Grooverider To Celebrate 25 Years of The Prototype Years at XOYO

29.12.23: London

📸: Chelone Wolf


December 29 feels like a little way off right now but we already know how it’s going to go down…

The festive glow will be fading, the gluttony will feel more like guilt, all of your mates are away, either you’ve kicked the dog or the dog has kicked you and if there are kids around then you’re almost certainly surrounded by broken toys and tantrums.

Then Grooverider announces a party of such poignancy, you’ll be snapping out of that strange no-mans-land between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve with a spring in your step. You won’t even care what day of the week it is (spoiler: it’ll be a Friday)

It’s the 25th anniversary of one of the most influential and pivotal VA collections in drum & bass and it’s happening at XOYO, a club that has strong pedigree for curated events and residencies across the bass spectrum.

No other guests have been announced yet – but consider the magnetude of this album and the brazen fusion of bright minds who contributed to it and this has huge potential.

Dillinja, Lemon D, John B, Ed Rush & Optical, Dom & Roland, Matrix, Fierce, Boymerang and Grooverider himself (under his Codename John alias) all contributed to this timeless collection. A collection that mapped out some of the most exciting outliers the genre had seen since its mutation from jungle.

Released in spring 1997, The Prototype Years landed right at the point when the genre’s blank canvas never felt so broad. Curated by Grooverider in the shadow of other huge drum & bass moments at the time such as Goldie’s Timeless and Reprazent’s New Forms, and the emergence of some of the most iconic and influential labels in the genre, The Prototype Years was another stone cold, iron-clad, permanent futurist document that would rally up D&B misfits, nerds and geeks worldwide and reinforce how far the sonics could be taken.

“It was all about finding the right sound. Back then you had Headz and Moving Shadow donning it, you had Ram killing it with every release,” Grooverider told me in an interview around the 20th anniversary when he relaunched the label with a powerful Drumsound & Bassline Smith EP.

“You had True Playaz just coming through. It was a really exciting time with everyone doing what they do and really shaping a sound and a signature – so we had the Prototype sound. We were setting up blueprints for the future. All of us were.”

The blueprints still hit hard in 2023. The glacial breakbeat swathes of Dillinja’s Silver Blade still cut just as deep and John B still holds his Secrets just as close to your chest a quarter of a century later.

Everything from the Detroit shimmers and powerful sense of pace on Optical’s Grey Odyssey to the absolute brain-melting relentlessness of Ed Rush & Fierce’s Locust, very few VAs have matured in quite such a timeless and inspiring way. As Calyx & Teebee explain in the Drum&BassArena documentary, this album switched on a whole new generation of producers, we’re still feeling its tremors to this day.

With this in mind, anything can happen at XOYO on December 29. It could even be up there with the recent Virus parties at Drumsheds as some of London’s most memorable D&B events of 2023.

Get foundational this festive time and join Grooverider and friends on December 29. Tickets and info

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