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download 1 One of the more exciting things that has garnered attention in the last year or so in electronic music is the seeming re-emergence of the Jungle and Drum and Bass sound. While the last decade has become more or less stagnant with rather lackluster bass music and bro-step, it’s refreshing to hear a renewed interest in the break-beat sounds that defined a whole sub-genre of electronica in the 90’s and early 2000’s. But is this a true revival, or is a new generation just getting sick of Dubstep and bringing attention back to a sound that has just been overlooked for the last 10 years?

Drum and Bass and Jungle became huge in the 1990’s and I remember a lot of people getting burnt out on house music, and turning their attention to the more break-beat sounds to get away from the same 4 on 4. Then all of a sudden, it just seemed to disappear; all of the DJs that had been promoting the Jungle sound were now spinning Dubstep and more worried about “the drop” than anything else. The sobering moment for me was seeing Dieselboy, who had ruled the Drum and Bass circuit for many years, spinning some of the most boring dubstep I had ever heard.  I kind of lost touch with the genres’ for some years, focusing my attention on all the great House an Techno that was coming out, and maybe occasionally busting out one of my old Jungle mix tapes every now and again for nostalgic purposes.

Last year, however, several artists came across my radar that were incorporating the sounds of 90’s Jungle and Drum and Bass into their production.  Two artists that had been producing what I had found to be somewhat boring bass music, Zomby and Machinedrum, had released tracks with heavy breakbeat leanings.

It was exciting to hear new Jungle from one of the old school greats, Congo Natty, who put out a new album of Ragga Jungle nastiness last fall.

This all got me to thinking and relooking at these sounds. They never really went away; they were just being overlooked by a world that had put Dubstep on a rock star status. And as this had dominated most “bass” music for the last decade, it was easy to look past the few people who were still keeping Jungle and Drum and Bass alive. In Detroit, there have always been a handful of old school local DJs who have kept Jungle alive in their crates, but for some reason I had overlooked their performances, as they seemed to get lumped in with the Dubstep-everything parties.

Just like House music has gained a new generation of listeners and lovers over the last few years, I believe so will Jungle and Drum and Bass. Not so much a revival, as the genre didn’t truly die; some of its best producers and DJs have just been waiting on the sidelines for the right time to bring back the break beat sounds to the frontline.

imagesThere is no doubt that Techno as a genre of music was developed and spread across the globe by a handful of Artists and labels out of Detroit in its first wave. But when you think of labels that helped to spread its electronic grooves across Europe, one can’t help but to have R&S Records come to mind. R&S, along with its army of sub-labels, put out many amazing releases not only by Techno pioneers from Detroit, but also from Europe, and all across the globe.

R&S was founded in 1984 in Ghent, Belgium. Its name is taken from the Initials of founders Renaat Vandepapeliere and Sabine Maes, who began the label in response to their disdain for the current dance music scene in Belgium at the time. Many of the earlier releases included the developing Belgian New Beat genre in the 1980’s, but also included many early Techno and House artists from the US. Many second wave techno artists got releases on R&S including Suburban Knight, Joey Beltram, and Eddie Fowlkes. R&S also released some of the earliest works of idm/techno legend The Aphex Twin. The R&S back catalog is so lengthy and packed full of electronic music gems, I suggest any true fan spend some time perusing their Discogs page to see the true breadth of releases.

After a long period of success, R&S went on a hiatus from 2001-2006 due in part the founder’s boredom with the music industry at the time. However, R&S records re-launched in 2006 and went on to put out more great releases from artists like Model 500, Orlando Voorn, and James Blake. While the releases are more varied and boundary pushing than its earlier, more techno-centric sounds, R&S continues to put out innovative dance music across the globe.

downloadOne of the most interesting and hotly-debated subjects in the gear world over the last week has been a teaser video from Roland hinting at the potential rebirth of their classic TR-808 drum machine. The video does not give much detail, but hints at a modernization of one of the instruments that helped shape electronic dance music. However, speculation has spread like wildfire as to what this new incarnation will bring. See the video below and judge for yourself.

There is no doubt about the impact that the TR-808 has had on techno music, but it similarly influenced house, hip hop, and pop as well. Most producers would drool over the thought of a modern re-imagining of this classic analog beast. But most of the speculation surrounding the Aira is whether or not it will be true analog or “analog modeling”, which is far less exciting to the real gear heads of the world. Check out this excellent analysis by Peter Kirn about what we can expect from Roland with this new drum machine.