Unlike with punk rock, at the height of drum 'n' bass' near-mainstream crossover, there was never much of a debate over its country of origin. The skittering, ragga-inflected, bass-heavy electronic music was, at least at its inception, purely a product of the U.K. Singles only made it to our shores as imports, and 12-inches cost $10 to $12 a pop (usually with only one decent song out of the two sides therein).
Dieselboy's influence is hard to overstate. After years of making hardcore rave mixtapes -- before drum 'n' bass even existed as a genre -- as a young twentysomething in Philadelphia in the late '90s, he started the pioneering weekly d'n'b night Platinum. From there quickly mushroomed an insane career that has yielded gigs on six of the world's continents, countless high-selling mix albums, original tracks, and more.
In the late days of the genre's popularity, he was also responsible for popularizing its darker, techier strains, putting a distinctly American, mechanical stamp on the sound.
In the lean years for d'n'b, though, Dieselboy's popularity hardly waned, and with dubstep's current reign, there's reason for new kids to look to the recent past. Dieselboy's current sets encompass everything from dubstep to electro to good old drum'n'bass, and he continues to push the bass forward with his own label, Human Imprint, and its new sublabel, SubHuman.
In celebration of his not-to-be-missed Saturday gig, here, in no particular order, are five influential Dieselboy tracks.
5. "Midnight Express," 2008
By 2008, dubstep was already the watchword, but d'n'b was bubbling up again and Dieselboy was still keeping it fast and evil-sounding. This track alerted fans that the new millennium hadn't made him any softer, and that, um, hardcore would never die.
4. "Scythe" (with Technical Itch), 1995
An early slab from Dieselboy, this showed him teaming up with Technical Itch on a track that still showed leftovers of so-called "hardcore" UK rave sounds -- rolling amen breaks and atmospheric washes. That is, until about the 2-minute mark, when things get hectic.
3. "Atlantic State" (with Technical Itch), 1999
Another great collaboration with British scene legend Technical Itch, the track further married the spooky with the sublime.
2. "The Descent," 1999
While this appeared as a single in 1999, the track was probably more recognized by fans by 2000, when it appeared on his two-cd mix set, The 6ixth Session. It was a magnum opus of dark, mechanical, so-called "tech-step," and this original track encompassed all of the subgenre's robotic, relentless leanings.
1. "Invid," 2000
Beginning with what sounds like the world's fastest rendition of the classic Apache break, the track sprouts into a hyper-speed slab of factory atmospherics. The gut-churning bassline rinse-outs here are a particular Dieselboy specialty, the kind of dancefloor explosion that compels an instant call for a rewind. "Invid" was also one of the few hard drum'n'bass tracks ever to crack the Billboard dance charts.