Sunday, 31 March 2013
Model 500 - The Flow (Alex Reece Mix) (R & S Records, 1995)
In 1995 the famed Belgian techno label R & S (the initials of its founders Renaat Vandepapeliere & Sabine Maes) began to embrace drum & bass, with releases from Marc Mac and Dego's Jacob's Optical Stairway project and The Original Playboy (AKA Alex Reece and PIM). In 1996 they would go on to set up the All Good Vinyl label specifically to put out drum & bass and dedicate the sixth volume of their esteemed In Order To Dance series to the genre.
Alex Reece's remix of 'The Flow' was one of their earliest forays into the style and pretty much typifies the jazzy, house and techno influenced material they would focus on. Model 500 is of course Juan Atkins, one of the founders of Detroit techno, and the original mix of the track is a vocal electro style tune. Reece transforms it into a piece of sumptuous drum & bass, only keeping a few segments of the vocals (primarily "I'm going with the flow") and pairing them with lush pads, flutes and a deep bassline. The track is perhaps best known though for its use of a programmed 808 two-step break, first used on the pivotal 'Pulp Fiction' but first left clean here leading to it being sampled on tunes such as Ed Rush's 'Subway', further popularising this more streamlined style of beat. A turning point in the history of drum & bass.
This track appears on In Order To Dance 6 along with several other Alex Reece productions as well as material from Wax Doctor, Justice and Lemon D. It's well worth seeking out, even my Dad likes it! You can also hear it in this Alex Reece tribute mix by D'Zine which also includes 'Pulp Fiction'.
Saturday, 30 March 2013
L Double - The Saturday Flex 97 (Labello Blanco, 1997)
Here's one more day-of-the-week related post and then I promise I'll stop (mainly because I don't know of any tracks with Sunday in the title). Originally from Bradford, Lee Johnson got his break in music as a member of Unique 3, the group responsible for the seminal bleep techno of 'The Theme', but left as they were going in a increasingly commercial direction while he wanted to focus on more underground sounds. Visits to AWOL in the early nineties converted him to jungle and he began his own Flex Records label in 1994, releasing material by the likes of Da Intalex, ST Files and Sappo as well as his own productions.
Despite the title, 'The Saturday Flex 97' actually came out on Labello Blanco, the label run by Andy Swallow and Jimmy Low (AKA Jimmy Jungle) that was amongst the first to focus on jungle, although the Flex logo does feature on the artwork. It starts off in a muted fashion with what sounds like a slowed down horn sample and wind-swept synths before things start to pick up with two-step drums and a simple one note bassline. Female "Saturday, yeah" vocals bring in a squelchy acidic riff combined with a stuttered Amen break that is nicely edited, making for an energetic track to wreck havoc on the dancefloor.
Check out a One In The Jungle show from '96 below which features L Double alongside MC GQ which you can also download from the One In The Jungle Archive until May 20th.
Friday, 29 March 2013
TDK - Friday (Breakdown Records, 1996)
After writing about Capone's 'Friday' this time last week I thought I'd take a look at another track with the same title. As far as I'm aware the only place this track appeared was Breakdown Record's DJ Box Vol. 1, a triple CD compilation of drum & bass and jungle released in 1996. Breakdown were a subsidiary of Suburban Base who specialised in releasing compilations such as the excellent Drum & Bass Selection series. It wasn't uncommon to find the odd exclusive track or mix on their albums which always made them especially worthwhile.
The booklet with DJ Box Vol. 1 credits this to Bizzy B's Brain Records which started life in 1992 as hardcore was transitioning to jungle and put out plenty of forward thinking material, remaining active until 1997. They put out several records by TDK including his debut, the Brainwave EP, a collaboration with Bizzy B himself. He also had releases on Hardleaders and Kemet amongst others.
Capone's 'Friday' sampled a tune on the soundtrack to Friday, a comedy starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, and funnily enough this tune samples a line from that movie spoken by Tucker's character Smokey: "I know you don't smoke weed, I know this; but I'm gonna get you high today, 'cause it's Friday; you ain't got no job... and you ain't got shit to do". This sample should be familiar if you used to listen to BBC Radio 1's One In The Jungle show which went out on Friday evenings as it featured as part of the intro sequence (have a listen here). Parts of this line are sprinkled throughout the track which opens with a gentle synth melody and the Think break before an 808 kick bassline comes in accompanied by drums using the Life Could, Apache and Think breaks. After a breakdown with some jazzy keys a Reese bassline joins the action as well. A nice chilled jungle tune, the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing bank holiday weekend. Have a good one!
You can find out more about TDK's releases over at Bizzy B's Junglist Download site as well as purchase a number of his productions.
UPDATE 24/08/16: Just discovered this tune came out on Brain Records sublabel 2 Getherness on an untitled white, the ninth and final 12" for the imprint.
Thursday, 28 March 2013
Northern Connexion - Reel Funk (Back 2 Basic, 1995)
The legendary AWOL recently announced a return to London at the O2 Arena on June 8th with DJ Hazard, Doc Scott and Uncle Dugs alongside original residents Micky Finn, Kenny Ken, Dr S Gachet, Darren Jay and Randall with MCs GQ and Fearless. Starting out in early 1992, AWOL (A Way Of Life) was one of original jungle clubs in London and played a huge role in converting people to the new sound that was quickly taking shape at the time. Although I was too young to actually go to an event I did buy the AWOL Live album that was released through Ministry Of Sound which really captured the vibe of the place thanks to the mix being heavy on crowd noise. It featured all five residents, each one playing three tracks, with several 'A.W.O.L. V.I.P.' mixes of some of the biggest tunes of the era.
One of these tracks was 'Reel Funk' (Darren Jay's third selection) which quickly became a personal favourite of mine, although I only picked up the original on vinyl a few years ago. Northern Connexion was one of the aliases used by Jason Ball who ran the West Midlands based Back 2 Basics label and was responsible for many fine tunes back in the day. 'Reel Funk' keeps things simple with atmospheric chords, the Amen break and female "Yeah" vocals before unleashing a monster bassline which really gets going at the second drop (around 1:53 in the youtube video above). Ball adds a few old school hip-hop style stabs and funk guitar loops but this one is really all about the drums and the bass. As GQ says towards the beginning of the AWOL Live CD: "Hang tight all the crew from Back 2 Basics, maximum respect".
Check out the original AWOL Live album which you can stream below.
Wednesday, 27 March 2013
Tribe Of Issachar - Tribal Natty (Original Dub Plate) (Congo Natty, 1997)
Today Big Dada announced a new album by Congo Natty AKA Rebel MC entitled Jungle Revolution, produced by dub legend Adrian Sherwood. Michael West first appeared on the map in 1989 alongside Double Trouble with the hit singles 'Just Keep Rockin' and 'Street Tuff'. I didn't hear of him though until 1991 when 'Tribal Base' appeared on Top Of The Pops. Fusing Barrington Levy's 'Here I Come' with Enya's 'Orinoco Flow' and a breakbeat from 'Don't Change Your Love' by Five Stairsteps alongside vocals from Rebel MC and Tenor Fly, it was a catchy and energetic track that hit the UK Top 20.
In 1995 Rebel MC launched his Congo Natty label and I bought a number of their 12"s from around 1997 to 1999. One of the first I got hold of was 'Tribal Natty' which is essentially a remix of 'Tribal Base' in the late nineties jungle style minus Rebel MC and Tenor Fly's vocals. The 'Original Dub Plate' mix opens with the riddim from 'Drum Song' by Jackie Mitoo before a "Hey soundbwoy over deh so you me ah talk to you now" vocal sample brings in a hefty two-step beat over the top. The track then uses portions of Super Cat's intro vocals from 'Tribal Base' ("Roots and culture", "Watch me, watch me, watch me", etc.) before deploying its lively jump-up style bassline and Barrington Levy's "Broader than Broadway" vocals. A typically rough and ready cut from Congo Natty who were one of the few labels keeping the ragga jungle style alive in the late 90s and 00s.
With the original jungle sound recently making a comeback it's good to see Congo Natty getting more widespread recognition. Big Dada have made 'UK Allstars (Congo Natty meets Benny Page Radio Edit)' available for free download for a limited period. It features a who's who of British sound system culture with Daddy Freddy, Tippa Irie, General Levy, Top Cat, Tenor Fly and Sweetie Irie all appearing. Grab it while you can and check the Jungle Revolution album when it drops on June 17th.
Tuesday, 26 March 2013
Dr Wootang - Original Wootang (Dread Recordings, 1995)
After writing over the weekend about two tracks that use the same sample it got me thinking about other instances when this has occurred. Here, Ray Keith's 'Original Wootang' uses the "Lighter" vocal from 'Cray-Z' by Fu-Schnickens that had already been sampled on 'The Lighter' by DJ SS (check my post about that track here). When asked about this last year in an interview with Drum&BassArena, Ray Keith had this to say:
"There was only a handful of us at the time and we were vibing off each other in a big way. I did Renegade, he did Black. He did Lighter, I did Wootang. We were all inspiring each other, from London to Bristol, all of us trying to push things forward and make each record better. From 94-96 we were all in the studio, buzzing off what each other were doing."
In fact he drafted in SS to do a remix of Wootang that was released on Dread in '96. The track also features a female vocal taken from the beginning of 'Who's Zoomin' Who' by Aretha Franklin but is probably best known for its prominent use of the Moog synth riffs from 'Funky Worm' by The Ohio Players that have been sampled in countless hip-hop records. Ray Keith adds a fat 808 kick bassline along with the 'Hot Pants' break for a simple but classic tune.
You can purchase the digital of 'Original Wootang' on the Vintage Dread 2000 LP (where it appears as 'Funky Worm') from Drum&BassArena, Juno Download, Beatport and all good download stores. Check it out below in Nicky Blackmarket's set at Dreamscape 20 from September 1995.
Monday, 25 March 2013
Genotype - Extra Terrestrial (Renegade Hardware, 1997)
Justin Richardson first began producing under the name Just Jungle, releasing several 12"s for Trouble On Vinyl including the classic 'Sky'. As the scene began to diversify he started using the aliases Mastermind for his more jazzy, soulful material and Genotype for the harder techstep sound, going on to release records for Moving Shadow, Renegade Hardware and Reinforced amongst others. After a long break from the scene he reappeared as Genotype in 2010 with the Ritual Dance LP for Exit Records and today sees the release of a new EP on Nurtured Beatz.
'Extra Terrestrial' appeared on his first 12" as Genotype for TOV offshoot Renegade Hardware. It starts off with metallic sci-fi style chords and a pitched down sample of a female voice saying "Can you imagine... Extraterrestrial" and "Unbelievable". This vocal originates from the eighties movie SpaceCamp but Richardson may have sourced it from the beginning of Biosphere's 'Seti Project', an ambient techno track that uses the line with similar effects applied. 'Extra Terrestrial' is a particularly brutal track with a nasty square wave bassline, fierce Amens and plenty of beat switching, getting even heavier after the breakdown. An excellent track that received an equally good Dom & Roland remix on the stellar Quantum Mechanics LP.
You can can purchase the digital of 'Extra Terrestrial' directly from Renegade Hardware. Sample the new The Good Turned Ugly EP below including the sick neurofunk-style lead track and head over to Drum&BassArena, Juno Download or Chemical to download. Also check out the Nurtured Beatz Soundcloud page for free downloads from the likes of Spindall, Diamond EyE and Kalm.
Sunday, 24 March 2013
Roni Size - Brut Force (Full Cycle, 1996)
Here's the second of our two part series looking at tracks in vastly different styles that use the same horn sample from Grover Washington Jr's 'The Sea Lion' (check part one here if you missed it). Whereas Source Direct's 'The Cult' is a dark, paranoid track, 'Brut Force' is a jump-up tune closer in style to the material Roni Size put out on Dope Dragon than his more regular Full Cycle fare.
I'm not sure Size meant the title of this tune to suggest it is paean to the cologne (a forerunner to the Lynx Effect perhaps?) but it certainly packs a punch. It starts off with a beefed up 'Action' break along with the dissonant horns from the 'The Sea Lion' (Spotify link), a darker jazz sample than you'd expect from Roni. He then brings in a buzzsaw bassline that descends in tone much like the horns from the intro, adding a cut-up of the 'Hot Pants' break shortly after. An interlude a couple of minutes in features a male voice saying "Don't get excited man, because I'm sure I know" with echoed keys and jazzy guitar. The vocal has a somewhat surprising source, the sixties pop of 'Daydream Believer' by The Monkees, where it appears as some studio dialogue before the track begins. After the breakdown the track's bassline shifts to a jabbing four note pattern, only switching back towards the end. A knock out dancefloor tune that I think was the first Roni Size 12" I purchased.
You can purchase the digital of 'Brut Force' over at Drum&BassArena. Check it out in the classics mix below by Jumping Jack Frost which is also available to download as part of Drum&BassArena Podcast #248 (requires iTunes).
Saturday, 23 March 2013
Source Direct - The Cult (Metalheadz, 1995)
Today and tomorrow I'm going to look at two tracks in very different styles that use the same sample from Grover Washington Jr's 'The Sea Lion' (Spotify link). Although mostly a smooth jazz number it opens with dissonant horns that mimic the noise of a sea lion's screams and it is this sound that both records sample. First up is the dark percussive assault of 'The Cult' by St. Albans duo Source Direct, the b-side to 'A Made Up Sound' on their Metalheadz debut.
It opens with a cut-up of the 'Cold Sweat' break before introducing the horn sample, a sound that perfectly suits the track's foreboding atmosphere. They also sample a line from Enter The Dragon, the classic martial arts film starring Bruce Lee: "It is defeat that you must learn to prepare for". The track has a sparse 808 kick bassline, sinister effects and echoed percussion but is primarily driven by the rhythmic intensity of the drums which combine the 'Cold Sweat' and 'Soul Pride' breaks. Conjuring up images of torture and ritual sacrifice, this is one to give you nightmares.
You can download 'The Cult' directly from the label here. This evening, Source Direct (presumably just one of them as they split acrimoniously in 1999) are playing a classics set for the Rupture night at London's Corsica Studios, with Doc Scott and Trace also in attendance. To promote the event Mantra has put together this mix of Source Direct material which includes the remix of 'The Cult' that came out on Metalheadz sub-label Razors Edge. Check the rest of the tracklist over at Everyday Junglist and don't forget to come back tomorrow for part two.
Friday, 22 March 2013
Capone - Friday (Hardleaders, 1998)
The weekend's nearly here and this is the ideal track to celebrate. As I mentioned in my post about Total Science's 'It's Not Over', Dillinja was responsible for the first release on Hardleaders under his Capone alias, presumably a reference to the Chicago gangster Al Capone (his first use of the name pre-dates the rapper by three years). He would also appear on their final 12" in 2003 (HL64: Tudor Rose (Shimon Remix)/Fusion), putting out many other fine tracks for the label inbetween, mostly as Capone but also under the names Basic Influence and Regulate (with Lemon D). 'Friday' was probably his biggest track for the imprint and a second hand copy will currently set you back at least £20.
The intro features shimmering keys and a pitched down vocal sample of Dr Dre from the beginning of 'Keep Their Heads Ringin' saying "Thank God it's Friday... Heh Heh" (the track appeared on the soundtrack to the Ice Cube/Chris Tucker comedy Friday). What always got this tune a lot of rewinds was its heavy bassline, Dillinja once again giving a masterclass in bass production. The drums shouldn't be overlooked though, and are made up of at least three or four parts including the 'Worm', 'Apache' and 'Tighten Up' breaks. Essential business that still gets regularly played out today.
You can download the digital of 'Friday' directly from Valve Recordings on the Dillinja retrospective My Sound 1993-2004. There is also a Hardleaders compilation of Capone tracks mixed by DJ Ruffstuff entitled AKA The Original Master. Ruffstuff did another all Hardleaders mix (including 'Friday') for Knowledge Magazine which was given away with their August 2000 issue. You can check the tracklist and download the Hardleaders After Dark mix, hosted by Stamina MC, from Kmag's site.
Thursday, 21 March 2013
Dylan - Flash 2000 (Raid, 2000)
I've recently mentioned a couple of tracks that use the 'Hoover' synth sound, named due its similarity to the noise made by a vacuum cleaner. It was originally created by Joey Beltram and Mundo Muzique (as Second Phase) on 'Mentasm' in 1991 and has been directly sampled or recreated on countless records since. Joey Beltram had at this point already made another seminal record with 'Energy Flash', leading the music critic Simon Reynolds to declare that he had "revolutionized techno twice before reached the age of twenty-one". Reynolds considers 'Energy Flash' to be the greatest techno track of all time and even named his account of the history of rave music after it (an essential read by the way). It is a pounding, industrial track and a clear influence on the sound of Dylan, so it is not too surprising to see him giving it the unofficial remix treatment here on 'Flash 2000'.
It starts with a thumping beat and the whispered "Ecstasy, Ecstasy" from the original that was actually sampled from the beginning of 'Rock To The Beat' by 101, a shameless Belgian New Beat rip of the Reese & Santonio track. Dylan gradually brings in the other elements of the track, beginning with the ghostly synths and then the pulsating, rumbling bassline and hypnotic 303 riff. Later in the track he brings in the distinctive descending strings which Beltram presumably sampled from Orbital's 'Chime' which was released the same year. Although a controversial choice of track to remix given its status as an untouchable classic, there was no one else on the scene at that time that I'd rather have attempt it and Dylan does a faithful job updating it for the drum & bass crowd.
Wednesday, 20 March 2013
Dope Skillz - 6 Million Ways (Frontline, 1995)
The phrase "six million ways to die" appears in countless hip-hop tracks. It's origin is Cutty Ranks' dancehall hit 'A Who Say Me Done' from 1992 which opens with "Six million ways to die, choose one heh heh" which was then sampled in 'Six Million Ways To Die' by Funkmaster Flex & 9 Double M and 'Serial Killa' by Snoop Dogg in 1993. It has since become a staple of hip-hop lyrics, from Big Daddy Kane and Mos Def to more recent material from Emanon and Evidence, and has also appeared in several drum'n'bass records.
One of the best known examples is '6 Million Ways' by Dope Skillz AKA DJ Zinc which samples Redman's "Six million ways to die, so I chose" lyric from his Method Man collab 'How High', a track Zinc also samples on his 'Ready Or Not' remix. In the intro this lyric is laid over a g funk-ish synth along with drums using the 'Hot Pants' and 'Cold Sweat' breaks and a live bassline sampled from New Birth's 'Ain't No Change'. Zinc also samples further lines from 'How High', Redman's "(Fuck) the billboard, I'm a bullet on my block" and just before the drop, a timestretched "10, 9, 8, 7..." from Method Man. The track has a massive floorshaking bassline and later adds the 'Amen' break to the mix along with the whole Method Man line ("... 6, 5, 4, / 3, 2, Murder 1 lyric at your door"). A typically hip-hop heavy dancefloor smasher from Zinc and one of my personal favourites in his catalogue.
Check out LoGo's excellent drum & bass mash-up of 'How High' with 'Create The Future' by Philth which is currently available to download for free.
Tuesday, 19 March 2013
Nasty Habits - Here Comes The Drumz (Reinforced Records, 1992)
Doc Scott is one of the true legends of the scene and has played a huge role in shaping the sound of drum & bass. His name derives from his days distributing mixtapes to friends at school, like a doctor giving out prescriptions. After his early releases, such as the N.H.S. EP on Simon "Bassline" Smith's Absolute 2 label, were heard by the likes of Grooverider and Goldie he signed to the pioneering Reinforced Records. His debut for the label, the As Nasty As I Wanna Be EP (as Nasty Habits), featured the groundbreaking proto-jungle of 'Here Comes The Drumz' as its lead track.
Like Goldie's 'Terminator' it's a track that moved away from the euphoria of early hardcore to a darker sound that was labelled 'Darkside' or 'Darkcore'. It begins with hi-hats and finger clicks before the "Here Comes The Drums (Confusion)" vocal from 'Can't Truss It' by Public Enemy brings in the Amen break with vinyl backspins, a steady, fast paced bassline, and a droning hoover-like sound. Ed Rush has commented that this tune got him into producing and what he liked was the constant background hum "like a spaceship". The influence of industrial techno is clear with occasional four-to-the-floor sections, ghostly synths and of course Doc Scott's incredible take on the Mentasm sound that has been directly sampled by many other artists (check out Shimon & Andy C's 'Body Rock'). It became one of the biggest tunes at Grooverider and Fabio's legendary Rage nights which became the breeding ground for early jungle. Doc Scott has remixed the track on several occasions including VIP Drumz and Drumz '95 on Metalheadz as well as Breakage tackling it in 2001 on Enforcers 13/14, showing its enduring appeal. An interesting piece of trivia about this track is how the process of its production got Doc Scott into trouble with the authorities, as the man himself reveals:
"The original drumz was made over a week long ‘session’ and resulted in me being prosecuted for noise pollution. For real. Had to go to court and everything!" (check the whole interview here).
You can purchase the digital of 'Here Comes The Drumz' on the essential Reinforced Presents Doc Scott: The Early Plates, which also includes his first remix of the track and is available from Beatport, Juno and Trackitdown amongst others.
Monday, 18 March 2013
Marvellous Cain - Dub Plate Style (Suburban Base, 1994)
Today sees the second release on Marvellous Cain's RIQ Yardrock Records and like the first it's a remix of one of his classic tunes, this time Aries & Tuffist's take on 'Dub Plate Style'. The original was Cain's debut for Suburban Base Records, the iconic hardcore and jungle label run by Dan Donnelly who would go on to release his Gun Talk album.
'Dub Plate Style' continues the sample heavy production style he developed on 'Hitman'. It opens with 808 kick bass along with a siren and a cut-up of the 'Soul Pride' break. A timestretched "Dub Plate Style" vocal brings in the 'Amen' break before the first of the track's Daddy Freddy samples is introduced going something along the lines of "Penami-nami-na Penami-nami-na Penami-nami-na Penami-nami-na babaloo babalaba" (thanks to Logic at the Rolldabeats forum for the transcription). This is taken from 'Live Jam' off the Hustlers Convention Live LP on Music Of Life, a heavily sampled record which was clearly in Liam Howlett of The Prodigy's collection. The track also features a sample of the opening synth from 'I Adore You' by Caron Wheeler of Soul II Soul fame. Towards the end of the record the second sample from 'Live Jam' is brought in (which I won't try to transcribe!) along with timestretched drums. An absolutely classic tune that would later be redone as 'Babaloo' on the Gun Talk LP with fresh vocals from Daddy Freddy.
You can download the original of 'Dub Plate Style' over at Drum&BassArena, Trackitdown and Juno. Check out the Aries & Tuffist remix below which is now available at Drum&BassArena, Redeye, Trackitdown, Beatport, Juno and all good download stores.
Sunday, 17 March 2013
Influx Datum - Back For More (Formation Records, 2002)
In yesterday's post about Total Science's 'It's Not Over' I mentioned their use of a vocal from First Choice's 'Let No Man Put Asunder', a disco classic that has been heavily sampled by house, techno and drum & bass artists over the years. First Choice, an all-female group from Philadelphia, also had a number of other disco hits in the Seventies and early Eighties such as 'The Player' which Influx Datum sample here on 'Back For More'. Influx Datum were the duo of Gavin Price and Marco Fabien and they had a number of releases between 2001 and 2003 on Formation and its sub-labels before going their separate ways with Price continuing solo as Influx UK until around 2008.
This was probably their biggest track and uses several vocal segments from 'The Player', primarily the repeated title-lending "Back For More" but also "On The Run" and and a few different "Oh Yeeaaahh"s. It has a solid two-step beat and several elements typical of the liquid funk style: a filtered house-style guitar loop, synthetic strings and a warm soulful bassline. Price has stated a love for Chicago House with influences including the likes of Fingers Inc, Farley Jackmaster Funk and Frankie Bones and this really shines through in the production on this feel good tune which has me yearning for hot summer days.
It is available to purchase digitally over at Drum&BassArena on their Summer Selection compilation. You can also hear it in the mix below by Utah Jazz for Fabriclive, which also opens with Fingers Inc.
Saturday, 16 March 2013
Total Science - It's Not Over (Hardleaders, 2000)
Back in 1992 the breakbeat hardcore label Kickin' started a series of compilations entitled Hard Leaders, releasing seven volumes which gradually began to focus on the emerging sound of jungle. Subsequently, in 1995 Kickin' set up a sub-label called Hardleaders which focused on drum & bass with the first release coming from Dillinja in his Capone alias. The label went on to put out more than sixty 12"s but also continued to release compilations such as Listen Up in 2000 on which 'It's Not Over' first appeared, although I picked it up on a 12" that came out the following year.
It starts off with cymbal hits and strange noises before a filtered keyboard loop fades in. Over this Total Science bring in the 'Fools Gold' break, which is a take on the 'Hot Pants' break taken from the The Stone Roses' 'Fools Gold'. The track gradually builds up with synthetic and plucked strings along with a warm rolling bassline before introducing "It's not over between you and me" vocals from the much-sampled disco classic 'Let No Man Put Asunder' by First Choice (Total Science also sampled a different line on 'Jet Set'). They also occasionally use a "Yeah" vocal sample from the beginning of Jamaica Girls' 'On The Move' which was co-produced by François Kevorkian. A smooth house-influenced track in the liquid style that was just beginning to gain popularity at this point.
You can download an excellent All Hardleaders Mix by Nickdawg here which finishes with 'It's Not Over'. Check the rest of the tracklist over at Everyday Junglist.
Friday, 15 March 2013
DJ Phantasy - .44 Mag (DJ Phantasy Remix) (Easy Records, 1996) This time last month I covered Ben Grimm's 'Dogz On Da Set' in memory of Tim Dog who had just passed away and here's another track that samples the rapper. DJ Phantasy has been on the scene since the early days after catching the DJing bug on a trip to Ibiza in 1988 and subsequently getting encouragement from Fabio and Carl Cox. He started putting out records in 1991 with early tracks including 'Jepron' and 'Never Try The Hippodrome' (with DJ Gemini) and formed his own Easy Records imprint in 1995. The original of .44 Mag first came to my attention as a fourteen year old when it was included on Drum & Bass Selection 5 but since getting hold of the remixes on vinyl I've always preferred this version. It opens with half speed 'Sesame Street' drums and the siren-like guitar sound from UFO's 'ESG' that has been used on hundreds of hip-hop records. Over this Phantasy samples the "All I got is a .44 Mag / Fucking with me you'll go home in body bag" vocal from Tim Dog's charmingly titled 'Silly Bitch' along with gunshots and a simple bassline. He also adds Clint Eastwood's famous line from Dirty Harry: "Given this is a .44 Magnum the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?" The main body of the track features 'Think' drums and a tough 808 Kick/Reese combination making up the bassline with the aforementioned samples appearing frequently throughout before the breakdown brings in the distinctive vibrato chords from the original. A hard hitting jungle tune that encapsulates the chaos and violence suggested by its vocal samples. Discogs link
Thursday, 14 March 2013
Digital & Spirit - Backlash (Phantom Audio, 1999)
This week Digital & Spirit reactivated their Phantom Audio imprint nearly a decade after its last release, appropriately with remixes of the two tunes that appeared on the label's very first 12", the legendary 'Phantom Force' and 'Backlash'. I've already covered 'Phantom Force' (take a look here) which is given a superb update by Fracture who transforms it into a half step tune while maintaining the spirit (pun not intended) of the original with occasional use of the its two very distinctive breaks.
'Backlash' was always rather overshadowed by the A side but is almost its equal with sinister strings, hazy "Jah" vocal and a menacing stabbing bassline, similar to the one on 'Phantom Force' but muddier. The drums are nice and crisp with a few highly processed breaks sometimes appearing underneath including the 'Sesame Street' and 'Scorpio' breaks. Digital & Spirit's 2013 rework subtly updates it, maintaining the original's use of multiple breaks but bringing them more to the front and adding the 'Let A Woman Be A Woman' break that anchored 'Phantom Force' as well as the 'Life Could' break, making for some complex drum work. A reminder, if anyone needed it, of the debt drum & bass owes these two and hopefully the beginning of a new era for Phantom Audio.
Check out the remixes below, which are available on limited 12" and from all good download stores.
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Ram Trilogy - Mind Overload (RAM Records, 1998)
Ram Trilogy - the coming together of Andy C, Ant Miles and Shimon - took the drum & bass world by storm in 1998 with their three part Chapters series. What really made them stand out from the crowd was the quality of the production and arrangement of their tracks with not one element out of place. 'Mind Overload' appeared on Chapter Two and just carried on from where the first left off.
The track begins by building up layers of drums over foreboding strings before a robotic "Mind Overload" vocal brings in electronic gurgles as the bassline gradually takes shape underneath. When it fully drops the bassline reveals itself to be one of the funkiest to appear on a Ram Records release with just the right level of grit. You can hear it in this Andy C show on Kiss 100FM from the 29th July 1998, courtesy of the excellent Hardscore site, along with a couple of other Ram Trilogy tracks and material from the likes of Ed Rush & Optical, Dillinja and Jonny L.
You can purchase the digital of 'Mind Overload' direct from the label here.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013
Rampage - Why? (Smokin Studio Mix) (Almo Sounds, 1995)
I've recently become unhealthily obsessed with Carly Simon's 'Why' (check out the unintentionally hilarious video), an reggae tinged pop track written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of Chic. It featured on the soundtrack to flop 1982 movie Soup For One but was played by Larry Levan at the legendary Paradise Garage club in New York before becoming a Balearic classic on the Ibiza club scene in 1989. This led to CJ Mackintosh using the instrumental for his 'Why Edit' of A Tribe Called Quest's 'Bonita Applebum', which is where I first became familiar with it. But what sparked my recent interest in the track was the use of the "La di-da di-da" melody on the gorgeous 'Scissors' by Kuedo (AKA Jamie Vex'd) from his excellent Severant album.
I recently found out there is a drum & bass version of 'Why' by Rampage, who were responsible for the incredibly dodgy jungle remix of 'Here Come The Monkees'. Fortunately this track is somewhat better, probably thanks to the involvement of Joe and Tobi Brodie of Smokers Inc who just use resung vocals from the Carly Simon track without any of the original instrumentation, thereby avoiding too much cheesiness. The intro features looped "Tell me why, don't know why" vocals with mellow guitar and beat-switching between the 'Think' and 'Humpty Dump' breaks before the full vocals come in with a simple 808 kick bassline. Later a big overmodulated bassline is dropped alongside an Amen/Think combination making for nice contrast to the smoother sections. A surprising good version of the track which is now pretty hard (not to mention expensive) to get hold of.
Monday, 11 March 2013
Metalheads - Terminator (Synthetic, 1992)
This track, produced by Goldie along with DJ Freebase and Mark Rutherford, is a darkside anthem on the cusp of the crossover from hardcore to jungle which sounded like little else when it was first released. A month or so ago I was lucky enough to find a reissue of 'Terminator 2', the remix of this tune that came out on Reinforced, for just one pound at my local second hand emporium with 'Journey From The Light' by 4 Hero on the flipside as a nice little bonus.
The track samples two bits of dialogue from the original Terminator film, "Terminator is out there" and "You're talking about things I haven't done yet". The intro features a vocoder-like melody before a vinyl backspin brings in a 'Funky Drummer' based break taken from 'Smoke Filled Thoughts' by Fresh 4. Over this Goldie and co. alternate between the 'Hoover' synth sound, first created by Joey Beltram and Mundo Muzique on 'Mentasm', and hardcore synth stabs. What was really innovative about the track though was how it pitchshifted the break, gradually increasing the pitch while keeping the tempo the same, a technique that would be imitated by just about everyone. An incredibly futuristic sounding track that, much like the Terminator, sounds as if it was sent back in time with a mission to alter the course of drum & bass history.
Today sees the release of The Alchemist: The Best of Goldie 1992-2012 which includes 'Terminator' alongside many other classic tracks and remixes from throughout Goldie's career. Available on triple CD and to download, it is an essential purchase if you only have Timeless in your collection.
Sunday, 10 March 2013
UK Apachi with Shy FX - Original Nuttah (SOUR, 1994)
Shy FX already had a couple of singles under his belt by the time he produced 'Original Nuttah' but this was the track that really made his name. One of the biggest jungle tunes of 1994 as well as being the sound of that year's Notting Hill Carnival, it was one of my earliest experiences of hearing this new and exciting style of music thanks to its appearance as the opening track on Jungle Mania '94, so always brings back some good memories.
The track opens with one of my favourite lines from Goodfellas, spoken by Ray Liotta's character Henry Hill: "One day, one day some of the kids from the neighbourhood carried my mother's groceries all the way home. You know why? It was outta respect". This sets the tone for the rest of the track as the lyrics have a decidedly gangster lean to them, beginning with UK Apachi's opening chatter over siren-like horns sampled from Cypress Hill's 'I Wanna Get High': "Take heed and take check, UK Apache along di Shy FX and when we come it's murderation! All original gangsta man". However, UK Apachi has said the phrase "original nuttah" isn't limited to someone who is a gangster but extends to anyone who is a fighter. His vocals borrow from two dancehall tracks by Anthony Red Rose: the "Nah-nee-nee-woh-oh, zig-ee-nah-nah-no-no-no" section is from 'Fat Thing' while the "You never know the gangsta, me say dem inna jungle / Weh-eh-ell, yeah" part is from 'Tempo' (with different lyrics). Although UK Apachi's energetic vocals played a large role in the tune's popularity, Shy FX's production was also key with a catchy bassline (which is a replayed version of the 'Love Is Not A Gamble' riddim) and a unique cut-up of the 'Amen' break giving the track plenty of momentum.
Courtesy of Deep Inside The Oldskool, check out this Micky Finn set at Club Pure X on the 5th August 1994 which features 'Original Nuttah' towards the end along with many other jungle classics.
Saturday, 9 March 2013
Optical - To Shape The Future (Remix) (Metalheadz, 1997)
The American philosopher Eric Hoffer once said "The only way to predict the future is to have power to shape the future". One producer with that power in the drum & bass world is Matt Quinn AKA Optical who in 1997 had a series of seminal releases on labels such as Prototype, Moving Shadow, Metro and Metalheadz that played a pivotal role in the development of Drum & Bass and continue to influence the sound of the music today, truly "shaping the future".
The original of 'To Shape The Future' is a dark, sludgy tune at an unusually slow speed full of modem bleeps with a sick, droning bassline and a fractured, snare-heavy break. Optical then gave the track a major overhaul for the Metalheadz Boxset, a release in packaging influenced by Public Image Limited's Metal Box. The intro repeats the "To Shape The Future" line over modem bleeps until a didgeridoo-style bassline comes in. Over this Optical brings in the 'Action' break while the bassline gradually morphs in sound throughout the track until it more closely resembles the original's. It is at a much faster tempo, with a simpler beat, and while it retains the dark vibe it is clearly designed more with the 'floor in mind and makes for a great set opener. It's hard to choose a favourite between the two but I tend to lean towards the remix for its ability to move a crowd.
Optical celebrated the 15th Birthday of his and Ed Rush's Virus Recordings last night with a massive event at London's Cable venue, the lineup also including his brother Matrix, Black Sun Empire, Cause 4 Concern and The Upbeats. Wish I could have been there as it sounds like things really went off, a testament to the endurance of the movement these two started. No audio of that event available yet unfortunately, but you can download an Optical set from Renegade Hardware's History Sessions here which appropriately opens with 'To Shape The Future (Remix)'.
Friday, 8 March 2013
Player - Angel Of Theft (Jef Am Recordings, 2004)
Tonight I'm going to see Amon Tobin's ISAM Live 2.0 show at the Hammersmith Apollo. Tobin has been touring this amazing audio/visual show for nearly two years following the release of the ISAM album back in 2011. However this is the first and last time he'll be bringing the 2.0 edition to London, expanding the show to include the more beat heavy material from his Two Fingers project. It should go without saying, but I'm very excited.
Although Tobin has a long history with Drum & Bass dating back to some of his earliest material as Cujo, I couldn't resist writing about this incredible Drill'n'Bass style cut-up of guitar riffs from Thrash Metal band Slayer which he made under the not very subtle alias of Player alongside Ghostbeard. It was originally released on single-sided red vinyl with a pentagram etched on the other side in a run of just 400. It later appeared as a free download on his website before being included on last year's Amon Tobin, a behemoth of a boxset which included a CD and DVD of the original ISAM Live show. The awesome guitar riffs, plus some drums, come primarily from two Slayer tracks, 'Angel Of Death' (hence the title) and 'Raining Blood', over which he brings in some furious breakbeat choppage to create a brutal masterpiece capable of opening the gates of hell. It makes Concord Dawn's 'Raining Blood', which replays the main riff from the Slayer track, sound positively tame by comparison.
Unfortunately 'Angel Of Theft' isn't available to download from his site anymore but you can grab some freebies put up on his Soundcloud page to celebrate the ISAM Live 2.0 show. You can also get a 25 minute mix of ISAM material mixed by King Cannibal here.
Thursday, 7 March 2013
DJ Die - Special Treat (V Recordings, 1997)
A few weeks ago I looked at DJ Die's 'Something Special', with its sample of Pee Wee Marquette introducing Art Blakey's Quintet. 'Special Treat' appears on the other side of that 12" and isn't just similar in title as it also samples some introductory talk from a jazz record, in this case Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus.
Mingus had a reputation for being somewhat eccentric and you can see why on this album. Although it was recorded in a studio he acts as if he is playing to a live audience, talking to them in between songs and encouraging them not to applaud, as the first sample Die uses demonstrates: "Thank you again for not applauding, you dig it?" (taken from the beginning of 'What Love'). The second vocal sample, which lends the track its title, is also directed to the imaginary crowd: "And now ladies and gentleman for those of you who want to party we have a special treat in store for you" and is introducing the bizarrely titled 'All The Things You Could Be By Now If Sigmund Freud's Wife Was Your Mother'. Around these samples Die shapes another typically Bristolian track, opening with an echoed guitar lick before bringing in a deep, warm, melodic bassline that shifts pattern in the second half with drums that incorporate the 'Think' break. They don't make them like this anymore.
You can purchase the digital of 'Special Treat' directly from V Recordings here. It is also available on the awesome V Retrospect Volume 1 compilation. Die will be playing a special Bristol dubplates set back to back with Krust at the Exit Records 10th Birthday bash on the 12th April which I hope to scrape enough money together to attend.
Wednesday, 6 March 2013
Hidden Agenda - Dispatches #2 (Metalheadz, 1996)
Last night saw the world premiere of 'Radio Rewrite', a new work by Steve Reich based on two Radiohead tracks, 'Everything In Its Right Place' and 'Jigsaw Falling Into Place'. Reich is one of the pioneers of minimal music and this piece came about after he heard Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood perform 'Electric Counterpoint' in 2011. This Reich composition was originally recorded by Pat Metheny in 1987 and involves twelve pre-recorded guitar parts with a thirteenth performed live. It is a stunningly beautiful piece of music which has been sampled by The Orb and RJD2 amongst others.
What does this have to do with drum & bass? Well, Hidden Agenda sampled 'Electric Counterpoint' on 'Dispatches #2' which appeared on their third 12" for Metalheadz. A short guitar loop from the piece fades in at around the five minute mark and provides a brief moment of light on an otherwise dark track. It opens with a thin-sounding 'Think' break before adding a sturdier beat and ghostly atmospherics with a low growling bassline and small snippets of the 'Life Could' and 'Apache' breaks. A 'yelping' sound appears throughout the track and this might be from the intro to Herbie Hancock's 'Watermelon Man' although I can't be sure (see my post about Foul Play's 'Cuttin' Loose' for further discussion of this track). There are also two samples of dialogue from 'The Night of the Hunter', a strange and disconcerting film starring Robert Mitchum from 1955: "It's a hard world for little things" appears at 1:12 while "I come not with peace but with a sword" appears after the Reich sample at 5:52. An excellent, sinister track from the often underrated duo.
You can purchase the digital of 'Dispatches #2' directly from the label here. It is also available on the excellent Platinum Breakz II compilation. If you are in the UK you can listen to the 'Radio Rewrite' premiere, which includes a performance of 'Electric Counterpoint' by Mats Bergström, here and here until Tuesday 12th March 2013 courtesy of BBC Radio 3.
Tuesday, 5 March 2013
Itch'ie E - It's A Demo (Mix 2) (Strictly Underground Records, 1996)
After writing about 'Back In The Daze' by Mark "Ruff" Ryder in his Urban Jungle alias on Sunday I somewhat serendipitously came across this record in a second hand store the next day. I snapped it up despite knowing nothing about it, the fact it was released on Strictly Underground was enough - well, that and it was only £1.50. This was the only release Itch'ie E put out and I'm assuming it's one of Mark Ryder's many aliases but can't be sure.
Although the two mixes of the track aren't substantially different I prefer the second one due to its hazy jazz sample of rhodes and double bass. The track uses the 'Think' break and alternates between a Reese bassline and an 808 kick bassline with two vocal samples appearing throughout. I think the "It's A Demo" line is taken from the Kool G Rap & DJ Polo track of the same name but played slower, while the exclaimation of "Funky!" is Biz Markie from the beginning of Big Daddy Kane's 'Just Rhymin' With Biz'. A nice little jump-up style tune which was definitely worth my £1.50!
A mix of 'It's A Demo' is available on the Strictly Hardcore compilation The Ruffest Drum & Bass Ever and although it's probably the other version it's still worth getting hold of.
Monday, 4 March 2013
Foul Play - Cuttin' Loose (Moving Shadow, 1994)
Last Monday I looked at 'Watermelon' by Ed Rush & Optical and mentioned that it supposedly samples 'Watermelon Man' by Herbie Hancock, although exactly what is unclear. Well here's a tune that definitely does, using the flute-like sounds from the beginning and the end of the track for the intro. The sound is actually Bill Summers blowing into beer bottles to imitate hindewhu, a style of singing/whistle-playing perfomed by the BaBenzélé pygmies of the Central African Republic. Over this Foul Play bring in echoed percussion, 808 bass and a take on the 'Hot Pants' break before introducing a woodblock melody. The track is very percussive and rhythmically complex with some heavy use of pitchshifting. In the mid-section warm synths and jazzy keys are brought in with a "Flyin' high in the friendly skies, feels so good sometimes it makes me cry" female vocal sampled from Chanté Moore's soulful 'Love's Taken Over', which makes for a nice contrast to the rest of the track.
You can purchase 'Cuttin' Loose' over at Beatport. It was released on Issue 8 of the Two On One series, nine 12"s featuring a different artist on each side with covers which put together form an image of the Moving Shadow logo. Unfortunately I only own two of the series, this one and Issue 2 - DJ Crystl/Omni Trio, but a few lucky people have the complete set as you can see in the photo below.
Sunday, 3 March 2013
Urban Jungle - Back In The Daze (Sexy Ladies Mix) (Jungle Mania Records, 1994)
A couple of weeks ago I was trying to think of a decent tune to post for Valentine's Day but came up blank. Somehow I totally forgot this gem of a track from Mark "Ruff" Ryder in his Urban Jungle guise. Mark is a total legend and was behind Strictly Underground and its various sublabels as well as being the producer of many fine hardcore tunes under multiple aliases (including 'Get Down' as M-D-Emm, one of my all time favourites) before moving on to jungle. The Jungle Mania label put out mainly white label releases due to the use of uncleared samples and 'Back In The Daze' is a case in point.
It liberally samples from 'The Luv U Wanted' by Lil' Louis & The World, a beautiful tune that was actually written and performed by Ferrante Hickerson with singer Sherel who are credited on the record as Antigua. 'Back In The Daze' uses a loop of the opening lines along with the synths, piano and percussion: "And if a kiss could melt a heart, show me / Tonight oh baby in the dark, hold me / Cos when you kiss me, the sky just seems to fall (seems to fall) / I guess it's love I'm feeling after all". Over this Ryder adds an 808 bassline and Think/Life Could drums, simple but effective. The 'Bad Breakbeat Boyz Mix' on the flipside also uses a tearing Amen break but I've always preferred the more laid back approach taken by the 'Sexy Ladies Mix'.
The use of the sample in this tune eventually got Ryder into trouble with Hickerson but according to their comments in the youtube video above they managed to settle the matter. The original 12" will set you back a fair amount but the track is available on the excellent and more affordable Jungle Soundclash Volume 1 compilation which is where I discovered it. You can also hear it in Kode9's '94 to '96 jungle mix for FACT below:
Saturday, 2 March 2013
Accidental Heroes - Forgotten Worlds (Industry Recordings, 2001)
Although most science fiction films are ripe for sampling, Blade Runner has to be the most sampled movie in drum'n'bass history, from the dialogue and atmospherics to the Vangelis soundtrack. I've already mentioned Dillinja's frequent use of the film but the track that uses the dialogue most extensively is probably 'Forgotten Worlds' by Accidental Heroes. In the intro and breakdown the track uses the lines in bold below (in the same order) from the scene where Tyrell tells Roy why he can't extend his lifespan (watch the clip here):
Tyrell: The facts of life... to make an alteration in the evolvement of an organic life system is fatal. A coding sequence cannot be revised once it's been established.
Batty: Why not?
Tyrell: Because by the second day of incubation any cells that have undergone reversion mutation give rise to revertant colonies like rats leaving a sinking ship, then the ship sinks.
Batty: What about EMS recombination?
Tyrell: We've already tried it, ethyl, methane, sulfonate as an alkalating agent and potent mutagen, it created a virus so lethal the subject was dead before it even left the table.
Batty: Then a repressor protein, that would block the operating cells.
Tyrell: Wouldn't obstruct replication but it does give rise to an error in replication so that the newly formed DNA strand carries with it a mutation and you've got a virus again....but this, all of this is academic. You were made as well as we could make you.
Batty: But not to last.
Tyrell: The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long and you have burned so very, very brightly Roy.
The track has a booming bassline with old skool-style synth stabs over a gentle chord progression, all making for a nice rolling tune. Accidental Heroes also went by the name Sonic & Silver and had releases on multiple labels including Formation (and its sub-labels), Metalheadz, Infrared and Trouble On Vinyl, but appropriately their own label was called Science Fiction Records. I'll be returning to the Blade Runner theme in future posts so stay tuned.
Friday, 1 March 2013
DJ Hype - Computerised Cops (Ganja Records, 1994)
By the time Kevin Ford AKA DJ Hype set up Ganja Records in 1994 he had already been producing records for five years with a background in DJing dating back even further. In the eighties he was part of the Heatwave sound system with PJ and Smiley of Shut Up and Dance and showed the calibre of his turntable skills by representing the UK at the European DMC mixing championships in 1989 as Doctor K. He brought his scratching skills to the Hardcore scene, becoming the top DJ on Fantasy FM and also putting out tunes such as 'The Bee' and 'The Exorcist' (both as part of The Scientist) on Kickin Records. In 1993 he made the leap to Jungle with his first releases as DJ Hype coming out on Suburban Base including the massive 'Roll The Beats'.
'Computerised Cops' featured on Ganja Records Volume 1 and was inevitably another dancefloor anthem for Hype. It opens with a looped vibraphone and vocodered "Computerised" vocal from Zapp's 'Computer Love'. Over this he brings in the 'Hot Pants' break before sampling some dialogue from the movie 'Colors': "So you ain't gonna do nothing with your life, but sit here and wait for Jesus to fall out the sky? That's right". This is the cue for one of his trademark reversed basslines with plenty of pitchshifted drums to accompany the main break. With his background in turntablism it shouldn't be a surprise that Hip-Hop samples were a regular feature of his productions and here he uses B-Real's "Cops, come and try to snatch my crops" line from Cypress Hill's 'Insane In The Brain' extensively, appropriate for Ganja's first release.
You can hear Hype's scratching skills as well as 'Computerised Cops' in his set at Dance Planet's Detonator III event back in March 1994 below.