Guide to Drum & Bass Subgenres by OFFISH

Guide to Drum & Bass Subgenres by OFFISH


Guide to Drum & Bass Subgenres by OFFISH 

I'm hoping it will be useful for newcomers discovering the scene. I've attempted to write long description while not getting too much into detail to not confuse somebody that's barely had any contact with the music.

  • Jungle [early 90s-present] - the genre that predates dnb and laid foundations for the genre. It ranges between 160-168 BPM and focuses on rearranged and chopped breakbeats sampled from funk and soul records. The rhythm is often much more complex as opposed to dnb which mostly features 2-step pattern (snares hitting on 2 and 4). Basslines are usually assembled out of 808 kicks. The tracks frequently feature old rave synths as well as dub and reggae samples since the genre partially originates from soundsystem culture. // EXAMPLE, EXAMPLE2

    • Atmospheric/Intelligent [early 90s-late 90s] - less agressive, more "mature" and sophisticated side of jungle. It puts a lot of emphasis on ambient-like pads and takes a lot of influence from jazz, often samples it. The sound peaked shortly after it was born and slowly died out as producers shifted to producing more accessible liquid pieces. // EXAMPLE, EXAMPLE2

    • Breakcore [mid 90s-present] - jungle pushed to extreme, often goes beyond 200 BPM and doesn't take itself seriously. Very experimental in nature and allows for free interpretation by any artist willing to produce it. Breakcore has been blended together with many different genres including chiptune, classical, IDM and heavy metal just to name a few. It's mostly written by japanese nowadays since the genre found a lot of fans in that country. // EXAMPLE, EXAMPLE2

    • Ragga [early 90s-present] - a branch incorporating more reggae elements than average jungle track, usually featuring rapping MC. // EXAMPLE1, EXAMPLE2

    • Drumfunk [early 00s-present] - while a lot of modern jungle productions use same samples, production techniques and even hardware from 90s, drumfunk producers don't concern themselves with those and aim at pushing the boundries forward. The term is niche and it applies mostly to pieces with much more complex drumwork with less or no focus at all on making them mixable or danceable. The style samples a lot of new breakbeats which weren't used in old jungle tracks. Drumfunk has also slightly faster tempo. // 

  • Dancefloor [late 00s-present] - the most mainstream-sounding subgenre and most accessible to casual listeners as it has similar aesthetic of popular EDM music. The style puts emphasis on dominant, very melodic lead synths and vocals. It's mostly disconnected from rest of the scene due to its commercial approach and doesn't resemble other subgenres. Most recognised dancefloor artists come from UK, a lot of lesser known acts originate from Netherlands. // 

  • Liquid [early 00s-present] - arguably most widespread dnb subgenre, focuses on atmosphere and melodic parts (more mellow and smoother than dancefloor), often features vocals. Influenced by house/jazz/soul, usually uses old jungle breaks as a foundation for drums. It differs from intelligent jungle as it has simpler structure and patterns. The tracks very often contain piano progressions as the main element of the track, althrough that's not requirement for piece to classify as liquid. Apart from higher production value that came with technological advancements, the sound remained pretty much the same for the last two decades. //

  • Neurofunk/Neuro [early 00s-present] - focuses on hefty, substantially filtered and usually distorted basslines. Over the years, the subgenre gradually became much heavier and focused on midrange bass than in early days. In the last decade the scene started putting emphasis on perfecting technical side of production, which wasn't prioritized in the past as much. The subgenre originates from UK but it quickly found fanbase in eastern Europe and Russia. Most of current generation's artists are based in these areas. // EXAMPLE, EXAMPLE2

    • Techstep [mid 90s-early 00s] - the style that predates neurofunk, deep and technoid subgenres. It's characterised by raw and synthetic sound inspired by sci-fi movies and techno. It cemented itself in the genre with previously mentioned crude 2-step drum pattern and served as general transition from jungle to dnb. Nowadays it's pretty much nonexistent in its original form and carried only by a small few labels. // EXAMPLE, EXAMPLE2

    • Technoid/Techno-dnb [early 00s-early 10s] - very niche sound aiming at reproducing mechanical, driving techno vibe (hence the name) while still retaining syncopated rhythm and dnb tempo. The tracks feature 4-bar loop with characteristic offbeat kick patterns (althrough straight 4/4 isn't uncommon). The style has very little melodic content apart from detuned one-shot synths and arps. It used to be interchangeably mixed with neurofunk in sets in the past. Currently dead with no active labels. // EXAMPLE1, EXAMPLE2

  • Jump Up [mid 90s-present] - one of the oldest scenes. The sound went through many iterations during its lifespan but it was always focused on very catchy, midrange basslines, hooks, high tempo (sometimes going up to 180 BPM) and being stimulating. Usually the rhythm is very basic and straightforward, making the style simple to dance to. Currently the producers use breaks less often than in first years of genre's lifespan and prefer to rely on one-shot samples. The basses became more screechy in recent years as well. The recent "foghorn" tracks also fit jump up's definition. It has biggest fanbases in UK and Belgium. // 

  • Crossbreed/Hardcore dnb [mid 00s-present] - uses loud, distorted kicks known from hardcore techno, the style is very aggressive. Depending of the artist, the tracks can focus more either on hardcore or dnb aesthetic as there is no set rule which genre "should" be favoured. It features distinctive "crossbreed snares" characterized by tonal, metallic sound. Collaborations between crossbreed and neuro artists and labels featuring both subgenres aren't uncommon sight. The style originates from Netherlands. // EXAMPLE, EXAMPLE2

    • Darkstep/Skullstep [mid 00s-late 00s] - the term referring to aggressive, dark dnb in 00s that wasn't simply neurofunk. The most common characteristics shared between tracks are universal usage of classic amen break, distorted reese bass progressions (althrough simpler and less processed than in neuro) and distinctive switches between drum patterns and breaks every each few bars. In addition to that, the tracks incorporate characteristics of techstep and technoid to varying degrees depending of the artist. A lot of productions from that era sampled horror movies. The scene transitioned into crossbreed near the end of decade. It shouldn't be confused with breakcore as the pieces have coherent structure, they aren't as random and glitchy as well. // 


  • Deep [early 10s-present] - noticeably more toned down compared to other subgenres. Generally characterized by accenting sub-bass and showcasing it as core element of the tracks next to drums and avoiding usage of excessive midrange sounds. The emphasis on minimalism varies between labels/producers. Usually has clean, cold aesthetic but artists often merge it with another styles to yield interesting results. Pioneered in UK but quickly picked up by artists from entire Europe. // 

  • Halftime [early 00s-present] - this subgenre is most confusing as it's divided between a couple of branches unrelated to each other that happened to start shaping in same time period. To describe it most vaguely, two-bar drum patterns in halftime have only one snare (or in some cases none at all) instead of two like in all other dnb subgenres. I listed three most common interpretations that are based off that idea, althrough please note there might be more of them.

    • Leftfield Bass [early 10s-present] - style that fuses experimental sound design from dnb and dubstep with oldschool hiphop beats. The tempo is kept at 85 BPM which makes it possible to mix it with drum & bass. // EXAMPLE1, EXAMPLE2

    • 170 [mid 00s-present] - also referred to as "Samurai sound" from the name of the label that popularised it on the scene. The pieces frequently have long, continuous progression without clear division between intro-drop-bridge sections. The drumwork is rich and utilizes many percussion sounds, accompanied by low, deep basslines. Kicks have high presence and dictate pace of the tracks, snares are often placed at the last beat or are completly absent. In some productions there are noticeable nods towards jungle and dub.  // EXAMPLE1, EXAMPLE2

    • Autonomic [late 00s-present] - it derived its name from the podcast pioneering the sound. The style is characterised by incorporating old drum machine samples, minimalism and experimental approach. It can be described as offspring of IDM, making it suitable for home listening rather than being aimed at getting played at clubs. // 

  • Drumstep [early 10s-mid 10s] - sound of 2010 era dubstep [brostep] with dnb tempo. Mostly produced and listened by Americans. Dead nowadays as it capitalised on short-lived brostep's commercial success. // 

  • Sambass [early 00s-present] - dnb with elements of brazillian music, mostly produced by brazillian artists. // EXAMPLEEXAMPLE2

  • Reggae dnb [mid 00s-present] - slightly different from previously mentioned ragga as it's faster, has 2-step beat and more emphasis on reggae chops. // 



Offish is 23 year old producer currently living in Warsaw, Poland. His tracks are subtle blends between dnb, jungle, and halftime. The deep, nuanced atmospheres and pads always have been key element in all his productions.


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