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by Don Crispy

DJ Aki

Womb's resident drum'n'bass head celebrates three years of his 06S events with his first mix CD

The dance music press has been declaring drum'n'bass dead for years now, but the animal refuses to roll over and die. Granted, the bright commercial future promised when Roni Size won the Mercury Prize back in '97 never materialized, but the sound of breakbeats, the sampled, chopped and spliced beats at the heart of drum'n'bass, remains essential to dance music and has even crossed over to the mainstream through the work of artists like Bjork.

In Japan, drum'n'bass has been represented since the mid-'90s by the long-running Drum and Bass Sessions parties-formerly at Liquid Room and now at Unit-and more recently by Womb's 06S. The corn-rowed, ever-active DJ Aki is the force behind 06S, and the main reason why it's become one of Tokyo's marquee events.

To celebrate three years of 06S and give listeners a sample of the diversity of his taste, Aki has just released New Type Drum+Bass 06S Mixed by DJ Aki, and will be backing it up with a tour that kicks off at Womb next Saturday. Spanning 27 tracks by artists from six countries as well as three original cuts, the disc was recorded not on Pro Tools in a studio, but in a live take at Womb's DJ booth. It takes in approaches from LTJ Bukem's jazz flavors to harder-edged cyber styles, offering a good snapshot of the current state of drum'n'bass.

"I believe that people who say drum'n'bass is dead don't listen to the music properly. These types of people are just controlled by the media," Aki told Metropolis. "Especially in Tokyo, when LTJ Bukem or Roni Size became big in the late '90s, drum'n'bass was recognized by a lot of people. But after a while major labels stopped distributing drum'n'bass, which influenced the market and made a negative impression."

The main DJ for Dublab Productions, which also produces Womb in Shibuya, Aki cut his teeth working in New York at drum'n'bass record shop Breakbeat Science in 1996. He then became resident DJ for the Science Lab events at legendary superclub Twilo in 1998, shortly before it was closed down by Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Aki returned to Japan in 2001 and soon launched 06S, winning notice for his tuff sound and also releasing tracks on vinyl, most recently with his newly established unit S9. He has also recently been touring abroad as the face of Japanese drum'n'bass in the UK and, this month, Brazil, where he spun for thousands at the Brasilia Music Festival.

Helping Aki to celebrate at Womb will be two UK drum'n'bass tastemakers. Fabio has been one of the mainstays of drum'n'bass since its inception in the early '90s, while D-Bridge is one of the second-generation artists currently revitalizing the scene and also a contributor to New Type Drum+Bass.

Womb, October 30. See club listings for details.

credit: Courtesy of Dublab