By Robert Ham | November 29, 2017
In the U.K. music scene ca. 1997, Britpop and trip hop were in descent in the eyes of the hype happy press with the rise of the various tendrils of what would be called electronica. That point was driven home with that year’s winner of the Mercury Prize, the award for best album of Irish or British origin as chosen by a crew of journalists, bookers and musicians. Beating out such acclaimed releases as OK Computer, Suede’s Coming Up and Spice Girls’ first full-length was New Forms, the debut album by producer Roni Size and his drum ‘n’ bass collective Reprazent.
Looked at from the remove of two decades, it seems absurd that this genre was ever considered the next big thing in music. While its influence did creep into the work of mainstream acts like The Roots and Everything But The Girl, and eventually morph into the equally restive sound of footwork, drum ‘n’ bass was far too slippery and speedy to ever break through. But as one of the first full-length statements that the otherwise underground scene produced New Forms, recently released as a four-disc set to celebrate its 20th anniversary, the album remains a tonic and astonishing listen.