A different drummer: Drum 'n Bass

Drum 'n' bass class in session

Atlanta's drum 'n' bass community has two faces, but I don't mean that in a negative way. More friendly and accepting than in many areas, Atlanta's massive doesn't suffer from big heads. No, these headz, many raised on hip-hop, some into happy hardcore, are far more friendly than drum 'n' bass fans (many known for their harder-than-thou attitude) would be expected to be. No, the two faces I'm talking about are the two types of drum 'n' bass prevalent in Atlanta: tech-step and jump-up.
The more populist form, jump-up, is up-tempo, reliant on rhythm and downright boisterous — like hyperkinetic jump blues. Jump-up jungle is dancing music, made with summer hits in mind. Two of the most popular DJs of the genre, Aphrodite and Mickey Finn, managed to remix N.W.A. and make them dance floor friendly. The bass wraps, not rumbles.
On the flipside is tech-step. Snares are sharp, kettle-drummed, ringing through basslines that rattle speakers and teeth. Tech-step doesn't have to be dark, but often is.
A fair amount of tech-step DJs call Atlanta their home-away-from-home. Liquid Groove hosts a monthly at the Riviera, "Liquified Science," with resident host Dara, of Breakbeat Science (NYC), and Sm:)e. Shadow Law's "Rinse Out" sessions at Demo nonchalantly feature local up-and-comers as well as members of the Breakbeat Science crew. Liquid Groove has also presented Ed Rush who, along with Nico, helped reintroduce hardcore to drum 'n' bass.
So, this past Friday, it was pleasant to experience melodic drum 'n' bass, when Vinyl Boy and Pleazure Productions brought the "Progression Sessions V" to the Playhouse, featuring LTJ Bukem, MC Conrad and Nookie. Ironically, this packed show of atmospheric drum 'n' bass featured the music tech-step rebelled against circa '96 when it stabbed the symphony.
But for one night only, Atlanta got world-class jazzy ambience to a funky beat. After Nookie, (making his North American debut this tour), got Masquerade's Hell moving, he passed the decks to LTJ Bukem at approximately 1 a.m., and the crowd loved it. LTJ played a harder set, closer to the Progression Sessions V mix CD (to be released Oct. 10) than his recently released album of original music, Journey Inwards. The basslines were more aggressive and the breakdowns more sweeping. Bukem would occasionally stutter the crossfader and creep in the breakbeats, as MC Conrad rhythmically interjected.
Dean Coleman controlled Purgatory with hard and progressive house, but most of the attention was on LTJ, who played till 4 a.m., threw together a couple encores then signed autographs before heading home.
LTJ Bukem brought a more sophisticated sound to a commonly maligned genre, the kind of show that could fit in phat pants or Fountainhead. Catch it.
?Send any comments or questions to tony.ware@creativeloafing.com.