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Cardiff's drum and bass scene

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James McLaren James McLaren | 13:10 UK time, Monday, 21 February 2011

Cardiff-based dance music journalist Joanna Louise Ranson takes a look at the drum and bass scene that's concentrated around the Cardiff area.

"Wales has never been regarded as a great place for drum and bass but it's becoming a key player in the development of electronic music in the UK. It would be impossible to talk about the genre in the country without mentioning Penarth's High Contrast, Wales' biggest export in the genre, who single-handedly put Welsh drum and bass on the map with his debut album, True Colours, in 2002. His five albums have showed continued inspiration.

High Contrast

High Contrast

"Several years after High Contrast laid the foundations, dubstep/drum and bass producer Lung's releases on Kokeshi and Hospital Records' sister label Med School have reinforced the Welsh position and proved that the success and talent of High Contrast wasn't a one off.

Lung by Mike Deere Photography

Lung by Mike Deere Photography

"Although it's still a long way from the notoriety and cult status of Bristol and London as central hubs of all things drum and bass, Cardiff is cutting its teeth with promoters such as Aperture and Frequency Domain booking big names and giving local residents a chance to promote themselves and their music with supporting slots. With Hospitality touching down earlier this month, and Valve and Bedlam frequently passing through, the quality of the music reaching Wales' capital is continuously improving.

"The Aperture night at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff runs fortnightly events, providing quality drum and bass from local artists and some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Danny Byrd, Netsky, Commix, Instra:mental, Calyx and Teebee as well as High Contrast, who have all graced the decks in recent months.

"Working closely with the drum and bass community and other promoters in the city, Aperture was pioneered by Dave Shaw just over five years ago, with the intention of creating a regular night that offered quality music at a fair price and gave support to up-and-coming artists. Shaw was also responsible for bringing Hospitality out of London to Cardiff eight years ago, where it was held at the old Moloko's venue on Mill Lane. Leaning towards the more techy and liquid side of the genre with elements of heavy and dark, it remains one of the most popular nights in the city.

"Two of the most important producers in Cardiff currently are undeniably Undersound and Sub:Stance, both very different in their musical creativity but sharing the common ideal of producing high quality and original music.

Undersound by Mike Deere Photography

Undersound by Mike Deere Photography

"Undersound, a classically trained musical prodigy, turned his hand to producing drum and bass in 2007 after providing some of the piano and guitar parts on High Contrast's Tough Guys Don't Dance album. With over 60 releases under his belt and support from BBC 1Xtra, Kool FM and Kiss FM to name but a few, his instrumental talents translate beautifully to electronic music production.

"Sub:Stance is a self-taught producer whose rolling beats and dark melodies have received critical acclaim and have led to signings on Extent Records and Black Reign Ltd. His residency at Aperture has seen him play his home-grown dubplates to appreciative crowds, demonstrating his tunes can destroy the dance floor just as well as the main contenders.

"Frequency Domain is run by Cardiffian Benny Blonko, a talented drum and bass DJ in his own right. He is responsible for bringing the heavier sub-genres of the style to Cardiff with names such as Original Sin, Majistrate, Sly and Nicky Blackmarket. He will be championing the legendary Andy C and DJ Hype when the first ever Welsh RAM happens in April this year. Taking over the Millennium Music Hall in the city centre, Frequency Domain provides heavy beats for those who like their drum and bass a little filthier than what Aperture offers."

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