Friday, September 28, 2007

Blogarididms 27 / Everybody Loves The Sunshine

Episode 27 comes from dancehall souljah Per Computerstyle:
I tried to put together something with a US feel instead, and ended up with a mix of hip-hop gems, too many tracks from LA䴜s excellent Stones Throw Records, and even some jazz-funk and soul. I had to sneak in some representation for the old country too, so my favorite Swedish rap-song ever is included, and there䴜s a hard-to-miss Californian theme going on. We䴜re talking music to be stuck on the 405 to.
I suppose a bit of sunshine might be in order considering we've had none round here since April! And now the winters setting in.... Good thing I'm off to Jamaica in a couple of weeks!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Cheesy pop-reggae cover versions. The most famous one has to be the many 80's reggae takes of Tanita Tikaram's 'Baby Can I hold you tonight', and a more recent example would be Whitney Houston's 'Your Love is My Love' as covered by Terry Linen... those of you who are curious can check out some more of this pop-reggae spawn on this compilation...

Thats not the whole story though, Ive stumbled upon another tawdry and underground world of hidden cover versions - seemingly unreleased and available exclusively on soundtapes. So far Ive got 2 WICKED clash versions of Chris De Burgh's 'Lady in Red' from Metromedia and Unity sounds, a reedy relick of Cyndi Lauper's 'Time after Time' from V-Rocket, and (wait for it) Dana's 'All kinds of Everything' inna dancehall style (have to track this one down as I fainted with shock when I heard it and lost my place in the playlist).

Normally Id be sharing these gems - but these are just TOO good to be giving away willy nilly, so barring a tsunami of protest, audio evidence will have to wait until I actually do something with these killers.

Sorry to be such a tease! :P

UPDATE: Ive been thinking about this and remebering some other examples Ive discovered over the last couple of years. 'Careless Whisper' anyone? 'Cecilia', 'Sylvia's mother'? 80's soundclashes seem to be full of this stuff.

I think I'm going to have to dedicate a bit more time to this!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Blogariddims 26 / This Is The News

The second episode in the new season comes from Ben UFO, long-time DJ, junglist and musical agitator whom I first met up with on Subvert Central, and who has produced some great dubstep mixes over the last 18 months or so. Ben and his collaborators have recently started their own imprint 'Hessle Audio', and this episode is full of big exclusives and unreleased tunes... see Ben's excellent guest post below for a tune by tune rundown...

I'm biting the bullet. As you'll know Droid has been kind enough to invite me to join the fantastic Blogariddims series despite the fact that I've never been a blogger, although my involvement with various online communities borders on the obsessive. As such I'm finding it rather challenging thinking of interesting liner notes to accompany the mix, which, relatively speaking, was a more straightforward challenge. Collecting ones thoughts into a cohesive post however, is far more satisfying than rapid-fire throw away comments on forums, so before I start I must thank Droid and all involved with Blogariddims for the opportunity, and of course for all the fascinating mixes and commentary from the past year.

The aim of this mix was essentially to showcase the progress of Hessle Audio, the record label I've been running with my Leeds-based colleagues Ramadanman and Pangaea, with whom I also have a weekly radio show on In contrast to our radio show, I've approached this mix from quite a focused perspective, concentrating on several specific areas of dubstep. It seems appropriate then that after the recent flurry of wonderful Ableton mixes, particularly Paul Autonomic's immaculately programmed 'Moving South', I've recorded this mix using only two Technics 1210s and my new toy - Rane Serato Scratch. As much as the idea of Ableton and other digital mixing software appeals, I enjoy the limitations imposed by using simply a pair of turntables and a mixer. Even using Serato I sometimes feel bewildered by choice, and as a result my selection suffers, so I can't imagine how I would manage when presented with my entire hard drive. My favourite moments when DJing are those occasions of pure spontaneity - finding unexpected blends or brilliant keymatches; those rare moments when two records seem made for one another, so much so that after the mix, you can't even imagine them being played separately. This is a reflection only of my particularly style of DJing, but the kind of meticulous planning and organisation that seems to be encouraged by digital mixing software doesn't seem conducive to achieving those moments, so for the time being I'm rooted firmly in the past; a stance which seems emblematic of the way the dubstep scene has expanded, with its reliance on vinyl releases combined with the hype created by tried and tested dubplate culture.

I䴜m not going to spend a huge amount of time describing the mix, but I do feel that I should at least attempt to explain what it is that makes me love this music so much. For a while now people have been saying the dubstep scene is stagnating, or that mainstream appeal has diluted what was once raw, exciting, life affirming music. It䴜s easy to compare the rise of dubstep with the rise of jungle, and its slow transformation into drum and bass, and given the fact that both scenes share the scene mechanics I have just described, this seems hardly surprising. The difference however, is that dubstep seems to be following the same patterns in hyperspeed, which I think makes the same resulting problems more difficult to avoid, even if many of the people directly involved have seen the same things happen elsewhere. People like me can harp on about learning from experience all they like, but dubstep genuinely burst into the mainstream in less than a year, due at least partially to the rapidly increasing speed of communication and information flow.

I can䴜t comment on the pros and cons of dubplate culture, but what it certainly means is that in order to break through, DJs need to be presenting something different. Unless you have the freshest material, it simply isn䴜t enough to simply play. For a while I䴜ve been playing out unreleased tunes by artists I particularly rate, however, it is only recently that I feel that the output of these producers is strong enough to really sustain a set without any extra input. Consequently most of the tunes in this mix are unreleased, and they䴜ve been chosen because I think they communicate something that has been partially lost in today䴜s dubstep dances. Of course its impossible to pin down what this actually is, but a common theme seems to be the juxtaposition between contrasting, competing elements; particularly between an overall feeling of meditative depth with extremely busy, percussive yet minimal production. This combination is absolutely epitomised by Shackleton, sadly unrepresented in this mix. It䴜s exactly this kind of contrast that I think journalists are referring to when they mention the 䴝danger䴜 and 䴝edge䴜 of the music. It䴜s the feeling of being pulled in two different directions simultaneously, a feeling sharply amplified by extreme volume.

You can get the mix here - or subscribe to the series here.

Ben UFO: Blogariddims 26 / This Is The News

1. Loscil - Rorshahk (Kranky)
2. Ramadanman - Blimey (Unreleased)
3. Untold - Test Signal (Forthcoming Hessle Audio)
4. Mala - Learn (DMZ)

5. TRG and Selector Dub U - Harajuku (Unreleased)
6. Pangaea - Antistatic [Ramadanman remix] (Unreleased)

7. Ranking Crew - Son of Thunder (Unreleased)
8. Ramadanman - Drowning [Kablammo remix] (Unreleased)

9. Terror Danjah - Green Street (Aftershock)

10. D1 - Malfunction (Tempa)

11. Headhunter - Techo (Unreleased)
12. Kode 9 - Ping (Rephlex)

13. Untold - Kingdom [Pangaea remix] (Unreleased)
14. DQ1 - Gud Money (Tectonic)
15. Cloak and Dagger - My Lips Are Sealed (Unreleased)
16. Peverelist - Erstwhile [Forsaken remix] (Unreleased)

17. Martyn - Suburbia (Unreleased)
18. 2562 - Resistance Dub (Unreleased)

19. Groove Chronicles - Masterplan (White)

20. Pangaea - Coiled (Forthcoming Hessle Audio)
21. Matty G - 808 Bass (Unreleased)
22. El-B and Rolla - Serious (Locked On)

23. TRG - Decisions (Unreleased)

24. Martyn - Storm Watch (Unreleased)

1. Loscil - Rorshahk (Kranky)
2. Ramadanman - Blimey (Unreleased)
3. Untold - Test Signal (Forthcoming Hessle Audio)

OK, so I do this quite a lot, but this mix starts actually with a tune that isn‰¥út dubstep. Its fun to play though, as it runs at almost exactly 140bpm, has heavy bass, and is just generally a really nice tune. The Kranky label have this sort of sound totally pinned down ‰¥ã dubbed out, atmospheric ambience with just enough melody and progression to avoid ‰¥ùbackground music syndrone‰¥ú. The first dubstep track comes from crew member Ramadanman, who‰¥ús been working extremely hard refining his sound recently. This one is my favourite of his productions so far, and I can‰¥út think of anything else that sounds like it. The opening is startlingly minimal, with almost nothing to cling to other than busy, mutant tribal percussion, which finally gives way to a fleetingly beautiful melodic breakdown reminiscent of early 90s electronica; a genre of which he claims almost total ignorance. The next track comes from Untold, and will be coming out on the third Hessle Audio release, after an EP from Hessle crew member Pangaea. The sound is totally unique, retaining almost none of the traditional dubstep format, and I can see it appealing to a huge range of electronic music fans‰¥Ï although I suppose I have to say that. It‰¥ús wonderful though, and defies description, so the only thing I can say is to judge for yourselves.

4. Mala - Learn (DMZ)
5. TRG and Selector Dub U - Harajuku (Unreleased)

6. Pangaea - Antistatic [Ramadanman remix] (Unreleased)

7. Ranking Crew - Son of Thunder (Unreleased)

This next passage sums up best what I was attempting to communicate about the contrast between busy production techniques and deep, meditative vibes. The Mala tune seems to have been oddly sidelined in scene terms, possibly due to the fact that it was released with one of the most popular Mala tunes ever, 䴝Lean Fwd䴜. I䴜ve only heard it played out a few times, and was absolutely delighted when I first read it was to see a release. It mixes beautifully with the TRG and Selector Dub U track as well 䴋 both tracks are in the same key, and switching the two basslines changes the root note of the chord. The first time I discovered it I䴜m sure I could feel the endorphins rushing.

8. Ramadanman - Drowning [Kablammo remix] (Unreleased)
9. Terror Danjah - Green Street (Aftershock)
10. D1 - Malfunction (Tempa)

This is possibly the most energetic section of the mix, starting with an excursion from the mysterious Isle of Wight trio, Kablammo. Other than several inflammatory posts on dubstepforum, little is known about the group, but this tune really speaks for itself. Disgustingly skewed bass mutations transform Ramadanman䴜s original from a deep, menacing two-stepper into a dancefloor destroying beast. With his 2005 beat 䴝Green Street䴜 Terror Danjah seems to blend about 100 genres at once, predicting the recent trend of techno infused production and combining it with furious Indian percussion and pounding bass weight.

11. Headhunter - Techo (Unreleased)
12. Kode 9 - Ping (Rephlex)

13. Untold - Kingdom [Pangaea remix] (Unreleased)

14. DQ1 - Gud Money (Tectonic)

15. Cloak and Dagger - My Lips Are Sealed (Unreleased)
16. Peverelist - Erstwhile [Forsaken remix] (Unreleased)
17. Martyn - Suburbia (Unreleased)

18. 2562 - Resistance Dub (Unreleased)

There䴜s been a lot of talk lately about the proliferation of techno influenced dubstep, particularly on Dissensus and various blogs. I went through a phase of including pitched up techno records in my sets, and sometimes it worked really well. Monolake, Sleeparchive, and the Sahko camp particularly produced a lot of material that fits the mould, sometimes even at 140bpm, although most of the time I was struggling to get away with enormous tempo increases with the pitch control regularly hitting +8. I decided recently however that I was actually more interested in playing dubstep with influences from different genres, rather than playing out different genres within the same set. This increased focus might seem like a reduction in scope, but I think it䴜s been helpful to the process of creating an individual sound.

Many of the artists in the above section have links to Bristol, including 2562, who recently produced a magnificent 12‰¥ÿ for Tectonic, DQ1, Headhunter, and Forsaken. The Forsaken remix is especially fantastic, turning Peverelist‰¥ús original deep techno workout into a hands-in-the-air house inflected dancefloor destroyer.

Another recent phenomenon with the expansion of dubstep is the influx of producers from different genres. Drum and bass producer seem to have a bad reputation in this scene, however Cloak and Dagger and Martyn have great track records across both styles. Martyn has made a name for himself by blending his love of Detroit successfully with skippy, uptempo two-step percussion, whereas Cloak and Dagger reacts against the standard half-step template with his distintively loose, tribal drums.

19. Groove Chronicles - Masterplan (White)
20. Pangaea - Coiled (Forthcoming Hessle Audio)

21. Matty G - 808 Bass (Unreleased)
22. El-B and Rolla - Serious (Locked On)

23. TRG - Decisions (Unreleased)

24. Martyn - Storm Watch (Unreleased)

I always try to include a few older pieces when I mix, partially to communicate a sense of the history of the music, but principally because I think mixing busy, uptempo old school stuff with newer, more brooding dubstep sounds great. El-B is responsible for both 䴝Masterplan䴜 and 䴝Serious䴜 in the above section, and for me they sum up exactly why he is so revered in this scene. Forward thinking yet immensely danceable; blissfully euphoric without being tacky. These records are both pitched approaching +8, and it䴜s a testament to El-B䴜s engineering that they still sounds great. Funnily enough mixing these old records so regularly, it actually sounds weird whenever I hear Juiceman and Rolla MCing at normal pitch.

I‰¥úd like to draw particular attention to the Pangaea tune as well, as it will shortly be coming out on Hessle Audio 002. We had a bad batch of test presses but hopefully it‰¥úll be out in a few weeks. It reminds me of early Big Apple records, infused with a love of old electronica records. White noise seems to have become something of a trademark‰¥Ï

Thank you to anyone that takes the time to listen, and thanks once again to Droid for inviting me to join the series. I really hope you all enjoy it. Massive thanks must go also to all the producers who have been sending me beats, particularly everyone involved with Hessle Audio, and everyone that䴜s been encouraging us along the way.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Woofah Issue 1 out!

Woofah has finally emerged from its cocoon! Issue 1 is out and can be bought directly from the website. Dublin readers can pick it up right now for the bargin price of 4-5 euro in Spindizzy Records, City Discs, Reggae Family or All City. Its an essential purchase if you're into the music featured, and I can confidently predict that it will soon become a collectors item!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Calling all Electronic Engineers

Heres a mixer design (click on the image for a big version) I did 2 - maybe 3 years back after seeking in vain for a decent 5 channel mixer with all the features I wanted (kill switches/good EQ's/'pre' sends and returns/XLR and 1/4 jack outs etc...). While I was at it I decided to make the dream mixer for anyone who DJs as part of a duo - hence the console is split in half, with a standard 4 channel mixer on each side and then another 2 channel mixer in the middle with a cross fader that mixes between each DJs output.

Of course it never got made - I chatted to a few people about it, but didnt really push it, and then it became less feasible as the money i'd put aside for it drained away. So - if there's anyone out there who thinks they can make this badboy - leave a comment or get in touch...

Monday, September 03, 2007

A tale of three mixes

I came across these recently, having long ago assumed that they䴜d disappeared for good. Recorded in 2002, they were actually the last drum n bass mixes that I made prior to falling out of love with the dnb scene some time around 2003. After sitting on them for 5 years or so, I'm just going to throw them out there with some short notes in the hope that some of you will appreciate them. Each mix is approximately CD length if any of you want to burn them:

Naphta - Represent (103mb. mp3)

1. Naphta - Out Of Time (Bassbin)
2. Dillinja - Sky (Philly Blunt)
3. Sonic & Silver - On The Ansen (Metalheadz)
4. Matrix - Convoy (Prototype)
5. Suv - Free By Four (Full Cycle)
6. Breakage - Numbers Track (Reinforced)
7. Paradox - Reinstate (Reinforced)
8. Vertigo - The Drained (Droppin Science)
9. DJ Ron - Rockers (London Something)
10. Sonar Circle - More Time (Reinforced)
11. Nucleus & Paradox - ? (Reinforced)
12. Total Science feat. Robert Owens - My Dreams Remix (Hospital)
13. K - No Sleep (Subtitles)
14. Paradox - Dioxide 170873 (Reinforced)
15. Photek - Seven Samurai Remix (Science)
16. Danny Breaks - Revenge Of The Big Bossa (Droppin Science)
17. Paradox - ? (CIA)
18. Tango & Ratty - Inventa (L Plates)
19. Breakage - Break - Age (Reinforced)

Naphta - Rastachuan Special (103mb. mp3)

1. Teebee & Future Prophecies - The Path (Subtitles)

2, Naphta - One Squeeze (Bassbin)
3. Digital - Natty Dread (Reinforced)
4. Noise Factory - Roll With Me (Three Lions)
5. Total Science - Hen Night (Fix)
6. Polar - Futile Dream (Subtitles)
7. DJ Ron - ? (No Frills)
8. Polar - Ill - formed (Cert 18)
9. Marcus Intalex - Lose Control (Metalheadz)
10. Polar - Mass Mysterior (Cert 18)
11. Surge - Working Out (Full Cycle)
12. Digital - Latest Request (CIA)
13. Twin Blade - This DJ (Beeswax)
14. Elementz Of Noize - Hit The Deck (SOUR)
15. Capone - Jah (Chronic)
16. Use Of Weapons - Switchblade (Droppin Science)
17. Ganja Kru - Gone Are The Days (Parousia)
18. DJ Mace - Remenisce (Mix & Blen䴞)
19. Total Science - Taxman (Advanced)
20. Calibre - Global Love Remix (Hospital)

Naphta - Freestyle Sessions 3 (102mb. mp3)

1. The Dream Team - Freaky (Joker)

2. Teebee - Stolen Documents [Polar Remix] (Cert18)
3. DJ Ron - 21st Century (Parousia)
4. Polar - Red Triangles (Cert 18)
5. 3 Way - Sub Zero (Dope Dragon)
6. Danny Breaks - The Lost Souls (Droppin Science)
7. Polar - Sit Down And Dance (Breakbeat Science)
8. Blue - ? (Streetbeats)
9. Alaska - Broken Silence (Vibe䴞z)
10. Breakage - PMT (Reinforced)
11. Special Touch - Let Me Count The Ways (Reinforced)
12. Digital - Watch It (Reinforced)
13. Alaska - Aries Maze (dub)
14. DJ Ron - Rockers (London Something)
15. Shanie - What Way To Turn? [Dom & Roland Remix](Cyba)
16. Paradox - ? (Reinforced)
17. Photek - Titan (Astralwerks)
18. Gang Related - Vibrations (Dope Dragon)19. Alaska - Point Blank (Vibe'z)

The 䴝Represent䴜 mix was intended as a showcase for some serious polyrhythmic action, but it was also something of an indulgence for me back then, as in reality, it rather went against the grain for me to shoe-horn so many deep-beat workouts into one mix, at least certainly not at a time when dnb audiences in Dublin were still largely ignorant of the music䴜s history in Hardcore and Jungle, and were instead just freshly arrived from a techno or rock background.

Thus there were few opportunities for me to play out stuff like the 3/4 time signatures featured on the Matrix and Suv tunes here, or to drop anything as concentrated as the punishing roll-out when 䴝Reinstate䴜 and 䴝The Drained䴜 get mashed up together, or indeed to fuck around with the likes of Polar䴜s freaky swing-time re-edit of Teebee, as featured early on in the 䴝Freestyle Sessions䴜 mix. Fortunately, my two-year residency with Bassbin in Switch in Dublin afforded me the chance to slip in such things occasionally when I could - despite raised eyebrows from some of the younger Bassbin cru who often perceived my approach to DJ'ng as being purposefully wilful or 䴝difficult䴜.

Indeed I well remember the challenge back then of trying to negotiate a path between keeping myself musically interested and catering to the needs of the dancefloor - especially as my sound was very much a minority sound in dnb - and indeed a minority sound in Bassbin too (Digital and Total Science excepted: they were the common ground - we all caned their tunes).

Back then, Breakage had only really just appeared on the scene, and 䴝dubwise䴜, 䴝choppage䴜, 䴝drumfunk䴜 etc. were still largely unformed stylistic identities. As regards the mellower sounds: Calibre䴜s debut LP aside, 䴝liquid䴜 had yet to be really accepted as a variant within dnb in its own right, and Seba had yet to return from his post-GLR wilderness to broaden Paradox䴜s melodic horizons. while Amit had also yet to unveil the true weight of his half-step deviancies. Instead, I remember dnb 2002 being locked firmly in the grip of Dillinja/Bad Company-inspired midrange 䴝techno䴜 antics, with occasional bloated trends like 䴝disco dnb䴜 (remember that one?) floating by and feverishly distracting everyone for a while. Makes one wonder just how much has changed five years on?

So, with limited material to work with, there was a seriously heavy reliance on Paradox and Polar going on in my sets, with various other under-exposed tunes from the likes of Sonar Circle and Danny Breaks thrown in, along with some older jump-up fare pulled from the shelves to keep everything from getting too technical, too dry, and too grimly masculine (there were never either enough subs or melodies in dnb for the ladies back then). Apart from Digital and Total Science (who managed to retain a certain Junglistic energy in their music during this period) I also relied a lot on the early 䴝2nd Wave䴜 material from Reinforced, despite having some serious reservations about the overall direction the label had taken.

Anyway, the 䴝Rastachaun䴜 mix was put together in the wake of a gig I played for the cru of the same name up in Dundalk, and was made up of many of the tunes that I䴜d dropped for them that night: overall, a bit more of a roller than 䴝Represent䴜. while the 䴝Freestyle Sessions䴜 mixes (of which only this one survives) were intended to expand upon one of my DJ'ng policies at the time i.e. deliberately rubbing up styles that most dnb DJs would never dream of playing against one another in order to see what might result.

Although very much 䴝of their time䴜 to my ears now, there are indeed some nice tunes in these mixes, and some nice mixes in these mixes too. I think! I particularly like the section from Alaska䴜s 䴝Broken Silence䴜 up to Dom & Roland䴜s unearthly, gut-wrenching remix of Shanie䴜s 䴝 What Way To Turn?䴜 on the 䴝Freestyle Sessions䴜 mix, or the part from where Sonar Circle䴜s 䴝More Time䴜 rolls all the way up to Danny Breaks䴜 masterful 䴝Revenge of the Big Bossa䴜 on the 䴝Represent䴜 mix. Certainly, if nothing else, some rollin䴜 tunes that never got enough props are surely highlighted.

Question marks in the track-lists indicate white labels that are still hiding somewhere down the back of my record collection - but I䴜ve managed to recall the label and artist in each case, so hopefully Droid won䴜t bust my balls over that too much!

Hope you enjoy.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Blogariddims 2

A busier than usual schedule prevented me from posting much this week, so I haven't made an 'official' announcement. Blogariddims restarted on Monday with an episode from Nick Guttabreakz and an almost sublime mix of dubstep, techno and grime which echoes Paul Autonomics Moving South mix with which we concluded the first year of casts.
There can be little doubt that, from an innovatory angle, Electronic Dance Music is currently stuck in one of it's occasional fallow periods, with no radically new options on the agenda. Although 'stasis' might be too strong a term, then certainly it is a time of Consolidation: to paraphrase Simon Reynolds, the delicate balance between Rootical and Futuroid is firmly tipped towards the former. Bar the odd maverick sound-chemist (For techno see Villalobos, for dubstep check Shackleton) dance music is slowly eating itself, gorging on it's past glories. So what're you gonna do? Sit around moaning because you're not getting your regular 'Shock of the New' fix? Start listening to barely-listenable transmissions from the experimental fringes or, god forbid, the Arctic Monkeys instead? Me, I'm perfectly happy with the situation right now. It's given me a bit of breathing space to really delve back into much-loved sound worlds that I'd left behind years ago.
It's an excellent mix, highly listenable, with Nick's always articulate commentary providing an educational accompaniment. All in all, a great start to a new year of casts.

As for future plans? I'm going to stick with tradition and not reveal the schedule for the next 12 months, but we've tried to keep it as eclectic as ever - there's a few familiar faces in there, a few relatively unknown (but obscenely talented) contributors, and a few (I hope) big surprises. As always you can subscribe here, or download individual episodes (and the back catalogue) without subscribing here.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Outta time

We're suspending downloads of Naphta's Grande Illusions LP from today. If you missed out, it will be available again at a later stage from The Fear website.