[Q&A] SPL Returns to the Darkside
[Q&A] SPL Returns to the Darkside

Whether you were there from the beginning when he broke through as a hard-hitting drum & bass producer pushing the darkest and heaviest sounds under his SPL moniker, or have come to know him through the undeniable success of his more recent genre-flippping Champagne Drip project, all agree that Sam Pool is a force to be reckoned with.

From his humble roots playing the piano and music theory as a kid in Oregon to his current jet-setting lifestyle that has him a fan favorite on the club and festival circuit worldwide, Sam has always pointed to his early success as a breakout artist in the notoriously insular international drum and bass community as the backbone to his ongoing success. While these days the support comes raining in from the likes of Skream, Benga, Bro Safari, UZ, Bassnectar, The Glitch Mob, and Downlink, in the early 2000s under his SPL moniker, Sam was forging his own path on imprints like Barcode, Tech Itch and Evol Intent.

As Sam tells it, “I started DJing and producing music in 2001 and early on I was captivated by this dark, almost industrial style of drum & bass being championed by DJs like Dieselboy and created by artists such as Kemal, Dom & Roland and Technical Itch. This music went on to influence what eventually became my early works under the pseudonym SPL. After connecting with other producers and some of my heroes on the chat client AOL Instant Messenger (thanks Infiltrata AKA 12th Planet), my first release came out in 2005, a 12-inch vinyl release on Sinuous Records based in the UK.”

[Q&A] SPL Returns to the Darkside
[Q&A] SPL Returns to the Darkside

From there, it was linking up with the chest-thumping wunderkind Limewax that he credits with helping to ramp up his penchant for pushing the genre to its absolute breaking point. “We produced mostly on our individual projects,” Sam remembers. “We were trading our progress over AOL internet chat and got together weekly in the Netherlands (where I was living at the time studying audio engineering). During this era we were focused on pushing the limits of our sound on influential dark D&B labels like Tech Itch Recordings, Dylan’s Freak Recordings, and Renegade Hardware’s Barcode imprint.”

Through the success and response of those early releases, SPL started his own imprint, and went on to drop over 35 releases on a range of imprints, garnering support from inside and outside the scene, including the likes of Aphex Twin. It was the more experimental industrial edge lurking at the corners of SPL’s sound that no doubt caught the attention of Aphex Twin and other “experimental music legends and outsiders,” one that would eventually give way to BPM and genre-blurring explorations of what he would dub “Balearic Bass” and point towards his more recent evolution into Champagne Drip.

Still, it’s the first stirring of SPL we’ve heard in almost three years and what better way to celebrate his return to the darkside with a fresh hour and a half long mix that spans the past 15 years of drum & bass history. Meant to serve, in part, as a retrospective as well as a history lesson of sorts for those who may be drifting over from the Champagne Drip side of things, the aptly titled “The Apocrypha” mix is a no-holds-barred descent into dark and dirty dungeon master mode.

As Sam tells us, “This mix features tracks that I was influenced by early on, what I consider to be darker classics, as well as music by my contemporaries and myself. I also touch on newer music towards the end of the mix that I feel captures some of the lost vibe of ‘Golden Age of Dark DnB.’ Usually in D&B retrospective mixes, this darker sound is underrepresented so I’m putting this out to the world so people hear this important style. These tracks are close to my heart and I hope that you enjoy the mix.”

While Sam won’t reveal if he has plans to fully resurrect his SPL moniker in the studio, there are hints that some chest-thumping killers are on the way so look out!

The Apocrypha: Tracklist

NIN “Focus”
SPL “Take Me Away” [Lost Soul Recordings]
Technical Itch feat. Jakes “Critical Switch” [Tech Itch Recordings]
Dom & Roland “Imagination” (Kemal & Rob Data Remix) [Moving Shadow]
Kemal & Rob Data “Gene Sequence” [Negative]
Dom & Roland “Soundwall VIP” [Moving Shadow]
SPL & Eye-D “Pyramid Punk” [Lost Soul Recordings]
Evol Intent & Ewun “Headcase” [Barcode]
Kryptic Minds & Leon Switch “Blueprint” (Technical Itch Remix) [Defcom Records]
SPL “All Over” [Lost Soul Recordings]
SPL & Eye-D “The Exploding Star” [Lost Soul Recordings]
Evol Intent “Suicide” [Renegade Hardware]
Technical Itch feat. Jakes “The Risin” [Moving Shadow]
SPL “Death” [Tech Itch Recordings]
Limewax “Everything” [Tech Freak]
Evol Intent “The Blood” [Renegade Hardware]
Technical Itch “The Ruckus” [Penetration Recordings]
Kryptic Minds & Leon Switch “Primary Objective” [Tech Freak]
Limewax “Escape” [Tech Freak]
Limewax “One of Them” [Lost Soul Recordings]
Son of Kick feat. Paigey Cakey “Hours” (SPL Remix) [Midication Records]
Noisia & The Upbates “Dead Limit” (Noisia’s ‘Outer Edges’ Remix) [Vision Recordings]
Audio “Gotham” [RAM Records]
Limewax “Ukrboy” [L/B Recordings[
SPL “Bristol Transmission” [Rhythm & Chaos]
Culprate “Dawn” [Open Outlets]
Noisia & Calyx & Teebee “Hyenas” [Vision Recordings]
SPL “The Sickness” [Smog Recordings]
Mustard Pimp “Renegade” (SPL Remix)
June Miller & Mefjus “Saus” [RAM Records]
Current Value “Quantum Physics” [Barcode]
Noisia “Voodoo” (Noisia’s ‘Outer Edges’ Remix) [Vision Recordings]
Limewax “Mind Machine” [L/B Recordings]
Limewax “Screamwar” [Tech Freak]
Noisia “Sinkhole” [Vision Recordings]