Words by: Felicity Martin

The 10 Best Liquid Drum ‘N’ Bass Tracks, according to Fabio

"Really I could have made my whole top ten Calibre. I really had to hold back from doing that"

Along with longtime DJ partner Grooverider, Fabio is one of the founding fathers of drum ‘n’ bass. Having been there from the very beginning, the industry heavyweight’s importance to the genre cannot be overstated – he’s been behind the decks while house and UK hardcore was mutating into jungle and drum ‘n’ bass.

From the early 2000s, he pioneered his own strand of ‘liquid funk’, which quickly spread to labels like Hospital and Good Looking. As such, he’s a definitive voice in the laid-back, smile-inducing genre of liquid. Ahead of him playing a special liquid classics set at Red Bull Music presents: Refractions at Egg LDN, the drum ‘n’ bass stalwart gives us a taste of what we can expect from his selection.

1. Calibre – ‘Put That Woman First’

“This is probably the best drum ‘n’ bass remix of a soul tune, ever. It has caught the moment more than any other track, it works at the end of the night, at most nights I play at it always works. As soon as everyone hears the intro it goes off. For me to turn round and say that is Calibre’s best, that means a lot, the guys has been so prolific but that is definitely one of his best tunes and it just works every time.”

2. Marcus Intalex – ‘Temperance’

“Marcus’s loss has been a massive blow to drum ‘n’ bass. His back catalogue is every bit as deep as Calibre’s and this is my favourite Marcus tune – again, that says a lot. This is a great tune, he has caught the moment right. It was released at a time when liquid was at its peak, and this one of the best liquid tracks of all time.”

3. Calibre – ‘Mr Right On’

“Another great Calibre tune, really I could have made my whole ten Calibre. I really had to hold back from doing that. It’s just a groove. I think he sampled Miles Davis on this track and the groove is just so steezy, this track just reminds me of a smoky jazz club. It’s got that special Calibre thing about it which just works every time.”

4. D.Kay – ‘It’s On The Way’

“‘It’s On The Way’ is one of those tunes that reminds me of Swerve – which is the home of liquid. This came when out when Swerve was really on fire and this was a track that played every week until Swerve closed. It’s a great track with great vocal, and it’s got the funk. It’s got the energy – technically it isn’t a liquid track but it has just got that energy which allows you to take it anywhere.”

5. Grooverider – Charade

“‘Charade’ is a remix of a track for, I think, Marvin Gaye’s son but it never came out because they didn’t like it. He didn’t like it so he decided that he didn’t want it. Then it came out and killed it on the drum and bass scene. It is a track of a remix of a mediocre R&B track which Grooverider put his stamp on and it’s now an all-time classic. When it was released on vinyl it sold out in minutes. It’s just a seminal track.”

6. LTJ Bukem – ‘Atlantis’

“This could be one of the first ever liquid tracks really. It is Bukem at his finest. It is one of my favourite drum ‘n’ bass tunes, not just one of my favourite liquid drum ‘n’ bass tunes. Everything that I love in a drum ‘n’ bass track is in this tune.”

7. Chase & Status – ‘Loves Theme’

“Chase & Status made this early on in their career. It came out on Zinc’s label and it is a great use of sample and it is my favourite Chase & Status tune actually. They have made some great tracks. If you are going to use a sample then use it like this – it is a great tune.”

8. Alix Perez – Crooklyn

“Alix Perez is another of my favourite producers, he made this early on in his career. It is a haunting track, it has got a lovely haunting melody to it. Alix is a very underestimated producer actually, he is a great producer – when he gets on the groove, like he does on this track, he is one of the best out there. It has got a hip-hop vibe to it, as well, it’s a sample that a lot of hip-hop producers use so it has got that late ’90s hip-hop feel fused with drum & bass. It’s just wicked.”

9. Calibre – ‘Mr Maverick’

“As I said, I could have made this whole Top 10 about Calibre but I had to restrain myself. This is another tune. He’s used a Gregory Isaac sample to great effect. The bassline on this is what gets everyone. The first time I hear it, it’s got this moody haunting intro and I just wasn’t ready for that bass drop. The bass drop is just insane. Calibre isn’t known for big bass drops but he has done it so well on this track. It’s got a real nice reggae-dub feel to it. Yeah man, good tune.”

10. Makoto – ‘Golden Girl’

“Golden Girl is another vocal tune that he made with MC Conrad, who was actually LTJ Bukem’s MC, and this is another track that just works every single time I play it. Every time I play this tune, it just gets such a great response. There’s great breaks, big bass, wicked vocals.”

Related: Read ‘The 10 Best Drum N Bass Tracks, according to Goldie’

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