Since its conception in 2006 Med School has gone from strength to strength as an outlet for all things experimental in drum & bass, whether it be ambient or bass heavy, thought provoking or body moving. Here we travel through time to revisit some of the standout tracks that have helped to mould the Med School sound from a particularly rich back catalogue.
Fracture & Neptune – Ventura
Of course it would be unfair not to pay homage to the label’s first releases, and with a release date of November 2006 this can definitely be considered a classic. Ventura officially marks the first time that Med School went digital, following two physical only releases from S.P.Y and CLS. Following a dreamy intro full with ascending and descending synths the track opens out into a jazzy roller, complete with crisp organic drums and guitar bends. One to savour.
Trisector – Morning Rain
Fast forward to 2009 and Med School saw its first contribution from Trisector, a newcomer from Finland. Morning Rain takes the template of early jungle, complete with stuttering drum lines and rumbling sub bass, and strips it back over airy production to complete an aptly titled tune.
Bop – Song About My Dog
Undoubtedly Bop has been one of, if not the, most influential artists on Med School; having released 3 albums. When his first album Clear Your Mind was released it came straight from the left-field and shook up the label’s predominantly industrial sound. Featuring spacey atmospherics and almost devoid of conventional melodies, the album showcased the label’s desire to push new sounds into the spotlight. Song About My Dog rounds off the album with beautifully arranged melodies and Bop’s trademark abstract percussion.
Circa – Ida
The New Blood series has always been about introducing new talent to listeners (as the name obviously suggests) and nowhere is this demonstrated more convincingly than with New Blood 010. Ida starts off slowly with light hi hats and then hits momentum with an inspired drum kick and slickly arranged bongos over a warm, pulsing bassline. The entire album comes highly recommended.
Bop – Enjoy the Moment (Thinnen Remix)
Following the success of Bop’s album Med School designed a remix package with contributions from established artists. The track Enjoy the Moment, however, was given over to a remix competition to see who could come up with the most interesting interpretation of the original. Step up Thinnen, a largely unknown artist, who delivered this beauty. Completely twisting Bop’s version into an at once urgent yet laid back roller, this is ingenuity at its best.
Ma – Japanese Bones (Royalston Remix)
Royalston has been a steady Med School staple since his first outings on the label. With his Cerulean Blue EP in 2011 he presented his brutally clinical brand of drum & bass to the world, which he has championed all the way to his excellent debut album this year. Listen to him wreak havoc with conventional time signatures as he leads us through a smashing remix of Bones.
Nuage – Missing You
Opening up the New Blood 011compilation in style, Missing You is a perfect snapshot of Med School’s more downtempo output. Robotic vocals laid out over sweet harmonies; there is more than a hint of dBridge’s Autonomic sound in here.
B Cloud – Going Deeper
Med School’s releases have consistently added an experimental edge to drum & bass norms. With Going Deeper, B Cloud crafted a track that was abstract (listen to the pitched down vocals) and yet packs the necessary punch for the dancefloor. The tune wastes no time in dropping its high energy rolling bassline, coated by a series of euphoric synthy bleeps and key stabs.
Villem & Fields – Azura
Villem, also known as Mute, has been surfing the underground of the drum & bass scene for a while turning out bass music with a dynamic edge. His EP on Med School in 2012 was no exception, bringing new and interesting flavours to his sound. At the heart is his collaboration with Fields, Azura, which brings glossy, shimmering (check the EP’s title) synths together with a groovy bassline. Make no mistake, this is a gem.
Keeno & Whiney – Isokime
Isokime was one of the standout tracks from New Blood 013 last year, displaying Keeno and Whiney’s unique ability to craft drum & bass around classical melodies. Perhaps one of Keeno’s more mellow productions, Isokime develops around a melancholic piano line, accompanied by yearning strings, that leads into classily understated breakdown. This is an excellent example of the softer side of Med School, which Keeno would go on to fully explore in his album.
Etherwood – Shattered (ft. Nu:Tone)
Clearly this list would be incomplete without at least one contribution from Etherwood, Med School’s prodigy of yesteryear. So successful was his album that he was subsequently commissioned for the first Hospital Mixtape on Hospital Records. Stretching across 18 tracks, the album caught listeners’ ears with its gentle and slightly euphoric piano leads.
Nestled subtly in the centre spot is this gem, featuring the steady hand of Hospital favourite Nu:Tone. What first appears as a light and airy number quickly subverts expectations with the arrival of a deep pulsating bassline, topped off with admirable restraint by almost tribal percussion. Check out the video below, filmed throughout Woody’s travels through Asia.
What do you think? Have we missed your favourite Med School tune? Let us know in the comments section below…