Is anyone else going to be sad when DJ Rap’s Back to the Future remix EP series is over? Part three released today with four remixes and a remaster of her classic, bass-driven tune, “Rumble” and then there’s only one more to go in the four-part series. It’s been an excellent trip down memory lane as well as an education for rave GenZ as to the foundations of drum and bass. Most of all, however, Back to the Future has shown how timeless D&B is and how truly ahead of its time it was and still is.
The “Rumble” remixes include a chest-thumpingly dark mix from HydeUK, a version by Conrad Subs that has even more old school jump up flavor than the original, a synthy, hip hop-tinged mix by Flapjack and an intelligent bass super-throwback by Special K. Rap’s own remix is a dancefloor tear-up of a remix called “Tearout,” which is fitting given the ragged, slicing synths contained therein.
All the “Rumble” remixes make a heavy nod – almost a bow – to all types of old school style except, surprisingly, Rap’s. Her techy, almost neuro-tinged version with those “tearout” paper cut synths could fool even the most well-read new or even middle school raver. The old schoolers could probably tag that early neurofunk feedback but it’s clearly done in a modern way sound design-wise with cinematic sound design around the intro and breaks, just a hint of a digital echo around the drums and, despite the track still having a definite groove, precision timing one could set Greenwich Mean Time to.
Here’s a good lesson for the new heads: “Rumble” and especially the Conrad Subs remix of “Rumble” is what early jump up sounded like. It still had a kick! Not even remotely close to the “fast riddim” fans think of today. The jumpy part was in the synths, as is perfectly exemplified in this mix. The HydeUK remix is a study in early darkstep with the main synth being mostly comprised of grinding bass and the ambient background space being very, well, ambient.
The Flapjack remix is done in the way a lot of remixes were done back in the day, by reversing the snares so they’re sort of backwards amens. This tightens up the sound somehow and with just a fraction of the original bass synths, makes the track sound familiar yet totally different.
Lastly, the Special K mix brings back an unfortunately long-forgotten subgenre from the old school: intelligent drum and bass. Sort of an precursor to and offshoot of drakstep, intelligent D&B’s melody is always made up entirely of sub bass synths and said deep could often contain words of phrases within them. Special K was one of the progenitors of this style back in the day.
This remix may remind 90s D&B fans of 187 (now Jordana)’s seminal 1998 album, Quality Rolls. Many a D&B head spent many a chemically altered night squinting at the tracks on that album trying to figure out the messages contained therein. Sort of a “Where’s Waldo” of bass music. It’s unclear whether the bass synth in this version of “Rumble” is actually saying something (your humble author’s guess would be the title of the track), but here’s hoping this style comes back. Given the current social climate, it could be a fun social distancing game, not to mention a sick style of D&B.
Part three of DJ Rap’s Back to the Future with “Rumble” remixes is probably the best representation in the series so far of just how many styles there were back when the original track was made and how many there have been since. Each of these tracks is a great way to remember, to learn and to look “back to the future” for inspiration.
Back to the Future Part 3 the “Rumble” remixes is out now on Rap’s Propa Talent label and can be streamed or purchased on multiple platforms here. Also be sure to tune into her new livestream mix sessions every Wednesday on Facebook.