May 2nd 2008
The drum and bass scene is alive and well and kinda breaking out of its underground.
The Bachelors of Science, Sigma, Spore, Commix and UK Apache, amongst others, are enjoying critical and commercial success.
However, in commercial terms, and lately in critical terms too, Pendulum are way out in front.
From their first single Vault, in 2003, to their latest, Propane Nightmares (due for release in April this year) they have developed from a fairly routine group of friends messing about with various forms of dance/electronic music in Perth (Western Australia) into an accomplished and talented bunch of DJs, producers and performance artists.
In recent years they have enjoyed increased chart success with various singles, remixes and collaborations and the diversity of their music is evident in the fact that they have not only reached the top five in the UK dance charts, but also in the Indie charts as well; and not many people can claim that!
In their own words:
"We want our music to be an escape.
While technology continues to constantly advance production techniques and (arguably) sound quality something has been lost in the process - that original sense of self escape, the idea of leaving yourself open to experience something you don't necessarily find in every day life.
That was the energy we picked up on and liked about electronic music when we first got into it.
It felt like the same energy found with bands like Led Zeppelin, and even the Beatles, and still occasionally today with bands like Tool, The Mars Volta, Queens of the Stone Age and others.
To us it made perfect sense to combine the best of both worlds, but it had to be done in a way that didn't make it sound obvious.
In the last 10 years you've had all these bands that try to cross the bridge by recruiting a turntablist/using a synthesiser on their new single, or electronic artist who just threw an obvious guitar sample into a tune.
But eventually it just came across as a gimmick or a bit cheesy.
We thought we'd try and do it properly because, to us, it still hasn't been done right and there's lots of room for exploration."
This seems to me a perfect explanation of what these guys are trying to do with their music and it is going to be very interesting to see how these themes, thoughts and ideas are going to be developed on their forthcoming album release 'In Silico' which will be available from the middle of May.
Naturally, there is a full tour scheduled in order to promote this album, and the guys will be appearing in venues across the globe.
In amongst all this is a very special appearance at Liverpool University on Friday the 2nd of May and whether you're a drum and bass fan, or a fan of progressive innovative and interesting music generally; I would urge you to get along to this gig and see for yourself just how thought, talent and dedication can raise a sub-genre of dance music, usually only accessible to a relatively small number of people, into a more mainstream musical experience.
Without losing sight of their roots, or compromising their artistic integrity, Pendulum will continue their modernisation of drum and bass and it will be very interesting to see how it, and they, develop and grow over the coming months and years.