Friday, July 27, 2007

Essential Subbase Interview

Well - the servers have taken a serious battering after Naphta's extremely popular LP download, but we're stil here and returning to the normal routine with a heads up on this Suburban Base video interview over at DnB Arena
Suburban Base, the godfather of all jungle labels, has their back catalogue eclusivley in our download store. We reveal the story from the famous 'Boogie Times' record store to touring the, listen and learn!
Its a great bluffer's guide to the label - plus its good to see that Dan Donnelly and friends are still alive and kicking (and looking surprisingly healthy as well). Have a gander here (second link down on the page - I couldnt link directly to it, so it may have moved if youre reading this months after the fact.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Grande Illusions

GI IllustrationWe're suspending downloads of Naphta's Grande Illusions LP from September 1st 07. If you missed out, it will be available again at a later stage from The Fear website.

Welcome one and all to the wonderful world of Naphta䴜s 䴝Grande Illusions䴜! A feast for the ears, a challenge to the mind, and ultimately a poison to the heart! Step this way!

So, a collection of some of my many, many unreleased drum n bass tunes‰¥Ï Why? you ask. Good question. Well, like unrequited loves, unreleased tunes deserve an ending, even if that ending is shot on super8 rather than on 32mm. Probably too ambitious to be fully realised by my meagre production skills, these tunes were out of place, out of their time, and thus, ultimately, out of luck. But this collection now offers them a peaceful resting place, and perhaps even the possibility of an after-life‰¥Ï

Here's how this works. Above the text for each track you'll see a play button, so you can preview the tunes as you read. At the bottom of this post you'll find a link to a ZIP file containing a 320kpbs MP3 version of the album, along with a printable CD booklet and disc label. So if you like what you've heard, download and enjoy!

Rise [2000] was intended for release on Bassbin, but as proved to be the case with many of the tunes I made over the next 3 years: while the ideas had merit, the execution was lacking, particularly with regards to the mix-down. By 2000 the ‰¥ùtechno-isation‰¥ú of drum n bass was complete in the wake of Ed Rush & Optical‰¥ús ‰¥ùWormhole‰¥ú and Bad Company's linear synth-driven style, so from an engineering point of view, dance-floor drum n bass had become an extremely demanding arena to operate in. Ironically, Techno itself seems to have avoided becoming hostage to the ‰¥þlouder-is-better‰¥ÿ logic that eventually strangled drum n bass as a creative force, perhaps simply because it‰¥ús big enough to encompass that many more styles and variations, and thus isn‰¥út held hostage to any one particular production aesthetic.

Ganja Time [2000] was another potential Bassbin release. I guess I was (as ever) searching for some meeting point between Jungle, dancehall and hip-hop, and spawned this mutant curiosity as a result. It still has a kinda cheeky oompah-loompah quality that I like - despite my reservations regarding the production (hearing it played off dub-plate in a club nearly put me off production for good). The breakdown actually samples a little live jam that Droid n Slug laid down for a joint project with me around this time, and it lurks there still‰¥Ï like a ghost in the machine. Oh yeah: I let the sax sample run on just a little too long right at the very end of the track 'cos, when appropriate, I like taking the opportunity to flick a torch across the mechanics of my tracks ‰¥ã to issue a reminder that this is sample-based music‰¥Ï I wanted to do something similar with the main piano motif in ‰¥ùJealous‰¥ú (the second bar in the original song from which the piano loop was culled features some god-awful panpipe action) but I never pulled it off‰¥Ï and probably for the best. Anyway, there you go; not quite sure how well I ever communicate these little things, but I do plant 'em in there nonetheless‰¥Ï!

U Ready [2001] got a lot of support from L.A.䴜s Pieter K, who signed it to his Metaformal label just prior to its demise. It was a tough break all round but there was simply no way that a track like this was ever gonna shift any units at that time in dnb. I䴜m rather fond of this, despite its weak execution 䴋 it has a vaguely romantic 80s Euro/James Bond/Skiing Channel feel to it that I find appealing, despite its er... naffness.

Vendetta Remix [2001] never reached anything like completion and just a rough demo edit now survives. I had in mind a techno/hip-hop hybrid, with a sort of slave-like rhythmic driving behind it‰¥Ï it sounds a little like Amit-inspired ‰¥ùhalf-step‰¥ú drum n bass now, although that style had yet to emerge in dnb at the time.

Enter the Shamen [2001] was my first Amen track proper ‰¥ã I couldn‰¥ùt resist the vocal sample once I‰¥úd found it‰¥Ï I‰¥úd always had a notion that maybe some sort of ‰¥ùambient/jump-up‰¥ú style was possible, and thus while inspiration in the b-line department came from the likes of vintage Dope Dragon, I cut in some melodic reprise in the form of some old skool-style strings. However, I think I eventually came to the conclusion that if you made tunes in a truly Junglistic style, then the question of which sub-genres (liquid, techy, jump-up, dubwise, neuro etc.) to fuse would no longer matter‰¥Ï cos the structure of Jungle proper would allow you to switch between vibes more than once within the confines of a single tune‰¥Ï It just took me another few years to really absorb that lesson!

Jealous [2002] was another labour of love, a tune that saw countless mixdowns and variations. This version was mastered by D̹ffah (, who spent some considerable time fine-tuning it to bring out the best from my original shabby mixdown‰¥Ï much thanks to D̹ffah for that, and for his enthusiastic support of this tune. I must confess to loving this track, mutant unwanted offspring of some YMCA disco-meets-Ryan O‰¥úNeal ‰¥ù70s melodrama though it sounds‰¥Ï I think of it as my attempt at a pop song in a Junglistic style, and while I didn‰¥út pull off anything to rival the likes of Omni Trios‰¥ús perfect pop-tastic Jungle, I wouldn‰¥út hesitate to get back on this vibe again in the future‰¥Ï

An edited version of the remix aka the
Love‰¥ús Gonna Lead The Way Mix [2002] also survives here. I re-sampled huge chunks of the original mix of the tune and then rearranged them, time-stretched 'em, pitched 'em, layered 'em up and played with the panning‰¥Ï all bog-standard arrangement techniques, but a good reminder to me at the time (when I was taking months to complete individual tracks) of the effectiveness of a rawer, more immediate approach to writing tunes...

Returning to the studio after a year䴜s absence in late 2003 / early 2004 I made immediate headway by taking a deliberately Junglistic approach to writing, and immediately laid down 䴝Soundclash 1䴜. Nonetheless, despite my best efforts, I remained afflicted by the urge to melodic orchestration and
Hum [2004] was worked on for many months around that time‰¥Ï only to eventually get bogged down in endless rewrites. The mix that remains offers a suggestion of what might have been. I very much like the atmosphere suggested by this one, and while only a short edit remains, I think that its production taught me a few important things about economy in sample-based music.

Home [2004] offers improved production and thus rolls along a little more successfully than some of the previous offerings here, despite its vaguely proggy frills and meanderings. I like the naÌøve, playschool sorta ambience of this, and how it unfolds into something a bit darker over time‰¥Ï or at least, that‰¥ús how I intended it. It certainly has more than a little of what a friend calls that ‰¥þHansel & Gretel‰¥ÿ vibe that Jungle seems to bring out in me from time to time. This tune previously saw a limited availability as a download from the Dublin Electronic Arts Festival.

My Bitter Sweetness [2005] represents one of my last efforts to make ‰¥ùdrum n bass‰¥ú proper. My relationship with the drum n bass scene in general felt stretched at that point, worn-out, past its expiry date. I no longer had anything to offer it ‰¥ã nor it me. Very little drum n bass was being produced that grabbed me, and while interesting deviations from the accepted norms appeared very occasionally, I tended to admire them rather than feel actually moved by them. As such I guess that some dnb fans might find this track a little too‰¥Ï emotionally demonstrative in a current dnb context i.e. too ‰¥ùold skool‰¥ú in its intent and execution, not musically ‰¥ùmature‰¥ú enough. But the way I see it: most everyone claims to love old skool; why then rule out big hooks, or big emotive gestures when writing supposedly intelligent dance music? If ‰¥ùevolution‰¥ú in musical terms means becoming less overtly emotionally expressive, then I will happily endure the label of ‰¥ùregressive‰¥ú... For me, Hardcore and Jungle demonstrated that it was possible to marry brains and soul in this music; hence I‰¥úll always favour naivety over slickness, rawness over smoothness... emotionally expressive over emotionally restrained.

You see, the way I see it, for all its supposed technological innovations, as a form of music, drum n bass has become extraordinarily conservative, caught in a tragi-comic self-referential loop for some years now. So, ultimately I came to think that grounding new breakbeat music in Hardcore and Jungle offered opportunities to break out of that, to reinvigorate the music with the raw enthusiasm that made it sound so urgent and so vital in the first place‰¥Ï

Finally, another epic (in my tiny world) endlessly reworked:
Remember (Imperial Mix) [2005] doesn‰¥út deliver like it should, but it has a place in my heart nonetheless. I loved what I called the ‰¥ùSpace-Jungle‰¥ú styles of the likes of DJ Crystl, Pete Parsons and Intense back in the day, and this track was conceived of in a similar vein. Ultimately though, I think the ambient parts here probably work better than the dnb parts ‰¥ã an accusation that could be levelled at most of my efforts in this genre, I do believe‰¥Ï!

Included in the ZIP file you will find everything you need to create your own CD version of this release: 11 320kbps CBR Mp3s, a high resolution PDF document of the CD label and booklet for printing (see below for clickable previews), a low resolution JPEG preview of the front cover and a text file with full details and tracklisting. If you have any technical queries or bug reports please leave them in the comments below.

GI CD LAbelGI CD BookletAnyway, that‰¥ús it, a load off my mental back, I hope you enjoy, or at least find something to amuse in there‰¥Ï Big Up to Droid and The Fear cru for facilitating this exorcism. Look out for the 'Long Time Burning' album, soon come through The Fear, later this summer.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Getting Closer...

Monday, July 09, 2007


From the people that brought you Dancehall Revival comes Who cork the dance? Hefty slices of Soundsystem audio with a dash of history, kickin' of with a massive post on late 80's soundsystem kings Metromedia. Get over there and indulge in some guilt free downloading!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Naphta Interview at

The ancient one did this nice little interview with promoter Simao in prior to his recent gig in Lithuania, and in advance of his upcoming torrent of releases I thought it'd be a good idea to post the translation here:
You䴜re dj䴜ing for about 13 years already. Lots of dnb/jungle dj䴜s of that generation are turned into nu school mainstream sound 䴋 jump up, clownstep. What keeps your loyalty to original breakbeat sounds over these years?

Well I guess one factor may be that I got into rave and dance music quite late by most people‰¥ús standards‰¥Ï I‰¥úm 36 now, so when I first got hooked on breakbeats (‰¥ù92/‰¥ú93), I already had a few years of listening to other types of music behind me‰¥Ï essentially beginning in ‰¥ùindie‰¥ú rock and veering off into experimental/ambient, bits of jazz, ethnic, classical etc. I was no expert, but I guess it meant that, as far as music went, my loyalty was always going to be primarily to the sound of whatever I was listening to‰¥Ï rather than to the scene (plus there was essentially no breakbeat scene in Ireland at that time).

Don‰¥út get me wrong ‰¥ã when scenes are really runnin‰¥ú, they‰¥úre an inspirational place to be, but when they‰¥úre not, they can feel a bit like a creative prison‰¥Ï cos people sometimes get an idea of what the ‰¥ùcorrect‰¥ú sound is and become afraid to deviate from that. I‰¥úm pretty sure that at the end of the day, I‰¥úve done my bit for drum n bass in Ireland, but I don‰¥út feel an obligation to support the music if I‰¥úm not actually feeling what‰¥ús being produced‰¥Ï Furthermore I‰¥úve never made any money to speak of from this music, so I‰¥úm not forced to play the biggest tunes in order to get gigs. Sure, I‰¥úll play the biggest tunes if I happen to like ‰¥ùem, but otherwise, I just play what I wanna hear. Not a good business strategy I know‰¥Ï but I prefer to try and keep my musical adventures free from the poisoning influence of money. It really does always fuck things up!

2 forthcoming albums this summer on The Fear. What are the differences between them and what are the changes since your last release on Bassbin back in 2002?

The first is a free download album-sized collection of some of the tunes that I made between 2000 and 2005, entitled 䴝Grande Illusions䴜, which should be available from The Fear within the next couple of weeks (check and for details on that very soon).

I struggled for five years to try to find a way to make tunes that expressed my roots in Hardcore and Jungle in a contemporary drum n bass style. I don‰¥út think I achieved great success in doing that‰¥Ï but some of what was produced along the way has some merit, I think, and thus maybe deserves to be heard‰¥Ï and that‰¥ús what makes up this album! I should mention that while none of these tunes ever saw a release, they did get vocal support in a few quarters ‰¥ã on the industry end principally from Pieter K and from John Doe of Counter Intelligence, so big up to them for that‰¥Ï

The second album is called ‰¥ùLong Time Burning‰¥ú and is composed of some of the newer more Junglistic material that I‰¥úve been working on since 2005, plus some sample-based downtempo and atmospheric material as well‰¥Ï As a piece of work, this is much more representative of where I‰¥úm at these days. The album will see a CD & download release through The Fear in late summer. We‰¥úre also looking to try to get at least one 12‰¥ÿ of similar material out too around the same time, but at the moment that‰¥ús proving prohibitively expensive for us unfortunately‰¥Ï however vinyl heads looking for a bit of Naphta-style Jungle right now can check my 12‰¥ÿ on Fanu‰¥ús Lightless label, which features ‰¥ùSoundclash‰¥ú parts 1 & 2‰¥Ï big up to Fanu for the support on that.

With regard to changes since my last Bassbin release‰¥Ï I‰¥úd say that anybody who liked my track ‰¥ùOut Of Time‰¥ú will probably prefer ‰¥ùGrande Illusions‰¥ú, while anybody who preferred the flipside ‰¥ùOne Squeeze‰¥ú will probably go for ‰¥ùLong Time Burning‰¥ú. My advice is to get both!

You䴜ve started Bassbin nights together with Rohan 10 years ago and were a long time resident. What is your relation to Bassbin these days?

While I DJ‰¥úd breakbeats before Bassbin started up in Ireland ‰¥ã and have since gone my own way (especially with my productions), Bassbin will still always represent my home in the drum n bass world, as when it kicked off, it was just me and Rohan providing the music and setting the musical agenda, and over time, as the cru evolved, we shared a lot of great nights and mad experiences together over the course of that 10 year period. Ultimately, we evolved in kinda different directions over time, and although we don‰¥út quite see eye to eye musically these days, I have lot of respect for Rohan‰¥ús achievements in building a credible dnb label with a strong following internationally ‰¥ã no easy feat in these days when so many labels feel the need to push dumbed-down shit in order to survive. Rohan has some of the best people in dnb making tunes for him, and I‰¥úd still sooner the sounds pushed by Bassbin rather than anything else in dnb these days, but it‰¥ús just not where my heart is really at right now‰¥Ï I guess cos I worked my way right back to the heart of the Jungle‰¥Ï and once you get back in there, it‰¥ús pretty damn hard to leave!

Jungle culture raised in England, then Canada and US was the source of new sounds. Do you think, Ireland with you, Ricky Force and other local jungle artists could be the next scene that could make an influence and innovate jungle sound? And how䴜s the situation right now in Ireland?

Hard to say. For me, influencing the Jungle sound would mean opening people‰¥ús minds up to the fact that ‰¥ùJungle‰¥ú means more than just ‰¥ùOriginal Nuttah‰¥ú (ruff though that track was) and endless Amens (essential though that break undoubtedly was to the sound of Jungle). Some of the deepest and ruffest Jungle back in the day was produced by the likes of DJ Monk, L Double, Kemet Cru, Bay B Kane‰¥Ï names that most dnb heads don‰¥út really know any more, so it‰¥ús a tough task to get people‰¥ús attention long enough to get them to dig that little bit deeper‰¥Ï Certainly young RickyForce has loads of talent, and a real appreciation of just what separates the Jungle aesthetic from the drum n bass one, but I‰¥úm not sure that just 2 producers constitutes a movement hahaha! I admit it would be fantastic to hear other new producers getting on board the Jungle-train, and just going for it, and if my album helped inspire anyone to do that, I‰¥úd consider it an unqualified success.

As for the ‰¥ùdrum n bass‰¥ú sound, obviously Ireland has spawned a bunch of skilled producers in that field, some of whom are doing very well for themselves these days ‰¥ã from Calibre and Beta 2 to Zero Tolerance and Polska‰¥Ï but while I appreciate and respect what they all do in their own areas, I wouldn‰¥út really think of any of it as ‰¥ùJungle‰¥ú (although I know some people would disagree with me there).

Tell us about The Fear. It is not very drum 䴝n䴜 bass/jungle related label, right? What are the plans, which way will label go these days?

The Fear previously released stuff that would broadly get classed as ‰¥ùdowntempo / electronica‰¥ú, but essentially it was all just sample-based music, much like my own. The guys who run the label (Droid, Slug and DC) have a wonderful appreciation of music across many genres, and they aren‰¥út concerned with what the dnb scene might think of music like mine, or with where it will fit in, or with what DJ might play it etc. etc. After years of feeling constrained by dnb‰¥ús production demands, and of feeling imaginatively retrained by the scene‰¥ús increasingly limited palette, it‰¥ús very refreshing for me to have people getting behind my stuff to release it simply because they like it! So big up The Fear cru‰¥Ï

Ireland is probably most ‰¥þLithuanised‰¥ÿ country in Europe after UK. Are there Lithuanian Junglists coming to parties in Dublin? And what is the typical opinion about the scene in Lithuania or let‰¥ús say in Eastern Europe in Ireland? Did you hear something about it?

Personally Lithuania is a bit of an unknown quantity to me! Prior to the end of the Cold War, all we knew about most of Eastern Europe was that it was part of the Soviet bloc‰¥Ï and that didn‰¥út really begin to change at all until Ireland began to receive lots of Eastern Europeans coming here to look for work in the last 5 years or so. As always, there can be tensions when immigrants arrive in large numbers (the Irish should know all about that as we spent the last few hundred years emigrating to places like the US, UK and Australia!), but on the whole, I think relations between the Irish and people from the Baltic States is pretty good. I don‰¥út know anything about the Lithuanian music scene though I must confess, either in Ireland or back in Lithuania, but you must forgive me cos I‰¥úve spent the last 6 or 7 years locked in my cave trying to make music, and I am ignorant of most things other the contents of my sampler! I should say though, that Martsman warned me that you guys were nutters (in a good way haha) so hopefully my first visit to Lithuania should be fun! I think I‰¥úll be drawing some classic old skool beats from 94-96, so hopefully headz will be down for checking that‰¥Ï

You describe your occupation as buccaneer in your blog. What䴜s the community between junglist and buccaneer? And which one is more profitable? happy

A Buccaneer is a Pirate, but not a Privateer! He operates independently 䴋 free from the laws of any King, roaming the seas at will, seizing booty wherever he can! Similarly, a Junglist roams the high seas of Sound, raping and pillaging Samples and press-ganging them into service on his galleons, building tough crews and hardy ships and sailing them to exotic locations in search of buried treasure! At present, though, real piracy is far more profitable than Junglism, I can assure you!

Your message for those heads, who are thinking, that jungle is dead happy

Jungle is only dead if you believe the words of a few corporate ghouls who lost their way in the dnb industry/machine some years ago! The music was made, the sound is still up for grabs, it‰¥ús still vital, it‰¥ús as relevant as ever‰¥Ï check it, learn its language, be inspired by it‰¥Ï cos it ain‰¥út ‰¥ùdrum n bass‰¥ú‰¥Ï

For anyone new to the sounds, check out a couple of mixes I did here, you might find something you like‰¥Ï

You‰¥úll also find lots of other quality mixes here, across many genres of music, so do take time to check them out too‰¥Ï

Friday, July 06, 2007

Sputtering Fire

Anyone know what's going on over at Blood and Fire? The forum has been down for nearly a week, and the rest of it's kaput as well. There was some recent talk of the site being shelved... but Im hoping that hasnt happened and this is just maintenance. After all, it is one of the best reggae/roots boards on the web...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Mini Magic

Picked up a Kaoss Pad Mini recently and am very impressed. Obviously it's way better than the ancient Kaoss 1 we've been using for the last few years, but Im surprised at how much value for money this thing is. For just 122 euro (-VAT), you get 100 effects including some great delays, basic sampling and looping facilities and a bunch of pre made siren and sine wave sounds. A big improvment over the first one is the 'send' mode, where the signal is muted unless the pad is being touched - perfect for DJng and my main complaint about the first one. It really is tiny too. My one gripe is that you have to buy the power supply seperately. Batteries are fine, but not for long time use or gigging - they always run out at the wrong moment...