Neurofunk Stylistic origins Drum and Bass, Funk, Techstep, House, Jazz, Techno, Dark ambient Cultural origins late 1990s in England, Scotland, Europe, USA Typical instruments Synthesizer Sequencer
Drum machine Sampler
Mainstream popularity Small
Other topics Drum and bass artists
Drum and bass record labels
Neurofunk is a subgenre of drum and bass which emerged between 1997 and 1998 in London, England as a progression of techstep. It was further developed by juxtaposed elements of heavier and harder forms of funk with multiple influences ranging from techno, house and jazz, distinguished by consecutive stabs over the bassline and razor-sharp backbeats. The first sounds of neurofunk's early evolution - when diverging from techstep - can be heard on Ed Rush and Optical's "Funktion" single for V Recordings and on their first album Wormhole for Virus Recordings in 1998.
The first mention of the term was in the book Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture by Simon Reynolds. This is where the English music critic coined the name as a result of his personal perception of stylistic shifts in techstep - back beats replacing breakbeats, funk harmonies replacing industrial timbres and lack of emphasis on the drop - by referring to them as, "(Neurofunk) is the fun-free culmination of jungle's strategy of cultural resistance: the eroticization of anxiety".
Konflict formatted Optical's style into a harsher, stripped-down form with a stronger techno influence at the forefront of their tracks such as "The Beckoning" (released on Renegade Hardware in 1999). In 2002, Sinthetix, Cause 4 Concern, and Silent Witness & Break took Konflict's hard edge, minimalist approach with emphasis on colder, precision beat engineering, harder stabs over the bassline, sharper mixdowns and simultaneously, hastening the advancement of the style's sound design between the periods of 2002 and 2005 along with Gridlok, Corrupt Souls, Noisia, Phace, and The Upbeats. Gridlok also worked on sampling big band horn arrangements during his time on Violence Recordings, bridging the gap between the subgenre's techno and jazz influences yet, maintaining the elements of classic neurofunk dissonance and minimalism in his music.
As the subgenre developed, with artists starting as purists and later changing their musical direction into broader musical settings, so new artists have emerged to fill the vacuum, re-energizing the sound by taking production back to its roots.
Between 2007 and 2008, a decade after the pioneering artists first established neurofunk's technical soundscape, the style was enhanced with a series of diverse, forward thinking debut albums set to redefine its concept production with the rough-cut antics of Break The System by Gridlok (Project 51/CD/2007); the minimal techno-funk fueled Psycho by Phace (Subtitles Music/2007); the blending of rhythmic guitar chord progressions on Black Lotus by Mindscape (Citrus Recordings/2007); the melodic experiments of My Light Year by Telemetrik (BSE Recordings/2008), the highly conceptual and intensive Nobody's Out There by The Upbeats (Bad Taste Recordings/2007), and the innovative Black Box singles compilation (Syndrome Audio Recordings/CD/2008), featuring various artists and highlighting remixes by second and third-wave producers, among the second-wave, Phace and Misanthrop contrasting the rhythmic grit of third-wave producers Chook, Dose & Menace.
Silent Witness & Break began producing their groundbreaking tracks when recruited by legendary No U-Turn, label founder/producer Nico who released their first singles "Contact" and "Higher Rates" (No U-Turn Recordings/2002 and 2003) with Silent Witness eventually establishing his own DNAudio imprint with partner, DJ Squire as an outlet for his music alongside Break's and Survival's. UK's DNAUDIO crew have since combined both techstep and neurofunk subgenres as their signature approach to drum and bass with Break often using stark, amen influenced breakbeats in his solo tunes. By mid 2008, Silent Witness, Break & Survival released their first album, Hard Times on DNAudio Recordings composed of powerful breakbeats and back beats, upfront low-end basslines and soaring, futuristic production.
As a producer, Ryme Tyme's combined vision and recording techniques are highlighted by his track "We Enter" (produced by Ryme Tyme/Optical RMXS/No U-Turn Recordings/1999), along with "Payback" (produced by Ryme Tyme/DSCI4 Records/1999), "White Lightning" (produced by Optical & Ryme Tyme/The Creeps album/Virus Recordings/2000), "Abyss Remix" (produced by Ryme Tyme & Nasis/1210 Recordings/2001) and "Lightsleeper" (produced by Ryme Tyme, Matrix & Fierce/C4CLTD/2002). Some of these tracks were compiled for the album entitled Ryme Tyme (1210 Recordings/2001), consisting mainly of his 12-inch singles for 1210 Recordings.
Origins and influences
Besides the subgenre being an evolution of techstep, some of its origins and influences can be traced back to the late 1960s to mid 1970s period of trumpeter Miles Davis and his blending of jazz, rock and funk genres, the switching of his trumpet on to wah-wah pedals and marshall stacks and the use of distortion.
Neurofunk is mainly characterized by mid-range, synthesizer sounds intertwined with an opening and closing filter on a funk influenced bassline. The concept of distortion on bass and brass instrumentation was innovated by Miles Davis during his late 1960s period after listening to The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Sly & the Family Stone, becoming a significant feature in his development of jazz fusion.
Related Drum and bass Other electronic music genres
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