Friday, October 31, 2014

halloween beats -- nu-darkcore and horror garage

8205 Recordings and Back To the Old Skool blog present Darkside Compilation 2014  -  selection of tru-nu productions inna 93 stylee


Jack Law aka Corpsey aka Dirtnap's piece on spooky and scary UK garage tracks (fueled partly by suggestions from a Dissensus thread)

I would have nominated this one, not strictly horror movie based, but well creepy -

That's Tracy Chapman, sampled - singing about hearing spouse-battery through the apartment walls - and failing to do anything about it, until too late.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

nu tru bonanza - neojunglizm + retrojunglizm from Kloke to Rumbleton

Project Squared / Sub Squared label founder Paul Cooper drops a tasty mix of "new old" jungle tracks from the last few years. One of them is off Kloke's forthcoming "First Light" EP on Sub Squared. 
01 Lee Gamble - Pandemonium Institute (Pan, 2013)
02 Hate - Darkcore (Hate, 2008)
03 Pearson Sound - Crimson (Beat Ritual Mix) (Hessle Audio, 2013)
04 Ramadanman - Don't Change For Me (Hessle Audio, 2010)
05 Pearson Sound - Blanked (Hessle Audio, 2010)
06 Shed - Fluid 67 (50Weapons, 2013)
07 Tessela - Nancy's Pantry (R&S, 2013)
08 Pev - Aztec Chant (Livity Sound, 2013)
09 Perc - Take Your Body Off (Tessela Remix) (Perc Trax, 2014)
10 Hate - Cunning Love (Hate, 2008)
11 Etch - Lost Methods (Keysound, 2013)
12 Andrea – You Still Got Me (Daphne, 2010)
13 Millie & Andrea – Ever Since You Came Down (Daphne, 2009)
14 SW. - Reminder (Burriddim Mix By DJ Sotofett) (SUED, 2013)
15 Anodyne - At The Gates Of Hell (Yellow Machines, 2014)
16 Hate - Submariner (Hate, 2009)
17 Sully - Blue (Logos Vapour Dub)(Keysound, 2014)
18 Kloke - Space & Time (Sub Squared, forthcoming late 2014)

Cooper's mix reminded me that Droid had pointed me towards a bunch of superior examples of the "tru nu" / rinse-retro-replica style, commenting that in his view "there is still a huge amount of potential in the jungle sound which hasn't been explored, potential that's there because of the massive amount of rhythmic and stylistic diversity of 93-95, which was shut down quite early - I see both amen and two-step as forms of consolidation."

Many of the producers deliberately revert to using old fashioned hardware - Akai, Amiga etc - to get the right vibe. 

What follows is a mega selection of wicked timewarp tunes, with Droid's comments in quotes.

"There's Ricky of course, who despite his amen addiction is still putting out great tunes in a metalheadz 96/97 kinda vibe"

"Dwarde is one of the Akai guys. Pretty young, but been around the scene for years. Hes got a great sensibility and ear. Reminds me a bit of the early Lucky Spin sound"

"Squatski/Phineus 2. Really high hopes for him. Another Akai/hardware dude."

"Some interesting stuff from the Amiga Akai YT crew"

"Dwarde put me onto this guy. [Earl Grey] Very diverse sound to his stuff"

"Reactiv - again, its more jungly d+B, but the quality shines through. Nebula along similar lines, both from the Sci-Wax stable."

"This guy [Anthony D] is all hardware and does some nice jungle and electronica crossover stuff. Really nice feel to his stuff"

And a couple more suggestions from Droid

Tim Reaper

And the splendidly named Rumbleton


a breakbeat breakdown

not sure if actually being able to identify them in tracks  is going to actually intensify my enjoyment of those tracks

but a good 32, 33 of them were as familiar to me as the face of old friend

more in-depth breakdown of jungle and drum + bass breaks, with the original creators identified and a famous example of a jungle/D+B track that used it, plus other specifications

[tip off from Droid]

mystery Moving Shadow act

Dem who? 

before I Luv U

very early Dizzee track "Win"

Dissensus thread about it

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mark Radford interviewed by Blackdown

main takeaways from Blackdown / Martin Clark's incredibly long interview with Lon Don Deejay of the moment Mark Radford, founder of  the Audio Rehab label and Rinse FM resident

1/ the sound starts with Booka Shade of Get Physical renown  - initially with just two, maybe three tracks by the duo that suggested to Radford the possibility of a future sound, a new direction -   a way of making his name - a whole concentrated night of just that, he found, drove the dancefloor mad

2/ it's all about the B-line

3/ Radford loves bleep and the Nineties North East techno sound of Unique 3, LFO, et al. And Nightmares On Wax, evidently -

So far, so nuumy then...

4/ Except: MCs are a no-no. Punters just want go deep with the music, get lost in it. Voices on top just distract

5/ It's a drug sound, a druggy scene.

6/ Wot u call it? Deeptech is the nearest name, the least unsatisfactory, but Radford doesn't like it - would prefer to not call it anything - just "house"

And one sweetly humanising data nugget:

He's 40, he had kids young, and they are now old enough to come to raves and watch Dad deejay.


Interesting interview, but what I'd really like to read is Martin's thoughts about deeptech / whatever u call it - since he's been a sceptic up until now, firmly in the "end of the roads" / nuum's up camp

This Booka Shade as Secret Source / Origin / Degree Zero  for deeptech is

a/ classic example of Vibe Migration

b/ a Tim Finney orgasm

I can't really hear how he got from there to here though

there's the bippety bassline I spose

but it all seems so much lighter than Nightshift, Massien, Cotier, Theo Nasa

lighter as in "less dark" but also less weight, less impact - detail-oriented, feathery

Monday, October 27, 2014

the Blame game

Greatest hardcore track ever?

Top 5 definitely

Underrated outfit, Blame , although in a sense his greatest work was remixed by others - as though his role was to set others up to excel

But this next one was all their own work (by this point it was Blame & Justice) - one of the most glassily brilliant and unusual-sounding of the whole first-wave of ambient jungle / int*****nt drum & bass

flipside also good - vaguely reminding me of Grace Jones circa Living My Life

Strangely when I reviewed it in Melody Maker, I focused more on "Essence" than the far more unorthodox and hypnotic "Anthemia"

BLAME & JUSTICE--"Anthemia/Essence" (Moving Shadow). 
Smooth-riding mellow hardcore, with Grace Jonesy vocal, jazz-funk sax, and even a sample from The Orb's "Huge Pulsating Brain" to ram home the ambient connection.

This earlier (93 as opposed to 94) Blame 12 inch hasn't quite made the transition into "musicality" that it aspires to, and that "Anthemia" pulls off so successfully (yet without losing any of the minimalism or wrongness-as-rightness of jungle)

"A21" was always one of the tracks I skipped on The Joint 

Flipside "Sikological Hostage" reminds me a bit of the 2 Bad Mice Underworld EP -  impressively dense , pushing the darkcore envelope -  but not much fun really

Can't seem to find the original of "Nightvision", this is the remix by D'Cruze (another under-rated, just-below-first-division jungle/D&B producer)

Here's what I wrote in The Wire about "Nightvision' and the later "Sub Committee" (see below)

Texturally closer to the fuzak-squad, Blame & Justice are also doing astonishing rhythmic stuff underneath all the Joe Zawinul-esque synth-foliage. On "Nightvision", and on Blame solo tracks like "Sub Committee", there's an effect like a sampladelic equivalent of the way a drummer will let the stick vibrate on the skin, rather than make a crisp hit - a sound like a spinning coin that's starting to decelerate. "Nightvision" is so reverb-riddled and elasticated, so nuanced with percussive accents and hyper-syncopations, it's virtually a drum solo, albeit constructed painstakingly over days as opposed to happening in real-time.

Here's what I wrote in Melody Maker about the remixes EP

BLAME & JUSTICE--"Chapter II Remixes" (Moving Shadow)

"Nightvision"--remixed here by D'Cruze--is a drum & bass groove so eerily elasticated and dub-reverbed that it's hard to imagine what kind of physical response could do it justice. Art-core rhythm-magick designed for pythons or contortionists, music to turn your body inside out.

And the flipside

Completely forgot about this EP, which is reminiscent of EZ Rollers

Oh, turns out I reviewed it in my D&B column in Melody Maker:

BLAME --- Sub Committee EP (Moving Shadow)
Fusion-tinged drum & bass at its most mellow and moist. On "Sub Committee", milky globules of cosmic synth, vaguely redolent of Weather Report's Joe Zawinul, glide over an elegant frenzy of snare-rolls and rapid-fire triplets. "Music Takes Me" reworks Blame's 1992 happy hardcore hit "Music Takes You", replacing the cartoon urgency of the original with a glossy sophistication; the shrieking-diva chorus remains as spine-meltingly intense as ever, though. But the other two tracks, "Groove Research" and "Dream Finder", blur the thin line between serene and soporific. 

Soon enough I stopped paying attention.... just the titles, "Heritage" and "Retrospect" give the game away

So it  makes sense that Blame would get sucked into the Good Looking / Looking Good aquajungle miasma

Mind you this one (back on Shadow)  is edging into nu-dark, technical-but-sinister

And then scores more, Conrad Shafie never stopped making drum and bass, indeed a few years ago finally put out his debut album. would you believe....

Blame - just another genius, just another hero

Saturday, October 25, 2014


"it's the 90s baby... let's party like it's 1990 baby"

Friday, October 24, 2014

the whole world's going Doolally

Popular reaching May 1999 and "Sweet Like Chocolate" by Shanks & Bigfoot at UK #1 reminded me of the previous year's Doolally "Straight To The Heart" which was S & B + singer Sharon Woolf, who sang on "S L C". "Straight To the Heart" was one of the very first 2step breakthrough hits -- the actual  first? - and it got to #20 in fact. Then it was re0released after "Chocolate" being such a smash, and made the Top Ten that time.

Looooooved this tune so much  - the echt-2step beat at the intro, the kiddie's voices, the skankin' feel woven in throughout, the 2-Tone-y horn bits dropping into the echo chamber, Ms Woolf's warm vocal, that delicious melody and those sweet sentiments.

Funny thing, "Straight From The Heart" seemed really glossy at the time, reflecting this huge polar shift away from techstep darkness / jump-up ruffness into R&B and bling-rap polish - the pirate underground making a power move towards pop crossover. But now it sounds quite under-produced and stripped-down - if not exactly shabby, then nothing like the platinum-coated productions that anyone can make nowadays on an app and a phone.

"Sweet like Chocolate", though - as Tom Ewing notes, it's just a bit sickly and cutesy.

One was most chuffed on their behalf, getting to Number One. But I don't think ever played this much, indeed I'm not even sure I actually bought it.

No idea this video even existed. There must be a post to be done of 2step pop-crossover promo videos. I expect it is a fairly low point in the history of pop video, but perhaps not devoid of a certain period charm or wack / tack appeal....

"Doolally" reminded me of this mega-roundup of 2step twelves I did for the 1998 faves back when I had a website rather than a blog. Happy days indeed, and 1999 and 2000's crop would be even better.

2-STEP GARAGE (originally online in early 1999)

The book's verdict on speed garage was that it's "a composite (house plus
jungle) where drum and bass was a mutant (hiphop times techno)", that where
jungle "twisted and morphed its sources; as yet, an equivalent warp factor is
barely audible in speed garage". 1998 was when the warp factor really began to
make itself heard, with producers reasserting the breakbeat legacy of jungle and
creating the strange nu-funk style called 2-step--basically slow-motion jungle,
something for the ladies massive.

At the same time as being lover's jungle, 2-step is also like a UK response to
American R'n'B. Timbaland's twitchy hypersyncopation has long been widely
attributed to a drum and bass influence, something steadfastly denied by Tim 'n'
Missy. All through '98 you could hear that imagined (?) compliment being repaid
by the children of jungle, in the form of 2-step. Dropping the four-to-the-floor
house pulse and replacing it with Timbaland's falter-funk kick drum, producers
like Dreem Teem, Dem 2, Chris Mac, Steve Gurley, et al are basically making
smoov R'n'B filtered through a post-Ecstasy sensorium: midtempop bump'n' grind;
sped-up, succulent cyborg-diva vocals; a playa-pleasing patina of deluxe
production. At the same time, 2-step is geared towards the UK polydrug culture
(where cocaine has usurped E as the paradigm drug, the vibe-setter), so
alongside the sexed-up, VIP opulence there's all these dark-but-sensual elements
(warped vocal ectoplasm, convulsive hypersyncopations) that hint at coke
psychosis on the scene's horizon.

More on this in a thinkpiece in the April 99 issue of The Wire (it'll also later
get posted in director's cut form on the site--footnotes galore!). Right now,
the specifics--in no particular order, my fave 2-step tunes of 1998.

DEM 2--Destiny (Sleepless) [Locked On]
--Destiny (New Vocal Mix) [Locked On]
U.S. ALLIANCE --Grunge Dub/All I Know [Locked On]
GROOVE CONNEKTION 2--Club Lonely (DEM 2 Don't Cry Dub) [Locked On]

Dem 2--Dean Boylan and Spencer Edwards--are the outfit whose music makes the
most convincing argument that 2-step is a brand nu-funk for the Nine Nine. One
listen to "Destiny (Sleepless)" is enough to tell you it's not house music; it
barely has any relationship to garage as hitherto known. So deceptively simple
is its groove (every element--and they're all simultaneously
melodic/rhythmic/textural--dovetails with a Zen perfection) that it's almost
impossible to describe. It doesn't sound overtly avant-garde or abstract, but I
defy you to name a record before 1998 it resembles or owes much to: the
tremulous, heartbroken cyborg vocal faintly recalls Zapp, the darting and
stinging synth-lick recalls Gary Numan, there's an electro flavor in there, but
that's about it. Crisp and juicy, joyous yet tense, "Destiny" is one of those
key records in the hardcore/jungle/speed garage continuum, like 2 Bad Mice's
"Waremouse", Renegade's "Terrorist" or Gant's "Sound Bwoy Burial", that
announces a paradigm shift, codifies a new style, sets the blueprint.

Dem 2's "Don't Cry Dub" of "Club Lonely"--like the original "Destiny", released
way back in late '97--has a similar do-androids-weep-electric-tears? feel. Here
you can really hear Dem 2's virtuosity at the diva-manipulation techniques that
Bat from ukdance calls "vocal science." Texturally, they scintillate the voice,
fluorescize it, make it gleam and refract as though you're hearing it through
ears wet with tears; rhythmically, they shred the vocal into micro-syllable and
sub-phoneme particles--cyborg-sniffles, sounds as fleetingly iridescent as
spit-bubbles in the corner of a sobbing mouth--and make them syncopate against
the groove (pure Timbaland twitch-and-bump).

"Grunge Dub" by U.S. Alliance--a Dem 2 alias--shows the duo's darker direction
for 1999: a rhythm matrix so assymetrical, angular and stop-start off-kilter
it's almost impossible to dance to (this is 2-step's big break with house's E-d
up 4-to-the-floor egalitarianism--you have to be really good at dancing to move
to these beats), and a twisted, gibbering groan-riff of a male vocal.

CHRIS MAC--Plenty More/Get It [Confetti]

Possibly the most accomplished and inventive producer to arise out of UK garage
last year, Chris Mac is doing as much as Dem 2 to prove that 2-step is a new
thing. "Plenty More" is silky, svelte sensuality corroded with darkness: a
simultaneously brittle and supple rhythm track dominated by squishy, spongy
snares (possibly reversed), strings that slash across the stereofield like the
orchestral equivalent of a skid, and a mix so shiny you almost have to squint
your ears against its harsh gloss glare. The vocal is interesting too, plugging
into garage's rapacious appetitiveness (all those divas demanding "give me", "I
need it"). The voice is ambiguously pitched, recalling Prince's sped-up
alter-ego Camille on "If I Was Your Girlfriend"--the lyrics go "not a little
girl anymore/used to be the one I adore/but there's plenty more fish in the
sea/for me", but you're never sure if it's a diva putting down a guy and
asserting her sexual autonomy, or a playa putting a girl in her place by telling
her she's disposable, replaceable. Either way, "Plenty More" evokes the coked-up
roving eye feasting its gaze on the sexual bounty of the nightclub's babe-arama.
"Get It" is even more rapacious, transmitting an ants-in-your-pants alloy of
desperation and desire. Brass stabs and jungalistic sub-bass pressure-drops
weave around a dense web of drum some of which (in a typical 2-step sleight of
subtle avant-gardism) reveal themselves on close inspection as made of the human
voice: hiccups, chokings, winces, gasps and stutters.

OPERATOR and BAFFLED--"Things Are Never (STEVE GURLEY Remix) [Locked On]
LENNY FONTANA--"Spirit of the Sun" (STEVE GURLEY Remix) [public

"Things Are Never" is moody. (It actually reminds me of E.S.G.'s "Moody").
Crisper-than-crisp beats, a baleful bass-drop (making your stomach plummet like
you're on a rollercoaster), a one-note synth-bleep wincing like a hypertense
vein pulsing in your temple. In the new sonic context crafted by Steve Gurley
(ex-Foul Play, a/k/a Rogue Unit), the originally romantic-heartbreak themed diva
vocal ("things are never/what they seem") becomes a more general statement of
existensial instability. The lush-but-dark vibe reminds me of Nightmares On
Wax's "Aftermath", the plinkily metallic, melodic-percussive xylophone riff
recalls Unique 3's "7-AM". There's a bunch of tunes around in early 99--like
"Slamdown" off New Horizons' Scrap Iron Dubs No. 1 EP--that have a clonking
industrial feel that harks back to the bleep-and-bass era of 1990: the first
time the British merged house, reggae and electro to make a new sound system

"Spirit of the Sun" has the archetypal 2-step mood-blend of euphoria and
tension, retaining garage's overwraught diva histronics but resituating them
amid dynamics and drops that are totally un-house. The bit where the beat pauses
and the "shine on, shine on, shine on" chorus explodes never fails to send
goosebumps prickling up my neck. The lyric is kind of interesting too, the diva
talking about how she's going to be infused by "the spirit of the sun"--it takes
garage's traditional obsession with summer to the verge of Bataille-style
helioatry: his worship of solar extravagance and his exaltation of a "will for
glory" in the human soul "which would that we live like suns, squandering our
goods and our life." Bataille-style will-to-expenditure, aristocratic potlatch,
largesse, and garage 'n' R'n'B's luxury, commodity-fetishism and larging it --
same thing innit?

RICHIE BOY AND DJ KLASSE--"Madness On The Street (2 Step Mix)" [Stamp]

Another stunning torsion-and-treatment job on a female R'n'B vocal of unknown
(to me) provenance. "I can't stand/All this madness on the street"--this short
phrase, pretty funky to start with, is subjected to all kinds of vivisection and
resequencing over a sublime cyberfunk groove. Combining the anti-naturalism of
R'n'B vocal production with the filtering/panning techniques of late 90s house,
producers like Richie Boy and DJ Klasse fracture the voicee into tiny percussive
shards, create new accents and stresses, make the vocal haemorrhage or pulse,
fold in on itself, buckle, crinkle, or glow uncannily. It's serious posthuman
business, you're not listening to a person anymore but a passion that's being
enhanced and mutated through interaction with technology. A cyborg, in other

SOME TREAT -- Lost In Vegas (JBR)

A tribute to/remake of Shut Up And Dance's 1990 (or was it even 1989?) track
"Ten Pounds To Get In," this samples the Suzanne Vega vocal-riff from "Tom's
Diner" that SUAD must have got from DNA's unoffical-then-subsequently-sanctioned
dance version of the S. Vega track. We're talking multiple levels of citation
here, serious intertextuality. On a broader level it's a tribute to the hardcore
continuum--getting on for ten years of London's multiracial rave scene, a
culture of mixing it up, of hybridising hybrids and mutating mutations; the
continual reinvention of flava and vibe. A tradition of futurism. Roots N'
Future = the endlessly fresh now.

DOOLALLY--"Straight From The Heart" (Chocolate Boy/Locked On)

A lot of people have said there's a ska element to this tune. There's definitely
a skanking vibe-- the trace of a reggae afterbeat, a strange bubbling bassline
that winds and weaves around the crisp, push-me pull-you 2-step. So irresistibly
poppy and chuneful it made the UK Top 20, "Straight From the Heart"--and its
sequel, "Sweet Like Chocolate", released as Shanks and Bigfoot--make the
strongest case for 2-step as a millenial update of lover's rock: the UK-spawned
hybrid of US soul and reggae that emerged at the end of the 1970s as
second-generation Caribbean-British women demanded songs that addressed their
concerns (love, relationships) rather than a Rastafarian agenda. As Dick
Hebdiges says in Cut 'n' Mix, rather than the fantasy of utopia through
repatriation to Ethiopia/Zion, these women's (only slightly less unrealistic?)
dream was of a caring man. A song hymning devotion, commitment and holding out
for the long-term emotional dividend, "Straight From The Heart" is also a sign
that the hardcore nation's grown up and settled down. Borderline cheesy, it
reminds me of the way hardcore could alchemize the most cheddary pop hits and
make them sublime (c.f. Goldseal Tribe's '92 push-me-pull-you pirate monster
"Only The Lonely"). Love it.

AMIRA--"My Desire (DREEM TEEM Remix) [VC/Virgin/Slip'n'Slide]
N-TYCE--"Telefunkin' (FIRST STEPS Remix) [label unknown]
JODECI VS CLUB ASYLUM--Freak Me Up (Steppers Vocal Mix) [white label]

US R'n'B gods/goddesses (and some Brit-wannabes) given the now almost obligatory
2-step remix for the London market--sometimes official, sometimes strickly
bootleg. "My Desire"--glossy gamelan clatter'n'tinkle of percussion, B-line that
hops and skips and flutters like lovestruck butterflies in the stomach, a
perpetual forward tumbling flow (pivoting around a micro-second hesitation in
the groove that makes all the difference), a trembling-with-joy vocal
re-patterned to dovetail with the groove in such snugly funky ways you'll want
to leap out your own skin. "Telefunkin'"--slow-burning, svelte menace, hilarious
love-junkie phone-sex lyrics ("I've got the fever for your flava", "I'm addicted
to you baby/tied to the telephone line"). "Freak Me Up"--simply very, very

NEW HORIZON--"Find The Path" [500 Rekords]
--"It's My House (Bashment Mix)" [500 Rekords]
--Scrap Iron Dubs No. 1 EP" [500 Rekords]

Not 2-step, but a reggaematic and rootical reinvention of house music so
marvellous and peculiar I had include it here. '97's "Find The Path" whisks a
Gregory Isaacs-style nightingale croon into a falsetto froth of melisma-plasma
that quivers and ripples like the fronds of a jellyfish; organ vamps create an
almost Gothic-dub atmosphere. "It's My House (Bashment Mix)"has this amazing
dissonant-verging-on-microtonal blare of drones that's somewhere between the
Master Musicians of Jajouka and the old hardcore rave blow-your-own-horn classic
"One Time For the Foghorn". Scrap Iron Dubs No.1"--killer tune is "Slamdown"--
is part of what Bat from ukdance identifies as the "latest micro-trend in
2-step... weird techno bleepy clanging noises peppered all over the trax",
further pointing out that "This is a pretty radical departure for garage, which
has stuck to the same portfolio of 'organic' sounds (real instruments, proper
singing etc) for yonks. Now we get those organic noises mixed up with all manner
of strange vleeps and metallic klungs - something I haven't heard since the
heyday of hardcore and jungle around 1994."

KMA--Recon Mission EP (Locked On)

The title declares this EP a probe into the unknown (as does the sample "this is
a line to the future/leave a message). From the outfit responsible for the dark
garage classics "Cape Fear" and "Kaotic Madness," this is one of the most
emotionally and rhythmically confused records I've heard in years. My favorite
is the third track, "Blue Kards," a hybrid of the first two: disjointed beats
that seem to stampede out of the mix, gaseous swirls of phased vocals (sung by
producer Six), stricken guitar licks, and an overwraught doubt-wracked
bluesiness of mood. Alarmingly the new KMA jam "Kemistry" is a supersmooth
four-to-the-floor tune with a full-on vocal; Six's thinking seems to be that the
only unpredictable thing left for KMA to do was make a totally conventional
garage track. Shame, but the debut album The Unanswered Question, set for Jan
1st 2000 release, might well be 2-step's Timeless .

ANTONIO-- "Hyper Funk" (Locked On)

Crisp-and-spry 2-stepper whose simple drum machine beat, Scritti prickle of
glossy funk guitar, and block party MC exhortation ("hype hype hype hype the
funk") hark back to early Eighties simplicity. 2-step's very own "Rockerfella

GROOVE CHRONICLES--"Stone Cold" (Groove Chronicles)

Crafted by rising producer Noodles, this languid-yet-foreboding track samples
just a few vocal phrases from Aaliyah's sublime "One In A Million" (a Timbaland
production which I always though was like a jungle ballad) and totally reinvents
them; Aaliyah's hushed devotional tenderness becomes the ghost-of-my-former-self
whispers of a love addict going through emotional cold turkey. The key phrase is
"desire" (phrased "deee-siyah", putting a sigh in it): in the original, it's
Aaliyah promising to do anything her beloved wants, his heart's desire; here, it
becomes a floating signifier, pure intransitive craving, and yet another sign of
garage's relentless imagery of appetite and neediness ("what you want, what you
need', "giving you what you wanted," etc). Killer moment: when the beat and the
jazzy sax solo drops out, leaving just Aaliyah's pleas and reproaches ("you
don't know, what you do to me"), then in comes the moodiest wah-wah dread
bassline ever. Goosepimples a-go-go.

RAMSEY and FEN--"Love Bug" [BUG]
--"Desire" [BUG]
--"Love Bug Remixes" [BUG]

What blows me away about "Desire" is the amazing density of rhythmic information
RAF are able to cram in without the groove feeling cluttered. The intricate
high-end percussion--shakers, hi-hats (closed and open), tambas, the trademark
RAF ultra-crisp fills and rolls --is so dazzling and glitterball spangly that
the first time I heard it the phrase "cocaine music" sprung into my mind (and
it's not a drug I know much about). Turns out that (according to Kodwo Eshun,
who heard it from Portishead's engineer) the "cocaine ear" prefers bright, toppy
sounds. "Love Bug" is similarly dense-but-groovy with weird detuned drum fills.
There's also an amazing "Love Bug" remix out any day with an electro feel--if
it's the track I heard Fen playing out, it's got a Roland 808 bass-drop driven
groove that throbs and whirs like a monstrous clockwork mechanism.

CLOUD 9--"Do You Want Me (DEM 2 Steps To Heaven Mix) [Locked On]
CRAZY BANK--"Your Love" [Locked On]

These go together in my head for some reason; "Do You Want Me" is sheer amorous
euphoria with great percussive vocal stabs, which are contorted, twisted and
clipped short to make for an exquisitely tender frenzy. Crazy Bank does much the
same but with a more desperate tinge, making the diva sound like she's about to
leap out of her own skin. There's no narrative coherence to 2-step's love songs:
sentences are left hanging, the object noun or qualifier snipped to make the
phrase fit the funktionalist requirements of the track. Here it's like the
lover's discourse in random shuffle mode.

M-DUBS--"Over Here (Sugar Shack Break Beat Funk)" [Babyshack Recordings]

A minimal 2-step roller very much in the "Destiny" mold--crisp snare-kick
groove, simple synth-vamp, great organ licks and dub-wise flickers in back of
the mix. What really makes it though is the fantastic drawling and nasal ragga
vocal from the Emperor Richie Dan, playing a ladeez-man tendering his services
("if you wanna take a chance/I'm right over 'ere") while a female backing vocals
seem to be singing "Iron Mike" for some reason.

SKYCAP--titles unknown [white label]

Two tracks in the vein of their awesome dark garage tune from '97, "Endorphin".
So wired they're dsyfunktional, they make me think the next step after
charley-spliffs might be freebasing. The best side has a gibbering and mewling
male vocal (which eventually goes into single-phoneme scatting --imagine Bobby
McFerrin reduced to a crackhead) strung around an ultra-brittle 2-step
anti-groove. The flip, also good, features a seriously overwraught and
accusatory diva and some blues-wracked guitar licks. 2-step's journey beyond the
pleasure principle should be as interesting as '93 darkcore's.

VARIOUS ARTISTS Locked On, Vol 3: Mixed by Ramsey and Fen [Virgin]
DREEM TEEM Dreem Teem In Session Volume 2 [Deconstruction/4 Liberty]

Locked On is the best UK garage compilation yet (the full circumference, 2-step
to 4-to-the-floor), and also, I'm afraid, the American reader's best chance of
hearing this stuff: a few 2-step tunes are slipping through in the speed
garage/UK garage bins, but this is a London thing, inevitably if rather sadly.
You can find this comp in American specialist dance stores and also in Virgin
megastore. Mixed by RAF, it's the bomb: alongside above-mentioned lovelies
"Destiny", "Love Bug," Amira, Crazy Bank, it includes such killers as Dreem
Teem's bubblicious proto-2stepper "The Theme," the astounding Dem 2 cyberfunk
mix of Aftershock's "Slave To the Vibe," M.J. Cole's slick, Bukem-of-2step
"Sincere" and RandF's gorgeous Latin garidge mix of The Heartists's "Belo
Horizonti." The Dreem Teem comp has many of the same 2-step classics,, plus New
Horizon's "It's My House (Bashment Mix)" and a great woozily vocalized Chris Mac
cyberballad, "Set It Off".

Thursday, October 23, 2014

sample spotting saddo part 3939220

Imagine my surprise on playing "How To Be A Zillionaire" (don't ask why, or how come... I've already forgotten) to hear Martin Fry singing "you'll have to drug me"....

as in this minor classique of darkside

Jungle Buddha I know from this helped-keep-me-going-while-in-exile-most-of-1993 compilation - where it is credited to Jungle Pirate for some reason

As Jungle Pirate, he (Mark Loy) did a track called "Mutiny on the Bounty" which was on  a slightly earlier comp that also sustained me during the months of pirate-radio-deprivation while stuck in NYC finishing the Sex Revolts

But going back to the source... why would anyone want an a cappella version of "How To Be A Zillionaire"?

I guess that was a fixture on a lot of 12-inches at that time, for deejays to do clever stuff with...  and ABC were aiming for US club action with this blatant emulation of  Shannon circa "Let The Music Play" / "Give Me The Night"

And they got it -- reached  #4 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart.  Indeed it was a Billboard Top  20 pop  hit in the USA, whereas in Britain it just scraped into the Top 50

This Wall Street Mix seems to be going for a bit of  AON "Close (To The Edit)" big bashy drums effect

The sentiments of the song lyric are like Depeche's "Everything Counts" but the overall effect (as on Beauty Stab) is a bit slick and glib c.f. the earnest hand-wringing melancholy of the Mode boys which is genuinely affecting

(if you voted Labour the previous summer)

Friday, October 17, 2014

breakbeat garage

It was really hard to get speed garage 12 inches in the US - no demand whatsoever, junglists scorned it but so did the local househeadz - only a few thing slipped into the shops, almost by accident -  so you had to grab 'em whenever they showed up - and this is one of the early bits I scooped up as an import

What I liked about it is the way about midway through it slips into madcap Amentalist breakbeats, augmenting the pumpin' 'n' poundin skippy-bumpy speedgarridge groove - like it's a literally transitional record - a cusp between jungle and UKG

Also loved the name Ruff Da Menace -- which now I think about, is almost like a mash-up of Rufige Cru and "Menace", perhaps Goldie's greatest track

Found out much later "Kick The Party" was made by this duo of Jon Dennis and Mark Ryder. The latter is the figure behind the Strictly Underground label and all those Illegal Rave and  Illegal Pirate Radio compilations (and maker of many, if not all, the tracks on those comps, using a huge number of alter-ego names like DJ Scooby and Hackney Hardcore). Also something of a hardcore hero for having helped to fund pirate stations like Unity FM and Konflict FM.

Ryder is someone who followed the swarm-logic of the continuum as it, er, continued.... hardcore to jungle to UKG....    not a leader, an innovator -  but like so many other solid producers, provided generic grist to the mill of scenius ...

because what you want is an imposing sameness

vibe = collective singlemindedness

this 2002 rerelease appears to be a relick for the breakstep moment - the bass seems a bit more brock-wild in a DJ Narrows style - but otherwise much the same

blimey, it's part of a sort of Ruff Da Menace album or double-EP 2 F in Ruff

ooh, i covet that

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"that's why they call it a continuum, folks!" part 2948371

a deep tech versioning of this breakstep classic

Deekline done his own reboot  this year with a trap version

others, with or without his blessing i'm not sure, done similar refixes over the years

and then there was Deekline's own Nu Skool Rave rmx, from circa the original version

the legacy of Bell

even if he's never heard Frequencies, or any bleep + bass at all - feel like that that sound lives on in Hugo Massien tunes such as the above

cold, tuff, relentless... and bumpy.

Monday, October 13, 2014

RIP Mark Bell

LFO, Details, October 1991

                                                      LFO, Melody Maker, June 1994

director's cut, Observer Music Monthly, September 21st 2003

It’s a tough time for dance music believers. Mainstream house culture has imploded, with superclubs closing, dance magazines folding, and average sales for 12 inch singles on a steady downward arc. The more cerebral end of home-listening electronica suffers from stylistic fragmentation, overproduction (there’s just too many "pretty good" records being made), and the absence of a truly startling new sound (even a Next Medium-Sized Thing would be a blessing at this point). Trendy young hipsters think dance culture’s passe and really rather naff: these days they’re into bands with riffs, hooky choruses, foxy singers, and good hair, from neo-garage groups like The White Stripes to post-punk revivalists like The Rapture. Little wonder, then, that the leading lights of leftfield electronica have been looking back to the early Nineties, when their scene was at the peak of its creativity, cultural preeminence, and popularity. 

There’s been a spate of retro-rave flavoured releases from the aging Anglo vanguard--a reinvocation (conscious or unconscious, it’s hard to say) of the era when this music was simultaneously the cutting edge and in the pop charts.
LFO’s Mark Bell is a case in point. Today he’s better known for his production work with Bjork and Depeche Mode, but back in 1990, he was one half of a duo who reached #12 in the UK singles charts with their self-titled debut "LFO". This Leeds group pioneered a style called "bleep", the first truly British mutation of the house and techno streaming over from Chicago and Detroit. In 1991 they released Frequencies, the first really great techno album released anywhere (unless you count ancestors Kraftwerk, alongside whose godlike genius LFO’s best work ranks, if you ask me). 

Just about the only bad thing about Sheath, LFO’s third album and first release for seven years, is its title, which I fear is being used in its antedeluvian meaning of "condom" (only "rubber johnny" could have been worse). Really, this record should be called Frequencies: the Return.

Deliberately lo-fi opener "Blown" instantly transports you back to the era of landmark records like Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 1985-91. All muddy heart-tremor bass, creaky hissing beats and tinkling, tingling rivulets of synth, it has the enchanted, misty-eyed quality of those childhood mornings when you wake to look through frost-embroidered bedroom windows. "Mokeylips" teems with fluorescent pulses and those classic LFO textures that seem to stick to your skin like Velcro. As bracing as snorting a line of Ajax, "Mum-Man" is industrial-strength hardcore of the kind that mashed-up the more mental ravefloors in ’92. With its robot-voice dancemaster commands and videogame zaps, "Freak" harks back further still to LFO’s Eighties "roots" as teenage electro fans bodypopping and spinning on their heads in deserted shopping centres. "Moistly" shimmers and surges with that odd mixture of nervousness and serenity that infused the classic Detroit techno of Derrick May and Carl Craig. And the beat-less tone-poem "Premacy" pierces your heart with its plangent poignancy.

Electronic music may be suffering from the cruel cycles of cool at the moment, but Sheath (ugh, I really don’t like that title) shows that music of quality and distinction is still coming from that quarter. Yet more proof (if any were still needed) that all-instrumental machine-music can be as emotionally evocative, as sensuously exquisite, as heart-tenderising and soul-nourishing as any rock group you care to mention. (Like for instance Radiohead, whose Thom Yorke, as it happens, was a huge fan of the Northern "bleep" tracks released by Warp in the early Nineties). One can only hope this album finds the audience it deserves.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

who can draw (sample spotting saddo)

inserted into the nuum

where's the deep tech rmx then?

community radio at its best

flipside in the SL2 "On A Ragga Tip" mode

although neither sounds like ragga or even 90s dancehall but something much more back in the JA day

where are these fellers now then?  Power and Ku, if they only knew how much they've brightened my days. Electricified them. Them and the other 1023 like 'em.

oh i desire

"yeah rude boy!!!!!"


forgot to include this killer in my little impromptu tribute to DJ Phantasy the other week

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

nu tru, tru nu - "a nod to the sound of my teenage self"

Press release for Inversion, the new album from Om Unit, which is on Metalheadz, and is also about Metalheadz:  

"Om Unit was schooled via Metalheadz. Although he earned his stripes via Hip Hop as DJ 2Tall it was breakbeat-hardcore and Jungle that shaped his attitude towards electronic music and the ferocious trail blazing of the Metalheadz crew was an undoubted inspiration....

Om Unit tells us how the project was conceived: The project is really for me, a nod to sound of my teenage self. I’d been speaking to Goldie about this project for some time and had begun work on series of sonic sketches with a feel to making a collection of work for Metalheadz when, to sweeten the deal, Goldie gave me access to some DATs out of his studio as well as some other sample collections from his archive which I gladly used as Salt n Pepper to spice up the work, for example on ‘Bardo Realms’ there is the sound of Goldie vocalising an ‘Ahhhhhh’ which is probably about 10-15 years old, I love the thought of that. I have been truly blessed to be able to put this project together and to be welcomed into the fold so readily. This project is not an exercise in technical skill, nor a showcase or automated sound design. It’s a blueprint of what could be another way

Not from Inversion, but Om Unit trak pointing towards it?

"what we gonna do right here is go back - way back" - quite!

The Om Unit - a nod to Omni Trio?

By coincidence - in the previous post's comments, Daze of Reality recommends "Shells For Gantz" as one of the better war dubs - and it turns out to be by Om Unit

coda: thought this entry from Fact's third quarter report on the 20 Best Albums of the Last Three Months (and things are getting out of hand with these summations of the year so far - what next, 20 Best Albums of the Last Month?), an entry on Sully's neo-jungle / retro-jungle Blue on Keysound, almost deconstructed itself, or cancelled itself out, as a set of claims and proleptic parries of objections and counter-arguments: 

"Jungle revivalism might have been flogged half to death, but it’s even hard to argue with Sully’s Blue, simply because he absolutely nails the brief. There’s something unquestionably authentic about his set of throwback anthems, from the crisp crunchiness of the drums to the bright and garish suite of synths. Blue is more than revisionist nostalgia for a sound thirtysomethings wish had never disappeared, it’s actually a handful of tracks that capture exactly what was so good about jungle in the first place."

the argument is, it's more than nostalgia, simply because it's so thoroughly achieved as an act of nostalgia?

still - given that my last post veered from rejecting retro-grime to embracing retro-junglizm without embarrassment, i can hardly claim to have sorted out my feelings on this subject....

Sunday, October 5, 2014

tru jungle

Steeve Cross directs me to this monster slab of "new-old" jungle  -- "all current productions"

Says that people are starting to call it "tru jungle"

Funny that - reminds me of that keep-the-faith compilation of Detroit techno that Eddie Flashin' Fowlkes put together, True People.

Apparently these are the fruits of playful war between producers -   "various UK jungle lords taking aim at each other and firing tongue-n-cheek shots through rudeboi flex tracks", triggered by a tweet from "London-via-New Zealand junglist, Epoch".

A deliberate echo of the war dubs thing with grime last year 

Which I just completely didn't bother with...  

Overall the new instrumental grime thing leaves me pretty cold.... 

You'd read all these pieces and most of the time there'd be simply no mention of  the notion of grime as an MC-based art form.... 

Barely a nod to the fact that even the most unhingedly avant Terror Danjah or Wiley beats were designed as MC tools...  were only completed when spat over live on the pirates or at those rare club / rave events

It all seemed like nu-IDM's latest incursion - expanding into territory vacated by the nuum's core demographic (who'd moved into first funky, now deep tech)

Taking a form of music that was a tool of individual and social expression  and converting it into stand-alone sound-sculptures for aesthetic contemplation by the isolated ear

Anything with ‘nu’ in front of is, of course, by definition not new.  Oh it can be entertaining to listen to, through its exaggeration of the formal features of grime / eski. But it lacks the feral quality of original grime - the terror and the danger. 

In the end, it might as well be muzak. 

And some of it was outright retrogrime.  Take this one particular Logos tune - basically a mash-up of ‘Cockback’ and ‘Pulse X'

Beautifully produced, of course, but what’s the point? Lived through this already, thanks!

Logos was upfront about the nostalgia, though, so fair play perhaps:

The title ‘Cold Mission’ is a nod to 4Hero”, Logos explained in a press release. “It was one of their aliases – and that whole era of London retro futuristic music.... It’s also a reference to Digital’s ‘Special Mission’ and ‘Mission Accomplished’, both form part of a run of paranoid late ‘90s jungle masterpieces the equal of Tricky or Massive Attack..... I’m interested in tracing the links between classic Metalheadz productions and early grime, especially the more angular stuff Slimzee played, but integrated in to a roughly 130bpm club context.  A lot of the album is informed by nostalgia for pirate radio grime and the sense of loss I feel for that period – 2002 felt like a much simpler time.”

Back to tru jungle - as regressive pleasures go, all good fun. Blasting biznizz. Wish I was strong enough to resist it, reject it....  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

original come to boom it up

"we're walking in the air
while people down below
are sleeping as we fly"

"music's hypnotizing"

and it's haitch with a hot