References: Virus Recordings, UK
Ed Rush & Optical (aka Ben Settle and Matt Quinn) contributed severely to the evolution of Drum ‘n’ Bass long before their studio partnership was born. Ed Rush helped mold the techstep sound as far back as 1993, collaborating with No U-Turn label boss Nico Sykes on the seminal track 'Bloodclot Artattack', and his tracks were featuring heavily in the sets of premier DJs and his beats signed up by an array of labels including No U-Turn, Metalheadz and Prototype, with tracks like 'Kilimanjaro' and 'Skylab' truly cementing his place as a drum & bass pioneer.
Optical's path to the top of Drum ‘n’ Bass was somewhat different but equally pivotal. After graduating from the free party scene Optical spent years developing his unique engineering skills, setting up Metro Records with his brother Jamie (aka Matrix) along the way. His first release on the label was the mighty 'Shining' and it wasn't long before massive releases on Metalheadz ('To Shape The Future') and Prototype ('Moving 808s') firmly instilled his name in the minds of DJs and producers everywhere.
In 1998 Optical took on the mammoth task of engineering Goldie's second artist album 'Saturnz Returnz' ' a task very few producers would be capable of. In the same year he also found time to apply his production skills to Grooverider's debut album 'Mysteries Of Funk' and was given production credits on Dom & Roland's debut long player 'Industry'.
And then came the meeting of minds. When Ed Rush & Optical first got in the studio together the resulting cuts were mind-blowing. 'Funktion' and 'Naked Lunch' on V Recordings were a breath of fresh air to a scene flooded with sub-standard jump-up records and were battered by every DJ worth their weight in dub plates. In the knowledge that they were on to something special their own imprint Virus Records was born.
After releasing several quality 12's the duo created what is still considered to be one of the most important Drum ‘n’ Bass albums ever ' 'Wormhole'. This claustrophobic, funk-fuelled collection still sounds as fresh today as it was then, with notable classics such as 'Compound' and 'Point Blank' setting the standard that many are still trying unsuccessfully to duplicate today. At this point in time remix offers were coming flooding in with Roni Size's 'Watching Windows' and Ram Triolgy's 'Mindscan' being the most sought-after of their re-workings. The post 'Wormhole' era also saw them step-up their DJing schedules immensely as the duo became more and more in demand.
Skip to 2001 and the second Ed Rush & Optical album, 'The Creeps' takes the duo to new production heights. For the first time they collaborate with vocalists, most notably MC Rhymetyme on the stunning 'Resurrection'. The biggest tune from the album was the heavyweight 'Pacman', with its Ram Trilogy remix giving the Virus imprint its first national chart placing. The album was swiftly followed by the massive 12 'Kerbcrawler' that borrowed loosely from a house tune but was rinsed by Drum ‘n’ Bass DJs everywhere.
2003 saw the third long-player appear from the duo. 'The Original Doctor Shade', in their own words was more like Wormhole and was more fun to make. MC Rhymetyme returned to the fold on the bleep 'n' bass of 'Why' alongside MC Darrison, plus there was a tidy collaboration with hip-hops finest ' the Scratch Perverts. The most interesting addition to the tracklisting was 'Smarty Pants', an energetic slice of house music that found its way into the record box of Seb Fontaine amongst others. With the duo rumoured to be sitting on more than 100 non-dnb tracks you don't have to be a genius to work out the one they chose for the album is something special. Today their DJing commitments span the four corners of the globe and we can expect much ground-breaking material to come from the Virus Recordings camp.