28 February 2005


Run The RoadIf Dubstep = future sound of electronica, then it's MC-led cousin Grime = future sound of Hip-Hop. As I explained earlier this year, my decision to focus on the dubstep side was because it's more in line with the general vibe of this blog, plus there's plenty others out there who can give you far more informed info about the 'Bashment Boyz' (and Girlz!). But I couldn't resist posting a few thoughts on what must surely be one of the most important releases this year. I am of course referring to "Run The Road", one of the most talked-about and eagerly anticipated releases (at least in this neck of the blogosphere) for a long time. Not so much a compilation as an event, "...Road"s success or failure in winning over the hearts and minds of the public at large (both here and abroad) will be crucial to the scene's development. I picked it up in the Virgin Megastore same time as the LCD album. No prizes for guessing which one's had the heaviest play 'round here!

When I first started hearing early Grime anthems like "Icepole" and "I Love U", I felt sensations similar to hearing Schooly D or even the first LL Cool J album back in the mid '80s. It was minimal, avant garde anti-music, which was what I always believed Hip Hop could or should be. The sort of thing that nobody over a certain age could possibly understand. To me, MC-orientated Grime was the most exciting, outrageous, revolutionary form of Hip Hop I'd heard since...well, since before UKG started getting boring. Whenever I listen to music, I'm inevitably focusing on the background sonics, so one of the initially disappointing things about "Run The Road" is how normal some of the music sounds. Regardless of the edgy lyrical delivery, Roll Deep's "Let It Out" seems far too polite musically, suggesting that reports of a move towards more easily-digestible grooves might be true. Similarly, Wonder & Plan B's "Cap Back" features an orthodox r'n'b backing that is frankly unremarkable. Demon's "I Won't Change" employs a workmanlike breakbeat loop and flute sample that could've been put together by Gang Starr fifteen years ago. Perhaps I'm listening for the wrong things. After all, this album is about showcasing the verbal skillz of the hottest MC talent on the block, which it does more than adequately. Who could fail to be knocked-out by Duurty Goodz's 90-miles-an-hour delivery or Terror Danjah and friends jaw-dropping opening salvo on "Cock Back V1.2"? There's no doubt that this new breed of microphone fiends are leaving just about everybody else in the Rap establishment eating their dust.

But I like to hear form matched with content. Appropriately enough it's left to the most established artist, Dizzie Rascal, to show how it's done. Even though it's 'only' a previously released b-side, his "Give U More" still stands out as truly 'out-there' in it's overall construction. It may not be as incredible as "I Love U", but give the guy a break. That's like expecting Suicide to create a new "Frankie Teardrop" every year. These sort of career-defining moments only come once in a while, and the artists themselves probably aren't entirely sure how the tracks came into existence. "Give U More" features suitably off-kilter beats, pinned-down by mercilessly economical squarewave stabs and a skewed loop of crowd-noise atmospherics that give an effect that's hardly celebratory, more like a bad dream where every face in the crowd seems unreal and horrific. Coupled with Dizzie and D Double E's terse, unrelenting rhymes, the overall effect is exhaustingly intense.

Lady SovereignThen there's Lady Sovereign and her contribution "Cha Ching". There's been an awful lot of controversy surrounding this lady, not least the huge thread over at Dissensus. Some people call her talent and 'authenticity' into question. Regarding the second point, I really couldn't give a damn. I'm hardly from the street myself, merely a fascinated observer, and I can only react to the music on my own terms. And my reaction to "Cha Ching" is "wow, fucking ace!!". That combination of brutal, synthetic minimalism with her highly appealing vocal style is frankly irresistible in my view. It's almost pop music...close enough for me to imagine her performing it on CD:UK or TOTP, which would be brilliant, I reckon. This is exactly the sort of thing I'd love to see storming the charts and freaking-out the kidz of middle-england. I could imagine it having the same sort of effect that Lena Lovich's "Lucky Number" had on my 10-year-old psyche back in '79 - really catchy yet also quite bizarre and a little bit scary. We need someone like Lady Sovereign in the public eye right now, fucking shit up and causing excited debates in the school playgrounds. Bring it on!

I love female MC's anyway, always have. Dominic suggested that "perhaps female mc's reduce the testosterone factor of the music while preserving the rhythmic dynamism, the street edge, etc" which is certainly a distinct possibility. Whatever, ever since I saw Salt 'n' Peppa performing "My Mic Sounds Nice" on The Tube many years ago, I've been a fan of the lady MCs. On "Run The Road", both No Lay and Shystie give great performances that suggests that there's plenty of room in the Grime scene for female talent to flourish.

I may have some reservations, but if there's one album you need to have an opinion about right now, it's this one. Check it!!


Virus PromoWhile I'm an the subject of Grime, about a month ago I received a cd-r of the second 'draft' of Virus Syndicate's forthcoming album, now entitled "The Work Related Illness". It adds a couple of new tunes but also sees the removal of one that was on the first draft. Apparently this track, "Watchin' You", was originally going to be on the Mark One album "One Way" but was dropped from that one too. It would've made sense for it to be released back then because it's theme is very much post-US election paranoia and I guess part of the reason why it has once again been ousted is simply because it's lyric is no longer 'current' enough. This is a shame, because frankly there's plenty here that remains very much relevant to our fragile little world right now. A lyrical extract for you;

"Kerry's just lost the election, Bush has got an erection,
Tony Blair's polishing his dick, about to get fucked in another four-year session (suck it, Tony!)
Micheal Moore tries to tell 'em, fuck this - watch Fahrenheit 911,
If it helps sit back and ask yourself where the hell will we be in 2007?"

As an example of 'conscious Grime' it really should be heard, I think. I asked Mike P if I could share it here but he never actually signed the track so wasn't in a position to give permission, suggesting I e-mail Mark One and ask him about it. This I did, but after nearly four weeks still no response. Oh well, at least I tried. I'll do a full review of the album nearer the release date (30th May).


Bingo Beats 3I may as well give a mention for the third CD I bought in the megastore: "Bingo Beats Vol.3", a joint release from Bingo and Dump Valve, featuring exclusive dubs and VIP remixes mixed by DJ Slimzee. This is actually about six months old now, but it wasn't until I saw the thing staring at me from the racks in Virgin that the impulse to buy came over me. I wasn't actually looking for it, to be honest. It's not the sort of thing I'd expect to see in a major retail outlet. I mentioned Slimzee a few months ago in relation to his time with Wiley in the Pay As You Go Cartel, though he seems to have moved away from that scene quite a bit. There's an interesting little interview with him over at RWD, where he talks about his disillusionment with Grime and explains the motivation behind the Bingo Beats mix. Although you'll still see this listed in the Dubstep section at Dubplate, I wouldn't say that this was particularly in that style. It's quite techy, sophisticated and in places seems to blur the lines between Grime and Breaks, so I'm not really sure how to pigeonhole it to be honest. Jammin's "Go DJ Remix" even features a bit of Amen. It is predominantly instrumental, apart from three brief vocal interjections from Dizzie, Crazy D and D Double E, though in some parts it does seem a little too polished and smooth for my tastes. Part of the reason I don't get excited by a lot of the Breaks stuff I hear is because it seems to work on the same principle as Trance - endless, sparkley velocity that doesn't really say anything or go anywhere (unless you're off your tits, I s'pose). Still, when it gets on a darker, sparse riffy edge the results are suitably intoxicating. I guess it's a bit old news now, but still worth a tenner if you see a copy floating around (and can get past the awful, tacky sleeve design!)


FB:002Among the host of production stars featured on "Bingo Beats 3" are Search & Destroy, who's "Foodchain VIP" is one of the edgier tunes on offer. I've developed a particular fondness for the tracks these guys are putting out. As well as the breaky sound of "Foodchain/Brain Teaser" on Texture, I've also got the more rigid, alienated "Desperate Measures/Wavescape" on Storming Productions, the mellower "Candyfloss" (almost like a grimey Peshay) coupled with "Anger" on Hot Flush Recordings and, favourite of all, a three tracker on Fragile Beats that features some wonderfully inventive square-riff action. Seriously recommended, although I haven't spotted anywhere that's selling this release online at the moment. I discovered it at Rooted Records here in Bristol early last month, so maybe Tom can still supply a copy.

23 February 2005


A little while back I put myself forward as a sort of 'talent scout', inviting unsigned/unknown artists to send me some shit which I could feature at the blog. I still like the idea that a blog could have the potential to break a new act, plus it gives me the opportunity to pay-out some respect to the people who check-in regularly at Gutterbreakz. Right now I'm more interested in what some anonymous kid huddled over a laptop is coming-up with, rather than just following the established names. I wasn't sure if this invite would lead to a deluge of demos or a mere trickle....turned out to be the latter. I've linked to some interesting stuff in the past few weeks, but today I wanted to focus on a couple of people who don't have any kind of web presence yet.

Giedo Primo #1Firstly, here's Jannik Juhl who, under the alias Giedo Primo, has been recording and performing for about seven years, using an all-hardware setup that includes The Electron SID-station ("using the C64 sound chip, by far the most important part of my sound"), Roland TR-909 & 626 rhythm composers, Juno 60 and JX3P synths, Waldorf Pulse and, more recently, MAM ADX1 (for drum sounds) and Red Sounds "Dark Star". Sequencing duties are handled by a Yamaha RM1X. "I never use a computer" says Jannik, "and rarely any samples. Not that I have anything against completely computer made, sample based music, I just like a lot of separate machines around me. Everything is recorded live in one-takes, and as a result the tracks often get longer than they should be. I have something like 15-20 hours of recorded material on mini discs. Sometimes I play live, and then it really is live. Sometimes this is solo, sometimes in duo projects".

Jannik sent me a cd-r full of his own brand of improvised sound, characterised by filthy, unsyncopated 909 beats, waves of cold synth textures aligned with almost playful melodic riffs. Some tracks are upbeat floor-fillers for non-existent clubs whilst others are half-speed dirges that worm their way into my system like viral infections. "I suppose my stuff could be described as a mixture of analogue hardcore, computer game music and... I don't know... experimental electronics, I guess. Not always that experimental. And never truly "abstract", as I'm far too fond of riffs, grooves and melodies".

Giedo Primo #2

I believe this is the first time I've experienced the sound of Danish electronica and was intrigued by Dannik's description of the cultural climate in his country...

"I'm from Odense in Denmark, a city with almost no scene for electronic music (although the somewhat known idyllitronica artist Manual is from Odense too), and as a result I've had little contact with most rave, techno and electronica trends. I used to arrange gabber nights in the mid-nineties. To some degree I belong to an odd analogue tradition in Danish techno - from hardcore/acid acts like Zekt and Senical to rave-prankster Bjørn Svin, all making their music live with hardware synths and sequencers."

It's my pleasure to host one of Jannik's tracks, a recent number called "Den Fortabte". Check it out! Jannik is thinking about trying to get a record deal, but isn't too sure who'd be interested in his style. If you have any advice, opinions etc, e-mail him!

Next up, meet Khalil who's been listening to "nothing but Grime" after getting switched-on here at Gutterbreakz....

Roimasters " I'm an underground basement nobody producer myself... I usually stick to making hiphop tracks for my compatriots in the ghettos of Montreal to rap on in french or english ....but since getting into the Grime, I've been really working on some hard grime tracks... there's just something so fuckin' exciting about this genre of music, that when I make a beat I get this big fuckin' stupid grin on my face and start like hopping around the room screamin "bun u blud,I take ur chayn" and other such madness..."

Khalil has been following my recent 'Guttertech' adventure with interest, as he explains, "I was surprised when you started workin' with Fruityloops as that's what I've been using for quite a long time now...but I was just startin' to make grime beats as you were so it was kinda parallel progress in that sense...."

For Grime productions, Khalil uses the name Roi Masters. He's put a couple of his tunes up at Geocities for you to hear. First check "Grimetings" for some tasty skeletal future beatz, then brace yourself for "Future Is Grime" which features fierce, overdriven drum hits and relentless squarewave riffs. I like Khalil's beats - they kick my ass and make me realise I need to work harder on my riddims! The Montreal-Grime scene starts here - I'd love to hear some of Khalil's shit with maybe French-speaking MCs rhyming ovhttp://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=28509712er the top. Khalil agrees, adding "What I'd really love is to get some grimey emcees to spit a few bars on some of my stuff - that's who its meant for...I'd work with anyone over the internet".

All you aspiring MCs should E-mail Khalil now!


Adam MooreThis jolly lookin' chap is Adam Moore, better known (?) as Minikomi. "I'm from Australia, doing some plant & pest science research at the mo', but for the past 2/3 years I've been trying to do some breakcore stuff, first on Buzz Tracker, now on Renoise. I'm heavily influenced by hip-house, Nintendo, party music and endless imaginative manipulations of the Amen/Gabber variety. Got some more tunes on Micromusic.net, got some stuff coming out on Heresmycard Records later this year and I also do some collaborative stuff with a guy called CDR from Japan under the name Doujinshi".

For an insight into the world of Minikomi, Adam cordially invites you to check out his mix, available to download here. As you will see from the tracklist, it's a mixture of his own inventions and delightfully distorted R'n'B hits that will fit nicely onto a cd-r if you fancy it. Party on, dude...

ThinkmonkeyNext, it's just a short hop to the wilds of New Zealand, where you'll find this demented looking creature that calls itself Thinkmonkey (but it's parents call it Daniel). This poor, lonely, endangered species may become extinct if it doesn't find a mate soon. I'll let the primate explain further: "My name is Thinkmonkey because I needed a name. I am from New Zealand which is a Pacific Island. There is no scene for demented idm / amentalist / superjungle / breakcore / acid-laced/chin-stroking in this part of the world. I like demented idm / amentalist / superjungle / breakcore /acid-laced/ chin-stroking music. I also like artists who show more than one side of their personality. It is great to see playful and aggressive sounds coming from the same artists. Musicians aren't as one dimensional as I suspect large labels make them sound in most cases.

In the future I hope to start a 'conceptual piece' on a 1970's horror film and my first LP "The great New Zealand breakcore album" which I have a million ideas for, all of which involve distorting and abusing our wonderful nation and and its culture. Maybe it will be suitable as a demo. I have a tribute track for Shitmat that is half done but it's shit. I am up for collaborations and remixes if anyone's interested. At the moment I make music around my job basically because I enjoy it.

My gear includes a computer with Cubase and Cool Edit, a bass guitar/amp/a few pedals + a couple of other guitars and a twisted sense of humour. The guitars don't get much use nowadays. Renoise Tracker has got me interested and I have had a bit of a bash in that lately.

The track I made for Gutterbreakz might make you nod your head. I threw something together that is influenced by some of the great music I have found out about because of this blog (aw, shucks - Ed).

If you can't get enough I have recently erected a site with a couple of samples of tracks I'm working/stalled on".

Lastly, let's briefly return to the chillier climes of the Northern Hemisphere with a tune from fellow Brit Josh Bramall (no picture supplied), who doesn't have much to say about himself other than the fact that "I'm a student in London who's studying philosophy, and should be studying not messing around with making tunes! ". Josh's main thing is for bootleg/mash-ups, grafting rap and R'n'B vocals onto glitchy fuckbeats, which can produce some entertaining results, as on this cheeky little number, which Squarepusher fans may find oddly familiar....

Bring on the Gutter-technicians!!!

21 February 2005


A couple of weekends ago I got dragged-along on a family shopping trip to The Mall, a gigantic shopping centre on the outskirts of Bristol. Whilst there I had a browse in the Virgin Megastore. Shopping in high street music stores is an activity that I very rarely indulge in these days, but as I was there I thought I'd partake in a spot of impulse buying...

LCD Cover

Picked-up the new LCD Soundsystem album that's been getting a lot of people excited recently. It's been quite a few months since I last turned my attention to the NYC punkfunk scene so thought I'd air my opinions on this one, even though it goes against my rule of not featuring anything with major label affiliations - though I'm not prepared to offer any MP3s, as Blue Calx pointed out over at Radio Babylon, most of the tracks have already been blogged anyway.

My introduction to the whole DFA scene was the April 2003 issue of the late (and sorely missed) Muzik magazine, with a cover feature proclaiming "Disco Punk Explosion! Dancefloor Anarchy Hits The UK! NY Punks On Pills!" etc etc and a free DFA mix CD which blew my head off. Featuring tracks by Out Hud, The Juan Maclean and DFA remixes of Metro Area and Le Tigre tracks, that CD remains, for me at least, possibly the single most intoxicating document of the genre. In my then Grimeless world, the DFA axis sounded like the future.

Whilst I have no doubt that the scene still has much to offer at ground level, I find that the transition to album-length excursions is a rocky, perilous journey where hints of the future mingle a little too uncomfortably with overt references to the past, resulting in something that's less 'punkfunk' and more 'Record Collection Disco'. It happened with The Rapture's album (produced by the DFA) which seemed weighed-down with not-too-subtle homages to their heroes, like the verse on the title track having an uncanny resemblance to PIL's "Careering", or "Love Is All" which sounded like a rewrite of Big Star's "September Gurls" . This phenomenon appears to have also afflicted James Murphy whilst creating the eponymous LCD album.

I mean, I know that this is a good record, and I find it highly enjoyable to listen to (which is the whole point at the end of the day) but there's that bit of my brain that keeps telling me that this album is deeply flawed. Perhaps it's Murphy's vocals, which sound too cocky, too stylized, as though he's putting on a persona. Sometimes it feels like he approached these songs with the premise "Today I'm going to record a track in the style of (insert name of perennially hip 'classic' artist)". Obvious examples being the ballad "Never As Tired As When I'm Waking Up", which is a "Dear Prudence" rewrite (I wouldn't let Oasis get away with it and I don't see why Murphy should be excused either, even if the track is fucking gorgeous) and "Great Release" where Murphy does his best late-70's Eno impersonation. A lot of the time I don't get much impression of who the real James Murphy is, all I can hear is evidence of his impeccable record collection. The man is a skilled forger, but this sort of behaviour is anti-Gutterbreakz and should not be encouraged.

But still, I forgive him everything for the wonderful, fantastic, utterly brilliant "Losing My Edge", which is thankfully included on the bonus disc. This is the song where Murphy takes a long, hard look in the mirror, confronting his musical obsessions, whilst sneering at the younger generation for not having paid their dues. I hear so much of myself in this track it hurts. When you're in your mid-thirties, having spent all your adult life exploring and obsessing about music, inevitably it leads to a gargantuan superiority complex. In the real world I'm an insufferable music snob prone to ranting at people about bands they've never heard (or even care) about. The sheer weight of knowledge becomes almost debilitating when trying to enjoy music for it's own sake. I'm glad that an old fart like me is 'losing his edge'. Fuck us and our history lessons. I thought the fact that Plasticman had never heard of Richie Hawtin was completely brilliant - his total ignorance of, and lack of reverence for the past-masters of dance is undoubtedly one of his strengths. Plasticman's busy making music that's not of this planet, leaving it to the jaded old hacks (like yours truly) to try and explain his cultural/historical importance. The future is his. As for James Murphy and the LCD Soundsystem....it's like pornography - I like it, but I know it's wrong.

17 February 2005


One of the people who really took issue with my sharing full-length MP3s was Pinch, a Bristol-based DJ who's been spinning dubstep in my hometown for some time now. But after the initial hostility, we seem to have come to a mutual understanding of each other's position and it's actually led to some stimulating discourse between us! The more I got to 'know' him, the more apparent it became that Pinch is one of the pivotal figures in Bristol's burgeoning dubstep scene, having been one of the first to introduce the sound to audiences here, and continuing to organise and promote events in this city. What follows is an edited summary of our discussions...

How long have you been DJing?

For about 4/5 years now. I started djing Drum & Bass at odd nights around Bristol and at a monthly night in Newport, where I was brought up - I moved to Bristol 7 years ago.

That's interesting, cos a lot of Grime and Dubstep artists seem to have come out of the d&b scene. Why did you move away from d&B?

I started getting bored with it as productions predominantly moved in the direction of Jump Up. I found myself getting more and more interested in minimal electronica and dubbed out techno (all Basic Channel lines).

So how did you make the transition to dubstep?

I was already interested in Garage music and had bought the odd release - bits by Zed Bias and MJ Cole and later some Grime slates - but never got too involved with it due to a lack of any coherent scene for Garage in Bristol, and a wallet already straining as a result of buying jungle/d&b. I discovered the dubstep sound at one of London's legendary Forward nights, which I went to with some friends, including Jamie from Vex'd. I was instantly hooked on it - hypnotised by the sound that took elements of all my main musical interests: drum and bass, garage, dubbed-out techno - even hip hop and electronica to an extent.

And this inspired you to start spinning dubstep in Bristol? When did all that start?

I started doing nights around the start of last year - called Context. The idea was to introduce new people to the sound who I thought would like it. The evening would start with electronica and dub, move into dubstep and sometimes breaks/broken beat, ending in dubwise d&b -
hoping to draw other heads to the new sound. After a few parties the dubstep took up more and more of the night and people seemed to be getting into it (I've hosted Loefah, Cyrus/Random Trio, Vex'd, Search&Destroy, Distance, Slaughter Mob at Context). I also started bringing some of the records up from London to my friend Tom at Rooted Records - Hotflush and DMZ plates, collected from the boot of a car at trips to FWD>>.

By this point I had hooked-up with Blazey - a local Grime DJ (he also played at Context) and we decided to combine forces and host a one-off night called 'Subloaded' - held at the Thekla: starting the evening off with dubstep and then getting progressively grimier throughout the night (we had Kode9, Geeneus, Plasticman, Vex'd, Eastwood and The Renegade Boys alongside me and Blazey), which was an absolute success - that night went off!

After a few more Context parties (the end of last year) the club decided it was too dark a music to have on a Saturday night - they wanted Trance on Saturdays - and I wasn't going near anything like that.

You certainly seem to be building-up some healthy support for dubstep here, anyway. So where will you be playing in 2005?

There will be more dubstep wherever I can get it played. There's a one-off event at the Croft on March 10th (Thursday) with Loefah and Skream (only £1/2 on the door) and Context also hosts the basement floor at Drive By (Level Club) every month. There will be a big dubstep all-nighter I am involved with on April 15th at the Black Swan (with Punksi - promoter for Toxic Dancehall - who also hosted Vex'd last year) - more details to follow - trust me tho - it will be massive.

Any other places or DJs promoting dubstep in Bristol?

There are no other nights dedicated to dubstep but there a few other people who have taken interest and will play an odd slot - usually in a room 2 situation - such as a guy called Triac. There's also a number breaks heads who have got into it and will play some dubstep/grime in their breaks sets - like October who also makes some dubstep style beats.

I heard a great mix by ThinKing over at Drumz Of The South. You know him?

ThinKing is someone I would go to FWD>> with - he's been into the sound for a while now, and likes to play it alongside broken beat and breaks.

Have you tried producing any of your own tunes?

Me and 30Hz (who calls himself P. Dutty for dubstep production) got in the studio and banged out some beats - taking form in a techy variation of dubstep (mainly since 30Hz is a techy breaks producer), and I have a few bits on the go that i've done myself (getting play from Kode9, Loefah and Cyrus).

I definitely get the impression that dubstep is taking a firm hold here in Bristol. Would you say that audiences here have a natural affinity for it?

I knew straight away that this was a sound that would fit perfectly in Bristol - there is a lot of tension in the music that carries a satisfactory darkness with it, but its also lazy music. You
don't have to dance hard to move with it - it was born with a reefer in its gob! Lots of the d&b heads here are listening up - MC Jakes loves it - and TC and Amo too.

What about the Grimier sound? Do you still want to push that style too?

I have been playing back-to-back a lot with Blazey and really getting into dubstep 'vs' grime as a sound itself - it keeps the energy of grime and adds the depth that dubstep has. I hope to pursue this further in 2005.

I know that there are people all over the world getting excited about this music, so I can't help wondering why labels like Tempa, DMZ etc don't get their stuff available on the net. There's several legal sites supporting underground stuff, so surely it would make sense to have that extra outlet for exposure and income? I know a lot of overseas listeners would be more inclined to buy the music if downloads were available, and there's so many DJs out there working with virtual turntables now. Is there a conscious decision by the dubsteppers to just stick to vinyl, I wonder?

I think the reason that most labels in dubstep don't have online sales is two-fold. Some artists like Digital Mystikz, Loefah and Random Trio are very much vinyl lovers. They never play from CD - only record/dubplate - mainly because they believe the vinyl sounds better than CDs. Sounds crazy but I also believe there is something that comes from being able to touch vinyl as it plays (unlike with CDs) that gives music an additional edge - the dj is in touch with the sound directly (corny - I know!).

The other reason is that I don't know if label owners are generally geared towards thinking about an international market or money making. Most dubstep records are put out for the love of the sound: A lot of releases only generally sell around 300-400 copies. But you're right - online sales would help provide that little bit of breathing space, financially.

Finally, how would you sum-up the appeal of dubstep for all the non-believers out there?

As a sound dubstep will appeal to jungle heads, hip hop heads, garage heads, grime heads, electronica heads - everyone with open ears. Much in the way that hardcore had a bit of everything in it - so does this (if in an entirely different way). I love it with a passion that I
haven't felt for years.
Pinch was also kind enough to send a me mix on cd-r. Recorded at home last November and originally intended as a primer for some friends of his who were curious to hear this music, it almost runs like a dubstep 'greatest hits', showcasing some of the darkest, dreadest sounds of the past few months, several of which have been featured favourites here at Gutterbreakz. Pinch takes it at a suitably slow, ponderous pace, allowing each track time to breath, develop and work it's voodoo magic on the listener's psyche. Consequently this is a BIG file - 47 mins, ripped at 192kbps, resulting in a whopping 65.2mb of sound. Best of luck to all who want to download - I hope my temperamental server can handle it!

MP3: DJ Pinch - Pinchmix 11/04


Digital Mystikz - Awake (Rephlex)
Kode 9 - Swarm (Rephlex)
Random Trio/Cyrus - Indian Stomp (Dub)
Kode 9 & Daddi Gee - Spit (vox) (Hyperdub)
Benga - Walking Bass (Big Apple)
Digital Mystikz - Mawo Dub (Big Apple)
Mark One - Blow (Planet Mu)
Vex'd - Pop Pop (Subtext)
Digital Mystikz - Lost City (DMZ)
Loefah - Truly Dread (Tempa)
Kode 9 & Daddi Gee - Stalker (Hyperdub)
Plasticman - Shallow Grave (Terrorhythm)
Distance - 3rd Wish (Hotflush)
Digital Mystikz - Twis Up - Youngsta & Task Remix (DMZ)
Loefah - Horror Show (DMZ)

Pinch is also promising to send me more mixes in future, with 'lot's of fresh beats' and possibly Plasticman's 'Subloaded' set. Watch this space!

10 February 2005


I've been trying to cram an awful lot of activity into my limited spare time recently. Not only have I been exploring Fruityloops and trying to maintain this blog, I also dug out my spare turntable and started trying to mix all these grime/dubstep platters I've been buying recently. So far, the results have been atrocious. It's been many years since I tried beatmixing tunes, and the sort of beats I used to work with were much easier to deal with than these! My eldest son walked into the room the other night whilst I was desperately trying to get two riddims to talk to each other and, looking at me in a strange way said, "What are you doing, dad?". Feeling slightly foolish I tried explaining a few basic principles of DJ mixing to him. He seemed quite interested, actually. It was one of those rare occasions where I felt like I was actually teaching him something. Maybe he'll get into all this stuff one day, although right now he thinks most of dad's music is crap. Anyway, it'll be a long time, if ever, before I'm in a position to post a Gutterbreakz turntable mix here.

But I'm still quite keen on the idea of doing MP3 mixes as an ethically 'approved' method of sharing music. I'm still feeling very conscious of my position at the moment. At the start of the year I realised that I didn't want this blog turning into a free jukebox and now, particularly with 'underground' music, I feel very wary about what I choose to share here. I've had loads of people telling me there's nothing wrong with what I do, but still I feel the weight of responsibility. But my worries on this issue are coupled with the fact that I've got so much music to talk about here that I have trouble deciding what to choose each week. It's almost like I'm becoming frozen by indecisiveness.

Just wading through Planet Mu material would keep me occupied for months - there's so much great music coming out of that label it's little short of staggering. I feel like I need get some of it out there, but don't want to get too Mu-centric either. As most of my Mu releases are in MP3 format, I thought I'd try doing a virtual mix, as a way of catching-up with all the tracks and artists I need to feature here. After a quick search on the net I came across a free 30-day trial of Virtual DJ, which I installed earlier today. Problem is, it hadn't occurred to me that my little laptop doesn't have a secondary soundcard, so there's no way I can preview/cue tracks! No chance of beatmixing there then. But I didn't let that put me off having a play around with it this evening, just doing primitive little segues between tracks, in a determined effort not to just sit in front of the telly and watch that disgraceful display of corporate backslapping that is The Brit Awards, although I did actually have it on whilst doing my virtual mix. Occasionally I would look across the room and observe such things as The Beddingfield Hellspawn dueting on stage, from which I drew defiant inspiration. The resulting MP3 mix, whilst lacking in technical proficiency, represents my own little stand against the mainstream/corporate whores. This is the music I believe in. This is the culture I side with.

This mix is dedicated to Kid Kameleon and anyone else around the globe who hears music the same way I do.

MP3: Fuck The Brits Mix 100205


Venetian Snares - Felbomlasztott Mentökocsi (ZIQ111 - released Mid-March)
John B. & Exile - Broken Language (ZIQ 113)
Eight Frozen Modules - Elephantitus Of The Man (ZIQ 109)
Hellfish - Fuck Daddy (Deathchant LP003)
Shitmat- Pump The Kin (from future 12")
Bee Snares - Bee In Bunnyhead (Death$ucker Records D$R4.0)
Chevron - Running Out Of Time (ZIQ092 - out very soon)
Exile & Subfocus - Silicon Chop (from album due Summer '05)
Hawerchuk - Camel Toe (ZIQ 106)
Rockstar Games - Manhunt (The Bug Remix) (Rephlex MHUNT18)
Phthalocyanine - Death Frenzy (ZIQ096 - still not available at Bleep yet)
Datach'i - I'm Not Afraid To Watch You Die (ZIQ087)
The Gasman - Fridge (ZIQ093 - released end of Feb)
0=0 - In Your Eyes (from forthcoming release)
Bizzy B - Merda Style 2004 (ZIQ117 -released mid-March)

06 February 2005


At last, K-Punk's spin on "Children Of The Stones" has arrived!

Just to give some indication of what Mark's getting at here, my old video tape of the complete series is rated PG - 'General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children'. Can you think of any drama series aimed at children today that would be rated PG? The '70s were fucking crazy, man! I used to get freaked-out by all kindsa weird shit back then.

In honour of the occasion, and as a salute to the first wave Futurists that I and Kid Shirt have been mentioning recently, here's a track by Mark's fave band ever:

MP3: Ultravox - Dislocation

Before I started corresponding with Mark, I hadn't explored Ultravox's John Foxx period any further than the "Three Into One" CD compilation that Island released many years ago. This track comes from their third (and final album with Foxx) "Systems Of Romance".

Here's what they recommend in the Q special:

If you only buy one Ultravox album, make it...

The Island Years (Island, 1999)

Excellent introduction to the Foxx-era Ultravox, containing their three essential ballads: "My Sex", "Hiroshima Mon Amour" and "Just For A Moment", alongside the glammier "The Wild, The Beautiful And The Damned" plus electro-rock classics "Quiet Men" and "Slow Motion". Just download "Dislocation" as well and you're done.

Right, I've sorted out that last bit for you, now go and buy the CD - it's bloody cheap!

Whilst I'm at it, time to pay out some serious respect to the late, great Frank Tovey, aka Fad Gadget, who was taken from us by heart failure in April 2002, just as he was on the point of making a comeback. "It's about time electronic music comes back to something more organic, soulful and powerful" he announced shortly before his death. Damn, life can be so cruel, sometimes.

MP3: Fad Gadget - Pedestrian

The opening cut on Frank's debut album "Fireside Favourites", released by Mute in 1980 (Stumm 3). Featuring Tovey's typically caustic lyrical wit over urgent, buzzing synth riffs (with Daniel Miller on electronic percussion), "Pedestrian" writes the electropop rulebook. Doff yer caps, all you latter-day wannabe futurist starlets - Frank was the fucking man.

05 February 2005


I've been enjoying the 'old skool inter-blog discourse' between Reynolds, Jess and Ronan this week, especially as it's a subject that often plays on my mind. Jess's piece emits a particularly thought-provoking view, and is a fascinating insight into how dance music is perceived in the States, regardless of how accurate Simon thinks his observations are. Unfortunately, I'm currently lacking the mental energy required to pitch-in with my own in-depth response to all this, but I can see bits of truth in all their observations. I can appreciate Simon's perpetual need for a 'shock of the new' fix, but can also understand that revisiting older forms can be equally valid. The crucial point for me though, is that music of any genre that derives nearly all it's energy from past glories (shameless revivalism in other words) is definitely not to be encouraged. But I can see that borrowing and blending from older forms can still produce worthwhile music. To use Primal Scream as an example, it's the difference between "Loaded" (which was inspired) and "Rocks Off" (which was fucking shameful).

The thing about technologically-driven music is that, during those certain 'white heat' phases, it develops and mutates at such a ferocious rate that sometimes you feel that the original ideas didn't get a chance to be fully explored, as with Darkside Jungle. I spent nearly fifteen years telling anyone who would listen that the synthpop/futurist* period circa 1978-82 was ripe for fresh exploration. The ideas behind the likes of The Normal, early Fad Gadget, John Foxx, Visage etc etc etc seemed to me like a massive potential resource for pop's future. There's so much music from that era that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Yet when the revival actually began, I was horrified by the majority of it. Most of the modern electropop I've heard sounds like a bad joke, a tasteless pastiche, devoid of originality or grace.

Perhaps the problem is with me. I find it impossible to listen to music without contextualising it. To make overtly referential synthpop now is as heinous as being a Beatles clone band as far as I'm concerned. What was hot in 1980 cannot be replicated in 2005 without sounding completely naff. Futurism happened, and it can never happen again in that form. But we can learn from it and incorporate elements into other approaches. So it's conceivable that, for example, a record that fuses Futurism with House (and a big dollop of inspiration) can be valid.

Likewise, I wouldn't be satisfied with a record that simply homaged '88 Acid. But I can feel it when someone like Luke Vibert combines mid-tempo 303 squiggles with easy-going breakbeats and Jean Jacques Perrey synth motifs. Blend the strengths, I say. Right now I'd love to hear the melodic textural lushness of '93-95 intelligent techno over some brutal Grime riddims.

Having said all that, occasionally I'll hear something, like the latest Guy Called Gerald material, that manages to sound very retro (in this case mid-90s Technophunk) but still transcend obsolescence in some way. If it sounds as honest, heartfelt and just plain surprising as this then you can believe in it. Sometimes it is possible to find a fresh spin within an established genre. Whilst I would never claim that there was much originality in Alt.Rock Americana in general, I find plenty of things by artists like Will Oldham, Bill Callaghan (Smog) or the late Elliot Smith interesting. They're able to find those little furrows within Folk, Country and Rock that can still be mined for fresh creativity, even though they're beyond the remit of this particular blog (haven't you realised yet that what I leave out is as important as what I put in?). Perhaps it's all down to what motivates an artist - if it's simply a case of nostalgia then I'm likely to get a bit edgy.

I get a similar feeling of unease when listening to Aphex's new Analord EPs. Don't get me wrong - I've been really enjoying them - but there's that sense that this music is too retro. Listening to "Laricheard", I find myself on the one hand gently moved by this undoubtedly sincere homage to Fingers Inc.'s "Can You Feel It", but on the other wondering if this is the sort of thing a self-styled cutting-edge pioneer should be releasing. Although I would completely respect James making this track for his own enjoyment, surely he should be releasing all those amazingly advanced tracks that he sometimes hints about in interviews. To be fair, the tracks on the first EP, aka "Microcomposer MC-4 Tracs", are not Acid House re-hashes, they're a return to the sound of 'Cornish Acid', a distinct sub-genre created by James and his mates back in the day, so he's basically homaging himself. Whilst most of the content here might conceivably come from the Universal Indicator period or "Analogue Bubblebath 3", it could be argued that James is simply taking a little time-out to reflect on past achievements, going back in order to move forward. For any Aphex-skeptics out there who still haven't decided whether or not to invest in these platters, here's a track from Vol. 1 for you...

MP3: AFX - Where's Your Girlfriend?

I guess I'm a difficult bugger to please sometimes. This is a real purist project and listening on headphones I detect what sounds like tape hiss, which suggests that James has extended the analogue concept to encompass the entire process of recording, mastering and releasing the music, which is not an unattractive idea, and certainly quite novel in 2005. Bereft of any digital 'taint', the vinyl originals have a warm, milky glow, particularly on the more mellow, melodic offerings on "Mix 2", which slip-down like a hot cup of Horlicks before bedtime. It's also pleasant to hear him working with 'regular' beats again, no doubt necessitated by the limited capabilities of the built-in step sequencers on those old Roland machines. To be honest, I was never that enamored by James' drum programming in the post drill'n'bass period; it never quite achieved the fluidity of Squarepusher's beats, which manage to sound shattered and groovy at the same time. Anyway, for now it's a cautious 'thumbs-up' for Analord, with a few ideological reservations.

* Whilst I'm on this subject, just thought I'd mention the new Q magazine special edition, The Story Of Electro-Pop. Never thought I'd be recommending anything from Q here, but this isn't a bad little read, even for those (like myself) who think they know it all already. Worth it for all the cool glossy photos alone! Plus you can have fun spotting the mistakes, like they don't seem to be able to tell Martyn Ware from Ian Craig Marsh and they're still perpetuating the myth that Martin Rushent created "Love And Dancing" after being inspired by American dance music, when in fact it was the other way around. Still, it's generally a well-compiled stab at documenting the genre, breaking it down into four phases from Kraftwerk to the present day, and as far as I can see just about everyone gets at least a brief mention (apart from Landscape!) . Charles Shaar Murrey's retro-review of Bowie's "Low" adds a bit of extra credibility too. Four pages devoted to John Foxx/Ultravox? K-Punk must go out and buy it first thing tomorrow!!!