Mainstays and upcoming talent alike, we have selected the finest jungle and drum & bass talents that defined this year with their music!
We are in the last week of December, and we simply can’t get enough of it. Some of the creative planes taken by artists this year have been fascinating to witness. The cross pollination of other genres into drum & bass has ensured that music coming out from labels and independent artists is fresh and progressive.
After listing our best tracks and albums of the year, we now turn our attention to 15 artists in jungle and drum & bass who had a lasting impact on the scene in 2022, listed in no particular order.
Since going solo after Dunk’s move away from the duo, Jam Thieves has been putting out music at an insane pace; and this year alone, we have seen him release more than five EPs and a fantastic album that landed on Dispatch Recordings. Not only has Jam Thieves been consistent in releasing music, but he has also ensured that the material he puts out is deep, punchy and hard hitting with the trademark Jam Thieves sound.
After Jam Thieves, comes the man who made the move away from the duo. Dunk is practically a music-making machine; and from his unending arsenal of funky drum & bass, he has made the art of making minimal-sounding drum & bass an art form that he champions. Despite releasing over dozen EPs this year, along with an album, Dunk always ensures that the quality of the music coming from him is top-notch.
CAMO & KROOKED
Words can’t quantify the impact Camo & Krooked have had on drum & bass this year. After releasing music on several top labels, Camo & Krooked teamed up with fellow Austrian Mefjus to form Modus music. With just two releases on their newly formed label, Camo & Krooked have paved a way for artists to follow and chase terrains in drum & bass that have never been touched before. Another highlight has been their DJ sets, with the duo making frequent appearances at some of the best clubs and festivals in the world.
Brighton resident Lens has been on fire this year. After spending few years with Hospital Records as one of the label’s resident DJs, Lens used the lockdown period of COVID-19 to hone her skills, dropping her debut release in 2022. Since then, Lens has championed her brand of jungle in a style that has us doing double takes over the fact that she has only debuted this year. Within no time, you will see Lens etch her name in the highest spots of drum & bass royalty.
German prodigy Tom Finster’s rise this year has been fascinating to follow. His music, which he says “can be categorized as drum & bass and halftime and everything in-between” brought to us his debut album ‘Year Of I’ this year, which we believe is the most ambitious Tom Finster release to date, representing his love for melancholic and personal compositional themes. Following his debut album, the German producer also released music on labels like VISION Recordings, Kannibalen Records, and Upscale, to round off a fantastic 2022.
Manchester native Sl8r has literally been on a belter this year. His unique and forward-thinking conveyer belt of outstanding jungle and drum & bass music has established his name as one of the most consistent and innovative producers out there. Releasing three dozen tunes this year, Sl8r took his music to labels like 31 Recordings, V Recordings, and Hospital Records, to name a few; and he can now be seen sipping a well-deserved beer at a beach or a club near you.
Take your eyes off this man at your own peril. It was only last year that IYRE made his debut with Goldfat Records, but it feels like he has been making music for over a decade; such is the quality of his music. The Sri Lankan producer’s full debut on Goldfat Records with the ‘Light Of Hope’ EP gave us a glimpse into the monstrous ability IYRE possess to pull off anything and everything DnB. He then made the deal sweeter with appearances on UKF’s Pilot Records, Soulvent Records and Headsbass. But the biggest impact IYRE made this year was his collaboration with pyxis for a whopping 93-track compilation to raise money for the flood affected Pakistan. We can’t wait to hear what IYRE has to offer us in 2023.
What do we really say about these guys! French drum & bass champions have revolutionized not just DnB, but bass music as a whole. After showing the world the damage they can do with their primary genre, Visages have now begun exploding the dubstep scene as well, and the proof is in their giant 2021 collaboration with Monty, PAV4N, and Strategy. They have continued their expedition this year, releasing some of the best tunes in drum & bass. Visages released their most cohesive body of work on Alix Perez’s 1985 Music to cap off a sensational year.
There is a reason the world is raving about Nia Archives. Making her debut in 2021, Nia Archives has revived the jungle music scene like no other artist could. Bringing the nostalgia back into jungle with her trademark ‘future-classic’ touch, Nia Archives has had a generational impact on the scene. After releasing her groundbreaking ‘Forbidden Feelingz’ EP, Nia’ seismic rise has included collaborations with Watch The Ride and Clipz, followed by a sizzling single called ‘Baianá’ that has taken over playlists since the start of the FIFA World Cup.
Alix Perez is in a league of his own. While the Belgian legend sits at the top of the drum & bass food chain where nothing can shake him off, he still keeps innovating himself and his label to give the genre an aesthetic that only he can provide. It’s not always about innovation, because it needs to be backed up by putting the innovation to consistent use, which is something Alix Perez rules the game at. While pushing heavyweight names on his label, the man himself dropped some deep and dark blooters that he is known for, along with an album as Shades with Eprom.
Being one of the hardest working people in drum & bass, there is no role in the genre that pyxis has not executed. Producer, DJ, and label owner are just three of the many hats she wears, daily. But pyxis makes sure of the fact that her music is always top quality. Her love for melancholic rhythms has seen releases on labels like Pilot, Grand Theft Audio, Goldfat Records, and many more. Most importantly, pyxis led the charge for the FLOODLIGHT: DNB AID FOR PAKISTAN compilation which raised £20,250 for flood-stricken Pakistan.
THE CARACAL PROJECT
At this point, you have to wonder what French drum & bass artists consume for breakfast, lunch and dinner, because they all come with a cheat code that transforms drum & bass. While Visages are doing their own thing, The Caracal Project is bringing funk and pop into drum & bass, inviting the wider electronic music scene into the genre. Focusing heavily on quality over quantity, The Caracal Project has released some of the most freshest drum & bass music we have heard this year, like this tune:
Elipsa is a voice from New Zealand that is steadily infecting drum & bass with its profound and gripping nature. Having already released tunes with fellow countrymen Burnzy and Willy Mav, Elipsa is now making her mark on International drum & bass as an unmissable producer, DJ, and vocalist. Releasing her debut EP on UKF this month, Elipsa’s dusky style of vocals are set to take over drum & bass in 2023.
Kimyan Law’s artistic mind is a captivating one to be in. Having mastered the art of stripped back drum & bass, Kimyan Law is one of the most inventive producers in drum & bass. Sensing the need for his deep textured music to breathe its own space, Kimyan Law formed his own label called +++ (Plus Plus Plus Music]), where he has released the majority of his productions, bringing culture, innovation and precision together into a single imprint. Kimyan Law and his label are ones you should keep a keen eye on in 2023.
There is no way Noisia is leaving any drum & bass round up list of 2022. After revolutionizing bass music for over two decades, the Dutch trio announced their split up about three years ago. Their final hurrah plans were quashed by the pandemic, finally bidding the scene adieu at the Lowlands Festival this year. However, the departure didn’t just leave us empty-handed. As a parting gift, Noisia dropped their final artist album which was a package of heavyweight collaborations that will forever be on-repeat and can never be recreated.
Who was your favorite drum & bass artist this year?