A fusion of Jamaican dancehall, American hip-hop and Belgian techno, drum & bass is a uniquely British concoction born in multi-cultural London. From its roots in the underground over 25 years ago, drum & bass has gone on to top the pop charts, fill concert halls and sound-track movies. It’s an amazing, futuristic creation that has resonated around the world.
Drum & bass has given rise to charismatic figureheads like Goldie and Roni Size, had the patronage of Björk and David Bowie, and periodically mutated into new forms, staying one step ahead of trends and fads. It’s an underground, outlaw sound that has had a remarkable impact on popular culture.
But drum & bass doesn’t, yet, have the definitive book. A few have told individual stories or given accounts of the early years, but Renegade Snares tells the whole tale. It charts this extraordinary genre from its fiery beginnings, through its mainstream acceptance and periodic movements back into the underground, gaining unique insights from all the scene’s biggest players — both established and brand-new.
Written with the blessing of the scene’s leaders, including Goldie, who’s kindly agreed to write the foreword, Renegade Snares tells the stories of DJs like Fabio, Grooverider, Hype, LTJ Bukem, Andy C, Roni Size, Randall, Ed Rush & Optical and Bryan Gee, and of lesser-known mavericks like Dillinja, Omni Trio, Remarc or Calibre – the renegades who’ve stayed true to the scene every step of the way. We’ll shed a light on the new school trailblazers too, from High Contrast, Noisia and London Elektricity, to futurists dBridge, Kasra and Fracture.
From warehouse raves and hardcore, through soundsystem jungle to intelligent drum & bass; from the Bristol sound to tech-step; the Brazilian connection to a second surge into the charts; heavy metal and neuro-funk, to its influence on genres like nu-breaks, dubstep and bass music, this is the true unexpurgated history of drum & bass we’ve been waiting for.
The buzz of the South Bank in London is a long way from the South Bronx in New York, where a quarter of a century previously one Clifford Price (aka Goldie) was hanging with the TATS CRU of graffiti writers. Graffiti still adorns the skate-park underneath the concrete gables just along from the National Film Theatre, but Goldie’s work these days is taking place in rather more salubrious surroundings — in the prestigious Royal Festival Hall.
It’s the ultimate endgame for a style of music that Goldie played such a big part in shaping. His Timeless album in 1995 catapulted drum & bass into the mainstream, and Goldie with it. An aural masterwork that still stands up two decades later, it’s now being revisited by Goldie in a new form.
We’re here for the second show of Goldie’s full orchestral interpretation of Timeless with The Heritage Orchestra. It’s the most powerful refutation imaginable for the haters who said drum & bass was “too fast, ain’t gonna last”. Drum & bass has been derided and overlooked, written off and ridiculed, but is now perceived as high culture. It’s in the Royal-fucking-Festival Hall. It’s transcended functionality.
Goldie was on a limited budget, comparatively, when recording Timeless. He’d scored a major record deal, yet orchestras were expensive. For the care home kid from Wolverhampton to want orchestras in the first place showed the bold ambition of the Metalheadz man.
Inside the Royal Festival Hall, with its boxes up the walls straight out of a ’70s sci-fi movie, there’s a breathless expectation about the crowd. Despite the odd junglism tee, most don’t look like old ravers. It’s a mixture of theatregoers and classical concertgoers, mingling with a fair share of heads.
Hi, it's Ben. I've put together a monster playlist of drum & bass tracks that have influenced the book Renegade Snares.
It's nearly four hours long and I want to do more of them. As it's Spotify, not everything is up there, and there are some key tracks I couldn't include. Still, have a listen and see what you think…
These people are helping to fund Renegade Snares.