Friday, April 21, 2006

Studio B Memories - Droid+Slug @ Studio B 040604

Well - I'd like to say that I’ve been beavering away, spewing out mixes, artwork and tunes by the dozen, but TBH, I’ve been excessively de-motivated of late, to the point where I’m wondering if my inbuilt obsolescence is kicking in. Most of the grand projects are stalled at the planning and selecting stages at the mo... but luckily we still have a few things in reserve, including this little gem of a mix - its been kicking around for a while, but as its one of our most requested mixes I figured it was worthy of the full weareie treatment...

Continuing on the old skool theme of Naphta’s mix, this one is another live recording, this time of a set myself and Slug did a couple of years back at Dublin’s now defunct 'Studio B'. Hosted in a bar opposite the Four Courts, Studio B was one in a long line of small local nights that have sustained Dublin’s D+B scene for so long, and apart from injecting some badly needed fresh blood and enthusiasm into the scene here, it also had a fairly open minded attitude to different styles of jungle, and made up for in vibes (and good monitors!!!!) what it lacked venue-wise (though I never had to play on the skipping decks upstairs!).

This set was the culmination of a bit of a resurgence in interest in old skool jungle and hardcore stretching back to the bitter disillusionment with the contemporary scene that set in around '98, and helped along by a bit of disposable income and crate digging. Cynics might say (and I’ve had similar heretical thoughts myself), that the obsession with old skool is pure nostalgias, and an inherently reactive activity opposed to dance music’s fundamental 'forward ever/backward never' ethos. Thing is, over the last 7 years or so of hunting down tunes and arranging sets, its never felt that way - instead we've been excited (to near hysteria at times) by the discovery of a seemingly endless stream of incredible records that we'd either only heard other DJs play, or never even knew existed in the first place, many of which sound like they could've been made yesterday (witness the dubstep/bleep+bass connection). 93 is the golden year for us, still hardcore, but with the ragga influence mixing with the emerging stream of junglism, and the first 80 minutes or so of this set was a 92-94 mash up - but what we have here is the second half - a set that seemed to almost sequence itself - mostly 95 rollers (or Naphta territory as we like to call it!) with nary a bloodclaat or a helium vocal in earshot, but plenty of ferocious breaks, epic basslines and inspiring melodies.... almost enough raw tuneage to make an old raver hang up his whistle and start chatting about 'Intelligence'...

I should probably say a few words about the mix itself, the main thread of which was selected in the best way possible - well in advance of the gig. Its actually fairly easy to sequence a set as long as you know your first tune (Goldie’s 'Fury' - picked because its intro would be almost impossible to get fit into a mix later), and your 'peak' tune (in this case 'The Dark Crystl'), and the limitations set by these 2 simple decisions go a long way to solving most of the problems you face when constructing a set. Myself and Slug have been playing back to back for years, traditionally 3 tunes each, which, when you’re improvising your sets, is a great way to create 'chains' of mixes that still leave you enough flexibility to go where the crowd wants you to go. That works fine for post 95 jungle as well, but our (often mocked) approach to hardcore and early jungle is just to follow our instincts, plan the mix in advance down to the last bar, and just play the tunes we think will work (or that we want to hear). This much more rigid system is our attempt to combine our obsessive need for perfection with the demands of mixing tunes that simply don’t follow 'the rules'. I have to big up B and the crew once again, not just for the chance to play out, but for providing a focus for our jaunts into early jungle, as I firmly believe that the last few years of mixing this kind of music has seriously honed our skills on the decks, and has given us a lot more insight into the art of mixing in general... one question though - does the learning curve ever flatten out? or does it just keep getting steeper?

Usual business with the MP3, 192 kbps, all nicely tagged. Tracklisting is in the 'lyrics' tab of the ID3 tag (Ive dispensed with the ZIP/txt tracklisting – let me know if that’s NOT cool with anyone). No hotlinking direct to the file please! - But feel free to link to this page if the mood takes you. Time markings are (as always) from the start of each mix btw.

Studio B Memories - Droid + Slug@Studio B 04/06/04: 41Mins Approx (57.4mb.mp3)

1. (00.00) Rufige Kru - Fury - Moving Shadow
2. (04.48) BLIM - Headspace - Emotif
3. (10.11) DJ Tamsin & The Monk - Better Place (Bay B Kane remix) - Whitehouse
4. (14.10) Hyper-on-E - Ouija Awakening - Moving Shadow
5. (17.52) DJ SS - United (Grooverider rmx) - Formation
6. (23.22) Photek - Complex - Photek
7. (28.10) DJ SS - Black - Formation
8. (31.35) DJ Crystl - The Dark Crystl - Force Ten
9. (37.00) Johnny Jungle - Johnny - (Origin Unknown remix) - Subbase

1. (00.00) Rufige Kru - Fury - Moving Shadow

We open with a lost classic from 94'. Goldie’s first (I assume) collaborative effort with Moving Shadow don Rob Playford, on the 1st of his labels legendary 2 in 1 series. 'Fury' is a bit of a strange tune, caught between jungle and hardcore, it retains some of the manic qualities of the early Rufige Kru releases on Reinforced, whilst also hinting at the widescreen vision of 'Timeless'. The dense accelerating drumwork and mentasmish bassline is offset by the emo strings and atmospherics, but somehow pulled together to form a cohesive whole by Playford's engineering genius. Future echoes of Goldie’s last half decent tune: 'Beachdrifter' here as well...

2. (04.48) Blim - Headspace - Emotif

Slipping and sliding into a 95 offering from S.O.U.R. spin off label Emotif. One of Naphta's ghoulish acquaintances played this to me back in 96' with the recommendation that "this is the music they listen to in heaven", and whilst I'm not sure if I'd go that far, it has to be said that this is a sublime slice of rollidge. Tons of detail in the breaks, some great samples (including one of the best uses of Bladerunner dialogue ever!), and even a few skanks thrown in for good measure. No U-Turns' Nico was at the helm for this one as well as the other 10 or so essential early Emotif releases, and this is typical of the quality the label was putting out before his less than amicable split with S.O.U.R. - total head music but with undeniable dancefloor pedigree... tunes you can get lost in...

3. (10.11) DJ Tamsin & The Monk - Better Place ( Bay B Kane remix) - White house

Naphta featured the flipside of this record - the better known Crstyl remix on Sovereign Rhythms Vol 1., but Bay B Kane's alternate version escapes from the shadow of it's MTV friendly big brother by taking a different approach - sacrificing the lush pads and minimal drums for a tight layered amen and melody driven arrangement. Listening again, I’m struck by the energy in this tune, the bass is heavy and rolling, the amen sounds coerced rather than tortured, and like a lot of Bay B Kane's stuff, the artful yet simple use of disparate samples (is that a Spanish guitar?) propels the tune along without once sounding cheap or unnecessary - but then again, this is the man who sampled a big chunk of 'Walking on the Moon' and got away with it!

4. (14.10) Hyper-on-E - Ouija Awakening - Moving Shadow

Hyper-on's last good tune - but what a tune! So good that it’s almost painful to listen to this whilst contemplating their later work as the 'EZ Rollers'. This is from another of Shadows 2 in 1's - the 4th this time, and whilst there is a bit of weird production going on, as well as a few strangely placed breakdowns (hence the somewhat overly punctuated mix), this tune has a lot going for it: evil fairground melodies, tons of swishes and dubbed out rave stabs, and most importantly - the breaks.. just listen to those breaks! Shredded to bits ala 'Lord of the Null Lines' or 'Monarch of the Glen', but seriously rolling (yes I know I’ve already used that word about 50 times). If that wasn’t enough for you, the entire mood of the tune shifts from menace to poignancy to pure optimism over the course of 3 breakdowns... and those mood swings are something a lot of these tunes have in common - they don’t just find a groove and play it out for 8 minutes, there’s a genuine attempt to encompass more than one emotion within the track ('Inner City Life' probably being the most overwrought example from this period), and I think that’s one of the reasons why these records have such lasting appeal.

5. (17.52) DJ SS - United (Grooverider rmx) - Formation

Whew! A Grooverider special this one. I wouldn’t normally rant on about one of my mixes (yeah right), but I’m quite proud of this one. The 'Yeah's' and vocals in this tune merge nicely with the 'Oh Yeah's' in the Hyper-On, and then there’s one of those rare (and difficult) moments of almost perfect integration you pray for as a DJ, when the breakdowns sync up perfectly.. in this case, the backward vocals of this tune come right in over the melodic bassline in the last tune - and more importantly, the amen drops in when they end... Big up The Slug for some tight mixing under pressure here!

Grooveriders a bit of a strange fish production-wise. Though he tended to do more remixes than anything else in the early to mid nineties, you could pretty much always pick out his sound - the rigid drum pattern and quirky structure of this tune being a prime example. Most of his records are absolute nightmares to mix though - so much so that there was a rumour round these ends that he used to make 2 different versions of all of his tunes - one 'normal' version for himself to play out, and one 'official' version for the rest of us poor saps...

6. (23.22) Photek - Complex - Photek

Listening to this mix recently, I had a rare moment of nostalgia destroying objectivity when this tune came in. Now obviously I don’t have a heart, but if I did, I reckon it would tell me that this track is undoubtedly an uplifting and ferocious breakbeat masterpiece - unfortunately my head has come to a different conclusion of late. Don’t get me wrong - I cant but not love this tune, it combines the structural maturity of jungle with the rougher edges of mutated hardcore - but what about its linearity? Its 'flatness'? those JD-800 preset melody sounds? that lazy Amen? Though I've loved this record for years, I'm still not sure if it represents a step forward or back for jungle, and though Photek continued to put out good tunes for years after this, I cant help but think that his emphasis on production values was just another slippery slope down the road of musical consolidation. That said, this is probably one of the few records that could still make me drag my rusting carcass out onto the dancefloor... pity no-one ever plays it out except us! It is a bit of a fucker in the mix I suppose (like most early Photek tunes).

7. (28.10) DJ SS - Black - Formation

SS is one of the unsung heroes of jungle and hardcore, and this is possibly his finest post-rave moment. The Whitney Houston sampling anthem 'Black' is another of those paradoxically simplistic yet brilliant tunes that defies rational analysis. Formation was never a label that pursued the 'intelligent' path of jungle trod by its more sophisticated peers, and Black is a perfect example of the raw jump up style pioneered by SS with tunes such as 'Lighter' and 'Rollidge' before the descent into mediocrity from late 96 on... The production here is fairly dirty, but unlike the remix (of which I’ve never heard a good pressing) it just about all holds together on the right side of distortion, and that bassline is possibly the most striking jungle bassline ever... all in all this is a perfect 'funeral tune', tearjerkingly poignant (to my ears) melody and bass, church bell intro, the 'I will always love you' sample (when did Jungle stop sampling pop music btw?), and last but not least the 'I know you’re gonna dig this' vocal sample...

Slug sez: I have always wondered about this 'I will always love you' sample - is it SS's salute to the AMEN? the dirty bass line? or is this just a love song from a producer to the genre that is "jungle / drum n bass"!!!! Or, is it the final farewell (the 'funeral tune' you mention) is this SS's subconscious way of saying good bye to jungle? His realization that the scene was dying!

8. (31.35) DJ Crstyl - The Dark Crystl - Force Ten

I’m not sure I should even be writing about this tune, its so good - in Naphta’s words (and I’m sure he'll deny it now) it's "the best Jungle record ever", and TBH, my usual brand of tawdry hyperbole could never really do it justice. If Crystl was once the king of the jungle, then this is the work that you’re supposed to look upon and despair. I think I've done it justice in the mix here (and we nearly didn’t play it at all, its so sacrosanct) - its a tiny bit wobbly, but I hope the conjoined breakdowns and melody/bass synthesis make up for it - as it certainly does for me. When the bass from Black drops back in after the 'prepare yourself' breakdown, I get a bit weepy, and when the drums in the Crystl really kick in over the bouncing rollout of the SS its not uncommon for me to leap to attention and salute, tears streaming down my metal face...

As you can imagine I get a few weird looks on the bus into work.

9. (37.00) Johnny Jungle - Johnny - (Origin Unknown remix) - Subbase

Ok - so how do you find a mix out of the best jungle tune ever made? The only thing we could think of was to try and shift the mood and focus but somehow keep the momentum going, and create a kind of 'plateau' effect - hence the vocal samples, bubbly sub-bass and cut up drums of 'Johnny' swimming up through some sly eqs of Crstyls last 64 bars of madness. A nicely placed breakdown, and eureka! Sighs of relief all round... This one's a prime slice of darkside taken from one of the Subbase's remix 10"s. The Dillinja mix is much more highly sought after, but I prefer this 10", as both sides are stunning in their own way (plus it didn’t cost £80!). I know - another amen (a break we try to use selectively), but for me it’s the other layered drums, the horror film samples and dark synths... and especially the rudeboy sub-bass which defines the groove in this tune. All in all, its another killer remix by the Ram supremos - who were on fire in 95. That vocal 'bad boy' sample that drops in at the end is from 'In effect' on Slammin' vinyl - but that’s a road we'll go down another day.

Ok. I hope those of you have heard the mix before can extract something of value from the above - and those of you that haven’t - what are you waiting for? You need to hear these tunes! Get downloading!


Anonymous Don Rosco said...


4:06 PM  
Blogger safetyboy said...

a memory that i'l never forget :class:

8:59 PM  
Blogger Barulho said...

Thanks guys! :) Good times for sure :myreminisce:

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Josh said...

oh man, I just found your site ... oh man.
thanks for all of this mental music, can't get enough. I also like the way you write about the music

1:05 AM  

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