Friday, February 10, 2006

Droids First Mixtape

The first mix of the New Year takes us back to an early morning mixing session in late spring 1997, nearly 9 years ago. It was at this time that I'd finally managed to get my first studio mix together after serving a harrowing DJng apprenticeship playing pre-dawn chillout sets at the odd party, and more regularly on Sunday mornings on Dublin pirate Power FM for the previous year or so. It was dabbling in jungle over 95/96 and my observation of the likes of local DJ’s like Deck Junkie, Naphta and Cool C that taught me the mechanics of beat-mixing and how to put a set together properly, and this was my first attempt to transfer those skills back to the genres that drew me into dance music in the first place: electronica and ambient…

Despite the mitigating circumstances of virtual poverty and lack of time and equipment, it’s a testament to a combination of restrictively high quality control and sublime laziness that not only did I not get another studio mix together until three years after I recorded this, but I never even made a B side! I had (of course) grand plans on redoing this as a 74 minute CD (when I eventually obtained the facilities necessary for making a digital mix), but at that stage myself and Slug had clocked hundreds of hours of radio time on Power FM playing these kind of sets, and it inevitably fell by the wayside in pursuit of fresher projects. The one upside of this entire sordid episode is that you now get to hear a vintage mix of classic electronica, with the added bonus of genuine analogue tape hiss!

**Namedrop alert!** Richard Thair of Red Snapper fame mentioned to me ‘back in the day’ that this was a favourite of theirs on the WARP tour bus… If I wasnt so lazy, I'd make a cover and stick that pathetic claim to fame on the front! :D

Standard 192kbps MP3 – no artwork for this one as, once again, it’s not a ‘proper’ full-length studio mix. The MP3 is tagged and bagged as usual, and you’ll find the tracklisting in the ZIP and in the 'Lyrics' section of the Tag in I-tunes.

If you like this one (or any of the other mixes on the site) and want to post a link on a forum or something - that’s fine, but please link only to this page itself, and not directly to the file. If I do find any direct links to the file, Ill simply change the URL and break the link - though I'm sure that won’t be necessary (again).

Droids First Mixtape (

(00:00) 1. The Irresistible Force – Snowstorm – Rising High
(06:00) 2. Beaumont Hannant – Crouton (Original Version) - GPR
(10:44) 3. T-Power – Reality Pants - SOUR
(15:16) 4. Drexciya - Davy Jones Locker - BMI
(18:06) 5. Autechre - Further - Warp
(24:15) 6. Push Button Objects - Maercs - Schematic
(28:36) 7. Autechre - Chiclisuite - Warp
(35:17) 8. Seefeel - Charlotte’s Mouth - Too Pure
(40:44) 9. µ-Ziq - The Wheel - Rephlex

(00:00) 1. The Irresistible Force – Snowstorm – Rising High

The reputation of Mixmaster Morris, aka the Irresistible Force has suffered somewhat over the years (unsubstantiated rumours of questionable personal hygiene aside), and in many peoples eyes, Morris's brand of psychedelic ambience has dated badly, along with his rave-kitsch wardrobe, and much of the later output of his natural home, ex-hardcore label Rising High. The fact remains that the guy made some excellent tunes down through the years, was a positive force for the promotion of electronic music around the globe through his Djng, and was still putting out good music in the late 90's, until his (forced?) ejection from the Ninjatune roster during their extended purge of any artists who didn’t habitually use sampled breakbeats in their tunes. Whilst I totally disagree with his various controversial statements about dance music, Ill always have a personal debt to the man, not just because he was sound enough to come up and play a 4 hour set on the radio show back in '98, or for his genuine love for the music he was playing, but because he demonstrated a practical system for mixing multi-genre and non-dance format music through the simple notation of the BPM and key of each track - just what I was looking for at the time.

'Snowstorm' is an arppegiated amble into melancholi-tronica territory, awash with lush delays and featuring the obligatory bongo frills. This is taken from one of those late Rising High compilations, 'Chill out or Die IV', and is a fairly good example of Morris's signature style: sweet, but not slipping into the overblown aspartame ambience of his Big Chill anthem: 'Autumn Leaves' on Ninja...

06:00) 2. Beaumont Hannant – Crouton (Original Version) - GPR

Look at how long that first tune played for!! Shocking stuff… There’s a lot of that throughout this set, and despite the fact that Id rarely let a tune go for more than 3 minutes these days, I remember this mix as being very stressful to record – though it also has to be said that electronica does tend to force you into playing more of the tune and doing longer mixes…

Anyway - the dark bassline (eventually) signals a shift into Beaumant Hannant's 'Crouton' on influential UK techno-ambient label General Production Recordings. Hannant is still a bit of a mystery to me, as I’ve only really heard his more experimental stuff on GPR (including the excellent Autechre remix of ‘Psi-Onyx’), but apparently he was some kind of hip-hop/electo wunderkind DJ who also dabbled in the more abstract side of electronica before disappearing into the miasma of the mid 90s Trip Hop scene. 'Crouton' is an acid influenced ambient epic, replete with strings, vocal chants, evil castle bass, and splashes of effects and delays, providing a nice contrast to the sweetness of the opening tune.

Apologies for the short gap in sound during the mix, as I think I accidentally hit the record button on the wrong deck for a split second back in 1998 whilst I was making a copy of the tape...

10:44) 3. T-Power – Reality Pants - SOUR

A jaunt into random nonsense next from genre dilleatante-par-excellence T-Power - taken from his second LP 'Waveforms' on jungle stalwart Sound of The Underground. I’ve still got a soft spot for Mr. Royal's music, despite his dalliance with pop-stardom courtesy of Shy-FX and the success of the horrific 'Shake Your Body'. This tune however probably gives weight to much of the criticism often levelled against him, mainly that much of his music was experimental and overcomplicated simply for the sake of it, and that he lost his way once he stopped making music for the dancefloor..

Still - the lack of any real structure makes for a nice and easy mix!

(15:16) 4. Drexciya - Davy Jones Locker - BMI

Taken from the seminal 'True People' compilation, the spaceport intro to 'Davy Jones Locker' jars with its typically Drexciyan nautical title, but the tune itself manages to successfully marry a bass driven electro beat with a classical piano and string led melody. The prominent use of an untreated natural instrument is uncharacteristic of Drexciya's early work, and I think this track was done especially for this LP, as I seem to remember hearing another version without the piano – or it could just be that the ‘Bubble Metropolis’ on Rephlex features the exact same intro?

I was trying to get a balance between quality and loudness on this recording, but theres a bit of distortion and weird volume variations here - a reminder of how (despite the recent nostalgia) tapes were actually quite shitty and difficult to get a good recording out of...

(18:06) 5. Autechre - Further - Warp

Practically every tune from Autechre's 1995 LP 'Amber' is a killer, and for me it pretty much epitomises the 'classic' electronica sound of the mid-90's, soulful, uncomplicated in structure yet complex in texture and melody, and still retaining a tenuous relationship with various strains of dance music through the tempos and timbres of many of the (familiar) sounds used. Even pitched down to about 100bpm 'Further' retains a haunting melodic momentum, propelled by its reverbed sighs, sweeping synths and rock hard pseudo-dancehall drum pattern - a quality symptomatic of the best of the duo's early work.

(24:15) 6. Push Button Objects - Maercs - Schematic

As 'Further' gracefully unwinds, Push Button Objects' overtly hip-hop influenced style of electronica makes an appearance in the form of 'Maercs'. I was lucky enough to pick this 12" up in a bargain bin, having absolutely no idea what it was at the time, but over the next few years Miami's Schematic label turned out to be a foundation stone of the U.S. electronic scene. This tune comes from PBO's first four track EP, and features a cut up R'n'B type break over some wandering bleeps and an eerie synth-line.

(28:36) 7. Autechre - Yessland - Warp

Before you ask - yes I know it’s at the wrong speed - and not just that - it’s pitched down to about - 6 as well! A lot of AE's 12 releases were pressed at 45/130-140 BPM, and combined with the complexity of some of their beats, this actually makes them perfect for playing at 33, as the BPM shifts down into hip-hop territory (100-110) and opens up a huge range of mixing possibilities - plus it sounds really good at this speed...

This record was part of a the ‘Chiclisuite’ couplet that came out around the time of their 4th LP ‘Chiastic Slide’, back when WARP would put out two AE 12’s for every LP they released. At 33, you can really hear the various hisses, phases and scraping sounds that make up the lumbering polyrhythms of the track as they gradually dissolve into the tunes sombre melodic background… Sublime stuff.

35:17) 8. Seefeel - Charlotte’s Mouth - Too Pure

This one is taken from Seefeel's 2nd LP: ‘Quique’ (the blue one) on Beggars Banquet offshoot ‘Too Pure’. Originally a trio made up of Daren Seymour, Mark Clifford and Sarah Peacock, Seefeel's earlier material consists mainly of warm dub basslines with ethereal vocals and loads of reverbed guitars. Though they shed members and developed a more electronic sound on albums such as 'Succour' and 'Chi-Vox', 'Charlotte's Mouth' minimal ambience is a standout tune from an LP dominated by the indie styles of their earlier years - but despite my reservations about their first couple of releases, I'd heartily recommend everything else that Mark Clifford has been involved in - including his work as Disjecta, and with Mira Calix...

(40:44) 9. µ-Ziq - The Wheel - Rephlex

I have a lot of respect for Mike Paradinas. Not only because he's an all round nice guy who supported the Irish Electronica scene by putting out 2 excellent LPs from Irish artists Decal and Ambulance, or because he has consistently taken risks to promote new electronic music, but due to the influence his first 3 LP's 'Tango N'Vectif', 'Bluff Limbo' and 'In Pine Effect' had on my own musical development. It was these albums, along with Aphex’s SAW 1 and 2, and the first 2 Orbital LP's that really sucked me into Warp/Rephlex axis of 90's Electronica, and I probably wouldn’t have followed gotten involved in DJng at all if not for the influence of these records.

'The Wheel' is taken from µ-Ziq’s second LP on Rephlex: Bluff Limbo - and its a minimalist lullaby, made up of only 2 bass notes, 3 piano notes, and a meandering string line. µ-Ziq’s early production style was very simple and extremely effective - driven by his trademark whimsical melodies, and complimented by mutated dancefloor influenced beats. His earlier works were also more eclectic than those of his peers, and this tune is one of several ambient tunes scattered over the first three LP's... all of which are essential electronica releases in my book. BTW - Theres about a 30 second section of this mix where some d+b can be heard faintly in the left channel.. It was some kind of taping mishap -but I have no idea how it could have happened... Though it disturbs the flow of the set a bit, I left it in cos it reminds me of those parties at 8 in the morning when everyone in the main room is chilling out, and theres some sweaty lunatics still giving it loads to a clock radio in the next room... close the bloody door ya muppets! ;)

Well - that was a bit shorter than usual... 45 minutes is definitely too short for a decent set - has to be 60 at least. Which reminds me - coming soon - a new 1 hour mix! I don't want to divulge too much, but myself and Slug recently recorded a set for another site, during the making of which we did pretty much the opposite of everything we usually do when mixing - with interesting results...

All will be revealed…


Blogger The Eyechild said...


Came across this blog through Psychbloke's.. really enjoying this mix right here.. some lovely music.. just right for when I'm working away in the wee hours.

I'll have to check out your new one now!

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Kate Mossad said...

Downloaded "Droid's First Mixtape" after finding this place through Dissensus. Very nice! Brought back a bunch of memories but "if you remember the '90s you weren"t there..." (or something...) Thanks for making it available.

1:56 PM  
Blogger droid said...

Thanks Kate, glad you liked it.

Youve go the coolest new handle Ive seen on Dissensus in a while btw! Very 'now' ;)

12:36 PM  
Blogger antrophe said...

Good stuff, enjoying your blog and looking forward to having a gander at this mix once I get a chance.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Inge said...

Better late than never: gorgeous! I just wrote about this mix on

7:07 PM  
Blogger droid said...

Nice one Inge.

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rememer mix mastermorris and his 98º sublime cordial mix. Rerockin98º in BCN. tanx weareie!

10:26 PM  

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