State of Bass book


Revised reissue of the acclaimed first-ever book-length investigation into the origins of jungle and drum & bass. Back in print for the first time since 1998, State of Bass: The Origins of Jungle and Drum & Bass features previously unpublished interviews with Roni Size, Goldie, LTJ Bukem, Fabio, Shy FX and other key players from the early years of the scene.


As government legislation, standardised music and bad drugs forced the euphoria of the rave phenomenon into the darkness, a new underground movement emerged – the jungle and drum & bass nexus.

It was the sound of the beating heart of Britain’s multi-cultural urban rave, produced by the children of the Windrush and their closest friends, and distilled via the journey from a Tivoli Gardens soundclash, to the UK’s inner city blues parties and onto jazz-funk all-dayers and soul weekenders.

It was a space that was forged in the hidden edges of urban warehouses and the darkened recesses of clubland’s backrooms; schooled in the swagger of dancehall, the thunder of hardcore, the fury of bebop and the depth charge of dub.

Jungle and drum & bass was like nothing else the world had experienced before – simultaneously black and white, urban and suburban, old skool attitude and new school innovation. A socio-cultural melting pot of early-90s broken Britain seizing the wheel and taking control of the machine.

Originally published in 1997, State of Bass explores the scene’s roots through its social, cultural and musical antecedents and on to its emergence via the debate that surrounded the apparent split between jungle and drum & bass. Drawing on interviews with some of the key figures in the early years State of Bass explores the sonic shifts and splinters of new variants, styles and subgenres as it charts the journey from the early days as the deliberately hidden underground, ignored by the media in favour of the post-rave progressive house scene, to its position as a global phenomenon.

State of Bass: The Origins of Jungle and Drum & Bass extends the original text to include the award of the Mercury Prize to Roni Size & Reprazent for the groundbreaking New Forms album and brings new perspectives to the story of the UK’s most important subterranean urban energy.



“Cogent, well researched and hardly oblivious to the nutty charisma of jungle’s lexicon and nomenclature. The first serious attempt to document the drum & bass realm is a total success.”

“Exceedingly well researched, endlessly authoritative and undeniably ace…”
Melody Maker

“(State of Bass) deserves a special mention. A thorough account of the story of jungle.”
Ben Osborne, author of The A-Z of Club Culture

“The best book so far on the evolution of drum & bass”
Sheryl Garratt, author of Adventures in Wonderland: a decade of club culture

“Martin James comes up trumps with an in-depth examination of Jungle’s roots, history and even a recommended listening guide.”

“Essential reading for anyone who is interested not only in the jungle scene… but in dance in general, in the music industry as a whole or even British society and its infrastructures.”

“An acutely perceptive and thought-provoking account of the circumstances and celebrities surrounding the development of a modern music that we can finally call our own.”
The Scotsman

“Well worth rattling through if you can track it down.”