Where are we? Drum 'n bass group takes us to London

at Orbit Billiards
Wednesday, May 7

 The year was 1995, and the rave scene in England and Germany was just beginning to reach its peak. Clubbing was at an all-time high. Electronic music was growing at such a rate that it was almost impossible to keep up with the newest sub-genre.

Back then, drum 'n bass didn't exist. It was just beginning to take shape as an offshoot of jungle music. In 1995, jungle had just reared its head in London-­ a music characterized by deep, rolling bass grooves and rapid drum patterns programmed at no less than 120 bpms.

Coincidentally, I was traveling in London at that time. The first time I entered a club and saw people dancing and jumping to the raw, tribal sounds, I knew that something had been created that would influence the future of progressive music.

Since that time, the rave scene has exploded and died down. Jungle has been swallowed into the category of drum 'n bass (a more stripped down, cleaner version of jungle), and bands as diverse as soul/rock ensemble Lake Trout and hip hop demi-gods The Roots have incorporated the rhythms into their formulas.

The modern drummer wants to know at least one drum 'n bass pattern in the same fashion that it used to be mandatory to have a Zeppelin or Rush lick in one's repertoire. Ironically, as influential as the music was/is to modern/progressive sounds, only a handful of strictly drum 'n bass bands have surfaced in the US (especially on the east coast).

Which brings me to Siamese, a three-piece strictly drum 'n bass crew as solid as any I've heard. Hailing from Seattle, they were midway through their first US tour and just happened to pick up an extra date here in the 'ville.

Drummer Kevin Sawka has the ability to recreate even the most complex of studio drum 'n bass on a rig that would impress any drummer. Three snares, two kicks (acoustic, electronic), five hi-hats, SP 808 Sampler, SP1020 synth drum pads, Alesis gate unit, various distortion pedals, Electrix Filter Queen, EQ Killer, and a loop station rounded out his rig.

More impressively, he knew how to use it all well. The trio moved as one unit throughout the night, providing intense danceable moments as well as chill-out mood music. Orbit is a long way away from the London club scene, but that night it didn't seem so far.