We have picked the best drum & bass labels that we think pushed forward the sounds of the genre while delivering the finest music this year.
Record labels are incredibly important in electronic music, so much so that they can sometimes make or break a genre. When it comes to drum & bass, the genre has been blessed with arguably the most well-oiled infrastructure that has been flourishing for over three decades.
Ever since DnB’s prototype years, record labels have been responsible for pushing the most innovative music; and in the last decade alone, we have seen over a dozen labels form and make a groundbreaking impact, which has led to drum & bass being known as one of the most exciting genres in electronic music.
As we close our yearly round-ups, we have picked some drum & bass record labels that had our attention on their release schedule all year in no particular order –
Year after year, Hospital Records defies boundaries and keeps the drum & bass flag flying high on a global scale. Along with numerous solo releases, Hospital Records brought the wider scene on board by dropping releases from P Money, Emz, and many more, along with handing names like Lens their debut and giving them the stage to make their mark in the scene.
Kasra’s Critical Music has been an unstoppable force in the last decade; and one that you simply cannot contain. Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, Critical Music released music with Enei, Buunshin, Chimpo, Halogenix, and Foreign Concept, who delivered their trademark brand of drum & bass. However, the cherry on the cake was Calyx’s solo release this year, which capped off another fantastic year for the label.
The Overview Music camp keeps getting bigger and bigger with every passing year. Quality control has always been at the forefront of the label’s ethos, and ever since their inception in 2018, they have championed the funky, deeper and darker ends of drum & bass like no other. This year, Overview brought some of the best DnB talents like Wingz, Waeys, gyrofield, YAANO, and finally, a giant various artists release to close 2022. Along with its music, Overview also announced the ‘Womxns Mentorship’ for 2023 to guide female and female-identifying artists to hone their craft.
IN THE LAB RECORDINGS
Established just last year, In The Lab has made some serious strides in 2022. Consistently releasing music that focuses on the experimental side of drum & bass, In The Lab’s quest for pushing the freshest DnB drew the attention of Drum&BassArena where they were one of the labels nominated for the Best Newcomer Label award. Such has been the impact of the label, and we can’t wait to see what the In The Lab has in store for us next year.
One of the biggest labels in drum & bass, and they go about their job so efficiently that at the end of every year, you have to just sit back and admire RAM’s greatness. The label, despite its size, has constantly given its platform to new talents to shine, and this year was no different. Bringing DnB legend Junk Mail back in the game, releasing an album from Forum, and being a partner eq50’s mentorship that pushes female and female-identifying talent; RAM has been everywhere.
At this moment, no one is doing drum & bass like 1985 Music. In just five years since its debut, Alix Perez’s multi-genre bass music imprint has defined the drum & bass sound in many ways. Visages had a belter of a year on the label, followed by an album from Alix Perez as Shades, Cesco’s mind-bending EP, and a various artists release as they continue breaking boundaries like no other.
What started as a label that leans towards the lush side of drum & bass, Soulvent Records has evolved into an expansive DnB imprint that caters to numerous styles of the genre. Soulvent released one of the biggest tunes in drum & bass this year with Vektah and PAV4N, which was matched by a massive collaborative album with Hospital Records that defined the label’s year and then some when they brought a host of the hottest prospects in DnB on Soul Music 2022. Another successful year for the label, and we cannot wait to see what they bring next.
Shogun is another record label that is an unstoppable drum & bass force. Consistently redefining the way we look at drum & bass, Shogun Audio released what we believe is one of the top three DnB tunes this year with Pola & Bryson. Shogun then went on to champion its signature sound with releases from Monrroe, DRS, GEST, GLXY, and more to complete yet another memorable year.
SOUPED UP RECORDS
The label with the best artwork, and no one comes closer. Souped Up Records come with a knack to make drum & bass funky, quirky, and fun to consume. Having systematically projected their sound, Souped Up has become the go-to label if you want DnB to stomp your feet. This year, with releases from DLR, Bou, and Mozey, to name a few, label bosses Serum and Benny V chalked up a release calendar that made sure the label had another genre-defining year.
THE NORTH QUARTER
Lenzman’s The North Quarter has been showing us how liquid drum & bass is made, and some more. An album from Satl, Zero T, a mini album from Sam Binary, a gorgeous EP from Submorphics, and finally, a various artists album from some of the best names in the game; need we say more? Lenzman just knows it!
Which label do you think had your attention this year? Tell us know!