both beats and basslines are loud and occasionally distorted, and might have complex but conventional amen breakbeats. E.g. Technical Itch, Raiden, Dom & Roland

(Hardstep - depreciated term used in the 1990s to distinguish early harder drum and bass (preceding techstep / neurofunk / rolling) from prominent jungle / ragga jungle.)

(Intelligent - depreciated term used in the 1990s to distinguish early mellow drum and bass (preceding atmospheric / liquid) from jungle / hardstep.)

Jump-up (old) - semi-depreciated form of drum and bass that was very prominent in the 1990s with Mickey Finn, Aphrodite, Hype etc, featuring funky basslines and hip-hop samples and vibes. Rarely made any more but some artists favour the sound over modern jump-up. E.g. Bladerunner, SR & Digbee, Serial Killaz

Jump-up (new) - evolution of jump-up drum and bass following on from the clownstep era, with very brash, squeaky sound effects that often overwhelm traditional jump-up basslines. Breakbeats are sometimes simple but sometimes quite abstract similar to drumstep. E.g. Magistrate, Konichi, DJ Hazard

Jungle - modern interpretation of the classic mid-90s jungle sound, usually with similar reggae/dub influences and emphasis on breakbeats, but with higher quality modern production values. E.g. Digital, Spirit, Skitty

Liquid Funk (or just Liquid) - a very musical form of drum and bass with prominent melodies, recognisable instrumentation and a generally uplifting and accessible atmosphere, but less brash and "cheesy" than and Pop And Bass. E.g. High Contrast, Calibre, Dramatic & DB Audio

Minimal - stripped down drum and bass with sparse drums and subtle effects, but still with prominent, often smooth bass. E.g. D-Bridge, Stray, Sabre

Neurofunk - more cheerful, funky form of techstep, with similar strong beats and a sci-fi atmosphere but more prominent distorted but funky melodies, often with a "squelchy" sound. E.g. Agressor Bunx, Black Sun Empire, Maldini & Vegas

Old school - see Jump-up (old), also would refer to most standard older dnb / jungle.

Pop And Bass - tangential blend of drum and bass tempos, breakbeats and bass, with pop melodies, vocals and effects, usually relatively lightweight and radio-friendly even if made by normal dnb producers. E.g. DJ Fresh, Chase & Status, Sigma

Ragga Jungle - MC-driven jungle with prominent ragga vocals. Often defined by the vocalists involved while the music is usually an older-sounding mixture of jump-up and jungle with reggae influences. E.g. Top Cat, The Ragga Twins

Rolling - very standard, almost default, form of drum and bass with the emphasis on a distinct, funky, hypnotic bassline and a straightforward two step beat. E.g. S.P.Y., Need For Mirrors, Jubei, Genotype, Break

Ruff - see Hard / Breakage

Skullstep - an esoteric term for the hardest form of pure drum and bass, with hard loud beats that might be simple or more usually very mashed up (but still at 174bpm), and industrial sound effects E.g. Limewax, Cooh, Donny

Stadium D'n'B - see Pop and Bass, also with elements of neurofunk, liquid, jump-up.

Techstep - techno-influenced form of drum and bass with variable breakbeats and basslines but a strong emphasis on techno sound effects and a sci-fi atmosphere. Often fairly hard-hitting and less melodious, but not as noisy / industrial as skull-step / hard dnb E.g. Fierce, Zero Method, The Sect

Trance 'n' bass - rarely used but still suitable term for dnb with strong trance melodies and effects over normal dnb rhythms, somewhere between techstep and liquid funk, and quite uplifting but less cheesey that pop 'n' bass. E.g. John B (who coined the phrase), Ill Skillz

(Two-Step - depreciated term used in the 1990s to distinguish drum and bass with a simpler "two-step" breakbeat from dnb / jungle with a more complex amen breakbeat.)

Wobble - see Jump-Up (new)

Upfront - see Jump-Up (new)

Vocal - a generalised genre where the emphasis is on vocals (studio-recorded rather than live MCing) with drum and bass of whatever genre (usually rolling / deep / dark) playing a supporting role. Vocals are usually either rapping style or sung lyrical style and the artists are usually in collaboration with normal dnb producers.E.g. Robert Manos, DRS, MC Fats


As usual any questions or comments, send 'em in.

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