Wednesday, 12 December 2018

DnB Advent Calendar: Day 12




Swift & Zinc - 12 O'Clock Drop (Sophisticated Underground Sounds, 1995)

After posting about a track yesterday where the time was 11:55 it's only right that today we take a look at this tune in which we've reached the midnight hour. Swift & Zinc put out most of their material on Bizzy B's Brain Progression imprint but this tune appeared on a 12" that was both one of their final releases together and the first on a new label, Sophisticated Underground Sounds (SUS), founded by promoters Phil Hickin & Mick from Desire/2000AD Productions.

The intro features some chilled keys, drums using the hot pants break and sensual vocals, including "You are the only one who makes me feel this way" sampled from the swingapella version of 'Forever' by Key To Life feat. Sabrina Johnston. Preceding the drop the duo introduce two new vocal samples. The first "We lead double lives. We deal in sex and beautiful women" is taken from an episode of the American detective series Burke's Law entitled Who Killed Alex Debbs? Co-incidentally this sample also appeared in 'Kelly's Heroes' by British rock group Black Grape, released the same year.

The second gives the track its title and appropriately brings in a change of pace as Amen drums smash up the place accompanied by a kinetic Reese bassline for a stomping tune that certainly has a proper drop. Swift & Zinc set up a Bandcamp page recently and '12 O'Clock Drop' is one of the tracks available to download, newly remastered. Zinc comments "made in '94 released in '95 as far as i remember. big up phil and mick and all the desire massive... written produced engineered and mixed by swift and zinc. but i think it was just swift actually."

You can hear '12 O'Clock Drop' in this Fabriclive promo mix by Nanny Banton Vs Danny Drive Thru from 2014:



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Tuesday, 11 December 2018

DnB Advent Calendar: Day 11




Roni Size & DJ Die - 11:55 (Roll Out Mix) (Full Cycle, 1995)

A few times when selecting tracks for the DnB Advent Calendar I've thought of something only to realise I've already posted about it. That's the case here but Roni Size & DJ Die included an alternative mix of this tune on the 12" release, which is fortunate for me as there aren't exactly loads of tunes featuring the number eleven! It's also fortunate for everyone because two versions of this tune can't be a bad thing. Despite the FCY001 catalogue number, this wasn't the first release on Full Cycle but the fourth - FC 004 is even crossed out on the run-out. The label was originally called Full Circle but was renamed after just one release, though they kept the same numbering system until '11:55'.

Both versions of the tune are on YouTube but I think the mixes are the wrong way round, based on my copy and the titles of the mixes. The Roll Out Mix featured today is a more stripped down version of the track, which makes sense given the name. The Gangsta Mix features a lot more of the vocal sample from Lightnin' Rod's 'Hamhock's Hall Was Big' which gives the track its title. It's taken from the 1973 Hustlers Convention LP, a lost classic Chuck D has called "a verbal roadmap for people trying to understand the ghetto they were in".

The Roll Out Mix opens with a cut-up of the Scorpio break before bringing in the Sesame Street break with a meaty 808 bassline. The central vocal sample is limited to just "the time is 11:55" while the other elements of the track float in and out sparingly. While the other side opened with the Sport break, also taken from the Hustlers Convention LP, here it pops up briefly towards the end. Overall I prefer the Gangsta Mix (which is the one included on the Music Box LP) but there's not much in it. You can hear the Roll Out Mix in this set from Ratty at The Edge Presents The Awakening from 1995:



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Monday, 10 December 2018

DnB Advent Calendar: Day 10




Axis - One In Ten (Good Looking Records, 1996)

We reach double figures for the DnB Advent Calendar with a tune that really should be played on hot summer's day rather than in the middle of winter. This was only the second ever release I bought from LTJ Bukem's Good Looking Records stable, following the 12" that immediately preceded it, PFM's 'For All Of Us'. I'd just started buying records seriously in 1996 though and I've added a few from the GLR catalogue since!

Axis was an alias of Illian Walker which he used only for Bukem's labels. He is best known simply as Ils and made several drum & bass tunes alongside DJ Solo before switching to the UK Breaks scene in 1998 where he found more success with tunes such as 'Next Level'. A sad loss for our scene and a decision he recently suggested he regretted:
"I would make an album if the I knew a large enough audience wanted it. Breaks has always been a very specialised field. I sometimes wonder what I would be doing if I had kept on making drum & bass with LTJ Bukem".
'One In Ten' is a great example of Bukem's style of DnB. Shimmering pads and rhodes are accompanied by bursts of flute and horn while lively drums that occasionally use the Apache and Think breaks provide plenty of energy. It's a tune that both moves your feet and warms your soul and it made a perfect start to Bukem's second Essential Mix appearance back in March 1996, with MC Conrad on the mic:



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