26 March 2006


They forgot to put me on the guestlist, the shits. But when you consider that, less than a year ago, I'd never been on a guestlist for anything ever, it seems odd that I'm already growing very accustomed to the preferential treatment afforded by my blogging activities, to the point where I now actually expect to get in for free (apart from Pinch's dances, of course!). When I saw Ruffnek Discotek co-organiser Krys, I gave him a stiff reprimand for his oversight. He apologised profusely and promptly dashed off to get my four quid back for me. "Fuck" I thought to myself, "I'm turning into an arsehole". Feeling slightly embarrassed and disgusted with myself, I bought Krys a beer in an attempt to ease my conscience. Later on, without warning, he bought me one back , thus regaining the moral high ground. So I guess that means I'm still an arsehole.

Krys, in his role as Forensics, then played an hour of breakstep 'oldies' (ie, stuff that came out last year) in the front room. Actually he also played the Mystikz' latest anthem "Haunted", but for some reason it was jumping all over the place. Must've been the sub-vibrations. Or maybe some fluff on the needle. For reasons only known to himself, Krys elected to play everything at +6, which isn't something I'd encourage myself, but I was interested to note that there were actually about five blokes, who I didn't recognise, dancing enthusiastically for most of it, although they gradually drifted away towards the end. To be honest Krys was a bit off-form, locked in a losing battle with the turntables, and had virtually lost interest himself by that point. At least his two-hour guest slot on Sub FM went well, apparently, and let's not forget that Krys is king of the download mix - his latest Dubstep mix #15 is available here. But I was horrified to discover, whilst browsing through the contents of his record bag, that Krys doesn't put his records back in their sleeves! There they were, unprotected, all scuffing against each other. I pulled out his unsheathed copy of DMZ 002 and admonished him for his lack of care for such a sacred platter. More on Krys shortly...

Decks: Two , Forensics: Nil

Around this point I was introduced to Werk Discs supremo Darren, who seems like a jolly nice chap, and we had quite a long discussion on the weighty musical topics of the day. There's a fresh batch of Werk releases immanent, but more on that another time. Next up was his co-Werker Po Ski, armed with Final Scratch and (so he claims) his entire music collection inside his laptop. With such a broad selection of music at his instant disposal, its no surprise that his set veered wildly through dancehall, Analord, unfamiliar vocal 'grime' excursions, and loads of old skool d'n'b classics - first time I've heard "Renegade Snares" in a club for years. Incidentaly, Po Ski is also Mr. Lizard, responsible for side A of "Grim Dubs Vol.4".

Scratch magic from Po Ski

Then it was a swift trot over to the main room for Monkey Steak's set. But I did manage to catch the last ten minutes of DJ Derek, which was frankly bizarre. The guy looks ancient, like your grandad, smartly dressed in shirt, tie and tweed waistcoat, yet spinning reggae and dancehall to a highly appreciative crowd. The best bit was his mic technique, though. The guy sounds like a fucking Dalek. I was laughing about it but then suddenly thought "hang on, maybe the poor bloke's got throat cancer or something". Thankfully, this doesn't appear to be the case.

DJ Derrick & Monkey Steak
Generation gap: Monkey Steak preparing to take over from DJ Derek

Perhaps to ensure a smooth transition, Monkey Steak kicked-off with a couple of dancehall-inspired numbers, followed by "Lighthouse Dub", which is the nearest they've come to producing a straight dubstep tune. The first time I heard it I was wondering where all the edits had gone ("we were too stoned to bother" explained Hanuman). Despite the hyper-edited convolutions of Atki2's recent output, as a team, this was surely the most rhythmically incisive performance I've heard yet. As the set gained momentum I was struck by a new muscular groove, with sharp electro-flavoured drum sounds, particularly the vicious snare, accompanied by Loefah-like shuddering bass-quakes, Wileyesque accordion riffs and a kaleidoscope of hardcore vibes that reached a peak of intensity around the thirty minute mark. Monkey Steak are still a couple of parasitic leaches, clinging on to the leathery rump of the underground, sucking out all the tastiest, most nutritious morsels and mutating their DNA into new complex patterns, but now the realisation dawns that they're not just an interesting concept, but a serious dancefloor proposition in their own right.

Monkey Steak
Ruffnek Kings: Atki2 & Hanuman

Their set escalated (or degenerated, depending on your point of view) into full-on neo-junglist mayhem, but for me it was the 140bpm stuff around the 20-40 minute mark that really hit the spot. It's got the riff-based energy of grime, its striving for the sonic weight of dubstep, but still with enough detailed twists and turns to appeal to the electronica community at large. Frankly, I don't see how they can fail.

Monkey Steak & Actress
Too many djs: DJ Derek, Atki2, Hanuman, Darren

It was 2am by the time Monkey Steak closed-up their laptops, but I was actually still up for the final hour with Actress (which is Darren and Po Ski). But then along came Krys offering me a puff on his spliff, which stank like shit. For some reason, possibly politeness, I accepted, and inhaled deeply on the foul, noxious thing. Within about five minutes I was feeling dizzy, nauseous and confused. God knows what the hell he was smoking, but there should be a law against it. Feeling utterly fucked out of my mind, I said my hasty goodbyes and staggered out. Seems like I wasn't the only one affected though - as I passed an ashen-faced Krys on the way out, he was muttering something about "the spliff of doom". Mate, you gotta give that shit up...

23 March 2006


Autonomic Computing

As we all know by now, the medium by which dubstep is usually transmitted to the masses is via the traditional live turntable mix. In the past I've stated my preference for raw, energetic mixes of the kind transmitted on Rinse FM, which were the inspiration for my own return to the decks after nearly ten years away. The act of 'struggle' to blend beats manually, developing the level of dexterity required to physically nudge the vinyl grooves into place - and to keep them there! - is probably my number one favourite pastime these days. But there are other ways of doing things...

I recently received a mix CD from my stateside colleage Paul Autonomic, founder and maintainer of the much-respected Riddim.Ca site, dedicated to spreading underground knowledge to the North Americas and beyond. Called "Autonomic Computing", this mix is a "digital multitrack dubstep mashup", containing 30 new, old and unreleased tracks, with "lots of custom edits, multiple-track layering, and effects work". Perhaps preemting the potential shouts of outrage from the UK purists, Paul states in the accompanying sleeve notes, "Digi-mixing might seem antithetical to a dubplate-centric scene, but from overseas it just seems natural. That's how it got here in the first place. The Pandemic is digital."

Well, whatever your opinions on that, its results that count, and I for one was really impressed with the way Paul mixed and edited it all together. Although there's evidence of digital trickery, the overall effect is of a natural, flowing mixscape. Funnily enough, the mix begins with Shakleton's "Naked", a track that Paul had actually cut on dubplate. The fact that he then fed this eminently mixable platter into a digital multitrack has a strangely perverse logic about it.

I enjoyed his mix so much, I told Paul he should get it online for the massif, and he has duly obliged. You'll find the link near the end of this post. Whilst you're waiting for it to download, here's a few words in conversation with Mr. Autonomic....

Gutta: So what's this new mix all in aid of then, Paul?

Paul: I wanted to do something to celebrate the first anniversary of Riddim.ca, something different that built on the grime/dubstep digimix I did last year with Ableton Live. There are a lot of custom edits of familiar tunes, although I let some other big tracks like "Neverland" just ride - you don't need to do anything with that track but listen. There are some unreleased bits too.

Gutta: So I notice. How'd you get hip to Headhunter and Wedge so quickly?

Paul: I was lucky enough to get an e-mail from them with a few tracks in it a couple of months back. I wasn't too happy with the intro I'd done for the mix and those tunes gave it an entirely new life. Those guys are amazing. Same with Laurie (Appleblim) and Sam (Shackleton). They've been good to me.

Gutta: Your sleeve notes concerning digital mixes come across as slightly defensive...

Paul: Do they? Oh well. I honestly haven't been sure how it would go down since there's so much vinyl-only sentiment in the scene and I wanted to push people's ideas on mixing a little bit. But I think it's the last time I'll do a mix like that. It's a pretty anal way to mix and I want to get better on the decks. I've been buying enough vinyl for god sakes, plus I'm angling for a guest spot - spinning dubstep - on a Jungle show here in town. We'll see...

Gutta: Yeah, sharpen those decks skills, Paul! I dunno how, or when, but one day you and me are gonna go back-2-back!

Paul: Yes, you and I back-2-back would be wicked. Funny thing, you got me thinking about getting a CD deck again today with that photo on your blog. Nice one. I'm keeping my fingers crossed to get back over to the UK in the next year or so and get outside of London too, so I'd definitely like to meet up if possible. I'd love to hit a Subloaded.

Gutta: So apart from displaying the finer points of digitally-constructed mixing, what else do you hope to achieve with "Autonomic Computing"?

Paul: I'm hoping to use the mix locally as a way of promoting the music, whether on CD-R, radio, etc. I know interest is really growing right now, so the mix is meant to give a sense of what's gone on in the last year or so, plus some tastes of what's to come. There's also a bit of nostalgia in it for me, like when "28g" mixes into "Request Line" - that's my 'memories of FWD>>' moment.

Gutta: That's right, you managed to reach a FWD>> night last year, didn't you?

Paul: Yeah, I got a chance to go last June, a few hours after getting off the plane. I was actually being introduced to Skream when "Request Line" dropped. And "28g" taught me what it means to breathe the bass.


Shackleton - Naked (dubplate - forthcoming on Skull Disco in May)
Headhunter - New Dawn (cd-r)
Wedge - Overfiend (cd-r)
Loefah - Root (DMZ)
Headhunter - Hidden Agenda (cd-r)
Distance - Taipan (Boka)
Loefah - The Goat Stare (DMZ)
Distance - Fallen (Boka)
Scuba - Timba (Scuba/crack bong chop)
Distance - Empire (Hotflush/spectral mash)
Chunky Bizzle - Tools Too Big (white/edit)
Appleblim - Cheat I (Skull Disco)
Loefah & Skream - 28 Grams (Tectonic/edit)
Skream - Request Line (Tempa)
Request Line Outro Refux
Shackleton - ? (Mordant)
Hidden Agenda - Fish Eggs (Reinforced)
Digital Mystikz - Neverland (DMZ)
Burial - South London Borroughs (Hyperdub)
Kode 9 + Benny Ill - Fat Larry's Skank (Tempa)
Coki - Mood Dub (DMZ/edit)
Appleblim - Girder (Skull Disco/edit)
Macabre Unit - Tensor Jam (Terrorhythm)
Dizzee - Go (white/edit)
Skream - I (Tempa/dubsetter edit)
Distance - Saints and Sinners (Boka)
Loefah - Truly Dread (Tempa)
Jason Mundo - I Stand Rasta (cd-r/edit)
Kode 9 + Space Ape - Kingstown (Hyperdub)
Distance - Dark Crystal (Boka/edit)
Shackleton - Blood On My Hands (cd-r/edit)


Warp bookSo who is Kyler? Surprisingly, this purveyor of mellow, playful sampledelica and fine, pastoral electronica is none-other than Henry Collins, aka Gabba-Jungle lunatic Shitmat. "Pur Cosy Tales" is the first offering from this alter-ego, and jolly nice it is too. I actually received an early draft of this album well over a year ago (the track "Grand Coulee Dam" featured on GutterFM back in June) and, although the tracklist has altered quite a bit since then, it's still a lengthy collection of 32 tracks (many of which terminate , unresolved, after a couple of minutes) recorded during the period 2002-04, that constantly changes gear and shifts emphasis, giving the continued impression that this is an aural scrapbook of moods, feeling and ideas.

In places it sounds like the blurry folktronica of Four Tet, Minotaur Shock or even some of the interlude pieces that Boards Of Canada produce, full of artificially aged textures and vaguely hauntological specters, like the mellotron flutes on "John", which sounds like some old '70s Open University jingle. Then there's "Coal", with a muffled vocal that seems buried under decades of tape compression, as though Ariel Pink had wandered into the studio and mumbled a little tune into the mic. The exotic sway of "Ladybird Island" sounds like an android version of Martin Denny's backing band, whilst "Green Wooden Huts" is awash with magical childhood Christmas sensations - you can practically smell the pine trees. There's so much delicate, understated warmth on offer that the occasional return of the mischievous glitch-meister is an almost unwelcome intrusion, as on the heavily cut-up fairground organ swirl of "High Speed Dubbin". I can't help thinking there's a really satisfying, carefully sequenced 45 minute listening album in here somewhere, but I guess that's not the point. Henry scatters all these (sometimes cruelly throwaway) ideas into the melting pot, and the listener is left to gain whatever stimulation they can from it all. I can't say I enjoy everything on "Pur Cosy Tales", but maybe, when I've got the measure of it, I'll compile the best bits in a nice order and program the CD player accordingly.

(The CD is supposed to be released this week, but I can't see it listed at the usual places. Soon come, I'm sure...)


Warp bookChrist, was it nearly a year ago that I last wrote about The Gasman? Time flies. But here he comes again, with his latest album "This One's For You", released on Planet Mu this month. From the opening moments of "Freezer", with its cool rush of effervescent melodic beauty, I could tell it was gonna be an extremely pleasant trip, as the frothy synths surged on their ecstatic journey to find the Lost Chord, riding Valkyrie-like on an elegantly rinsed rhythm track straight from the classic AFX mould. And that's what this whole album is like, really: Classic(al) electronica. Although there's plenty of modernist touches, The Gasman seems lost in a perpetual 1995-97 album-orientated, middle class, bohemian hardcore continuum, and I have absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. I've been there, man. I lived that life. That was me. I even suspect that I am, in fact, The Gasman. I must sleepwalk to my laptop in the dead of night and compose all the tracks in my underpants, letting the residual emotions of my previous life seep from my subconscious, flow through my fingers and straight into the sequencer. Then, still in a tranced-out, non-waking state, I must wander down to the post box in my bare feet and send the master tapes to Mike Paradinas. That might explain why I feel so tired in the mornings, anyway.

That's not true, of course. The Gasman is, in fact, Mike Paradinas under an assumed name - an outlet for his most unashamedly whimsical flights of fancy.

That's not true either. I just made it up. Nice theory though...

Besides, I'm being a bit unkind here. There is something distinct about the Gasman's sound, though it's difficult to quantify. If you played me "Fiv" blindfold I reckon I could tell straight away it was a Gasman tune. Something about that particular piano sound he favours, or the flow of his sequences, all cascading droplets of loveliness with the high notes bobbing up at you like excited children in a playground. Or the slightly over-done lashings of reverb that give tracks like "IRF" that frosty, fairytale atmosphere. The Gasman's world is a little garden of unearthly delights, unaligned to any particular region of the current dance music landscape, but with little echoes of past achievements that imbue a rosy, nostalgic glow over the proceedings. This album is like an audio comfort blanket, great for snuggling-up in when all that heavy 'serious' music gets a bit too much to handle.

But does anyone else give a fuck about the Gasman? I notice there were only three comments attached to my previous post on him - and they were all spam! Somebody please tell me they understand this music too! Or point me in the direction of the appropriate forum thread...

(or hard copy at Warpmart)

20 March 2006


Warp bookThis is pure lushness - a 188-page glossy photo-filled book documenting the rise of Warp Records by Rob Young (Black Dog Publishing). I'd leave it on my coffee table to impress visitors, but I'm worried the kids would spill Ribena on it, or something. It covers all the major developments in the label's long history, from the early hardcore days, through pioneering the 'Artificial Intelligence' home-listening electronica period, going on to explain the reasons for the eventual/inevitable move from its Sheffield roots to become the London-based international organisation it is today. Along the way we remember the early Top 20 triumphs, reflect on those beautifully designed record sleeves, lament the tragic death of co-founder Rob Mitchell, and pour over the label's fascinating back catalogue and legion of artists, some of whom have long-since disappeared off the radar.

Even a wizened scholar like myself learned a few interesting facts. For instance, although I was aware that Robert Gordon had been a central figure in the early days, I didn't realise (or maybe I'd forgotten?) that he was actually a fully paid-up partner in the company. It was only after a bitter argument with Mitchell and Becket (over the licensing of Chicago House track "Can't Stop" by Plez) that he left. Interestingly, Gordon's departure marks the end of my absolute favourite period in the label's history - it's earliest period '89-'90 when it was all about bass-heavy 12 inch singles with a strong Sheffield-centric identity. Part of that must be due to the sound of those records, which were overseen by Gordon. His drive for absolute sonic perfection - involving endless dub cuts and remixes at his FON studio - is still clearly evident on those discs, and any serious collectors of classic UK electronic dance music needs to have the first ten Warp releases on original pressings (plus a decent hi-fi). I still reckon "Clonk", by Sweet Exorcist, features one of the most insane sub bass frequencies ever - everything in the house starts rattling like crazy whenever I crank it up, and I personally have never heard anything that beats it. Although the output of his own project, The Forgemasters, is miniscule, Gordon remained a central back-room figure for most of the finest releases to come from the three holy cities - Sheffield, Leeds and Bradford. True, Unique 3's "The Theme" was undoubtedly the first anthem of Northern Bleep 'n' Bass, but look at the credits on the rear of the sleeve and you'll see that Gordon was there as engineer, mixer and co-producer. The man should be canonised.

I admit that I have little interest in the current entity known as Warp Records. They still occasionally put out interesting (maybe even great) releases, but its a very different operation to the one I used to cherish. That's probably more to do with my own militant standpoint, but at least this book helps to explain and perhaps validate the reasons why Warp moved in the direction it did. And regardless of its current status, Warp set precedents which many other labels tried to emulate, but few ever came close to matching. Current dubstep labels like Tempa, DMZ, Hotflush and Tectonic are the inheritors of Warp's early legacy - committed to releasing quality underground dance music with a strong sense of identity - and new releases from labels like these fill me with the same excitement as those Warp ones did 15 years ago, though admittedly none of them look quite as attractive as those beautiful generic purple sleeves.

It's not a very meaty read, but damn - I fucking love this book. Naturally, its available at Warpmart, although mine was picked off the shelf at Waterstones, so looks like its widely available in the high street as well.


John Peel"Margrave Of The Marshes", the (semi) autobiography of the late, great John Peel. I've barely started on this one yet, but just reading the introduction by his children fills me once more with a sense of tragic loss. John got halfway through writing this before he died, and his family have overseen the writing of the remaining chapters of his life. Peel's ageless commitment to new musical exploration never fails to amaze and inspire me, and his radio show was such a huge part of my life, particularly during the teenage years stranded in a provincial backwater with little or no money. True, he playlisted an awful lot of indie drivel, but I have fond memories of waiting, with the cassette recorder on pause, for the all the interesting hip hop, house and esoteric/electronic tunes to come on. In that time before the internet, Peel really was a lifeline for me.

I get stressed just trying to assimilate the fairly narrow selection of demos and releases that come my way each month, and compiling it all into a little 45 minute show, but its literally nothing compared to the thousands of hours' worth of material that Peel waded through, bringing the most exciting, innovative sounds to the airwaves every week in a career spanning five decades (and let's not forget that, just before he died, John was particularly excited about a little-known Croydon dj/production team called the Digital Mystikz!). Its mindboggling, when you think about it. I dunno how the hell he managed to keep that perpetual, almost childlike sense of wonder and excitement, but I hope to aspire to it in my own small way.

Just reading the charming, evocative opening chapter covering his early childhood during the second world war, I know I'm really going to enjoy this book.

19 March 2006


So I finally got myself a little CD turntable. It's a Numark Axis 2, which is pretty much bottom of the range, but what the hell, it's a start. I wasn't interested in any of those fancy features like onboard fx or advanced editing functions anyway. The important thing is its got pitch control and a surprisingly effective jog wheel which, although unable to replicate true 'scratch mode', is still surprisingly good at teasing a beat into line. Within ten minutes of opening the box I was getting some pretty impressive results, so I'm quite optimistic that it'll serve me well for the time being. I like it's really basic layout with the chunky buttons too. Very hands-on! Hopefully I'll be competent enough to use it on the next GutterFM show, which is already in the planning stages. Now that all these cd-r dubs are 'malleable', it'll allow more creative possibilities, which I'm really keen to explore. Okay, enough chat - more mixing!!

16 March 2006


The Tomorrow People

Any UK readers around the same age as me (35-40?) might recall a kids' Sci-Fi series produced by Thames Television in the 70's called "The Tomorrow People". I was an avid fan. I watched the series every week and I even followed the comic strip version in Look-In magazine. I won't go into the whole concept behind the series, anyone vaguely interested can read all about it at the above links. But what concerns us here is the sonic aspect of the series - the incidental music and sound effects that littered each episode. As I tried to explain in my 'Hauntology' post back in January, the utterly alien(ating) electronic sounds beamed into our living rooms on a regular basis back then represent possibly the most insidious, psychologically devastating deployment of left-field electronica in the history of recorded sound. There was a time when I might've thought I dreamt all that up, but when the Sci-Fi Channel on cable television started repeating the Tomorrow People series in the mid-90s, I realised it was all true - the sounds really had been that extreme!

There's a unique pathos about vintage analogue electronics - a combination of the impure, solid-state architecture of the machines themselves, and perhaps the recording conditions, with endless tape-bounces and edits, producing a warped, muffled and intrinsically depressing sound. For television work, the 'music' was usually recorded in mono (most TV sets only had a single built-in speaker back then) adding further lo-fi dirt to the proceedings. Watching the Tomorrow People series again on Sci-Fi channel I was struck by a couple of things: As an adult ( now used to the slickness of modern TV) from a visual angle the series had dated terribly. The acting was awful, the dialogue deplorable, the special effects totally unconvincing, the plots utterly ridiculous (all part of the appeal in a funny sort of way) yet the incidental electronic audio totally blew me away. It was the only part that gave the series any kind of production values and the only part that really conjured a sense of drama and suspense. Interestingly, I watched some old episodes again in preparation for this post (sad case that I am, I have them on DVD now!) whilst my kids were in the room making a nuisance of themselves. But after a while I noticed they'd gone quiet. When I looked around, I saw that the nine-year old had become totally transfixed by the programme and remained so until the DVD ended. Even more interesting, the two-year old (too young to understand the daft storyline) would become transfixed only during the weird, atmospheric sections, when the electronic music was most prevalent. He's only lose interest when the music stopped. If there's any proof needed of this incredible music's ability to attract and seduce young minds, then there you have it.

But back to the mid-'90s. One of my first thoughts after watching those Sci-Fi channel repeats was "damn, someone should release all those sounds on CD". Funnily enough, someone else was thinking exactly the same thing. His name was/is Johnny Trunk. He runs a delightful little record label called Trunk Records, responsible for releasing music from other '70s kids' shows like The Clangers and Bod, among many other weird and wonderful things. He actually made some inquiries about releasing the Tomorrow People music back then, but came up against a brick wall. His only lead was Dudley Simpson (who wrote the awesome theme tune) but he was uncontactable on the other side of the world in Australia. The project was put on hold until a chance conversation last year, which gave Johnny a fresh angle...

When I heard about the imminent release of the Tomorrow People music on the grapevine, I immediately contacted Johnny and used all my 'famous blogger' leverage to convince him to send me an advance copy of the album, which duly appeared on my doorstep a couple of weeks later. I was initially a little disappointed to find that it wasn't a definitive collection of sounds from the series - there were quite a few nice bits that aren't included, such as the 'slow' version of the theme tune and the drum machine-propelled synth dirge that featured heavily in the earliest episodes. It would've been nice to collect up some of the distinctive fx, such as the 'jaunting' sound, as well. Opportunities missed, perhaps, but (despite opening and closing with Simpson's theme) the whole Tomorrow People thing is really just window-dressing for the true focus of this release: Standard Library album ESL 104.

What's that, you ask? It's another one of those Library Records - atmospheric/experimental electronic music recorded for general media use way back in 1969. ESL 104 was used extensively throughout the making of Tomorrow People, as a source of readymade sonic mood-manipulators, and this new CD/album from Trunk is basically a reissue of that record, even down to the original running order. But what is even more significant is that the creators of the music on ESL 104 were Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson. For anyone who doesn't know who they are, check my Dr.Who/Radiophonic Workshop post from October 2004. During the period that ESL 104 was recorded, Derbyshire and Hodgson were both still employees of the BBC, but these pieces were recorded at their independent studio Kaleidophon in Camden, with protege David Vorhaus, and presumably to avoid contractual wrangles the music on ESL 104 is credited to Li De La Russe (Derbyshire) and Nikki St. George (Hodgson). It was also during this period at Kaleidphon that they worked on the classic electro-psychedelic album "An Electric Storm" (as The White Noise) , released on Island Records.

With Derbyshire and Hodgson at the controls, its no wonder that the tracks contained on this disc are prime examples of the darker side of vintage electronic soundtrack music. Hodgson's work in particular always had a tinge of terror about it; melodies were either non-existent or very understated - his main focus being the creation of cavernous, unearthly textures and drones that still send a cold shudder down my spine. "Whirring Menace" is classic Hodgson, with translucent, dimly-lit arcs of unclassifiable soundmatter swirling around a central, ominous bass note. Or the perfectly-named "Wet Asteroid", where gloopy trickles of oscillator-slime undulate against a background of pure intergalactic vacuum (hey, I know there's no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it would sound like!).

Derbyshire was no slouch when it came to dark atmospherics either, although most of her solo contributions here focus on quirky, melodic musique-concrete compositions, like "Way Out", which features a clip-clop tapeloop riddim similar to that used on her famous Radiophonic piece "Pot au Feu". Then there's the all-too-brief arpeggiated droplets of utter beauty that is "Fresh Aire" or the stunning, delicate echo-notes of "Delia's Dream". Derbyshire's was an astonishing talent, one that has only really been acknowledged in the years since her tragic death in 2001. Vorhaus also makes a couple of worthy contributions. In particular, "Build Up To" is one minute and twenty seconds of almost unbearable mounting tension, as though an immense, terrifying, malevolent force is surging towards you. Quite simply, they don't make 'em like this anymore.

So forget about the Tommorrow People angle - you don't need to be a misty-eyed old bastard like me, pining for his lost childhood, to appreciate this music. This is an historically significant document of some of the most talented, resourceful (and quite possibly unhinged) musicians in the history of British electronic music. I'm pleased to note that there has been the minimum of remastering for this release - the music retains its grainy, mono, tape-hiss encrusted aura, so crucial to capturing the conditions of its original inception (doesn't anyone realise that when you remaster old recordings you steal their fucking souls??!!) and I'm absolutely thrilled with it.

Release date for this album is 21st March. I'm not sure how widely available it'll be, but anyone interested in obtaining a copy should keep an eye on Ye Olde Trunkshoppe (and check out the soundclips while you're there).

Trunk Records press release here.

14 March 2006


Okay, let's get the 'Me' stuff out of the way first. I arrived at this month's Dubloaded early, in order to down a couple of beers to steady the nerves and also to get a chance to play around with the cd decks, cos I was determined to overcome my irrational fear of them this time. Yes, they look a bit complicated and even in 'scratch' mode they feel a bit different to the real thing, but I did use them; only a couple of times during the set proper but it's a start (as an aside, I must mention that yesterday I won a little entry-level Numark Axis 2 on e-bay for a very reasonable price, though Mrs Gutta is paying for it as a birthday present. I'm hoping that having this at home to practice with will give me a bit more confidence for future(?) gigs. Actually, if I ever got to the point where I was playing out on a really regular basis, it might give me the justification to go to the expense of cutting vinyl dubplates at Henry's Dubstudio. Something to aspire to perhaps, but for now I just wanna gain some basic proficiency with cd-r mixing). It's hard to review your own performance without being ultra-critical or sounding like a big head, but I think it was definitely my best show so far. This was almost certainly helped by the fact that I'd actually planned the set in advance and had all the tunes I wanted to play lined-up in order. Maybe that's what all good djs do, but for previous gigs I'd just turned up with a bunch of records and hoped for the best. I wouldn't say it was a flawless performance by any stretch - there were plenty of mishaps, though nothing that I'd call an outright disaster , just a bit sloppy. But there were some really nice bits too, where everything came together the way I'd planned in 'rehearsals'. All I can say is that the feedback was positive afterwards. Even ThinKing (a man with notoriously high standards) had to concede that there were 'moments of brilliance'. I even managed to keep my cool when I noticed mid-set that the London crew had arrived and were stood in the wings checking me out. Not just N-Type and Benga, but a little posse including Chef, who reckoned I did a good set (you get that? Fucking Chef from RinseFM said I was good - how unbelievably cool is that?!). Weirdest moment of the night (maybe even the year) was when I was spinning Skream's "Glamma". I felt a tap on my shoulder and a cockney voice in my ear saying something about the treble being a bit toppy. I turn around and it's none-other than Skream himself! I had no idea he was coming down for the event and was a bit surprised to say the least. How the hell I managed to keep going under such heavyweight scrutiny I'll never know. For my own reference, here's my set-list from the night:

Pinch - Qawwali (Planet Mu), Wedge - Overfiend (dub), Forsaken - Thunder (dub), Boxcutter - Gave Dub (Planet Mu), Cyrus - Bounty (Tectonic), Skuba - Sleepa (Hotflush), L-Wiz - Habibi (Dub Police), Skream - Affekz Rmx (white), Boxcutter - Chiral (dub), Loefah & Skream - Fearless (Tectonic), Skream - Traitor (Ital), Wizzbit - Oldskool (Road), Plasticman - White Gloves (Soulja), Hindsy D - Target (white), Spooky - Joyride instrumental (Slew Dem), Jon E. Cash - Cash Beat (Black Ops), Agent X - Killahertz [Alias rmx] (Heatseeker), Emalkay - Road Grit (Morphic Sounds), Mr Keaz - Dub (Southside), General L.O.K. - Instrumental (Total Package), Footsie - Dirtee Skankin (Dirtee Stank), Tubby & Footsie - It's War (white), Waifer - Shower Hour (Slew Dem), Digital Mystikz - Haunted (DMZ), Loefah - The Goat Stare (DMZ), Skream - Glamma (Tempa), Search & Destroy - Candyfloss [Loefah Rmx] (Hotflush), Pinch - Qawwali V.I.P.(Planet Mu)

You'll probably notice it started dubstep, then into a few 'oldies', followed by a grime selection and finishing with some of the biggest recent dubstep releases. The important thing is that I enjoyed myself, and I hope all those who came down early enough got some entertainment value out of it too. My djing diary is now empty. Looking forward to the next opportunity to play out...

Next on the decks was Headhunter, armed and dangerous with a whole hour's worth of Bristolian dubplate weapons, assembled from a small but deadly collective of local producers known as the H.E.N.C.H. crew: Headhunter himself along with White Boi, J@kes and new member Wedge (of Dark FM infamy, reppin' from neighbouring city Bath). I also got to meet the fifth member, a female MC called Scorpio. As Headhunter stepped-up to take over from me, I noticed he was looking a bit...er...worried, and probably with good reason. Although he has quite a bit of experience on local pirate radio, this was his first performance in front of a live audience! By this point the room was starting look busy, and with Skream, N-Type, Benga and Chef in the crowd, he had every right to feel a bit nervous. Thankfully he had the support of J@kes , who is not only a badboy producer, but also a brilliant MC (apparently he's no slouch on the decks either - the man's just bursting with talent!). Although I think this was his first time hosting a dubstep night, he's obviously very experienced, oozing confidence and authority from every pore. His presence on stage really lifted the vibe and I'm sure this party made his reputation as the MC for Bristol's dubstep scene. He's our Sgt. Pokes and Crazy-D rolled into one. Like them, he knows how to pump-up the crowd without ever obscuring the sonics and it was a real pleasure to watch him at work. But as I said, he knows a bit about production too and when Headhunter dropped his totally out-off-control "V3.09" I was up on the stage demanding a reload. That tune's got the maddest bassline and weird '80s-style drum fills and I can't get enough of it. Headhunter also found space to represent the Grim side of the equation, with Atki2's hyper-edited"Sweaty Dub" making a surprise appearance. When Headhunter dropped his own gorgeous "Sleepwalker", I could see that N-Type was visibly impressed, and I couldn't help but feel a certain smug satisfaction that I was in possession of an exclusive tune that he didn't have yet! I think the London crew were all enjoying the Bristol vibes; Headhunter tells me that Skream gave him the thumbs-up afterwards, which is some serious vindication! My sense of civic pride is at an all-time high. Watch out world: HENCH crew coming though!!!

The final two hours was left in the masterful hands of N-Type back-to-back with Benga who, despite being responsible from some of the early Big Apple classics, has been virtually invisible for the past year or so. You might've heard some of his latest dubs on N-Type's RinseFM show, but as a dj he's an unknown quantity - at least for us West Country yokels. Suffice to say his deck skills are as impressive as his afro haircut, and between them they proceeded to tear the fucking room apart with a mind-shattering dubplate selection of epic proportions. Seriously, I wanted to get to the bar for a drink but didn't dare leave the room cos I couldn't bare to miss any of it. That's the nature of dubplate culture: they might play some really amazing tune, like "Ten Times Heavier" (a collaboration between Benga and Hatcha, apparently), that you might not get to hear again for months, or maybe ever. It was a relentless flow of crucial riddims, sick basslines and exclusive vibes that gave me the feeling that, right now, the creative possibilities of dubstep are expanding out into infinity. For every tune that gets released there must be at least another fifty circulating on dub, often with just microscopic variations on a theme - but that's half the point: the dubstep blueprint needs to be thoroughly rinsed from every possible angle. Every twist and turn needs to be examined, analysed, tweaked, adjusted, mixed and remixed and I can't imagine how this creative river will ever run dry. Stood there in the audience, I knew I was listening to the best shit ever, happy to be young enough to experience this music unfolding before my eyes and ears, knowing that I was in the middle of something that will hold such a special place in my heart for the rest of my days. Life doesn't get much better than that, right?

Surprisingly for such an exclusive set, N-Type played "Midnight Request Line" (the original, not a remix) to rapturous response. Will that tune ever die?! We were also treated to Skream's "0800 dub" which he reliably informed me will be on "Skreamisms Vol.2", released at the end of this month, plus he's got an album coming in June. Then there was D1's "Cocaine" and loads of other tunes I vaguely recognised, like that one with the really strange snare drum placement, creating a weird lurching riddim that you had to readjust your body clock to dance to. But when you were locked into that groove it was impossible to get back out again!

A sure sign of a great night is when everybody, including the djs, doesn't want it to stop. At 2pm the management called time on the proceedings but we were all gagging for more. Even J@kes, having by this point hosted for three hours solid, was still whipping the crowd into a frenzy - the guy must be running on Duracells! N-Type pulled out some tunes from a new South London producer he'd recently discovered (these beats were so new he hadn't even cut dubs yet). I showed him how to load up the cd deck and he started teasing us with snatches of sound, but by that point it was made very clear that the evening was over, so we never got to hear that one properly. As N-Type started packing up his things I deftly ejected the cd-r and held it in my hand. Now, I've never stolen anything in my life but I was mighty tempted to do a runner with that disc! But no, Honest Gutta handed it back to it's rightful owner. I'll listen out for it on Rinse. And maybe in a year or so I'll be able to buy it. That's the Way of the Dub.

The party was over, for me at least, although Skream, Chef and crew were all ready for more. The Croydon boys were seriously hyped-up. I suspect chemical enhancement. But as I explained to Chef outside on the street (in blizzard condition weather) I'm 37 years old next week and I need my sleep. At which point he grabbed me and practically screamed in my face "NO FUCKING WAY ARE YOU 37!!" He thought I was about the same age as him (21), which I take as a massive compliment. I think they all went on to some after- party , but I know my limits, so it was goodnight from me! But I've been bathing in the warmth of post-Dubloaded afterglow since then. Next month's party will be headlined by Kode 9, plus Blackdown making his Bristol debut (apparently there were originally plans to put me on the same night as Martin for a sort of 'battle of the bloggers'?!), followed by Subloaded IV on the 29th, the twice-yearly all-nighter featuring Plastician, Digital Mystikz, Loefah, Vex'd, Youngsta, Pinch & Blazey, Headhunter and Joker. Not to mention all the other cool nights coming up. Damn, it's great to live in Bristol right now!

Okay, so you've read me babbling excitedly about Dubloaded for months and, thanks to Jack, you've recently been able to see some of the action. But finally I've got some audio for you, though not very much, I'm afraid. The original plan was to record all of N-Type and Benga's set, but in the end Headhunter's minidisc recorder decided to fuck up, so we just got the last 25 minutes. The sound quality is very good, but there's loads of annoying drop-outs. Sorry, couldn't be helped, technical difficulties and all that, but hopefully you'll still be able to pick up some of the vibe that we've been experiencing on a monthly basis. Feel the dub-luv, kids...

N-TYPE B2B BENGA with MC J@KES (excerpt)

(too late! it's gone!!)


Gutta 1
Early birds catch the Gutta

Gutta 2
Gutta rides the faders

Headhunter 1
Headhunter, watched by J@kes and Pinch

Headhunter 2
Bristol vibes from the Headhunter

Crowd 1
In crowd
(spot the famous faces!)

N-Type & Benga
Benga and N-Type prepare for battle

Master of ceremonies: MC J@kes

N-Type: dub specialist

Benga: faster than a speeding bullet

N-Type 2
N-Type preaching the way of the dub to the congregation

N-Type & Chef
Happiness is a warm Chef

N-Type Benga & Chef
Benga, Chef & N-Type

Crowd 2
Big-up all the ravers who attended. More ladies next time, please!!

08 March 2006



This one got started back in November, but I've given up on receiving any further replies, or the exclusive mix I was hoping for. But seeing as he's co-headlining Dubloaded this month, I thought I might as well publish the responses I did receive, for anyone out there who's curious to know a little bit more background on the mighty N-Type. I'll probably have a good-natured moan at him about it when I see him this weekend, but really I'm not too upset - I appreciate he's a busy man and I'm grateful to him for taking the time to answer at least some of my questions.

Earlier today I was listening to one of his old Rinse shows in the car - a cassette recording I made directly from the stream last summer. It reminded me of what an incredibly exciting time it was then. The Rinse stream was really reliable during that period and I was locked practically every other night to the sounds of Youngsta & Task, Distance & Quiet Storm, etc. But if there was anyone who really schooled me on the sheer length and breadth of dubstep innovation, it had to be N-Type. The scene still has much more to give us, but I reckon when I look back on it all in years to come it'll be those Rinse shows from mid-2005 that'll really sum it all up for me.

Anyway, here's the interview...

Gutta: So where you from, bruv?

N-Type: Reigate, Surrey...but known as a Croydon-Dubstep hybrid.

G: Can you tell me how long you've been djing, and some background on your early career?

N-T: I've been djing for nine years. Started mixing Jungle and D'n'B, did loads of minor raves and fings then I got into buying dark speed garage kinda stuff. I loved the speed of garage - the 138bpm kinda movement was so me!! I found jungle really easy to mix, so garage was fun cos it was slower and there was such a variety of different sounds involved in it, whether it be vocal, 4x4, 2step, speed garage, and later on Eski, Grime and Dub. I started buyin' garage at Big Apple Records in Croydon, where I met loads of my mates in da scene now! I owe a lot to John, Hatcha, Arf and da Big Apple fam. They introduced me to Carlton who at the time ran Delight FM. That is where I started my career and started gaining links and recognition in the industry and loads of bookings like Garage Delight, License to Rave, and loads of other stuff. I toured loads of different stations while I was on Delight, I loved radio and put in a lot of hard work.

G: How did the transition to Rinse FM come about?

N-T: I stepped up my game when Delight began getting very unorganised down to DTI hitting them on a regs and lack of commitment from members of the team. I still see the management when I'm out and about and they are safe! They looked after me but I knew towards the end there was only one pirate station to be on: RINSE. So I decided to put in sum hard work and finally got a show on Rinse. I was so happy! Fridays 1-3 I was doin'! This was September 2004 just as my remix "Square Off" got signed. I started gaining loads of links and bookings started comin' in.

G: So you were starting to produce tracks as well around that time?

N-T: I was already starting to produce using Reason 2. I suprisingly got my first four tunes signed as soon as I finished them. This is back in late 2003. I didn't have a clue wot I was doin' then! I began refining my production techniques - but even now I have so much to learn!! I never get enough time, so busy doin' design...but that's another story...

G: What would you say were your main influences, either as a producer or dj?

N-T: I always liked garage tempo, more dark stuff like d'n'b but with jungle vibes! That's why I love dubstep! Hatcha, Benny Ill, Walsh, Benga, Skream, Menta, John, and Chef were sum of the crew who lived near me and all contributed to wot I play now. Influences come from artists such as Andy C, Hype & Zinc, Bad Company, Skream, Benga, Loefah, Mala, Coki, Menta, Brockie, Adam F, Roni Size, Plasticman, Geeneus, EZ, EL-B, Ghost Records, Ganja Cru Recs, Philly Blunt Recs, Congo Natty Recs, Zero 7, Tempa Records...loads and loads...

G: You've become a regular dj at the legendary FWD>> club too, right?

N-T: Yeah, I had always wanted to play there from the days of Velvet Rooms (its first venue). Big up Sarah, Amy, Yungz, Gee, Gary, Dugs, Hatcha, all da crew down there at Plastic People!

G: You play an astonishing amount of exclusive tunes in your sets. When did you start cutting dubs?

N-T: Hatcha was the first one to show me about dubplates! I used to see all his tunes and they all looked the same (cut from the same place, Transition Mastering). I was like, "wot are they?". From that moment onwards I was hooked!! I have been cutting solid for years now.

G: Finally, can you give me a brief summary of your recent activities?

N-T: I got a new show on Rinse, Sat 11-1am, which I'm on now! Then Coki, Mala and Loe brought me in at DMZ, which I was so happy about too, cos that rave is the dog's bollox! Since then I have started playing across all boarders! Subloaded and The Level in Bristol were SICK!!!! Big up all Bristol crew - hold tight Pinch, Appleblim, Wedge, Blazey, and yourself of course Mr Gutta. I got a whole load of releases coming out on different labels, and now I have my own label Terrain Records. The first release by SNO is out in stores now.

Update: the next N-Type EP will be released on Dub Police in April, and features one of his biggest tunes to date, "Way Of The Dub". I think the second release from Terrain will be Omen's "Rise", hopefully coming out very soon!

01 March 2006



I love walking on a clear, bright Winter's day. Not walking to go anywhere, just walking for the sake of it, becoming part of the landscape and taking the time to really appreciate the surroundings. Had a bit of a Psychbloke moment recently, when overtaken by a strong urge to photograph the latest piece of graffiti at the local skatepark (see above). Not bad, I guess...about as good as the kidz in my 'hood get. But enough of this nonsense, it's time for...


b0a - Big Block (dub)
Headhunter - Sleepwalker (dub)
Skream - Hag (Tempa)
Dev 79 - From The Get (Slit Jockey)
Waifer - Fire Rmx (Slew Dem Productions)
Jammer - Murkle Man [instrumental rmx] (promo)
Wiley - Carnival (Southside)
Newham Generals (Footsie) - Dirtee Skankin (Dirtee Stank)
Blackmass Plastics - Sickostep (Dirty Needles)
Search & Destroy - Candy Floss [Loefah Rmx] (Hotflush)
Darquan - Bigga Times (Storming Productions)
Chris Clark - Urgent Jell Hack (Warp)
Spank Rock - Backyard Betty (Big Dada)
Jimmy Edgar - Semi Erotic (Warp)
Omen - Frontline (forthcoming on Tectonic)
Moving Ninja - Uranium (dub)

Quite a few different flavaz this time. As usual there's all the latest grime and dubstep releases bought at Rooted last month, plus I popped into DSWAT HQ for a cup of tea and a chat with Armin and grabbed a couple of things there too, including a various artists EP from the Dirty Needles label, which I haven't seen mentioned anywhere. I was particularly taken by the Blackmass Plastics track - a filthy, pulverised little halfstepper called "Sickostep", but there's also some ruff breaks material from Warlock and The Dexorcist, plus a fucked-up 2-stepper from the wonderfully named DJ Controlled Weirdness. Check it!

Armin's also stocking the Slit Jockey mixtape and 7" single, the A side of which, produced by Dev 79, is a manifesto for the Philadelphia grime scene. It's interesting to hear American Mc's, if not actually going all-out Anglophile, then at least acknowledging, and maybe even emulating their British counterparts. US rap and hip hop is such an institution that its hard to believe that the flow of influence could travel the other way too, but here's some early proof. Sorry to Dev for pitching his track down to -7, but it was the only way I could figure to mix it with the UK stuff.

Another possible example of grime infiltrating hip hop came in the shape of a four-track promo from Spank Rock, a Baltimore-based hiphop duo who's debut album, called "Yoyoyoyoyo", is due for release by Big Dada on April 10th. Along with Missy Elliott, 2Live Crew and The Beastie Boys, Spank Rock also cite Dizzie Rascal as an influence, and you can sort of hear that coming through with the grimey electronic beats and synths. But they also draw much from hip hop's rich past too, particularly from the '80s old skool (my favourite era) creating something that is both familiar and satisfyingly fresh. "Backyard Betty" has apparently been a 'white label smash', and I'm rather taken with it myself!

Another surprise in the post was "Throttle Furniture", the new 3" CD from Chris Clark (now called simply 'Clark'), available exclusively at Warpmart. His last longplayer, 2003's "Empty The Bones Of You", was a bit of a masterpiece in my humble opinion, displaying the sort of mature, intricately textured production and deep emotional impact that I always thought Aphex Twin should be doing these days. For this new release (a taster for his forthcoming album) I detect a slightly more playful approach, from the opening cyberdelic waltz of "Herr Bar", the brash, bouncy dischord of "Re-Scar Kiln", the headlong breaks carnage of "Urgent Jell Hack" and the twee synthpop melodies of "Frau Wave". The disc finishes with a beautiful ambient dreamscape called "Dusk Swells", rounding off an excellent display of Chris' formidable production skills that will certainly appeal to anyone who still likes a bit of 'propa' electronica.

On the dubz front, this month's show opens with a lush little slice of watery dubwise electronica from b0a. I haven't really got much to tell you about him, other than he's based in the States somewhere and he sometimes posts on the Dubstep forum. This track appeared in my inbox a couple of months ago and I find it very agreeable. Then there's a track from up-and-coming Bristolian dubstepper Headhunter, who I particularly wanted to feature as he's making his debut on the decks at Dubloaded this month. Anyone in the area who likes what they hear make sure to check him out on the night (full details to follow).

There's also a preview of the next Tectonic release - a three track EP from Manchester's Omen, scheduled to drop later this month. Omen will also be playing out in Bristol this month as part of Noir's big Tectonic special, which looks unmissable. Nearly all the artists released on the label so far - Loefah, Skream, Pinch, Cyrus and Omen - will be performing. Of course there is one notable exception: Moving Ninja. Unfortunately there just ain't enough money in it to justify flying Jabber over from Australia for the event, although I'm sure he'll be with us in spirit. Coincidently, I received a cd-r from Jabber just this week full of excellent tracks. Let's hope someone starts releasing them soon cos he's a wicked producer. I'll definitely be featuring some of these on future mixes, but for now the show closes with the beautiful spectral ambiance of "Uranium".Lock-in, bredrin...