Tuesday, 20 August 2013

MA2 - Hearing Is Believing

MA2 - Hearing Is Believing (Formation Records, 1994)

"Hardstep" is one of those vague terms that seems to mean different things to different people. I've generally taken it as referring to the more dancefloor orientated drum and bass that developed during the mid-nineties as producers moved away from ragga jungle. More streamlined breaks, hefty basslines and hip-hop/r'n'b samples tended to characterise hardstep tunes while other elements were stripped back. I have a flyer for a Formation Records event from November 1995 that states that they're "changing the music policy to strictly hardstepping drum & bass jungle. No ragga jungle!!! You've been warned".

DJ SS's 'Hearing Is Believing' could be considered an early example of a hardstep track. It opens with timestretched drums before the Hot Pants and Sesame Street breaks come in. A "Now hear this!" vocal, sampled from a live version of Dennis Brown's 'Queen Majesty', introduces a trademark SS bassline heavy on distortion. Some low in the mix Amen is judiciously deployed as the track develops while obscured vocals from Whitney Houston's 'I Will Always Love You' ("If I should stay... I will always be in your way") lead into the breakdown's ambient synths. The horn fanfare that appears towards the end of the track would go on feature in the intro of the 1995 remix which also replaced Whitney with Brandy. Ultimately terms like "hardstep" don't really matter, this is just a great track that should be played as loud as possible.

'Hearing Is Believing' appears on the 'Hardstep Pimp Mix' by Grooverider, a studio mix from 1995 which you can download over at hardscore.com.

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