If motivation and a swift mood enhancer is what you're after, then liquid drum 'n' bass is a simple solution. A deep dive on YouTube or liquid playlist later, you'll be sparked into life in no time. Playful melodies, samples, synth work and vocals combine like a dream with rolling Amen breaks.
Dons like Calibre, High Contrast and DJ Marky have been in this game of sheen-licked d'n'b since the early-00s and the sub-genre's popularity peaked at the end of that decade thanks to the dominance of artists like Netsky on Hospital Records. There's a been a endless run of vocal-powered liquid, featuring the likes of Diane Charlemagne, Jenna G, Riya and more. Below, we run through our favourites.
Calibre 'Even If'
Ask any drum 'n' bass producer out there who's the master of liquid d'n'b, and they'll point you to Northern Irish maestro Calibre. His tunes drip in soul - a key component of liquid - and 'Even If' is the pinnacle of his productions. Those searing strings combined with sorrowful vocals are a tearjerker for the D'N'B Skanker Generation.
S.P.Y 'By Your Side'
Brazilian producer S.P.Y has been releasing since 2006, but arguably came into his prime as the '00s morphed into the '10s. Spearhead Records release 'By Your Side' came out in 2010 and showcased his ability for liquid bursting in emotion. A slow-burning synth sample from the Terminator Salvation soundtrack opens the tune, before an onslaught of Amen breaks come into play with a juicy vocal snatched from Annette Taylor's bouncy house jam 'Faith' on Defected Records.
Commix 'Be True'
Such was the hype of Commix in the mid-00s, Goldie felt it was right to make them the first artists (aside from Goldie or his project Rufige Kru) to release an album on Metalheadz. 'Call To Mind' sees Commix stray away from the straightforward d'n'b template, bopping between broken beat and downtempo, but it's the opener 'Be True' that's a standout with its engine-like bassline powering it forward and hypnotic woozy vocals.
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High Contrast 'If We Ever'
Up there with Calibre as the man proudly carrying the torch for liquid d'n'b is High Contrast. The Welsh producer's work from the early to late-00s is built on playful melodies, clever samples, and engrossing vocals. 'If We Ever', from 2007 album 'Tough Guys Don't Dance', is a classic, with the late Diane Charlemagne appearing in trademark lung-full fashion, belting out vocals above shaking breaks and orchestral synths. Hands up if you skanked out to this one at Hospitality raves.
Ivy Lab 'Twenty Questions'
Ivy Lab - now just two members (Stray and Sabre) instead of three (originally including Halogenix) - might be spoken of most due to the wonky halftime sound they champion, and has seen them hit big across Europe and North America, but OG fans will know of the chilled liquid they're capable of. 2015 release 'Twenty Questions' is a gloss-coated liquid soother flowing with soul-filled vocals and calming pads. I must also give a nod to their remix of Anuska's 'Never Can Decide', too.
DRS 'The View' feat. LSB and Tyler Daley
There must not have a been a drum 'n' bass rave for two years when DRS, LSB and Tyler Daley's collaboration wasn't played. The 2015 track, released on Marcus Intalex's Soul:r, became an instant classic thanks to DRS' usual Mancunian MC class, LSB's luscious production and Tyler Daley - who'd soon be on everyone's lips as Children Of Zeus with Konny Kon - providing the enthralling vocals for that singalong in the rave.
London Elektricity 'Just One Second' (Apex remix)
A legendary d'n'b remix that's loved across the board. Apex, who sadly died last year, has scores of tunes behind him, but it's this remix of London Elektricity's 'Just One Second' that springs to mind when you hear his name. Hospital Records has a catalogue full of Illuminating liquid and this tune is one of its brightest.
Logistics 'The Trip'
'The Trip' by Logistics is a dizzying, head-spinning example of liquid d'n'b. The build-ups, the breakdowns, the hypnotic, echoed vocals. Let it take you on a trip.
Netsky 'Moving With You' feat. Jenna G
Netsky's a name more associated with mega events like Ultra Music Festival and Tomorrowland these days, but he was the liquid d'n'b poster boy in 2010 thanks to his self-titled debut album on Hospital Records. 'Moving With You', a link-up with go-to d'n'b vocalist Jenna G - became an anthem at the turn of the decade as Hospital's Hospitality raves shot out tickets all over, from uni student unions and Brixton Academy to venues across Europe. Effortlessly smooth and full of funk, just how liquid should be.
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Mutt 'Conversations' feat. Kevin King
Listen to this and I can guarantee you'll be saying 'I would walk 10,000 miles for your love' over and over again. The vocal hook, sung by Kevin King, is that catchy. Like, impossible to shake off catchy. That - intwined with Mutt's delicate pianos and full-on breaks - is an infectious concoction.
Lenzman 'Open Page' feat. Riya
Lenzman: a man whose productions ooze in soul and class. A bunch of his golden cuts feature vocalist Riya, 'Open Page' being one of them. You can't fault it really. It's chilled liquid for those laidback times, with a little touch of hard-edged production to switch up the mood. It's Riya's vocals, though, that really give it that air of relaxation to put your mind at ease.
DJ Marky & XRS 'LK' feat. Stamina MC
Does this classic really need much of an explanation? The funk element of liquid d'n'b is spoken about so much and DJ Marky ensures that's in full flow on 'LK' with its Latino rhythms bringing the heat. Iiiiit's the waaaaay and you know it.
Alix Perez 'Forsaken' feat. Spectrasoul & Peven Everett
Two drum 'n' bass powerhouses and a legendary house music vocalist? Yes please. This dream team of Alix Perez, Spectrasoul and Peven Everett didn't build up expectations just to flop. Instead it ended up being one of those tunes that demands to be played on repeat.
Brookes Brothers 'Tear You Down'
Watch your speed if you're listening to this while driving. So intense and relentless, 'Tear You Down' is one of those kaleidoscopic d'n'b tunes that sends your brain into a frenzy and your limbs on the dancefloor into overdrive.
Dave Turner is Mixmag's Commercial Content Editor, follow him on Twitter
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