DJ DB: The Higher Education Drum 'n' Bass Session

Colm Ward

Dj Db

The Higher Education Drum 'n' Bass Session

Label: F-111
US Release Date: 2000-06-20

New York-based Brit, DJ DB, has spent many a year pioneering the drum 'n' bass scene on this side of the Atlantic and, with the recent increase in attention to breakbeat in the States, it looks like he and his fellow pioneers are finally being vindicated.

The Higher Education Drum 'N Bass Sessions is designed to further advance the cause of the music in America by featuring a number of American producers with remixes by some of the established British DJs such as Optical, Grooverider and Konflict. There are also some original tracks here by artists on the Higher Education label like ACEN and Control Freq. If you haven't heard of them, hang on. You probably will soon enough.

Kazimir kicks off proceedings in style with some gut-bustin' bass holding up Carol C's dirty angel vocal track. Things get seriously fuzzy on track three with the Origin Unknown remix of Amar's "Red Sky" pumping up the pace. Karl K's "Synapse" is a sharp-edged injection of synaptic stimulation, but wait for the Konflict remix on track nine for some real frontal lobe overload. The asylum beckons!

Check out Control Freq's "Satellite" as seen through the sequencer of Rob and Dom for a dose of warped hardcore brilliance and, if your brain is still intact at the end, wait for Optical to do some non-intrusive surgery with their mix of trash metal outfit, Static X's "Love Dump."

Sandwiched between these two is the remix by ACEN of the old Eric B & Rakim classic, "I Know You Got Soul" which falls a bit flat and counts as one of the few duff points in this collection. But, after hearing track 10, all is forgiven. ACEN's "Black Dawn" is hardcore drama at its most cinematic, aflame with big bass and a foreboding atmosphere. A must for any DJ who intends playing a set on the moon any time soon. ACEN offer some more buzzed-out noise on "116.7."

Phunkatek treat us to their dirty-raw beats on "Invocacion" and, on "Rollcage," they take on a breakneck ride through some inhospitable sonic nightmares.

Things wind down at the end with E-Z Rollers' "Tough at the Top," which features trip-hoppy vocals on top of some funky flute sounds.

The mixing here by DJ DB is top notch. Tracks blend from one to the next seamlessly and generally things follow a logical progression (or, as the case may be, an illogical progression) that keeps the interest up. There's lots of talent on display here and here's to hoping we'll be seeing the likes of ACEN, Control Freq and Amar coming out from under the shadow of the British scene and establishing a sound all of their own on this side of the pond.





Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.


Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.


Godcaster Make the Psych/Funk/Hard Rock Debut of the Year

Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.