After many quiet months, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. And while the event industry is gradually picking up some speed again, let’s get back in the mood with some of Belgium’s best selectors picking their favourite tracks!
Jungle is massive! You know you’re doing things right when drum ‘n’ bass godfather Goldie hails you as one of the best new producers of this generation. Ghent’s Phase quickly outgrew the local scene and – until recently – was found in DJ booths and studios around the globe. Today, the Metalheadz signee returns to his roots and selects a very personal top 20 of the best Belgian drum ‘n’ bass tracks ever made. Move your furniture, turn up the volume, and get skanking. Note: the 20 songs are ranked randomly.
1. Crossfire - Hydra
“When this was released on DJ Trace’s record label, DSCI4, Crossfire was one of - if not the first - Belgian drum ‘n’ bass producers that made a significant impact on an international level. His techstep tracks from the early 2000s got played by legends like Pendulum, Bad Company, Andy C and Ed Rush & Optical”.
2. Alix Perez - Crooklyn
“It’s impossible to choose my favourite track by the Charleroi-born Alix Perez. The impact Alix has made on the current drum ‘n’ bass scene is immense. His imprint, 1985, is one of the most popular record labels of the last few years, with a multitude of producers getting inspired by the stripped-back sound he is known for. Back in 2008, before his first album (also titled ‘1984’), he released a stellar EP on the late Marcus Intalex’ label Soul:r, featuring this track, ‘Crooklyn’. The song is built around a sample of ‘Strangers In The Night’ by Young-Holt Unlimited. It’s a riff that I always recall when I think of old Alix Perez material, and to this day, it’s still one of his best soulful cuts ever”.
3. M-Zine, Scepticz & Bredren - Handsel
“This is one those tracks you immediately recognize once the bassline kicks in. It’s my favourite collaboration between these Belgian all-stars”.
4. Whizz & Daze - Future Switch
“This one was released on the powerhouse record label Critical Music, back in 2007. Whizz & Daze created some amazing music, perfectly capturing the techy and eerie style Critical was known for back then. It holds up perfectly to this day, and it’s one of my favourites of the entire label's back catalogue, which says a lot”.
5. Blue Motion - Only Words
“This part Belgian part Slovakian duo has been on the block for around a decade now. ‘Only Words’ is my favourite of their entire discography. It came out around the time artists like Instra:mental and dBridge made moves in the Autonomic subgenre, and this track reflects that era very well”.
6. Netsky - Gravity
“Leaving Netsky off this list would be a crime, as he’s the guy that made drum ‘n’ bass known to a much broader audience in Belgium, and - in fact - to the rest of the world. ‘Gravity’ is not the most popular or most played track on his debut album on Hospital Records, but it’s my favourite one. It’s much darker and more sinister than the cuts he is usually known for”.
7. Marcas - I Wonder
“Back in 2008, Marcas released ‘I Wonder’, which is a sublime piece of liquid funk. The stellar use of a Jaheim acapella, the rolling breaks and the soothing 808s make this a true underground classic”.
8. The Untouchables & Mental Forces - Militant Dub
“Straight out of the Brussels underground, The Untouchables & Mental Forces created this tribal bongo-infused stepper that was released on the legendary Renegade Hardware. The fact that pioneers Loxy & Ink included this on their 'Horsementality' compilation LP says enough”.
9. Phase & Villem - Thru My Soul (ft. Steo)
“This is the track that launched my rooted connection with Metalheadz, which is stronger than ever today. I’m still very proud of this track, and playing it in Belgium always gets people to sing along with it”.
10. Frank De Wulf - Drums In A Grip (Wax Doctor Remix)
“Not sure if I should include this, as the remix artist is not really a Belgian producer. Either way, Frank De Wulf has been a legend in the Belgian nightlife scene for many decades, and Wax Doctor did an impeccable jungle remix of his classic 'Drum In A Grip' back in 1996, so it counts”.
11. June Miller, James Marvel & MC Mota – Dominator
“This track became a number one on Beatport for many weeks and rightfully so. The production is super clean and super detailed, which is something I always enjoy to hear. Seeing MC Mota do his signature fire-spitting on this track during the festival season is always a highlight”.
12. Murdock – Tribes
“Murdock, RAMPAGE’s head honcho who has always been in the forefront of the Belgian drum ‘n’ bass scene, released ‘Tribes’ on the well-respected V Recordings, a record label known for releasing genre classics such as ‘LK’ by DJ Marky & XRS. This production captures the high energy, yet soulful background of the label, and shows that Murdock is very versatile in the studio as a producer”.
13. Bredren – Razors
“This is my favourite track of Bredren, a trio that has been at the front of minimal drum ‘n’ bass for quite some time already. The switches throughout this track keep you on your toes, waiting to see what the next 16 bars will bring to the table”.
14. Solace - Too Late
“Solace is a relatively new face in the scene, but keeps on making big moves. Even though this track has only been released recently, it quickly became one of my favourite cuts, and I played it in almost every single set last year”.
15. One87 - Bad Brain
“Star Warz’ head honcho One87 is a staple in the Belgian drum ‘n’ bass scene as one of the best promoters and one of the finest selectors. Behind the knobs in the studio, he’s also honing his craft more. ‘Bad Brain’s infectious bassline tends to stay in my head for a long time”.
16. Alix Perez - BXL
“On the complete opposite of Alix Perez’ spectrum, we have the broody ‘BXL’. This track was made on his way to Brussels, and it was tested for the first time at Fuse (at Bredren Invites) that same evening. It’s a moment I will never forget. It’s a track I still play in almost every set”.
17. Hiraeth - Live & Learn (ft LaMeduza)
“Another recent producer whose work I have been enjoying. The current landscape of drum ‘n’ bass producers in Belgium is very healthy and full of new faces. Many of them are creating future classics for the scene worldwide. ‘Live & Learn’ features the fantastic vocals of LaMeduza and is released on Galacy, the sister label of Liquicity”.
18. Scepticz & Lavance - Flatline
“A track that is very simple, yet very detailed. It’s hard to make a track with a single note for a bass interesting throughout, but Scepticz and upcoming talent Lavance nailed this one on 1985 Music”.
19. M-Zine - Endings
“This is one of M-Zine’s first releases, but it’s still one of my favourites. The percussive lead synth is the real deal. This came out on the Swiss Demand Records, which is close to my heart as they released my first single, back in 2013”.
20. Doctrine - Airlock
“Released on Noisia’s Invisible Recordings, Doctrine created this banger which you probably heard at every drum ‘n’ bass rave you went to. His extremely high standard production is to be respected, even if the music isn’t your vibe. Next to his drum ‘n’ bass productions, he has also been making waves with his future bass project Hush”.