24 June 2005


Replicant Roy: He wants more life, fucker...

My recent Thursday nights have been spent 'locked on' to Rinse FM. After the kids have gone to bed and the wife's busy ironing or settled in front of the telly, I'm just in time to catch most of Youngsta's set from 9.00-11.00pm, featuring the heaviest half-step dubscapes on the planet. Then from 11.00-1.00pm the vibe changes completely with Distance and Quiet Storm spinning the choicest, darkest breakbeat belters you could wish for, although last night's show was a actually a Quiet Storm solo set. It's just a shame that the Rinse stream is so temperamental - a lot of the time it's plagued by nasty static interference and sometimes it doesn't work at all!

As I've mentioned before, Quiet Storm heads the Storming Productions label, which has so far released three fine platters from Search & Destroy, Dub Child and Toasty. Here's a short excerpt from last night's show (when the reception was reasonably good), featuring a wicked new tune from Dub Child ("fresh off the Cubase") called "Mt. Zion". I fade out when the static starts getting heavy again, but not before Storm read my text message and gives a shout-out to Gutterbreakz - wahey!!

MP3: Quiet Storm on Rinse FM 23/06/05 (excerpt)

Last night's set was also loaded with tracks from the new Vex'd album, including "Angels" - the one that samples Rutger Hauer as Nexus-6 replicant Roy Batty in Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner":

Fiery the Angels fell,
Deep thunder rolled around their shores,

Burning with the fires of Orc.

This is a paraphrased quote from a William Blake poem (the original line was "the angels rose"), presumably relating to the replicants' 'fall to Earth'. All this current dark breaks stuff has drawn me back, once again, to mid-90's d'n'b - expect a few tunes from that era to start popping-up at the Gutterbox in the next few weeks. Earlier yesterday I was listening to a some old tracks from Goldie's Metalheadz label, including a Dillinja tune called "The Angels Fell" which, as the title suggests, features the same dialogue sample. Even the pad sounds seems to emulate Vangelis' original Blade Runner soundtrack. For a 10-year-old piece of music it still sounds pretty heavy - check it:

MP3: Dillinja - The Angels Fell

What is it about Blade Runner that keeps attracting producers? Don't forget that Distance's "Replicant" also features dialogue from the film. I reckon the ultimate Blade Runner homage must be "Tyrell" by Hoodlum Priest, from their album "Heart Of Darkness", released by ZTT in 1990. Don't remember much about them, other than they were a duo comprising of Thompson (music, programming) and Sevier (vocals) and that they didn't like each other very much. "Tyrell" is the highlight of a good album - fully loaded with Blade Runner samples, apocalyptic orchestral stabs and crunchy industrial beats. The only thing that really dates it is Sevier's 'rapping' - this was back in the days when Brits insisted on trying to emulate American MCs. Unfortunately I only have a crappy C90 copy, from which this MP3 was created, so apologies for the tape-hiss, but it's well worth a listen if you've never heard it before...

MP3: Hoodlum Priest - Tyrell

20 June 2005


So after the promise of Vol.8, what meaning is to be gleaned from the latest installments? My initial reaction to Vol.9 was "oh, here we go again - more relentless loopy 4/4 Roland acid-fests, yaawwn...", but give it a few listens and there's actually some nice glacial arpeggios and queer melodic phrases in there which, provided you close your eyes and pretend it's still 1993, have a certain naive charm. Sort of reminds me of the kind of thing I used to do with a Roland Juno 60, triggering the arpeggiator from a TR-707 rimshot and building a track around randomly generated notes. It's alright, I suppose, although the fact that I can even begin to compare it to some of my own work is one of the major hang-ups I have with much of this series - it seems attainable. Love the label design though - another one of those coy close-ups on one of James' little analogue gadgets. Looks like some sort of sequencer, but nothing I recognise. One of his homemade creations or modifications? Hmmmm...

Vol.11 is something else entirely though. No, it's not particularly groundbreaking or original either, but "W32.Mydoom.AU@mm", which takes up the whole of side 1, has that sense of composition and structure which immediately raises the imperative levels (and my heart-rate) featuring subtly modulated lead melody in conjunction with some phat, pulsating synth bass, developing into something that packs a pretty solid emotional punch. "VBS.Redlof.B" features a similarly luscious bassline (reminds me of early Jean Michelle Jarre) , an irresistible (non-Roland) stomping disco rhythm and effervescent, arpeggiated melodic lines that make me feel glad to be alive. But then, having taken me to analogue-euphoria, James decides to leave the party and skulk about in some dusty, yellowing, forgotten time-zone for the final two tracks. It feels like 1972, when the Radiophonic people were creating those strangely depressing little detuned analogue melodies as incidental music for kids programmes and documentaries about nuclear power. Despite the fact that they don't really do anything, I find these pieces utterly compelling as they draw me into their bleak, dejected little world of malfunctioning transistors, peeling wood veneer and mildew-encrusted surfaces. As the funkless metronome and tuneless oscillator emissions of the final (unlisted) track fade into oblivion, it feels like a sense of closure, a retreat back into his private little world - "I don't wanna play anymore" - which would've made the perfect end to the Analord series. But apparently there's a Vol.12 to come, so perhaps we're in for the big surprise then?

Oh, and in response to Serpico009's comment that I should reappraise Vol.5, I will say that yes, I do quite like "Cilonen", but the a-side still sounds a bit pointless and the fact that there's only two tracks adds to my feeling that this is still the weakest volume in the series. Sorry...

Buy Analord09 and Analord11 at Warpmart.

17 June 2005


My latest find is this double CD called "The Best Of Desert Storm - Live Jungle", released by Desert Storm Rave Promotions in 1994 - the year that, in London at least, Jungle hit it's peak of popularity. At first I thought it might be some sort of promotional item, but then noticed that it had a barcode, so presumably it was a proper release, although I can't find any mention of it at Discogs. Can't be that rare though, cos the CDDB database recognised it when I ripped the discs in iTunes. Anyway, rarity/value isn't really the issue here, I'm more intrigued by the documentary evidence of the Jungle rave scene from a decade ago. What you have here is 34 different excerpts from live events that really give you a feel of what those heady days must've been like. I never attended a Jungle Rave nor, in those pre-internet streaming days, was I able to access any of the London pirate stations. Most of what I knew came from reading the odd piece in MM and a couple of mixtapes (and besides I was mainly into left-field techno and ambient at that time), so listening to these discs is the nearest thing I'll ever get to feeling that era. The MCs really draw you into the experience...I'm still wondering if the owner of the Escort Estate got it moved before the cops towed it. For the record, the MCs throughout were Moose, Five-O, Navigator and Det. Here's the blurb on the sleeve:

"Desert Storm Is A Jungle rave promotions company that is a subsidary to a major rave production company established since 1988. Our aim is to spread 'peace and love' over the world via music.

Jungle alongside Desert Storm has no colour, only a message; "Unity is the Key - Love Life" regardless of creed or class.

"The Best Of Desert Storm" is a live compilation of the music and atmosphere captured at our events, using the very best DJ's and MC's; featuring dub plates that cannot be heard anywhere else with the same vibes - music that is just not for sale!"

Interesting points: all that stuff about love and unity suggesting that Jungle was trying to break away from the 'surly vigilance/skrewface' mentality that had replaced the bonhomie of the original 'ardcore scene. Certainly the discernibly enthusiastic responses of the 'whistle massive' suggests that a party vibe was back on the agenda - sounds like everyone was having a thoroughly great time!

The borrowed patois, rewinds and focus on dubplate exclusives proves that Jungle was indeed borrowing heavily from Jamaican soundsystem culture, a trend that has carried through to today's dubstep scene. The riddims might've changed, but the mentality is still very much intact!

Unfortunately there is no tracklist as such. Each track is merely identified by the DJ who was spinning it. In an effort to share some of the flavours on offer, here's a track each from all the DJs featured, a couple of whom will be familiar to most and are still very active in the d'n'b community today. I think I recognise a couple of the tunes too, especially the one with the 'fire' scat (a clear ancestor of the new wave of stateside Ragga-Jungle production), but I'm not confident enough to ID them. Anyone else?

DJ Ron

DJ Randall

DJ Brockie

Darren Jay

Jumping Jack Frost

Mickey Finn


Fond memories for some? What we need now is someone with a huge collection of Jungle pirate tapes getting them digitized and online, in a similar way to the awesome work being done by this guy in relation to '80s Hip-Hop. Unless it's already being done?

14 June 2005


Although it's probably true that charity shops aren't quite as much fun as they used to be, there's still cool stuff to be found with a bit of persistence. Recently I came across an original Virgin Records mint-condition vinyl edition of "The Faust Tapes" in a branch of the PDSA for a mere 49p. When this album was first released in 1973, it was famously sold for the price of a 7inch single, which at the time was 48p, so having paid only one extra penny is some serious inflation-busting!

Faust were of course one of the greatest of all the experimental rock groups to emerge from Germany at the turn of the seventies ('Krautrock', if you prefer) and, like their contemporaries Can, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Amon Duul II, Ash Ra Temple and Tangerine Dream they set about dismantling established forms and created something new from the wreckage. German culture had been virtually wiped-out after the war, and this was the sound of a new generation asserting their creative impulses, which certainly gained some recognition in the UK with John Peel being one of Faust's most high-profile admirers. This is actually the third time I've bought this album (first was a CD re-issue in the early '90s, second was as part of Recommended's indispensable "Wumme Years" boxset) but that's fine, cos it's probably one of my favourite records ever and it's nice to have the original packaging with all the reviews compiled on the rear sleeve. Reading the March '73 NME interview with Faust's manager Uwe Nettlebeck gives an excellent incite into what the group were trying to achieve with this release:

"The idea was not to copy anything going on in the Anglo-Saxon rock scene - and it worked. I like Faust, because their music is not 'industrial product'. They're not 'professional' in that sense - they're just trying to be themselves and put out nothing but their own music. We've always liked the idea of releasing records which lacked conventional 'finish' in terms of production but which have that private thrill of spontaneity that I miss in the business. In other words: the records should sound like bootlegs, as if recorded by somebody who passed a group rehearsing or jamming and then cut the recorded material wildly together."

The group's third album, "The Faust Tapes" is essentially a cut 'n' paste collection of studio outtakes, rehearsals, tape experiments and electronic doodles that somehow manages to perfectly sum-up what they were all about. You really need to hear the whole thing as one continuous mix to really appreciate it, but for the uninitiated, here's three 'bits':

Track 7

Track 11

Track 19

Although the group eventually fell-apart, they reformed in the nineties and continue to tour and record to this day. I must admit I haven't kept-up with the newer incarnations of Faust - it's still those original recordings which I find the most thrilling. This is probably because (a) the group's most talented creative force, Rudolf Sosna, died back in the '80s ( b) the unique circumstances of the music's creation - living and working in a remote house in the middle of nowhere with almost no contact with the outside world, a true playground where anything could (and often did) happen (c) the technical skillz of engineer-for-hire Kurt Graupner (above right) who was able to translate the band's most extreme ideas and somehow get them on to tape. That guy was working miracles on a weekly basis!

Visit the Faust Pages.

Update: Intrigued? Wanna hear more? Just found out that Phil did a big Faust post on Saturday with plenty more MP3. Oh, and some Faustian thoughts from Loki today, too. Weird synchronisity in full effect!

12 June 2005


Been watching this one work it's way around the blogsphere. After K-Punk and Loki failed to pass it my way (even though they must've known it was my kinda thang) it was left to Psychbloke to remember who his mates are.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? (Assume you also get baseline superhero enhancements like moderately increased strength, endurance and agility.)

The ability to travel back down my own timeline and undo every stupid mistake and bad decision I ever made, for obvious reasons.

Which, if any, 'existing' superhero(es) do you fancy, and why?

As I intimated in the book meme a while back, super-chics in skin-tight costumes are always welcome in my sick, twisted little psyche. And if they get involved in some arcane bondage situation (like the Scarlet Witch, below) then even better!! To this day I still judge a good female figure by the proportions laid-down by John Buscema in "How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way".

Which, if any, 'existing' superhero(es) do you hate?

Superman, of course. Too powerful, too straight-laced...a right boring old fucker. Frank Miller knew that too. One of my favourite comic scenes ever was the final section of "The Dark Knight Returns", where the Batman kicks the living shit out of him: "We could've changed the world...now look at us...I've become a political liability and you...you're a joke. I want you to remember, Clark..in all the years to come...in your most private moments...I want you to remember my hand at your throat...I want you to remember the one man who beat you...". Amen to that, Bats.

Is there an 'existing' superhero with whom you identify/whom you would like to be?

When I was very young I wanted to be Captain America. I must've had a thing for heroes wrapped in a flag, cos in '77 I changed my mind and decided I liked the new Captain Britain more. He was english for a start, which was a bit of a novelty then (the only other patriotic Brit that Marvel came up with before that was WWII hero Union Jack). Although Cap's early adventures were pretty average affairs, by the early '80s his destiny was in the hands of Alan Moore and Alan Davis, two of the finest talents to emerge from Marvel UK's nascent talent pool. As my own tastes were starting mature, it seemed that Captain Britain was maturing with them and I continued to avidly follow his adventures for several years. Not only did the storylines have more depth than most of the big American ones running at the time, but the characterisation of Cap and his supporting characters was also way ahead in terms of creating believable personalities that you really could identify with. The Captain himself was one of the most 'human' superhumans I'd ever had the pleasure of getting to know. Having had greatness thrust upon him unexpectedly, it was clear that he still wasn't mentally prepared for the job in hand. He would often become exasperated, depressed, surly, unforgiving, self-obsessed and sulky if things didn't seem to be going his way. During one particularly low period he took to sitting on rooftops drinking brandy and even briefly quit the hero's life to live a blissful existence with his mutant girlfriend Meggan on a remote lighthouse. He was basically the sort of person who just wanted a quiet life and a regular shag. He wanted to be a 'good guy', but had 'motivation issues'. I can identify with that.

What would your superhero name be? (No prefab porn-name formulas here, you have to make up the name you think you'd be proud to mask under.)

Now you've got me stumped. Nothing springs to mind. I just ain't feeling very 'super' right now. Sorry.

Pass it on. Three people please, and why they're the wind beneath your wings.

None of the people I nominated for the book meme, obviously. Useless buggers! So let's try...

11v - Not sure if he's actually into superpersons, but I reckon he's game for a laugh.

Rob Loveecstacycrime - cos I reckon he must have a few super-skeletons rattling in his closet.

Kid Kameleon - cos he's an American and therefore must know his Marvels from his DCs. Plus he's, like, really cool.

08 June 2005


I think it's to his eternal credit that Dizzie Rascal has managed to carve a fairly high-profile career without compromising his music much. Yet his one-time mentor Wiley is still having problems getting the balance right. For me his best work lies on all those small-run twelve-inchers , tracks like "Ground Zero", "Icepole" and of course "Eskimo" - the (eski) beats that defined the new Grime sound in 2003. Of course it's important that he and his crew develop their sound, but the apparent move towards a more conventional r'n'b/hip-hop vibe has been worrying me. Having followed the Dissensus thread on the new Roll Deep album "In At The Deep End", it appears that I'm not alone in that view. I haven't actually heard the whole album yet, so please don't take this as a proper review, but I did pick-up the 12" vinyl sampler recently featuring four tracks from the album plus two instrumental versions, and I'm really enjoying it! On the evidence of "When I'm 'Ere" (produced by Danny Weed) any accusations of sell-out are off the mark. This is some tuff grimey shit! Similarly, the Wiley-produced "Heat Up" features a hard stripped-down riddim with deep square-wave undulations that sounds pretty damn hardcore to these ears, although like some of the others it does seem to be obsessed with accordion sounds, especially on the instrumental dub.

My favourite though is "Show You", featuring a deep half-step groove, ecstatic, almost ravey female vocal samples and a relentless flow of rhymes that's been on repeat play at Gutterbreakz HQ this week. Admittedly "People Don't Know" does veer a little too close to r'nb blandness for me, but maybe they just picked all the best tracks for this EP? Is the rest of the album all filler? I think I'll wait till I've gauged a few more reactions before investing in the full release, although I heard "Shake A Leg" on the radio and that sounded really weird in a sort of calypso- party-vibe sort of way...

Available here.


Straight outta Manchester, it's the much anticipated Virus Syndicate long-player "The Work Related Illness". The fact that all production is handled by Mark One will be your guarantee of musical quality here, and Mark totally delivers with a brutal series of beats and atmospheres that build on the outstanding work he did on "One Way" last year. Unlike the often schizophrenic approach of his more low-profile twelve inchers, here his focus is locked on (in)tense half-step riddims and lo-end pressure combined with insidious eastern melodies and extremely effective orchestral inflections - most notably on "Taxman" which simply sounds gigantic with it's soaring woodwind and string section arrangements. Anyone who's been enjoying the old"Anastasia" MP3 at the Gutterbox will appreciate how great orchestral elements can sound when used in dance music, and on this track Mark reveals yet another spin on that concept that's like the Grime equivalent of Venetian Snares' latest direction. More shit like this please, sir!! Another eye-opener is "Clockwork", which features jaunty samples of jazz horns which, musically speaking, provides some light relief from all the overpowering grimness. A brave move, and a clear sign that Mark is willing to push his sound into unexpected territory, although for me it's probably the weakest track.

But what of the MCs? Whilst they provided effective vocal interjections on "One Way", I was a bit worried that a whole album of rhymes would too distracting for someone like me who wants to listen intently to Mark's production skillz. But there's no denying that JSD, Goldfinger and Nika D have enough magnetic 'star' quality to ride the beats and totally draw you into their seedy little gangsta soap opera. Some of the lyrics really are a bit nasty, especially the rampant misogyny of "Girls" which, with it's list of previous girlfriend's names, strikes me as the evil alternative to the saccharine pop-whimsy of The Beautiful South's "Song For Whoever". I mean, okay lads, so you've been stung by a few bad relationships but I really don't think the line "cut you with a razor and cover you in salt" is a very positive solution to the problem, do you? To be fair, I think the guys are only putting on a personae here, and I can't believe they've really done all the unpleasant things they describe on the album, otherwise they'd be in prison or dead by now. Plus I've heard rumours of middle-class origins, so I reckon this is more a commentary on the gangsta life, rather than the real deal. I could be wrong of course, and maybe they'll be coming to pay me a visit to prove how hard they really are (please don't give 'em my address, Mike!!). Besides, on "Throwing In the Towel", they drop the violent facade and reveal a relatively sensitive, intelligent view of relationship trouble. The opening lines "I spent years being single, a shy guy I didn't like to mingle, quiet and simple keepin' it low key, and wait till the woman approached me" scores high for honesty and I'm sure there's a few 'late starters' out there who can empathise with those words. Overall, I'm impressed by their willingness to confront personal politics rather than just going for the standard bluster of 'my crew's better than yours', etc and I really like all the little staged conversations they have at the start of the tracks. Then of course there's "Wasted", a paean to the joys of getting pissed/stoned/mashed which never fails to raise a smile 'round here.

The way they've cleverly structured the rhymes with catchy half-sung choruses is interesting too - it gives the music an accessibility that could almost crossover as pop. Because I was mainly caning this album back in Jan/Feb it has a bit of a wintry feel for me, yet for the kidz it could be this years' surprise summer hit. Get it in the shops with a 'parental advisory - explicit lyrics' sticker and get it banned on Radio 1 and watch those sales figures go ballistic! It's about time Planet Mu had a big-selling controversial record and I reckon this one could be it, with the right marketing. But maybe I'm just used to it - perhaps this shit still sounds fucking unlistenable to your average Eminem fan. But if Dizzie can do it....?

Buy the vinyl/CD here. Digital download here.


Probably due to my questioning of Virus Syndicate's gangsta credentials yesterday, I've been forwarded an interview that they did for HCC Magazine this month, which is quite revealing. Obviously I'm not gonna reproduce the whole thing here - you'll have to buy yer own copy - but here's a few interesting quotes...

Remember I suggested that they'd be in prison if they really did all those things they rhyme about? Well, turns out that Goldfinger has done a bit of time at Her Majesty's Pleasure...

"I missed my first ever video shoot 'cos I was locked up, which was a stupid fucking thing to do...that was only two months for driving whilst banned....the first one...was (for) money-making, racketeering, shit like that. Jail life just fucked me."

He then goes on to explain a little about his background, revealing that he did have a pretty decent upbringing prior to stepping onto the wrong side of the tracks...

"...my mum sent me to a pretty decent school, where everyone could ask their mum for a tenner every day. I was getting an education, but obviously peer pressure made me wanna keep up with the other kids. I wanted to make money and did what I had to do."

But he makes it clear that he's a reformed character now and, as I suggested myself, Goldfinger clarifies that Virus Syndicate merely reflect the mood of where they're from, rather than actually getting involved in any serious naughtiness...

"I'm not trying to say that I did everything I talk about, but it don't mean the people around us aren't doing it. I'm an entertainer - I pick up on the stories and things I see around me and put it into words. Hopefully it can spread to a different audience , who can then understand what's going on where we're from...if other people recognise this is what's going on, maybe they might sit up and think 'we need to put some youth clubs in the 'hood'...We're good boys - we don't do crime, we just rhyme about it."

That's that one clarified then!

03 June 2005


I'm a bit busy with non-blogging activities this week but fear not, cos the man like Kid Kameleon (left) has put together a truly stunning post and mix for the Gutterheadz. I've been a fan of his blog for some time now (and you may recall that the first mix I did myself was dedicated to him) and I'm truly honoured that he has agreed to post this here rather than his own space. One of the biggest pleasures I get from this blogging lark is getting to know people all over the world who broadly share my own tastes and attidude towards music, and I like to think of KK as one of my Stateside brethren - someone who I can totally trust to produce a great post for my blog, and make no mistake - this is blogging and mixing of the highest order. So without further ado, over to you KK...

It can now safely be revealed that the silence on my blog for the last couple weeks has been due to preparations for a post on this one. Gutta, we've got to figure out a way to have you as a guest round my spot sometime.

So, Distance is a bit of a hard act to follow and I'd never try to beat him or any of you Brits at your own Stepstep game. I couldn't even probably touch Cooper over at Urban Renewal Records, who plants a foot on either side of the Atlantic for the scene. I will say though one thing about non-UK grime/dubstep, which is there's a lot of good stuff that's being made out there and further mutating and twisting the sound. I talked about Wasteland on my blog several weeks ago (here), about how they're "Outsider Artists", not actually in the way that phrase gets used for the art art world, but rather simply as musically drawing on the sounds of a scene without being physically present. Blackdown wrote a great piece about purism vs. hybridism on a musical level. I'd say the same debate can be transferred to the people who make the music itself and where they're from. I know that Croydon isn't Essex isn't Bristol, but the fact is that at this distance (ha) England is definitely an "outside" space to us non-brits who follow the scene, and it can all seem fairly small. And in a way, great, because it forces the rest of us around the world, myself, Joe Nice in Baltimore, Bass Djunkii in Hamburg, Dev 79 in Philly, Com.A in Japan, MiniKomi in Australia, Rupture in Barcelona, Drop the Lime and Shadetek in New York/Berlin, to push that much harder and come up with our own take on DJing/production, and tracks are already bubbling through that are Grime influenced and yet clearly not of the same purism/fusion spectrum of sound. Maybe we can call that genre nonukstep.

So what does this have to do with my mix for Gutta? Only that again I'm thinking about outsider artists, but this time it's even harder to figure out who's out and who's in.

So, this is a mix of (almost all) new (almost all) North American (almost all) Ragga Jungle. Huh, you say? Ragga jungle, that's like Remarc and Kenny Ken and Shy FX from back in '94 ... back when, to hear in hind sight today everyone including the pope AND the pope's mother listened to jungle "back when it was good, but then [insert stock phrase about too dark too metal too white too much a scene too big too small too after 1996 ad infinitum...]" And a lot of these charges leveled against what D'n'B mutated into are true for sure ... But it should be said for all the comparisons that are rightly being made between the sounds of Dubstep and Grime and the influence that early jungle had and has on both MCs and producers, Wiley and extended Co. were not the only ones to pick up on what was really great about '93-'96 and run with it.

In the middle of 2001 I walked into Breakbeat Science and checked out a record by Soundmurderer that had to be heard to be believed. All crazy amens, processed and cut up and changing throughout the whole track, and sections of about 4 different recognizable tunes in there, including the Tried by 12 koto and I think R.I.P. or something similarly well-known as both a dancehall and a jungle tune. And, tellingly, I didn't buy it (although my friend did), since at the time I was spending my money on things like Bad Company and Cause 4 Concern and even J Magik (that was the era of Space Invaderz, if that gives you a reference). But I did think to myself, wow, this is crazy, this sounds like something I probably missed the first go around, but the processing sounded pretty current, what's this all about?

Flash forward a year and I returned to the store and found the first three things from the Big Cat label and General Malice ... by that point it was starting to sink in that great things were happening, music that combined the cut-up nature of the old stuff that everyone loved to reminisce about while cherry picking the best vocals from both classic stuff I knew from old tapes and new stuff like Sean Paul and Elephant Man.

It became clear that there was a real movement being started. Soundmurderer, General Malice and Krinjah put out a slew of great tunes in 02-03 with this particular sound, and then others followed. A ton of them are out of Toronto. Debaser, who is arguably both the most consistent producer and has the most releases under his belt and heads Pressup Records, Jungle Royale, and New Lick, ran it down for me. "Rhygin, 16armedjack, Krinjah, KGB Kid, C64, Rcola, Saigon, Demolition Man (the voice of Fire, among other things), DJ K, DJ Mayday, 0=0, [and I] all [live] within a couple hour drive." That's like a who's who of the new new school of ragga, with C64 and 0=0 crossing into both the Breakcore and Drumfunk/Inperspective worlds a bit as well.

Others I'd be amiss to not mention: Mashit, my crew based in Boston and held down by DJ C, about who I've talked a lot on my blog; Jacky Murda of Chopstick Dubplate, late of New York, now in Brussels, at who's studio many of these guys get their masters made; LA peeps like U-Ome and Loqtus turning out scads of great material, some of it on the Cause and Effect label, as well as the N2O/Big Cat/Good Fortune Sound army that's headquartered there. But then there are other artists from all round the US and Canada, producers like Twinhooker and Paulie Walnuts in Ohio, Trinity Don, Frankus, the venerable Tuffist and Human in New York, Tester/Trilogy Sound AND Soothsayer in Atlanta, Murderbot in Kansas City, Brim in North Carolina, and ArtBreaker in Fargo, North Dakota ... and on and on and on.

So where's the scene? Nowhere/Everywhere. There's no FWD for this scene, there never has been, there's no show on 1Xtra, there's no pirates, not one you can turn on your radio and hear anyway. And yet I'd argue it's as big a scene as a lot of the stuff that Gutta has been talking about. The nexus for me is twin between http://www.ragga-jungle.com and the warehouse/squat parties that have always championed Jamaican-derived musical hybrids throughout the world. There's a lot of it in renegade sound systems in the UK playing this stuff, and definitely all over France, Germany, and Benelux, where it fuses into the Breakcore, Speedhall, and Raggacore etc. pretty easily under the watchful eye of Bong Ra and others.

OK, so those are some of the players, but what is it exactly? Well, have a listen to the mix for my best answer, but if I had to put a couple characteristics on it, it's (A) Jamaican flavored vocals (either nicked from dancehall or else voiced originally) (B) Cut-up and chopped (so not current DnB so much with the exception of Inperspective/Offshore axis) (C) Not frenetic in the extreme like Breakcore, still a musical thread to each track that holds it together on its own merit. Of course, all these rules are made to be broken, and on my mix Ali Deek breaks (A), Salute the Don breaks (B) and the Soothsayer almost breaks (C). The idea, general, is a lot of stuff built around the influence of Remarc, heavy tracks with lots of tuned Amens, but sizable, recognizable chunks of vocals as well. I think it's no accident that Planet Mu re-released a lot of his stuff, not just because it ties to the ex-idm post Plug/Squarepusher/Aphex world of Shitmat and Peace-Off and the rest of that world, but because it also connects to the producers listed above who are carrying on a tradition of, dare I say it, songcraft.

As a note, Jr. Kelly, the first track on the mix, in a way has nothing to do with the ragga of the rest of the mix, it's just a 7 inch that I got last week that I quite like and think sounds like some of the stuff that both Loqtus and Debaser incorporate into their tracks. I included it at the beginning and the LXC track at the end kind of to bookend the mix, like sign posts pointing where from and where to. Always rooted in Jamaican musical culture and yet easy for the harder stuff to slip into the manic energy of the squat sound and the long-standing tradition of free tekno/noise that has existed quietly as its own scene with its own networks for a decade and a half.

Otherwise its all there in my mix, and at its best it's a ridiculously vibrant scene. It does have points that I consider not as cool, basically when it strays too close to apeing heavy metal and relying too heavily on lots and lots of incoherent shouting from sound clashes and if the breaks aren't cut up enough to hold my attention. But at its best it makes yuh wine yuh waste and hold your lighter aloft calling for a rewind not because MC Sockpuppet tells you this tune is unreleased and therefore the DJ is worth your respect simply because s/he has it regardless of whether it's good or not, but because you really want to hear it again.

And what does that have to do with the outsider artist factor I was talking about above? Merely that I find it interesting that this question of what this scene is is complex in the extreme. Here we have a whole group of mostly American and Canadian mostly white boys using samples of mostly black MCs, influenced very very heavily by a particular, relatively short period of time in British musical history that was far removed from many of them. But then, there's an exception to every thought in that last statement, and while the community is tight and makes tunes that reference its own history quite a bit, there are heavy dips into three realms that have a much different cast of characters, 1) Reggae/Dancehall, 2) Drum and Bass, and 3) -Core music of the squat scene the world over. It's a slippery fish, but also one with coherent ideas and ideals, and it's that interplay that gives rise to some damn near amazing music.

I'll end by running down a bit here and there about the tracks in the mix, just some random thoughts:

Jungle Royal - Put together by Debaser to get some original vocals going on with a distinctly happy vibe. Then he turns them over to others for the remix. The Visionary mix is unique on this mix in that the beats are the most straight forward of any track here. He's an old school Toronto/North American producer and party thrower, and his stuff rolls more than it cuts. He's part of the school that makes Vinyl Syndicate and Crunk (long running ragga label that predated a lot of what I talked about above) sound more like UK stuff. But still great, nice to hear that tune have a revoiceing and a rework.

Istari's track - Not a North American but a Hamburger, runner of Sozialistischer Plattenbau (it's a really good joke if you speak German). Of all the Germans I know, his stuff has enough cohesion within the tracks to separate it out from Breakcore stuff (which, again, isn't a dis on the 'core, it just is somewhat different than R-J stuff). Love this one 'cause it's got the Jump Up/Prisoners of Technology feel but still is always changing up.

Twinhooker - "Nuh Time Uh Day" - What can I say? Jamaicans, especially Elephant Man, will musically quote the weirdest, cheesiest stuff... why should ragga jungle shy away from this on the remix front? Enya massiv...

Soul Slinger - "Abducted" - My one track that's not from 2003 onwards on the mix. Soul Slinger is a visionary in the American Ragga Jungle scene and before there was anything in the United States label-wise, there was "Jungle Sky". Now, what makes this track great is actually not American, the Vocals by MC Det and the drum work which is straight up classic 1995 T-Power, a Brit, but still, I thought it worked and Greg from Eats Tapes likes it, so I put it in.

Aaron Spectre - Anyone who has read my blog has heard me sing the praises of both Aaron and Mashit. Aaron's been experimenting with vocals from the Arabic world and the South Asian world, and I couldn't be happier. While so many of the identifying bits of the Ragga world come direct from Jamaica, the patois, the sound clashes, the versioning, there's no reason other vocals and instruments can't be in the mix.

X13 - Unfortunately, anyone who deals with current Jamaican-derived music eventually has to come to terms with their position on anti-homosexual lyrics. Basically, I try my hardest not to play 'em. I'm all for burning out wikkid men, corruption, bomberclaats in general, but the evidence is too strong that Jamaica has a problem with endemic violence towards homosexuals, and while I don't blame dancehall artists for that violence directly I feel I need to follow a policy of "do no harm" for my own mixes. I won't knowningly play openly anti-gay lyrics, although I'm OK editing them out with backspins. It's not a comment on the producer of the track as he managed to snag vocals that are killer in every other way and should be put to use. It's a comment on the vocals themselves. It's a tricky line, but I call on ragga jungle producers to steer clear of incendiary lyrics since I really don't believe the producers are making a statement of deeply held beliefs like the people they are sampling. Please take the time, producers and fans alike, to read LFODemon's Battybwoys are alright manifesto which I wholly endorse. (Note: While I've done my best, there are definitely parts of some songs on my mix that I'm at a loss to generate sense out of [mostly Elephant Man samples]. If anyone can point out anti-gay talk I've missed, I'd like to know.)

Double 0 - This is Selecta Hoogs of Buffalo, and as far as I know this is the only thing he put out on vinyl, which is a shame cause it's killa killa ... and he's the best ragga DJ I've seen to boot, knows how to masterfully work a crowd.

- New to me as of a couple weeks ago, but man, what a wikkid drop. All sci-fi like with those keyboards. Bong Ra's (the 2nd of the three non North Americans on the list) Clash label walks the fine line between ragga and breakcore with style, and makes you decide that it doesn't really matter anyway.

End of the Mix - Bong Ra and Enduser tracks are the darker end of Ragga that I like. Heavy heavy growling stuff, but processed through and through and none of the "Shouty Jungle" that looses me quickly and comes across as gimmiky. Enduser can do no wrong really, every track on that EP is great.

"Terrorist" - Who doesn't like this song! Who doesn't like that ringing, time-stretched sounding snare?

So, there you go. Hooked on the sound? Want to know more? The whole entire crew, plus everyone who didn't get mentioned above is hanging out over at: http://www.ragga-jungle.com It's like Cheers, only Beenie Man's sitting at the bar instead of Norm. UK heads also take note that Robo Orgy is happening at Electrowerkz tomorrow night, with Remarc headlining.

Wanna buy some? Just a few options below:




Aight then? Thanks to Gutta and to all who listen out of one scene and into another. Great musical inspiration comes that way. And to all Ragga Junglists who see this, nuf big ups are in order. The people get to know, seen? But nah jump if you didn't see your name above or think I left out a vital piece of history (cause I know I did). I only get so much webestate and you're all repped in my sets constantly.


Kid Kameleon

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Jr. Kelly - Blood Money (Penthouse)
Jungle Royale feat. Jimmy Riley - A1 Sound [RCola Remix] (Jungle Royale 003)
Jacky Murda, RCola, & Liondub feat. Harry Brown-
Junglist Far East (Chopstick 007)
Jungle Royale feat. Johnny Osbourne -
Salute the Don [Visionary aka Division One Remix] (Jungle Royale Dub)
Unknown - Untitled (X13 005)
Twinhooker - My Golden Dub (Top Ranking 001)
Murderbot - Fi You (Mashit 007)
Istari Lasterfahrer - Living in Concrete (Sozialistischer Plattenbau Dub)
Loqtus - Tell Dem Inna Babylon (Cause and Effect 002)
Twinhooker - Nuh Time Ah Day (Dub)
Debaser - Clash Night (Press Up Records 002)
Debaser feat. Demolition Man - Fire Remix (Dub)
Soul Slinger feat. MC Det - Abducted [T-Power Remix] (Jungle Sky)
Aaron Spectre - Ali Deek (Mashit Dub)
Unknown - Untitled (X13 005)
Double O feat. General Levy - Missing Renk (535)
KGB Kid - Any Bwoy Test (Clash 007)
Malice - Infiltrate Dem Bumbaclot (Big Cat 005)
Loqtus - We Got It (Dub)
Rhygin - Destroy Dem (Ten Pound Sound 003)
Aaron Spectre - Look Out Fi Liar (Death$ucker Dub)
Bong Ra feat. Dirty Dread - Blood and Fire (Soothsayer 001)
Enduser - Manoeuvre (Soothsayer 002)
Sumone - Terrorist Remix (Trinity Don Dub)
MZE vs LXC - Stick 'em Up (Alphacut 002)