The sound of hundreds of people blaring for a reload seems like a distant memory of the past. Those that have turned the legal clubbing age throughout the pandemic might have not yet witnessed something that is so quintessential to UK culture, heavily associated with the Jungle and Drum & Bass scene. But with the recent update on venues and festivals being able to operate from June, the screaming will start again.
A scene that is as multifaceted as Jungle and Drum & Bass might be hard to cover in a single book, but Who Say Reload manages to take an in-depth look into the origins and influences of the genre through the words of Paul Terzulli and photography from Eddie Otchere.
Otchere shot the Metalheadz nights at Blue Note in Hoxton in the early 90s which feature in the book and for seasoned Drum & Bass fans, these photographs unsurprisingly bore a close resemblance to the generation of today. These photos encapsulate an era that has established itself as timeless and the elements have evidently cultivated and seeped into here and now. Information about the producers throughout this era were somewhat shrouded in mystery at the time, as opposed to all the information that is available at our fingertips now. ‘I felt that the stories of those responsible should be collated and presented in one place, rather than scattered across podcasts, YouTube videos and obsolete websites, or anecdotes flickering past on a social media timeline’, says Terzulli.
Not only does Who Say Reload take a look at the raves, pirate radio stations and record shops of the era, the book also delves into 36 iconic tracks, such as Shy FX’s ‘Original Nuttah’, Alex Reece’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Warhead’ by DJ Krust. It’s hard to imagine today’s musical landscape without these songs and the detailingmight perpetually change the way you hear them, whether it be at home, or on a festival sound system in the near future.
Speaking of events, Otchere has witnessed his fair share of interesting ones, ‘some nights I’d leave Blue Note with friends and head straight to the studio just to put some ideas down and hope we’d get a plate cut for Grooverider for the following’. He also notes the sense of affinity the artists felt, ‘the thing to remember is it was a community of artists inspired to go harder and deeper by what we experienced’. This is why it’s important to document these instances and what makes the movement – especially one that is disdained by the mainstream media.
Despite the sense of community within Jungle and Drum & Bass, it’s apparent that it’s witnessing a lack of diversity, a prevalent issue finally being addressed by artists, promoters and label owners. Yet – it’s important that the listeners – the fans – understand the roots of the genre they’ve come to know and love. That’s why it’s vital to read the history, recognise the people involved and what can be done to ensure that the next generation of pioneers are inclusive.