Rusko made quite a splash in 2013, first by signing to Skrillex’ OWSLA label, and then by churning out a bevy of tunes 35 BPM north of his typical dubstep bangers. Admittedly influenced by the frenetic genre contained herein, Rusko delivered this pelting number on his D&B-only EP Lift Me Up earlier this summer.
When two bass heavyweights like Bassnectar and Excision come together, it would be wise to bring a gurney or two. The bass generals were just two of many dubstep producers that decided to jump on the D&B train in 2013, and we’re pleased they did. Taken from the meteoric album Invasion put forth by Excision’s band of bass all-stars called Destroid, Put It Down is the result of the high-profile collab between the Canadian himself and American bass magistrate, Bassnectar. If drumstep is your schtick, then you’ll want to go a few rounds with Put It Down.
The London trio formerly known as Monsta are no strangers to massive amounts of praise. Aside from landing a prestigious spot on our D&B chart, the group was handpicked by Skrillex himself to release their debut EP on OWSLA back in 2012, and subsequently secured the #1 spot on the iTunes UK and US electronic charts. After changing their name to I See Monstas, the group released this potent tune on Polydor Records, featuring some of lead-singer Skaar’s most powerful vocals to date.
Fourward hit the D&B scene like freight train this year, delivering one of the most memorable EPs of 2013 called Aftermath. Out on AudioPorn Records, Aftermath featured several of the Austrian group’s best productions to date, perhaps none moreso than the neurofunk smasher called Streetknowledge. Streetknowledge combines a swinging rhythm with a distorted lead to form one of the rudest tracks of the year.
Fred V & Grafix had a watershed year in 2013, releasing their debut EP on Hospital Records just before spring. Titled Goggles, the four-track funk-inflected workout featured the surprisingly innovative Basilisk, which certainly broke new ground in the highly innovative genre. A playful melody plucked right out of a fairytale and a reverberant, sawing synth snatched right from a dank, warehouse rave made Basilisk one of the most unique tunes of 2013.
Black Sun Empire certainly needs no introduction amongst the D&B massive. When the news broke that the Dutch trio would be releasing an LP filled with many of their classics retouched by the scene’s top producers, it was certain that one of the biggest releases of the year was on its way. Creatively titled Variations on Black, the album features remixers such as Optiv & BTK, S.P.Y., and Evol Intent, to name a few. The particular jewel here is called Arrakis (incidentally sharing the name of the desert planet in the popular novel/film Dune), and is remixed by this little D&B group called Noisia–maybe you’ve heard of them?
With one of the hottest LPs of the year, Irreverence, French bass troupe Dirtyphonics spent most of 2013 force-feeding the entire continent of North America their brand of dirty bass music one tour-stop at a time. Out on Dim Mak, Irreverence offered up a diverse variety of styles, with their tune Prelude (Black) supplying enough drumstep power to notch the #9 spot on our chart. Kudos to the quartet for making it on our chart for two consecutive years.
Australia’s ShockOne delivered one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2013 with his versatile LP, Universus. While some may dispute the best D&B track from the album (Light Cycles or Home, anyone?), it was the Eastern-tinged Harmonize that received loads of attention from the genre’s top DJs. Harmonize is a dancefloor-friendly salvo capable of defibrillating an entire festival crowd in a single play, and that’s why it’s #8 on our chart.
Andy C had another huge year, releasing the sixth episode of his seminal Nightlife series while also dropping an original EP titled Workout/Haunting. The D&B icon was also busy in the studio remixing for the likes of Chase & Status and white-hot supergroup Rudimental. It was Andy’s remix of Rudimental’s Right Here featuring Foxes that narrowly edged out the Hornchurch native’s other studio productions. Due in part to its dancefloor energy and tasteful preservation of the original’s melody, Andy C’s remix is simply a masterful re-imagining of an epic track.
A D&B chart would be incomplete without an intelligent tune like Random Movement’s remix of Makoto’s Girl I’m Running Back 2 U. The Floridian took Makoto’s 2011 hit and reworked it into a smooth roller with a rounded bassline and a bustling rhythm, while keeping Christian Urich’s soulful vocal intact. Featured on the Souled Out Remixed album, this jazzy jewel deserves a bit more attention.
Viper Recordings co-founder Futurebound and his long-time collaborator Matrix recently released this massively uplifting tune, and it has definitely been one of the brightest spots in D&B this past year. Featuring the powerful voice of Londoner Max Marshall, Control’s magnetic vocal and melodic composition make this track one of the most accessible D&B releases of the year. Ram-packed with feel-good vibes, Control is a four-minute vacation to musical paradise.
With his Lazers Not Included album still getting monstrous attention on the DJ circuit, RAM Records producer Wilkinson dominated almost every season of 2013 with a slew of unforgettable anthems. Wintertime saw the release of the ubiquitous tune Take You Higher, only to be proceeded a few months later by summertime smash Heartbeat. On the heels of Heartbeat, Wilkinson released his biggest tune of the year in the fall, Afterglow. Afterglow’s tender vocals and resonant bassline are juxtaposed to form what can only be described as transcendental feel-good music.
Another product from the RAM Records camp, 2013’s highly-anticipated album Future Perfect from acclaimed bass duo Loadstar arrived to a bubbling reception and featured a variety of tracks ranging from electro house to dubstep. While the entire album is an electronic tour de force, it was the digital bonus track Lancelot that made an indelible mark. Featuring a Reese bassline underneath a rolling break, ravey vocal sample, and a plucked lead, Lancelot is one of the greatest liquid masterpieces to hit the scene in the last decade.
It may take some convincing, but the sound featured in our #2 spot does come from a mortal man–and the man’s name is Mefjus. Already awarded the title of “Best Newcomer Producer" by Drum & Bass Arena, the Austrian native had another groundbreaking year in 2013, culminating with this rework of Neosignal’s Sequenz. While the original was a jaw-dropping piece of electronic artistry, Mefjus’ re-tooling transformed Sequenz into a nitrous-fueled cavalcade of bass, breaks, and synthetics. Make sure to hold on to something when the 2:13 mark hits!
For the second year in a row, LessThan3’s top spot on our D&B chart goes to UK quartet Rudimental for their galvanizing pièce de résistance, Waiting All Night. Featuring the soulful voice of Ella Eyre, Waiting All Night was arguably the most heard D&B tune in the world in 2013, with over 55 million views on YouTube, features on countless TV spots, and live performances carried out all over the world. Waiting All Night is the perfect blend of raw energy and emotion and pushed the entire genre into the spotlight in 2013. Congrats Rudimental and Asylum Records for this crowning achievement!