31 July 2005


Ed DMX returns with the latest two installments of the "Collapse Of The Wave Function" series. There's a whole conceptual thing to do with Quantum Dynamics, but I'm gonna avoid all that cos I'm intellectually challenged. Released simultaneously, Vols.4 & 5 both feature nine tracks crammed onto one piece of vinyl. That's what LPs used to be like when I was a lad. Is this some cunning plot by Rephlex to bring back the once-common 'standard' album format? Or are they just a bunch of cheapskates for not spreading Ed's luscious future-retro sounds over four sides? Let the public decide...

Anyway, Vol.4 is called "Many Worlds" and is very much a record of two halves. Remember the first time you heard Kraftwerk's "Man Machine" album? Music that was, on the face of it, clinical, robotic and minimal, yet strangely charged with a warm emotional glow and an almost classic sense of melodic beauty? That's the sort of feeling I get from side 1 - a utopian fantasy of the future, transmitted back from the 1970's. Whether intended or not, I find it...nostalgic. And I'm a total sucker for nostalgia. And yes, I know I've berated Ed's label boss Mr. R.D. James several times this year for seemingly wallowing in analogue-antique ancient history, but I just cannot help but be quietly moved by the burnished elegance of tracks like "Meridian 1212". I totally get a sense of artistic integrity here, plus it sounds like Ed's put a lot of work into the arrangements. Listen to those drum sounds...none of the standard Roland beats here - it sounds like he's diligently sculpted every percussive tone from scratch using synths. Nothing new in that per se, but in this age of massive, instantly accessable libraries of digital sound, how many people actually do bother to create their own drum sounds these days?

Another thing to consider is that there's always been a bit of a retro element in Ed's muse. Whether it's classic electro or mid-'80s tech-pop revivalism, the idea of 'looking back to go forward' seems to be intrinsic to his creativity. But if it's a truly modern spin on analogue-fetishism you're after, then flip the record over and prepare to be amazed! "Mars Memory" features the same kind of bashment pressure as the 7 inch "Vol.2" that came out last year, whilst both "The Monsignor" and "The Pleasure Zone" seem to imbue the new Grime riddims with added lashings of analogue depth and warmth. At least that's how I perceived it on first hearing (and so did some of my visitors when they listened to that clip last week) but this is only how the brain perceives it. I'll let you in on a little secret: these ones were created in the virtual realm, using Reason software. This perhaps backs-up some of my colleagues assertions that Analord wasn't truly analogue, and reveals how easy it is to be fooled by the incredible bit-crunching capabilities of software today. Generally speaking I couldn't give a damn what gear is used - it's the end results that count, and Ed's inspired re-imagining of Grime as phat, squelchy analogue loveliness is no less valid despite it's 'fakeness'.

After the delightful yin & yang of Vol.4, I was feeling slightly let down when Vol. 5, "The Transactional Interpretation", opened with "William The Conquerer" which, although featuring a welcome return to the mic for a spot of 'singing', is basically a throwaway backing track where the "historical/educational" lyrics are the most interesting thing about it! No need to panic though, as Ed quickly switches up a gear for more supreme retro flavas on "Brain Location Service", this time adding some Drexcyia-like electro pulses into the mix (I often compare things to Drexciya - the high-watermark of 'black' electronic funk against which all others must be measured!). Ed mines a similar vein on "Echelon", which would've fit perfectly on Drexciya's "The Quest". Then there's a processed drum-workout called "Clock Works" which focusses on the creative sound-mashings possibilities of the Eventide Harmoniser vintage effects unit. Elsewhere, Ed seemingly transforms into label-mate Bochum Welt for the soft-focus uplifting melodicism of "Heisenburg". Weirdest of all is "Feynman Radio", which sounds like Ed having trouble keeping his analogue synth in tune! I say that cos it reminds me of the sort of thing I used to do with a Mrk. 1 ARP Odyssey, which I had terrible trouble keeping in tune with my other synths. I'd play a melody on it and it would produce a thin, flat, pathetic, sad, lonely tune very similar to the one on display here. It's probably Ed experimenting with weird tonal scales (been getting daft ideas from Aphex again?!) but I find it quite agreeable.

Overall, I reckon I've been well spoilt by most of these 18 pieces of music. I feel like a bloated glutton who's been gorging on a free meal-ticket. Incidently, I wasn't sent these for review by Rephlex themselves (they're still studiously refusing to acknowledge my existence, and I'm too cool/timid to e-mail them begging for hand-outs) but by Ed DMX himself. So massive thanks to Ed, it's really appreciated and I'm well chuffed that he values my opinions enough to go to the expense of sending these to me. Hope my amateurish ramblings convince a few heads out there to part with their cash. Speaking of which...

Buy Vol.4 at Warpmart (or Boomkat if you wanna hear some more clips)

Likewise Vol.5 - Warpmart or Boomkat.

For those poor souls without a turntable, frustrated at Rephlex's refusal to provide MP3 downloads, bare in mind that a CD version, containing most of the "...Wave Function" series plus a bonus 'best of' disc (highlights from the rest of Ed's Rephlex output) will be available in about a month's time.

Visit Ed at www.dmxkrew.com.

21 July 2005


Thanks to one of my 'famous friends' for sending a link to this site. Jesus Christ...I'm both repelled and attracted by these DIY synth anoraks. I know there's a part of me that would love to join in the fun, designing schematics, soldering circuit boards together, making wooden cabinets to contain my ever-increasing array of discreet analogue modules. Thankfully I have almost no working knowledge of electronics (changing a plug is about the limit of my capabilities), nor do I have the time or money to indulge in this particular pastime. Reading through the prose and examining the pictures, it strikes me as an almost vulgar display of object worship. I was particular taken by this guy's in-depth photo study documenting the receiving and unpacking his new modular synth. The sad thing is, I can totally relate to his enthusiasm and his need to share his joy with the world. My recent Plasticman post is basically the vinyl fetishist equivalent (wish I'd taken some pics of me opening the package now!)

Anyway, all those funny homemade things reminded me of a weird little homemade modular synth I 'babysitted' for a couple of months back in 1997...

It was called 'The Void' and was designed and built by some West Country analogue freak (can't remember who he was exactly). Apparently this was one of his smaller models, using off-the-shelf parts from Maplin electronics. I won't go into the exact details of my temporary ownership of this beast, but it was nothing illegal, I swear. It had all the usual modules, including two VCOs, two VCFs (very Moog-like), noise generator, ring modulator, modulation oscillator (aka an LFO) and, best of all, a true analogue eight-step sequencer that was loads of fun to fiddle with. It was also the only time I've ever had the opportunity to get stuck into programming a synth with Patch Cords. Here's a pic of me fucking with it, using a Roland SH-09 as a keyboard controller and sporting some ill-advised side burns...

I know I taped a load of improvised music with it, but these recordings seem to have disappeared. Damn. We made some lush music together, but it's lost forever (sob!). It was non-midi of course, but interfaced nicely with Roland's control-voltage and sync 24 systems. Speaking of which...

Here's a shot of the Gutta around 1995/96 with some of his beloved collection of Roland gear. At the top is a Roland TB-303, with a TR-909 below. I don't own any of this stuff anymore. Sold it off years ago when I realised just how much money I'd spent tracking down all those classic boxes for what was basically a hobby. My first son was born in October 1996 and I had to take a long hard look at my life, my priorities and my finances. The machines had to go. Of course I didn't give up on the music making part of the hobby - as I recall I just made do with newer copycat machines like Novation's (admittedly impressive) Drumstation. But we had some wonderful times together. At the time of writing this post, there's an MP3 at the Riddim Composer from that period, which is basically a TR-808 workout with some outboard effects and a riff coming from a Korg Mono/Poly. While I'm reminiscing on this period, here's a few more tunes...

MP3: Stop Fucking With My Mind

This is pure non-midi improvisation, featuring synced 808 and 909, with a Juno 60 polysynth triggering from the rimshot output.

MP3: Concussion

Fucking well messed-up analogue acid nonsense. Sorry about the tape-hiss on this one.

MP3: Compu-dub

Drum meditation...this one's all about Roland's lesser known CR-8000 'compu-rhythm' drum machine, dubbed-out to the max with outboard FX.

Right, sorry about all this self-indulgence (I seem to do a post like this every few months) but before I go, here's another shot of me with my beloved Roland kit, along with my beloved cat Tiggy (R.I.P). To the left you'll see the TR-808, TR-707 (on top of a crappy digital D-110 sound module) and the Juno 60. Check the poster of Kim Basinger on the studio wall. Told you I was shallow...

Normal service will be resumed shortly...

19 July 2005


So after much anticipation the Vex'd album has finally arrived in the shops, clothed in a grainy cover image taken from Murnau's "Faust" and entitled "Degenerate" (a fitting description of the play's anti-hero? What's the big obsession with Faust? Or is it all about Jamie being "a bit of sucker for gothic armageddon type shit"? Hmmm...must find out more about this....). Whatever, the apocalyptic undertones are well matched with the music contained within. Even though I believe that he and Rollie served their apprenticeship in the calmer waters of the Breaks scene, I sense a different lineage in the sound that they've arrived at now. Even though they're presently accepted as part of the Grime/Dubstep axis, I think it's too limiting to bracket them there, but it's the only scene that's FWD-thinking enough to contain them. True, the warbley sub-bass riffs and steppy riddims fit nicely into the DJ sets of people like Quiet Storm, N-Type, Distance and Search & Destroy, but there's a level of deviant, almost gleeful maliciousness about their sound that sets their tracks apart. There's none of the maternal-bass-warmth of pure Dubstep (plus their bass frequencies squeeze your scalp, not your throat) and the production levels are too high to be true Grime. I guess the nearest comparisons would be Plasticman's "Death By Stereo" or "Industrial Graft" - those relentless hit-you-over-the-head distorto-beats and filthy, overdriven riffs pummelling your senses into submission. I could make cool comparisons to first-wave Industrial noisemongers like Throbbing Gristle and SPK, the rigorous clatter of Cabaret Voltaire's mid-80s output or less fashionable references to the late '80s Industrial Techno-Rock of Ministry, Die Krupps or Front Line Assembly, or even the caustic electro-noise Of Pan Sonic. Maybe hints of Aphex Twin's more extreme workouts circa "Digeridoo"/"Xylem Tube" EPs too. There's minute facets of all these in Vex'd, though they probably don't know it - or care. I'm really curious to know what ideas and influences drove them to this level of abrasive obnoxiousness. Actually, I'm supposed to be putting some questions together for an e-mail interview but haven't quite worked out where to start. Really I'd like to do the 'traditional' interview thing sat round a table with a couple of beers and the tape recorder running and see what spills out in conversation. I did have a little chat with Jamie at Subloaded II but it was too loud to hear each other properly! Anyway, back to the album...

Opening proceedings in fine style is the V.I.P. mix of "Pop Pop", the reputation-clinching track first released on Subtext last year. When writing about this release in January I made the comment that "with just a little more added melodic/harmonic interest this could easily win-over those yearning for a return to electronica that bypasses the pulverised post-drill'n'bass rhythmic abstraction that has dominated for maybe a little too long" and Vex'd seem to have obliged, bringing in some bleepy little melodic phrases near the start to entice unwary souls, before quickly slamming the door behind them and beating them senseless with the audio equivalent of baseball bats on "Thunder". Similarly, the amazing drumless bass-throb of "Cold" is accompanied by soaring soundtracky strings that recall the elegant sweeping lavishness of B12 and Global Communication. But generally it's ambient/environmental textures rather than melodies that Vex'd have chosen to focus on to build a cohesive album that works as a listening experience as well as a physical one. In particular the all-too-brief interlude piece "Destruction" seems alive with new possibilities for dark ambient exploration. If I had to level a complaint at this record it'd be that there should've been more ambient/abstract mood zones dotted throughout. One of the reasons I'm hoping that more dubstep artists will get an opportunity to develop album projects is because I think they'd be well-suited to expanding on more textural atmospheres and really pick-up where things left off before the electronica elite became infatuated with breakbeat science and virtuostic programming skills. It's time to refocus on something a bit deeper emotionally and bring back some much needed sense of space. Let the music breath again instead of tying it in complicated knots. Although the emphasis is still on rhythmic pressure right now, "Degenerate" hints at whole new vistas of sound - the subliminal auras that lurk behind the beats.

Degenerate to regenerate. The future is here - go buy this album.

Hard copy available at Warpmart.

By the way, Vex'd have just started their own blog! Not much there yet obviously, but I find it fascinating that more and more artists/labels from the underground community are choosing to use blogs as their primary outlet of communication with the world, preferring the direct, easily updated approach of the blogger interface over the often over-complicated navigation of the 'well designed' website. Plus it helps the cause of validating the blog as a genuine and 'serious' form of publishing.

Artists becoming bloggers....hrrmm, how long before that starts to work in the opposite direction?

12 July 2005


Well, it must be at least a couple of months since my last serious Plasticman hero-worship post, and a recent purchase gives me all the excuse I need for another one...

Massive props to Kate in Manchester for selling me her spare copy of Plasticman's hard-to-find "The Lift" EP at original cost price with free delivery! I've been busily tracking down all Plastic's slim back-catalogue over the past few months and this one, released on Road last year, had been proving particularly hard to locate. I 'acquired' MP3 versions ages ago, but was still mad-keen to own an original, especially as the rip of "Printloop" (my fave track on the EP) was marred by some serious needle-jumping. Along with the "Cha" EP, this must be one of the definitive Plasticman releases. All three tracks are top quality, featuring the sort of urgent, innovative beats, undulating square-bass dynamics and total economy that I revere in his best work. The tracks sound sparse yet full - every note, every drum hit, precisely sculpted for maximum impact and efficiency - pure, undiluted machine music at it's best. Sometimes I think I've been waiting for Plasticman all my life. I love the design of those Road twelves too, with all the road-sign aesthetics and the street map on the a-side label. It shows the Thornton Heath area...my London geography isn't too hot, but I know it's somewhere in the Croydon district, and I believe it's the area in which Plasticman resides- I wonder if there's some particular significance to any of the streets shown?

While I'm at it, I might at well show-off some of my other recent acquisitions. Scored the "Gotcha/The Rush" twelve off e-bay a while back, which is proof of my 'completist' collector mentality, as both tracks are also easily available on an A.R.M.Y. re-issue with additional remixes. But I just couldn't resist blowing a fiver on this edition released on the More2dafloor label in 2004. This is Plastic in full-on 4/4 mode, riding that kick-drum pulse like a muthafucka and slaying my soundsystem with some fruity bassline warblers and foreboding string-pads. It's an emotional thing - you either feel it or you don't, and I'm feeling this shit big time.

Next up is "Springroller/Anger", released on Fatale Attraction. This is another e-bay win, which came to my attention after the Plasticman himself linked to it at the Terrorhythm board (he loves watching his own tunes selling on e-bay!), although I should also give thanks to Johnny Prancehall for the subsequent alert too - it's good to know that my friends are looking out for my best interests! More quality beats here, with "Anger" boasting a spiky, unclassifiable melodic texture and some nasty plug-in filtery breakdowns. I just can't get enough...

Bringing things back up-to-date, I must mention this limited test-pressing of "Zulu Remix/Section 7" on the Southside Dubstars label. It's available at Blackmarket , Juno and Warpmart and you should grab one whilst they're hot. I'm particularly excited by "Section 7" with it's nagging one-note bassline and ultra-grimey orchestral stabs. There's a sick l'il dubplate I recorded from Q-Grittie's Rinse FM slot last Friday, featuring some speculative chord sequences that make me suspect he's been learning a few compositional tricks on that music production college course he's been attending. Wicked tune, but I just hope he doesn't let his new-found technical knowledge ultimately steer him towards a slicker, more professional sound. I'm a bit worried that, if he actually knows what he's doing, he'll lose his edge. Just keep those Fruity Loops raw and gutter, Plasticman. I'm depending on you...

Oh, and if anyone's got a spare copy of the original "Venom/Shockwave" EP...?


The Terrorhythm catalogue is now available to download at Bleep. I find it quite interesting that, at least in this particular area of the underground, despite the gradual acceptance of legal digital downloads, no one seems interested in releasing EPs on CD anymore. The format seems to have been completely bypassed, even though there must be plenty of DJs working with CD turntables these days, plus compact discs must be a lot cheaper to manufacture than vinyl. You might find DJs playing exclusive beats off cd-r (only when they haven't had a chance to cut a proper 10" dub) but other than that...? Even the more high-profile labels like Planet Mu only release albums on CD nowadays. In the world of Dance Muzik, it would appear that the CD is rapidly becoming obsolete, and the format-battles of the future will be between the vinyl purists and the digital downloaders. I also find my own position rather curious. For years I'd settled into an album-orientated CD lifestyle, then last year I became a full-on download evangelist, yet currently I'm a born-again vinyl fetishist, only really using the download route for sharing and collecting mixes. And why place so much importance on formats anyway? Surely it's only the music that counts? Maybe I should just get out more...

06 July 2005


"There’s always been amazing experimental and independent Australian music (just look at Australian punk and post-punk) but even with the evolution of the internet, it is still a real struggle for the rest of the world to get much of an opportunity to hear it. In fact, at least for a part of their careers, it is almost a given that the best will leave Australia and move overseas to be able to sustain their music. Australia is an unforgiving and under-populated, spread out, and sport-obsessed nation, but every so often these geographic, demographic, social and cultural factors make us strike out in spite of them."

The above quote comes from the editorial of the latest issue of Cyclic Defrost, an Australian magazine dedicated to promoting the best of home-grown and international alternative music. The mag's publisher, Sebastian Chan, very kindly sent me a couple of issues, including the latest one (issue 11) which includes a double CD full of 'interesting music from Australia'. Well written, nicely designed, commited, inspiring, covering a wide variety of artists and sounds and completely free, Cyclic Defrost is the sort of publication that could put us bloggers out of business if it had international distribution! Yet the rest of the world is regrettably ignorant of it's ample charms (although 2000 copies of issue 11 were available at Barcelona's Sonar festival last month). Thankfully it's also published on the internet, so I strongly recommend you have a browse. You won't get to hear any of the tracks from the CDs though, so here's a small selection. The discs are divided into "Beats & Bass" (disc 1 aka 'the red disc') and "Ambient/Experimental" (disc 2 aka 'the blue disc'). Although not everything is to my own taste, the quality is remarkably high throughout and it was really hard to pick just a couple of tunes from each disc, but here goes...

Storm001MP3: Mieli - Bystander

Mmmm...sounds a bit like Jimmy Edgar doing one of those really sparse electro-tech things circa "My Mines I". Nice! This one is from Meili's album "Version" on the Feral Media label. More info here.

MP3: Disjunction Reunion - Names Are For People

This is the work of one Luke Killen, who records for Couchblip Records, among others. This track reminds me of Miami artist Push Button Objects, with the spectral, atmospheric pads and in-the-pocket downtempo breaks. More info here.

Storm001MP3: Tim Koch - Haarlem Posture

Tim runs the Surgery Records label which, if trippy, melodic/organic electronica is your thing, might be worth checking out...

MP3: City Frequencies - Pedestrian Pulsars

There's lots of really atmospheric, enviromental music on disc 2 and this one is a particular highlight for me. Looking at their website, it appears that the sounds are genuine field recordings from their native Melbourne, which then undergo extensive editing/processing. The Australian Hafler Trio?

As Seb's editorial comments suggest, the outsider's view of Australian life, beamed-in from TV dramas like Neighbours and Home & Away, conjures images of beach parties, barbeques and general laid-back fun and games, devoid of the particular pressures of life in places like London, Sheffield and Manchester that have shaped the face of innovative music in my own country. Intrigued by both the sounds and the writing, I decided to dig a little deeper to find out what makes the Australian underground tick. What follows are interviews with Seb, Scott Brown (SouthernSteppa) and of course 'my mate' Minikomi which will hopefully shed some light on the subject, plus a look at the Vibragun label.


Gutta: I'm intrigued to know how you can print and distribute this magazine for free. What's the deal there?

Seb Chan: When it all boils down, if we had to do it these things to pay our rent they wouldn't happen. But we don't do it as a 'real job'. Dale (Harrison, co-editor) is a graphic designer and I manage online interactive development at a museum in Sydney.

G: But you must need revenue from somewhere?! I'm surprised the mags aren't stuffed full of useless adverts for useless products...

SC: If we did it as a real job then we'd have to take adverts from fashion, alcohol and other companies with peripheral and tenuous relationships to music, which is something that we just don't want to do. Its funny being here at Sonar this year and seeing all the "music mags" over in Spain that are 60% fashion, beer, vodka and shoe adverts and commentary, 20% gig adverts/advertorial, and 20% regurgitated music press releases. I don't get how anybody can be bothered to read them - there's nothing to read.

G: How much support do you get from the Government?

SC: In 2002 we applied for a small grant to start up the mag. We've had decreasing support since then which basically goes to keeping the advertising rates down for local labels (we give indie labels and producers from Australia a 25% discount on advertising). So the print costs are funded about 75% by advertising and 25% by the decreasing Govt. money.

G: Did they help with funding the CDs?

SC: The double CD project was self-funded by the artists on the comp. who each put in an equal amount for their track (after we had selected from about 200 submissions). We got some Govt. assistance from the Trade and Export area to cover the shipping costs of getting them to Sonar where they are being given away . By getting everyone together and ensuring a generally pretty high quality amongst all the tracks (especially on the blue disc) everyone who got on the CD benefits. You get so many crap sampler CDs at Sonar that we wanted one that was actually interesting musically and reasonably coherent to listen to.

G: So how did the idea for Cyclic Defrost start, anyway?

SC: The mag started as a zine that grew from a club flyer which we supported by running it thru the university printing presses on the sly.

G: Club flyer? What club?

SC: It's a night in Sydney called Frigid. It's been running for nearly 10 years and we've toured people like Baby Ford, DJ/Rupture, Squarepusher, Luke Vibert and Mike Paradinas over the years. This means we are in weekly contact with a large base of pretty committed punters. We like to compare ourselves to the Big Chill in the mid-90s in London crossed with elements of Optimo in Glasgow. It's the club night that spawned the idea of the magazine as well as this festival I set up down here in 2000 called Sound Summit which was about building up production skills amongst new producers and mcs, which is still running but I resigned from directing it at the end of 2003.

G: Okay, so the mag came from the club...but how did the club thing develop?

SC: The club idea came from radio stuff and then DJing we do down here. We were involved in the free party scene in Sydney in the very early '90s - kinda like Spiral Tribe meets Big Chill. We never went down the patchouli oil and fluro clothes route but just took the community-minded ideas and applied them to other electronic music genres (other than acid techno). By the time Jungle hit Sydney around early '95 we were wanting to set up stuff that took the concepts of the free party scene but the sounds of early jungle, d&b, breakbeat stuff and mashed it with IDM and that early Warp/Rephlex/Mu sound.

G: Wow, you guys have been busy over the years! Seems like a lot of hard work for very little financial reward. What's the main motivation for all this activity?

SC: Everyone involved in all the projects was basically sick of there not being anything decent going on down here that was slightly leftfield and non-commercial. For a while we all tried doing our own seperate things and realised that the real problem was that to support a scene for any length of time you need to build your own infrastructure - radio, some regular club nights, and print media.

G: Is there any money to be made?

SC: We learnt from the early days of rave that the idea of making a living out of decent music was not going to happen (not in Australia), so we reconciled with that and focused on doing stuff that was interesting and stimulating to ourselves and also had a snowballing effect and helped out others around us.

G: I get the impression that there's a small but dedicated Grime scene developing down there now...do you think the same 'snowball' effect could happen with that too?

SC: In many ways I see lots of stuff from experiences like ours as being really relevant to emerging super-localised scenes like grime, etc. You have to ensure you build up a strong, reliable, trusted infrastructure for these scenes to last and develop. Otherwise you get a big burst of energy that dissapates relatively quickly.

On that note, let's meet...


Storm001Even though Australia's Grime scene is still relatively miniscule, Southern Steppa is fast becoming one of the most informative resources on the net, featuring regular interviews, features and reviews. The site is run by Scott Brown, who agreed to share his own thoughts on Australian culture...

Gutta: From a British point of view, Australia isn't generally considered a hot source of innovative talent. Why do you think that is?

Scott Brown: As you will no doubt hear from the Cyclic Defrost boys and the others, Australia’s geography and climate are possibly the two main things working against it. Even though it makes for a great holiday destination for cold, miserable Europeans, it tends to breed an overly relaxed type of person. Not to say that we’re without artistic talent – quite the opposite – however, for a lot of people, the outdoor BBQ culture down here doesn’t inspire a need to create through art and music that someone in say the UK may feel. And Australia is surprisingly big. I don’t know how many times you can fit all manner of countries side by side within the Australian land mass, but it’s pretty damn big. Yet still has a small population. Around 20 million. So, here we are, all spread around the coastline, having too many BBQs and too lazy to catch the long plane flight to the next nearest city. Not to mention having to take days out of your life to make the trip all the way to the UK or US.

G: I guess most people in the UK would associate Australia with groups like Inxs or, at best, Nick Cave (who doesn't actually live there anymore!). Are these stereotypes a true indicator of mainsteam Australian music right now?

SB: Personally, I have no idea what “commercial” music is in Australia. I couldn’t tell you any artists in the Top 20, or who is the “next big thing”. It doesn’t interest me and I’m able to comfortably detach myself without feeling like I’ve missed anything.

G: So where does one get to hear 'interesting' music?

SB: In Sydney, we are fortunate enough to have a few great community radio stations, which perform a similar role to the pirate’s in the UK, breaking new music, but still having access to a massive audience here. It seems Australian’s are a pretty open minded bunch of people. I would have to acknowledge the hard work of people like the Cyclic Defrost/Frigid crew as playing an important part in not necessarily changing the musical landscape, but definitely opening people’s minds to the possibility of what can be achieved and indeed even termed “music”.

G: Would you say that the internet has helped to expand and widen people's tastes?

SB: Without doubt, the advent of the internet has changed things in a massive way. Being able to speak to musicians and artists anywhere around the world instantly, exchanging ideas and throwing more into the melting pot than ever before has made a huge difference for Australians, for obvious reasons.

G: And presumably this improved access to underground music has shaken things up a bit?

SB: No longer do the large commercial radio stations and record labels have control over the musical taste of the populous. Everyone has been thrown in the deep end, with more influences than ever before, and people seem to be embracing it. Underground music is a funny term, and certain styles will continue to be that way, particularly with dance music, but the ease of access to more styles has forced record labels and radio stations to rethink their place in the musical landscape.

G: But as everyone keeps saying, Australia is a BIG place. Presumably there are only localised zones of interesting activity...

SB: Unfortunately, musically at least, culture centres around the major cities (in particular Sydney and Melbourne), and so leaves many people without physical access to live music or DJs catering to emerging styles.

G: Let's talk about your favourite music of the moment: Grime. Just how popular is it down there?

SB: Grime/Garage in Australia is still very small, but without doubt gaining rapid recognition here. Sydney is the breaks capital of the country and like myself, many people disillusioned with the stagnation of breaks have discovered the more open minded feel of garage/dubstep/grime.

G: From your own perspective, what is it about Grime that connects with your life in Australia?

SB: I grew up in a small seaside town, 10hrs drive from Sydney called Byron Bay, and although I had always planned to make the move here (and never regretted the journey!), have often found myself feeling cold, overwhelmed, disillusioned and insignificant in this huge city. I think dubstep and grime can hold resonance with anyone who has felt that. Even if they don’t live in an urban environment, it seems the tendency of culture worldwide to put these extreme pressures on people, and this type of music almost puts a sonic voice to these feelings.

G: Unlike, say, Riddim.Ca in North America, your website tends to focus on the more instrumental side of garage and dubstep (Vex'd, Digital Mystikz, Slaughter Mob etc). Why is that?

SB: The MC has not yet found its place here. Obviously, Australians cannot relate to many of the issues faced by London MCs and crews, instead the rhythm of the voice plays more of a novelty value within a track. I am completely inspired by a lot of the dubstep coming from the UK scene right now, not necessarily bound for the dancefloor, instead creating an atmosphere foreign and enticing. It is this foreignness that ensures it won’t be pinned down. The great producers of the style mesh instruments and styles from all around the world, making a style that is not rooted in one city or country, but making a music for the global consciousness.

G: Are you optimistic that, at some point, Australia might produce some interesting Grime music of it's own?

SB: Local DJs are finding themselves on radio, playing at breaks and D'n'B gigs (or anywhere with an open minded music policy) and bit by bit, people are putting their heads down and writing tunes. I don’t think it will be too long before we find a great talent in this country.

Following on from my recent post on Quiet Storm, I notice tonight that Southern Steppa's latest interview is also with Mr. Stormin'! Great minds think alike, Scott?


MinikomiBy day Adam Moore is busy with his research at University, but at night he turns into Minikomi - DJ, electronic musician and inveterate message board slut. I featured him in a previous post, but couldn't resist inviting him back for this one, especially as he has some interesting new projects on the go...

Gutta: So how come you weren't featured on the Cyclic Defrost CD, mate?

Minikomi: Cyclic Defrost peeps are a long way away (Australia is HUGE) and since I don't have any 'official' releases, I guess they just don't know who I be! haha...

G: I have a different sense of scale, I guess. So where are you exactly?

M: I come from a city called Adelaide which is smack bang in the middle of the south coast of Australia.

G: So does Adelaide have it own separate scene?

M: There's a few other kids here doing electronic stuff, like Ichanic (weird weird impulse tracker stuff), Tim Jackiw (some ambient noodlings) and there's a crew called Surgery Records, headed by Tim Koch (see above) my second cousin! - the town is like that, incestuous, everyone knows everyone else - but they're more into
m e l o d i e s
... in fact it seems most exposure for electronic artists goes to those who are doing nice, melodic background music. Not that that's a bad thing, I've made my share, but it's not really what 'does it' for me anymore.

G: So what 'does it' for you these days? I know you were into your breakcore at one point, but I'm hearing the dubstep influence coming through now too..

M: I've just started getting into grime, coming off of a year or two long breakcore binge, and thought that it would be interesting to have the space and the robo-swing of the music, but somehow fill in the gaps every now and then...add a bit more 'pressure' I guess.

G: Anyone else you know there following a similar path?

M: To be honest, I'm pretty much on my own at the moment!

G: Poor thing...do you get much opportunity to perform live in Adelaide?

M: I enjoy playing house parties, the rare squat party and a gig every now and then at the Exeter Bar (top bar in Adelaide - but no dancefloor, only sitdown beergarden) and doing my own thing I guess...

G: You've got a radio show too, haven't you? What station?

M: It's on a local station called Radio Adelaide, a show called Mixtape Radio, Saturdays 11-12.

G: So how popular is it?

M: It's not super well known but it's pretty much the only show which isn't playing straight 4/4, and I've had some 'high profile' guests do interviews/mixes, including Knifehandchop, Chevron, Shitmat, Drop the Lime, Utabi, Shex, edIT and Terminal 11. Get good feedback and phone calls from people fairly often, but haven't met anyone who says 'oh that show! yeah!' .. so take from that what you will!

G: You mention Drop The Lime...he's involved with the Kidmagnet label that you're in the process of setting up, which also features other artists from the USA and Japan as well as yourself. How did you make the connection with these international artists?

M: I guess just through message boards and emails I got to know a few of them. I came across Starkey's music and got blown away. Drop the Lime I had interviewed for my radio show and I knew he was into grime so I got in contact with him and asked if he'd be keen.

G: You seem to know quite a few Japanese producers...

M: Cow'p is part of the 19-t crew, who you should definitely check out - dudes like Shex, Utabi, DJ 100000000 - all great Japanese guys making music. Cow'p uses Gameboy for all his tracks and I thought that, since the square wave is so popular in Grime, to take it to the logical conclusion it should take some raw 8-bit squares straight out of a Gameboy! Haha..

G: The MP3 preview of the first Kidmagnet release that you sent me seems to be coming from a similar angle to Werkdisc's "Grim Dubs" series...grimey IDM bizzness . I really like it. Is this an indication of where you're heading creatively?

M: I'm pretty all over the place when it comes to 'direction'! Grime-wise I'm starting work on what's basically a late '90s style clicks-and-cuts track that will evolve into a dubstep track...but very slowly. Almost poking fun at the whole 'big drop' phenomena by making it evolve from something so minimal into something heavy. Problem is, when I started making connections and sharing my music online I had way more time on my hands, and now things have caught up so I don't have heaps of new music I'm afraid. It's a hard thing to juggle with full time studies, but I've finally got some more time on my hands lately so I'm going to get the records underway.

G: So will I get a complimentary copy?

M: You're definately in line to get a free 12" when they're pressed - your site has given me a lot of inspiration, and good exposure to lots of music I wouldn't otherwise hear, so thanks!

G: Hurrah!! And thank you, Minikomi.

You might've spotted Junglefarmer lurking in my blogroll recently. This is Minikomi's own blog, which he started recently. Check! With a little gentle persuasion he's also prepared an exclusive riddim for me to host, which gives an indication of where his head is at right now.

MP3: Minikomi - Envelopes & Heart Attacks


BlackletterBased in the iconic paradise of Bondi near Sydney, Vibragun is a small experimental label run by Chris Tourgelis. A few months ago he sent me a copy of their latest release, "Junk Extensions" by Blackletter. Although I haven't mentioned it yet, I really enjoyed it - my first taste of experimental underground shit from Australia. Actually one track from it did feature in my "Phon Mooda" mix back in April. Blackletter (Mick to his mum) has been fiddling about with musical ideas since the age of nine, starting out with domestic cassette recorders, guitars, Casio keyboards etc, eventually moving towards the bit-crushing possibilities of computers. In 2001 he was involved in a collaborative noise project called The International Colouring Contest, but since then has returned to solo experimentation, exploring "rhythm and the sheer sonic extremes of noise and melody". "Junk Extensions" is his debut release and I must say I find it all very charming and inventive. There's a nice review of it in issue 9 of Cyclic Defrost here, which pretty much sums up this albums unique allure. Although I haven't had the time to quiz him personally, Blackletter has created a special mini-mix to give readers some idea of the flavas on this album, focusing more on the ambient/noise elements of his muse (I'm picking up a bit of a Fennesz vibe in places). "It goes for about 8 minutes and has some new stuff at the beginning and the end", says he...

MP3: Blackletter - Live In My Lounge


Check the links page at Cyclic Defrost for further info (hey - wait a minute - how come I'm not on there?!!), but here's a few more places of interest, with a little commentary from Chris Vibragun...

Aussie 313/electro/tech label - well regarded, etc.

I think this was the first electronica label in Australia (in the '90s anyway). My first electronic CD was one of theirs and they gave me great advice when I was starting my label many years ago. I haven't bought many of their releases recently though. One of the co-founders is Ollie Olsen from post-punk band No and MaxQ.

Melbourne experimental shop and label - you've probably heard of them via Mego, etc.


Oren Ambarch and Robbie Avenaim's baby - I haven't been to many recently though...

Label of Kevin Purdy of many `80s bands and my mate Robbo is in the Tooth project/band. Great stuff esp. the forthcoming Tooth album which is their best yet. There should be a Kevin Purdy interview in one of the issues of Cyclic Defrost online.

Experimental label and cut-price CD manufacturing brokers.

Hardcore/Breakcore label and party promoters. They also do an interesting Halloween party in the cannon bunkers on the cliffs in Malabar.

Severed Heads site.

I used to go to these parties religiously.

Experimental festival in July (Thomas Brinkmann headlining).

Guys putting on the Liquid Architecture after-party with Brinkmann thanks to me bringing them together : )

Lawrence English's label - mostly ambient experimental stuff - v.good. They did a Scanner/David Toop CD.


Online label. Shannon has been doing stuff for ages - check out his bio if there is one there. Experimental plunderphonics...


So there you have it...a vast, unforgiving landscape dotted with little pockets of self-help underground activity, battling against the odds, and nobody making a living out of it - just doing their thing cos they have to. Gutter territory, innit...

03 July 2005


Storm001I seem to be mentioning Storming Productions quite a bit lately. Although this label has only three releases under it's belt so far, I've been impressed by the quality of the tunes and the choice of artists. The first release came last year - "Desperate Measures/Wavescape" by Search & Destroy. It was the flip-side that first grabbed my attention. "Wavescape", with it's icey, modulated synth riffs and angular 909 beats seemed like an update of the original bleak cold-wave futurism of artists like John Foxx and The Normal, but without any of the knowing referentialism of electroclash or latter-day synthpop. It simply conveyed a mood that connected in some way. It's very emptyness and stiffness imbued it with soul. Plus it sounded like nothing else I'd heard in the so-called grime/dubstep scene. Intriguing...

Storm002Next came the first release from Dub Child, a garage producer with a strong predeliction for breakbeats and filthy bassline warblers. This was the one that really got me thinking that there was a future for breakbeat. It had none the cliched structures of mainstream breaks and was also way heavier than the breakbeat garage stuff that I'd never really taken too, although I still think that, in a different cultural climate, "Voodoo" could be a hit single. It's my idea of what a great dance-pop track should sound like in 2005, anyway. From here I started to explore the whole Hot Flush/Distance/Toasty vibe. Special mention for b-side "Roll Dat Shit" too, for being very unbreaky with more of those frigid, modulated synth emissions and clunky riddims. Absolutely horrible, innit...

Storm003The third release came from the mighty Toasty Boy. "Too Hot" and "Guesswork" were his most energetic breakbeat belters so far. Seemingly invoking the spirit of mid-90s Metalheadz-style drum 'n' bass with trace elements of classic Dillinja and J Majik vibes, with similarly luxurious production skillz but added ferocious bassline attack. Yummy!!

Quiet StormI soon discovered that the label was run by Quiet Storm(left), who is also a regular DJ on Rinse FM (Thursday 11.00-1.00pm), often back-to-back with DJ Distance, spinning all the latest breakstep tunes and cementing my love of this particular strand of underground innovation. These beats have an energy like nothing else I'm hearing right now, similar in some ways to the driving velocity of early hardcore rave, from a time before 'breakbeat science' or extreme tempos, but still with a post-garage flava all it's own. Eager to learn more, I tracked down Mr. Stormin' himself to find out what makes him tick...

Gutta: I gather you've been djing for about 4/5 years. What inspired you to get into it, and what are your earliest musical influences?

Quiet Storm: I used to play basketball on National and semi-pro level but I had too many shoulder injuries so I had to give it up. Cause I had so much time on my hands from giving basketball up I decided to start DJing as a hobbie. Earliest influences are probably from the Jungle tape packs I used to borrow of my mates at school.

G: I was guessing you were from a d'n'b background. When did you decide to start incorporating Garage beats - any defining tunes/events/people?

QS: I was too young to go to Hardcore/Jungle raves but Garage was about when I was hitting my teens so you could say that's my main background. The tune that really turned my head was 'Saved Soul' by DJ Narrows. When I first heard it I was like "this is the type of tune I wanna play!" - I used to go record shopping on the regular to Planet Phat get all the Harry Lime, Narrows, Pay As You Go stuff!

G: Tell us a bit about your label, Storming Productions. Any overall aims/philosophies behind it?

QS: Just wanted to put out good quality music really. The label was influenced big time by Texture. Oris (Jay) always used to put out BIG dancefloor tunes that you could drop anywhere, A & B side!

G: What's this big thing with 'Storms' then?

QS: The whole thing with the name was interesting to me. Everyone thought I just called it Storming Productions cause my DJ name is 'Quiet Storm' but that's not all true. Storming means 'to make your presence known'. That is how I wanted the label to be and that's how it is right now.

G: Your most recent release was Toasty's "Too Hot/Guesswork" (Storm 003). What can we expect next?

QS: Dubchild's "Take Me" and "Psychopath" is out on 13th July. As for future releases...well
let's just say I'm gonna be doing something very different and I think it will raise a few eyes - but it's definately BIG!

G: Any plans to get the Storming catalogue online for the downloaders (at Bleep, DJ Download etc)?

QS: I fucking hate MP3 downloads - they're a load of bollocks but the music scene(s) as a whole is getting forced to either be in or lose out. I don't get it why you gonna release a tune on vinyl and then stick it on the MP3 download site the same week? That just defeats the objective of putting vinyl out, right? I know it won't maybe effect sales now (cause they're so small) but it will in the near future. I know that for a fact because I've been speaking to a lot of d'n'b producers!

G: What, you think legal downloads could actually be harmful to artists/labels?

QS: You get certain people that don't really care about the music scene and just wanna hear a tune and don't give a damm who is making money or how much it will help producers/labels. To them its just a tune for 0.99p which they can share around to all their mates and people they don't really know for FREE!! - MADNESS ....right?

G: Has anyone approached you to get involved in legal downloads?

QS: I've been contacted by loads and loads of MP3 companies about it but it's not what I'm about as a label. I wanna keep Storming traditional.

G: I must admit I've come back to vinyl this year, but I can see that downloads could be crucial for winning support from the overseas market, where vinyl copies will be difficult or expensive to acquire. ..

QS: Don't get me wrong there is no denying MP3's are here already and may be a big part of the future scene(s) but you won't see my label doing it, not right now!

G: Your profile at Rinse says you also produce - any tracks we should know about?

QS: I started out doing a bit of producing but knocked it on the head to concentrate on the label and DJing. I'll be back on it in the summer though.

G: Your sets usually feature plenty of dubs from Dub Child. I gather you have exclusive access to his work. Could you tell me a bit about him and what we can expect from him in the future?

QS: I do get exclusives from Dub Child but other people do have and get his beats as well. Dub Child is from Leicester and I met him through Lombardo. We were both signed to Fragile Beats at the time so we got talking like that. Dub Child is one of Storming's main artists and you'll definately be seeing more releases from him this year and next!

G: You mention Fragile Beats there. I have one release on that label - Search & Destroy's "Freaky/Bandaru/Sphere" (FB002). Looking at the label, I can see there's shouts to "QS, Jay Da Flex, Plasticman, Dub Child & Mark One". What else was released on that label?

QS: Fresh & Steady - "Bitch Slap/Area 51/??" (FB001). You can still get this somewhere online or 5HQ in Leicester.

G: So your tunes never got released?

QS: Mine and Dub Child's never came out.

G: I presume Fragile Beats is no longer active...

QS: The label is on hold for a long while - if you get what I mean?!!

G: Concerning Dub Child's 'LFO remix'...the original "LFO" is one of my all-time favourite tracks from the early 90's bleepy techno period...

QS: Yeah, that tune is real big!

G: Are today's new producers generally inspired by older dance music styles?

QS: I know a lot of producers that are inspired by the old Jungle and D'n'B days, people like Search and Destroy, Dub Child, Vex'd, Oris Jay, Morph and Narrows. There is just a certain vibe and sound from that era which is powerful and I really like it!

G: Finally...grime/breaks/dubstep etc. How do you classify Storming music? Or don't you?

QS: Whatever you wanna call it. To me it's just good underground UK music which is made at 138-140bpm.


Storming Mix CD 003 I figured the time was right for people to have access to a decent-quality mix from the Quiet Storm, rather than just low-quality Rinse sets (essential though they are!). Luckily he does mixes on a regular basis and distributes them on CD to his friends and associates for promotional purposes and he's generously sent me a copy of the latest one, volume 3, and given me permission to share it online. Lots of exclusive new tunes here and also interesting to hear a couple of 4/4 stompers thrown in the mix, too. It's a fucking riot - play it load!!

Download Quiet Storm's "Storming Mix 003" (dead link)

(56mb, 192 kbps)


Magnetic Pulse - The Quiet Storm (dub)
Dub Child - Take Me (forthcoming on Storming)
Search & Destroy - Secret Weapon (Destructive)
Vex'd - Gunman (Planet Mu)
Mark One - Stargate '92 RMX (dub)
DJ Narrows - Hardcore (dub)
EJ - U.F.O. (A.R.M.Y.)
DJ Distance - Empire (Hot Flush)
Scandalous Unlimited - Dark Horse (Forthcoming on Destructive)
Darqwan - Raisin Kane (Passenger)
Dub Child - Method (dub)
Vex'd Vs. Search & Destroy - End Of Line (Destructive)
Dub Child - Strictly Underground (dub)
Toasty Boy - Too Hot (Storming)
Dubchild - Cum Dancing Rmx (Hospital ?)
Morph - Dreams 2005 (dub)
Morph & DJ Narrows - Pillars (dub)
Toasty Boy - Skinny (dub)



web address: http://www.stormingproductions.com
e-mail: stormingproductions@hotmail.com
Storming catalogue available at Blackmarket

01 July 2005


The Fez Club, in the heart of Bristol's fashionable St. Nicholas Street, seemed like a strange place to be checking a dubstep line-up. It is a small basement club, but very stylish and sophisticated with mirrors and candles everywhere, plus the nicest smelling public toilet I've been in for a long time! Quite a contrast to the 'spit 'n' sawdust' venues I'm used to frequenting. We arrived at 11.00pm, but the place was practically deserted and I was thinking it was gonna be a disaster. But by midnight a respectable crowd had turned-up, probably the Dig Deep night's regular d'n'b-loving clientele, many of whom were probably about to have their dubstep cherries firmly popped.

Storm 003I missed Landslide's set, but enjoyed ThinKing and Soundscape's (relatively) mainstream soulful garage/broken beat/latin vibes whilst chugging back a couple of beers in the bar. Things really kicked-off when Toasty hit the decks, though. The tracks he's released so far have been very breaks-orientated, often with uplifting chord sequences and floaty, shimmering pad sounds, offset by some brutal bass-riffs, so I was really surprised at how dark and 'steppy' his set was. Clearly the Toasty Boy is prepared to get way more abstract than he's been letting on! There was one track, featuring a particularly savage, writhing bassline that was so nasty I had to lean over and have a sneaky look at the dubplate. Hand written on the label were the words "Cold Blooded". Look out for that one, kids - phew!!

ToastySpeaking to Toasty (right) afterwards, he explained that he was really feeling that heavy, sparse, plodding half-step vibe at the moment, even though his roots are, like many of his compatriotes, firmly in drum 'n' bass. Echoing DJ Distance's comments in the interview last month, Toasty made it clear that this music cannot be easily compartmentalised and, certainly from the evidence last night, he's gonna be pushing forward in some radical new directions in the future. Originally from Essex, but now living in Brighton, Toasty's a really friendly, open character - and a fan of this blog too! He said I was one of the few people giving the breakstep sound some love at the moment, which I guess is probably true. As I observed in a previous post, there's very little being written about the Toasty/Distance/Storming axis. He reckons that there's a certain amount of prejudice against anything that involves breaks, which I suspect is probably true as well. Hopefully he's gonna put together a mix especially for download here, featuring some of his most experimental new work. Fingers crossed!!

Destructive 001The final act was Slaughter Mob, who I'd been really looking forward to seeing as their contributions to Rephlex's first "Grime" compilation were instrumental in sucking me into this whole underground dubstep scene. DJing was handled by Q Gritty, with MCs Vicious and Dangerous working the crowd. These guys have been playing out together for many years now, always pushing militant, underground vibes. But they know how to have a good time too! The crowd had visibly thinned-out after midnight, in fact by the last hour there were only about 20 of us left on the dancefloor (with DJ Pinch and Tom from Rooted Records in attendance) yet, with no proper stage as such, Vicious and Dangerous happily mingled amongst us, passing the mic back and forth, taking a particular interest in a couple of the ladies at the front and giving us 100%. It was like an intimate little private party, an experience I'll be fondly remembering for some time.

GrittyI asked Vicious (or was it Dangerous? - I'm still not sure which is which) if they might play "Zombie" by special request, cos it's probably my favourite SLT tune. He just laughed and said that Gritty (right) probably hadn't even brought it with him. That track is old from their perspective, and Gritty was busy spinning exclusive new beats on the club's twin Pioneer CD turntables. But still, Vicious seemed pleased that I was familiar with their work, shook my hand, asked what my name was and gave a shout-out to 'Mr. Gutter' on the mic. I was also pleased to note that one of their catchphrases is "keepin' it gutter, keepin' it sewer", which they repeated at regular intervals. I don't think they know anything about me or my blog, it's just a nice coincidence and obviously I heartily endorse the sentiment. Speaking of catchphrases, ever since the '80s people have been applying negative words in a positive context (bad, ill, wicked etc), and currently the word 'sick' is a popular one for expressing one's approval of a riddim in the dubstep community. But last night the MC's way of showing their approval was to describe a tune as 'absolutely horrible', which I find rather amusing. I'm resolved to use the expression myself in future!

PS. Sorry about the shit photos. I'm not much of a photographer at the best of times, but my experiments with this cheapo little digital camera are not producing good results. It's okay if you've got a strong light-source, but absolutely hopeless in a near-darkness situation like this. I think I'll go back to the disposable analogue cameras!

PPS. Big-up Mr. ThinKing for putting this event together - I'll definitely be up for the next one if he gets it sorted. Oh, and thanks for putting me on the guestlist too.

PPS. Don't forget to read Paul Autonomic's account of his recent visit to FWD>>. Hopefully I'll get to meet him next time he's in the UK...