In the history of Drum & Bass, there are hardly any names we could say helped to shape the genre as much as this Dutch trio. In the beginning of everything, there was a vision…or to be more precise, an inscribed “VISION” videotape which was put into the recorder upside down by mistake. Thus NOISIA was born.
A project which in nearly 20 years of its existence managed to get into the heads of all Drum & Bass fans with no exceptions. A project which from their infamous “what’s a reese?” question posted on the Dogs On Acid’s production board went on to release on basically all the seminal labels. RAM Records, Renegade Hardware, Moving Shadow, Shogun Audio, Subtitles Music, Virus Recordings, Quarantine, Metalheadz, you name it…and the list goes on. A project which went against the grain and united all their output across the different (sub)genres under one moniker (now who still remembers Drifter, Hustle Athletics or Frizz?). And last, but not least, a project which as one of the first gave birth to their own label. And not just one. Beside their very own Drum & Bass imprint Vision Recordings, NOISIA also set up a non-dnb Division Recordings and an experimental/alternative Drum & Bass imprint Invisible Recordings. And also a project which despite their announced breakup will most definitely still be influencing the evolution of the temporary electronic music in the upcoming years through its individual members. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and get back to the square one.
Their joint venture was set up in 2003 when Nik and Thijs got Martijn aboard. In February of that year, they’ve finished their first Drum & Bass track “Tomahawk” in collaboration with US producer Mayhem. In just a year they’ve managed to debut on one of the genre’s seminal imprints of that era, Subtitles Music, ran by Norwegian DJ & producer TeeBee with “Hubcap/Backdraft” single. Their truly break-through year came in 2005. Singles on Shogun Audio and Renegade Hardware, EPs on Subtitles called Monster and their legendary Block Control on Moving Shadow. More singles under their Drifter moniker – “Come True/Leola” on Horizons Music and “Close To Me (Matrix Remix)/She Gives Me Forever” on Timewave Audio. They’ve also collaborated with the scene’s heavyweights Bad Company, but also with some fresh names of the upcoming generation of artists like their compatriots Black Sun Empire, New Zealand’s The Upbeats and German (back then still a) duo Phace. They’ve officially remixed Konflict and their Drum & Bass “Messiah”, they’ve bootlegged a synth-pop group Visage and their hit “Fade To Gray”. And on top of that, they’ve managed to start their first own label, Vision Recordings, which they’ve opened with “The Tide/Concussion” single. There was no hiding away from NOISIA and in a couple of months, the whole Drum & Bass world knew about them and the 3 boys who have released their first music just 2 years prior to that were in over their heads. Or were they?
In 2006 their unstoppable streak has continued with releases on their own Vision imprint, a bunch of singles for RAM Records “Facade/Moonway Renegade”, Virus Recordings “End Game/Unveil”, Subtitles Music “Shower For An Hour/Moon Palace” in collaboration with TeeBee and remixes of “Painkiller” by The Freestylers and Pendulum or another 80s classic “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics. They’ve also released their first breakbeat EP entitled “Lekker”, for the first and also the last time under their Hustle Athletics moniker. They’ve also released their first house track as NOISIA called “Gutterpump”. That inspired them to start their new Division Recordings label in 2007 dedicated to the other genres of electronic music, starting off with a debut single “Yellow Brick/Raar”. But that didn’t mean Drum & Bass releases would stop by then, there were still coming in hot, such as “Exodus” in collaboration with Mayhem and the legendary MC KRS-One. Despite the outstanding number of tracks being produced by NOISIA, the quality of their output was set sky-high. Almost every release from this era still has its fans up to this very day and you can hear DJs play these tunes out across the clubs and festivals worldwide. “Diplodocus” on Quarantine, “Stigma” on Vision, the minimalistic single “The Bells/Last Look” on Metalheadz, “Deception” on RAM or their first collaboration with the hip-hop project Foreign Beggars “Contact”, which they’ve also remixed into Drum & Bass. To add to that even more, new releases on Division, remixes for Robbie Williams, Hadouken!, Moby, Don Diablo with Example, The Prodigy and even Skrillex. During this era, they’ve also produced a couple of albums for artists like Tasha Baxter, Krause or Hadouken!.
This whole crazy productive era culminated in 2010 with the release of their long-awaited debut album “Split The Atom”. The album included a couple of previously released singles (like Machine Gun) and was transitioning fluently between the various genres and production styles Noisia have been honing during their previous career. Despite a very positive critical reception, some of the Drum & Bass fans were slightly dissapointed with the album, citing mostly the lack of more new Drum & Bass tracks and it sounding too experimental. Not even the album was to stop NOISIA in their prolific tracks. In the same year they’ve followed with more releases including another Vision single “Brain Bucket/Falling Through” with the legendary neurofunk duo Ed Rush & Optical collaborating on the A side and another very popular name Spor collaborating on the flip or a little deeper number called “Driftwood” with Icicle for his Cold Fear EP. They’ve also set up their third imprint Invisible Recordings dedicated to some more experimental Drum & Bass output of other producers, adding a couple of their own collabs with the names like Phace, Joe Seven and Alix Perez for the initial 2 EPs. In 2011 they’ve collabed with Phace again for a crowd’s favorite “Program”, added another Vision single on top as well as appeared on Hybris’ EP with the stripped-back collab “Crystalline” and debuted on deadmau5’s mau5trap imprint with their dubstep venture named “Tommy’s Theme”. This release was preceded by a remix for deadmau5’s single “Raise Your Weapon” and in that year NOISIA also remixed Icicle, Labrinth with Tinie Tempah, Katy Perry or Ram Trilogy (although the last one was dusted from the shelves of 2007).
In the following years, their unstoppable pace of releases calmed down a little but that didn’t take away anything from their ability to come up with massive bangers which were taking the scene over by storm. “Dustup”, “Blindfold” and most notably “Dead Limit” (all with The Upbeats), “Asteroids” (with Prolix), “MPD” (with Phace), “Reptilians” (with Mefjus and Hybris), “Feed The Machine” with Black Sun Empire and also remixing their “Arrakis” classic, other remixes including Mark Knight’s “Nothing Matters” and The Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up”…and many more. They’ve also released a re-edition of Split The Atom LP at mau5trap, adding a brand new Drum & Bass track “Could This Be” as well as a couple of remixes on top. In the meantime they’ve also formed a supergroup I Am Legion with the aforementioned Foreign Beggars and released an eponymous album. One of the tracks that stood out was “Make Those Move” that sounded completely out of this world. It was so special that by the of its release, a lot of Drum & Bass producers and DJs were playing it in their sets, despite the fact it was a completely different vibe and tempo…anyone, who was at Let It Roll 2013 in Benešov can testify to that. Noisia also produced a full soundtrack for the videogame DmC: Devil May Cry back in 2013. In 2015 came the meme, or to put it differently, a situation where NOISIA managed to claim the top spot in Drum&Bass Arena Awards’ Best Live Act category, despite never really performing live prior to the awards. Be it as it may, this turn of events definitely played a role in NOISIA coming with all guns blazing in the next year and presenting their own breathtaking A/V show to the fans. As expected, the show was a huge success. “Outer Edges” premiered at Let It Roll 2016 and gave the name to NOISIA’s second album which was released just a few days later. Originally the album wasn’t supposed to come out until September later that year, but just about 10 minutes before their Let It Roll performance, the guys were informed the album has leaked online. But the show itself wasn’t affected by that in any way, as anyone who was there back then would tell you. And frankly, we were all there. DJs and producers performing at the festival stood within the crowd, all of us with a mouth opened wide. After the show has finished, a couple of the producers being present independently said pretty much the same sentence, somewhere along the lines of “I’m done with this shit, nothing I can ever make compares to this even slightly”. Such was the gravity of the performance and they definitely weren’t the only ones thinking that back then. The album itself matched the first in its genre versatility but was even more harder hitting than their debut. “Outer Edges” also got a full remix album a couple of months later as well as another remix EP of the same name which introduced NOISIA’s re-vision of a couple of their older tracks into a special arrangement made specifically for the live show.
After a short break NOISIA came back with a few remixes (the genre’s beloved/hated classic “Hold Your Colour” from Pendulum, “Ember” from Camo & Krooked or their own revision of “Asteroids” to name but a few) and most notably with a slew of another collabs. With Black Sun Empire they’ve created “The Veil”, with The Upbeats they’ve released “Shibuya Pet Store”, “Long Shadows” or “Halcyon”, Phace tagged along for “Deep Down” or “non-responsive”, they’ve joined Mefjus on “Foundations”, Two Fingers on “Dzjengis”, Former on “Cleansing”, they’ve added their own dark atmospheric track “The Hole, Pt. 1” and most recently they’ve hosted on “Supersonic (My Existence)” by Skrillex featuring josh pan and Dylan Brady. And who knows if this wasn’t one of their last releases ever. Over the last couple of years, it was becoming more and more obvious that each of the guys dedicated more of their individual time to their own side projects. This lead to a shocking statement posted on 17th September 2019 of Noisia disbanding. In the statement they’ve also announced their last goodbye in a form of the “Farewell Tour” which was supposed to close their joint venture through a string of club and festival performances by the end of 2020. But because of the corona virus pandemic, the tour was postponed indefinitely and as of today, we have no idea about its schedule, nor about the final day we get to say goodbye to NOISIA. Be it as it may, Thijs have in the meantime started releasing his own stuff in 2017 under his Thys moniker, exploring the far more experimental angles of the electronic music in general. Aside from working with Amon Tobin, Lordel or Nordpool Orchestra he’s also created a soundtrack to the balet audiovisual show “Sleeping Beauty Dreams”. In 2020 he’s also announced a new ILY project where he’s joined forces with Skrillex, but right now we’re still waiting for their first official release. Martijn is a member of a popular EDM duo Zonderling, which also appeared in commercial charts and got a lot of radio play through their “Crazy” collab with Lost Frequencies and as for Nik, he’s set up a house duo Body Ocean together with Jeremy of The Upbeats and presented a brand new Drum & Bass moniker to the world earlier this year, Sleepnet. They also continue with producing music for other artists, most of the time doing so under their Nightwatch moniker – thus far they’ve worked with names such as Alexis Jordan, Kraantje Pappie, Korn, Dope D.O.D., Fox Stevenson or Zac Brown. So while NOISIA might come to an end, it’s just an end of one, albeit legendary, chapter in the story of creative geniuses Martijn, Nik and Thijs who will still be shaping the direction of the electronic music in the years to come.
Their Let It Roll: SAVE THE RAVE’s performance might as well be one of their last. How ridiculous does it sound when you say “this is the last stand of NOISIA”. They’ve written history of the genre but also the history of the festival with all of us. The tickets are still available (up to the allowed capacity) and we can’t really wait to witness what do these 3 Dutch rascals have up their sleeve for us this time. And how about you lot? Which NOISIA’s track is “the best” in your opinion and which of their previous Let It Roll performances left you speechless?