Thursday, 28 February 2013

Alibi & Leo - The Don

Alibi & Leo - The Don (Foundation Records, 1998)

I know almost nothing about who was behind this release but remember it getting quite a bit of play on London pirates such as Rude FM back in '97. According to Discogs, Alibi & Leo were Anton Bate and Leo Prince and Foundation Records put out seven releases between 1998 and 2000 and appears to have been based in Milton Keynes. I seem to recall 'The Don' being a favourite of Nicky Blackmarket and Leo also had a couple of releases on his Kartoons label. I rather coveted this tune back then and eventually found a copy on a record shopping trip to Camden sometime late in 1998.

'The Don' starts off with a looped saxophone sample before bringing in a simple two-step beat. The "Westside, Eastside... Hit me with your best one... Take it from The Don" vocals are from Ice Cube and appear on 'Men Of Steel', a Shaquille O'Neal track also featuring KRS-One, B-Real and Peter Gunz which appeared on the soundtrack to O'Neal's appalling 'Steel' movie. The track has a nice squelchy bassline and while not being the most refined of tracks it was certainly capable of moving the dancefloor back when it was released although I guess it hasn't aged all that well.

Discogs link

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Dom & Roland - The Storm

Dom & Roland - The Storm (Moving Shadow, 1996)

Dominic Angas started off his recording career on his friend Nico's Saigon label and quickly became a sought after engineer, producing records for the likes of Trace and Ed Rush and getting DJ support from Grooverider amongst others. The name 'Dom & Roland' derives from his decision to buy a Roland S760 sampler rather than the more commonplace Akai S1000. In 1996 he signed a deal with Moving Shadow and 'The Storm' was his third release for the label and the first record of his that I purchased.

It begins with a beatless minute and a half of cold atmospherics and portenous chords before a voice declares "I like these calm little moments before the storm", sampled from the Luc Besson movie 'Léon' and spoken by Gary Oldman's character Stansfield. In the film the line continues "It reminds me of Beethoven" but here is the cue for some crashing, beat-switching Amen. When combined with a devastating sub bassline and the 'Tighten Up' break that comes in later the track perfectly encapsulates the ferocity of a storm - proper cinematic business.

You can purchase 'The Storm' over at Beatport. Courtesy of the sadly closing One In The Jungle site you can also download (until May 20th 2013) Dom & Roland's One In The Jungle set with MC 5ive-0 from February 1997 which opens with the track.

Discogs link

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

DJ Krust - Set Speed

DJ Krust - Set Speed (V Recordings, 1995)

Kirk Thompson AKA DJ Krust was one of the founding members of the Full Cycle label with Roni Size and DJ Die but had already tasted success as part of Fresh 4, a Bristol based group who had a UK Top 10 single with their Smith & Mighty produced cover of 'Wishing On A Star' in 1989. The group also included Krust's brother Flynn (of the Flynn & Flora duo) and future Full Cycle/V Recordings artist DJ Suv.

'Set Speed' is a fine example of his mid-nineties productions, minimal but with the aim of moving feet. It opens with a short guitar loop from a live performance of 'Cavatina' by John Williams over drums using the Sandy and Think breaks. A drum roll and a vocal that sounds like an MC at a live event proclaiming "As we gwarn with tings set speed... listen carefully again!" brings in a catchy 808 bassline, which regularly shifts between a few different patterns throughout the track. A nice rolling tune which exhibits Krust's fine low end sensibility.

Krust also did a remix that was released later the same year which switches the John Williams's guitar for a jazzy keys sample from Bob James's 'Blue Lick' although Krust's source may have been 'Jettin' by Digable Planets which uses the exact same segment.

Discogs link

Monday, 25 February 2013

Ed Rush & Optical - Watermelon

Ed Rush & Optical - Watermelon (Virus Recordings, 1999)

Ed Rush & Optical won the Best Tech DJ at the Drum & Bass Awards 2013 on Saturday so I thought I'd take a look at 'Watermelon', one of the highlights from the early days of their Virus Recordings label which is celebrating its fifteenth birthday this year. I've read that this was named due to its use of samples from 'Watermelon Man' by Herbie Hancock but I can't tell what exactly is sampled or from which version although given Ed Rush & Optical's penchant for funk elements I would hazard a guess at the Head Hunters recording.

The chilled opening features shimmering synths and gentle keys before introducing the tracks crisp drums in a unique pattern with nice fills. After a brief section with some jazzy stabs the immense, hypnotising bassline is unleashed, bringing to mind a submarine deep in the ocean gradually closing in on its target. In typical Ed Rush & Optical fashion this is accompanied by a particularly queasy riff that comes and goes throughout the track. A subtle yet stunning track which is amongst their greatest productions.

You can hear 'Watermelon' in Ed Rush & Optical's Essential Mix for BBC Radio 1 from 1999 below or check out DJ Craze's incredible beat juggling routine using the track (at the wrong speed), which helped him win his third straight DMC World Championship.

Discogs link

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Adam F - Circles

Adam F - Circles (Section 5, 1995)

Going through my parents record collection one day in the late nineties I stumbled across a series of Blaxploitation compilations, one of which included the smooth jazz of Bob James' 'Westchester Lady', a track that I instantly recognised as the source of the main riff from 'Circles'. Discovering this began my obsession with sample spotting so it is about time I take a look at this classic track, one which really made Adam F's name on the scene.

Beginning with a double bass riff over synthetic strings, the five note keyboard motif from 'Westchester Lady' is quickly introduced before a "Check Check Check Check" vocal taken from Blackstreet's 'Physical Thing' brings in 'Do The Do' drums. This break, taken from Kurtis Blow's 'Do The Do', became synonymous with so-called "intelligent" drum'n'bass in the mid-nineties and is also known by the names of some of the tracks that used it - 'Kid Caprice' (Wax Doctor), 'Horizons' (LTJ Bukem) and of course 'Circles'. Still riding this break the track shifts to a melodic 808 bassline with uplifting synths and female vocal samples from Tameka Starr's 'Going In Circles' and is almost as smooth as the Bob James track it samples.

One of those tracks that was popular across the board, regularly dropped everywhere from Metalheadz's Blue Note Sessions and Bukem & Fabio's Speed nights to raves such as Helter Skelter and Dreamscape. Still played today, you can hear it in this Kenny Ken & Randall set with MC Fearless from a Moondance night last year.

Discogs link

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Ed Solo - Step Back

Ed Solo - Step Back (Double Zero, 2000)

Ed Solo started out in the mid-nineties with releases on Emotif and was part of the Click 'n Cycle duo with label boss Dave Stone. In 1998 he began working with Brockie, producing some big dancefloor tunes for the DJ's Undiluted Recordings label such as the massive 'Represents'. Here he returns to Emotif on their Double Zero sublabel, presumably named after the year it was begun. They put out ten 10" releases with artwork that formed a picture of an insect-like creature when put together.

I'm a sucker for the old skool revival sound and the appropriately named 'Step Back' always does it for me. It features hardcore-style synth stabs over simple two-step beats with a couple of well known vocal samples. The "Do It Now" line is from Catch 22's 'Boogie Down (Do It)', a hip-house tune that has been sampled many times over the years with notable examples being Kaotic Chemistry's 'Drum Trip II' and Bizarre Inc's 'Playing With Knives' ("Dance while the record spins"). The other "Let's Go" vocal instantly recalls The Prodigy's 'Everybody In The Place' and was originally from MC Duke & Merlin's 'Freestyle Part 2', which you can hear if you have Spotify here. Although 'Step Back' isn't the most original of records it is a nice little tune which should always get the crowd going.

Discogs link

Friday, 22 February 2013

H.M.P. - Runnin's

H.M.P. - Runnin's (Frontline Records, 1995)

H.M.P. were Thomas Hogan (AKA Hardware) and Pascal with the name standing for 'Hardware Meets Pascal'. However, it has a double meaning as it is also an acronym for 'Her Majesty's Pleasure', a term often used in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth for serving a life sentence in prison. This is hinted at on the remix on the flipside entitled the 'Lifa's Mix'. Hardware had a few releases for Face Records, Pascal's previous label with Sponge, in 1993-94 before being involved in early days of Frontline Records, but went rather quiet after the duo's lone outing as H.M.P. in 1995.

It begins with a heavily chopped 'Sesame Street' break, using just two hits, with a familiar vocal sample stating "We gonna do a song... that you never heard before". This was an introduction to 'Chained and Bound' on Otis Redding's live album Good to Me: Live at the Whisky a Go Go, Vol. 2 and became a hip-hop staple after being used on Double Dee & Steinski's seminal 'Lesson 3 - The History of Hip-Hop Mix'. Hardware and Pascal actually sampled it from James Brown's 'The Payback Mix' by Coldcut, you can hear the same James Brown screech in the middle. To this Hardware and Pascal also add a guitar twang and vocal from the beginning of Augustus Pablo & King Tubby's 'Corner Crew Dub' with both samples appearing throughout the track. The main portion of the track alternates between the chopped 'Sesame Street' break and some rough 'Amen' action along with a nice 808 kick bassline.

Classic material that is available to purchase from Beatport. The track also received an Origin Unknown remix on the Frontline/Ganja Records compilation Still Smokin that is also available to purchase digitally on the recently released Playaz Digital Vol. 5.

Discogs link

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Scarecrow - Tuttifrutti

The Scarecrow - Tuttifrutti (Joker Records, 1998)

Hip-hop has been a huge influence on drum and bass and jungle, beginning with many of the breaks which were first used by hip-hop producers who were sampling soul and funk records. Sometimes the influence is even more explicit though, with rap vocals and other samples familiar from hip-hop used in drum and bass, particularly in the jump-up style. In the mid to late nineties The Dream Team AKA Bizzy B and Pugwash were among the leading proponents of this sound and with 'Tuttifrutti' in their Scarecrow alias they go overboard with samples from several hip-hop records.

The track opens with a funky piano and bass riff from Joe Williams with Thad Jones and The Mel Lewis Orchestra's version of 'Get Out Of My Life, Woman', a sample used by a multitude of hip-hop artists including Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, Funkdoobiest, Main Source and Biz Markie. Over this there are three vocal samples beginning with "And now for my next number, I'd like to return to the classics", a much sampled line first used by De La Soul on 'Plug Tunin' which is actually the voice of the extravagant pianist Liberace introducing a live performance of 'Chopsticks'. They also use the "Hold It Now" line from Kurtis Blow's 'Christmas Rapping', also sampled by many other artists such as the Beastie Boys on 'Hold It Now, Hit It'. Lastly, just before the drop it uses the sample that gives the track its name - "Ain't nothing but tutti frutti / Get on the floor if you got that booty" from Beatmaster Clay D.'s 'Boot The Booty'. The main portion of the track has a big fat bassline with a simple break that sounds like a small portion of the Amen. The bassline is given a pitch change midway through and the samples from the intro appear throughout. A catchy tune that will move any jump-up minded dancefloor.

Discogs link

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Lemon D - Rapture

Lemon D - Rapture (Test Recordings, 1998)

In 1993 Kevin King started Planet Earth Records, the name being a clue to the origin of his moniker - the French newspaper Le Monde (The World). It was an appropriate alias as he made drum'n'bass in such a wide range of styles, being just as capable of producing amen tearouts as he was jazz flecked rollers. As well as releasing records on just about every label that mattered - V, Metalheadz, Reinforced, Prototype... the list is endless - he also established the Valve and Test labels in 1997 with long time friend Dillinja.

'Rapture' appears on the fifth Test Recordings release and belongs firmly in the jazz flecked rollers camp. It opens with a stately piano loop taken from the beginning of Anita Baker's 'It's Been You', a sample also used by UK Garage artist Zed Bias on 'Neighbourhood'. Over the piano he brings in a nice cut up of the 'Funky Mule' break (from the Ike Turner & The Kings of Rhythm track of the same name) and a high pitched synth that sounds similar to the one on Kool & The Gang's 'Summer Madness'. The track has a subtle bassline quite low in the mix, Lemon D letting the 'Funky Mule' do most of the work before bringing back the piano sample to close things out. A beauty of a tune.

Discogs link

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Bad Company - The Nine

Bad Company - The Nine (BC Recordings, 1998)

Bad Company were four producers who had collaborated with each other in various combinations before - dBridge and Maldini recorded as Future Forces Inc. on Renegade Hardware, while Fresh also worked with Maldini (as Absolute Zero & Subphonics) for the same label and with Vegas for Metro Recordings and Breakbeat Culture - but together they formed a drum'n'bass supergroup who had an immediate impact on the scene with 'The Nine', a track that has been voted the greatest drum'n'bass record of all time by both Kmag and Drum&BassArena.

Hearing 'The Nine', particularly in a club, is a similar experience to being on board an airplane preparing for takeoff - the low bassline simulates the drone of the engines while the drums give the track velocity as the plane picks up speed down the runway and you are pressed back into your seat. At the end of each each sixteen bar section there is a sudden lift as the bassline soars over stuttering drums giving you the same sensation as the moment the plane leaves the ground, a feeling of near weightlessness. An incredible track that is still regularly played today and perfect for double dropping as you can hear in this clip. Bad Company would go on to produce many other classic tracks but this remains their greatest moment.

Discogs link

Monday, 18 February 2013

Marvellous Cain - Hitman

Marvellous Cain - Hitman (IQ Records, 1994)

Today sees the release of a new Bladerunner remix of Marvellous Cain's 'Hitman' on RIQ Yardrock Records (the joining together of IQ and Runninz Records). This track also had several remixes back in the day including ones from DJ Hype and The Dream Team, but I'm going to take a look at the original from 1994.

'Hitman' uses several samples from the cult 1981 film Babylon, including the track's main screeching riff and reggae loop as you can hear in this clip. The background track is Johnny Clarke's 'Babylon', produced by Jah Shaka who plays himself in the film using a Synare 3 to create the sound effects over the top. Several vocal samples are also taken from the film including "Get Mash Up" and "Play that bloody jungle music all night". The other major sample is the "See-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi see de hitman ah come" vocal from "Limb by Limb" by Cutty Ranks, which apparently got Cain into a bit of trouble although he managed to settle the matter by doing a couple of remixes for Cutty. The track uses a couple of breaks, opening with the 'Sandy' break originally from Supreme DJ Nyborn's 'Versatility' before directly sampling the Amen from Renegade's 'Terrorist' - you can even faintly hear the Reese bassline underneath. A jungle classic that absolutely tore up the dancefloor.

Listen to a snippet of Bladerunner's remix below. The track is available to purchase from Beatport, Juno and all good download stores.

Discogs link

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Omni Trio - Feel Good

Omni Trio - Feel (Feel Good) (Candidate Records, 1993)

Omni Trio combined the breakbeat of hardcore with a keen ear for melody to produce music that was well ahead of its time. They were in fact just one person, Rob Haigh, whose career in music dates back to the early eighties when he was a member of an avant garde funk band called Truth Club. He went on to put out several solo releases, most notably the gothic ambience of Notes From The Underground as Sema, before Detroit techno and the early output of Warp Records inspired him to open Parliament Records in Hertford and start two labels, PM and Candidate, the latter of which put out the Mystic Steppers EP in 1993, with 'Feel Good' as its lead track.

It opens with a large chunk of the acid/proto-jungle tune 'Rat-Trap' by Spiritual Combat, which uses the Soul Pride break with synths and a bell sound. The track contrasts the euphoria suggested by its "Feel Good" vocal sample, taken from Eleanore Mills' 'Mr Right', with a dark edge thanks to its minor key synth riff and the disorientating reversed drums, accompanied by a booming sub-bassline and a take on the Hot Pants break. It was caned by LTJ Bukem and got the attention of Moving Shadow, who quickly released the Volume 2 EP which featured a remix entitled 'Mystic Stepper (Feel Better)'. It would be the first in a series of ground breaking records by Omni Trio for the label, including the massive Foul Play remix of 'Renegade Snares' which featured the original 'Feel Good' on the flipside.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to be given a number of Omni Trio's early releases for Moving Shadow, including the Volume 2 EP, by a friend who had actually purchased them at Parliament Records from the man himself and despite being rather worn I treasure them dearly. I've always preferred the original mix of 'Feel Good' though, which I got on vinyl thanks to Moving Shadow's 10th anniversary reissue series.

Discogs link

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Tyranny - Is This A Game

Tyranny - Is This A Game (Sophisticated Underground Sounds, 1996)

I know very little about the Sophisticated Underground Sounds label, other than they put out ten releases between 1995 and 1997 from artists including DJ Phantasy and Special K and focused on the jump-up style of drum'n'bass. DJ Zinc was responsible for their first release, 'Fatters / 12 O'Clock Drop', alongside former production partner Swift (not to be confused with Mampi Swift) and made a return to the label in 1996 as Tyranny, the only time he has used the alias, with 'Is This A Game'.

The track samples dialogue from the eighties movie War Games in which a young man gains access to a secret government computer which has control over the United States' nuclear missiles. Believing he is playing a game he accidentally sets off a countdown to World War 3. Zinc takes a section in which the computer is asked "Is this a game, or is it real?", to which it replies "What's the difference?". The track is given an appropriate Cold War feel by submarine sonar bleeps and has an extended intro which alternates between the Cold Sweat and Hot Pants breaks accompanied by a simple bassline. The full drop doesn't occur till the three minute mark when following the War Games sample a tearing Amen break is brought in along with a classic Zinc bassline. A little known tune with a dark, paranoid feel to it in contrast to Zinc's usual hip-hop flavoured material of the time.

Discogs link

Friday, 15 February 2013

Ben Grimm - Dogz On Da Set

Ben Grimm - Dogz On Da Set (24 Karat, 1996)

Yesterday brought the news that rapper Tim Dog had died of a seizure following a struggle with diabetes aged just forty six. He rose to prominence in 1991 with the Dr Dre/NWA diss track 'Fuck Compton' and went on to release several albums including collaborations with Kool Keith and KRS-One. However he had been in the news more recently for pleading guilty to charges of grand larceny following an online dating scam in which he conned a woman out of $32,000 and was sentenced to five years probation, a case that was covered on Dateline NBC last year. His records were well sampled by drum'n'bass artists so DnB 365 pays tribute with a look at 'Dogz On Da Set'.

Ben Grimm was one the many aliases used by brothers Joe and Tobi Brodie who ran the Smokers Inc. label and whose 'Col' Rock Stuff' (as B-Jam) I covered last month. 'Dogz On Da Set' begins with the opening chords of Roy Ayers Ubiquity's 'We Live In Brooklyn, Baby', a sample used by many hip-hop artists including DJ Shadow on 'Hindsight' (check my DJ Shadow series). It makes extensive use of Tim Dog's Snoop Dogg diss track 'Bitch With A Perm (Rottweiler Mix)', sampling the line "Dogs on da set, motherfucker" in the intro as well as several other lyrics throughout including "He try to flex on the D-O-G". It also samples a vocodered "Dog" originally from George Clinton's 'Atomic Dog' but probably taken from Snoop Dogg's 'Who Am I (What's My Name)?'. The track is in the jump-up style with a rolling reese bassline accompanied by regularly shifting drums which include the 'Think' and 'Cold Sweat' breaks among others and has a nice mid-section where the reese is broken down into short stabs with tightly edited drums. Another quality tune from the Smokers Inc. crew.

Trivia fans: 24 Karat was run by Facs who also designed the label's logo and covers.

Discogs link

Thursday, 14 February 2013

DJ Die - Something Special

DJ Die - Something Special (V Recordings, 1997)

Daniel Kausman AKA DJ Die has been on the scene since the very beginning and was one of the key figures in the development of the Bristol sound as a founding member of Full Cycle Records. He has an extensive back catalogue with releases both as a solo artist and in collaboration with the likes of Roni Size, DJ Suv and Bill Riley, as well as being a member of Reprazent and Breakbeat Era. Despite having many a classic track to his name he has kept a lower profile than fellow Bristolians Size and Krust but is deserving of just as much acclaim.

'Something Special' begins with the voice of Pee Wee Marquette, the master of ceremonies at famed New York jazz club Birdland, introducing Art Blakey's Quintet: "Ladies and Gentleman, as you know we have something special". This originally appeared on the quintet's 'A Night At Birdland Vol. 1' but may have been sampled from jazz-rap group Us3's 'Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)' which uses the vocal clean in its intro. Die wastes little time dropping a skipping beat and depth charging bassline in a typically minimal Bristol fashion, gradually building things up with snatches of trumpet and more drums until midway through the track is enveloped by a warm shimmering tone for the rest of its duration. Like much of his work at this time it hints at jazz without being overly jazzy, relying on subtle beatwork, heavy sub-bass and a few well chosen samples. A very classy track.

It was recently included on V Retrospect Vol. 3 which you can download direct from the label here.

Discogs link

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Kryptic Minds - The Truth

Kryptic Minds - The Truth (Frequency, 2002)

Frequency is a subsidiary of Ram Records and was set up by Andy C and Red One in 2002 to put out material by up-and-coming producers. Their second 12" was one of the earliest releases by Kryptic Minds, a duo who would go on to become one of the genre's most respected production units before they made the switch to dubstep in 2008 and showed they could do it at slower tempos just as well.

'The Truth' opens with tough drums, sci-fi effects and what sounds like the opening chord from 'War In '94' by Badman (AKA Marvellous Cain, Sponge & Pascal). Everything drops out for a substantial sample of Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix, taken from the scene where Neo meets Morpheus for the first time and is given a choice:

"This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes... Remember, all I'm offering is the truth, nothing more."

In an extended beatless section they bring in a nasty distorted Reese bassline accompanied by squelchy stabs, building the tension until bringing in drums that make excellent use of the 'Tighten Up' break, pitching it up and down throughout the track. A hard tune that gained anthem status back in 2002. Check this interview with Kryptic Minds in which they discuss making the jump to dubstep.

Discogs link

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Aphrodite - Style From The Darkside

Aphrodite - Style From The Darkside (Aphrodite Recordings, 1996)

Gavin King took his name from the Aphrodite club in Leamington Spa which he ran back in 1988. He started putting out records in the early nineties as part of Urban Shakedown, most well known for the Ce Ce Rogers sampling 'Some Justice', before setting up his own Aphrodite Recordings in 1992. By the mid-nineties he was releasing hip-hop heavy jump-up with a polished sound which eventually led to albums for Richard Branson's V2 label and big name remix commissions for everyone from Holly Valance to Nine Inch Nails.

'Style From The Darkside' typifies his approach, cutting together several lines from Erick Sermon's 'Bomdigi' throughout the track including "It's the way it goes down", "Drop the Funk" and of course "My style... from the Darkside". The intro has what sounds like a moog synth riff with the 'Life Could' break dropping in and out before a big drum roll brings in a lively Reese bassline and a Hot Pants/Life Could break with added claps and bongos to give the track plenty of momentum. Aphrodite would later remix the track as 'Dark Dark Side' on Private Plates Vol. 1 as well as including a '99 remix on his debut album, but the original remains my favourite version.

Check out this frankly bizarre attempt by an orchestra to recreate 'Style From The Darkside' or head over to Aphrodite's Soundcloud where there are dozens of tracks and mixes to stream and download.

Discogs link

Monday, 11 February 2013

Source Direct - A Made Up Sound

Source Direct - A Made Up Sound (Metalheadz, 1995)

Source Direct were the duo of Phil Aslett and Jim Baker and they produced abstract, technically precise drum'n'bass that was amongst the finest of the genre. Like myself they are from St. Albans in Hertfordshire and the first time I heard them was on a free cassette showcasing the Metalheadz label that came with the May 1996 issue of Muzik Magazine. When I started buying records seriously later that year I immediately sought out their releases, beginning with 'A Made Up Sound', which appeared on that tape and was also included on the Platinum Breakz compilation.

The track has a dark film noir vibe and begins with a minor key rhodes sample before introducing its most striking feature, a masterfully cut-up 'Apache' break. This is joined by a secondary 'Think' break along with a mostly indecipherable vocal sample (Play that song... ??????) and an 808 bassline, occasionally accompanied by echoed guitar licks and strange noises. Midway through the track is given some warmth thanks to another rhodes sample before it reverts back to its more disconcerting beginning. Probably my favourite track in their discography and presumably the inspiration for the techno/dubstep producer Dave Huismans' A Made Up Sound alias.

Check out this unintentionally hilarious interview from 1996 featuring Jim and Phil driving around the Hertfordshire countryside in their identical BMW M3s which they apparently blew their entire album advance on. Joy O samples a part of this interview for the vocal on 'Ellipsis' (check at around 1:29).

Discogs link

Sunday, 10 February 2013

DJ Kane - Definition / Yeah Yall

DJ Kane - Definition / Yeah Yall (Trouble On Vinyl, 1997)

James Yancey passed away seven years ago today and to mark this anniversary I have put together a DnB 365 doubleheader for the second part of my Dilla tribute (part one is here). Both sides of this DJ Kane 12" sample tracks from A Tribe Called Quest's Beats, Rhymes and Life, an album that was much maligned at the time of its release due to Tribe's change of direction but has since grown in stature, largely due to the production work which was in part handled by the young Jay Dee. While he only produces five of the album's tracks you can hear his influence on the group's sound throughout.

'Definition' takes the section in bold below from a speech sampled on 'Phony Rappers', which I have seen credited to Louis Farrakhan although I'm not 100% certain that's correct:

"This feeling of embarrassment, this shyness, this bashfulness, if you take that out of the people, then these people will do whatever they want to do, and that is the very definition of America: a people who have no shame and therefore they do whatever they want to do."

This vocal is used in the intro over a catchy rhodes loop along with a second vocal sample from Blahzay Blahzay's 'The Pain I Feel': "We'd like to dedicate this particular tune..." which comes in just before Kane drops a fat plunging bassline. 'Yeah Yall' actually samples two tracks from Beats, Rhymes and Life, taking the beeping riff from 'Baby Phife's Return' for the tune's intro with the "Yeah Yall, Ah hah" vocal from '1nce Again' over the top. Both these samples have other origins however, the 'beeping' being a guitar riff from Jack Bruce's 'Sam Enchanted Dick Medley: Sam's Sack/Rill's Thrills' (check at 0:54) and the vocal coming from the untitled eighth track on Cannonball Adderley's The Black Messiah LP. It has an out-of-tune sounding bassline as well as a similar plunging bassline to the a side. Two simple but effective jump-up numbers that define Trouble On Vinyl's sound in '97.

For an introduction to Dilla-era A Tribe Called Quest, check Hip Hop Is Read's 'A Tribe Called Dilla' mix. The download link on the site is down but you can find it here.

Discogs link

Saturday, 9 February 2013

J. Majik - The Lizard

J. Majik - The Lizard (Infrared, 2000)

After looking at the first 'Tramen' smasher yesterday I thought I'd have a look at a later use of the break in combination with the Reese bassline. Jamie Spratling had been on the scene since the early nineties and released some early tunes as Dexxtrous on Lemon D's Planet Earth label (before he became aware of DJ Dextrous and changed his moniker). So it is not too surprising that he joined the plethora of producers putting out hardcore influenced tunes around the turn of the millennium.

After a moody intro with some light percussion J. Majik brings in the ascending synth stabs from Outlander's 'Vamp', a classic Belgium techno tune on R & S Records, accompanied by a vocal sample that is impossible to make out. The track builds in intensity before introducing a pounding Tramen/Reese combination with a higher pitched bassline providing a nice counterpoint particularly when the synth stabs are mixed in as well. Credit for this tune should also go to Danny Jay, who co-wrote several of J. Majik's tracks during this period including 'Solarize' and 'Spaced Invader'.

You can hear a more recent use of the 'Vamp' stabs on The Prodigy's 'World's On Fire' from 2009.

Discogs link

Friday, 8 February 2013

DJ Trace - Mutant Revisited

DJ Trace - Mutant Revisited (Emotif, 1996)

Last week I looked at Trace's 'The Mutant' from 1995, his seminal remix of T.Power's 'Mutant Jazz'. Just one year later Trace reworked his remix and turned what was already a brutal piece of music into an unrelenting beast of a track which is a classic in its own right and just as innovative. I was lucky enough to pick up a promo copy of this before it got released and played it repeatedly for weeks.

It opens with the familiar reversed synth and strings from the original remix, eventually joined by the 'Life Could' break. Gone is the beat-switching with the 'Apache' break however and the differences between the two versions become more apparent at the drop. This track is the first to use a break that would come to be known as the 'Tramen', a portmanteau of Trace and the its principal component, the 'Amen'. It is combined with the 'Tighten Up and 'The Flow' breaks and despite being named after Trace it was actually created by Dom, the track's engineer, as Trace himself reveals:

"It is a beat Dom made, that he hadn't used yet. When I heard it I was like, that's the beat we need to use for Mutant Jazz Revisited. I then used it on Sonar and on Sniper where it was left clean for 16 bars on the intro - this is where everyone ripped it from. As long as people know that it's a Dom beat. Because I used it on 3 tracks I got associated with it... The Tramen tag is something that Fresh started when he started rinsing it after we made Nitrous."

The other striking difference between the two versions is their treatment of the Reese bassline. Whereas 'The Mutant' employed it sparingly, this revisit uses it constantly for nearly seven minutes, from the drop until the track fades out while still in full swing, suggesting it could just keep going forever. The Reese is even more heavily filtered than before as it twists and turns throughout the track and if this tune never stopped I don't think I would ever tire of it.

Discogs link

Thursday, 7 February 2013

DJ SS - Bronze

DJ SS - Bronze (Formation Colours Series, 1997)

James Yancey would have turned thirty nine today. On his thirty second birthday, just three days before he died of a rare blood disorder, the hip-hop producer better known as J Dilla released Donuts, an album that has come to be seen as his farewell letter to world with hidden messages strewn amongst its thirty one quick fire tracks. One of my all time favourite albums, it is a life affirming record which is stunning when you consider much of it was created from his hospital bed. Now every February is Dilla Month, a celebration of his life and the incredible music that he made, so I thought I would pay tribute by looking at a drum'n'bass track sampling one of his productions.

Dilla got his big break back in 1995 as part of The Ummah, a production team that also included Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest. They produced the vast majority of the last two Tribe albums including 'Stressed Out' which is where DJ SS sourced the vocal hook for 'Bronze', the last entry in Formation's Colours Series. The "I really know how it feels" line is sung by Faith Evans and SS places it over jazzy keys, trumpet and guitar in a chilled intro that gives little indication of what is to follow. Over a 'Think' based break he brings in a big infectious bassline transforming the track into a speaker shaking jump-up tune with a variation on the bassline introduced after the breakdown to keep things moving.

Look out for part two of my Dilla tribute on Sunday when I'm planning DnB 365's first doubleheader.

Discogs link

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

DJ Shadow - Six Days (Bad Company Remix)

DJ Shadow - Six Days (Bad Company Vs. Fresh) (Island Records, 2002)

I couldn't think of a better way to end this unplanned DJ Shadow mini-series than by featuring a track by the man himself in the form of the Bad Company remix of 'Six Days'. The original appeared on his second album, The Private Press, and was also released as single but it seems this remix was initially done unofficially, as reveals:

"James Lavelle was in a club and heard the mix, which had been pressed onto a dub plate for friends of the remix team. Shadow and Lavelle loved it, and went to great pains to find the parties involved so the track could be licensed for wide distribution."

It subsequently received a one-sided promo-only release from Island Records and you can hear the tracks bootleg origins in how it just uses the first verse, the only one that appears in the original before it adds marching band-style drums, suggesting Fresh didn't have access to the individual parts. The remix starts off with a large portion of the original practically untouched, opening with the strings from The Salvation Co.'s 'The Revival' before a tremeloed organ riff with bass and drums taken from Dennis Olivieri's 'I Cry In The Morning' come in. This is accompanied by the "At the starting of the week, at summit talks you hear them speak..." vocal from Colonel Bagshot's 'Six Day War' and it's over a minute until Fresh adds a beat along with a rolling bassline. It is a fairly restrained track by Bad Company's standards but this suits the atmosphere of the original and while it does later add a more typical gritty synth riff, it is fairly low in the mix.

DJ Shadow is actually a big fan of drum'n'bass as demonstrated by several of his selections for The DJ Shadow Remix Project which you can download for free from his website. He would also later contribute to Fresh's Escape From Planet Monday album on a track entitled 'Closer'.

Discogs link

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

DJ Hype - Closer To God

DJ Hype - Closer To God (True Playaz, 1998)

After yesterday's post about 'Straight Jacket' I couldn't resist writing about DJ Hype's 'Closer To God', another track featuring a vocal sample also used by DJ Shadow. The opening track on Real Vibes, the first album from the True Playaz label formed just two years previously by Hype along with fellow Ganja Kru members Pascal and DJ Zinc, it was one of the biggest jump-up anthems of the year.

The idyllic intro begins with a female voice saying "In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth". This was taken from David Axelrod's 'The Warnings Part I' and was sampled by Shadow on 'Duality', his collaborative track with DJ Krush, in which he uses the "in the beginning" part as his section gets underway. Hype also samples rhodes, harp and an elastic bassline from Azimüth's 'Manhã', a beautiful latin jazz track which translates as 'Morning' and goes together with the Axelrod sample very nicely.

The peace of intro is shattered by a vocal sample from Mobb Deep's classic 'Shook Ones Part II', "Getting closer to God, in a tight situation now". The track was a particular favourite of the Ganja Kru, with Zinc making a bootleg mix and Hype regularly using the acapella over DJ Krust's 'Warhead' as you can hear in this live set from BBC Radio 1's One In The Jungle show. The sample ushers in the huge bassline, which manages to be incredibly energetic despite mainly consisting of one sustained note, helped along by a lively break. Yet another tune to add to my list of perfect set openers.

You can purchase the mp3 of 'Closer To God' from Drum&BassArena here.

Discogs link

Monday, 4 February 2013

Stakka & Skynet - Straight Jacket

Stakka & Skynet - Straight Jacket (feat. DJ Skinny) (Underfire Recordings, 2001)

I'm a huge fan of DJ Shadow and love finding drum'n'bass tracks using samples that also appear on his records. 'Straight Jacket' is one such example, featuring this vocal throughout:

"In a few moments you will have an experience which will seem completely real... it will be the result of your subconscious fears transformed to your conscious awareness."

DJ Shadow used this towards the beginning of his epic 'What Does Your Soul Look Like (Part 2)', as well as the following line: "You have five seconds to terminate this tape. Five... Four... Three... Two... One" and it is originally from the 1983 science fiction movie 'Brainstorm'. The film starred Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood and is mainly noteworthy due to Wood drowning towards the end of the shoot in circumstances that remain controversial to this day.

Last week I discussed DJ Skinny in my post about 175 Crew's 'Turn On The Heat Again' and he also features on 'Straight Jacket' essentially making it a track by Kraken, the group he was a member of alongside Stakka and Skynet. While 175 Crew made hip-hop heavy jump-up, Kraken produced futuristic drum'n'bass with strong techno and science fiction influences as ably demonstrated by this track which appeared on Stakka & Skynet's Clockwork LP. It is more restrained than much of the material on the rest of album and combined with the vocal sample this makes it a great set opener, one that Stakka & Skynet often used themselves. A subtle neurofunk style track that will set the scene nicely.

Discogs link

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Subnation - Scottie

Subnation - Scottie (Future Vinyl, 1993)

This track, a perfect example of the darkcore style, is a jungle classic which was way ahead of its time. I've always seen 'Scottie' as part of an unofficial triumvirate along with Johnny Jungle's 'Johnny' and Remarc & Lewi's 'Ricky', all three using significant amounts of dialogue from movies centering around a male character's name. In fact some remixes of these tunes reference each other, most notably on Pascal's remix of 'Johnny' which opens with shouts of both "Scottie" and "Ricky".

Over haunting synths 'Scottie' features several dialogue extracts from the horror classic 'The Evil Dead', including "Is there a way around the bridge", "We're all gonna die, all of us" and "We're not going to die, we'e going to get out of here", as well as the eponymous "Scottie" and demonic laughter. The true genius of the track though is the drum programming with 'Cold Sweat' used as the main break, often played in reverse, with a heavily chopped 'Amen' giving the track plenty of momentum over the simple bassline.

The track has been remixed several times including Ray Keith's 'Scottie III' which adds the opening chords from the 'Star Trek' theme in the intro. The brilliant video below uses Subnation's own remix of 'Scottie' with the dialogue synced to scenes from 'The Evil Dead' (not for the faint of heart). A nice little touch is the overlaying of the 'Scottie' vinyl label on to the reel to reel tape recorder which is very cleverly done.

Discogs link

Saturday, 2 February 2013

T.Power - The Mutant Remix (Rollers Instinct)

T.Power - The Mutant Remix - Rollers Instinct (Remixed by DJ Trace) (SOUR, 1995)

'The Mutant' is a seminal record, a brutalist masterpiece that changed the face of drum'n'bass forever. T.Power's original 'Mutant Jazz' is a piece of smooth funk with a horn riff and gentle synths but Trace removes any sign of jazz, even from the title, and turns the track into a dystopian nightmare. It is somewhat ironic that Trace had actually been a rare groove and jazz enthusiast from a young age thanks to his jazz club-running father, a fact reflected in some of his early tracks such as 'Teach Me To Fly', co-produced with LTJ Bukem. However his productions gradually got darker, culminating in 'The Mutant' which birthed the techstep movement that would come to dominant the scene.

It begins with rough beat switching between the 'Life Could' and 'Apache' breaks before foreboding strings and a sinister reversed synth create an eerie atmosphere enhanced by a distorted sub bassline. However 'The Mutant' doesn't truly raise its ugly head until nearly two and a half minutes in, when Trace deploys a cavernous 'Reese' bassline which comes in and out of the track for the rest of its duration. Originating from 'Just Want Another Chance' by Reese (AKA Detroit legend Kevin Saunderson) this bassline had been used before in drum'n'bass, most notably in Renegade's 'Terrorist', but Trace put a unique, twisted spin on it which made it sound that much nastier and the rest is history.

Discogs link

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Dream Team - Clear My Throat

The Dream Team - Clear My Throat (Joker Records, 1997)

Yesterday I discussed Digital & Spirit's use of a break from Mark The 45 King's Master Of The Game LP. That album also features one of the most well known breakbeat tracks in hip-hop, 'The 900 Number', with its much sampled sax loop. In 1996 DJ Kool used the 'The 900 Number' as the basis for his live call and response track 'Let Me Clear My Throat' which reached number eight on the UK singles chart and got the attention of Bizzy B & Pugwash AKA The Dream Team.

In an entirely half-speed intro they heavily sample the DJ Kool record, using the sax, audience noise and several looped vocals before the "While I got a chance here, let me clear my throat" line is deployed just before the drop. The main body of the track is a fairly typical Joker Records production, a jump-up style tune using a couple of different basslines (mainly a robotic square wave one) and drums which include the 'Tighten Up and 'Think' breaks. The 'Let Me Clear My Throat' samples are used throughout the track and help keep it interesting.

The origin of the loop in 'The 900 Number' is a Marva Whitney record entitled 'Unwind Yourself' from 1967. Whitney worked as a vocalist with James Brown in the late sixties and he dubbed her "Soul Sister #1". She sadly passed away on 22nd December last year aged 68 but had still been performing until shortly before her death despite suffering a stroke while on stage in 2009. I was privileged to see her perform in 2008 at Southampton's Soul Cellar (see picture above) backed by Osaka Monaurail where she put in a typically fiery performance - RIP.

Discogs link