28 May 2005


Following on from my recent posts on the darker breaks-orientated element of dubstep, it's my pleasure to present a rare interview with DJ Distance, currently producing some of the nastiest beats on the block. What follows are the highlights of an e-mail exchange between myself and Distance last week plus a telephone conversation on Friday lunchtime, which many people will no doubt find illuminating. Also included is a new mix that Distance put together this month, featuring many of the latest essential releases along with exclusive tracks from Vex'd, Skream, Search & Destroy and of course Distance himself.

The Interview

Gutta: So Distance, tell me how you got started in this crazy musical bizzness in the first place...

Distance: Well I've always experimented with music - I've played the guitar since the age of 11, and began messing about with drum machines and audio software when I was around 16.

G:You can play guitar?!

D:Yeah, I'm originally from a Rock and Metal background.

G:Ha! I knew it! That just totally backs-up my theory last week about "harnessing some of the dark energy from rock". You are the new Beltram, official. Are you familiar with his work?

D: Er, no.

G: Basically he's this guy from New York who's rock influences brought a darker edge to Techno music about 15 years ago, and I think that you're influences are bringing something similar to garage.

D: That definitely has something to do with the dark element. I was, and still am a big fan of Fear Factory, Pantera, Deftones and Korn. They have definitely influenced me in some way. What appealed to me was the raw energy of the music, plus I love the sound of live instruments. I try and use live recorded sounds wherever I can.

G: So when did the transition to dance/dj culture occur?

D: It wasn't until I was around 16- 18 that my tastes broadened. I began listening to Aphex Twin, Portishead, Red Snapper, Prodigy and various drum'n'bass artists. I got into djing when I was 20. I was at college and a few people I knew dj'd and I guess that kind of inspired me, that and going to clubs. I kind of worked a bit backwards by teaching myself to mix on some dodgy CD mixing desk ___LONG!!! I had all these mad ideas for mixing just about every style of music together - rock, drum 'n' bass, hip hop etc. At the same time I was slowly building up a collection of vinyl, consisting mainly of garage & old d'n'b tracks plus anything else that caught my ear. It wasn't until I heard tracks like "138 Trek" by Zinc and early Wookie and Oris Jay stuff that I began to focus more on one style. Without a doubt DJ Zinc, Oris Jay and Sound of the Future inspired a lot of my early material. I then heard about a night called FWD>> and everything kind of evolved from there.

G: FWD>> seems to have been a pivotal club for most people within this scene. Any other defining moments, events or tracks that spring to mind?

D: One moment I will never forget was the first Filthy Dub night, because it was the first time a rave had been done away from East London successfully. More recently was DMZ. Track-wise there are too many to mention!!!!!

G: There's all kinds of names being used to describe the music coming from Croydon/South London right now, but how would you describe it?

D: Unique!!!!!

G: Hrrm....

D: Look, people can call my music whatever they like. Some of it could be classed as Breaks and some of it Grime & Dubstep. I don't think it really matters - myself and many others have gotten this far without it being labeled.

G: Fair enough, but it just seems that the music means different things to different people. Some would say that the stuff you do is very different to, say, the dubby half-step that Youngsta plays. Yet your mix includes some DMZ tunes, so I guess that means that you consider yourself to be a part of that as well?

D: I do consider myself to be a part of it - believe it not Youngsta was the first person to drop one of my tunes at FWD. He was very helpful and supportive right from the beginning and I have a lot of respect for him. Hatcha is currently playing three new beats of mine which are on a similar tip to "Dark Crystal" and "Nomad". I hope to collaborate with some of the dub heads soon as well. I've actually made a few beats in that style, but when I submit things to labels, they usually want to use the breaky tunes.

G: So it'd be wrong to suggest that the music that people like you and Toasty are playing is a separate micro-scene?

D: It's complicated... I like loads of tracks by many artists but it doesn't mean I'm gonna drop them in my set, and I'm sure it's the same for most DJ's. Some only want to play breaks, others dub, and DJ's like myself play tunes across the scale from Toasty Boy to Digital Mystikz to Search & Destroy. Everyone in the scene comes with something different, and that can't be a bad thing!!

G: Yes, that's one of the things I find so fascinating about it - there's so many individual ideas pushing the sound in different directions simultaneously. How do you explain the incredibly vibrant, creative energy that seems to come from the area at the moment?

D: Fresh!! There are just so many talented people around here - you got Benga & Skream, Hatcha, Plasticman, Cyrus, Mystikz, Loefah, N-type, Chef and then myself. We all link at FWD and other raves, chat about the scene and see what's happening. We support each other as much as possible - even if I've already got a track on dubplate, I always try to buy it when it gets released too.

G: So what does the future hold for DJ Distance?

D: I plan to just keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully contribute more to making this scene globally recognised. 'Empire' and '1 0n 1' have just landed on Hotflush, as well as 'Swarm' on the new label Destructive. There is a track forthcoming on Boka too called "Saint & Sinners", which may surprise a few heads. Look out for a load of collaborations and remixes as well.

G: I notice that your colleagues Search & Destroy and Quiet Storm were reppin' the scene on Radio1 this week. That seems like an important step in your sound's development. How far will it go from here?

D: definitely it's a big step. I think the scene will just keep getting bigger and bigger.

Download the DJ Distance "Deleted Scenes" Mix (dead link)

1. Skream - End Of The Earth (Dub)
2. Toasty Boy - Dibble (Destructive)
3. DJ Distance - Dark Crystal (Boka)
4. Toasty Boy - Angel (Hotflush)
5. Loefah - Twisup (Youngsta & Task VIP Mix) (DMZ)
6. DJ Distance - Tropical Rub (Sting Recordings)
7. DJ Distance - Vicious Circle (Dub)
8. Vex'd - Fire (Dub)
9. D1 - Crack Bong (Loefah Rmx) (Dub)
10. DJ Distance - Rotten Funk (Dub)
11. Digital Mystikz - Conference (Dub)
12. DJ Distance - Swarm (Destructive)
13. Toasty Boy - Too Hot (Storming Productions)
14. DJ Distance - Empire (Hotflush)
15. Slaughter Mob - Stopper (Destructive)
16. Eric H. - The Lights (Search & Destroy Rmx) (Hotflush)
17. Digital Mystikz - Da Wrath VIP (DMZ)
18. Search & Destroy - Vulcan Grip (Dub)
19. Vex'd - Lion VIP (Forthcoming on Planet Mu - Distance Exclusive)

Time: 56:30
Size: 51.6 mb

RECORDED 19/5/05


HF002 - Nomad/3rd Wish (Hotflush Recordings)
12" back in stock at Boomkat, download at Karma or DJDownload.

HF008 - 1 On 1/Empire (Hotflush Recordings)
12" in stock at Blackmarket, download from DJDownload.

BOK001 - Replicant/Dark Crystal/Roots (Boka Records)
12" in stock at Blackmarket and Dubplate.

DST001 - 'Our Sound' v/a album includes Swarm (Destructive Records)
2x12" in stock at Blackmarket and Boomkat.

Sting2004 'Closer Than You Think' EP (Lix/Sting)
12" currently unavailable at my usual sources - unless someone can tell me otherwise?


You can catch Distance every Thursday night 11-1am on Rinse FM (although not next week cos he's on holiday!). For now, check this set from 12th May (hosted care of Dubway, Croatia's premier dubstep enthusiast - cheers, mate!), back-2-back with Quiet Storm for two hours of non-stop dark, dubby breaks. "It's a bit dodgy" says Distance, on account of some ropey mixing at the start, but I love the energy you get from these live sessions. A bit later on in the set, Storm drops a Dub Child remix of the bleep 'n' bass classic "LFO", bridging the gap with the old skool bassheadz culture perfectly. Essential listening...

20 May 2005


Well, last night was an interesting experience. It's not every day you get to hang around backstage with Venetian Snares and his entourage, drinking free booze and talking bollocks. Although a bit tired and fed-up and really wishing he could go home, Aaron Funk was actually quite a nice chap. What did we talk about? Er...a small debate on Analord (Funk likes it), reminiscing about industrial-rockers Ministry, future Snares projects and so forth. The gig went well - I enjoyed Frog Pocket's set, which was kind of electronica for shoe-gazers with live guitar/violin and a shitload of FX pedals, and also official support DJ C64, who's dexterity was outstanding. Luckily Mr Funk had livened up a bit by the time he took the stage and gave an energetic set focusing on Amen-rinse extremity with a bit of Gabba thrown-in for good measure. For the benefit of the hardcore Snares fans, here's a brief WMA clip that I filmed:

V.Snares Live WMA clip

But what of DJ Gutterbreakz? Well, basically I got lost wandering around Cardiff, turned up late and missed my slot, but luckily the management managed to squeeze me in after Frog Pocket and I got to do a quick set which, as far as I could tell, went down alright with the crowd. A bit of an anti-climax, really. But I enjoyed my 15 minutes in the spotlight. Maybe I'll get a chance to do it again sometime...

17 May 2005


The music that I've previously been referring to as Breakstep has been keeping me busy lately. This is a strand of Croydon dubstep centering around artists like Search & Destroy, Toasty Boy, DJ Distance and of course Vex'd, that often (but not always) employs breakbeat shuffle over a hard step-time undertow. Destructive Recordings' "Our Sound" album attempts to bring all the main players together to present a coherent statement. Here's the brief press-release manifesto:

Its been a long time coming, but the first release on Destructive Recordings is finally here.
An 8 track L.P from the hottest, forward thinking producers on the uk underground scene.
Whatever you want to call it, breakbeat, dubstep, grime. This is a genre that nobody can pin down, and nobody can pigeon hole. Igniting dancefloors and opening peoples minds simultaneously.

This is the music that has no name, this is Our Sound.

I respect the sentiment, but this is one of those situations where the wishes of the artists and the needs of those who write about them are a little different. Us journalists (and I know I'm not really a journo - I'm just pigeonholing myself as one for the sake of simplicity) like to have a few handy buzzwords to bracket music into nice tidy compartments - this is grime, this is dubstep, this is speed garage etc etc. It's all about creating 'product recognition', innit? With "Our Sound", Destructive appear to be at the same junction that Wiley was last year with "Wot You Call It?". You need a snappy brand name if you're gonna capture the public's imagination and Wiley's decision to define his music as Eskibeat was original and inspired. But Our Sound seems too vague and precious for my tastes. Still, breakstep is a bit too limiting to cover all the ideas on offer. For instance, the track "Auto" by Flatline (who?) features stilted 909 riddims and cold, modulated synth emissions that seem to follow in the footsteps of Search & Destroy's "Wavescape", an unclassifiable b-side that came out on Storming Productions last year. Also, the inclusion of a track by Skream, who's generally more associated with the steppy DMZ/Ital axis, proves that the artists involved cannot be placed in any one distinct camp - it's a steady flow of ideas circulating throughout the Croydon underground, and I don't think anyone is sure where it's all leading to yet. Don't be surprised if Loefah suddenly starts putting out breaks-orientated tunes! One thing that does seem to unite everyone is an urge to get as dark and twisted as possible - the outlook is unremittingly Grimm. Check the clips (and then buy the record!) over at Blackmarket. When I bought it, the album was still a white label promo, but presumably these are 'finished' copies in stock now?

Another element is the increasing use of dirty, distorted basslines that re-introduce some mid-range sonic attack into the equation. "Gunman" by Vex'd must surely be the most extreme example, combining sub-bass pressure with filthy, corrosive static-mush that's surely destined to become a design classic. In years to come people will be talking about the 'Gunman stab' the way they do about Mentasms today. Whether they know it or not, there are clear parallels with Joey Beltram harnessing some of the dark energy from Black Sabbath, Metallica etc, at the turn of the '90s. Rather than Detroit, is Grimm turning into the new Belgian Hardcore?! Being a self-confessed White Man, I have that gene which appreciates a fucking good mid-range blowout every now and then, so this vaguely Rockist tint is perfectly fine with me and makes a nice contrast to the more dub-obsessed material. Although Vex'd are undoubtedly leading the production race at the moment, DJ Distance is surely not far behind them. "Replicant", the first release on Boka Records, combines suitably ominous Blade Runner samples with overdriven, distressed riffs that sound like they're in pain and his latest EP, "1 On 1/Empire" on Hot Flush Recordings, hones this approach to a diamond-hard point of single-minded intent. Both EPs are available at Blackmarket.


It was of course the Blissblogger who first coined the term 'Grim(m)' , in reference to the music Rephlex were pushing under the Grime tag last year. In September '04, Simon wrote:

"Grimm, that’s what I’m going to call the darkdubstep/Croydon t'ing from now onwards. So you have Grime and its taciturn brother Grimm."

I think he's still referring to anything of a Croydon nature as Grimm and I can see his point. Going even further back to August '03 (before the grim/dubstep variant had even been properly defined, to my knowledge) Simon was the first to invoke the spirit of the South London Borough through words, when writing about the first Terrorhythm release:

"It sounds like Croydon looks. The dismal slabs of dead sound and leaden lurch-beats evoke the psychogeography of shopping schemes, office blocks, and deck-access low-rise housing blocks, grey concrete walkways and underpasses with all the lights smashed in. If Croydon really is the new Detroit (doubt it, although it is one of this planet’s more desolate and Godforsaken places) then “Hard Graft” is perhaps its “Art of Stalking”. Or perhaps a sluggish variant of minimal techno--Robert Hood at 16 rpm. There’s definite Plasticman/Plastikman parallels here--I really would like to know if he's heard of Hawtin and if so why pick a name so close? Is this sound what they call “deep eightbar”? You can imagine an MC trying to ride this, sinking into a grim trance, giving up. (They all hate the MCs anyway, this lot). If sound could scowl..."

Y'see? There's a reason why Simon will always be 'top-dog 'round these parts. Way ahead, as always, despite being all the way over the Atlantic in NYC. I'd actually forgotten that he wrote that piece, but came across it whilst searching for Grimm-referencing posts at his blog. The Detroit angle seems almost too perfect in light of my own recent return to that sound. Sometimes everything makes sense.

Some Grim:

This 'Grim Dubs' series from Werkdiscs is all very intriguing. It's another example of the dubstep virus infiltrating the electronica/IDM establishment. Although presented as an anonymous project, I've managed to figure out that Volume 1 is by a duo called Monkey Steak, who formed in New Cross (South London) back in October 2000. There's some links at their site to a few earlier tracks which reveal that they've been dabbling with everything from Hip-Hop, Ragga, Breakcore and 2-Step before hitting on their current sound, which features the sort of twisted basslines and eastern atmospherics that have been emanating from nearby Croydon and associated outposts for the past year or two, but combined with more complex, glitchy programming - "Ruff Ting King" could almost be Mark One collaborating with Squarepusher! Werkdiscs have come up with a refreshingly irreverent press-release manifesto to explain what it's all about:

Grim. Dublame. Wackstep. Different people call it different things, depending on their age, haircut or shoe size. If you listen to the music we love the chances are you probably call it something different from us. Shite. Awful. Unlistenable. It's been the same through the 80s and 90s. We've called it so many different things that the journalists can't even be arsed to listen to it now, let alone pigeon-hole it. This is a good thing - it's music. Mongoloid, multi-mingmong music made by middle-class myrmidons with misshapen genitalia. Music that's great for hoovering to, perhaps while injecting PCP into your pancreas with a cake-icing pipe. It's instrumental dance music that's clearing the dancefloors across Croydon, Wolverhampton and King's Lynn. It's the perfect forum for anemic doombrains with bad haircuts to create music that few people like, then earnestly brag about their revolutionary genius. That's why we here at Werk Records are calling it Grim, to try and dress up another set of releases as a new musical movement, outside the specialist world of ourselves and our sad little circle of friends. And hopefully help us sell a few more records. Some people will say we're just zeitgeist chasing, trend-hopping, jumping on an imaginary genre and greedily trying to fill our boots with the rest of them. To those people, let us say this: we're going to ride that bandwagon all the way into town, whooping and cheering, with our trousers round our ankles and cans of Special Brew clutched to our breasts. Chances are you're already listening to Grim, trapped there in your tin-pot rave-den in suburbia. And by God, if you're still reading this drivel, you might just be the kind of person creams their pants every time someone invents a new genre. Now is the time to change those pants, and the soundtrack is Grim.


Monkey Steak, a collaborative project between producers Atki2 and Hanuman, have their first release due out on WerkDiscs on Monday 4th April 2005. The release is Volume One in a guerilla-style series of anonymous 12"s called The Grim Dubs. The record will feature two choice Steak cuts, 'Crowsteppah' and 'Ruff Ting King'. These tracks are on a grime/breakcore/mashup tip - a mixture of pounding breaks and filthy bass, at a strutting garage tempo.

There's a few grains of truth in there - although not truly Grimm, the Grim Dubs may well appeal to that particular band of rootless middleclass suburbanites (people like me, in other words) who are ready for some fresh ingredients in their cosy little IDM stew. It's too early to say whether or not this is a signal that my premonition will come true, but it's certainly an encouraging sign. Volume 2 is out now and, although I'm not sure yet who's behind this latest installment, it's definitely not Monkey Steak, which suggests this could be the start of a genuine movement rather than the fevered imaginings of a couple of chancers. Although I first came across these EPs at Boomkat, it's interesting to note that underground specialists Blackmarket have been stocking them too, suggesting that this is a sound that the True Grimmheadz are taking seriously - in fact it looks like they've sold out of Volume 1 already!


If Bristol is indeed becoming a satellite of Croydon, then the first release on Tectonic Records from DJ Pinch & P Dutty must surely be the first Bristolian Dubstep anthem. Regular readers will be familiar with the name Pinch, and P Dutty is better known as local breaks producer 30Hz. Pinch has been steadily building bridges with the Croydon posse for over a year now and even got the honour of manning the decks at the latest DMZ event in Brixton. Now he's ready to cut-loose with his own brand of dubstep innovation and the results are heavy. "War Dub" is a slice of pure evil genius- featuring a terrifying bassline that gets progressively more messed-up with the envelope settings until it starts to lurch spasmodically across the riddim like an escaped mental patient - imagine Vex'd having a slow, bowel-evacuating nervous breakdown. "Alien Tongue" ups the dynamics a little, with some classic 'ongy-bongy' ethnic percussion loops, but is once again dominated by a bassline that just drips with menace. I'm massively impressed with this release and I suspect this is just the beginning for a major new production talent. Makes me proud to be Bristolian, and it's been a long while since I thought that! Available at Blackmarket and Boomkat.

15 May 2005


Yay!! A genuine unknown bedroom DJ comes forward, humbly offers me one of his mixes - and it sounds great! Emoticon aka Ben Thomson is a 19-year old student at Leeds Uni. (although he's actually from London) and has only been DJing for a couple of years.

I'll let Ben explain the rest for himself:

"After seeing that you're open to newer drum and bass after checking the mix that you put on your site a few Sundays ago, I thought I'd try my hand at doing one myself. This is coming from a slightly different angle - glitchier and slightly more minimal at the start, ending up darker but a bit more traditional. The first tune isn't d'n'b, but I really like it and thought it'd mix well with "Twitchy Droid Leg", so here it is..."

Download Emoticon's "Snap Crackle & Pop" Mix (dead link)


1. Static - Three Nicotine cigarettes (City Centre Offices)
2. Sileni - Twitchy Droid Leg (Offshore)
3. Polar - Mind of a Killer [remix] (Certificate 18)
4. oS - 808 (Cymbalism)
5. Deep Blue - Immersion (31 Records)
6. Mav - The Tubes (Offshore)
7. Breakage - Spiritualism (Breakin)
8. Seba - Inside Your Mind (Secret Operations)
9. Cartridge - Light Cycles (Freak)

Personally, I think Ben's come up with a nicely-paced selection of interesting tunes that develops well over it 35 minute length. The opening non-d'n'b track from German IDM artist Static sends me hurtling back to mid-90s'intelligent' melodicism before the journey into tricky electro-fried abstraction begins in earnest. Some of these cuts put me in mind of Four Hero around the time of their Jacob's Optical Stairway period, combining crisp drum programming with luxurious synth-textures and sweeping, almost Detroitish strings. Then around the 20 minute mark, the mix locks into a harder breakbeat direction (care of Breakage) and takes-off on a mighty adrenalin rush. Music for the mind, body and soul! Makes me wonder what else I'm missing in the d'n'b scene. The lad's done good, and I wish him well for the future. Being a student, I'm sure he could use the odd paying-gig, so if anyone wants to hire him, here's his e-mail address. You'll probably also bump into Emoticon if you're a regular at the Subvert Central forum or Inperspective's Technicality night. Rrrrespec'...

12 May 2005


Back with some more classic Detroit Techno inspiration. Perhaps me and Headphonesex should start a new MP3 blog dedicated to this genre alone?! As I said before, I've barely scratched the surface of the current revival. A quick look at Hard To Find Records reveals the amount of original EPs coming back into stock along with various reissues (although I've heard reports that the Buzz represses are a bit shoddy). Interesting to see Blake Baxter's "When We Used To Play" in there, too. I never owned a copy of that EP (in fact I hardly own any - most of my Detroit stuff is on compilation albums and cassettes!) although listening to the brief MP3 clip, it sounds quite different to the 'unreleased version' on Network's seminal "Retro Techno/Detroit Definitive" album, released in 1991 and still one of the most important documents of the age. It was certainly instrumental in cementing my own love of this music and one of these days I'll type-up John McCready's original inner-sleeve notes in full, as they still resonate with passion. This version features a busier 909 drum-workout than the original and as producer Kevin Saunderson said in the sleeve notes, "I listen to this now and it still sounds so strange. I wanted to make it seem relentless". Indeed, and coupled with the breathy, deliciously detached female vocal this is probably one of my favourite examples of Martian-Techno-Soul from that era. It was recorded in Summer 1987 and, 14 years on from Kevin's previous comments, it still sounds so strange. I figured it needed a 're-issue' in blogland, so check it out...

MP3: Blake Baxter - When We Used To Play (Unreleased Mix)

10 May 2005


Aphex Twin's ongoing Analord series has been busily intriguing, confounding, irritating and amazing me over the past few months, as well as hoovering-up all my spare record-buying cash. No matter how many other releases out there seem more 'important', I just can't help giving priority to this bizarre project, which I last wrote about in February after the release of volumes 1 & 2. Interestingly, I haven't noticed many detailed reactions to Analord on the web apart from the odd thing at blogs like Radio Babylon. The Dissensus thread started well, but seems to have petered out. It's as though everyone's just waiting for the big pay-off - that moment where it all starts to make sense and the motivations become clear. I have my personal favourites and least-favourites. Volume 4 was pretty cool, especially "Home Made Polysynth" which features the kind of melodic invention and mood manipulation that we all know Mr. James is capable of. Likewise Volume 6 warmed my heart with the effervescent naivete of "I'm Self Employed" and playful ring modulator 'Radiophonic' experimentation of "2 Analogue Talks". Volume 5 is probably the weakest in the series, although it does feature the best label design (the 'Anna Lord' gravestone). But overall I'd say about 20% is great, 15% is distinctly average and the rest is merely 'interesting'.

So why am I so determined to see Analord through to the bitter end? Well, having spent the best part of a decade (from "Digeridoo" to "Windowlicker") completely under his spell, it's hard for me to simply move on from Aphex Twin. I simply have to hear everything. I suspect that will probably continue for the rest of my and his natural life, 'cos even though I mean nothing to him, the music of Richard D. James is a central piece in the jigsaw that defines who I am. If someone were to ask me what were the defining musical statements of my generation, most of my choices would probably be Aphex's key works. But he's also one of the luckiest people of his generation, too. James arrived in the public eye in 1992 at a time when the demand for experimental electronic music was probably higher than at any time before or since. It's hard to believe that a totally uncompromising triple-album like "Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2" could reach #11 in the UK national album charts. But in March 1994 it did just that. Such an achievement is completely impossible in the current cultural climate and so the latest breed of innovators (you know who I'm talking about) will remain lean, hungry and well-motivated. By contrast, James' lucrative publishing deals will continue to generate substantial income for the foreseeable future. He has the financial freedom to do whatever the hell he likes, which is brilliant for him, but can sometimes be confusing and frustrating for us. Post-"Windowlicker", I'd been feeling that James wasn't really considering the feelings of his massive fanbase. Although it featured some good music,"Druqks" seemed to have been thrown-together without any real care or quality control and by the "Smodgeface EP" the suspicion that he was taking the fucking piss was hard to ignore. There was a time when I would've invested in the Analord binder package without a moments hesitation, but such was my disillusionment at that point that I wasn't prepared to take the chance. As I said at Dissensus, it was as though James wanted the fans to take a financial 'leap of faith', without having any knowledge of the possible quality/contents. My faith had been seriously tested and I wasn't up for it. Would I buy it now? Prrrrobably. The thing is, most of the Analord tracks are pretty decent, it's just the fact that it's him. I'm still not comfortable with this retro stance after he had represented forward-thinking innovation for so long.

I was comparing some of the Analord tracks with older pieces from things like the Analogue Bubblebath series. On the face of it, the approach is quite similar, but the old tracks still seem to sound better for some reason. Perhaps he's just become too good at engineering since then. The Analord work can sometimes sound a bit dry and flat and there's an absence of the subtle distortion that pervaded his earlier mixes. Plus he used to drench things in reverb and fx, really saturating the sound in a way that no one's been able to replicate properly. Also, his beats were always so unique in the past - you couldn't tell where he got most of his drum sounds from (from his head, of course!), whereas Analord is driven by the innocuous sounds of the Roland TR-707/808/909 series,with very little processing or rhythmic invention in the programming. Having said that, perhaps working with these 'naturalistic' Roland sounds could be seen as a refreshing change. I also have a special fondness for the TR-707 (the poor man's 909) as it was the first proper drum machine I ever owned (and there's an example of one of my old 707 analogue concoctions up the the Riddim Composer right now!). Quite a few of these Roland sounds have been infiltrating the dubstep scene - Skream's "Traitor" sounds like it's using 707 hi-hats, though probably from some VST plug-in rather than the original machine - and for some people Analord probably sounds really fresh. This idea was hit home to me when talking with Jamie from Vex'd last month. Being a good 10 years younger than me, he didn't really have any reference points for the Analord sound - to him it was all rather unusual and maybe even a little bit inspiring. So you could take the view that Analord isn't simply a celebration of past glories, but a valid way of bringing the old ideas to a new audience who might develop them and take them into whole new areas of exploration.

Anyway, I'll finish this post by saying that the latest installment, Analord 08, is easily the best so far. There's a real sense that James is pushing things forward here, particularly with the more imaginative drum programming and earnest, heartfelt compositions that raise the imperative levels dramatically. The lack of acid squiggles is a good thing too - there's so many other sounds he could be using, and the dramatic polyphonic (dis)chord that dominates "Backdorr.Berbew.Q" brings a new sense of urgency to the proceedings. It feels like the series is now finally going somewhere; moving steadily towards a satisfying conclusion that will reveal the true nature of this project. But I may be completely wrong on that...

07 May 2005


Thanks a bunch to Loki for passing this bloody thing my way.

1) You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

"Emma" by Jane Austin.

Sorry, misunderstood the question. Like Loki, I assumed it was 'what book would you burn', the reason being that I had to study 'Emma' for A-level English and it bored the living shit out of me. I read F-451 at school too, but it's been so long that I didn't remember that everyone had to 'become' a book at the end. So on that basis, my answer would have to be "Animal farm" by George Orwell.

2) Have I ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Not from the written word alone. Comic book characters, yes. I'm pretty shallow. I like a fit body in a skin-tight costume. Hellcat being a good example.

3) The last book I bought?

The answer to this should be "Rip It Up & Start Again" by Reynolds. But I haven't gotten around to it yet. The last one was probably a second-hand copy of Thomas Mann's "Doctor Faustus", but I haven't even started it.

4) Last book I read?

"Po's Magic Watering Can" - A Teletubbies 'lift-the-flap' book. Me and James thoroughly enjoyed it.

5) Currently Reading?

Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse's "Bojeffries Saga". A short lived comic strip that ran in Warrior magazine in the early '80s (although I think it got revived about 10 years later in another publication -can't remember which at the mo'). I read a few pages when having a smoke in the garage.

6) Five Desert Island Books

Aldous Huxley - Brave New World
Phillip K. Dick - A Scanner Darkly
Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughterhouse 5
Luke Rhinehart - The Dice Man
J.G Ballard - High Rise

7) Three people to pass this quiz onto

Paul Autonomic, James Headphonesex and A.

05 May 2005


Some interesting comments in relation to my Autechre post. In particular, 11v: "Emotions come in different forms I guess - Kraftwerk were always damned as being robotic/inhuman/emotionless, but that couldn't be farther from the truth imo." I agree entirely. I get tonnes of emotion from Kraftwerk. I'm not entirely sure how it's possible to get an emotional kick from pure machine music, but I get it all the time. I was trying to think how to explain it, then remembered what John McCready wrote for the sleevenotes of Network's "Biorhythm 2" compilation in 1990, which still seems to be a good stab at quantifying the phenomena.

Biorhythm 2 emerges as a new metal machine music, a music as cold as ice. Still it has an emotional quality too. You can't just turn the machines on and walk away. This is always forgotten by the imitators. There has to be emotion and interaction. Kraftwerk knew this. They are the only root for this new school of electronic purism - they existed before the first bleep, before the first speaker gave way, when the acknowledged masters of techno were putting the first batteries in their toy robots. Kraftwerk's mathematical precision is the only influence Biorhythm 2 ackowledges. Ralf and Florian knew the score. Listen to the spaces in this music. That's where the magic happens. That's when your shoulders twitch. That's when you wish you were somewhere dark.

Biorhythm 2 teases the mind but it's also dance music. It's intentions are clear - to induce movement at both ends of the body. Those still static after Constant Ritual's "Hard Way To Come" are beyond hope.

Oh, and for anyone who doesn't know what the hell he's referring to there, here's a quick rip of the track in question:

MP3: Constant Ritual - Hard Way To Come

Right, now I s'pose I'd better try and work up the enthusiasm to visit the polling station...

04 May 2005


The one and only time I saw Autechre live was in about 1994, at the Lakota in Bristol. At that point in my life, the music of Sean Booth and Rob Brown seemed like the most astonishing, revelatory experience in the world (and when I say 'seemed like', there's really no two ways about it- they were undisputedly kicking-out the most advanced shit on the planet at that point). In particular, the debut album "Incunabula", third album "Tri Repetae" and certain EPs, especially "Anti", remain powerfully affecting documents of the time; the next stage on from the overtly Detroit-inspired strain of melodic listening music that 'Techno' had become. It was perhaps significant that "Incunabula" was the final installment in Warp's Artificial Intelligence album series, the point where the last vestiges of the dancefloor had finally been abandoned, and the journey into pure head-space exploration could begin. It felt right at the time, and listening again today, it still feels right. Interesting then, that Autechre's output in the intervening years has been a source of constant frustration for me. I guess it comes down to the fact that I generally respond to music on an emotional and physical level, whereas recent Autechre requires a certain degree of intellectual involvement that I'm often unable or unwilling to give. Unless I really concentrate on it, it just goes straight over my head. Too rhythmically dislocated to nod your head to, too unmelodic to draw any immediate emotional warmth from, too stern and serious to get a laugh out of (and I do love a bit of humour), yet not extreme enough to make me even gasp in amazement. It's music that I respect and admire, but could never really love. And when you attach a lot of importance to emotional response, the lack of love is a big issue.

So here's yet another Autechre long-player arrived to test my patience once more. As always, I do my best to listen hard and try to extract some meaning from the scattershot percussive workouts and glassy textures that flicker across the speakers. "Untilted" continues from where "Draft 7.30" left off. As always there are little hints of things going on that betray Autechre's roots. Both "Augmatic Disport" and the mammoth "Sublimit" feature elements of crunchy 80's Hip-Hop, trapped in a disjointed digital para-reality where groove is a crime against the state, and "Ispacial Section" surprisingly touches base with jungle via dub reggae featuring some wicked spring-reverb drenched snare shots. After an initially militant salvo of agitated fuckbeats, opening track "LCC" suddenly drops down to half-speed and takes an uncustomary excursion into warm, reverberating melodicism that both surprises and delights these ears. Autechre are actually excellent tunesmiths when they put their mind to it, and those added washes of melancholia bring some much-needed colour to Autechre's usual battleship-grey complexion.

As always, there's enough going on here to keep me coming back for more (when I'm feeling particularly clever), but christ it's hard work. I like it, but I can't say I'm feeling the love.

C'mon Warp - when's the new Boards Of Canada album going to arrive?

Buy "Untilted" at Warpmart or Bleep.

01 May 2005


As explained last week, the Sunday Session is intended as a platform for DJ's (at any level) to showcase the music they like to play out. By hosting these mixes, I hope to gain a wider understanding of the various scenes within this thing we call Dance Culture. The mixes might not necessarily reflect my own listening habits/tastes but that's a good thing, as they're intended to bring some balance to this blog. I hope readers will share my enthusiasm for this idea and join me in exploring various regional/aesthetic twists on the Dance blueprint.

Peverlist's Jungle mix got things off to a flying start and I was pleased to observe that a lot of people downloaded that file. The intention was to only feature one mix each week but couldn't resist pitting these latest two against each other, as they're coming from such different angles (and locations!) but with the same intention - to move your ass! It's Party Time at Gutterbreakz and so without further ado...

David Twentyfive is a clubber, a DJ and a contributor to www.gurn.net. He started out producing mix CDs for car journeys to clubs across the country and has progressed to creating live laptop mixes for Gurn both online and venues from Swansea to Sheffield.

The principle behind his music (and his blog) is 'serious party music for jaded cynics' and he's constantly striving to add new twists to old ways of doing things. As a result his mixes cross a range of modern genres including breakbeat, house, techno and electro. He utilises his trusty laptop to re-edit, mash-up and mix live making each set a unique and very different experience from the traditional two decks and a mixer.

When he's not mixing David is writing his blog, doing features and reviews for gurn.net and helping out with the day to day running of the site. This includes a new radio show in the pipeline. He is also kept on his toes by his hyperactive 3 year old son.

After David wrote some interesting comments in response to the disparaging remarks I made about Nu Breaks, my immediate response was to commission him to put together a mix of some of the most innovative sounds from the Electro-Breaks scene that might appeal to the Gutterheadz. Compared to his usual sets, David considers this to be a 'Hardcore Extreme' mix and I was pleased that he had a lot of fun putting it together. From my perspective, it's still fairly commercial-sounding and certainly as close to the mainstream as I'd ever dare go, but it does have a certain amount of imperative that marks it apart from the sanitised, formuleric structures that I normally associate with mass-market clubbing fodder, and there's some pretty lush synth-slime textures in there. I'm not saying I'm converted, but...well, check it out yourself. I'll be interested to see if this generates any stimulating discourse in the comments box. If so I'll probably pitch-in with a few more observations there.

Download David Twentyfive's "Don't Fade Away" Mix(45.6 Mb)(dead link)


Keen K & Dorian E - Euphoria (Beautycase)
DJ Hal & Joe B - Sound Muscle (Original Mix) (10 Kilo)
Jeremy Sylvester - Be-bop (Original Mix) (Azuli)
Stanton Warriors - Da Antidote (Original Mix) (New State Entertainment)
Plump DJs - The Soul Vibrates (Finger Lickin')
Booty Bouncers - Get Dirty Baby (Friendly Remix) (Rat)
Taishan - Black Mamba Funk (Resin)
Lee Coombs & Andy Garcia - Obessional Rhythm (Lee Coombs Mix) (Finger Lickin')
Chef - Being Chef (Touché Remix) (Fine)
Vector Lovers - Suicide Android (Soma)

Moving on, it's my pleasure to introduce you to DJ Kowalsky from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He's been DJing for almost 10 years, mostly in local clubs. He's a compulsive record buyer/music listener - always into ALL kinds of music. When he's mixing, Kowalsky tries to blend different styles so they can match in a new and fresh context. Old skool electro with grime, jungle with hip-hop, dancehall with drum 'n' bass, breakbeat with 60s rock n' roll...but then sometimes he also likes to explore one specific style' to the bone naked'.

This particular mix is, like David Twentyfive's, ostensibly coming from an 'electro-breaks' angle, fusing elements of hip-hop, electro and pounding disco throb yet sounding completely different. This is partly due to the grungey, crackly live turntable conditions under which it was produced, but also the contents of his crate, which are very much on a retro tip. Interestingly, although there's some grainy 8-bit Fairlight beats suggesting an '80s vibe, Kowalsky's mostly sifting through the past fifteen years and finding inspiration in some unlikely places. For instance, two tracks culled from DJ Mike Dred's somewhat overlooked Rephlex album "Laptop Dancing" from 2000, another culled from UR's "Interstellar Fugitives" (which I gave props to in my 'Detroit' post last week) and, amazingly, some genuine '80s electrofunk in the form of Salt 'n Pepa's 1988 hit "Push It" which, in Kowalsky's capable hands, makes perfect sense in this context. Like a Brazilian Ed DMX, Kowalsky loves to dig deep into areas that might not be considered fashionable today, resuscitating seemingly lifeless vinyl corpses and putting them back to work on the dancefloor. If I ever happen to be in Belo Horizonte, I hope he'll be playing there somewhere.

Download DJ Kowalsky's "Princesa do Asfalto" Mix (43.1 Mb) (dead link)


Kosmik Kommando - Big Up Yourself (Rephlex)
Mr. Nex - Double D.F. (TCR)
The Deacon - Soulsaver (UR)
Thomas Bangalter - Spinal Scratch (Roulé)
Kosmik Kommando - 98k Platinum (Rephlex)
Salt n' Pepa - Push It (Stiletto)
Sir Mix-a-lot - Baby Got Back instrumental (American Recordings)
Michael Forshaw - Time For a Break (Chan n' Mikes)
Big Time - Check It Out (Som Livre)

If I sound a bit more enthusiastic about Kowalsky's mix, that's probably because he's coming from an angle that I can immediately identify with - ie, old skool, eclectic, raw, gutter - generally catering more to my own tastes. But what do I know about anything?


It doesn't matter whether you're a gigging DJ or some nobody mucking-about in your bedroom. If you want your mix hosted in a future Sunday Session, get in touch. You can either send me an MP3 file via Yousendit (20-30 mins at 192kbps preferred but I'll consider longer mixes too, although if it's over 40 mins better rip it at 128kbps) or post a cd-r (e-mail me for the address) along with any relevant biogs, jpegs and web links. All areas of electronic/dance music are welcome and if I'm feeling the mix it'll be used, and if I'm not, I'll tell you why I'm not. Can't say fairer than that.