Drum ’n’ bass masters

Celebrating eight years of Elements, plus Osunlade and Porterhouse 2
By DAVID DAY  |  February 12, 2007

070202_circuits_main
The limited-edition Elements T-shirt

For a club night to last takes dedication and devotion from a scene and a promoter. Imagine, then, how long and loud the cast of Elements must be. For eight years, Thursdays at the Phoenix Landing in Central Square has been overrun by drum ’n’ bass freaks following the sound of DJ LENORE and friends CROOK and MDOC. This past week the crew celebrated their eighth anniversary in style, and “Circuits” soaked up the atmosphere.

With live visuals from ROBOTKID, Lenore and Crook in the mix, and even a run of limited-edition T-shirts, it was evident this party is getting better by the year. “I don’t know if I have the time to really talk,” said Lenore from behind the Landing’s altar-like DJ booth. “Crook and I are going three for three, maybe two for two if things get crazy.” In other words, the duo switched off deck duties, playing two or three tracks at a time. The crowd was thin at first, but by 10:30, when official partying starts, the club’s stained-glass entry was jammed with old ravers, new converts, and bass lovers. “Couldn’t have asked for a better turnout, and on such a cold night,” Lenore would later write via e-mail. “A lot of people came out from the past, too.”

With oscilloscopes pulsing on multiple TV screens and bass pounding from the back of the club, it was another success for Boston’s dance underground. Drum ’n’ bass, an offshoot of reggae-inspired jungle in the UK, is not necessarily in vogue among today’s tastemakers. But that hasn’t kept it from thriving, and Boston has long been known as a drum ’n’ bass mecca, primarily thanks to the continuing efforts of Lenore and company to keep things bouncing. And bounce they do. “I think that there are people coming to Elements who were 11 years old when we started,” Lenore jokes. “No, seriously, it just went by so fast. Hard to believe.”

The syncopated rhythm of drum ’n’ bass leads to a particular dancing style, a kind of skank that this crowd has been practicing for years. The dance floor fills with a diverse range of ragers, and they all move in time to the beat. Next to the club’s huge bass cabinets, a cadre of heads nod in time to Crook’s filtered beats. “The system can handle a lot of bass,” writes Lenore, who gives a shout-out to sound engineer BLAKE COURTNEY. A drum ’n’ bass DJ must be technically fit because the rhythms, sometimes topping 180 beats per minute, can move faster than the wrist. Crook works the equalizers to heighten the tension, with high-end and midrange sounds cutting in and out of the soundscape like liquid swords. To the drum ’n’ bass community, such manipulation is known as “rinsing.”

The Thursday party has a lot of talent lined up: local whiz STATIC on February 1, NICKDAWG on February 8, and then world-class names from the UK in the form of TOTAL SCIENCE (a/k/a Jason Greenhalgh and Paul Smith), who come from the Metalheadz crew, perhaps the world’s best-known drum ’n’ bass collective. The duo jump off February 22. Check out some of the mixes at “Circuits” on-line. As they say: “Cop on sight.”

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