It's official: Laundry Bar is single-handedly fomenting a local drum 'n' bass revival. Recent weeks have seen DJ sets by kings of the genre like Florida's own AK1200, jazz-borrowing Londoners Aquasky, and one of the cofounders of the legendary Metalheadz imprint, Doc Scott. This Friday another Brit brings the choons: Bristol's Tech Itch.
In the Nineties, that far-western, farm-surrounded English city just minutes from the Welsh border produced some of drum 'n' bass's bigger names, including arguably the biggest, Roni Size/Reprazent. That group scraped against the edge of mainstream success with "Brown Paper Bag" in 1997, during the height of MTV's Amp showcase of so-called electronica.
Tech Itch comprising Darren Beale and Mark Caro never had a hit that threatened to pop overground, but the duo was among the leaders of that geographical hotbed from the beginning. The Tech Itch mates first appeared during the peak of UK hardcore, both as DJs and producers. When that splintered into the various strains of jungle, and then drum 'n' bass, Beale and Caro wandered down the more shadowy musical branches. Rather than going for the easy appeal of blending in ragga or jazz, Tech Itch pushed technology to make the beats harder and darker.
By the heyday of drum 'n' bass in the late Nineties, they were widely acknowledged as top producers of any number of subgenres appended with the suffix step: techstep, darkstep, dubstep. The common thread: sped-up takeoffs on the original jungle amen breaks, layered with caustic rinse-outs and bass lines that threatened subsonic tremors. Sometimes Beale and Caro performed under the pseudonym Decoder. This Friday it's just Tech Itch, although the qualitative difference is virtually nil. The sound is still bruisingly heavy as ever and not for the faint of heart or ear. Go prepared to dance to the music of the apocalypse. Arielle Castillo
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