Drum and bass can be inaccessible. It is, as its name suggests, a collection of repetitive bass lines and drums played at around 180 beats-per-minute. So it makes sense the ‘liquid’ variation – an emphasis on vocals – has attracted mainstream attention.
For those who care, here are a collection of what I would say are the best liquid drum and bass tracks ever. Yeah I said it. Crank up the volume, turn the bass to 11 and let the music do the talking. Then tell me how utterly wrong I am in the comments below.
Mutt – Conversations
Male vocal-lead tracks are less common for some reason, but that is certainly not because of talent. Mutt’s Conversations is a chilled out ensemble of piano melodies and thougthtul lyrics. I would walk 10,000 miles for this track, without a doubt. The various remixes out there, a mile at best.
High Contrast – Heart in a Headlock
More than 1.4 million views emphasise the ability for a liquid drum and bass track to go mainstream. There should not be a list of best drum and bass songs without High Contrast’s Heart in a Headlock because it’s perfection. The catchy bass line, strings and repetition of Imogen Heap still sound new, even though it came out in 2008.
Influx Datum – Alright
This really is one of my favourites. Influx Datum’s Alright has the sort of hard-hitting lows us drum and bass heads live for. This and Forever are two legendary tracks from the underrated producer, who has seemingly disappeared off the planet.
Ben Sage – All About You
Raised on a diet of punk rock and hip-hop, Canadian-born Ben Sage started out DJing drum and bass before he decided to ditch gigs in favour of producing his own tracks and remixing the work of others, or so the story goes. All we know is Ben Sage – All About You is a beast. Slow-burner, but the build up makes it all the better.
Etherwood – Joyride
Rolling forward to 2012, we have Etherwood’s Joyride. Yes, we’re aware the Londoner has hit it big with his debut album (also called Etherwood), which is a slick collection of drum and bass goodness (Behind the Lights and For My Sins (Etherwood Remix) are highlights). But I think some of his earlier work is as good, if not better.
Zedd ft Foxes – Clarity (Dil Remix)
Zedd – Clarity is annoyingly catchy in its standard pop form, but it becomes much more potent when Dil (Tanuki) cranks the tempo up. An extremely catchy melody and lyric make this remedy way too easy to swallow.
Netsky – Pirate Bay
Quite possibly my favourite track in the list and a great example of why Belgium producer Netsky has helped drum and bass stand tall once again. Pirate Bay stands tall on the 2010 album titled Netsky and is still one of my favourite tracks two albums later.
London Elektricity – Around the Corner (Origin Unknown Vocal Remix)
Let me take you back a few years to a time when drum and bass powerhouse Andy C and legendary music producer Ant Miles collaborated under the name Origin Unknown before setting up Ram Records. Some fine remixes of London Elektricity tracks, including Around the Corner, showcased the raw talent.
M16 Revolution – Rise in Love ft Alaine
French drum and bass producers M16 Revolution have been around since 1999 and continue to bang out drum and bass classics. For me, Rise in Love ft Alaine is a highlight, largely because of the contrasting blend of fast-paced beats and breakdowns.
Adele – Hometown Glory (High Contrast remix)
It would be easy for a remix of Adele’s genius Hometown Glory to become a cluttered mix. But with High Contrast at the wheel, the result is perfection. The build up, focus on Adele’s chilling lyrics and a sense of grandeur – few liquid drum and bass tracks are as powerful.
Rockwell – INeedU (Original Mix)
“The track is a weird mix of house, drum and bass, disco and maybe a sprinkling of footwork at 172bpm. It’s inspired by listening to strange old mixtapes where records were played at 45 when they were cut at 33rpm,” Rockwell said about this song on SoundCloud. The newest track on the list and a future classic, even though the vocals are more sparing.
John B – Forever (Hard 12″ Remix)
2008 saw its fair share of drum and bass bangers, but few can compete with the Hard 12″ remix of John B’s Forever. Many of us will have first heard this track on a free Knowledge Magazine CD and never looked back. Although Knowledge Magazine was relegated to online-only in 2009 (and the name was changed to 2009), tracks like this helped drum and bass become what it is today.