Drum & Bass/Jungle Albums & Labels I like on eMusic
eMusic would be a good place to start for someone who wanted to get to know the style without worrying about the biggest names, other than Roni Size.
My tastes dictate that hard stuff other than “drill & bass” (DnB + IDM) and poppier stuff won’t be highly ranked. I do like a little melody and am partial to reliving the mid-to-late 1990s rather than blurring the line w/ dubstep. I relate to it like being in high school or like good-ol’ boys and classic rock. I had exactly one club DJ gig in college, and jungle’s what I spun.
“Need You” - Malum Lux (2019). Four long tracks of pure nostalgia. Relentless without being painful. Vocals, when used, complement the main elements rather than dominating the tracks, which is how I strongly prefer my jungling. 99 cents.
“Cessation of Thought” - Mark Kloud (2015). The only full-length album I sprang for on this list, I’d say it tends toward the minimalist extreme. There’s no vocals, and the pace is pretty laid back. I hear a lot of variety and find tracks like “Plexi” irresistibly cool and dystopian. Basslines generally serve the rhythms and rarely overwhelm them. Maybe not my number one choice to be an ambassador of DnB for those unfamiliar, but I admit there’s not a lot of new full-length examples on eMu from the last five years.
“Before the Battle” - Elanor (2019). From its stringy opening, it’s clear this EP will be distinctive and make prominent use of melody. Other examples of pop-oriented DnB abound on eMu, but I think they tend to go too far in that direction in a dubious play for the ears of actual pop or dubstep listeners. I prefer that pure instrumental, vocal, and fusion tracks alternate as done here. The second and third tracks mix DnB and dubstep just right, IMO. The fifth reaches for pop. 99 cents.
“Bollywood Breaks” - Enduser (2019). Pretty sure I won’t do a bhangra list, so this nice, newish 99-cent fusion EP will have to do. Makes good use of vocals w/out being lyrics and keeps listeners engaged by making rhythms more unpredictable.
“From the Future with Love” - DLX (2015). A six-track, good value 99-cent EP that doesn’t break a lot of new ground but is somewhere in the midrange of aggressiveness and being rather upbeat.
“Microfluidics” - Subminimal (2012). I invite anyone else to nominate an album softer than this that’s still identifiable as drum & bass. The best choice in the list for reading music, by far.
“Basic” - Ruby My Dear (2017). For anyone who’d like a little spice in their DnB, try this relatively brief example of drill’n’bass more indebted to frenetic IDM sounds of AT & Squarepusher. The closer’s use of distorted vocals and pauses are nice touches on a very aggressive and varied track. There’s a couple other cheap EPs to try by this artist, too.
“Tense” - 3rd Person (2010). More sustained Jamaican-sounding MC vocals than most here and mixed w/ lots of dubstep elements. 99 cents for over half an hour of music I sure won’t hear on a U.S. radio station. Only the last track is actually DnB.
“Antipodalia” - Alerstorm (2014). Unusual for having a vocal track en español. The rest of the EP is fairly standard.
“Low” - DJ Pillows (2019). Formless and relatively challenging, my ears still haven’t quite gotten a grip on this 99-cent EP. Not quite what an Oval DnB album would sound like, but somewhat in that abstract direction.
“D-audi“ - Concentration (2015). A 99-cent EP that’s a little DnB by numbers and even w/out much bass to speak of, for those who just need rhythm and a brief vocal sample.
Roni Size is still available but in no need of promotion. Other Lists: Velos, Fada
Drum & Bass, Jungle record labels
It’s quite difficult to say whether a label is fully dedicated to drum & bass, given that even at its peak it might not have been commercially viable. A whole generation probably hasn’t heard it or even heard of it. Most any d&b album, if not true for all of electronica, will reach for a pop audience by incorporating guest vocalists and elements of dubstep or other trendier styles of electronic music.
I wouldn’t put too much stock in my quality division between tiers, as exploring fully would require a much larger budget than I have, and believe it or not my free time isn’t infinite. It would be a delight for an expert to sort through this list or at least say which are the best.
Most Distinctive or Consistently High Quality (from limited sampling): Audio Theory; BBZ; Boomsha; Break Koast (maybe the only actual jungle label w/ Jamaican-sounding MCs?); Drumroom; FORCE; Funkstuff; Pinecone Moonshine; Sonic Terror Digital;
Significant and at least OK drum & bass record labels (60+ in an incomplete sample): Audio Boutique; Bassweight; Conspired Within; Cosmic Bridge; Dawn of Music; Dham Rockas; Evil Audio; Free Love Digi; Gentle Bit; Grand Dark Audio; Ground Mass; Heavy Artillery; In Da Jungle; KFA Recordings; Kill Tomorrow; Lobster Theremin; LOWFREQMX; Mixupload DnB; Monochrome; Noisy Drums; Onset Audio; Organic Audio; Pandora Music Planet; Patrol the Skies; Reminiscence Audio; Secret Family; Soul Deep Digital; Soul Deep Exclusives; Suicidedubz; Supreme; Trilobit; Triplicate Audio; T3K; Uncoiled Loops; Underslung Audio; Unified Audio; Wicked Jungle; World Wake; You So Fat;
Unimpressive or frustrating to browse but still significant: Abducted LTD.; Cosmic Music; Cymbalism; Dark Recordings; DivisionBass Digital; Faction Digital; JosuiYoshun; NFBmusic; Rockers 175; Sequel One; Signaflo; Won
I’m still finding new ones in 2020. Again, I hope the experts and enthusiasts out there can bring order from chaos.