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.

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