Lost Guide: Autonomic

The Autonomic sub-genre of Drum and Bass captured the essence and energy of it's parent style while at the same time weaving its own ambient and atmospheric elements to make something truly unique

In the vast and diverse landscape of electronic music, Drum and Bass has continually reinvented itself. It has given birth to multiple sub-genres that capture it's essence whilst pushing musical boundaries. 

One such sub-genre that has left an indelible mark on the electronic music scene is Autonomic. Autonomic DnB is a unique and evocative style, characterised by its deep, atmospheric, and minimalist approach. In this blog post, we'll embark on a sonic journey through the world of Autonomic DnB, exploring its origins, key features, and influence on the wider electronic music landscape.

A New Dawn in Drum and Bass: Origins of Autonomic

Autonomic DnB emerged in the mid-2000s, courtesy of two visionary DJs and producers: dBridge (Darren White) and Instra:mental (Damon Kirkham and Al Green). The term "Autonomic" itself signifies a focus on the autonomous, self-regulating elements of music. The goal was to create a sound that defied conventional DnB categorizations, blending various genres and evoking a sense of introspection.


What Are Its Key Features?

1. Atmosphere and Ambiance: Autonomic is characterised by its lush and immersive atmospheres. Producers use intricate soundscapes, pad textures, and carefully crafted reverb to create a sense of depth and space in their tracks. The music often feels like a journey through an uncharted sonic landscape.

2. Minimalism and Subtlety: It often takes a less-is-more approach. The beats are sparse and syncopated, allowing the listener to focus on the interplay between the elements. This minimalism adds to the genre's hypnotic and meditative quality.

3. Emotion and Groove: Despite its minimalist nature, the genre doesn't lack emotional depth. Blending elements of dub, ambient, and downtempo, creating a melancholic and contemplative mood. Groove is often maintained through subtle percussion and carefully designed bass lines.

4. Cross-Genre Influence: Autonomic draws inspiration from various genres, such as dub, techno, and even jazz. Producers incorporate unconventional time signatures, intricate drum patterns, and off-kilter rhythms, adding to the genre's innovation.

5. Vocal Manipulation: Vocal samples, when used, are often manipulated and integrated into the music as textural elements rather than traditional hooks. This technique adds an extra layer of complexity to the sound.

Its Impact and Legacy

Autonomic DnB has left an enduring mark on the electronic music landscape. Its influence can be seen in the evolution of DnB as a whole, with artists adopting its atmospheric and experimental elements. Autonomic has also paved the way for hybrid genres, such as "Halftime DnB," which continue to blur the lines between traditional electronic music styles.

Notable Artists in the Autonomic Sphere

1. dBridge: As one of the pioneers, dBridge continues to be a driving force in the Autonomic movement, evolving and pushing the boundaries of the genre.

2. Instra:mental: The collaborative duo remains active in the scene, continually innovating and embracing the spirit of Autonomic in their music.

3. Synkro: A producer known for his distinctive take on Autonomic, blending elements of ambient and dubstep into his sound.

4. ASC: ASC explores Autonomic's ambient aspects, creating ethereal soundscapes that resonate deeply with listeners.

5. Consequence: a.k.a Cameron McLaren, a producer with a completely unique approach to building soundscapes and rhythms that made his productions in the genre some of the most captivating.  


Notable Releases

Fabriclive 50 FabricLive50 Cover Artwork

FabricLive 50 - Instra:mental & Dbridge Present Autonomic

It would be a crime not to include this compilation from the FabricLive series at the top of this list. If ever you needed a guide to the Autonomic genre, this would be it (as the title suggests!). A stunning collection of tracks from artists such as Riya, Alix Perez, Consequence and Instra:mental & Dbridge themselves set out the benchmark for Autonomics soulful, reflective yet energetic sound.

Hex artwork Artwork for Hex_ad

Akkord - Hex_ad

Akkord was the coming together of two artists that mean a huge amount to our label boss Irrelevant. Synkro and Indigo were two of the artists whose early work inspired him to move away from House music and into the realms of Future Garage and UK Bass. Without their initial works - things may have turned out quite different for him and Absolute Loss would probably not exist!

The duo's 'Hex_ad' is a mesmerising journey into the depths of Autonomic. This single exemplifies the genre's fusion of minimalism, subtle percussion, and haunting atmosphere. 'Hex_ad' is a sonic exploration that envelops the listener in its intricate textures and otherworldly soundscapes. A must-listen for anyone delving into the Autonomic realm.

Lost here artwork Artwork for Lost Here by Synkro

Synkro - Lost Here

Synkro's 'Lost Here' is a true gem in the Autonomic spectrum. With its ethereal melodies and intricate beat patterns, the single captures the genre's essence of melancholic beauty. The track takes you on a contemplative journey, evoking a sense of nostalgia and introspection that defines Autonomic DnB.

Seems like Riya - Seems Like Artwork

Riya - Seems Like

I can't tell you the amount of times I heard this played out at it's height, and for such a chilled track - the response was close to that of a high energy banger being dropped!

Something about the euphoric melodics and Riya's enchanting and haunting vocal made this a stone cold classic, regardless of the genre.

Asc the rain ASC - The Rain Artwork

ASC - The Rain

'The Rain' by ASC is a masterclass in the genre's atmospheric prowess. The track's haunting vocal samples, deep basslines, and ambient textures create a sense of space and depth. ASC's meticulous production draws the listener into a meditative state, making it a standout piece in the Autonomic repertoire."

No future Instra:mental - No Future/dBridge - Wonder Where Artwork

Instra:mental - No Future/dBridge - Wonder Where

The inaugral release on the Nonplus+ label, this double A side from the genres pioneers is a must listen for anyone looking to delve into the Autonomic sound.

Instra:mental's 'No Future' is an iconic single that helped shape the Autonomic sound. It features intricate drum patterns, subtle vocal manipulations, and a hypnotic bassline. The track captures the blend of minimalism and emotion that defines the genre, making it a classic within the Autonomic catalog.

'Wonder Where' by dBridge is a testament to the innovator's profound influence on Autonomic DnB. The single combines intricate rhythms, deep sub-bass, and haunting atmospheres to create a mood that is both introspective and groovy. It showcases dBridge's ability to push the boundaries of the genre while remaining true to its roots.

These singles represent some of the finest examples of the Autonomic genre, each offering something unique that resonates with the genre's core characteristics of minimalism, atmosphere, and emotional depth. They are essential listens for enthusiasts of this evocative style of drum and bass.

The Labels That Built The Sound

The two main houses that stood atop the hill for Autonomic are Exit Records and Nonplus+. 

Both labels rosters reads like a who's who of the experimental drum and bass scene; Skeptical, Zed Bias and Alix Perez, Boddika, Workforce, ASC and scene originators/label owners Instra:mental & dBridge to name but a few.

Other labels that deserve and honourable mention include CNVX, Etcht Records and ASC's Auxiliary.

A Sublime Soundscape

Autonomic stands as a testament to the boundless creativity within the electronic music world. Its combination of ambience, minimalism, and groove continues to captivate both artists and audiences, proving that music's power lies in its ability to transcend boundaries and create new paradigms. 

For those seeking a sonic journey that transcends the ordinary, the genre still holds its own. It's a testament to the innovative spirit of artists who dare to explore uncharted musical territory, leaving a lasting impact on the ever-evolving electronic music landscape.

It truly is a timeless take on a genre that stands as one of the bedrocks of electronic music as we know it and is a shining example of how evolution and inspiration both within a genre and from those that surround it can truly birth something special.

The only question is, what comes next?

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