Dom & Optical - Quadrant 6 (Moving Shadow, 1997)
When two heavyweight techstep giants get together you know the results are going to be good. Dominic Angas AKA Dom & Roland and Matt Quinn AKA Optical both have quality and substantial catalogues but released collaborations between them are very few - this 12" with 'Concrete Shoes' on the other side and 'Rage Roll' on the Quadrant 6 Remix 12" are all as far as I'm aware. There are a few unreleased bits though, including their stunning VIP of Boymerang's 'Still'.
Let's appreciate what we do have though and 'Quadrant 6' is a hell of a track. Desolate synths and plaintive horns open proceedings before some nasty distorted bass rises from the depths. The savage bassline is joined by unchanging and unrefined two-step drums but what really makes the track is the way the bass mutates throughout the track; I particularly like the way it starts to stutter around the four minute mark. The mid-track breakdown features what sounds like some dialogue from a sci-fi movie, although according to Dom it is supposedly him using a pair of Sennheiser HD-25 headphones as a mic: "Monotone frequency overload... transfer from sector 4-3... quadrant 6 6 6 6 6"
But why so little output from these two? Optical is perhaps best known for his partnership with Ed Rush and it is through Dom that the duo met after he worked on a few Ed Rush tracks including 'Subway' on Prototype and the Skylab EP on Metalheadz. However Dom was never credited for his work on the latter and wasn't happy about it. When asked by Drum&BassArena in 2016 around the time of his Last Refuge Of A Scoundrel LP about the pressure of having a release on Goldie's label he said: "I felt I already had my work on Metalheadz having co-written and mixed Ed Rush’s Skylab EP". I'm speculating, but some bad blood between those two combined with the success Optical had with Ed Rush from '97 as they pioneered the neurofunk sound probably stymied any further collaborations.
At least there have been a few remixes of 'Quadrant 6', with Fierce's version dropping later in '97 and an E-Sassin VIP on the Reborn In The USA EP in 2003. However my favourite remixes are two VIPs that Optical has shared on Soundcloud - one arranged live before the final version and the awesome Fierce VIP below: