Darkcore or darkside is a music subgenre of jungle (not be confused with the more recent developments of hardcore) that became popular in the United Kingdom. It is recognized as being one of the direct precursors of the genre now known as drum and bass. Popular from late 1992 and through 1993, Darkcore was a counter movement to happy hardcore, which also evolved from breakbeat hardcore.
Darkcore is characterized by aggressive, often syncopated breakbeats; low frequency bass lines; and a strong 4-to-the-floor beat, owing to the subgenre's hardcore origins. Tracks are generally between 150 and 167 BPM, with 160 BPM being especially common. Many tracks feature dark-themed samples such as choirs, synthesizer notes, horror movie theme music, or cries for help.
As the style evolved, the use of horror elements was dropped as producers relied more on simple effects such as reverb, delay, pitch shifting and time stretching to create a chaotic and sinister mood. The use of time-stretching features on many tracks and gives a scratchy, metallic quality to some samples, particularly breakbeats.
The 1993 CD release Hard Leaders III - Enter The Darkside contains many popular darkcore tunes of the era.
Today, darkcore is used to describe the entire array of breakbeat producers and DJs who work within the 160-190+ BPM tempo range. Its current configuration, darkstep, is notably different in quality and process availability as the modern drum and bass elements are included.
Just as the commercial success of hardcore in 1992 had prompted the first wave of 'darkside' tunes, so the hipster vogue for 'intelligent' inspired a defensive, back-to-the-underground initiative on the part of the original junglists.
By late 1992, the happy rave tunes of 1990—1 were being eclipsed by a style called 'darkside' or dark-core;
During the early development of this burgeoning genre of up-tempo break-beat EDM (between 1992 and 1994), "jungle" and "drum 'n' bass" were being used synonymously with "darkcore" and "dark".
Dark-core is composed entirely on continuously on looped breakbeats;
Using effects like time-stretching, pitch-shifting and reversing, the darkside producers gave their breakbeats a brittle, metallic sound, like scuttling claws; they layered beats to form a dense mesh of convoluted, convulsive poly rhythm, inducing a febrile feel of in-the-pocket funk and out-of-body.
The other important source for techstep was the first era of 'darkside', as pioneered by Reinforced artists like Doc Scott and 4 Hero.