Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Breakbeat Era - Ultra-Obscene


Breakbeat Era - Ultra-Obscene (XL Recordings, 1999)

Breakbeat Era were the trio of Roni Size, DJ Die and singer Leonie Laws. Size and Die were introduced to Laws by a mutual friend on the Bristol free party scene and they first recorded together in 1996 on a Scorpio track entitled 'Breakbeat Era' that was included on the Music Box compilation. The success of that track led to interest from record labels and the group signed to XL Recordings who released the Ultra Obscene LP in 1999. Although the album incorporates rock and pop elements Roni Size and DJ Die don't water down their sound for the mainstream and most of the record isn't too far removed from their Full Cycle output, while Laws brings a free spirited punk attitude to the project.

The title cut was also the second single, following a remixed version of 'Breakbeat Era', and it opens with a fantastic stuttered cut-up of the 'Sing A Simple Song' break which is treated to some heavy flanging. A blast of flute brings in Laws' vocals which as the title suggests are sexual in nature: "Meet me down by the river / Lay me down and pull the trigger". The track came about by accident when Laws heard the bassline and hummed along to it, that "huh huh huh" formed the basis of the lyrics and the whole thing was finished that afternoon and the following morning. The bassline and 'Sing A Simple Song' break are the backbone of the track and are accompanied by live vibraphone and guitar as well as strings and other sound effects. A catchy track that showed drum and bass could use the verse chorus verse song structure without losing its dancefloor edge.

Download 'Ultra-Obscene' from Drum&BassArena where the whole album is available for just £4.99. Check the video below to see an interview with Leonie Laws along with a live performance of 'Rancid':


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