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Origins: 5 Moments That Marked The Evolution of Drum & Bass
14 Mar '2024
Hear the musical twists and turns that have set new trends in the history of Drum & Bass, from its early beginnings to its wide commercial success, and everything in between
5 moments that marked the evolution of dnb

Drum and Bass has a real history to it. After years and years as a true underground phenomenon, the genre has had the time and focus to hone its skills, practise its art and find its voice. That means that when commercial notoriety came along for Drum and Bass, it was ready with a sound and a culture all its own.


To celebrate the genre, we’ve released Drum and Bass Essential Bundle – a multi-label bundle of sound packs to equip any producer with everything they’ll need to produce the genre.


And to celebrate the bundle, we’ve compiled this list of five huge landmarks in the development of Drum and Bass to give you either a rough introduction or a nostalgic trip down memory lane.



1993: Origin Unknown, Valley of the Shadows





Sampling such lofty sources as the BBC and the Apollo 11 mission, you could say that Valley of the Shadows aspired to greatness from the start. And true to that nature, creators Andy C and Ant Miles have ended up being responsible for a landmark track in dance music.


Valley of the Shadows sees a distinct move away from the ravey sounds associated with Hardcore, instead stripping things back – and getting pretty dark in the process! It’s not an out-and-out genre revolution, but while the track keeps one foot (or perhaps one toe) in the past, the foundations of Jungle and what would become Drum and Bass are audible throughout.


In recreating the sound, vibe and era of Valley of the Shadows, Original Jungle Breaks or Jungle Attack would be early ports of call. We can’t offer you any vocals owned by the BBC, but you could try our License Free Movie Clips collection on Loopcloud. Did you know that all NASA media is public domain?



1995: Alex Reece, Pulp Fiction





The breakbeats of Jungle found their alternative in the ‘step’ beat of Drum and Bass, and this tune was a watershed moment in that transformation. You could easily draw a rhythmic line between the beat and rhythmic vibe of Pulp Fiction right through to today’s more polished descendents. 


Pulp Fiction marks the introduction of a less breakbeat-heavy sound, instead focusing on a more minimal pattern that hits harder, despite being less organic. On the other hand, the musicality is far more organic: keeping things simple meant the hypnotic bassline could do more of the talking, and the samples of real instruments mark this out too.


To get that sound yourself, those organic instrument sounds are best found here on Loopcloud (check the Wind and Brass category), and the drums themselves can be recreated from a variety of sources, but searching for drums in the Drum and Bass category would be a fair starting point.



1998: Bad Company, The Nine





Bringing us into very recognisable Drum and Bass territory, The Nine takes us in multiple directions at once. There’s far more focus on sound design, clearly, with all sorts of distorted and complex elements coming and going. The tone is almost Heavy Metal-inspired, taking a more cerebral and technical approach.


But despite the complex movement going on over the top, it’s the beat that’s getting even more minimal. Don’t let the sound design of the snare put you off, this minimal beat contributes to the overall feel of the track: it’s relentless, it’s rough, powerful and energetic, and yet it’s highly polished and technically accomplished. Put simply: it’s Drum and Bass.


Complex sound design like this is easy to browse on Loopcloud, and we can recommend packs such as Junglist DnB and Reconstructed Drum and Bass for the genre-specific parts. Also, for Reese bass samples, look no further!



2009: Sub Focus, Rock It





Drum and Bass may have started as an underground musical movement, but it feels almost inevitable that its best parts would lead it to rise higher. Tracks like Rock It demonstrate how far Drum and Bass has moved to become a more commercial sound. Despite a more mainstream following, DnB artists are still technically gifted and willing to pour real effort and expertise into their work – and Sub Focus is a great case in point.


Rock It is undeniably more commercial with its polished beats and catchy synth lead hooks. However the soul of Drum and Bass is very much alive and audible in the full-on sound design on offer.


You can get these sounds yourself, you could pour through a Singomakers Drum & Bass Ultra Pack or something like Heavy Dubstep Vol. 2. 



2013: Wilkinson, Afterglow





Today’s ‘dancefloor’ Drum and Bass sound is more commercial. It may strongly feature the elements that define the genre, such as the two-step beat and the low-hanging bassline, but there are more distinctly Poppy elements at play, as you’d expect for any mainstream success story. Despite this, it would be hard to say that Drum and Bass has lost its personality. The trademarks are still here throughout, and the genre is now enjoyed by a wider audience than ever before.


Afterglow is an ideal example of this. Wilkinson has put together a commercial success of ‘Dancefloor DnB’ that still strongly displays the backbone of what has always made Drum and Bass great.




You can grab our Drum and Bass Essential Bundle today to supply yourself with all the DnB sounds you need to delve into any era of the genre.