The deadly D&B duo pick six records that shaped the sound we know and love today
Traversing the underground/overground axis with a precision balance of late-night bangers and daytime pleasers, Matrix & Futurebound are one of an elite force of drum & bass acts who can slap just as hard in the dance as they can in the charts.
Their last two releases alone are evidence of this sonic scope. February’s Trump-baiting tech-romp The Wall and June’s sunny-side singalong Light Us Up (with rising-and-rated pop man Callum Scott) capture their widescreen spread succinctly. But it’s their histories and contributions to drum & bass that galvanise their status best.
Matrix’s fingerprints are all over the very foundations of drum & bass. He emerged in 1993 as Turbo Sound on F Project, an off-shoot of DJ SS’s Formation Records - the longest running drum & bass label in existence. A key member of the Virus crew, and one of the most highly rated producers in the thriving dubplate culture that once centred around London cutting house Music House (along with his equally rated/feared brother Optical), Matrix has had a consistent presence in, and influence on, D&B since the very beginning.
A longstanding DJ since the mid-90s, Futurebound fiercely flew the flag for drum & bass in his hometown of Liverpool during its most house-proud chapter, and made such a noise he became resident at one of the city’s influential and infamous parties, Chibuku Shake Shake. Futurebound’s prominence in the genre has been felt worldwide for the last 14 years in the form of his label Viper Recordings. One of the largest independent D&B imprints in operation, Viper has indelibly dented the game year after year, with artists ranging from giants such as Nero and Camo & Krooked to their own tight firm of established and fast ranging acts from Brookes Brothers to Dossa & Locuzzed via Matrix & Futurebound themselves.
That’s enough of their history for now, though. We’ve torn the duo away from the controls - they’re currently neck-deep in the process of writing their long, long awaited follow-up to 2006 debut LP Universal Truth - for a different kind of history lesson. After Light Us Up, we’ve asked them to enlighten us up (sorry) and pinpoint six key milestones in the history and development of drum & bass...
Lennie De Ice - We Are I.E (I.E Records, 1991
"Nobody can really say what the very first drum & bass track was, but for us this record could very well represent the birth of the genre. It was one of the early tracks that started the transition from house music to what we call drum & bass. Take house music, add the vital ingredients of breakbeats and sub-bass and this is what you get. An out-and-out classic."
LTJ Bukem - Atlantis (I Need You) (Good Looking Records, 1993)
"They used to call this kind of stuff 'intelligent drum & bass' back then! Terrible name for a sub-genre, but some of the music was amazing, and LTJ Bukem was one of the originators. Anything that came out on Bukem’s Good Looking Records was buy-on-sight and Atlantis is probably the pinnacle of that sound."
Origin Unknown - Valley Of The Shadows (RAM Records, 1993)
"Created by Andy C and Ant Miles, this was one of the first releases on the now-legendary RAM Records, and it really made a name for Andy C. Most recognisable for its iconic 'long dark tunnel’ vocal sample, this is one of the tracks that just completely sums up the sound of early 90s jungle."
Foul Play - Being With You (Moving Shadow, 1994)
"Moving Shadow was one of the pivotal labels in the early days of drum & bass, and this is one of our all-time favourites from them, although there are many to choose from. This was way ahead of its time, and it still sounds fresh over 20 years on."
Ed Rush & Optical - Wormhole (Virus Recordings, 1998)
"To this day, Wormhole is one of the most influential drum & bass albums ever made: dark, raw and uncompromising but still managing to have a soul. Ed Rush & Optical were some of the first artists to bring a heavy techno influence into the frame, and they inspired a generation of producers on the darker side of D&B, such as Noisia and Bad Company. Speaking of whom..."
Bad Company - The Nine (BC Recordings, 1998)
"Such a simple track, but it gets 'em every time! Aimed squarely at the dancefloor, this one is all about the Reece. It's pretty much the ultimate DJ tool."
Words: Dave Jenkins