Thursday, 31 January 2013

Digital & Spirit - Phantom Force

Digital & Spirit - Phantom Force (Phantom Audio, 1999)

As I mentioned in my post about Total Science's 'Jet Set', the turn of the millennium saw a major revival of the early nineties hardcore sound. While Total Science tended to lean towards the euphoric side of things, Digital & Spirit were more influenced by the Darkcore style which they filtered through the minimal aesthetic of late nineties drum'n'bass, also adding a heavy dub influence. While 'Phantom Force' was only Digital & Spirit's second collaborative release and the first on their own Phantom Audio label, they had both been on the scene for a number of years with Digital's earliest 12"s dating back to 1994.

The dark vibe is established from the start with horror movie-style suspenseful strings which sound like they were sampled from this mix of The Shamen's 'LSI'. The strings fluctuate in pitch as strange noises and voices lurk in the background before the break from Dyke & The Blazers 'Let A Woman Be A Woman, Let A Man Be A Man' (check at around 1:45) comes in. The incredible bassline has a percussive quality to it and has been described as a knock knock bass due to its harsh staccato stabs. Spirit himself has revealed that this sound originated with a bass guitar that was then treated to some experimentation with pitch shifting and EQing. After the breakdown the track is given extra propulsion by the addition of a second generation break, constructed out of the 'Think' break by Mark The 45 King on 'Movin' from his Master Of The Game LP and later used on Latee's 'This Cut's Got Flavor'.

While the track has a clear debt to the darkcore style it's an innovative piece which has been much imitated by others. It was a favourite of Andy C and I saw him drop it as his first tune at the One Nation Bank Holiday Special in August 1999, where it quickly got the rewind. Have a listen to that set here, with IC3, Moose and 5ive-0 on the mic.

You can purchase an mp3 of 'Phantom Force' over at Drum&BassArena, where it features on the excellent Digital retrospective Spacefunk - The Archives 1995-2008.

Discogs link

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

175 Crew - Turn On The Heat Again

175 Crew - Turn On The Heat Again (175 Records, 1997)

Noel Simmonds and Alistair Ash were the duo behind 175 Crew and they put out several releases from 1997 to 1999 including four on their own 175 Records, a "promo only" label due to the extensive use of hip-hop samples. Ash also went by the names DJ Skinny and Nu Balance and had a number of releases on Trouble On Vinyl as well as being a member of the Underfire Recordings outfit Kraken alongside Stakka and Skynet.

'Turn On The Heat Again' featured on 175 Records Volume 1 and strangely the first place I remember hearing it was on a Fatboy Slim mixtape given away with the NME. It samples vocals from Busta Rhymes' 'It's A Party (feat. Zhane)', a record that must have been one of the few acapellas in their collection as they also used it on the flipside and on 175 Records Volume 2. Three Busta Rhymes lines, "Turn on the heat again", "Until we finish partyin" and "Don't you say a word", are used throughout the intro over horn and guitar samples along with a punchy two-step beat until a big drum roll brings in a ground shaking 'wobble' bassline which you can't help but move to. They then add Zhane's hook from 'It's A Party': "When I step up in the party won't you move it to the left / Party people move it side to side I'm feelin kind of blessed", making it a particularly catchy track. It was a favourite of Darren Jay and you can hear him open his set with it at this Helter Skelter night from 1997 with Stevie Hyper D (RIP) tearing it up on the mic.

Discogs link

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Cybotron feat. Dillinja - Threshold

Cybotron featuring Dillinja - Threshold (Prototype, 1996)

Last Tuesday when I looked at Marcus Intalex & ST Files' 'Dreamworld' I promised to cover another track that samples Egotrip's 'Dreamworld' and I can't think of a more appropriate use of this vocal than on Dillinja's 'Threshold', one of his greatest tracks and an anthem at Goldie's Blue Note nights back in the mid-nineties.

The track opens with futuristic Blade Runner-esque synthetic strings over a light beat with the "This is a threshold" vocal from the Egotrip track. You can hear why the sample is so suitable when the immense bassline comes in as it's more distorted than on any other drum'n'bass record I've ever heard and used to have people wondering if their speakers had blown. The track has great drums as well, formed out of the 'Apache' and 'Life Could' breaks with plenty of beat-switching between the two. This is one you have to listen to loud on a proper system.

Dillinja certainly seems to be a fan of the Egotrip track as he uses a different part of the vocal on 'Still Waters' under his Basic Influence guise and also samples some of the synth on 'Brutal Bass'. He has also used parts of Vangelis' 'Blade Runner' soundtrack on more than one occasion and I'll be breaking down a couple of these tracks in future posts.

You can purchase an MP3, FLAC or WAV of 'Threshold' directly from Dillinja's Valve Recordings label here, where it appears on the excellent career retrospective 'My Sound (1993-2004)'.

Discogs link

Monday, 28 January 2013

E-Z Rollers - Tough At The Top (Origin Unknown Remix)

E-Z Rollers - Tough At The Top (Origin Unknown Remix) (Moving Shadow, 1998)

It would be remiss of me to let a whole month go by without featuring anything from Moving Shadow, one of the greatest labels in the history of the genre. Established way back in 1990 by Rob Playford, they released several tracks that played a pivotal role in the transition from hardcore to drum'n'bass from acts such as Omni Trio and Foul Play. Known for diversity, the label released everything from jump-up to techstep and was in business for eighteen years before sadly folding in 2008.

E-Z Rollers were a production duo formed in 1994 consisting of Alex Banks, who was one half of Hyper On Experience, and Jay Hurren AKA JMJ. Best known for 'Walk This Land', their contribution to the soundtrack of 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels', they made jazz influenced drum'n'bass and often used live instrumentation. By the time of their 1998 album 'Weekend World' they had added singer Kelly Richards, whose vocals feature on the original version of 'Tough At The Top'.

Origin Unknown's remix begins fairly subtly, making heavy use of the original's live flute and segments of the "You know ladies and gentlemen, it's time for us to present something to you that we feel strongly about" vocal sample taken from the introduction to The Cannonball Adderley Quintet's 'Why Am I Treated So Bad'. For the first half of the track the original's live bass is rearranged and filtered over a two-step beat occasionally using the 'Hot Pants' break but this remix is really all about the second drop. After the vocal is cut-up to say "It's time... for us to present to you something strong" a huge bassline is introduced which twists and morphs around the flutes and really lifts the track to another level. Origin Unknown were always expert remixers but this is one of their finest.

Discogs link

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Cool Hand Flex - Must Feel

Cool Hand Flex - Must Feel (De Underground Records, 1994)

De Underground Records was a label and shop in Forest Gate, East London which was run by Mike De Underground, Randall and Cool Hand Flex. They were responsible for a series of classic hardcore and jungle records in the early to mid-nineties across several imprints. In fact its sublabel i.e. records released Lennie De Ice's seminal 'We Are i.e.' which is widely considered to be the first ever jungle record.

Cool Hand Flex's 'Must Feel' begins with a nice reggae loop from Dreadful Julio's 'Differentah', a dub version of Errol Dunkley's 'A Little Way Different'. The tune has a robotic-sounding bassline combined with 808 kick stabs while the main break is the trusty Amen, nicely cut-up and timestretched. There are several vocal samples throughout the track, beginning with the one that gives it its name, "Bwoy me ah tell you man who can't hear will feel", taken from Joe Gibbs & The Professionals' 'Fulfillment/Prophesy Reveal', the dub version of Culture's 'Two Sevens Clash'. Then there is a female "Aaaaaaaaah" taken from the beginning of Alyson Williams' funky 'Sleep Talk' and later another reggae vocal, "Move unno body, body. Move unno body, body", from Bujo Banton's 'Move Yuh Body'.

A quintessential yet under-appreciated jungle tune rinsed by the likes of Randall, as you can hear in this set from AWOL at The Paradise Club in 1994 with MC GQ on the mic. Ruffneck Bizness!

Discogs link

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Goldie - A Sense Of Rage (Sensual V.I.P.)

Goldie - A Sense Of Rage (Sensual V.I.P.) (FFRR/Metalheadz, 1995)

As the most well known face in the drum'n'bass scene Goldie needs little introduction. His 'Timeless' album from 1995 broke into the UK top ten and remains one of the greatest single artist albums the genre has produced. 'A Sense Of Rage (Sensual V.I.P.)' appears only on the two-disc edition of 'Timeless' but improves on the original version from the standard album, removing the piano and later adding a vicious bassline.

The gorgeous first half of the track samples the bassline and pads from Maze featuring Frankie Beverly's 'Twilight' and adds an ethereal wordless vocal, bizarrely reminding me of the intro to Dire Strait's 'Money For Nothing'. A skittering breakbeat is introduced along with a bleepy synth stab taken from the start of Loose End's 'Hangin' On A String'. Just before the three minute mark the track is transformed by a brutal bassline, accompanied by a "attack you like hardcore" vocal that I think is sampled from the Wu-Tang Clan's '7th Chamber Part II', cutting together a part of Raekwon's verse: "Then attack you like a pit that lock shit down / As I come and freaks the sound, hardcore". Beauty becomes the Beast.

FFRR will be releasing a career-spanning compilation 'The Alchemist: The Best Of Goldie 1992-2012' on March 11th, a three disc set including a disc of remixes. You can also currently download a free track from his third album, 'Sine Tempus', entitled 'Say You Love Me' courtesy of Rolling Stone.

Discogs link

Friday, 25 January 2013

Mampi Swift - Hi Tek

Mampi Swift - Hi Tek (Charge, 1997)

Mampi Swift (then known as just Swift) started out as a DJ and held a residency on Kool FM from 1992 for eight years. He also worked at Lucky Spin Records, whose next-door studio allowed him to develop his production skills and he went on to put out releases on several labels from 1994 to 1996 including Suburban Base and Frontline. He really established himself as a producer though in 1997 when he started his own label, Charge Recordings.

'Hi Tek' was a record I played a lot back in the day and is an excellent example of how his style had developed from more traditional jump-up drum'n'bass to his own very unique sound. What particularly set him apart was his harsh sounding drums which often featured out-of-place sounding hits and sometimes made his tunes tricky to mix. 'Hi Tek' has a sci-fi vibe to it with a droning intro before dropping a distorted bassline with a metallic feel to it and heavy snares. When I was organizing my record collection last year I was annoyed to discover I had lost my copy of this record, so it is now on my (very long) wishlist as it's an essential tune.

At the moment you can head over to Mampi Swift's Facebook page for a free download of a new track entitled 'Lets Go', a Hoover bassline-heavy number with a 4/4 beat. Although very different in sound to his late nineties material it demonstrates he still isn't afraid to take his own path.

Discogs link

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Terrorist - The Chopper (Ray Keith Dirty Chopper Remix)

The Terrorist - The Chopper (Ray Keith Dirty Chopper Remix) (Dread Recordings, 1996)

The Terrorist was one of Ray Keith's many aliases, presumably originating from his classic 'Terrorist' track which he produced with Nookie as Renegade. Although the Shy FX remix on the other side was the one that got a lot more play at the time I've always preferred Ray Keith's own re-rub which takes the original track and, as the title suggests, makes it a hell of a lot dirtier.

The intro samples the Apollo 11 launch with the voice of Jack King, the Chief of Public Information for NASA at the time, counting down to lift-off:

"20 seconds and counting
T minus 15 seconds
Guidance is internal
12, 11, 10, 9
Ignition sequence start [at this point the helicopter sound starts up as well]
6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0
All engines running
Lift-off! We have a lift-off"

Other bits of audio from the launch are used throughout the track with radio bleeps and dialogue such as "This is Houston, Roger that". The other vocal, the female "Yeah... Yeeahhhh" is sampled from the very end of Dr Dre's 'Wit Dre Day'. Ray Keith takes the first note from the original mix's bassline and cuts between it and a nasty reese, not dropping the full descending riff until past the three minute mark. The track uses the 'Soul Pride', 'Do The Do' and 'Amen' breaks, with a lot of chopping between them which I assume gives the track its name along with the helicopter sound. Without a doubt my favourite version of this tune and another one to add to my list of perfect set openers.

To purchase a digital copy of this track from the Vintage Dread Part 2 compilation head over to Juno Records.

Discogs link

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

B-Jam - Col' Rock Stuff

B-Jam - Col' Rock Stuff (Smokers Inc, 1997)

B-Jam was one of several aliases used by brothers Joe and Tobi Brodie, who ran Smokers Inc and its numerous sub-labels which included Rude & Deadly and Evil. They started off on a Newcastle pirate radio station in the early nineties and by the middle of the decade were releasing jump-up drum'n'bass records heavy with hip-hop samples which although excellent were often overlooked.

'Col' Rock Stuff' is a case in point and one of my favourites from their discography. It begins with the much-sampled piano from The Goodie Mob's 'Cell Therapy' and a "Drop A Gem On 'Em" vocal taken from the Mobb Deep track of the same name. Half-speed drums come in with the "Ooh... Ahh" female vocal from the beginning of 'Turn Off The Lights' by Larry Young's Fuel. The intro uses a technique I am particularly fond of where the drums switch to full tempo before dropping to half-speed and quickly back again, giving it a stop-start feel.

After sampling a "Col'... Rock... Stuff" vocal from 'Cold Chillin' In The Spot' by Jazzy Jay & Russell Rush (AKA Russell Simmonds), an energetic reese bassline is dropped. The drums are formed from multiple breakbeats, primarily the 'Plastic Jam' and 'Think' breaks, although a lighter 'Worm'-like break is used in the second half of the track. The Mobb Deep track is utilized again, this time using the "You got a gat you better find it and use that shit" line. In a nice little touch during the last couple of minutes the bassline changes to mimic the piano from the intro and the track finishes with half-speed drums and a looped hip-hop chant. Superb jump-up that deserves to be better known.

Discogs link

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Marcus Intalex & ST Files - Dreamworld

Marcus Intalex & ST Files - Dreamworld (31 Records, 2001)

Back in 1990 an aspiring DJ and producer by the name of Roger Sanchez put out his first record under the alias Egotrip. 'Dreamworld' is a seminal record, a world away from his later productions and probably best described as ambient house. Midway through it features a spoken word segment that has been sampled by several drum'n'bass artists including Marcus Intalex & ST Files, Stakka & K.Tee and Dillinja:

"As I looked across the still waters, a voice spoke to me from the darkness.
It said "This is a threshold to your subconscious, the unfathomed depths of your mind.
Herein, you will find enlightenment and inner peace.
Here, your horizons have no limitations - for this is your dreamworld."

Marcus Intalex & ST Files' 'Dreamworld' makes the most substantial use of the sample, using the entire segment during the intro and breakdown. Although generally better known for their more 'liquid' productions such as 'Love & Happiness' on the other side, here they take a darker approach with bleeps and a rave-style synth riff over a warm rolling bassline and a two-step beat with bongos. The production is top notch as you'd expect from M.I.S.T. and this track makes a great set opener with the beatless spoken word intro and gradually building synths. I'll be featuring another record that uses the 'Dreamworld' sample in a future post so stay tuned.

Discogs link

Monday, 21 January 2013

Ed Rush & Optical - The Medicine

Ed Rush & Optical - The Medicine (Virus Recordings, 1998)

Back in 1998/99 Ed Rush & Optical, along with occasional co-conspirators Fierce and Ryme Tyme, had a prolific run of excellent releases on labels such as V Recordings, Prototype, Renegade Hardware and Metro, as well as their own newly minted Virus Recordings. They were the poster boys for neurofunk, a style that developed out of techstep and favoured two-step rigidity, complex distorted basslines and sci-fi atmospherics. You can read about the development of neurofunk in this article from 1997 by Simon Reynolds in which he actually comes up with the sub genre's name.

'The Medicine', the debut release for Virus Recordings, is an excellent example of the sound. It opens with sustained ghostly atmospherics that bring to mind a seemingly deserted alien spacecraft before a precise two-step beat enters accompanied by eerie sound effects as something starts coming back to life. A typical feature of neurofunk was the lack of a "drop" and this track develops slowly with a distorted, morphing bass riff gradually appearing. As great as the first half of the track is, it really takes off at the breakdown when a sick, squelchy bassline comes in, the extraterrestrial life form now well and truly awakened from its slumber.

This 12" was released in February 1998, almost at the same time as the equally strong 'Funktion' on V Recordings. These two releases signalled the beginning of Ed Rush & Optical's dominance over a scene that was changing dramatically. While their techno-influenced sound turned many people away from drum and bass, they quickly became my favourite producers.

Discogs link

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Rude Bwoy Monty - Out In Da Streets

Rude Bwoy Monty - Out In Da Streets (Frontline, 1994)

After Pascal and Sponge folded Face Records in 1994, Pascal went it alone with a new label called Frontline and 'Out In Da Streets' was the first release. It features a multitude of samples from several reggae records and is a jungle classic which will set you back a fair amount for an original copy.

Over half-speed drums Rude Bwoy Monty samples the catchy "Out in the streets they call it..." vocal from Ini Kamoze's 'World-A-Music'. A rattling break taken from Eddie Bo and Inez Cheatham's 'Lover and a Friend' is then brought in with "Bad boy for the nineties" vocals from Mad Cobra's 'Mercyless Bad Boy'. The Eddie Bo drums are substituted for an 'Amen' break which is nicely beat switched with the half-speed drums from the beginning of the track with an "Ohhhh God" vocal sampled from Barrington Levy & Beenie Man's 'Two Sounds'.

The main body of the track has a heavy 808 kick drum bassline and adds "Sometimes I wanna give up, I wanna give in, I wanna quit the fight" female vocals taken from Singing Sweet's 'When I See You Smile' to accompany those previously mentioned. My favourite part of the track is when the 'Lover and a Friend' break is used in conjunction with the 'Amen', a little used combination that works really well.

The "Out in the streets..." vocal may be familiar as it was recently used in Africa HiTech's similarly titled footwork-style track. A common misconception about this lyric is that it goes on to say "murder" when in fact the word is "merther", a Jamaican term for smoking weed while listening to reggae music.

Thanks to Tim Reaper for identifying the 'Lover and a Friend' break for me, you can check his latest productions and mixes here, including this excellent mix which opens with 'Out In Da Streets'.

Discogs link

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Substance - Prisoner

Substance - Prisoner (Ruffneck Ting Records, 1996)

Back in 1993 the Ledge Crew began a jungle club in Bristol called Ruffneck Ting with DJ Dazee as resident. By 1995 it had developed into a record label and Substance were a recording collective featuring Dazee and Mark Morrison. The moniker would later be used for Morrison's solo output and he would go on to be a member of the crossover Drum'n'Bass/Trip-Hop group Kosheen, famous for their hit single 'Hide U'.

'Prisoner' features the familiar strings from The Turtles' 'You Showed Me', a sample also used by De La Soul and DJ Food. The track takes its title from the the sixties TV series 'The Prisoner' and includes several vocal samples from the show including "I am not a number, I am a free man" and "We want... information". The track has a fluid bassline with 'Sesame Street' drums incorporating the high pitched female moans from The Fatback Band's 'Put Your Love (In My Tender Care)'. A cool jump-up track with a sixties spy theme which should have been more widely recognised. In this set by DJ Rap featuring MC Det on the mic broadcast on BBC Radio One's 1 In The Jungle show, 'Prisoner' begins at 23:59 (or click here to jump straight to it).

Discogs link

Friday, 18 January 2013

Remarc - Sound Murderer

Remarc - Sound Murderer (White House, 1994)

Many classic jungle tracks sample vocals from sound clashes, events where rival reggae sound systems compete against each other with the aim of metaphorically 'murdering' the opposition. This tune is a prime example with it's "Haul and Pull Up" and "We murder dem already and we murder dem again" vocals taken from the Saxon Sound Vs Addies clash in Bermuda in 1994. The sampled section appears at around the nine minute mark, although I'd recommend listening to the whole thing.

Remarc is king of the 'Amen' and this track epitomises his sound, starting with a tearing cut-up of the break before dropping in Shinehead's whistling of "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" theme from his brilliant cover of 'Billie Jean' along with the aforementioned vocals. One thing I love about early jungle tracks is the diverse range of music they sample and mid-way through 'Sound Murderer' Remarc uses some soulful strings and bass taken from Starvue's rare groove classic 'Body Fusion' which provides a nice contrast to the sound clash vocals and vicious breakbeats.

In researching this post I discovered the 'Loafin' In Brockley' mix of this tune, which adds some of the vocals from the 'Body Fusion' track in the intro over 'Think' drums before the 'Amen' break is treated to some of the most crazy pitch shifting I've heard. It also uses a different whistling sample, this time taken from another Michael Jackson cover by Shinehead, 'Lady In My Life'. Possibly even better than the original and available on Planet Mu's Remarc retrospective 'Sound Murderer', which you can buy direct from the label here.

Discogs link

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Gang Related & Mask - Dictation

Gang Related & Mask - Dictation (Dope Dragon, 1996)

The intro of 'Dictation' samples the opening fanfare of Richard Strauss' 'Also Sprach Zarathustra', better known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, making it a perfect set opener. In fact Strauss' own program notes refer to this part as 'Sunrise'. A male voice sampled from this remix of Tony Scott's hip-house track 'The Chief' intones "It's a dictation, and it's a definition, on how we living" and the 'Hot Pants' break is then brought in over the orchestral sample.

After a big drum roll with the "on how we living" section of the vocal sample repeated over the top, the tune drops with a robotic square wave-type bassline which is quickly complemented by a deeper one. The amen break is later added along with a third bassline that I can only describe as a deep 'boing' sound. It's a fun jump-up style tune that mixes easily with other tunes because of its thinner bassline.

When the Dope Dragon catalogue was repressed this 12" was absent, presumably due to the samples on this track. In the remix that came out on the 1998 Combustion EP and the subsequent Wayz Of The Dragon LP, the 2001 sample was replayed on synths and the vocal was redone, which didn't work quite as well. I'm glad I managed to pick up this original version when it was first released as it's still a regular in my sets.

Discogs link

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Total Science - Jet Set

Total Science - Jet Set (Advance//d Recordings, 2001)

Jason Greenhalgh and Paul Smith AKA Q Project and Spinback have worked under many names both solo and as a duo, but Total Science is their most well known and productive alias. They first started producing records back in 1991 when they launched the Legend imprint and have always shown the ability to make a wide range of music, from LTJ Bukem-style ambience to darker Photek-style paranoia, even experimenting with electro and house. However around the turn of the millennium drum'n'bass was dominated by the old school hardcore sound and Total Science were among the leading proponents of the movement.

'Jet Set' demonstrates the quality of their productions from this era with particularly crisp and tight drums incorporating the The Fatback Band's 'Put Your Love (In My Tender Care)' break with its high pitched female sighs. Over this they bring in a gentle woozy synth part with some strings until a voice from the much sampled 'The Warning (Inner Mix)' by Logic intones "This is... This Is...", introducing a bright four note synth melody and "You belong to me" vocal sampled from the also well used disco classic 'Let No Man Put Asunder' by First Choice. My favourite section comes in around two thirds of the way through when a warm chord progression topped with strings brings a moment of euphoria. Absolute class.

Discogs link

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Rayner - Silver

Rayner - Silver (Formation Colours Series, 1997)

Formation's Colours Series spanned twelve releases and culminated in the 'Unified Colours of Drum & Bass' LP. Always aimed at the dancefloor, the records often featured cheeky vocal samples from hip-hop and r'n'b tracks. Back in '97 I remember 'Silver' being cained on London's Rude FM and always getting rewound. My anticipation was so great that when it was finally released my hands were shaking so much in the shop I could barely put the needle on the record.

The intro samples Armand Van Helden's remix of Tori Amo's 'Professional Widow' (from the section between 3:46 - 4:35) over gradually building two-step drums. Over 808 kick drum bass, a sample of Tame One from The Artifacts declaring "From the wrong side... from the wrong side... the wrong side of the tracks" is utilized to great effect before the drop. The bassline is fat and bouncy and a definite floor shaker with plenty of vocal samples taken from The Artifacts track over the top including Tame One's "My name is famous in the street / Cause they know my name's from cruising in the Jeeps" and El The Sensai's "Tracks to make your hands clap". Although not the most polished of tracks, this remains a firm favourite of mine.

Discogs link

Monday, 14 January 2013

Bad Company - Snow Cat

Bad Company - Snow Cat (BC Recordings, 2002)

With snow covering the UK this evening I've been trying to think of an appropriate track to write about and this is about the best that I can think of. It came out on Bad Company's final album, 'Shot Down On Safari', which was actually one of the last drum'n'bass releases I ever bought on vinyl, excluding reissues of classic jungle tunes and second hand stuff. The scene was moving away from the styles I preferred and there were fewer and fewer records I was interested in.

Although they'd had the "Clown Step" label thrown at them by this point I still loved Bad Company's productions and 'Snow Cat' is pretty typical of their later output, catchy and well produced but still fairly hard. It centers around a punchy ascending, descending melodic bassline accompanied by distorted 808 kick drum stabs and heavily filtered reese basslines. The drums are constructed from the 'It's A New Day' break with a less prominent 'Tighten Up' break underneath. Although not my favourite on the album it is a quality track which doesn't deserve to be overshadowed by the likes of 'Hornet' and 'Torpedo'.

Discogs link

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Usual Suspects - Spawn

Usual Suspects - Spawn (Renegade Hardware, 1999)

Renegade Hardware was set up in 1995 by Trouble On Vinyl's Clayton Hines and Mark Hill as an avenue to release the hard and dark style of drum'n'bass that was on the rise at the time. By 1999 they had released two albums as well as several 12"s and were one of the genre's most well respected labels. Usual Suspects were a three man production team made up of Carl Hovland, Chris Lavin and Lawrence Hughes (AKA Keaton) whose tracks exemplified the sound of the label and 'Spawn' was just their second release.

A dark and moody intro with horror movie atmospherics and 'Action' drums is pierced by the shrill LFO sound from Daft Punk's 'Rock'n Roll'. This is looped throughout the track with a lurching two note bassline which gives the track a slightly askew feel and makes it really stand out. Also worth checking is Future Cut's ingenious 'Spawn Punch' remix, a mash-up of this tune with its b-side 'Hole Punch' which appeared on Armageddon 2 (The Remixes) the following year.

You can purchase 'Spawn' direct from the label in your choice of format here.

Discogs link

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Swoosh - Ya Rockin'

Swoosh - Ya Rockin' (Back 2 Basics, 1997)

On a trip to London yesterday I picked up a second hand copy of Swoosh's 'Believe The Hype' on CD, which inspired me to make today's post about their most well known track, 'Ya Rockin', which features on the album in VIP form. Swoosh were a duo consisting of Dean Vincent, co-head of Joker Records, and Jason Ball, who ran Back 2 Basics. The use of well known samples was a trait of both producers and here they borrow from The O'Jays's 'For The Love Of Money'. The intro uses the highly recognisable guitar hook over the 'Action' break before the drop brings in a simple descending bassline and 'Do the Do' drums. The bassline is switched up in the second half including a nice little pitch change and a brief use of Amen to keep up the momentum. A jump-up anthem played out by DJs such as Micky Finn and Darren J, this is one you're sure to recognise if you went to any drum'n'bass nights around this time.

Discogs link

Friday, 11 January 2013

Ram Trilogy - No Reality

Ram Trilogy - No Reality (RAM Records, 1998)

This track appeared on the first part of Ram Trilogy's 'Chapters' series and represented a big leap forward in the Ram Records sound. It has a short mostly beatless intro featuring rolls of thunder, sci-fi sounding synths and an incredible morphing bassline. A male voice declares "there is still no such reality as something..." before been cut off by a repeated clacking sound. This was sampled from The Orb's 'Majestic', who in turn had sampled it from multi-media collage group The Tape-beatles 'Music With Sound', who I would imagine had taken it from a self-improvement tape. I think the samples goes on to say "from nothing" (it appears at 15:34 in the clip in the Tape-beatles clip, but is also used in full slightly earlier at 15:14 underneath other voices).

As the sample fades out a brief yet brilliantly produced drum build-up gives the track a sense of lift before the drop. The main break is based around 'Life Could' drums and gives the track an off-kilter feel and there is a great section about two thirds of the way through where the bassline is manipulated to give it a stuttered effect which always blows my mind. The 'Chapters' series included several other classic tracks and I will be featuring these in future posts.

You can purchase this track direct from the label here.

Discogs link

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Dylan & Facs - Hairpie

Dylan & Facs - Hairpie (Biotic, 1999)

The flipside of the first release on their own Biotic label, Dylan & Facs' Hairpie begins with light percussion, computer bleeps and weird noises that sound like they were sampled from the final scenes of '2001: A Space Odyssey', when the astronaut Dave Bowman appears to rapidly grow older while he walks through the rooms of a strange house. The harsh drum break that soon arrives is sampled from The Fireballs' 'Get Out My Life, Woman', with a bassline occasionally added to heighten anticipation. When the full bassline is unleashed it is particularly nasty, consisting primarily of a frantic one note riff and punctuated at the beginning of each eight bar phrase by a filtered guitar lick. The bass sounds metallic but highly corroded and when combined with the industrial sounding drums conjures images of rusting machinery going out of control. This is just one of many great tracks that Dylan & Facs put out around this time but they never seemed to get the recognition they deserved. Seek them out, you won't be disappointed.

You can purchase a high quality, remastered mp3 of 'Hairpie' directly from the label here, with further tracks from their back catalogue also available and more promised soon. You can also have a listen to this track as well as other Biotic releases on Soundcloud.

Discogs link

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Gang Related & Mask - Bass Is Rollin'

Gang Related & Mask - Bass Is Rollin' (Dope Dragon, 1995)

Gang Related & Mask are better known as DJ Krust and Roni Size and rumour has it they set up the Dope Dragon label to release less sophisticated tunes created after nights out without people knowing it was them. Bass Is Rollin' is certainly a rough and ready track with a bassline and tearing amen break aimed squarely at the dancefloor. The intro samples Norman Connors' 'You Are My Starship' although it is likely that they actually sourced it from Mobb Deep's 'Trife Life' as they later use the "Check It Out Now" line from that track. They also use "Yeah, The Bassline's Rollin'" and "Adios Senor" vocal samples which I can't identify, although the latter one is possibly from a Speedy Gonzales cartoon.

Unfortunately the video above doesn't include the intro but you can hear the Norman Connors/Mobb Deep sample at 3:09.

Discogs link

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Ed Rush - Subway

Ed Rush - Subway (Prototype, 1996)

1996 was the year drum'n'bass truly began its turn to the darkside, with Ed Rush one of the principal proponents of the new technoid sound. 'Subway', engineered by Dom, is a prime example of this style: cold and precise with no light at the end of the tunnel. It begins with eerie synths accompanied by a few percussion hits and some strange noises in the background before the two step break from Alex Reece's remix of 'The Flow' by Model 500 enters. A slowed down vocal sample, from a source I can't identify, declares "Check This Shit Out Man" at which point the deep and deadly sub bassline is deployed. The track has a sustained sense of menace and feels so oppressive you struggle to breathe, almost as if it sucks the air from the room. Probably best to avoid this one when you're on your own late at night on the tube...

'Subway' appeared on Grooverider's The Prototype Years compilation, in full on the vinyl but just in the mix on the CD. Check out the unreleased remix below, it's not a patch on the original but is an interesting listen nevertheless:

Discogs link

Monday, 7 January 2013

Fugees - Ready Or Not (DJ Zinc 1996 Remix)

Fugees - Ready Or Not (DJ Zinc Remix) (White Label, 1996)

This bootleg remix of the Fugees hit single received a huge amount of airplay on Kiss FM back in 1996 and there was even word of an official release but sadly EMI and/or Enya's lawyers shut this down, a shame because this could have been a hit in its own right.

Zinc gradually builds up the track, starting with the drums and then using a small part of the etheral vocal that the Fugee's sampled from Enya's Boadicea along with Redman's "When I raise my trigger finger" line from How High. After the whole Boadicea sample is rolled out Zinc cuts the drums to introduce Lauryn Hill's "Ready or Not" vocals and then brings in the full amen break, later adding a bit of bass to the mix. In a nice little touch Zinc seperates Redman's vocal syllable by syllable just before the drop: "'s...hit...the...deck...deck".

At the time many people thought this track was by DJ Hype. You can hear why when the bassline comes in as it has his signature all over it and Zinc has since stated that although this is his remix, he did get some help from Hype with this part. I get the feeling that this would have been huge even without the Fugees elements because it's the bassline and that really makes it an absolute killer.

I have two different copies of this on 12" but annoyingly neither of them is pressed all that well. Fortunately Zinc has been kind enough to give away a decent quality mp3 on his Soundcloud, it's a vinyl rip but far superior to most copies you'll find.

Discogs link

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Invaderz - Wintersun

The Invaderz - Wintersun (Metalheadz, 2001)

Just time for a quick post on this grey Sunday with a track that couldn't be better suited to this time of year. Lush pads and female vocal samples combine with a sturdy beat and bassline, generating feelings of warmth tinged with a sense of melancholy, making the title particularly apt. Purchase the mp3 directly from Metalheadz here.

Discogs link

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Lemon D - Organik Funk (Dillinja Remix)

Lemon D - Organik Funk (Dillinja Remix) (Valve, 2000)

This may not be one of Dillinja's best known works (it's the C side on a double 12"), and it's a fairly basic tune, but I've always had a thing for it. I first heard it been spun by Grooverider at one of his Prototype nights at The End sometime in 1999 and I loved it straight away. The intro is beatless and features a funky guitar loop, some synths and a "Yeah, huh" vocal that Dillinja lets ride for a while until it all drops out briefly for a cool spoken word sample saying "Cos I love a good drum sound, a good drum sound if you get that then everything else is easy". This is the cue for a typically loud two step beat to come in with a subtle bassline underneath the guitar loop, occasionally bringing in the synth part and developing the bassline slightly later on. That's all there is to it, but it never fails to put a smile on my face. As far as I'm aware the Lemon D original has never been released but if anyone knows different please let me know, I'd love to hear it.

Discogs link

Friday, 4 January 2013

Roni Size - All The Crew 'Big Up' (95 Lick)

Roni Size - All The Crew 'Big Up' (95 Lick) (V Recordings, 1995)

The original of this tune is titled 'The Refresher' and had been released two years earlier on V Recording's precursor, Vinyl Experience. You can hear it here, as the first track on D'Zine's excellent V Recordings Early Years mix. The intro always triggers a wave of nostalgia in me, with a slowed down piano sample from Rahiem's 'Does Your Man Know About Me' off the Juice soundtrack and "All The Crew Must Big Up" vocal. This is a huge improvement on 'The Refresher' which speeds the piano sample up and just doesn't sound quite right. The main body of the track features a nicely chopped up amen break with a sparse bassline, occasionally dropping in the piano and vocal samples. Simple, but very effective.

Buy the mp3 direct from V Recordings here, on the excellent compilation V Retrospect Volume 2.

Discogs link

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Sound Of The Future - The Lighter (Mix 2)

Sound Of The Future - The Lighter (Mix 2) (Formation, 1995)

I first heard 'The Lighter' on Jungle Mania 3 and it was so addictive a mate and I had it on repeat for weeks afterwards. Formation Records are based in Leicester and I went to university there partly on the basis of the city's strong drum'n'bass scene. I was a regular in 5HQ, DJ SS's now sadly closed record shop, which is where in 2000 I purchased a second hand copy for the rather pricey sum of £25 (this was before services such as discogs and ebay were commonplace), but it was worth every penny to finally have this track on vinyl. It remains the most amount of money I've ever spent on a 12".

This is a rare example of the b-side totally overshadowing the a-side, which I'd never heard until owning the record. It starts with the familiar piano melody from 'Theme from Love Story' by Francis Lai, a bit cheesy maybe but somehow it works. After 32 bars 'Do the Do' drums enter along with a booming bassline, which always makes it tricky to mix in. At around the minute and a half mark everything drops out and a vocal from Hip-Hop group Fu-Schnickens' 'Cray-Z' is sampled, saying something along the lines of "All crew, this tune a wicked for real, now restart... Lighter!" before the 'Do the Do' break comes back in with a massive and slightly distorted bassline, typical of SS's productions at the time. Always worth a rewind!

Discogs link

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Ryme Tyme & Trace - Move VIP

Ryme Tyme & Trace - Move VIP (1210, 2000)

The original of this track, released on Traces's DSCI4 imprint, is a solid techstep roller but this VIP version totally overhauls it and is just pure filth. The intro teases you with distorted synths and a hazy 'Move' vocal before the drums come in and the tune builds until unleashing a nasty two note riff on the 3rd and 4th beats coupled with a pulsating bassline that never fails to move feet despite the dark vibe. I don't think this tune quite got the recognition it deserved at the time but it remains one of my personal favourites and is still coveted by many enthusiasts of the style.

Discogs link

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Marvellous Cain & Bizzy B - Everyday Junglist

Marvellous Cain & Bizzy B feat. Tempo O'Neil - Everyday (Macca, 1996)

I couldn't think of a more appropriate track than 'Everyday Junglist' to start off this blog. Marvellous Cain & Bizzy B's anthem starts off with a bass and horn sample from Stetsasonic's 'Talkin' All That Jazz' before cutting into Tempo O'Neil's vocal hook: "I'm an everyday junglist, I fight for survival...". The track has a sparse 'Life Could' breakbeat and a rough bassline, occasionally dropping in the "Street Knowledge" vocal from NWA's 'Straight Outta Compton' and later adding the amen break to liven things up. I had this on vinyl when it was originally released but shamefully have to admit I traded it for something I now don't even remember. Check out the VIP version which appeared on DJ Hype's The Designer Collection mix for United Dance above or purchase the mp3 directly from Bizzy B's site here.

Discogs link