This Week In Drum & Bass: Sub Focus, DJ Bailey & Source Direct
Dancefloor Damager: ACRAZE - Do It To It (Sub Focus Remix)
For almost two decades(!), Sub Focus has been dropping bangers that have kept dancefloors in a tizzy. His latest takes one of the more intriguing smash hits of the dance music world, ACRAZE’s “Do It To It,” and turns it into an undeniable slice of dancefloor excellence. The earworm vocals from Cherish’s 2006 single of the same name already drive ACRAZE's original, but Sub Focus effortlessly flips it into a D&B anthem. While not new, it’s definitely gaining steam, even being one of the last tunes Andy C dropped during his first mix for his BBC Radio 1 Residency. File this one under “oh, THAT’S what I was hearing on the D&B stage.”
All Mixed Up: Soul In Motion Agency Mix007 / Bailey
Without a doubt, DJ Bailey will go down as one of the greatest to ever do it in the drum & bass scene. Forever representing the full spectrum of D&B, Bailey’s mixes can go into unexpected territory. His mix for Soul In Motion Agency (the seventh in their mix series) is sixty minutes of D&B education.
Not many DJs can go from heavy and moody to upfront and tearing to deep and experimental. DJ Bailey effortlessly does this while giving you previously unheard material from absolute legends like Photek to material from producers you should be well versed in (Mark System, Sinistarr, L-Side) and others who may be fresher faced (Leaf, Hexa, Kusp). It’s also good to note that the two tracks Bailey drops from Photek sound like further progressions on the sounds he was sharing back in 2020. Remember where you heard these first!
One to Grow On: Source Direct - Call & Response
Quick Photek-related story: Back in 1997, Photek’s Modus Operandi blew my mind. I was already well into drum & bass, but there was something about the precision of Photek’s cuts and the atmosphere he built around his tunes. Sometimes they were jazzier, but they were always technically sharp and always blew my mind.
In digging to find out more about what I was consuming, I figured out that Photek was releasing material on an imprint called Science, which also released material from a similar drum & bass outfit, the then-duo known as Source Direct. That name should’ve been familiar for the Metalheadz out there, as Source Direct and Photek were amongst the early producers in that class (Digital, Dillinja, Ed Rush, Optical, Doc Scott, and many others). And their Exorcise the Demons LP played in similar sandboxes as Photek, but far more sinister, which leads me to why “Call & Response” would be a selection for this week.
Part of it is because those Photek numbers in the Bailey mix reminded me of my love for tunes like “Call & Response,” which was released on vinyl 25 years ago. The main part? It was randomly in a movie.
A year after its release, “Call & Response” showed up in the vampire archives scene of 1998’s Blade, being the tune that Frost was blaring out of his headphones while chilling by himself. (If he were a real junglist, he’d be in that corner, hoodie on, wearing a menacing screwface.) It’s not included on the film’s iconic soundtrack but is one of the few times I can remember drum & bass being front and center in a piece of mainstream pop culture.
It’s one of my favorite D&B moments in the mainstream, primarily for it not being some tune with pop vocals or a memorable sample to hook people. Instead, it’s a tune that establishes its dub-wise bass fairly early on, setting the tone with a hypnotic siren-like melody atop and thunderous breakbeat science beneath. That’s pretty much it; this goes on to varying degrees for six-plus minutes. But it was in a Marvel-based action horror film that took in over $131 million at the box office. That’s a minor win for the junglists and a major rewind for those in the back who know.