GUTTERBREAKZ FM - APRIL 2006
Nikki St. George - Attack Of The Alien Minds (Trunk)
Pinch - Qawwali V.I.P. (Planet Mu)
DJ Wedge - Fever (dub)
Shackleton - Hypno Angel (forthcoming on Skull Disco)
luke.envoy - Honour Kill (Hotflush)
Vex'd - Bombardment Of Saturn (Planet Mu)
Grim Feast - Monopoly (dub)
Boxcutter - Bad You Do [Halfstep] (Planet Mu)
Digital Mystikz - Anti-War Dub (DMZ)
Richard H. Kirk - BN2 (Dust Science)
Uniform - He's Above His Station (Planet Mu)
Kyler - Brewster Baked A Sour Apple Memory (Planet Mu)
Breakage - The 9th Hand (Planet Mu)
Equinox - Do You Understand Me? (Planet Mu)
Bizzy B - Flava (Planet Mu)
Exile - Openable Dog (Planet Mu)
The Gasman - Flatus (Planet Mu)
Drop The Lime - Mathhead Megamix (Reduced Phat)
Dolphin - Soul Cannibal (Planet Mu)
It was one year ago to the day that DJ Pinch revealed "Qawwali" to the world, via a short mix he recorded for me to promote Subloaded II. A couple of month's later, Pinch handed me a cd-r with several of his tracks on, including "Qawwali", which seemed to me to signify that a level of trust had been established, following our earlier disagreements about the ethics of MP3 blogging. Then, last month at Dubloaded, he gave me a copy on vinyl, released by Planet Mu, backed by the equally essential V.I.P mix which adds an even darker, emptier element with the descending bassline and ultra-economical drum pattern. Its the first true anthem of Bristolian dubstep; a symbol of everything that Pinch, and to an extent myself, have been building towards. The first chapter has now been written, FWD>> the revolution!
There's two other big dubstep releases on Planet Mu as well. Vex'd follow-up "Degenerate" with the much-anticipated "Bombardment Of Saturn/Killing Floor" and Boxcutter makes his Mu-debut with the four track "Tauhid" EP, with the album "Oneiric" coming later this month (full review shortly). These, along with Digital Mystikz gorgeous "Haunted/Anti War Dub" are all essential purchases!
I was delighted to receive a white label of Skull Disco 003 - a three tracker from Shackleton that once again displays his unique vision. Two of the tunes, "Naked" and "Blood On My Hands", bookend Paul Autonomic's mix (which is temporaily offline due to bandwidth annihilation I'm afraid), and I'm featuring the third one here. Sam's eastern/african influences seep through these tracks, propelled by complex percussion lines and eye-watering, almost violent, grinding sub-bass. I can't shake the (hopefully premature) feeling that we're teetering on the brink of a new era of 'dubstep orthodoxy', but if producers like Shackleton continue to forge their own sound, rather than trying to sound like Skream, then it'll help keep the scene fresh and innovative.
I had originally planned to feature lots of unreleased tunes this month, partly to clear the backlog, but also because I've had an expensive month with bills etc, and couldn't afford to buy much vinyl. But the big package from Planet Mu changed that idea pretty quickly! However I have squeezed in a couple of exclusives, from artists who haven't featured on GutterFM before. DJ Wedge is a name most will be familiar with by now, thanks to his excellent Tuesday night show on Dark FM, and I wanted to showcase his particular brand of minimalist dubstep with a recent tune he sent me called "Fever". If anyone's remotely interested to know how I'm getting on with my new CD deck, listen to the segue between this and "Qawwali V.I.P", where I just about manage to keep the grooves locked for over a minute. Then there's Grim Feast, a producer from Poland, who might be familiar to Dubstep forum members as r33lc4sh. His production skills are very high, although I find some of his work a bit too glossy/trancey. But when he gets on a dirty breakstep tip, as on "Monopoly", the results speak for themselves.
Hotflush Recordings are on a hot streak at the moment, with a busy release schedule which, admirably, continues to push new talent, such as luke.envoy, who's excellent debut release hits the streets this month. I'm actually getting a bit ahead of myself here, as I haven't got Elemental's release yet (due to abject poverty), but I was lucky enough to receive a cd-r from Hotflush with the next three releases, including luke's powerful music. Don't miss this one, kids...
I couldn't resist slipping in a track from my all-time hero Richard H. Kirk, making a much-welcome return to vinyl with his new EP on Sheffield label Dust Science. The EP kicks off with "Toned", a hard-edged remake of "Testone", the classic Bleep track he recorded with DJ Parrot as Sweet Exorcist back in 1990, plus three other slices of tough afro-funk, mutant electro and dubbed-out disco. A quality selection from the originator. Maximum respect, each and every...
The latter half of this month's transmission, designed to explore some of the recent non-dubstep Planet Mu releases, involved a drastic change of direction and tempo. As a bridge between the two halves, I created a little ambient mood section using a track from the Kyler album and one from Uniform, who's terrifying new Planet Mu album "Protocal" is released on 3rd April. It's a dark, violent 'ambient' electronic collection, with several vocal contributers, including post-punk legends Lydia Lunch and Alan Vega. Scary stuff!
From there the mix moves back into rhythmic territory with a track from Breakage, a prolific nu-skool d'n'b producer making his debut on P.Mu with the Drowning/9th Hand 12". His work is characterised by tastefully constructed breaks, weighty sub-bass and washes of ethereal ambiance, creating a strangely tranquil mood despite the frantic pace, that puts me in mind of LTJ Bukem/Good Looking stuff. I wouldn't say I was converted, but its a nice noise, particularly the flip with the endlessly absorbing Apache break fluctuations.
I find Bizzy B both astonishing and slightly ridiculous at the same time. The guy's been doing this shit since the early '90s, and this rather lovely looking double-10" pack "Science EP Vol. V", continues a series he originally began in 1993. How many times can Bizzy tear apart an Amen loop and stitch it back together in a different order? He seems to gain endless creative inspiration from this activity, and the results are, as always, heavy. If you're into proper hardcore junglist vibes, from one of the true originals, then this release is mandatory. The same goes for Equinox. He collaborated with Bizzy on "The Brain Crew" EP in '93, but it's only in recent years, largely due to the patronage of Inperspective Records that he's had a regular flow of releases. His double-pack "Acid Rain V.I.P" EP is an efficient selection of rinsed-out junglist excursions that stays true to the 'old skool ways', although I'm slightly ambivalent towards it. The breaks collapse and reform in endlessly interesting ways, the sub frequencies throb nicely, the vaguely ominous soundtracky pads swirl in and out of the mix at regular intervals, but ultimately it all seems quite safe and conservative. Surely there's nothing here that hasn't been done a thousand times before?
Tim Exile is another matter entirely, though. I had the pleasure of seeing him in action in Belfast last year and can attest to the high entertainment value of his live act. His "Pro-Agonist" double-pack vinyl/CD isn't quite as outrageous as the live improvised stuff, but nevertheless brings some much-needed mischief to the d'n'b agenda. The eight tracks on offer here reveal Exile's renegade sensibilities; he isn't afraid to be playful/disrespectful with the genre, taking it down unexpected avenues and generally having some serious fun with it. On "Mushroom Santa", Tim connects with the inner child with some wonderfully naive melodic lines, whilst "Sliiime" see him exploring his interest in experimental electro-acoustic collage. But there's plenty of dancefloor belters too, like opener "Big Bad Purple Bad Boy" and "Openable Dog" which features a distorted riff worthy of Distance and enough melodic imperative to keep my attention levels high. I don't claim to know anything about current d'n'b trends, but Exile's non-purist stance seems like a far more engaging, creative path for the genre.
Crammed in amongst all the Mu-madness is a track from Mathhead's "Most Lethal Dance" EP, released on the Reduced Phat label. Side A features three Mathhead originals which, although a bit too manic with the breakcore beats for my tastes, does utilize some wonderfully evocative old skool rave noises, like that electric piano riff that always reminds me of Outlander's Belgian classic "Vamp". It also brings back some nice memories of seeing Ben live at Toxic Dancehall last year. Side B features remixes from Aaron Spectre and, my personal favourite, the "Mathhead Megamix" from fellow NYC producer Drop The Lime, where fragments of the original tunes are crushed into an insane breakcore-sublow crossover. Watch out for further releases from Mathhead this year, including the excellent dubstep-flavoured "Stagger", released on Pitch Black soon.
The show concludes with a track from Dolphin, taken from his split 12" with The Teknoist, "Soul Cannibal/Closing Down". I'm afraid I can't agree with the blurb at Warpmart. Any potential 'boundary pushing' or 'emotion' is lost in the blur of hyper-speed gabba-techno beats, which frankly leave me stone cold. I had to play the track at 33rpm just to make it bearable. Maybe I could've gained something from it once, but my body clock runs at a different tempo these days. I'm glad I had the chance to listen to it, but my heart is beating to a different drum now.
I'm slightly concerned that I'm letting a regressive gene infiltrate my otherwise 'fwd-thinking' show, but GutterFM is meant to be a snapshot of all the new musik I'm listening to in any given month, plus I was actually curious to see how well I could mix these tracks. The thing is, during my previous, erratic dj 'career' (roughly 1993-96) I was mainly playing leftfield house and techno, around 130-140 bpm, and never dreamed that I could mix the frantic breaks I was hearing on jungle mixtapes - the speed and complexity just seemed beyond my capabilities. I never bought jungle or d'n'b on vinyl either (preferring to keep up via mixtapes/CD compilations, etc) so never even had an opportunity to try. But now, with this batch of vinyl in front of me, it seemed like a good excuse to have a go. Predictably, the results aren't very impressive, but actually came out slightly better than I expected. Perhaps all that hard work mixing breakstep is paying off. So the latter half of this month's transmission is essentially my one-off voyage into drum 'n' bass mixology. It made a nice change. I enjoyed it. Hope some of you do too...