The innovator of drum and bass reflects on the genre's progression since 93
Taken from the August issue of Dazed & Confused:
The man born Clifford Price remains a pioneer and evangelist for jungle/drum & bass to this day, but his musical career stretches back to the very beginning of the sound. Released under the name Metalheads, 1992’s “Terminator” and 1993’s “Angel” (which would later form a central part of his epochal 1995 Timeless album) remain some of the most astounding pieces of high-tech rave ever committed to wax, and were massively influential on the entire scene. They were inspired by Goldie’s experiences at Rage, a club night ruled over by DJs Fabio and Grooverider at Heaven in London’s West End.
It felt like walking into a riot. It was people going completely insane, no matter whether they were white or black.
“Rage was dark. For me, having come from living in the States, wearing a sheepskin coat with my b-boy attitude, it was ridiculous. It felt like walking into a riot. It was people going completely insane, no matter whether they were white or black. Totally fucking hardcore, guys on podiums. It was still rave music but the energy was dark. This was a time of social decline. Things got darker, and Rage was more tribal. It was, ‘Let’s turn the lights off, let’s get down with it.’ This wasn’t about being in a fucking field, this was about us going uptown. And it was a fucking rebellion. It was about turning your back on people who go, ‘Let’s look at this music and see what sells,’ and instead looking at it and going, ‘This is what we’ve got, this is our culture.’ People wanted change – they wanted to say, ‘We’re here and we’re not going away.’
So that was reflected in the tunes. Before General Levy, before drum & bass could get in the charts, it was purely about this very underground sound. We were tearing into techno like Joey Beltram and Leo Anibaldi, then things like Zero B and Production House releases and what Doc Scott did on Absolute 2 Records, still with the four-to-the-floor but bringing in the breaks, with this really meaty, underground thing going on. It wasn’t about the reggae influence, although that was in there; it was purely about how rough and dirty it sounded in the club. Look at something like Alex Reece’s ‘Basic Principles’ – that was a massive urban, predominantly black club-tune. You listen to that and tell me there’s a hint of reggae influence! The point is that no one person and no one cultural influence can lay claim to it. It was like a virus, it was spreading itself out, and it would mutate so fast. People would listen to the tunes at Rage one week and go straight into the studio, and it would be like an old story being retold, each time with new embellishments. The records were about what it was like in the club the week before. And that kind of transmission is powerful – before any social media, these ideas spread so quickly and so powerfully, not just in London but across the world. And to be a part of that, it was like what I’d learned in graffiti: you felt part of something that was really happening, you felt you were in a crew, and we just wanted to feed that back into the music. The results of that are still affecting the world. What social media is that powerful? What kind of fucking alchemy is that?”