Sunday, 30 June 2013
The Original Playboy - Cool Summer Breeze (R & S Records, 1995)
The weather in the UK has finally realised it's summer so here's a track I've been wanting to write about for a while but just doesn't suit grey rainy days. The Original Playboy was a collaboration between jazzy drum & bass don Alex Reece and Pim AKA Pim Aldridge and they released just one 12" on R & S in 1995. Pim would go on to have a couple of releases on John Sexton's All Good Vinyl, the short-lived drum & bass sublabel of R & S.
'Cool Summer Breeze' is my favourite track on the record and it opens with a sample of the rhodes from the beginning of Norman Connor's 'You Are My Starship', also used by Gang Related & Mask on 'Bass Is Rollin'. Whereas that track was rough and rugged, 'Cool Summer Breeze' is as smooth as they come with the duo adding snippets of sax and flute along with a sensual, dreamy sigh of a vocal over a rolling beat and deep, funky bassline. Perfect for chilling to on a hot summers day.
'Cool Summer Breeze' is available digitally from Amazon and also appeared on the excellent R & S compilation In Order To Dance 6: Drum-N-Bass. You can hear Pim's solo material on his myspace page (tracks 6 through 10) and All Good Vinyl Classic Drum+Bass Sessions Pt.1, a CD of material from the label released on Copasetik Recordings, the imprint John Sexton formed following All Good Vinyl's demise, which also includes the other two tracks from the Original Playboy EP. It is available to stream on Spotify and purchase digitally from 7digital.
Saturday, 29 June 2013
DJ Hype feat. MC GQ - Roll The Beats (Inject The Bass Mix) (Suburban Base, 1994)
If you listened to the DJ Hype and MC GQ set at AWOL from October 1993 featured in yesterday's post you will probably have recognised GQ's exclamations of "Wheel and come again please please please" and "Absolutely T for Tremendous" right at the beginning of the clip. Hype sampled these lines along with the "Rrrrroll the Beats" phrase from earlier in the set (which you can listen to here) on 'Roll The Beats', one of his signature tracks and an all time jungle classic.
It starts off with sci-fi style synths before introducing those distinctive bleeps which sound like a vintage long wave radio being tuned alongside GQ's vocals and the Think break. The "Rrrroll the Beats" line brings in a rattling break sampled from 'Funky Music Is The Thing (Part 2)' by The Dynamic Corvettes which is quickly joined by an immense speaker shaking bassline. Live crowd noise permeates the track while vocals sampled from 'Mabrak' by The Abyssinians precede the mid-track breakdown which uses the 'Throw Me Corn' riddim which originated with the Larry Marshall track of the same name. Exciting, visceral and powerful, this is everything jungle is about.
The digital of 'Roll The Beats' is available to buy from Drum&BassArena and Juno Download.
Friday, 28 June 2013
D'Cruze - Watch Out (Suburban Base, 1994)
Capleton's 'Wings Of The Morning' (see yesterday's post about 'Fever') appeared on his Prophecy LP which was released by Def Jam, an indication of his growing international stature in the mid-nineties. Born Clifton George Bailey III, he first came to prominence in the late eighties with dancehall hits such as 'Bumbo Red' and 'No Lotion Man'. Initially a rude boy, his conversion to the Rastafari movement saw his music become more culturally conscious and helped him gain widespread appeal. However he has faced much criticism for his abhorrent lyrics regarding homosexuality and although he signed the Reggae Compassionate Act in 2007 he has continued to perform songs which advocate violence towards homosexuals.
His music has been heavily sampled by jungle artists on tunes such as 'Worries In The Dance' and 'Maximum Style'. Today though I'm going to take a look at D'Cruze's 'Watch Out' which opens with a sample from 'Dem No Like Me', an early Capleton track that appeared on the Gold compilation: "Dem no like me an me no like dem / Dem ah me enemy, me ah dem no friend". This 12" followed D'Cruze's 'Bass Go Boom' and 'The Dark Stranger' (as Boogie Times Tribe with Dan Donnelly) and saw him continue the transition from hardcore to jungle with a darkcore style track that features haunting synths, bell chimes and layered drums using the Think break. Later in '94 it received remixes from DJ Dextrous & Rude Boy Keith and D'Cruze himself.
You can purchase the digital of the remixes from Drum&BassArena and Juno Download. The original mix is available on Drum & Bass Selection 1. Check it out in this October 1993 AWOL set from DJ Hype with MC GQ on the mic:
Thursday, 27 June 2013
Tribe Of Issachar feat. Pete Bouncer - Fever (Defending Souljah) (Congo Natty, 1996)
Next week sees the release of Congo Natty's hotly anticipated Jungle Revolution album which is now available to stream over at Big Dada's Soundcloud page. Mixed by On-U Sound legend Adrian Sherwood and featuring a multitude of guest vocalists the record updates the Congo Natty sound while staying true to the roots of the music, expressing anger at what is going on in the world and spreading a message of love and unity. Full of big basslines and catchy hooks it is recommended to all junglists old and new.
To celebrate I'm taking a looking at 'Fever', one of Congo Natty's classic nineties tracks. Appropriately it opens with Method Man's "The revolution has now begun" line from his Capleton collaboration 'Wings Of The Morning' which is also sampled on 'Revolution' from the new album. This leads into the classic Easy Mo Bee beat from Craig Mack's 'Flava In Ya Ear' which is shortly joined by the Sandy break with occasional bursts of Funky Mule. Pete Bouncer's "The Original Fever" vocals are the cue for the introduction of a fat bassline, police sirens and the Cold Sweat break.
The vocals, which continue "Fever, Lord God man a Junglistic Fever" while also conveying love for all Souljahs, update the lyrics to Tenor Saw's 'Fever', the title track of the influential dancehall star's debut album from 1985. There are also a couple of samples from Public Enemy with Flava Flav's well used "Don't Believe The Hype" line and the voice from the beginning ("The future holds nothing but confrontation") and end (The enemy strikes black... Hardcore") of Apocalypse '91 opener 'Lost At Birth' which brings in a short section using the Do The Do break. Before the track comes to a close there are further Method Man lyrics from 'Wings Of The Morning': "Now, owwww, everybody, Get in where you fit in". While the Defending Souljah mix of the track is the best one it is also worth checking 'The Revolution Has Now Begun' version on the flip and the '98 mix.
If you're not familiar with Congo Natty's output you can stream or download this excellent discography spanning mix from Uncle Dugs which includes 'Fever' as well as many other classic tracks. You can preorder Jungle Revolution directly from the label. Tickets are still available for the LP Launch Party on July 4th at Dalston's Birthday venue, head over to Soundcrash for details.
Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Dom & Roland - Killa Bullet (Moving Shadow, 1999)
Dom Angas often went uncredited for his engineering work on tracks for No U-Turn artists such as Ed Rush and Trace but gained the recognition he deserved with his solo work as Dom & Roland. One aspect that always makes his tunes stand out are the atmospheric intros which have a cinematic quality to them and 'Killa Bullet' is no exception.
The track opens with dissonant layers of strings which build the tension before a precise, thumping beat comes in. Splurges of distorted bass join the action and later the strings give way to a metallic drone and industrial noises. Everything but the bass drops out following a "The bullet should've killed him" vocal which leads to the introduction of the track's central feature - a seven note descending bassline which is rather reminiscent of DJ Krust's 'Warhead', a similarity that extends to the track's name. My favourite part of the tune comes sixteen bars after the beat comes back in when the harsh stabs of bass are joined by a fatter, rounder bassline following the same pattern which then takes over. A dark tune that can lead to some serious neck damage.
You can buy the digital of 'Killa Bullet' from Beatport. Check it out below in this mix from Timecode AKA Rob Playford which appeared on the 99.1 compilation, one of a number of budget priced samplers put out by Moving Shadow from 1998 to 2005.
Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Trace & Nico - Squadron (Nu Black, 1996)
After writing about Track & Nico's 'Amtrak' last week reader Mark B asked if I could take a look at the flipside and I'm more than happy to oblige. 'Squadron' is an awe-inspiring tune of apocalyptic proportions with some of the most deliberately dirty production ever put to wax. In Energy Flash Simon Reynolds wrote:
"No U Turn themselves reached something of a pinnacle with the dark exultation of Trace/Nico's 'Squadron', whose Carmina Burana-gone-cyberpunk fanfares slash and scythe like the Grim Reaper."
The track keeps you on edge as it gradually unfolds before unleashing the full force of its fury. It opens with a reverbed 'The Flow' break and ominous synthetic strings while synth stabs of pure evil roll across the track like claps of thunder accompanying the Four Horsemen as they bring death and destruction to the world. The synth stabs sound like they are straight out of a Belgian techno tune such as 'Anasthasia' by T99 and after they form the closest the track gets to a "melody" they are joined by savage blasts of distorted Reese and an Amen so muddy it sounds as if it was recorded from the next room on to a cassette. The last minute or so of the record is left to just the drums and Reese which occasionally drop out completely as the tune spins out of control. The theme tune to the end of the world.
Like 'Amtrak' the track appeared on the Torque LP and you can buy the digital over at Beatport and Trackitdown. It features in Blu Mar Ten's From The Vaults Vol. 1 - Techstep Mix: 1997 which you can listen to below:
Monday, 24 June 2013
Rude Bwoy Monty - Jungle Man (Frontline Record, 1994)
I'll finish off this look at Dr. Dre/Eazy-E related material from the True Playaz/Frontline collective with this tune from Rahman Herbert AKA Rude Bwoy Monty. It was the first release for both Frontline and Monty and the producer later revealed to Knowledge Magazine that he "only ever wanted to do one record... When I was a kid I always dreamt of being in a band or something, so actually seeing my name on a piece of vinyl meant a lot to me." Of course he would go on to release several other big jungle tunes including Warp 9 Mr. Zulu and Steppa's Anthem.
Among several other vocal samples Monty uses the "Oooh, Yeah, Yeah" from the end of 'Fuck Wit Dre Day (and Everybody's Celebratin')' which was also used by Ray Keith on 'The Chopper'. The track opens with a loop of the vocal and beat from 'Watch Who You Drape' by Terror Fabulous: "Watch who you drape up no foolish, oh yes, it could be a junglist, junglist". It then drops in to a murky bassline topped with horns which sound like they're taken from a hip-hop tune* before switching to a heavy reversed bassline with drums using the Soul Pride and Sesame Street breaks. A couple of other ragga vocals are used throughout including the title lending "Jungle man...". Not as well known as it's flipside 'Out In Da Streets' but a great track nevertheless.
You can purchase the digital of 'Jungle Man' at Beatport.
* UPDATE 07/04/15 Thanks to reader Johnny Bratwurst who revealed the source of this to be the hardcore hip-hop of Onyx's 'Bacdafucup'.
Sunday, 23 June 2013
Ganja Cru - Can't Handle The Streets (Fear Mix 2) (Frontline Records, 1996)
Eazy-E's 'Real Muthaphukkin G's' is a diss track aimed at his former N.W.A ally Dr. Dre and his-then-new protégé Snoop Doggy Dogg. It was a response to Dre's 'Fuck Wit Dre Day (and Everybody's Celebratin')' which dissed Eazy-E and had a video that featured a parody character called "Sleazy-E". Among other allegations the track claims that Dre was a fake - for instance the "Pranksters, studio gangstas, busters" line used in Zinc's 'Pranksters' is preceded by "Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg are fuckin' actors". Dre somewhat confirmed this assertion while also mocking the notion of being a real gangsta during an interview for the 1995 hip-hop documentary The Show:
"Living up to what you see on records, that's all entertainment. Anybody in their fuckin' right mind know you can talk about shooting someone on a record but no muthafucker ain't really gonna go out there and do it unless they just... stupid, you know what I'm saying?"
DJ Hype samples this interview on 'Can't Handle The Streets', a 1996 release on Pascal's Frontline Records. Of the two mixes I prefer the second which opens with a jazzy guitar lick, some soulful "Woah, I want you" vocals and the title-lending "Some people can't handle the streets" line. The track cycles through three different basslines alongside hyperactive drums which include the Scorpio and Amen breaks. The third bassline, which comes in after the mid-track Dre sample, distinctly recalls Zinc's 'Ready Or Not' bootleg of the same year which Hype assisted on. 'Can't Handle The Streets' also regularly uses a "Huh" vocal accompanied by laughter which is taken from the beginning of the heavily sampled 'Different Strokes' by Syl Johnson. The sort of tune that only Hype could make, packed with rattling beats and fat bass.
Listen to Hype drop it below during this set at Helter Skelter Voyager on March 9th 1996 with GQ on the mic. You can also hear it in Pearsall's Drop The Hammer 1 mix over at sonicrampage.org.
Saturday, 22 June 2013
DJ Zinc - Pranksters (True Playaz, 1996)
Adam F isn't the only drum & bass producer to take inspiration from Bob James who is one of the most sampled artists in hip-hop history. While several of his tracks have been sampled, two in particular regularly crop up: 'Take Me To The Mardi Gras' and 'Nautilus'. The former is the source of the bell filled break most famously used by Run-DMC on 'Peter Piper' while the latter is sampled for its keys, bassline and break on tracks such as A Tribe Called Quest's 'Clap Your Hands' and Ghostface Killah's 'Daytona 500'. It shouldn't be much of a surprise that DJ Zinc, one of the most hip-hop minded of drum & bass producers, has also sampled the smooth jazz pioneer.
'Pranksters', the AA side of 'Reach Out' on the second True Playaz release, opens with the floaty keys from the beginning of 'Nautilus' along with a vocal sample from Eazy-E's 'Real Muthaphukkin G's', taking the "Pranksters, studio gangstas, busters" line from B.G. Knocc Out's verse. A snippet of trumpet from 'Stomped & Wasted' by Dizzy Gillespie brings in the 'Worm' break and a rapid fire ascending/descending bassline before a "I like the bass that goes boom" vocal leads to the introduction of some tearing Amen. The second drop brings in a more standard Zinc bassline which always reminds me of Northern Connexion's 'Reel Funk'. Yet another ripper of a tune from Benjamin Pettit.
You can purchase the digital of 'Pranksters' over at Beatport. The track is also included in this huge 90 minute mix of Zinc material from Pearsall entitled King Of The Rollerz. Listen to the mix below and head over to sonicrampage.org for more info on the selection.
Friday, 21 June 2013
Adam F - Brand New Funk (V Recordings, 1998)
The immortal opening lines of Spoonie Gee's 'Spoonin' Rap' have been paraphrased or sampled on many occasions but probably the first person to reuse them was Spoonie himself on 1980's The Sequence collaboration 'Monster Jam'. That track then appeared on 'The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel', with "You say" being repeated several times to lead off the ground breaking live mix. Fast forward to the late nineties and Adam F sampled this opening on his epic blaxploitation redux 'Brand New Funk'.
Adam Fenton had a knack for producing big tunes with this one, 'Circles' and 'Metropolis' all being undisputed classics. It appeared on a limited edition sampler for the mammoth Planet V compilation and also led off the album. It has one of the longest intros of any drum & bass track (clocking in at close to four minutes) and features several samples alongside live instrumentation, a common feature of his work. Speaking to UKHH in 2005 the producer said:
"I have some samples, but I’m a very strong believer in incorporating live and electronic music together. I grew up on playing music live and so I like to incorporate the two together."
The track apparently took three months to put together and has a seventies jazz funk vibe to it. It opens with an explosive rush of sound and ominous strings before some vocodered wah wah guitar that appears to be saying "Brand New" comes in. Horns sampled from the beginning of 'They Call Me Mister Tibbs' by Quincy Jones lead into some exuberant horn stabs, shortly joined by impatient drums which drive the track forward. The extended beatless section that follows uses an off key piano hit from the beginning of 'Bitches Brew' by Miles Davis before a portentous fanfare interpolated from Bob James' 'Night On Bald Mountain' (an artist he also sampled on 'Circles') and the "You say" vocals introduce the track's central funky guitar lick which unfolds as the drums come back in for an almighty release of a drop. The track was on dubplate for ages before coming out and got absolutely caned by all the scene's top DJs, sounding like nothing else around at the time.
Adam F had used some of the samples on this track before such as the piano hit from 'Bitches Brew' which appeared on a few tracks from his Colours LP. He would also go on to reuse those over-the-top chords for his M.O.P. collaboration 'Stand Clear'. You can download 'Brand New Funk' directly from the label here where you can also find a remix from DJ Suv who gives the track a Bristolian twist. Jumpin' Jack Frost was famed for using two copies of the tune slightly out of sync with one another and you can check that routine out below:
Thursday, 20 June 2013
Boogie Times Tribe - The Dark Stranger (Origin Unknown Remix) (Suburban Base, 1993)
Kraftwerk's influence on modern music, from techno and hip-hop to rock and pop, is immeasurable. Jude Rogers, writing in The Observer prior to their triumphant series of gigs at the Tate Modern earlier this year, said "no other band since the Beatles has given so much to pop culture". As we saw yesterday, drum & bass is no exception and this '93 darkside anthem from the Boogie Times Tribe is another example as it uses a sample from Kraftwerk's 'Electric Cafe'.
The original mix is a great hardcore style tune but I prefer the Origin Unknown Remix which gives it a jungle update in the vein of 'Valley Of The Shadows'. The bell-like sound from the beginning of 'Electric Cafe' is one of a number of samples that add to the sinister vibe, although it's possible Andy C and Ant Miles took it from a sample CD as it was used in other tracks from around the same time such as this one. The foreboding strings at the beginning of the track, as well as two of the vocal samples, come from Blood Lines: Dracula - The Man, The Myth, The Movies, a documentary about the making of Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula. "The dark side of all human nature" is the voice of Anthony Hopkins, while the mostly timestretched "the dark stranger" is Gary Oldman, both lines taken from interviews with the actors (they are used more extensively in the original mix with the Oldman line preceded by the words "he comes to you in the night"). The horrifying laughter that appears frequently throughout may have come from Weird Dreams, a late eighties/early nineties video game for Amiga, Atari ST, C64 and MS-DOS, although it's also possible the two have the same original source.
The track has what sounds like a second generation 'Think' break coupled with an awesome low frequency bassline. Once it gets going there are a couple more vocal samples used with the "Girl I'm starting to lose it" vocal coming from a late eighties house tune by Forte called 'I'll Set Ya Free' while there is also a brief use of the "Another terrifying (intro)" line from Style's 'The Assassinator' that appeared at the beginning of the original mix. A nice little touch comes at the end when those foreboding strings play on during the run out, looping until you take the needle off the record. Chilling and dread filled, this is the sound of your nightmares put on wax.
You can purchase the digital of 'The Dark Stranger' over at Drum&BassArena and Juno Download. Origin Unknown remixed their remix on The Dark Stranger Part 3 and you can check that out below:
Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Mr Freeze - How Many DJ's (Joker Records, 1998)
Mr Freeze was a one off alias used by Bizzy B & Pugwash AKA The Dream Team for this release on their own Joker Records in 1998. The name was part of a series of pseudonyms which played off the name of the label as they were based on villains from Batman with other examples being The Riddler, The Penguin and The Scarecrow.
'How Many DJ's' exemplifies their hip-hop heavy production style, starting off with the synth from the beginning of The Fearless Four's 'Rockin It', a track whose backing was performed by Pumpkin. He was replaying the main riff from 'Man Machine' by Kraftwerk as The Fearless Four's Devastating Tito recalls in this interview:
"He listened to Machine Man which was more electronic and he turned it in to the piano sound... So he kept that riff going and it was almost like infectious!."
Kraftwerk were a huge influence on early hip-hop and electro artists with another well known example being Africa Bambaataa and The Soulsonic Force's 'Planet Rock' which borrows the melody from 'Trans-Europe Express'. As Carl Craig said regarding Kraftwerk: "They were so stiff, they were funky". The 'Rockin It' riff has also been used by several other hip-hop artists including MC Lyte on 'Cha Cha Cha' and Jay-Z's Foxy Brown featuring 'Sunshine'.
Bizzy B & Pugwash also sample KRS-One's "How many MCs must get dissed" line from Boogie Down Production's 'My Philosophy', replacing "MCs" with "DJs". At the time their tunes were not getting a huge amount of support from the big DJs so this may be a pointed reference to the lack of play they were receiving. The drop brings in a typically bouncy jump-up bassline over a basic two-step beat for a tune which sums up Joker's philosophy as stated by Pugwash to Knowledge Magazine in 1997: "I used to go out raving all the time and loved jumping about, so now I like to make tunes to make people bruck out and have a good time".
Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Amazon II - King Of The Beats (Aphrodite Recordings, 1996)
Before Mantronix there was Errol Eduardo Bedward AKA Pumpkin, a producer, percussionist and multi-instrumentalist who was behind many classic old skool hip-hop cuts on Enjoy Records such as Spoonie Gee's 'Love Rap', The Treacherous Three's 'Body Rock' and The Fearless Four's 'Rockin It'. He never really got the credit he deserved at Enjoy and signed a deal with Profile Records where he released the drum machine funk of 'King Of The Beat' in 1983 as well as producing for the likes of Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde and Disco Four. It is the 1984 posse cut 'Here Comes That Beat!' by Pumpkin & The Profile All-Stars that provides the majority of the vocals for Amazon II's 'King Of The Beats'. Pumpkin would go on to produce for Tuff City Records among others before passing away in 1992 of pneumonia and should be better known for his huge contribution to hip-hop.
Amazon II were Aphrodite and Tony B and they had a run of great releases from 1994 to 1996 with earlier cuts including 'Booyaaa! (Open Your Mind)' and 'Basslights'. The track opens with the heavily sampled/paraphrased "You say one for the trouble, two for the time, come on y'all..." from the beginning of Spoonie Gee's 'Spoonin Rap'. This introduces a half-speed beat with horn stabs taken straight from 'Lyrical Rundown' by Twin Hype, a later Profile Records act consisting of twins Glennis and Lennis Brown. Over this Amazon II use the vocals of Disco Four's Greg G. and Mr. Troy from 'Here Comes That Beat!' including the lines "the scratch, the bass", "the king of the beats is gonna rock the place" and "the one, the only" before dropping a lively Reese bassline over a simple two-step beat. The vocals continue throughout and help make it a particularly memorable track while I really like the mixing of the half-speed beat alongside full tempo drums, something that would become a regular feature of Aphrodite's productions. One of my favourites from his catalogue - as a vocal towards the end says, it will "make you clap, snap, rock to the rhythm a lot".
You can purchase the digital of 'King Of The Beats' over at Beatport. It is also available on the Aphrodite Recordings compilation and his self-titled debut album. Aphrodite remixed the track in 2010 and while I don't think it's a patch on the original it does add some Michael Jackson-esque "Hee-Hees" from 'Here Comes That Beat!'. You can check it out below:
Monday, 17 June 2013
DJ Crystl - King Of The Beats (Moving Shadow, 1994)
Trace & Nico's 'Amtrak' wasn't the first track to employ the "get to the future" vocal sample as it was used by the legendary DJ Crystl two years earlier on 'King Of The Beats'. This one was released on Moving Shadow's Two On One series but Crystl's usual home was the Lucky Spin / Dee Jay Recordings group of labels who also released much of Trace's early output. I'm speculating but it's possible that the sample was sourced by Pete Parsons (AKA Voyager) who provided technical assistance to both producers (incidentally if you know where the sample is from please get in contact).
'King Of The Beats' is an apt title for a Crystl track as he was a master of the Amen break. It also references the Amen filled Mantronix track of the same name which is appropriate considering Crystl's background in hip-hop (he went by the name DJ Pump Action while in British collective The Brotherhood). It opens with darkside synths, stabs of 808 kick bass and an echoed vocal that sounds like it's saying "Beat" as well as the exact same "Here is a group trying to accomplish one thing, that is to get to the future" line, complete with manic laughter, as 'Amtrak'. The track has a pristinely edited Amen break punctuated by a thunderous cascading effect while Crystl recreates the sound of an actual jungle with bird call-like sounds. Not his best known tune but a strong track nevertheless.
You can purchase the digital of 'King Of The Beats' from Beatport and iTunes. Check it out below in Law's second All DJ Crystl mix (part one is here):
Sunday, 16 June 2013
Trace & Nico - Amtrak (Nu Black, 1996)
The demonic laughter in Kemal's 'Bleed' reminded me of this track which was the third release on No U-Turn's Nu Black sublabel. The imprint was in operation from 1996 to 2001 and had thirteen releases which were initially limited edition 12"s such as this one before the focus switched to material from outside the core group of Ed Rush, Trace, Fierce and Nico.
'Amtrak' is named after the corporation who run American's intercity rail network, the word being a portmanteau of 'America' and 'Track'. Trace used to rely on the service to get to gigs but delays often led to him being late. The track's vocal sample, "Here is a group trying to accomplish one thing, that is to get to the future", ends with the sound of laughter and can be viewed as Trace's way of venting his frustration with rail travel while also rather nicely summing up No U-Turn's ethos. The track opens with reverbed percussive sounds and ominous synths before bringing in drums that alternate between the 'Life Could' and 'The Flow' breaks. As Mentasm stabs swirl around Trace & Nico drop a heavy Reese bassline and add the Amen and 'Tighten Up' breaks to the beat switching mix. In the words of Peter Shapiro this is "the sound of the Midnight Special going off the rails".
The track appeared on the CD version of No U-Turn's Torque LP and also led off Ed Rush's Live Mix on the second disc with the vocal sample played clean first. Below you can check out two videos of the beginning of the set:
Saturday, 15 June 2013
Kemal - Bleed (Negative Recordings, 2000)
Ed Rush, Optical and company were a huge influence on a new breed of producers such as Kemal & Rob Data AKA Konflict. As Kemal said to Knowledge Magazine around the time 'Bleed' was released: "We prefer the hard, techno-influenced drum & bass". This was the AA side of the first release on their own Negative Recordings, a sadly short-lived label that nevertheless had a large impact on the scene with other big tunes including 'The Mummy' and 'Gene Sequence'.
'Bleed' is a solo production from Kemal and it's an incredibly grimey tune, fairly minimalist and subtle compared to their more epic tunes such as 'Messiah' but no less worthwhile. Cold atmospherics and bleeps open the track before a pounding beat and a growling acidic bassline enter to devastating effect. I love how the beat has these nice little change ups every so often such as the brief reversed segments while the occasional cackles of demonic laughter heighten the track's sinister edge. Techy perfection that will now set you back a fair amount for a second hand copy.
Hear it in this mix from Mikey Payload done in tribute to Eric Landry of the Place To Be website.
Friday, 14 June 2013
Fortran - Place To Be (Metro Recordings, 1998)
Matrix's Metro Recordings put out some of the finest neurofunk of the late nineties with contributions from Ed Rush, Optical, Dom, Fierce, Fresh & Vegas and Matrix himself making up the label's first five 12"s. The highlights from these releases along with some fresh remixes were compiled and mixed by Matrix for the Level_01 album in 1999, making this disc an essential primer for anyone not familiar with the imprint's early output.
One of my favourites from this period is 'Place To Be' by Fortran AKA Ed Rush, Optical and Fierce. Like Matrix's 'Apache' there is an old skool hip-hop connection to this one as the heavily mangled "We gon' get a little something straight here in the place to be" line that appears throughout the track is the voice of Kool Moe Dee. It's taken from a classic rap battle against Busy Bee at Harlem World in 1981 and the vocal is cut-up and processed by the trio to such an extent it's difficult to make out exactly what's being said - listen to it in its original context here. They set it to a thumping beat and haunting guitar loop before introducing a cavernous distorted bassline that really has to be heard on a big system to appreciate its dark depths. A tune up there with the best from the era.
The track lent its name to the Place To Be website which was established in the late nineties and dedicated to Optical, Matrix and all neurofunk/techstep related material. It was a great place to hear clips of the latest dubplates, many of which remain unreleased to this day, and played a huge role in introducing a world wide audience to the sound. Sadly it is no longer around following the untimely passing of its founder Eric Landry at the age of just 24 in late 2006. However you can still view some pages from the original site over at the Internet Archive here, here and here - RIP.
You can purchase the digital of 'Place To Be' over at Drum&BassArena and Beatport. Check it out below in this Virus Vs. Metro - The Early Years mix from D'Zine:
Thursday, 13 June 2013
Matrix - Apache (Virus Recordings, 2000)
Here's another track which is named after and uses the Apache break, although it's in a very different style of drum & bass to Shy FX's 'Mad Apache'. Matrix AKA Jamie Quinn is the brother of Optical and he started putting out music on Formation Records in 1993 as part of the duo International Rudeboyz. After going solo on Formation's New Identity sublabel he started his own Metro Recordings in 1997 while also releasing material on Metalheadz, Prototype and Moving Shadow, developing a similar neurofunk sound to his brother.
'Apache' was one of the stand out tracks on his debut LP, the often overlooked Sleepwalk. The album was released on Ed Rush & Optical's Virus Recordings and features his typically sleek neurofunk alongside some jazzier and downtempo material, with 'Apache' being very much in the former camp. I love the way the heavily processed Apache break emerges out of the gloom to be accompanied by a two-step beat which sounds like it uses the 'It's A New Day' break. Although clean on the surface there is a dark undercurrent to the track with a hint of menace conveyed by the sick synth lines which subtly build in intensity. Restrained but deadly.
You purchase the digital of 'Apache' over at Drum&BassArena, Beatport and most other download stores. Check it out in this mix by the brothers Quinn from February 2000 which they did for Mary Anne Hobbs' Breezeblock show on BBC Radio 1:
Wednesday, 12 June 2013
Shy FX - Mad Apache (Ivory Records, 1997)
Today I'm going to take a look at the Apache break, taken from the track of the same name by the Incredible Bongo Band. The group was set up by Michael Viner, an A&R man for MGM in the early seventies, to record music for the soundtrack to the B-Movie The Thing With Two Heads. They went on to record two albums of funky brass and percussion led cover versions with an ever changing line-up which included various session men alongside a few uncredited appearances from well known musicians such as Ringo Starr.
Their version of 'Apache', an instrumental previously made famous by The Shadows, became a staple of hip-hop due to its extended bongo filled breakdown which was used by DJs such as Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash in the late seventies. After being sampled on a countless number of hip-hop records the break became a favourite of drum & bass producers and featured on several Metalheadz classics including 'Inner City Life', 'A Made Up Sound' and 'The Spectrum'.
It was also a break that was favoured by Shy FX in the mid-nineties. 'Mad Apache' was the first release on his Ivory Records imprint, the sister label of Ebony Recordings. He had already used the Apache break several times on tracks such as 'This Style' and 'Killer Bee' but here he also samples the track's guitar and horn led hook during the intro. Then over drums using the bongos from Apache alongside the Hot Pants break he crafts a 'gangster boogie' style tune full of slick synths and organ riffs which sounds like it could be on the soundtrack to a blaxploitation film.
Check Nicky Blackmarket dropping the track (and getting two rewinds) at One Nation's Back 2 Back Payback in 1996 with MC Stevie Hyper D ripping it up on the mic:
Tuesday, 11 June 2013
Wax Doctor - The Spectrum (Metalheadz, 1995)
Originally hailing from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, Paul Saunders experienced the acid house scene of the late eighties first hand at clubs such as Land of Oz. In the early nineties he started producing breakbeat hardcore for Basement Records as Wax Doctor with tracks including Grooverider favourites 'A New Direction' and 'Dark Matter'. It was through Basement that he met a young studio engineer by the name of Alex Reece and the two of them went on to develop a deeper sound under aliases such as Unit 1 and Fallen Angels.
'The Spectrum' appeared on his second 12" for Metalheadz following the classic 'Kid Caprice'. It's a sumptuous but fractured track powered by a masterfully cut-up 'Apache' break and filled with gorgeous Detroit inspired synths, packing what could have been the melodies for at least three separate tracks into one. Like 'Drowning In Her' it features samples from the early nineties material of The Black Dog, the British techno pioneers whose original line up consisted of Ken Downie, Ed Handley and Andy Turner (the latter two departing in 1995 to concentrate on their work as Plaid). The opening twinkling sound is taken from the beginning of '3/4 Heart' by Balil (Handley), a track that appeared on the excellent Bytes album. The rippling synth effect that comes in at around 3:30 is taken from the start of 'Otaku' by Atypic (Turner) which was released on the Black Dog Productions EP. Saunders seamlessly incorporates these samples with the track's other elements which as well as the lush synths also include a warm bassline and echoed "Yeah" vocals. A beautiful track that is perfect for watching the sunrise on a clear summer morning.
You can purchase the digital of 'The Spectrum' directly from the label here. It was also included on the Platinum Breakz compilation and Wax Doctor's Selected Works 94-96 LP. D Kay & Lee's 'Wax'd' from 2005, a tribute to the retired producer, samples the track and you can listen to it below:
Monday, 10 June 2013
4 Horsemen Of The Apocalypse - Drowning In Her (Tone Def Records, 1993)
Hardcore label Tone Def Records was run by DJ and producer Yomi Ayeni. They put out some of the first jungle releases including a number of early productions from Darren Jay who recorded alongside Yomi under the name S.L.M.. They also released this classic track from 4 Horsemen Of The Apocalypse who were none other than Foul Play.
'Drowning In Her' is a stunning track rich with melancholy vibes. Like 'Give A Little Love' by Nookie (who appeared on Tone Def as a remixer) it samples Robert Owen's vocals from Frankie Knuckles' 'Tears', taking the "I'm drowning" line and then cleverly reversing the word "drowning" so that it sounds like "in her". The other desperate sounding "How?" vocal is from the bizarre 'Once You Understand' by Think, the same source as 4 Hero's 'Mr Kirk's Nightmare'. The sampling isn't limited to the vocals with the screaming sounds at the beginning coming from the movie Zardoz while the opening synth pads are taken from 'Techno Playtime' by The Black Dog. All of this combined with a wicked bassline and the Amen break equals early jungle perfection.
A second hand copy of this 12" will currently set you back more than £40. However it appears on The Ultimate Drum & Bass Collection, a four CD set released by the budget arm of Strictly Underground Records which is available for peanuts. You can also hear it in Randall's Yaman Vol. 5 mix where it kicks off side two at the 43 minute mark:
Sunday, 9 June 2013
Nookie - Give A Little Love (94 Lick) (Reinforced, 1994)
Gavin Cheung AKA Cloud 9 AKA Nookie was the engineer behind many of Ray Keith's classic tunes such as yesterday's 'Something I Feel'. He's a great producer in his own right though with a discography that goes from frenetic hardcore to ambient drum & bass, reflecting his eclectic influences which range from Quincy Jones and Donald Byrd to the Ultramagnetic MCs and Kevin Saunderson. His earliest productions were for his hip-hop crew Illegal Pressure before a job at Red Records in Soho in the late eighties helped him make the connections which would lead to his first releases. He went on to put out records on several of the scene's most respected labels including Moving Shadow, Reinforced and Good Looking.
The original version of 'Give A Little Love' was released on Simon 'Bassline' Smith's Absolute 2 label in 1992. Nookie updated the track for Reinforced in 1994 and this is the earliest record of his that I have on vinyl. It's an incredibly energetic tune with a positive message to it thanks to the "Give a little light, give a little love" vocal from 'People Hold On' by Coldcut featuring Lisa Stansfield. The other "I'm for Real" vocal is the voice of Robert Owens from the much sampled 'Tears' by Frankie Knuckles presents Satoshi Tomiie. The uplifting piano riff is borrowed from 'Kinda Groovy (Psychotropic Remix)' by Cool 2 while the high pitched synth sound is taken from 'Homicide' by Shades Of Rhythm. The drums use both the Think and Amen breaks with Cheung taking the unusual step (for '94) of adding an underlying four to the floor beat which wasn't present on the original mix. A tune that never fails to put a smile on my face.
'Give A Little Love' appeared on his debut album, The Sound Of Music, which was one of the first artist albums produced by the genre. You can purchase the digital over at Drum&BassArena, Beatport and most other download stores. Check it out in this superb mix of his '92 to '94 material from Law of Drumtrip:
Saturday, 8 June 2013
Renegade - Something I Feel (Moving Shadow, 1994)
Cuba Gooding Sr, the father of the Oscar winning actor, was the lead singer of seventies soul group The Main Ingredient. In 1983, after leaving to start a solo career, he remade a track the group had previously recorded in 1974 called 'Happiness Is Just Around The Bend'. Thanks to the accapella on the 12" single the vocal was heavily sampled in the late eighties and early nineties on tracks such as 'Aftermath' by Nightmares On Wax and 'The Terminator' by Doc Scott. The track even received a full remix from Altern 8 on the Only For The Headstrong compilation in 1992.
Ray Keith has utilized parts of the 'Happiness' vocal on a number of occasions. I looked at his 'Yes Yes' remixes yesterday but by that point he had already sampled it a few times before including 'Tapes' from 1991 and 'Something I Feel', the flipside to the classic 'Terrorist' on Moving Shadow. It uses the "I think it's something I feel" line from 'Happiness' alongside a couple of other samples. The harps in the intro are from 'Nights Over Egypt' by The Jones Girls while the flutes that appear later are from the smooth jazz of 'Breezin' by George Benson. Like 'Yes Yes' the track also uses the 'Humpty Dump' break along with a Think/Amen combination that reminds me of the Foul Play Remix of 'Renegade Snares' and a simple 808 kick bassline. A great track that often gets overlooked due to its better known A side.
Listen to it below where it appears as the final track in this Randall set from late 1993:
Friday, 7 June 2013
Moby - Feeling So Real (Ray Keith Remix) (Mute, 1994)
I couldn't write about the 'Humpty Dump' break without mentioning Ray Keith whose use of it on his remix of Moby's 'Feeling So Real' resulted in it also being known as the 'Yes Yes' break. The original version of the track is a rather cheesy rave tune but fortunately Ray Keith removes almost all trace of it from his mix, retaining a repeated "Yes Yes" vocal which became the remix's unofficial title.
The tune switches between the 'Humpty Dump' and Amen breaks throughout and has a bouncy 808 kick bassline. As well as the "Yes Yes" vocal Ray Keith also timestretches the "Set it up DJ" line from Moby's version while introducing several new vocal elements, starting with some female "Ooohs" in the intro. During the the track's midsection he then uses the "It's something unreal" line from Cuba Gooding Sr's 'Happiness Is Just Around The Bend' over some shimmering synths before sampling the "De De Dee Dee De Dee Dee" vocals from the Ned Doheny's smooth 'To Prove My Love'.
Ray Keith remixed his remix twice for the first release on his own Dread Recordings under the title 'Yes Yes '95'. My favourite overall version of the track is Mix 1 which adds plenty of mentasm alongside a hefty reversed bassline. Check it out below:
Thursday, 6 June 2013
Studio Pressure - Fusion (Photek, 1995)
Yesterday's 2 Bad Mice tune features one of my favourite breaks, the 'Humpty Dump', taken from a track of the same name by The Vibrettes. It's an incredibly funky track, coming out of the Johnny Otis stable, and the break has this incredible booming quality to it that I really love. It forms the backbone to this stunning track from Rupert Parkes under his Studio Pressure alias, the flipside of the equally great 'The Water Margin' on his own Photek imprint.
The track opens with the break alongside snippets of sensual female vocals before introducing a warm bassline and dusty Fender Rhodes loop, an instrument integral to the jazz fusion movement of the late sixties and seventies that lends the track its name. Some more skittish drums are brought in alongside the 'Humpty Dump' break while the yearning vocals continue as blissful chords envelop the track. Incredibly well produced and forward thinking, it still sounds fresh today so it's not hard to see why this was such an anthem at Fabio & Bukem's Speed nights in the mid-nineties.
Check it out below in A Guy Called Gerald's Essential Mix from October 1995:
Wednesday, 5 June 2013
2 Bad Mice - Hold It Down (Moving Shadow, 1992)
Jungle Brothers made extensive use of samples in their music and in turn they have been heavily sampled themselves. Yesterday's track, 'Bass Go Boom', only features a small snippet of their vocals but 2 Bad Mice's 'Hold It Down' uses a much larger chunk, taken from one of their biggest tracks: 'I'll House You'. This was the first well known Hip House tune and essentially saw the JBs adding their vocals to 'Can You Party' by Royal House AKA Todd Terry:
"Feel the energy rush up to your face
Round and round and round and round and round and...
Feel the house music steady steady pounding"
'Hold It Down' also uses chipmunked vocals and horn stabs from 'I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love' by Chicago soul group The Emotions: "Come on and say that you will / I'll be there to fulfil / I don't wanna lose your love...". What really makes the track tick though are the drums. They are made up of several parts, starting off with some Think and Humpty Dump before adding a couple of second generation breakbeats based on the Hot Pants and Funky Drummer breaks. These have been unearthed by the break diggers over at Rolldabeats - check these three threads for more details. The kinetic synth riff over the top of all this is just the icing on the cake. A fun and addictive track that I picked up on vinyl courtesy of the Moving Shadow 10th Anniversary series.
You can purchase the digital of 'Hold It Down' over at Beatport and Drum&BassArena. It appeared on the same EP as 'Bombscare' which I looked at the other week. The '94 remix of 'Bombscare' (only released in the US) was basically a mash-up of the tracks from that EP and includes the vocal samples from 'Hold It Down' - check it out here.
2 Bad Mice will soon be appearing at the Gottwood Festival which takes place from the 20th to the 23rd of June in Anglesey, Wales. They recently put together a radio show style mix for the 50th edition of the Gottwood Presents podcast which you can listen to below:
Tuesday, 4 June 2013
D'Cruze - Bass Go Boom (Suburban Base, 1993)
As a teenager, Jay D'Cruze was a regular in Romford's Boogie Times record store which led to releases on shop owner Dan Donnelly's Boogie Times and Suburban Base labels. He also recorded as Boogie Times Tribe alongside Donnelly, responsible for the classic 'The Dark Stranger'. 'Bass Go Boom' was his fifth release and saw him move towards the emerging sound of jungle on a track that has a heavy reggae influence.
It takes its title from the vocals of MC Tony AKA Tony Whitmore, who did live PAs with D'Cruze: "Listen to the bass in the place go boom... Jump to the beat, jump to the beat now". There are also two vocal samples, the most prominent of which is from Eek-A-Mouse's 'Peeni Walli', with D'Cruze dropping a loop of a whole portion of the track including its bassline, guitar and percussion:
"Riding on my bicycle
Got knocked down by a motorcycle
In front of a motor vehicle
Luckily, I was Jah Jah disciple"
The Jamaican reggae star has established an international audience after releasing several albums over a thirty year period on labels such as Greensleeves and RAS. He was one of the first performers of the singjaying style, a combination of singing and toasting, and is probably best known for 'Wa-Do-Dem'. However he is currently awaiting trial in the United States on rape and narcotics charges that date back to 2008, having fled the country after his initial arrest. It is therefore somewhat prescient of D'Cruze that the other vocal sample on 'Bass Go Boom' is from 'On The Run' by Jungle Brothers: "Stop, Hold It, Freeze (Jump)". The reggae style bassline is as booming as the title suggests, while the track also features ravey synth stabs and breakbeats that are treated to plenty of timestretching, with several half-speed sections. Excellent stuff.
You can purchase the digital of 'Bass Go Boom' at Drum&BassArena and Juno Download. You can hear it in this set from Slipmatt at Quest from May 29th 1993, almost exactly twenty years ago:
Monday, 3 June 2013
Bizzy B & Agent K - Original Gangster (2 Getherness, 1995)
Regular readers of this blog will know that I like there to be some connection between the tracks that I write about each day and this tune brings the last few posts together nicely. 2 Getherness was a sublabel of Bizzy B's Brain Progression, the imprint on which Swift & Zinc had most of their releases, and was presumably named after the Togetherness record shop in Leytonstone, East London run by Bizzy B and DJ D Lux. The label put out mostly single sided 12"s which were often collaborative efforts such as this one. Agent K was Ian Kentfield and he was also part of the duo 2 For The Show with Majistrate, who he would go on to work with on a couple of releases for Juice/Splash Records.
The episode of Father Ted that featured 'Limb By Limb' was titled New Jack City after the Mario Van Peebles crime thriller and all of the vocal samples on 'Original Gangster' come from this movie. It opens with dialogue from this scene (warning: graphic violence), spoken by a Rastafarian character called Fat Smitty who was played by reggae artist Eek-A-Mouse: "Hey dreadlocks. What the bumba...". Much of the dialogue is timestretched and several other lines from the film appear throughout including "You understand what I'm saying?" and "Wanna be gangsters". The intro uses the 'Sandy' break before the drop brings in some rough Amen combined with a sparse bassline. The track takes a surprise turn midway through when it introduces ambient synth pads and jazzy guitar, providing a nice contrast to the furious breaks and gangster vocals. A typically raw cut from the Brain Records stable.
Sunday, 2 June 2013
Pure - Anything Test (Suburban Base, 1995)
Like yesterday's track, 'Anything Test' was released on Suburban Base and appeared on Drum & Bass Selection 5 (in exclusive mix form). Pure was a one-off name used by Swift & Zinc for this 12", which was among the final releases from the duo. It's an excellent jungle track which combines a rude boy vocal with a rare groove sample and sci-fi style sound effects, a mixture of elements which demonstrates the diversity of the influences that jungle embraced, helping make it such a unique style of music.
The bleeps that open the track are taken from 'Magic Bird Song' by Glynis Jones which appeared on Out Of This World, an album of sound effects from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Over this Swift & Zinc sample dancehall star Ninjaman's "Anything test dead... Come!" vocal from a sound clash, possibly this one versus Super Cat at Sting '91 (incidentally the "Anything test dead" phrase also appears in 'Limb By Limb'). This leads to a sweet soul loop from 'Pick Up The Pieces' by Joanna Gardner over the Think break before the drop brings in a heavy bassline alongside timestretched Amen, while the various samples come in and out of the track. A gem of a tune.
The exclusive mix on Drum & Bass Selection 5 doesn't stray too far from the original, extending the intro and separating out the "Anything test dead" vocal while rearranging the bassline and giving the Amen more of a stop/start feel. Check it out below:
Saturday, 1 June 2013
Cutty Ranks - Limb By Limb (DJ SS Mix) (Suburban Base, 1995)
After Marvellous Cain sampled 'Limb By Limb' for his huge 'Hitman' track he got into a bit of legal trouble with Cutty Ranks, which he settled by doing a couple of remixes for the Jamaican star. 'Limb By Limb' also got an official jungle remix from DJ SS, co-released by Suburban Base and Jungle Fashion, a sublabel of the the established reggae imprint Fashion Records.
DJ SS normally stayed away from full-on ragga jungle but he goes all out on this remix which pushes the levels into the red. It opens with a cut-up Think break before Cutty's "All me have fi do is send for the new gun. Anything test dead!" line brings in a massive distorted bassline with a heavy Amen/Think combination and the "Limb by Limb" vocals. Many people in the UK and Ireland know the track thanks to its appearance in an episode of the superb sitcomFather Ted in which a new priest arrives to replace Father Jack who has been sent to an old priest's home. Unfortunately for Ted and Dougal, Father Fintan Stack has a taste for jungle, blasting 'Limb By Limb' from his ghettoblaster through the night, leading to this classic exchange:
Dougal: "God, Ted. I've never met anyone like him anywhere... who would he be like - Hitler or one of those mad fellas."
Ted: "Oh, worse than Hitler. You wouldn't find Hitler playing jungle music at 3 o'clock in the morning."
You can purchase the digital of 'Limb By Limb' over at Drum&BassArena and Beatport. It is also available on Drum & Bass Selection 5. You can watch the New Jack City episode of Father Ted below and if you are in the UK you can also find it on 4oD.