Electronic  •  Jungle/Drum'n'Bass »

Broken Beat

More a scene centered in West London than an easily fenced-in sound, broken beat looks as far back to '70s Jazz-Funk and Dub Reggae while also containing germs from '80s and '90s movements like house, techno, drum'n'bass, and contemporary R&B. Unlike the polite tendencies of acid jazz -- a movement of the '80s and '90s that also blended several styles -- broken beat takes its inspirations as mere launching points and often utilizes frenetic, syncopated beat structures that sound sputtery and stuttered more often than they sound straightforward. Vocalists, predominantly female, feature in many of the tracks, all of which are bold, bright, and -- for the most part -- full of rhythmic tension. Keyboards are another major factor, often taking cues from the likes of George Duke and Herbie Hancock. Immediately after its late-'90s germination, broken beat underwent a fast growth throughout West London. Several labels (2000 Black, Bitasweet, People, Co-Op, Laws of Motion, Main Squeeze) were started by producers -- producers who often worked under several aliases. The fact that the scene was heavily reliant upon collaborations made the style's family tree all the more difficult to diagram. Outposts have since developed in several other countries, including Canada, Japan, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy.