Once electronic music's rhythmic vanguard, drum 'n' bass has, in recent years, been relegated mostly to side-room status. It's a niche that keeps on niche-ing, with one of the most passionate fan bases going, but it rarely crosses over further than the soundtracks of car commercials.
But that has been changing. Acts like Chase & Status are proving their mettle on festival main stages, thanks to a melodic, high-powered sound that's not afraid to headbang or call for lighters in the air; Rudimental spun their soul-infused take on the genre into two No. 1 singles in the U.K., and their debut album performed just as well. But perhaps the real proof of the growing influence of drum 'n' bass is the way that it has begun creeping into other scenes. Claude VonStroke's Dirtybird label has always gone to bat for d'n'b, long a staple of the San Francisco scene, via its unusually swung, unusually bassy approach to tech house; on his new album, Urban Animal, VonStroke attempts his own wonderfully abstracted take on the sound. The shapeshifting beatsmiths Mark Pritchard and Machinedrum have also been experimenting with the form, by turns old-school and next-generation. Drum 'n' bass cadences have even found their way into Chicago footwork tunes like DJ Rashad's "Rollin," which makes sense, given the genres' similar tempos. Rarely have colliding worlds sounded more perfect together.