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Six By Six: Dom & Roland

The D&B veteran picks his all-time top tunes

2019 Apr 03     
2 Bit Thugs

He might be known for hard-hitting D&B but there's room in Dominic Angas's record collection for everyone from Beethoven to Fleetwood Mac to House Of Pain

Growing up on a strict diet of classical music, opera and relentless piano lessons might not seem conducive to an enduring career as one of the most uncompromising artists in thundering, tech-primed drum & bass, but it's certainly worked for Dominic Angas. 

A man so enamoured by his machines he paid tribute to his Roland S760 in his artist name, Dom & Roland has been a key force in the genre since 1994. Emerging, after several years of dedicated raving, on Saigon Records, he swiftly moved on to become one of the most prominent faces on Rob Playford's seminal imprint Moving Shadow before setting up his own camp with DRP (Dom & Roland Productions). 

Over the course of 25 years, seven albums (his most recent being this year's incredible Last Refuge Of A Scoundrel on Metalheadz) and a myriad of singles and collaborations, he's consistently carved his own sound and style, while developing a fearsome reputation as an engineer in the process – his sound design and mixdowns are regarded as some of the best in the game. 

Landing next month, his first single of the year reminds us why. Representing the poles of his sonic extremities, Beach Bum reminds us of his subtleties and ability to catch a vibe and let it sizzle before flipping it into something much more brutalist. Dred Sound, meanwhile, hurls deep into a long dark tunnel with gargantuan thumps, cavernous atmospheres and tribal hypnosis.

Between these two heavyweight tracks, Dom's scope and breadth is mapped out. But for a deeper mapping experience, one that takes us right back to why he makes the music he does, we need to dig deeper into different corners of his collection. Corners like these…

SIX EARLY INFLUENCES

Fleetwood Mac – The Chain (Warner, 1977)

 

"The way they harmonised together on records was just amazing. I was never a massive fan of Fleetwood Mac and came to appreciate them later on in life, but this one has always been there. That bass riff was on films and Formula 1. It's just an amazing record! I should mention that my parents were opera singers and they brought me up to a solid diet of classical. They didn't know much about pop music, or care for it, so I never really heard much of it. But when I heard this, I thought it was so cool. And still do." 

Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger (Scotti Bros, 1981)

 

"This was the first ever pop song I owned. Like I said, my parents didn't really encourage much pop or contemporary music, but I think I'd worn them down enough at one point because I remember a birthday, sitting on the end of their bed and they gave me a cassette which was this. They probably had no idea what it was, they just saw it and thought, ‘That's a pop song, let's get him this'. And I loved it! It was a massive tune, and another massive influence in my life." 

Alphaville – Big In Japan (Relax, 1983)

 

"I don't know anything about Alphaville, I don't know any of their other tunes or albums, but my best mate at the time had nicked a mixtape off his big brother with a whole load of current tunes on it. Westbam's Monkey See, Monkey Do was on it and so was this. I had that cassette on repeat for ages and this was my favourite. I couldn't get enough of it but could never tell you why. But now when I listen to it I can hear why, it's in the chord changes and minor tones. There's a lot of minor key changes in this and a lot of my music is like that too." 

Carl Orff – Camina Burana (O Fortuna) (1937)

 

"This is just such a powerful piece of music! It always seemed to accompany images from the industrial age. And, of course, the Old Spice advert. I remember in school they'd wheel out that old telly on a trolley and you'd be shown some documentary about the industrial age, and this tune would always be on it. Such a powerful visual piece of music. It's the classical equivalent of a massive bassline or really heavy beats. Properly majestic, dramatic… I don't know another piece of music that has such an immense sense of power." 

Beethoven – Piano Sonata No 8, Op.13 (Sonata Pathetique) (1798) 

 

"I love Beethoven and he was one of my favourite composers to play on the piano. This particular sonata is beautiful. It has three movements to it and I always wanted to play it as a kid, but it was slightly beyond my skill level: I was about Grade 5 and this would have definitely been a Grade 8 piece. But I taught myself to play it anyway. I didn't have the finger dexterity to play it, I just wasn't that good, but it's something I persevered with and wanted to be able to play. 

"I'm glad I learned piano. I wasn't too happy about it at the time, but my mum was quite wily and said I could give up after Grade 5, knowing that by then I'd come to love it. She was right, I carried on until I was about 15. I played the trombone for a while, too, and played in my school orchestra. But that came to an abrupt end when I sold my trombone to buy a big bag of weed!" 

Altern 8 – Infiltrate 202 (Network, 1991)

 

"There's something about that bassline, it was also really loud in the mix. I was obsessed with the idea of big bass. That sample – ‘Watch your bassbins, I'm telling ya!' had me hooked, too. I was basically obsessed with bass being cool and this captured it for me at the time. The simplicity, the way it rolled out. When you've got a good bassline groove locked in, all you need to do is roll it out."

SIX RECORDS THAT MAKE ME CRY

Cat Stevens – Wild World (A&M, 1970)


"Another one of my first pop songs. My dad introduced me to this. He wasn't a fan of pop except for Cat Stevens. I remember him listening to Tea For The Tillerman when I was really young, I and came back to it when I was a little older and really appreciated the chord changes and how personal his writing is. It stimulates very fond memories of my childhood and reminds me of my father, who isn't around any more."

Vivaldi – Four Seasons (1723)


"Another classical piece which has always moved me for as long as I can remember. I've always been blown away at how it really does capture the essence of the seasons. Is there are word for musical onomatopoeia? If so, this is it. It's a beautiful piece that's been with me all my life, and always makes me feel emotional."

Erik Satie – Gnossienne (1890)


"Number three is probably my favourite but I love the whole collection. Again, this was something I loved to play on the piano. It's very simple and not particularly technical, so you can apply a lot of emotion with the held notes. It's a very touchy-feely piece of music which, again, stirs something deep inside me." 

Amy Winehouse – Back To Black (Island, 2006)


"I didn't really listen to Amy Winehouse at the time but became aware of her through my mastering engineer Stuart Hawkes, who mastered her work also. He would often talk about her and it was this track that really got me. It has so much power and emotion. I think I've said that for all of these selections in this category. None of these songs make me cry, but they stir up very strong feelings. You'd have to be cold-hearted to not be touched by them." 

dBridge & Instra:mental – Translucent (Exit, 2009) 

 

"The first chord pattern always gets me on this. I remember telling Darren (dBridge) how much I loved it and he was so blasé about it like, ‘Yeah okay'. The chord changes and melodic florishes and the way it goes from darkness to light and back. Beautiful."

Dom & Roland – Broken Heart (Dom & Roland Productions, 2018)


"It's one of those things I've written and I don't remember writing it. It came out of me but I don't remember it doing so. Not in the way I hear it now. I listen to it and think ‘did I do that?' It's quite profound. Musically it's another very simple tune but I didn't think much of it to begin with, I was just trying to write something futuristic. It really crossed genres, this one – Laurent Garnier was a big fan of it – and it changed in my own perspective the more people I played it to. I've always found it weird how that happens."

SIX PEAKTIME BANGERS 

Dom & Roland – Enforced (Dom & Roland Productions, 2011)

"This is a banger, if I say so myself. I still play it a lot and it still always smashes up the place. There hasn't been a set I've played where it hasn't worked. It took me a long time to perfect the groove, and I'm still proud of it. I can't say much more than that." 

Bad Company – Oxygen (BC Recordings, 2000)

 

"I love the simplicity of this. No messing around. Dirty, grimy, tearing. There's no way you can listen to it in a club and not get down to it. I caned this when it came out and I've brought it back into my sets many times since. I don't draw for any of the remixes, I just drop the original and the place goes nuts, guaranteed." 

Hive – Blackout (Ram, 2011)

 

"This was massive tune for me. Hive and I were going to do an album together and this was going to be on it, as was my track Flux. Mike (Hive), Ryan (Gridlok) and I would often send each other demos to get a fresh pair of ears' perspective on our tracks. I remember Mike and I had many arguments about which of the umpteen versions he sent was best. When he signed it to Andy C and Ram, Mike and I fell out. But we're good friends again now and, much more importantly, it's a banger." 

Kemal – Fucking Hostile (Unreleased, 2000)

 

"Kemal and I were close when he was in the scene. We met through drum & bass but got on really well and shared a love of kung fu. My teacher was highly regarded and Kemal got really into his style of teaching, and would come down for weeks at a time to study when we wrote tunes together. This was such a banger of tune and it never came out. He wrote it around the time the whole Messiah situation kicked off with Renegade Hardware. It never came out but I think it got bootlegged in America."

House Of Pain – Jump Around (Tommy Boy, 1992)

 

"Not something I'd play in my sets, but bangers come in all shapes and sizes and you cannot deny that this is a banger. It does exactly what the title promises!"

Missy Elliott – On & On (Atlantic, 2005)

 

"I love Missy. She's always making bangers. Every record she makes is next level. I was listening to this the other day and had forgotten how amazing she is. Missy's always so ahead of the game and keeps coming back with 'future' styles. She'll drop a massive record, disappear, then come back in a few years with another massive release full of game-changers. I think of her as a banger factory."

SIX DRIVING RECORDS 

Mobb Deep – Survival Of The Fittest (RCA, 1995)

 

"I love the musical loops in this. Hip-hop has always played a big role in my musical make-up, especially loops. It had a big presence in the early days when I was really getting into drum & bass production. There's an RZA mix CD that's always on in my car unless my 10-year-old son is travelling with me. It's interesting listening to the lyrics now in today's inflammatory age; a lot of the lyrics would cause uproar now. But the lyrics were never why I listened to it. I always heard them last and heard the flow and style first. I'd admire the cleverness of the way they were put together, but couldn't always relate being a white kid from London."

Moloko – The Time Is Now (Echo, 1999)


"My wife left this in the car and it was in there for ages. I've found myself driving along to it many times. Roisin has an amazing voice and the arrangements are always interesting. It's very easy to get lost in, and that makes it great driving music."

Inspectah Deck – Rec Room (RCA, 1999)

 

"Wu-related and just a really great flow. I love his voice, he's hype and he's exciting. I always get a buzz when the Inspectah steps 'pon the mic. One of my favorite tracks from that era of Wu. If the driving is getting tiring, this will always fire me up."

Dom & Roland – Flux (Dom & Roland Productions, 2011)

 

"I have to admit I don't really drive that much – if there's an option to not drive I'll take it! I didn't even learn to drive until my late 30s. But when I do drive, it's always long distance so I do get to listen to a lot of deeper stuff. This is on my own personal drum & bass driving CD. It's got momentum that makes me drive fast and get to places quicker, it's also one of my personal favourites!"

Calibre – Addict (Signature, 2018)

 

"Who doesn't enjoy a nice drive to music as uplifting and beautiful as Calibre? I have to say I didn't know that much about him until relatively recently, our paths in the scene didn't cross much, but I've fallen in love with a lot of his music. The thing I love about him is that he doesn't give a shit about current trends. He doesn't care if something is of the moment. It's beyond the boundaries of time. Something I aspire to myself."

Dillinja – Fluid (Test Recordings, 1998)

 

"I had to include Dillinja in this feature, he's always been a massive inspiration to me. This is one of his best. It didn't get massively big or overplayed like some of his work. It was deep with a lot of elements in it, which you might not notice at first listen. I'm not sure this ever got a full release. I think it was a mispress on his Test label, I can't really remember. But it's one of my favourite ever Dillinja tunes. A cult classic."

SIX RECORDS I WISH I'D MADE

Future Sound Of London – Papua New Guinea (Jumpin' & Pumpin', 1991) 

 

"Just an absolutely amazing piece of music. Whenever it comes on I always think, ‘Wow'. It's the ethnic-style vocals that get me. They transcend time. This track has inspired me a lot in its arrangement and execution – I reference it in my head as a template sometimes whilst creating. The whole track is great, though: that gated staccato synth, the strings. Very ahead of its time."

Criminal Minds – Baptised By Dub (TCM, 1992)


"The beat on this is just amazing. I still remember getting this record to this day. When I got into mixing records I'd go down to my local record shop, Radioactive Records in Shepherd's Bush, to pick up promos. You'd often end up with some duds when you were young and naïve, but this one and the B-side were just like, ‘Woah!'. The production on breakbeats wasn't great back then but the production on this was next-level. Very hi-fi and enormous. It conjured images of a giant playing on a drum kit the size of houses for me." 

Photek – Ni Ten Ichi Ryu (Science, 1996)

 

"I love drums, and the drumwork on this is mind-blowing – I think if you played it to anyone who doesn't even know anything about drum & bass they'd appreciate the drums on this. You listen to the first beat come in, think that's it and then another whole layer of even bigger, heavier drums come in. It was such a powerful dynamic. It's quite a simple concept from a producer's perspective, but at the time that idea was revolutionary to me."

Fierce – Carrier (feat C4C) [Gridlok Remix] (Quarantine, 2004)

 

"I've always loved Fierce's tunes and have played the original many times, but with this one I've loved the remix even more. It hits the spot every time. It's got so many elements, this is a perfect remix, especially in my sets. Ryan often has a similar outlook to me in terms of remixes: he believes the remix should still carry enough of the original for it to be easily recognised. He did just that. Fierce is the master of the simple roll out in my eyes and Ryan's maintained that essence incredibly well. 

2 Bad Mice – Waremouse (Moving Shadow, 1991)

 

"I was well into my raving at this stage and I remember DJ Hype dropping this at The Rocket on Holloway Road. I hadn't started making music then, or even thought about it, but I was mixing and well into buying records and I loved this. The size of it, the fatness, it just sounded immense on a big system. It's the space around everything, and it's something I've always aspired to. Some of the best tunes are incredibly simple, they're stripped back to the perfect minimal ingredients and push that vibe through. You never get bored of it. I talked to Rob (Playford) about this when I signed to Moving Shadow years later and he explained there were only four sounds in the whole tune. It blew my mind."

Acen – Trip II The Moon (Part 2) (Production House, 1992) 

 

"So ahead of its time. This took my head off when I first heard it. I was dabbling in production by then. I'm going to contradict everything I just said about minimalism because these guys made some pretty complex tracks with so much stuff. They were either cleverer with the way they used samplers or they had more samplers to use, but they made their tunes epic at a time when sampling time was limited. The concept would be simple yet they could cram so many details into the track but they wouldn't detract from the idea. This inspired me a lot as a producer. I love stripped-back things, I love epic things but the core should always be simplicity."

SIX RECORDS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

DJ Carl Cox – I Want You Forever (Perfecto, 1991)

 

"This really did change my life! I was in a rave in Brentford, off my nut, Ed Rush was there as well. He wasn't making music by that stage either but we knew each other from the same area of London. I remember us standing together at the back of the rave, trying to roll a joint, and this came on and hearing that Amen on the system... it just blew me away. The best drum break I'd ever heard. One of those ‘Wow' moments." 

LTJ Bukem – Demon's Theme (Good Looking, 1992)

 

"Another influential raving tune. I was going to Speed every week and I'd just started releasing music on Saigon. I don't know who played this, it might have been Bukem himself as he played there regularly, but just hearing the journey of this tune was amazing. Again, it changed my perspective on the music and what we could do with it. I drew a lot of inspiration from it and I ended up hunting down the same break that he'd used. We had a conversation about it when I first met him and he told me it was the break off an old hip-hop record that was a mixture of the Amen and Assembly Line breaks. I actually remade that break for Innersence on my last album because I wanted to pay homage to this tune!" 

Snap! – The Power (Logic, 1989) 

 

"It's all about the beat on this one for me. I was really into beats as well as being obsessed with bass, and these beats got me. It was that ringing tone within the beat, just this frequency that grabbed you. At the time a lot of producers were taking out strange frequencies or ringing, but on this it was brought right to the front and that was what that tune was about for me. I loved the riffs and bass too. It had a drum & bass structure, long before drum & bass came along. It was very influential to me in terms of its structure. I ended up sampling that ring and using it in my tune Imagination."

Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy (Wild Bunch, 1991) 

 

"This changed my life in a very different way. I was in a very destructive relationship with a girl years ago, it was hell and I listened to this and it made me realise that life doesn't have to be like this. I remember walking along Kings Road and listening to this on my Walkman and thinking, ‘I need to break up with her, she's awful!'. I've always loved this tune anyway and I knew it would be in this feature in one of the categories, so life-changing seemed the best fit!"

Moby – Go [Woodtick Mix] (Outer Rhythm, 1991)

 

"This was a growing-up moment for me. It reminds me of having to take responsibility. I used to hang around with lots of different groups of mates growing up, I was never cliquey with one particular group but I was hanging out with what you'd call a bad crowd. They weren't nice people. And this tune was on heavy rotation in my life when I realised that I had to make some decisions about the company I kept. The Woodtick mix in particular: the strings, the arrangement. It was an early example of the emotional pull of classical and the drive and euphoria of electronic music, and how they worked together to create something epic. Very inspiring!"

NWA – Straight Outta Compton (Ruthless, 1988)

 

"This was one of the first albums I went out and bought. I remember going out to get it and I have to admit, I was most excited by the big orange ‘explicit lyrics' sticker on the cover! It's such a pivotal record, it inspired a deep appreciation for hip-hop in me from that moment. I remember many years later playing at a big festival in Miami. Before me was Ice T and Method Man, and after me was Fatboy Slim. It was an amazing gig by any standards. I met Ice T, we had a chat and shared a few spliffs backstage as Meth had run off with his weed. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is awesome!'. A very surreal moment in life for me."

Words: Dave Jenkins Pic: Casper Angas (aged 9)

Beach Bum/Dred Sound is out on 19 April on Dom & Roland Productions. Order it here.

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Tags: Dom & Roland, Saigon Records, Moving Shadow, Rob Playford, Metalheadz, Fleetwood Mac, Beethoven, Vivalid, Erik Satie, Survivor, Alphaville, Carl Orff, Altern 8, Cat Stevens, Amy Winehouse, dBridge & Instra:mental, Bad Company, Hive, Andy C, Ram Records, Kemal, House Of Pain, Missy Elliott, Mobb Deep, Moloko, Inspectah Deck, Calibre, Dillinja, Future Sound Of London, DJ Hype, Criminal Minds, Photek, Fierce, 2 Bad Mice, Acen, Carl Cox, Ed Rush, LTJ Bukem, Snap!, Massive Attack, Moby, NWA, Ice T, Method Man