Tuesday, 31 December 2013
Optical - The End (Part 1) (31 Records, 1998)
This is the final post of what has been a year long project, the idea being to write about a classic drum and bass tune every day throughout 2013. When I started the blog I had no idea how I was going to achieve this and although it's been a struggle to keep it going, it has also incredibly rewarding and I hope people have enjoyed reading it. Now we literally reach The End with a look at this Optical classic from 1998.
For years Matt Quinn lurked in the shadows, engineering and producing for others while putting out his own material under a variety of aliases and running the Genetic Stress and Blame Technology imprints. By 1997 he settled on the name Optical (appropriate considering the precision his productions are known for) and began getting the recognition he deserved with releases on prestigious labels such as Metalheadz, Moving Shadow and Prototype. 'The End (Part 1)' saw him land on Doc Scott's 31 Records and he didn't disappoint with what I assume is a paean to the now closed nightclub in London's West End. The track takes its time to unfold, opening with sweeping synth pads and modem bleeps before fractured drums come in. The warped, menacing bassline slowly evolves alongside icy synths as the drums become increasingly splintered without losing their groove, all making for one of Optical's finest productions. 'The End Part 2' appeared on the next 31 Records release under the Fortran name which saw Optical join forces with Ed Rush and Fierce. The trio add a haunting female vocal and replace the drums with a thumping two-step beat for a track more typical of the time but for me it can't top Part 1.
You can hear Part 2 below in Eazyflow's 1998 DnB (Techstep) Mix. Thank you to everyone who has read this blog but special shout outs must go to James Black for designing the logo, Raze, Randall Helms and not forgetting Law and Rich Pitchshift Malton for giving me the opportunity to write for their sites. DnB 365 will be back next year after a well deserved holiday, although I almost certainly won't be posting every day! Peace and I'm out.
Monday, 30 December 2013
Ed Rush - Bludclot Artattack (No U-Turn, 1993)
Although the No U-Turn label had started up in 1992 with User 102's 'Can't Hold It', it wasn't until their second release the following year that the "No U-Turn sound" began taking shape. The story goes that a young Ben Settle AKA Ed Rush successfully badgered Nico Sykes, his neighbour and No U-Turn owner, to produce tracks with him, leading Sykes to discover rave music in the process. The result was 'Bludclot Artattack', a slice of dark paranoia that sounded like nothing else at the time and was the genesis of techstep.
The 12" included two mixes and while they aren't substantially different, it's the Dark Mix on the flip that's the one to go for. It opens with a "When it come, it come like a bloodclot heart attack... Spread out" patois vocal sample (reused on the Loefah Remix of Pinch's 'Punisher') before nightmarish samples played forwards and backwards ("Oh God, no") introduce dread-filled synth pads. The whole vibe of the tune is blunted and you can almost smell the weed smoke that must have filled Nico's cramped studio when this was being made. The sluggish bassline is accompanied by drums that use the Hot Pants break along with a Think based break created by DJ Monita on the Skeleton Krew's 'Luv Ta Luv Ya'. Several other samples crop up along the way with the "Let it go" line from Sinnamon's 'I Need You Now' appearing along with a sci-fi sound effect from Queen's 'The Ring (Hypnotic Seduction Of Dale)' off the Flash Gordon soundtrack. A "You got a ticket to hell" vocal from Hellbound: Hellraiser II precedes a section of reversed horror movie dialogue and disturbing atmospherics along with timestretched drums. The track feels devoid of energy and as Peter Shapiro in the The Rough Guide To Drum'n'Bass wrote, it "marked Jungle's transition away from the ecstasy rush towards the blunted, bloodshot detachment of marijuana".
Ed Rush and Nico returned to the track in 1994 with Lick 1 and Lick 2 which both include a great sample of Martin Sheen from Apocalypse Now: "Every time I think I'm going to wake up back in the jungle". An unreleased mix opened Fierce's Acolyte: From Jungle To Drum & Bass mix of classic No U-Turn material in 2002 and also appeared on the accompanying 12". You can hear 'Lick 1' in Ratty's superb set at Dreamscape 11 below:
Sunday, 29 December 2013
E-Z Rollers - Rolled Into 1 (Moving Shadow, 1994)
'Rolled Into 1' appeared on Alex Banks and Jay Hurren's first 12" together as E-Z Rollers, released in 1994 on Moving Shadow. The duo - who were also members of Hyper On Experience and JMJ & Richie respectively - were then silent aside from some remixes until they put out their debut album Dimensions In Sound a couple of years later, which included 'Rolled Into 1' along with a Photek remix.
The tracks opens with some ethereal choral synths before introducing some sublime breakbeat choppage. It features a couple of well known vocal samples, with "Oh yeah" vocals from Zhana's 'Sanctuary Of Love' appearing over drums that use the break from Fuzzy Haskins' 'The Fuz And Da Boog' along with warm bass. Then during the mid-section as beatific synths envelope the track they bring in the "Say it loud" vocal from Sinnamon's 'I Need You Now'. A gorgeous tune that also received a great remix from Danny Breaks featuring the break from Jimmy Smith's 'Number One', as used by DJ Shadow on 'In/Flux'.
The original version and the Droppin' Science and Photek remixes are all available from Beatport. You can hear the Photek Remix in this set from Fabio released on The Edge's Intelligent Drum & Bass Volume 1 in 1995 which is also available to download from Deep Inside The Oldskool.
Saturday, 28 December 2013
Studio Pressure - Jump MK II (Certificate 18, 1993)
'Jump' appeared on Rupert Parkes' debut 12" under his Studio Pressure alias for Paul Arnold's ground breaking Certificate 18 label in 1993. His next release for the imprint was headlined by a new and improved version of the track entitled 'Jump MK II' and it's one of the finest moments in his quality laden catalogue.
The track opens with the Think break along with high pitched yelps of "Jump". Sinister synth pads and sci-fi sound effects are then joined by a bongo loop from Johnny Pate's 'Shaft In Africa' before Photek introduces his soon to be trademark hollow percussion. The mid-section of the track brings in blissful shimmering synths along with soulful vocals from New York Citi Peech Boys' 'Don't Make Me Wait' (also the source of the vocals on rave tunes such as Altern 8's 'Activ-8' which recently recharted thanks to a Christmas No. 1 campaign) before the oriental style percussion returns to close the track out. While the track was to be the template for several future Photek productions, 'Presha' from the same 12" is constructed out of similar parts but is more hardcore in style. It was given a superb remix as 'Presha III' in 1994 and this year Photek returned to the track once again with 'Presha XIII'.
An original copy of 'Jump MK II' will set you back £30-£40 these days but it is available for a much more reasonable price on the essential Hidden Rooms compilation. The track appears in DJ Monita's excellent Drumtrip Sessions #7 mix which you can check out below:
Friday, 27 December 2013
Marcus Intalex & ST Files - Nightfall (Renegade Hardware, 2001)
While Renegade Hardware are generally known for releasing tracks on the harder side of drum and bass spectrum they also occasionally put out more soulful material. Marcus Intalex's relationship with the label dates back to 1998 when his Future Cut collab 'Plastic' appeared on the 3 The Hardway EP, while alongside ST Files he contributed 'Moonwalk' to the Aftermath LP. 'Nightfall' from The Harder They Come Part 1: Invasion Tactics EP however is the finest tune he's had on the label.
'Nightfall' features a couple of vocal samples from house and disco tunes, with the "It's a soul thing" line from Eddie Amador's 'House Music' appearing during the intro (sampled more extensively on Mist:i:cal's 'Spiritual Thing') before they add "So special" vocals from New York Citi Peech Boys' 'Life Is Something Special'. Around the two samples the duo create a rolling tune that builds with lush synth pads and a bleeping riff while being driven forward by the Both Eyes Open break. A tough sub bassline completes things for a smooth track with a dark edge.
'Nightfall' is available to purchase digitally directly from Renegade Hardware. It was included on one of the finest studio mixes ever commercially released, DJ Marky's The Brazilian Job and you can check that mix out below:
Thursday, 26 December 2013
Tom & Jerry - The One Reason (Tom & Jerry, 1992)
Staying with Tom & Jerry for a moment, 'The One Reason' was the A Side on their first 12" back in 1992. It's a Marc Mac solo production and was backed with Dego's 'The Second Reason'. Yesterday I mentioned how quickly they put Tom & Jerry tunes together and these two tracks are prime examples. Talking to Uncle Dugs back in November Marc Mac revealed they were created as part of a competition between the duo to see who could make a tune the fastest and he won, making 'The One Reason' in just twenty minutes.
It's a raw hardcore tune which features a "Think it, dream it, peak it, drink it" vocal taken from the much sampled 'Life Is Something Special' by New York Citi Peech Boys. Originally called simply Peech Boys before the Beach Boys threatened legal action, the vocalist is none other than Bernard Fowler who also provided the vocals for Sinnamon's 'I Need You Now' which Tom & Jerry sampled on 'Papillon Love Song'. As with that track the acapella of 'Life Is Something Special' was included on the 12" and has been sampled on a number of other tunes such as DJ Seduction's 'Hardcore Heaven' and Turntable Symphony's 'Instructions Of Life' ("Feeeeeeelll it"). 'The One Reason' opens with what sounds like an alarm going off along with "I'd like to say I feel good for one reason... ecstasy, ecstasy" vocals, drugs being a common theme in 4hero's early tunes. It then brings in drums that use the Both Eyes Open break and a booming bassline along with synth stabs, a ravey piano riff and reversed strings for an upbeat tune that's full of energy.
'The One Reason' opens DJextreme's excellent Tom & Jerry label mix which features tracks from the first six 12"s on the imprint before the ragga influences became more prominent - download it from his Hardscore site.
Wednesday, 25 December 2013
Tom & Jerry - Papillon Love Song (Tom & Jerry, 1993)
Tom & Jerry was an alias and label that 4Hero's Dego and Marc Mac used to put out less serious music that was purely focused on moving people's feet. As Marc Mac said recently during an interview with Uncle Dugs on Rinse FM:
"There was the more jungle side, the more ragga side that was coming in and that was our interpretation of that... we needed to be more dancefloor, less experimental, just straight to the dancefloor".
The label put out just twelve 12"s from 1992 to 1994 but the tunes on them are amongst the finest of the era, all of them potent concoctions that blend hardcore, jungle, ragga, rare groove and soul to intoxicating effect.
'Papillon Love Song' appeared on the third release in 1993 and is an uplifting tune which always puts a smile on my face. It takes the "Let it go" vocal from Sinnamon's 'I Need You Know' and places it over enchanting synth pads, rumbling bass and drums that use Amen and a four to the floor beat along with a distinctive lurching breakbeat. Tom & Jerry tracks were intentionally put together quickly, often taking less than half an hour to make, but the result is tunes like this that are full of energy and contain just the necessary elements to move a crowd.
DJ Stretch recently put together a Tom & Jerry tribute set on Radio Frontline which features all their well known tunes including 'Papillon Love Song' along with some unreleased dubplates and remixes. It should go without saying but this is essential listening:
Tuesday, 24 December 2013
The JB & Asend - Let It Go (Back 2 Basics, 1994)
Sinnamon were an eighties boogie group who were the brainchild of producer Darryl Payne. They first found success with 'Thanks To You' in 1982 and were initially an all female group. However for their follow up single 'I Need You Now' they added male vocalist Bernard Fowler and thanks to the acapella being included on the 12" his lead vocals have been sampled on dozens of tracks including rave anthems such as 'Far Out' by Sonz Of A Loop Da Loop Era and 'E-Vapor-8' by Altern 8, although they're invariably pitched up to sound female.
'Let It Go' by The JB & Asend is one of several drum and bass tunes to sample the vocals, using the title lending "Let it go" line throughout. The track starts off with the 'Cold Sweat' break along with the vocals and a simple bassline before bringing in some awesome timestretched breaks which are used as a melodic element, a cool sounding technique that was popular in 1993/1994. The breakdown introduces heavenly synth pads and "Shining your light on me... with your love" diva vocals before the timestretched breaks return to close the track out. A great tune from Jason Ball and Lee Smith which lives up to the name of the label.
You can hear the track in DJ Fallout's set at the Amnesia House Shelley's Reunion Party from 18th November 1994 which was released on their Christmas Selection Box tape pack:
Monday, 23 December 2013
DJ Ink feat. Dylan - Need You (Renegade Hardware, 2001)
This track appeared on the Kaos Theory EP in 2001 which was Ink's solo debut for Renegade Hardware after a couple of appearances on albums and the Quasimodo EP with Loxy. Funnily enough yesterday's selection, 'Blueprint' by The Architex, played a role in Ink linking up with Hardware after the producer met label boss Clayton Hines at Music House, as he revealed to The End in 2008:
"He was sitting in there just talking about music in general, and he said "one of my favourite tracks at the moment is a track called 'Blueprint' by some guys called Archie-Tex" and I went "No that's my tune and we’re actually called The Architects."
'Need You' is a rather atypical track for Ink and this is probably down to the old skool influences of co-producer Dylan. It uses a large chunk of vocals from Sinnamon's 'I Need You Now' which are looped throughout most of the track: "Need you now, I want you... Say it loud". During the intro the vocals are placed over ominous synth pads and drums that use the Sport break before bassy synth stabs arrive along with a rumbling bassline and computer game bleeps. The second drop switches things up by dirtying up the synth stabs and adding further vocals from the Sinnamon track. The tune was an anthem back in 2001 and has been remixed a number of times with a rolling Calibre Remix on The Harder They Come Part 3: Colonisation EP, a heavier Amen Re-edit appearing on Outbreak's Trapped In Beats Vol. 4 EP and a tearing remix from Phobia on Ink's Mood Music EP, as well as the digital only 'Still Needing You Unreleased Remix' from Dylan & Ink themselves on Dylan's Freak MP3 Exclusives imprint.
The digital of the original is available to purchase directly from Renegade Hardware. You can hear it in this mammoth two and a half Christmas mix by Usual Suspects from 2001:
Sunday, 22 December 2013
The Architex - Blueprint (Basement Records, 1995)
DJ Ink is a name that should need little introduction to any fan of drum and bass. Now known as a top DJ and producer with releases on Renegade Hardware, Metalheadz and his own Architecture imprint amongst others, the man otherwise known as Giles Mensah started off as an MC at raves in the early nineties because he couldn't mix. After getting a slot on Defection FM alongside DJ Kwest, the pair formed The Architex alongside Jake Williams AKA J. Dub in 1994. The trio's first 12" was the fiftieth release on the esteemed Basement Records.
'Blueprint' was the A Side and and opens with gorgeous droplets of melancholy synth along with pads and the Think break. Ambient synths then lead into the main body of the tune which rolls along nicely with jazzy keys, funky synth and light, relaxed drums. However my favourite version of the tune comes from DJ Pulse on the subsequent Blueprint Remixes 12" which also featured an interpretation from Alex Reece. It centres around an impressive cut-up of the Amen break which is accompanied by some Soul Pride and Think along with "Oh no" vocals, drifting synths and a warm bassline. An outstanding remix from the Creative Wax boss which gets regular rotation round these parts.
The original mix of 'Blueprint' leads off LTJ Bukem's first BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix which you can check out below:
Saturday, 21 December 2013
Architex Versus Loxy - Submerged (Architecture, 1998)
Loxy is a drum and bass legend who has been at the forefront of the scene for over twenty years. He first established himself as a DJ in the early nineties, playing at nights such as Elevation, Thunder and Joy and Desire. He also had regular slots on London pirates including Rude FM and Eruption FM but he truly made his name in the mid-nineties as a resident at the legendary Metalheadz Blue Note Sessions. His first foray into production came in 1994 when 'Roll Call' was picked by Bay B Kane for his 4 Star series on White House Records. It wasn't until a few years later though that he really began to establish himself as a producer after meeting Giles Mensah AKA DJ Ink.
'Submerged' was the first fruit of their labours and was released on Ink's fledgling Architecture imprint in 1998. As the title would suggest, the intro features atmospherics that conjure up images of exploring the ocean depths. Punchy two-step drums come in as the track gradually builds but what really drives the track forward is the introduction of rapid tribal drumming alongside a dark wobbly bassline. It's a distinctive tune of a quality that led Kemistry & Storm to give it the honour of inclusion on their DJ-Kicks mix album in 1999. Despite this it doesn't seem to be all that well known these days and the 12" is currently available on discogs for as little as €1.50, making it an inexpensive weapon to add to your arsenal.
'Submerged' appears in this excellent mix from DJ Grace:
Friday, 20 December 2013
Rekoil - Unreal (Outbreak Records, 2000)
Dylan often looked to the past on his productions and with the vocals from Cuba Gooding Sr.'s 'Happiness Is Just Around The Bend' being sampled on a multitude of old skool tracks it was inevitable that they would turn up on one of his tunes. 'Unreal' was released under his Rekoil alias in 2000 on Outbreak Records, one of the several labels Dylan was involved with at this time.
The track opens with tension building synthetic strings as the Tighten Up break tries to break free from it shackles. "Something unreal" vocals from Gooding Sr. and hardcore synth style stabs come in before a filtered Tramen break is dropped, occasionally interrupted by some Tighten Up. A monolithic Reece bassline is then introduced alongside some bleeps for a barnstorming tune. Dylan returned to the track later that year with Loxy in tow on the Trapped In Beats EP. It's a stunning remix that features a booming/buzzing bassline alongside Let A Woman Be A Woman/Tighten Up drums that are treated to pitchshifting to give them an awesome cascading effect. In an era of two-step rigidity Dylan was a producer who stayed true to the original breaks but it was his ability to put his own unique spin on them that really made his tunes stand out from the crowd.
Check out the remix in this Dylan, Loxy, Ink & Spirit mix by Nolige from 2003. The tracklist and download are available here:
Thursday, 19 December 2013
DJ Dextrous & Rude Boy Keith - Dance Hall Style (King Of The Jungle, 1993)
King Of The Jungle was the label set up by Errol Francis AKA DJ Dextrous and Keith Lawrence AKA MC Rude Boy Keith in 1993. They also used the title The Kings Of The Jungle for a series of 12"s on Suburban Base and it's an apt name as they were originators of jungle with a sound that embodies the style: rough breaks, reggae basslines and an anything goes approach to sampling. 'Dance Hall Style' appeared on the label's first release in late '93 as a B Side to 'Lovable', one of the duo's best known tracks.
The track opens with ravey synth pads and a lively dub bassline along with the "Something unreal" vocal from Cuba Gooding Sr.'s 'Happiness Is Just Around The Bend' that gets alternately slowed down and sped up. These are joined by the Hot Pants break which gets augmented by a bit of Apache. Although jungle and hardcore were splitting the lingering influence of hardcore is evident in the chipmunked vocal from Tongue 'n' Cheek's 'Tomorrow', a 1990 house tune, that gets introduced later: "Is this a dream or reality, that's really happening to me". The tune finishes far too soon with a fade out before the four minute mark but is a nice example of early jungle.
Check out this set by DJ Dextrous on Kool FM from 17th July 1994:
Wednesday, 18 December 2013
Wax Doctor - Logical Progression (Face Records, 1994)
After looking at LTJ Bukem's 'Logical Progression' yesterday the only, eh, logical track to get the DnB 365 treatment today was this identically titled one from Paul Saunders AKA Wax Doctor. It was released on Pascal and Sponge's Face Records in 1994 and although it was his only solo 12" for the label he also recorded as Clone Inc for them alongside Pascal.
Like the majority of his material the track was engineered by Alex Reece. It's a dark tune that opens with a sinister pipe melody along with strings and the "I think it's something I feel" line from Cuba Gooding Sr.'s 'Happiness Is Just Around The Bend', a track which has cropped up on this blog a few times already. Saunders and Reece then drop an awesome cut-up of the Funky Mule break before an indecipherable vocal brings in a subtle bassline which lets the mule do most of the work. Midway through the track is transformed by the introduction of Rufige Kru-esque corroded synths. These are joined by the Do The Do break and when the Funky Mule comes back in the combination of the two is stunning. The Logical Mix on the flip starts off a lot smoother with buoyant synths and female vocals before crashing Amens take it into darker territory. Quality stuff as ever from Wax Doctor.
'Logical Progression' was included on Face Of The Future, a compilation of Face Records material put out on Breakdown in 1994 - you can download Grooverider's mixed version of it over at Deep Inside The Oldskool. Check the track out below in this set from Top Buzz at Quest: The Final Countdown on NYE 1993:
Tuesday, 17 December 2013
L.T. Bukem - Logical Progression (Alternate Mix) (VMR Records, 1991)
No, that's not a typo above, but LTJ Bukem's name as it appeared on his first proper release back in late 1991. The title of this tune would of course go on to be used for Bukem's series of classic compilations and club nights. The original mix is a piece of breakbeat piano hardcore which samples the Balearic house classic 'Sueño Latino' and features "Do you wanna have a good time" female vocals. The real gem on the release though was the Alternate Mix tucked away on the B Side.
This version totally overhauls the track and is a better indicator of the music Bukem would go on to produce. It opens with ambient synths before Bukem deploys a break with prominent vocal tics and 808 bass stabs sampled from Tuff Crew's 'Hittin' Hard Balls'. It's a composite of the Think and Assembly Line breaks and is best known for anchoring Jonny L's rave anthem 'Hurt You So'. The track builds with sci-fi sound effects and new age synths while later a "Wicked" vocal sample appears which sounds likes it's from Public Enemy's 'Welcome To The Terrordome' ("Hear the drummer get wicked"). Like 'Demon's Theme' this is a tune that was well ahead of its time.
Although it's not labelled as such, it is the Alternate Mix which is included on LTJ Bukem's Producer 05: Rarities compilation (with 'Logical Reprise' from the same side of the 12" also featuring) and it's available to download from the Good Looking store. You can hear the track in this studio mix by DJ Tayla from February 1992 which is available to download over at DJextreme's Hardscore site.
Monday, 16 December 2013
Cloud 9 - Mr Logic (Moving Shadow, 1993)
Here's another tune from Cloud 9, this one from a couple of years before yesterday's selection. It was released on the Volume 3 EP in 1993 and the differences between the two tracks are clear. Whereas 'Jazzmin' is a chilled, laid back number, 'Mr Logic' is an upbeat rave tune.
It opens with some crazy beatboxing and manic laughter from Biz "The Inhuman Orchestra" Markie, taken from Roxanne Shante's 'Def Fresh Crew'. This is joined by drums that feature a four to the floor beat along with the Amen and Think breaks before a regular, fast paced bassline comes in. The tune is completed by the introduction of loved up synth pads and a "Take me, love me, squeeze me baby... One more time" vocal from Rochelle Fleming's 'Love Itch', a track that was also sampled on the Sub Kick Remix of Drum & Bass' 'FB1' and more recently by Manix on 'One More Time'. The Cloud 9 Remix EP from later in '93 (which was headlined by the Ray Keith & Nookie Remix of 'You Got Me Burnin') included a slightly moodier remix from Cloud 9 which replaced the beatboxing with the horn from Cypress Hill's 'Lock Down' while adding bongos, a high pitched vocal and at the breakdown some breezy synths. Feel good tuneage to brighten a dark and wet December.
Both the original and remix of 'Mr Logic' are available to purchase digitally from Beatport. You can hear the remix in this set by Ratty at Fibre Optic: A Christmas Cracker on 18th December 1993, almost exactly twenty years ago:
Sunday, 15 December 2013
Cloud 9 - Jazzmin (Tango Remix) (Moving Shadow, 1995)
While Jamie Giltrap AKA Tango released plenty of his own material he is perhaps best known for his remixing skills. His versions of tracks by the likes of Foul Play, Hyper On Experience and Johnny Jungle often surpassed the originals although he told Blog To The Oldskool in an interview published earlier this year that "I probably did a little bit too much remixing I think, that was my downfall really to be honest. I should have been making new stuff."
Here he provides a fantastic reworking of Cloud 9 AKA Nookie's 'Jazzmin'. The track opens with the Sandy/Versatility break with some overlayed Think. The original featured a "Loooovvvee" vocal from First Choice's 'Love And Happiness' and here Tango uses some more, with "Love and happiness" and "Make you wanna do right" vocals and the rhodes lick from the beginning. These are placed over floaty synths along with some vibraphone before a deep, funky bassline comes in with occasional snippets of trumpet. The track keeps the spirit of the Cloud 9 version while only using a few elements from it for an inventive remix that outdoes the original.
The original and Tango Remix are both available to purchase digitally from Beatport. You can hear the remix in DJextreme's Moving Shadow themed Smooth Grooves Vol. 1 mix which is available to download over at his Hardscore site.
Saturday, 14 December 2013
Drum & Bass - FB1 (Strictly Underground Records, 1994)
I assume this is the duo of L Double and ST Files who also released material on Formation under the Drum & Bass name and Rolldabeats seems to confirm this. FB1 came out on a 12" with two different mixes, the Keys To The Roof Mix above which features additional production from A-Sides and the Sub Kick Remix which you can check out below.
While the two mixes aren't wildly different it's worth mentioning both. The Keys To The Roof mix is the slightly more refined of the two, opening with shimmering rhodes and a "Loooovvve" vocal from First Choice's 'Love And Happiness' before 808 kick bass stabs come in along with the Sesame Street break. It goes on to add tearing Amen and later some rudeboy chatter and dub bleeps for a track that has that classic jungle combination of the rough and the smooth. The Sub Kick Remix gets straight down to business with some Plastic Jam/Sesame Street drums before hits of sub bass and some clattering Amen really get things going. The remix is almost an inversion of the other mix as the rudeboy chatter appears towards the beginning while the First Choice sample features towards the end. The mid-track breakdown brings in the same synths from 'What Have You Got To Lose' by The Jammers that Bukem & Peshay used on '19.5' along with a "I love the way you hold me" vocal from Rochelle Fleming's 'Love Itch' (another vocal used by Manix on his new LP, on the track 'One More Time'). Overall the Sub Kick Remix gets my vote although either mix does the business.
Thanks to Strictly Underground/Hardcore's compilation issuing tendencies you can find abbreviated versions of the Keys To The Roof Mix on The Ultimate Drum & Bass Collection and the Sub Kick Remix on Hardcore Junglistic Fever Vol. 2. The Sub Kick Remix features in this set from Grooverider at Dreamscape XIV with MC Flux on the mic:
Friday, 13 December 2013
4hero - Journey From The Light (Reinforced Records, 1993)
There has always been more to Dego and Marc Mac's productions than meets the eye with tracks such as 'Cooking Up Yah Brain' commenting on the dangers of drug use. 'Journey From The Light' was a rallying cry against the commercialisation of rave music and followed a rash of cartoon themed records produced with the intention of making the charts. This can be seen from the track's name which plays on the title of one of its sample sources, Brainstorm's 'Journey To The Light', to suggest a return to the underground.
The music is as dark and uncompromising as you would expect, opening with a harsh wail accompanied by a wicked Funky Mule based break punctuated by a regular bleeping sound. A twisted string part is joined by a "Make you wanna do right" vocal from First Choice's version of 'Love And Happiness', a sample Marc Mac returned to this year on 'Your Love Is Over' from the excellent Living In The Past LP produced under his Manix guise. The tune is chaotic and full of energy, packed with ravey synth stabs and timestretched breaks along with a few other samples. The pizzicato strings from the beginning of Earth, Wind & Fire's 'Daydreamin' are briefly introduced along with diva vocals while later a "Some people think it's in the sky" vocal from 'Journey To The Light' appears. The next line of this track is "Some people think it's in the ground" and considering 4hero's flip of the title, the suggestion is that it's the (under)ground to which you should be heading. Propulsive proto-jungle from two true pioneers.
'Journey From The Light' was included on the crucial Reinforced compilation The Definition Of Hardcore which is available from most digital retailers. The track was played heavily by Mickey Finn back in late '92/early '93 and you can check it out in his set at Quest & Pandemonium's NYE 1992 event over at Deep Inside The Oldskool.
Thursday, 12 December 2013
Goldie - Saint Angel (FFRR, 1995)
This track started life back in '93 on Synthetic under Goldie's Metalheads guise and was produced with the assistance of Marc Mac and Dego of 4hero. It's the evil twin of 'Angel' from the same EP, cutting out most of Diane Charlemagne's vocals and the song's softer side to focus on its dark core.
'Saint Angel' was so ahead of its time that when it was polished and extended for Goldie's Timeless LP in 1995 it still sounded fresh. The track goes through a few distinct movements, opening with the Assembly Line break and repeated metallic stabs that sound like a malfunctioning robot. They then bring in a variant of the 'Life Could' break known as 'Machine II' from rapper Paris' 'Make Way For A Panther' that comes complete with "yeah" and "uh" vocal interjections. The Apache break gets added along the way before the breakdown brings in unhinged Mentasm stabs, vinyl backspins and an "Angel" vocal that sounds like it comes from the same Blade Runner scene as Dillinja's 'The Angels Fell'. 'Sinister' style synths pads lead into the last third of the track which is a bit more chilled as warmer synths that hint at the original 'Angel' are introduced. A tune that shows the Reinforced crew at their finest.
'Saint Angel' is available to download from Beatport and was also included on the Goldie retrospective The Alchemist from earlier this year. Goldie has returned to the track a few times over the years with 'Dark Metal' and 'Ark Angel' both appearing on his Metalheadz imprint. You can hear the original Synthetic version in this set from Tango at Dance Planet: Pure Energy on 17th September 1993:
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Dillinja - The Angels Fell (Metalheadz, 1995)
I've been thinking about why so many drum and bass tunes sample Blade Runner and have come to the conclusion that it is a combination of the futuristic feel and sound of the film, some superb dialogue and timing. Although Blade Runner was originally released back in 1982 it wasn't until 1992 that the vastly superior Director's Cut came out, right at the point that jungle/drum and bass was taking shape. It's also worth noting that the Vangelis composed soundtrack wasn't officially released until 1994. The film is now part of the drum and bass lexicon, sampled in dozens of tunes and cited by many producers as an influence on their sound.
While many have sampled Blade Runner it is Dillinja who is most closely associated with the film, with two of his greatest tracks, 'Silver Blade' and 'The Angels Fell', based around Vangelis' beautiful compositions. Although I love both, 'The Angels Fell' ranks as one of my all time top five drum and bass tunes so today I'm going to take a look at this stunning piece of music. It features the plaintive horn-like synths of 'Blade Runner Blues' along with the title-lending dialogue sample of Rutger Hauer's Roy Batty, the leader of the renegade Nexus 6 replicants. The full quote reads "Fiery the angels fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores; burning with the fires of Orc" and is a deliberate misquotation of William Blake's America: A Prophecy ("Fiery the angels rose"). Dillinja masterfully fuses these samples with some incredibly chopped, timestretched and filtered drums that use the Apache, Life Could and Amen breaks along with some seriously low-end bass that you feel as much as you hear. One little detail that I really like is how the "Hey, yeah" is pitchshifted down during the mid-section, enhancing the melancholy vibe. This track sounded like the future in 1995 and still sounds like the future in 2013; a timeless piece of drum and bass perfection.
'The Angels Fell' was included on the Platinum Breakz and 15 Years Of Metalheadz compilations and is also available to download from the Metalheadz store. You can hear it lead off Law's History of Dillinja Mix Part 1 below - check his Drumtrip site out for the other three volumes:
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Tango - Fever (Moving Shadow, 1996)
In 1996 Essence Of Aura's James Mitton-Wade AKA Carlito compiled the Trans-Central Connection compilation for Moving Shadow. The album was designed as a showcase for drum and bass from the Midlands and in addition to tracks from Mitton-Wade's various projects it featured producers such as Q Project & Spinback, Neil Trix and DJ Addiction. There was also this track from Jamie Giltrap AKA Tango, the Midlands jungle/hardcore stalwart who had been on the scene since the early nineties.
'Fever' opens with the same eerie background music from Blade Runner that Essence Of Aura had sampled on 'What's On Your Mind' a couple of years previously and was also used in 'Technology' by Ed Rush & Nico. The No U-Turn sound seems to be an influence on this tune although Tango admitted in an interview with Blog To The Oldskool from earlier this year that he struggled to keep up with the developments in drum and bass at this time, saying "the music was changing - people were starting to use distorted drums and distorted basslines... and I couldn't really get my head around all this really". I think he's been a bit harsh on himself there because although 'Fever' doesn't feature the distortion levels of No U-Turn tunes the bassline is a gritty, gravelly beast that can do some serious damage. It's coupled with Amen/Tighten Up drums - another techstep signifier - and an "Ohhhh" vocal that sounds like it's from Loleatta Holloway's 'Love Sensation'. A haunting but fierce tune which was licensed by Lexus for a car advertisement.
'Fever' is available to download from Drum&BassArena. You can hear it in this mix of tracks from the Trans-Central Connection LP put together by Kosmoz:
Monday, 9 December 2013
Original Substitute - What's On Your Mind (Outstanding Productions, 1994)
Essence Of Aura are another drum and bass act to sample Blade Runner more than once, first on 'Intruder' from 1993's The Pure Essence EP and then again on this tune under their Original Substitute alias. It was released on their own Outstanding Productions label in 1994.
It samples Dr. Eldon Tyrell saying "What's on your mind Sebastian? What are you thinking about?", the words often getting treated to some timestretching. However the Blade Runner sampling isn't limited to dialogue as the track opens with the same unsettling background music that Ed Rush & Nico later used on 'Technology'. The track drops with some tearing Amen and 808 kick bass, while some choral synths and melancholy piano lead into the breakdown which combined with the Blade Runner samples cropping up throughout makes for a unnerving, paranoid tune.
Sunday, 8 December 2013
T.Power - The Man Machine (SOUR, 1994)
Several artists such as Dom & Roland and Dillinja have sampled Blade Runner on more than one occasion and T.Power is another example. Marc Royal first sampled the film on his Sandman collaboration 'Oedipus Complex' in 1993 ("Let me tell you about my mother") and also included some dialogue on 'Triangle' from his The Self Evident Truth Of An Intuitive Mind LP. However his most substantial use was on 'The Man Machine' from the CD edition of The Elemental, a sci-fi heavy single which also included tracks that sampled Star Wars and Planet Of The Apes.
During the intro it samples a large chunk of dialogue ("The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun...") from the movie's opening scene in which Blade Runner Holden interviews Leon Kowalski using a Voigt-Kampff machine, a contraception that determines whether somebody is human or not - the "man machine" of the title. T.Power places it over ambient synths and piano before 808 kick bass and nicely cut-up and timestretched Soul Pride/Cold Sweat drums arrive. 'The Man Machine' was also the title of a Kraftwerk track and album and their influence looms large in the synth work on this melodically rich tune that muses on what it is that makes us human.
Check out 'The Man Machine' in this mix of T.Power tracks from the period by ThaDarkStranger:
Saturday, 7 December 2013
E-Z Rollers - Synesthesia (Moving Shadow, 1997)
Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which one type of sensation involuntarily stimulates a second sense - for instance you perceive letters or numbers as inherently coloured. It's also the title of this tune from E-Z Rollers which like 'Tough At The Top' and 'Retro' demonstrates their knack for picking cool vocal samples. It starts with the following line from Blade Runner:
"Describe in single words only the good things that come in to your mind"
This is from the film's opening scene and forms part of a question in the Voigt-Kampff Test, a method of determining if someone is a replicant or not. Around the sample E-Z Rollers craft a deep track with lively drums, spacey synths and a moody bassline which shows a slightly tougher side to their sound. It was beefed up considerably though by Dom & Roland the following a year in a remix that features a similar muscular bassline to his Known Unknown remixes along with some fierce Amen. One track, two great versions.
Both the original and remix are available to download from Beatport. You can hear the original on Side B of the Moving Shadow Past>Future cassette that came free with DJ Mag in March 1997:
Friday, 6 December 2013
Undercover Business - The Replicant (Kartoons, 1998)
Working under an alias often allows an artist to get away with samples they otherwise wouldn't. Here on Nicky Blackmarket's low-key Kartoons label Ray Keith uses the name Undercover Business and includes the same "Replicants are like any other machine" sample of Harrison Ford from Blade Runner as Trace & Nico's 'Replicant'.
The intro features serene strings along with the dialogue sample before the Scorpio break arrives. The drop brings in a buzzsaw bassline which in combination with the Scorpio break recalls Reprazent's 'Share The Fall'. The break is regularly switched for another cymbal heavy break while the bassline also frequently changes pattern, making for a jump-up tune to keep you on your toes. I can't find any mixes online which feature the track but here's an All Kartoons mix from DJ Jamie of Section 23 that includes several Ray Keith tracks on the imprint under another of his aliases, Dragon Fist:
Thursday, 5 December 2013
Trace & Nico - Replicant (Idiosyncratic Records, 1998)
The tune from Trace & Nico was produced during No U-Turn's peak in 1997 but due to the use of uncleared samples from Blade Runner it didn't see a release until 1998/99 when it came out as a white label on Idiosyncratic Records. The flipside contained the main sample clean on a spiral groove that was spread out across the whole 12".
The track features dialogue and sound effects from this scene in which Deckard is examining Leon's photographs: "Enhance 34 to 46". However Trace & Nico sourced the sample from Vangelis' 'Main Titles' on the soundtrack album as they also use that track's tension building synth and strings, adding timpani-type percussion and 'The Flow' break. The drums drop out as some sick distorted Reese arrives along with a second dialogue sample from another scene in Blade Runner: "Replicants are like any other machine". As the track progresses reverbed Amen is deployed as the bassline gets increasingly twisted. No U-Turn + Blade Runner = Punishing techstep perfection.
You can hear an early mix of the track with a different bassline from around 5:28 in this live video recorded in 1997:
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Future Forces Inc - Bypass (Trouble On Vinyl, 1997)
Future Force Inc - the pre-Bad Company duo of dBridge and Maldini - were usually found on Renegade Hardware but here they made an appearance on sister label Trouble On Vinyl. 'Bypass' is another Blade Runner sampling track and was the highlight of the Code Of The Streets LP, TOV's first label compilation.
It opens with nice steppy drums before eerie droning strings fade in. The same "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe" line that Dom sampled on 'Mechanics' then introduces a sturdy two-step beat along with an acidic bassline reminiscent of Dillinja's 'Acid Trak'. As the track develops it is joined by swooping low-end bass and an occasional acidic shooting riff. The breakdown brings a further line from Blade Runner: :Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion". A track that exemplifies the Future Forces sound: cold, dark and clinical.
You can hear the track in this set from Fierce at the 1997 Future Music Awards:
Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Dom & Roland - Mechanics (31 Records, 1996)
Ridley Scott's 1982 science fiction classic Blade Runner is the most sampled film in drum and bass with dozens of tunes using its dialogue, atmospherics and the Vangelis score. I've already covered a few tracks that use parts of it and today I'm going to take a look at 'Mechanics' by Dom & Roland which was the third release on Doc Scott's 31 Records imprint.
'Mechanics' features a mid-track dialogue sample from Rutger Hauer's brilliant "Tears in the rain" scene: "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe". Dom also uses what sounds like some atmospherics from the film alongside Blade Runner-esque synths and some furious into the red Amen choppage that gets beat switched with the Life Could break. Hard as nails techstep from a pioneer of the genre.
You can hear the track in Wozowski's 31 Seconds Part 1 mix:
Monday, 2 December 2013
Calyx - Morphology (31 Records, 1999)
TeeBee, whose 'Dynasty Warriors' I looked at yesterday, has found great success over the last few years in partnership with Larry Cons AKA Calyx. The two producers both came to prominence in the late nineties with releases on Moving Shadow sub label Audio Couture and became friends during this period. My favourite Calyx tune from around this time though was 'Morphology' which arrived on Doc Scott's 31 Records imprint in 1999.
The word Morphology comes from the Greek word morphe (form) and means "study of shape". Calyx had previously led an eight-piece jazz-funk group called Octane (which was also the title of another of his early tracks) and here he takes the funk blueprint and twists it out of shape for an explosive tune. It opens with an insistent staccato guitar pattern which is joined by subtle metallic synth, guitar licks and drums bristling with energy before a startling inhuman scream brings in an absolutely filthy bassline. The dirtiness is balanced later by a smooth vocal harmony which leads into the breakdown before an alarm sound and pitched down "Morphology" vocal (possibly Roy Batty from this scene in Blade Runner) bring back the mutant funk. Simply awesome stuff.
You can hear 'Morphology' in this 31 Records mix from Kosmoz:
Sunday, 1 December 2013
TeeBee - Dynasty Warriors (Creative Source, 2001)
TeeBee's early material owes a debt stylistically to Photek and the two are also connected by martial arts. While Photek lapsed in his training to focus on music, TeeBee remains a dedicated martial artist which is why Photek chose him to remix 'Ni-Ten-Ichi-Ryu'. The pair have also worked together and in an interview with Barcode in 2008, Photek commented regarding his musical representation of the "two swords technique" that TeeBee "was jealous that I managed to get that track out before he'd got his interpretation of that out first".
While Photek may have beaten him to the punch, TeeBee has also incorporated traditional Eastern music into his productions and 'Dynasty Warriors' is a prime example. Released on Fabio's Creative Source imprint in 2001 it is a subtler track than we're used to from him with a solid two-step beat and warm bassline topped with a calming melody played on a zither-type instrument. Rushes of strings, wind sound effects and a brief "Challenging me" vocal sample from a kung fu film also feature but what I really like about the track is its spaciousness, with plenty of room to breathe. A classy track with a meditative vibe.
'Dynasty Warriors' was included on the mixed portion of TeeBee's The Legacy LP, check it out below:
Saturday, 30 November 2013
Photek - Ni-Ten-Ichi-Ryu (Science, 1997)
Photek was in the initial wave of artists to sign a major label deal in the wake of Goldie's Timeless and jungle's transformation into the more "respectable" genre of drum and bass. He was the first signing to Science, a sub label of Virgin created purely to release drum and bass, where he was shortly joined by kindred spirits Source Direct. 'Ni-Ten-Ichi-Ryu' translates as "Two heavens/swords in one technique" but is commonly shortened to "Two Swords Technique". The track was a stand alone single preceding the Modus Operandi LP because, as Photek put it during an interview in 1998:
"(It's) an individual track really set apart from the other things that I do; it's the only track I ever planned and had a true concept around."
Rupert Parkes grew up a martial arts fanatic and 'Ni-Ten-Ichi-Ryu' is the pinnacle of Photek's Far East influenced material that began with tracks such as 'The Water Margin' and 'The Seven Samurai'. The "two swords technique" was created by a legendary Japanese samurai by the name of Miyamoto Musashi and as Photek told Barcode in 2008, the track is "literally a musical representation of the technique of fighting with a long sword and a short sword". The intricate, razor sharp beats are accompanied by a hollow percussive bassline and sword fighting sound effects while a brief interlude features shakuhachi and some Japanese speech. The video - a luxury afforded by major label backing - is the perfect visual representation of the track, featuring a samurai meditating and imagining defeating his enemies in combat. Sparse and metallic but with the human touch of a master craftsman.
Photek gave practising martial arts devotee TeeBee the honour of remixing the track for Form & Function Vol. 2 in 2007. You can also download this free remix by Buraka Som Sistema courtesy of FACT Mag:
Friday, 29 November 2013
Lemon D - Two Techniques (R&S Records, 2000)
Back in 1997 Dillinja and Lemon D both signed album deals with London and R&S Records respectively. Unfortunately Dillinja's didn't arrive until 2001 while Lemon D's never came out. However a couple of singles did get released in early '00s, 'Two Techniques' and 'B Boyz Revenge', while other tracks intended for the album such as 'Fallin' saw the light of day on other labels. 'Two Techniques' opens with an extended intro featuring dialogue from a martial arts film:
"I have an idea that I think will work. We will trade our sons. I will give you my son and you will give me custody of yours, so that when they are grown up they will have learned to combine the two strongest techniques. When their time comes, our sons will be unbeatable"
Lemon D places the dialogue sample over tension building strings and jazzy flute before a nasty chainsaw bassline rises up from the depths. This is joined by live drumming from renowned British jazz drummer Gary Husband recorded by Dillinja & Lemon D and used on a number of their tracks. The track comes to a lush conclusion as jazzy keys arrive during the final minute before some sax brings it to a close. Perhaps because it wasn't on a traditional drum and bass label this track was somewhat underappreciated but ranks among Lemon D's best work.
'Two Techniques' is available to purchase from most digital retailers. The 12" lists the Dillinja remix on the flipside as being over thirteen minutes long because the CD single included a hidden track with drum loops and bass sounds. This is included in the digital version, making it a nice resource for producers. Check it out below via Spotify:
Thursday, 28 November 2013
Dillinja - Vicious (Test Recordings, 1998)
The title of this one is a perfect description of not just the track itself but Dillinja's music in general. It was released on the first volume of Dillinja & Lemon D's Test Recordings, a label which featured a logo that with its yellow and black colour scheme resembled the radiation warning symbol. The imprint was a sub label of Valve Recordings and didn't feature any artist names, possibly due to the frequent use of sampling. There's no doubt who was behind this production though.
'Vicious' is vintage Dillinja with an incredibly atmospheric intro featuring fading synth pads, trumpet and a "Vicious" vocal from Black Mamba's 'Vicious' along with numerous other sounds. The drums recall his earlier 'Threshold' with the Life Could break complemented by a bit of Apache and although the sub bass doesn't quite approach that tune's excessive levels it's still one to test any system. The track also uses the same "Allow me to demonstrate the skill of shaolin, the special technique" dialogue sample from Shaolin Vs. Lama (via Raekwon's 'Guillotine (Swordz)') as Ray Keith's 'Special Technique' and Dillinja shows off his unique style at the second drop when more distorted bass arrives. As the label artwork suggests, caution is definitely advised.
Although not released until 1998 the tune was around on dubplate for two years before it came out. You can hear it in Kemistry & Storm's set on One In The Jungle from 28th June 1996 (with none other than 'The Unofficial Ghost' following it):
Wednesday, 27 November 2013
Ray Keith - Special Technique (Chronic, 1996)
Here's another tune that samples the Wu-Tang Clan, although in this case the source is Only Built For Cuban Linx, Raekwon's classic solo debut. The track features dialogue and fight sounds from Shaolin Vs. Lama as sampled on 'Guillotine (Swordz)':
"Allow me to demonstrate the skill of shaolin, the special technique of shadow boxing"
While this line was also sampled on GZA's 'Shadowboxin' off Liquid Swords, the Raekwon track is definitely the source as 'Special Technique' also uses the twangy guitar from the RZA produced beat. The Wu-Tang samples are nicely complemented by some haunting synths that were later used by Aphrodite on 'Dub Moods' and Ray Keith keeps thing moving with constantly shifting drums: the Sandy, Cold Sweat and Think breaks all appearing during the intro and throughout while some stuttered Amen comes in later. What really makes the track though is the immense Reese bassline which is liable to cause earthquakes when played on a decent system, making this a great track to annoy the neighbours with.
Check out this mix of 1996-1998 jungle and drum & bass from Serum which includes 'Special Technique':
Tuesday, 26 November 2013
Uncle 22 - Wu Tang Sword (Eastside Records, 1997)
Desmond Fearon AKA Uncle 22's music career dates back to the early nineties when he released records on the De Underground group of labels and recorded with Cool Hand Flex as Flex & Uncle, The Impact Crew, Sudden Impact and Dub Wise II. He also put out material on Strictly Underground and RAM and is best known for '6 Million Ways To Die'. In the late nineties he then released a string of jump-up records for A-Sides' Eastside Records with this Wu-influenced track coming out in 1997.
Like Dopestyle's 'You Must Think First' it features sword swishes throughout along with dialogue from Shaolin & Wu Tang, although most likely sourced from the Wu-Tang Clan's 'Bring Da Ruckus': "Wu Tang sword style... could be dangerous". Around the samples Uncle 22 creates a sparse, moody jump-up tune which features the Think break, ominous horns and a simple reversed bassline complemented by distorted stabs. While Wu-Tang samples in drum and bass are two a penny this tune completely submerses itself in the martial arts vibe and could soundtrack a modern day kung-fu movie.
'Wu Tang Sword' is available to purchase digitally from Drum&BassArena and Beatport. Randall remixed it for the Eastside Jamz Volume 1 LP and you can check that version out below: