No other artists have had such an immediate impact on drum & bass in recent years as Instra:mental, the highly acclaimed duo of Al Bleek and Kid Drama. Since their early releases on Soul:r and Darkestral, the pair have been steadily building momentum with a number of influential singles across labels such Exit and Naked Lunch and developing a diverse and unique sound that crosses a range of styles and tempos. Instra:mental have so far forged successful studio partnerships with the likes of Jonny L, Skream, Burial and most notably dBridge, with whom they have hosted the Autonomic podcast series. Dubbed ‘Best Breakthrough Producers’ in DJ Magazine’s Best of British awards 2009, this accolade only tells half the story. Their remarkable rise has seen the launch of their label NonPlus+, the start of residencies for Fabric and Rinse FM and a whole host of international appearances including festivals in Croatia and Sardinia plus a tour of Japan last year. In 2010, we can look forward to the release of a Fabriclive mix CD plus accompanying tour as well as albums from ASC and Instra:mental on NonPlus+ and yet more from this prolific duo.
Although they may be fresh faces to some, the Instra:mental duo are no newcomers having been introduced to the drum & bass scene in 2000. A solo single (‘Boomer’ b/w ‘Channel Zero’) and a collaboration (‘Pimp Star’ b/w ‘Yo Bitch!’) with breakbeat scientists Source Direct appeared on their Demonic label and hinted at the potential Instra:mental would later come to fulfill. A six-year hiatus followed before a return to production in fine style, with the release of ‘Naked Zoo’ on Soul:r’s DAT Music Volume 1 CD compilation. Free from the currents and trends that seemed to be placing creative constraints on their peers, Instra:mental emerged with a stripped-back sound signaling a new course for others to follow.
Their next releases opened the account for Darkestral and, together with visionary label boss Rico, Instra:mental set about reinventing the template. Tracks like ‘Comanche’ and ‘Rogue’ hit dancefloors hard, with DJ support ranging from dBridge to Friction, and combined rhythmic percussion with dark brooding bass. ‘Pacific Heights’, on the other hand, demonstrated a softer melodic sound and it’s inclusion by Marcus Intalex on his Fabric Live 35 mix CD introduced Instra:mental to a broader audience, beyond just the club itself.
With a style unrestricted by tempo, Instra:mental’s productions have crossed the artificial boundaries between contemporary genres such as dubstep and drum & bass and reach out to a wide range of listeners. Their tracks build tension through careful arrangements, capturing interest by revealing layers and subtly engineered sounds without resorting to tired clichés. Adhering to Darkestral’s maxim of ‘respect the speed limit,’ Instra:mental’s tracks give space for groove to captivate the dancefloor and they’ve so far proved themselves capable operators at lower BPMs, as the recent release ‘Futurist’ on Naked Lunch demonstrates.
Remixes for Saburuko (‘Warped’) and Commix (‘Japanese Electronics’) have further raised Instra:mental’s profile, who returned the favour by including two Instra:mental tracks (‘Photograph’ and ‘No Future’) on their Fabric Live mix CD in January 2009.
From their early material alongside Source Direct to their more recent collaborations with Skream and Burial, Instra:mental have consistently attracted artists of the highest calibre. Their south London studio “The Zoo” has hosted luminaries and like-minds such as Jonny L, No-U-Turn legend Nico and dBridge, who included their first collaboration, ‘Blush Response,’ on his debut LP. The strength of this particular partnership continues to grow, with two further and very different joint works by Instra:mental and dBridge (‘Translucent’ and ‘Detuned’) appearing on the ‘Sepia Tones EP’ for Darkestral and more joint works in store, including a number of three-way efforts alongside Skream.
In 2009, the trio launched the monthly Autonomic podcast series to showcase fresh sounds alongside timeless music that continues to inspire them. Sharing diverse influences including experimental electronica, soul and funk, the Autonomic sessions have already gained a cult following and inspired a residency at London’s superclub, Fabric plus a regular show on Rinse FM. With Club Autonomic going from strength‐to‐strength, the latest podcast reached over 50,000 downloads; a sure sign that their appeal is not restricted to drum & bass fans only. A mix CD for the prestigious Fabriclive series is scheduled for release later in February 2010, with a supporting tour set to take them worldwide.
Instra:mental also launched their own label, NonPlus+, in 2009 with the debut release bringing together their ‘No Future,’ and the groundbreaking sounds of ‘Wonder Where’ by dBridge. Singles from Skream and ASC have since maintained the high standards already set and an LP from ASC is set for release in early 2010. The highly‐anticipated debut album from Instra:mental will surely follow later in the year.
An awards for ‘Best Breakthrough Producers’ in 2009 from DJ Magazine couldn’t be more deserved, as they’ve already proved themselves at the highest level. DJ support from tastemakers across scenes including Gilles Peterson, Appleblim, Mary Anne Hobbs, Goldie, Scuba and Skream clearly shows the range of their production skills.
In the short time that they’ve been available for DJ bookings, Instra:mental have already appeared at both DMZ in Brixton and Berlin’s infamous Berghain club; testament to their impact within the dubstep and techno communities. Festival appearances have also seen visits to Sun & Bass in Sardinia and Exodus Festival in Croatia, further showing the strength and diversity of their sound. Whether performing solo or alongside dBridge and their host of choice SP:MC, you can be certain to hear fresh music from Instra:mental with quality, integrity and lasting appeal.