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: