A selection of tunes from the fascinating world of drum & bass and jungle that, in our opinion, achieved maximum impact this year.
It’s been coming for a while, but 2022 has ensured that the notion of drum & bass being an underdog genre is well and truly over. The jungle and drum & bass sound has quite literally taken over listeners and producers alike; and with the quality on offer, we see no signs of the genre slowing down any time soon.
This year has been all about incredible jungle and drum & bass music, many newcomers who have taken the scene by storm, new labels, groundbreaking albums, and artists taking up peak time festival spots. DnB is spreading like wildfire, it’s beautiful and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.
After experiencing a year full of great releases, it’s time we start compiling the best tunes from the lot that have had maximum impact. Unlike any other year before, when sat down to list our favorites, it was practically impossible to limit our selection to just 10 tracks. So, this year, TFword will do a two-part series and list down the best tunes from the Ticket Fairy camp; and the first part of our selection of the best jungle and drum & bass tunes, in no particular order, begins with:
The Caracal Project – The lights on your face.
There is something special about French drum & artists, isn’t it? The L’hexagone drum & bass connoisseur has belted releases this year that could have a game-changing impact on the wider drum & bass scene. Bringing together a blend of catchy vocals, funk, and pop, The Caracal Project has delivered some special music this year; and our pick from his releases this year is this masterpiece.
Icicle – Nostalgia
While we’re STILL trying to figure out what Icicle meant when he said ‘Post’ will be his third and final album, we’re wiping our tears using this tech-pierced roller which Icicle brewed up as part of his final long release. Raw, old school, ‘Nostalgia’ definitely ranks higher up in our favorites from this year.
Justin Hawkes – Better Than Gold (Ft. Andrew Hellier)
Coming to what we believe is the drum & bass album of the year, Justin Hawkes, with his debut album ‘Existential’ announced himself as a drum & bass giant; one that is also at the forefront of the American contingent of the genre. Fun fact about ‘Better Than Gold’ – the track features vocals from his uncle Andrew Hellier while his dad worked on its strings. Together, the Hellier family gave us a track that has the energy to get our feet tapping instantly.
YAANO – Lust
Another American producer who is known for his forward-thinking productions is New Jersey-based YAANO. His music is always packed with an element of surprise which he isn’t shy of exhibiting in nearly every release. For his second outing on Overview Music, YAANO made optimum use of minimalistic atmospheres with funky vocal samples, and the result was a tune that you can’t get enough of.
Sola – Pico De Gallo
When was the last time you heard a drum & bass track that says ‘Andale’ (‘come on’ in Spanish) in it? If you haven’t, drum & bass trio Sola has given you one. With ‘Pico de Gallo,’ which basically is a salsa fresca in Mexican cuisine, Sola has given us a taste of drum & bass and the Mexican wave in a single track.
S.P.Y – Steady Jam
S.P.Y’s DARKMTTR Records take its time putting out music, but when they do, it’s always brimming with quality. Never doubt S.P.Y’s penchant for making his style known; and why not? It has made him the drum & bass titan he is. Deep, dark, and rolling with an unexpected amen break twist, ‘Steady Jam’ is a proper belter.
Sl8r – In Ur Arms
‘In Ur Arms’ by Manchester-based Sl8r is our pick from Hospital Records’ catalog from 2022. You must be wondering, from the endless pit of charting hits, why is this tune our pick? One listen and it will give you all the answers you are looking for. Using old school elements with a contemporary jungle edge, Sl8r left no remorse and produced a dancefloor destroyer for Lens’ mixtape series on the label.
Vektah – Echo Mode (Feat. PAV4N & T-Man)
It’s just been a year since Vektah’s debut and with every single tune he has released, he has made it known that the man is not messing about. Vektah has been on a sensational run this year, but one tune that stuck with us was his heavyweight collaboration with PAV4N & T-Man. Featuring the signature bassline that the producer is known for coupled with PAV4N and T-Man pulverizing vocals, ‘Echo Mode’ is all fumes from start to finish.
Azifm & Scout – Think About Me
The moment you listen to Azifm’s music, you will know that Kiwi IS the future. Combining breakbeats with new school synths with an old school touch, Azifm’s music is all about finding effectivity in simplicity. ‘Think About Me’ is only his second release of the year, and the crisp drums and clean bass rhythm on the tune make it a quintessential club banger for DJs.
Leniz – Mourning Tears
Leniz is another example of Goldfat Records’ scouting that we always rave about; they simply never go wrong. The Dutch baby-faced assassin returned to Goldfat Records this year to give us four sensational cuts of soul-stirring bass music. With a delicious bassline juggling underneath the rushing pads and catchy vocals, ‘Mourning Tears’ is one of the best tunes from the Goldfat family this year.
LSB – Dixieland
LSB is truly a drum & bass gift that keeps on giving. Ever think you have hit rock bottom of your emotions? Listen to LSB. Ever think you are in the happiest moment? Listen to LSB. The liquid drum & bass champion is made for every mood. ‘Dixieland’ falls on the happier side of things, with the buttery, dreamy goodness that LSB always enchants us with.
Foreign Concept, Phase & Magugu – Shut It Up
When three unstoppable forces combine on a tune, the result is an unadulterated drum & bass slapper. From the four ragged cuts of broken beats and rolling sonics on Critical Music, the vocal-led and grinding deep stepper is our pick. We’ve already seen ‘Shut It Up’ take over DJ sets, and we see no signs of stopping.
Noisia & Black Sun Empire – Caps Lock
Noisia’s breakup is an event that still stings us, and it will continue to do so, but their final album before the split gave us something to hold on to. Dense, and gritty with rattling bass stabs, ‘Caps Lock’ is a tune that is a culmination of The Netherlands’ finest drum & bass talents we’ve come across; and of course, it is a tune for the ages.
gyrofield – Retinues
It’s about time someone took a peek into gyrofield’s artistic mind because it is an incredibly fascinating one. The Bristol-based artist is one of the youngest and most talented names in drum & bass, with every piece of studio material being from a different dimension. Making her debut on Kasra’s Critcal Music, ‘Retinues’ is a resounding bass-fest marked at the highest frequency of drum & bass music.
ACRAZE – Do It To It (Sub Focus Remix)
We end our first installment of the best tunes with one of the biggest tunes of the year. ‘Do It To It’ by ACRAZE is a tune that had quite literally taken over every form of social media, and to remix this is a monumental task. Simply because it has been remixed to death. But when the drum & bass giant Sub Focus gets on it, he can do no wrong.
We will be back with the second half of our selection; until then, let us know which tune is your favorite from this lot.