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 D-Bridge, with whom they host the Club Autonomic podcast series. Having already graced the decks at leading nights across the UK and Europe, including Star Warz and Fabric Live, Instra:mental are taking their sound further in 2009 with a Fabric residency and album project scheduled for later in the year.
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 D-Bridge 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 D-Bridge, 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 D-Bridge (‘Translucent’ and ‘Detuned’) set to appear on the ‘Sepia Tones EP’ for Darkestral later this year. Operating under the guise of PlusUltra (latin: ‘further beyond’), their mission statement is clear.
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 Detroit blacktronica, the Warp Records back catalogue and the 80s Minneapolis sound, the Autonomic sessions have already gained a cult following and inspired a forthcoming Fabric residency, since summer 2009.