In 1994, the government introduced a bill to tackle what it perceived as the menace of rave music. Against a backdrop of widespread protest, The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act was eventually passed into law – Part 5 of which concerns ‘collective trespass and nuisance’ where it characterises rave music as:
“…sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.”
The Act empowers authorities to stop a rave in the open air with a hundred or more people attending, or where two or more people are making preparations for a rave. In other words, police now had the power to shut down anything from the size of Castle Morton to this poor guy’s bbq.
The Criminal Justice Bill was ostensibly introduced because of the noise and disruption caused by all night parties to nearby residents. However the more cynically minded believed that the bill was introduced to kill a popular youth movement that was taking people out of town centres where they would normally be drinking taxable alcohol and into fields where they would take untaxed drugs instead. To this end the bill achieved its aim, as the threat of eye-watering fines and confiscation of equipment intimidated soundsystem owners into packing up, leaving ravers with no option but to trudge back into city centre nightclubs.
Yet it wasn’t all doom and gloom – In fact taking the music out of a large rave environment and putting it into smaller, more intimate venues was actually ideal for some. Photek for example was pushing the possibilities of what could be achieved with sample-based music by taking tiny fragments of classic drum breaks and painstakingly rearranging them into completely new compositions. Whilst others including Wax Doctor were fusing breakbeats with influences that traditionally had no place anywhere near a rave such as Deep House and Jazz.
The music that some were producing had gone beyond simply being ‘Rave music’. I’m reluctant to call it intelligent (as some did back in the day), partly because the term itself is incredibly pretentious, but mainly because the emotional response and happiness I get from listening to some dreamy soothing pads is no more meaningful or “intelligent” than the happiness I get from listening to some big Rave stabs. They are just different types of records made for different reasons to be enjoyed in different environments. The only difference was that up to now those pursuing a more musical approach didn’t have a platform for their output. That platform came when LTJ Bukem & Fabio hosted the first dedicated soulful D&B night called Speed.
Situated at the Mars Bar in London’s West End, Speed was purposely held midweek as Fabio explains to attract music lovers rather than the pissheads who would go out on a weekend. Meanwhile, around the corner in Hoxton, Goldie was making preparations to launch the infamous Metalheadz Sunday Sessions at Blue Note. Both nights would get off to a slow start, with DJ’s entertaining empty dancefloors before popularity grew to a point that within 15 minutes of opening, both clubs would be full up.
Whilst Ragga Jungle was attracting most of the attention in 1994/1995, ultimately it had boxed itself into a cul de sac of clichéd ideas and soon fizzled out. The future rested with those who were seeking to push the music forward creatively and reach out to new audiences. This month’s mixes are a nod to those who had distanced themselves from the hype of jungle and were ready to show the world that Drum & Bass had matured and it was time for it to be taken seriously.