Friday, March 30, 2007

Maintaining the Pressure

Gutterbreakz' UK pressure mix I mentioned a few weeks back has made it into the official archive over at Nicks blog. So for those of you who missed the yousendit link, theres another chance to download it. Couple of observations Nick's made that I might add my 2 centens to:
...Most oldskool mixes I've come across tend to focus on the hardcore milieu from '93 and beyond (in fact there's a new one up at Bloggariddims this week) but I think there's a fascinating period around 1990-91, when British techno first started to have it's own identity. Whilst London had it's proto-junglist rave scene, it was the Northern sound that I really felt drawn towards. It didn't really have a name then, but now it's generally referred to as Bleep & Bass....
Spot on. This is a great era for UK dance music - theres a huge amount of diversity going on, and myself and Slug have tons of tunes from roughly 89-92 all of which fall into the 130bpm bracket, which we have been dying to get into some mixes - everything from the dregs of acid house, proto-junglist breakbeat and sample collage from Reinforced and Boogie Times, early hardcore from labels like Strictly Underground, and Production House, the Belgian Invasion, artists like Unique 3, Ital Rockers, 808 State, LFO, Renegade Soundwave... youd be hard pressed to find a richer seam of scenes.
...But the mixing is a bit wonky in places (I've heard others say that beat matching gets trickier the slower the tempo, and I think I have to agree. As an example, I've also been having fun recently mixing d'n'b from the mid-90s Metalheadz/Moving Shadow/No U-Turn period with far more accurate results)...
Im not sure about the slower tempo/harder to mix meme. It's swings and roundabouts. Slower beats mean you have to wait longer to hear any mistakes - but it also means you have more time 'in between' beats to fix those mistakes. One thing I will say is that mixing slower beats from the early 90's is another story completely. For example (without naming names) some of the artists on Nick's mix habitually used tape loops! Others would have been using Atari ST's with 8 megs of RAM, so that everytime they introduced a new track in their sequencer (over a certain threshold), the entire tune would have lost time! This lack of precision in sequencing makes mixing this stuff a challenge for even the most accomplished DJ (probably why you dont see so many mixes of stuff from this era).

As I said in the last post. More please Nick! :)


Blogger kek-w said...

Some interesting thoughts there on early computer-based a veteran of the slightly later Amiga-driven era (tho also dabbled w/ Atari) I found that bpms and riddims often felt 'elastic' as the CPU struggled to keep up w/ the processing demands on it...especially if you were running analogue synths in tandem with sampled beats on the Amiga (as most people were, as this was a pre-Plug-in epoch) their worst, the rhythms sometimes sounded woozy or would drift in and out of time w/ the keyboards or anything going thru a MIDI-CV gate...I confess I really like that feel these days (it feels more 'real'), but I bet it's a bugger to mix to...

10:27 PM  
Blogger GTTRBRKZ said...

Hrrmmm...having also come through the Amiga sequencing route, I can't say I ever noticed BPM fluctuation.Perhaps my tunes never got complex enough to tax the system! There were other problems, though. I think Vince Clarke once said that the timing in MIDI was never acurate enough for him, which was why he went back to the old analogue cv/gate system.

11:38 PM  
Blogger GTTRBRKZ said...

actually, now i think of it, i did have some serious timing issues when trying to use SMPTE code (the method of 'striping' magnetic tape so that it would run in sync with a midi clock). My god it was a pain in the arse. how did we ever live like that???

11:42 PM  

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