21 December 2004


Well, it's all getting a bit busy in the lead-up to Xmas 'round here, with the kids off school and all that, so this is my final post of the year. Thought I'd leave you all with a couple of tasters of what's to come from Planet Mu's new signings. Must admit I feel a little uncomforable posting tracks that aren't going to be released for some time and, as the contracts haven't even been signed yet, Mike P. suggested I ask the artist's permission before posting, which I got, though they prefer that I don't post the entire track. They didn't say how much I was allowed to reveal, mind, so I've edited them both down to a comfortable four minutes each, which should be enough to give you some idea of what to expect!

First up is Vex'd, an up-and-coming dubstep artist, who's released a couple of things on 12 inch this year. I don't know anything about him/them - their management said they'd send me a biog, but it never materialised. The music's bloody good, though!

MP3: Vex'd - Angels (demo version)

This track will be on the album, which should be coming out in May.

Back to the Amen for a track from 0=0, who is Jason Chatzilias, from Toronto. This is a killer mash-up from his album, which should be coming out in the Summer. Enjoy!

MP3: 0=0 - Xtata V.I.P. (edit)

Okay, that's all I've got time for now. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to all. See you in January....although some of my fellow bloggers might find me lurking in their comments boxes at some point!

20 December 2004


I recall once reading something about Prince's working methods, to the effect that he basically saturated the multitrack tape with sounds and then removed the elements he no longer needed at the mixing stage. The classic example being "When Doves Cry" where, unable to mix the track to his satisfaction, the Purple One had a sudden flash of inspiration and pulled-down the fader on the bassline. With this removed, the track worked perfectly!

Parisian brothers Jean-Baptiste and Frederic Hanak work on a similar principle, except that they don't seem to remove anything. Their music is a riot of messthetic mayhem - vulgar, confused, undisciplined and extremely bloody exciting, I reckon! I like the way the beats don't sound particularly clever or nuanced; it's like they got really drunk, imagined they were Clyde Subblefield (or perhaps Keith Moon!) and started hammering the shit out of a battered electronic drum-kit - in fact, on tracks like "Insects Are Human", the beats are panned across the stereo field in such a way as to suggest two separate, barely-syncopated drum patterns.

I like the fact that they both credit themselves with 'Atari Falcon', as though wearing their obsolete, pre-Powerbook home computers like a badge of honour. Opening track "Pressure" (which is also the title-track on their new 12 inch EP) sounds like a malfunctioning sequencer attempting to replicate The J.B.'s moog-funk wig-out "Blow Your Head"!

I also like the complete lack of decorum. Similar to the psychotic ghettoblaster-crushing primate on the cover, it's clear that dDamage are lacking in social graces. Like two uninvited partycrashers, buzzing on cheap amphetamines, smoking furiously and leaping from one crazy idea to another, babbling with excitement, they just don't know when to shut-up.

MP3:I Feel So BadD

Yet this is a duo who still aren't quite sure what they want to do. Regular doses of pile-driving fuzz guitar suggest that they're closet rock'n'rollers; mangled lyrics recited like nursery rhymes hint at the possibility of songs and then, on "Maeban", a dejected, droning harmonium that reveals that the brothers Hanak have a lot of ideas and feelings to express, but lack the cohesive language to assemble it all in a rational manner which, for the moment, is perfectly fine with me. After 45 minutes in their company, I feel positively intoxicated by dDamage's unrestrained invention.


This album came out back in the Spring, and is the work of one Edward Ma from Los Angeles. Combining phat, twisted shatter-beats with fairly straight, rambling instrumentation (acoustic guitars, pianos, cellos) this is "Windowlicker" for introspective alt. rock headz. The production is impressive throughout, though if I had to make a criticism, it achieves a certain level of sophistication but, without the spell-binding dazzle of Prefuse 73 or varied mood-shifts of Four Tet, the end result is a bit one-dimensional. Perfect as semi-engaging background music or to dip into for brief stimulation, but listening intently for more than three tracks at a time you just wish Ma would shift the emphasis a little, to the extent that "Mildew" - the final, brief, beatless acoustic jam - feels like a revelation. Still, take any track on it's own terms and you can't really fault them as examples of broken-beat Americana in full effect.

MP3: Dex

I could've picked virtually any track at random as an example (you can also check the clips of others like "Ants"or "Mop Head" ), they're all around the same length/vibe, but this one particularly caught my attention for those sweet, wordless female vocals on a hippy, trippy sunshine-daze tip - maybe I'm just missing the Summer....

19 December 2004


Just when I thought I had all the bases covered, I unwrapped the cellophane from one of the CDs that Mike P. sent me, placed the disc in the tray, pressed play and then stood back in awed amazement as a serious contender for Album of the Year was suddenly revealed in all it's glory. Wot a shocker!!

I was going to make some comparisons to everyone from Radiohead's Thom Yorke to Mercury Rev to Vangelis, but a quick google search reveals that this review at musicOHM covers all that already. Steve Hands makes an excellent job of placing Fane in context with some of the most effective/affecting alt.rock artists of recent years. I'd also add that parts of this album remind me of The Flaming Lips' "The Soft Bulletin", maybe even hints of Fennesz or My Bloody Valentine, but as Hands points out,"its a mark of Fane's skill as a composer that Special Forces hints at so many other artists, without ever moving away from the singular vision that defines it."

Fane has indeed invested some special forces into this album. Not just his time and effort, but some naked, private, emotional part of his inner core. Although I struggle to make out what he's singing about most of the time, it's the delivery and the delicious soundworld in which he places it that makes this work on such a profound level. Take "Darknet", for example: utilizing a rhythm track like the sound of light-machinery, over which haunting electronic sustained textures flow like liquid metal, or the utterly arresting electric piano stampede of "In Space"- surely this is left-field electronica that 'normal' people can appreciate? A "Kid A" rip-off, you cry! - but this is a far more focused effort; from the opening hyme-like "Safety Man", to the heartbreaking instrumental closer "Exit New Year", it's immediately apparent that this is an album to be experienced, to become submerged within. Take the 'phone off the hook, lock the doors, turn the lights down and commit yourself to an hour in the company of young Mr. Fane as he takes you on a journey of rare beauty that I suspect will be one of those records, like MBV's "Loveless", who's importance will become ever more apparent over the coming years.

MP3: Freezing In Haunted Water

Here's a full-length track for you to 'cut-out and keep', (the anthemic pull of the 'chorus' being the most obvious choice for a single?) but really you need the whole thing in context to get the most out of this guy's talent.

Yours, blown-away...

18 December 2004


I thought I'd kick-off this little run of Planet Mu reviews with an album from the main man Mike Paradinas himself, here working under his Kid Spatula alter-ego. Although released this year, "Meast" isn't actually new material, it's a two-disc collection of DAT-detritus culled from the period 1994-98. Why get excited by that old stuff? 'Cos it's lush! Like most of the early Mu-ziq albums, this simply doesn't have a sell-by date. The Rephlex debut Tango 'N Vectif didn't sound like the music of 1994 anymore than it does 2004 - it existed in a chronological bubble that seemed oblivious to styles and trends and was therefore preserved in a perpetual state of 'freshness'. I don't consider Paradinas' strongest output to be Dance music, or even electronica - it's more like some beautifully mutated alternative form of synthesized Pop, where '70s children's TV themes influenced the development of the Top 40. C'mon, there's definitely something a bit Noah & Nelly about Paradinas tunes, isn't there?

MP3: Shistner's Bassflex

Part of his enduring charm must come from the methodology; Paradinas at his best works with a palette of Midi-synth presets in conjunction with Cubase, a mixer and some outboard FX, to the extent that he actually switched Richard James on to the creative possibilities of presets (although James never managed to bend them to his own will as masterfully as Paradinas). Even in this age of plug'n'play Grime soundtracks, nobody works a preset as hard as Mike P. It was only when he started messing with drill'n'bass and sampling that Mike started to sound like he was in the same decade as everyone else.

Thankfully, the majority of tracks on "Meast" are more preset-based, allowing Paradinas to focus on melodic invention rather than hours spent editing breakbeats. And what an ear for melody he has! There's always that faint wiff of cheese, but not some mild, tasteless chedder. These tracks have aged like a raunchy, full-bodied lump of Stilton - the sort of thing that'll jazz your tastebuds and probably make you have weird dreams later on. When the breakbeats do surface, on tracks like "Jackel", they're kept firmly in their place, acting as rhythmic anchors for Paradinas' uplifting melodic flights of fancy. Imagine if, when you pushed the 'rhythm on' button on one of those home-keyboards, instead of some poxy waltz-rock beat you got a sped-up James Brown loop to play against - that's the sort of mentality. Elsewhere, Mike gives us creepy introspection on "Mocaseg", proto-bollywood-dubstep ("Carrier"), Aphex-like orchestral scores ("Squirms") and impossibly lovely, wistful tune-fests like "Buttress".

MP3: Buttress

That Paradinas was able to dredge thirty-four unreleased pieces of music from his vaults and assemble them into such a satisfying, life-affirming collection is testament to his unique vision. A Meaty fEAST, indeed - vacuum-sealed for maximum freshness!

17 December 2004


Okay, I'm running out of time with the 2004 run-down, so here's a brief mention for some of the other ill shit I enjoyed this year.

Wiley - Treddin' On Thin Ice
Dizzie Rascal - Showtime
Wiley's much-anticipated debut dropped in the Springtime with barely a mention in blogworld. Having been initially seduced by his instrumental 'Eski-dubs', I was initially a bit disappointed that the album was virtually all vocal-based. Having never written anything about Grime before, I timidly wrote a brief post complaining that "the 'defining' instrumental tracks like 'Eskimo' have been reduced to brief interludes. Shame, 'cause these tracks deserve a wider hearing in their full-length glory. A follow- up 'Instrumentalist' collection is sorely needed, in my view." Thankfully, K-Punk agreed with me. Since then, though, I've learned to appreciate both Wiley's unique delivery and the MCing side of Grime in general.

Wiley's former protege and XL label-mate released his second long-player this year. I haven't mentioned it at all. The thing is, I don't feel like it's my job to write about Dizzie. Others do that far more effectively, and I prefer to champion more underground stuff. Dizzie's more or less famous fer chrissakes! He's even on that bloody Band Aid single!! It took me a while to build-up the enthusiasm to check it, but just to say I think it's a great album - the best thing to hit the 'mainstream' for yonks. His sharp, minimal arrangements and urgent delivery proved more exciting than Wiley's effort, but both albums are important documents of the talents of these two pivotal figures.

V/A - Grime, Grime 2
Mark One - One Way

The dark flip-side of Grime, aka Dubstep. I've covered this area quite heavily recently, so suffice to say if you want to know what's happening in the most exciting new genre of electronica, you need all three of these.

Detroit Grand Pubahs - Galactic Ass Creatures From Uranus
"Whilst the most pervasive approach is minimalist techno with lyrics like "Where my weed at? Where my hoe's at?" delivered by electronically pitched-up helium vocals, there's also the irresistibly phat R'n'B + social commentary of "God Imposters", the string-laden emotion of "Landing In Detroit" (like a downtempo take on Derrick May's "R-Theme") and the spooked-out sci-fi jazz funk of "Bite The Pillow Talk". (June 14th)

"Keyboard textures are unclassifiable soft-focus melodic tones that might have originally been church organs. Beats are smudged, crackly, lo-rez rhythmic apparitions that wheeze and cough in a (no doubt) spliff-induced fog cloud. Samples of English children reciting nursery rhymes turn into needle-jumping lock-grooves. This alone would guarantee a first-class trip-hop album, but then add in the totally unique 'rapping' style and bizarre observational lyrics and we're into a whole new territory" (April 15th)

Squarepusher - Ultravisitor
"Iambic 9 Poetry" is initially startling for it's naturalistic, acoustic-sounding drums (not one of TJ's usual moves), but it's the constantly evolving waves of keyboard melody that really grip the soul. For this is Soul music in it's purist form: an uplifting surge of emotion that seems to be reaching all the way to heaven. You can feel your spirit recharging it's batteries everytime you play it" (April 15th)

MP3:Squarepusher - Iambic 9 Poetry

Felix Da Housecat - Devin Dazzle & The Neon Fever
Miss Kittin - I Com
After the glittering marriage of "Kittenz & Thee Glitz", which both re-ignited Felix's career and introduced Caroline Herve to a wider audience, it was sad to see that they'd fallen-out over money (or something like that, anyway). Was it mere coincidence that both chose to release follow-ups at virtually the same time? Oddly, it was young Kittin's album that seemed the most advanced (mature?), spurning most electroclash cliches for a more varied selection that proved to be an excellent solo debut. Although Felix got quite a roasting for his effort in some quarters, I was perfectly satisfied with "Devin Dazzle..." myself. Sure, maybe he took the electropunk thing a bit too far in places and in so doing lost some of his own personality, but there's still plenty of good, deep, soulful shit from the old Chicago Housemaster here.

Shitmat - Killababylonkutz, Full English Breakfest
Kid 606 - Kill Sound Before Sound Kills You, Who Still Kill Sound

Although operating from different sides of the globe, I feel there's a lot of common ground between these 'Amentalist' artists, who both had a great year, releasing two quality albums each. Here's an 'exclusive' Shitmat tune for you, which I guess must've been one that didn't make the final cut on '...Babylonkuts'. Full-on badbwoy-gabba mayhem, seen?

MP3: Shitmat - Turbo Babylon

Fennesz - Venice
"Somewhere between Aphex Twin's "SAW II" and MBV's "Loveless", it's a beatless, weightless, indistinct, overloaded, isolationist, melodic slice of pure spellbinding magic. At some point in my life I'm sure I must've said that guitars were a spent force. Well, Mr. Fennesz has proved me totally wrong. If you only buy one 'chill-out' record this year, make it this." (June 11th)

Junior Boys - Last Exit
Kanye West - The College Dropout

Two artists who I got into thanks to the excitement of other bloggers. I figure everyone's heard about Kanye West by now and, like Dizzie, he's pretty much off-the-radar for this blog now. Check K-Punk's review of "Last Exit" over at Stylus magazine. Damn, makes you wish Mark would write more about music, don't it?

Team Shadetek - Burnerism
o9 - Church Of The Ghetto P.C.

Venetian Snares - Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding

Quality electronica from across the pond. I've been gradually absorbing the latest offering from the prolific Aaron Funk for months without mentioning it at the blog. How do you describe Venetian Snares' music? It's the sort of thing that MP3 blogging was made for; you just say, "the album is out, here's what it sounds like, make up your own mind..." Here's another 'exclusive' tune for you, that's as good as anything on the album, featuring typically fluid, dislocated breakz and cute kindergarten melodies. I've no idea if or when it'll be released, but it's really, really lovely, in a creepy sort of way...

MP3:Venetian Snares - Axe

!!! - Louden Up Now
Still can't shake the feeling that the album from these NYC punk-funkers could've been better overall, but when it's good it's smokin'!

The Orb - Bicycles & Tricycles
My first new Orb experience for many years, inspired by hearing a track played by John Peel, who will be sorely missed. Dr. Alex and friends are in fine form, retaining the Orb's playful 'cosmic' vibe, but moving things forward a notch with some impressive, chunky grooves and dark, twisted atmospherics.

Richard H. Kirk - Truck Bombers Of Suburbia, URP Vol.2, URP Vol.3, Earlier/Later, Digital Lifeforms Redux
One new album and a stack of anthologies from the Sheffield originator. But you don't want to hear me banging-on about him again, do you?

Obviously this is just the stuff that I've had time to hear and enjoy this year, but I know there must've been loads of other cool releases that I missed, and my apologies to anyone who thinks I've made any serious omissions. I am but one man with a limited amount of time and money. Early next week, just before my Xmas break, I'll be taking a look at some of the other Planet Mu releases that came out this year which, thanks to Mike P, I'm only just discovering.

16 December 2004


Thanks to my clever l'il tracker thingy, I spotted this at the Dubplate forum. Glad to see that one of my posts inspired a new thread there. Of course, my 'Grime Scene Investigations' weren't aimed at these hardcore dudes - they were primers for scene-outsiders who are, like myself, intrigued but confused by what's going on in London at the moment. I don't profess to know anything much about the Grime/Dubstep scene, but I knew even less when I wrote that post!

Consumption's comment about me being a "bit too over analytical" is a fair point I guess, and I know I have my problems - not least my annoying habit of latching-on to specific artists (Plasticman, Digital Mystiks etc) instead of taking a wider view of developments. I can't help it - I'm always looking for the New Messiah.

Do I "write essays for fun"? Erm...K-Punk writes essays. I just spew out a mess of half-formed ideas and hope some of it makes sense. I hate writing essays.

Anyway, just to prove that I bare no grudges, I'd like to point you in the direction of Consumption's website, where there's a selection of MP3 mixes on offer, from Dubstep to Detroit to Old Skool Jungle. Been listening to a few this evening and it's all good.

Seeing as how he's on a Drum'n'bass tip at the mo' I'd definately recommend that newish blogger Spen78 checks out the Jungle mix. I like Dom's blog. Not sure why particularly...maybe it's the honest enthusiasm for music combined with football club supporting. A proper lad's blog. It makes me happy. Anyway, drop by and say hello, I think he's lonely and could use a few comments of support to break that desolate wall of isolation that often developes during the early days of blogging. We've all been there, right?

In other blog news, check Mike Seed's AR Kane post over at Spoilt Victorian Child. And here's a direct link to Anitina, the b-side they recorded for the M/A/R/R/S single. This is the original 7-inch version, which in my opinion is superior to the 12-inch/CD mix. My copy got lost (stolen?) years ago, so it's great to hear it again. Thanks to SVC's Simon for ripping it 'specially for me earlier today.

I'm pleased to report that Kek-W (of Kid Shirt fame) has had another story published in 2000 A.D. comic! I picked-up a copy today - first time in maybe ten years. It's Prog 2005, a 100-page special, costing a hefty £3.95. Blimey, I remember when 2000 A.D. cost about 10p! Mind you, back then it was printed on paper that had the texture of cheap toilet-roll. But this is a well presented, full-colour glossy affair now, no doubt designed to appeal to today's more 'mature' readership. Some cool stories, some amazing artwork - I had fun!

Unsigned Electronica: visit Grasshopper for a selection of MP3s, with a vaguely Venetian Snares scatter-beat vibe.


Here's another six-tracker that I haven't mentioned at all yet, but it's been a hot iPod fave of mine for a while now. Roaming across the current spectrum of cutting-edge sounds, Milanese takes on dubstep, broken-beat, amen-electro crossbreeding and pure experimentation, bending them all to his own demented vision. Opening track "Billy Hologram" is a killer, featuring a fierce grimey riddim overlaid with guttural, almost satanic badbwoy soundbytes that I find both exhilarating and maybe a little bit scary. Even more frightening is closer "Head Bocs", opening with spine-tingling horror movie atmospherics before lurching into a spasmodic, practically traumatised beat mash-down that hits you over the head from all angles. God knows what's going on inside this guy's head, but I dig it. One to watch for '05.

MP3: Milanese - Head Bocs


Although he's been putting-out tracks for a couple of years now, 2004 will be remembered as the year that Jimmy Edgar truly made his mark on the electronic scene. Starting out with the hip hop-flavoured "Access rhythm" EP in January and then, last month, this delicious new six-tracker featuring a more complex milieu of burnished electro-r'n'b futurism that simply glows with dazzling invention. Young Jimmy is the Messiah. The heir to Detroit's techno legacy. Artist, fashion designer, skilled musician, software progammer, all-round clever-clogs. I hate him. But I love his music with a passion. Yet not everyone seems to share this view. Some people who's opinion I respect think he's rubbish, some even dismissing him without hearing a note. Why? I'm not sure. As my friend Aaron often says when faced with incomprehensible negativity: "what's not to like?"

Take second track "Beau" for example. Like Kraftwerk's "Tour De France Soundtracks", it manages to sound minimal and expansive at the same time, as gorgeous clusters of delicately phrased synth texture dance across the stereo field, held together by an irresistible electro groove that I suspect would actually be beyond the capabilities of those Teutonic forebears. Or how about the beautifully nuanced stutter-beats and retro-moog swoops of "Uniform (citation)"? Totally lush - what's the matter with everyone?!

MP3: Jimmy Edgar - Sheer, Make, Serve

Currently my top tune on this release, mainly on account of that wonderfully full-on, slightly outta-tune Arp Odyssey lead that just screams of early '70s synthesised jazz-funk, like Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon". Pure joy. If you don't like this, then the problem is with you, not Jimmy.

15 December 2004


My review of this album was originally tacked-on to the end of my big 'Noise' post back in August. Thought I'd give it a post of it's own, with a couple of added MP3s....

If one were looking for a modern-day album that validates the Noise aesthetic as a force for further exploration, then you could do a lot worse than check out the sonic behemoth that is Pan Sonic's latest, "Kesto". No less a luminary that David Toop, when discussing his new book "Music, Silence And Memory" in this month's Record Collector, cites Pan Sonic as one of the "good examples of electronic musicians whose music is powerful and uncompromising, yet maintaining strong connections with familiar musical approaches". "Kesto" is actually four projects in one, as Finland's finest distill the essence of their muse, extracting and separating the constituent parts, presenting each facet on a separate CD. If we're talking about Noise in it's most literal sense, then disc 1 is where it can be found - in abundance! This presents Pan Sonic at their most violent; chiseling cubist sculptures from huge, granite-like blocks of distortion, or working their fingers through visceral lumps of static clay. My first experience of Pan Sonic was when I saw them live, supporting Suicide in 1998. I was impressed by the apparent level of improvisation - quite unusual for an electronic act - as they wrestled with raw sound: caressing, kneading, throttling....I can still feel that sense of struggle in their studio work; there's an immediacy, a sense of of-the-moment interaction between Man and Noise that suggests heroic, passionate labour. Although there's very little that could be described as 'melodic content' here, by anchoring this fearsome racket to electro-flavoured beats, Pan Sonic inject an accessible element to what would otherwise be an overpoweringly intense experience. I can detect a direct lineage to the late-70s Industrial/Post Punk school. Whilst "Diminisher" is clearly a homage to Suicide (evoking the spectre of the 'journey into hell' sequence from "Frankie Teardrop") and "Mayhem II" kicks with the sci-fi garage rock propulsion of "Nag Nag Nag", one of the strongest comparisons would be with SPK's "Information Overload Unit" album. Anyone who appreciates SPK 'classics' like "Emanation Machine R.Gie 1916" (like standing next to a jumbo jet engine at full throttle) or "Epilept:Convulse" (lurching drum machine with noise-stab punctuation) will feel at home here.

MP3: Pan Sonic - Fugalforce

But for all disc 1's euphoric onslaught, it's disc 2 that's the real gem. The beats remain, but Pan Sonic ease off on the distortion boxes and focus on more sensual textures. The results are some of the most achingly beautiful dronescapes; the deepest rhythm-driven electronic meditation I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. I'm not sure if I'm entirely certain what Matt Woebotnik meant when he spoke of 'Atmosphere' recently, but if you take it to mean a sense of space/place/environment then this stuff's got it in spades. The final track, "Arctic", is maybe one of the finest single pieces of music I've heard in, say, 10 years. Beginning with a simple four-note bass melody and pattering 808 drum pattern, the track swells into a huge corrosive drone of devastating emotional intensity that leaves me breathless and even a little tearful.

MP3: Pan Sonic - Arctic

Disc 3 removes the beats and nearly all melodic content completely, delving into pure abstract ambient sound manipulation. Imagine if you removed the music from Joy Division's "Insight" and just kept Martin Hannant's lift-shaft atmospherics and you'll get the picture. Not as instantly gratifying as the previous discs, it is nevertheless a fascinating excursion. After a low sustained bass-tone, "Sewageworld" kicks-off with the sound of a toilet flushing (very "Faust Tapes"), then develops into a series of clammy drips, clangs and thuds, not dissimilar to the sound effects near the end of Kubrick's "2001:A Space Odyssey" when Dave Bowman arrives at his final destination. "Arches Of Frost" sounds like gigantic concrete cylinders rubbing against each other, whilst "Inexplicable" adds a subtle wash of background tones that reminds me of the imaginary environments of Eno's "On Land".

Disc 4 is one continuous hour-long drone piece - the point where Pan Sonic flatline into total minimal drift. Not the easiest of work to digest, I find it best to just crank it up and go about my business around the house, letting my attention wander in and out of the piece as it slowly absorbs into the very fabric of my home. Coming back to what Boyd Rice said, although it appears be a series of overlapping metallic sustained tones, I keep thinking I can here a female choral effect - but I'm not sure if its actually there or not. Weird.

Album of the year so far, no contest.

For a slightly more informed review of this album, check Micheal Heumann's over at Stylus Magazine.

14 December 2004


MR.76 - HITS OF 76

Kek-W said:

"The MR. 76ix LP on Skam is pretty spiffy: it's got an extremely wide tonal/rhythmic palette veering from Old School Amen Pressure and Splatterbreaks to Deeply lush Pseudo-Juno string-pads and Neo-Electro DMX Plug-in Abuse. There's also some serious B-Boy cow-bell action and a picture of a gorilla's nose on the record label, too. Me like."

MP3:Mr. 76ix - Cancer (coffee cup)

Gutterbreakz said:

"This year I've sort of got used to having my mind blown on a weekly basis. The sheer quality and quantity coming out of the electronic leftfield at the moment is staggering. More stuff than I actually have the time to write about, unfortunately. But this album by Mr.76ix needs to be honoured, worshipped and generally bigged-up forthwith. I have absolutely no idea who this guy is, but clearly he's gonna be big news before long. Imagine a creative entity that is a composite of prime early-'90s Aphex Twin, Autechre at their most seductive, Squarepusher mash-up (with occasional Amen break death-rattle destruction) and latter-day LFO synthetic purism. Yeah, he's that good. I lack the fucking intellect to do a decent review of this one. Just get hold of it immediately."

Metalux- Waiting For Armadillo

Poplife said:

"A female lofi noise duo previously involved with Brides Of No No. I know very, very little about thse guys, but this album is excellent. Any poplife readers know anything about them?

The album, then- vocals cut to eerie shards by distortion, electronic loops turned on and off like they're operating heavy machinery, mantras rather than of melodies. A home made box of confrontational sex-politics electro punk. Like Sister-era Sonic Youth had dispensed with Steve Shelley and sat down with some cheap Rolands and distortion boxes."

MP3:Metalux - Amethyst Dogs

Gutterbreakz said:

"At last, a current American electro act that don't sound like a cartoon pisstake of The Normal. An uneasy alliance of indie lo-fi and the electronic avant garde. Better than Add N To (X). I'm hearing strong echoes of late-70's Sheffield - those clammy analogue synth tones remind me of early League/Cabs home recordings. The singer is amazing - sounds similar to Nancy Blossom, vocalist in late '60s psych/synth group Fifty Foot Hose, but with a nastier streak. Most excellent!"

13 December 2004


I've suddenly become conscious of the fact that there's only a week and a half to go before I take my Xmas/New Year break from blogging, and there's still quite a few things I want to 'big-up' before they become last year's news. Rather than do the standard 'best of 2004' list, I'm going to take a closer look at some key releases that were particularly inspiring to me, starting with some of the things that I wrote about before becoming an MP3 blog, in a last ditch attempt to get everyone interested, kicking-off with some Luke Vibert...

Blissblogger said:

"Fear Luke may have dropped below the T.o.I (that's Threshold of Inconsequentiality) career arc wise and aesthetically (not heard the Kerrier District thing though which has its supporters) but glimmers of the old Vibert magic cling to such as "Sci-Fi Staircase," which seems vaguely descended from (if not an outright remake of) "Shimmering Haze," my favorite tune on Tally Ho!. Ghastly to hear the 303 yet again on the title track, though."

MP3: Wagon Christ - Sci-Fi Staircase

Gutterbreakz said:

"Luke Vibert returns this month with yet another release, this time under his more familiar alias, Wagon Christ. The album is called "Sorry I Make You Lush", and it's superb, assuming you like your wide-screen trippy Avant Garde sampledelia coated in a honey-sweet melodic E-Z Listening layer of gorgeousness, that is. The trademark Wagon Christ sound has been augmented by big dollops of turn-of-the-'70s cheesy Moog synth exotica (think Dick Hyman, Walter Sear, JJ Perrey and countless 'Moogsploitation' albums), fully updated for the 21st Century of course, and (after his recent flirtations with Amen Junglism and Avant Disco revivalism) a strong quota of 'classic' oldskool Hip Hop breakbeats including, on the title track, the 'Apache' break. Oh, the audacity! If ever there was a museum dedicated to the evolution, sounds and grooves of Dance Culture, then surely Vibert would be in line for the curator's job. His hard drive must be choked full of classic samples, which he diligently exhumes, polishes and recycles with such unselfconscious glee that you can't help but smile as yet another dimly-remembered sonic artifact emerges from the constantly shifting flux. Of course, all this could be dismissed as train-spotting nostalgia if not for Vibert's highly imaginative arrangements. His ability to blend seemingly disparate genres and eras into totally unified and unique new shapes is the key to his success, along with that indefinable 'feel-good' factor that, for me, makes this album my nomination for the Official Gutterbreakz Soundtrack To Summer 2004. But what's this? As the album draws to a close, the enraged/anguished voice of Charlton Heston rises out of the mix to cry: "Damn You! God damn you all to Hell!" (and I'm sure you don't need me to tell you where he got that sample from). It's rather out-of-character for Luke to end a record on such a sour note and, come to think of it, the curious album title could be perceived as a bit peevish too. So who's been pissing Vibert off? My guess is that he's had some problems with sample-clearance. Imagine some long-forgotten songwriter complaining about Luke's uncleared use of a sample from some obscure, crappy library record. Luke's response might be "sorry I make you (sound) lush, you ungrateful old git" . This is, of course, pure supposition and conjecture. I really don't have anything more worthwhile to think about."

I never actually got around to writing anything much about this album at the time. I was initially a little disappointed by it, to be honest. It was certainly a departure from all previous work, forsaking the usual polyrythmic shuffle-beats for a straight-ahead disco vibe which, although refreshing, seemed a little contrived and unsuited to Vibert's style. The title also suggested that this was some kind of Cornish response to Metro Area's superb reinvention of instrumental disco muzak, but lacking the dark, spacious feel that made that album so special.

But over the last few months I've grown to appreciate it's strengths, even love parts of it. Vibert's obvious enthusiasm for the genre wins through in the end and you can forgive the occasional lapses of judgment. It's one of those albums that simply exists to make a nice, groovy noise, and I find it works particularly well as driving music. It can be a perfect accompaniment to a good day, or lift your spirits on a bad one. No, it's not an 'important' album, but I'm glad I've made friends with it. Let some of the Vibert love into your life...

MP3: Kerrier District - Yesco

11 December 2004


After upsetting him by badmouthing Curve over at the Idiot's Guide, I thought I'd check on Heath's blog Just For A Day. Looks like he's on a Ze Records tip at the moment, with latest post focusing on Suicide, with their track 'Hey Lord' available for download. A beautiful piece of music...I was actually considering posting it myself nearer Xmas. Maybe I'll go for Vega's equally affecting 'No More Christmas Blues' from the same album. Or maybe that honour should go to 20 Jazz Funk Greats?


One of those acts of sychronicity occured yesterday. As I was writing my post bemoaning the lack of Dubstep MP3s available, MPC was fretting over the lack of actual records available in the genre. I didn't realise the problem was so acute. It's a shame, cos I'm really feeling that scene at the moment and would hate to see it fall apart. I'm hoping that some of the bigger, more established labels like Rephlex and Planet Mu will consolidate on this years' Grime and Mark One albums by signing up more tracks. I'm sure a team like Digital Mystikz could make a superb long-player if given the opportunity. Maybe even Warp might wake-up to what's happening down in Croydon?!

On the subject of Dubstep and Grime, check-out 3am Brooklyn Radio Waves which is a New York-based blog that seems to have come back to life recently, with a lot of musing on the subject. Interesting to see what our cousins across the pond make of it all...thanks for including me in the links bar, too!


"After nearly 18 months of blogging, someone finally offered to send me some stuff for review. That this person is Mike Paradinas, as opposed to some complete nobody, is simply amazing."

Just read back what I wrote a few days ago and realise how arrogant that sounds. What a prick! I'd love to hear from the nobodies! Seriously, I'm up for giving some space to unsigned talent. I figure everyone knows what I'm into by now, so no indie bands, please. Where's all those bedroom producers cooking-up some decent electronica? If anyone wants to send me a link to their site, or e-mail me a bio and an MP3 or even send me a cd-r, then please do so.


Speaking of Planet Mu, I thought it was time I shared-out a bit of the love. Remember Bizzy B's wicked "Science EP" that came out a few months back? Good stuff, wasn't it? Well, here's another slice of Amen-intensity for you....

MP3: Bizzy B - Deep In My Soul

I've no idea if and when this tune will be released - it's on that compilation Mike P. made for me, which is full of stonking tracks that are, as far as I can see, all unreleased. Any accusations that these are merely 'cast-offs' - tracks that weren't good enough to make the final cut - are proved wrong within seconds of placing the disc in the CD player. There's some BIG tunes on here, and I'll be putting a few more up in due course.

Anyway, if "Deep In My Soul" doesn't convince you to buy the EP, it's either because you've already got it, or are simply stone deaf.

09 December 2004


Another great 'Grime Reportage' blog to add to your bookmarks is Drumz Of The South
(thanks for the nice words about Gutterbreakz, too), who's latest post concerns Dubstep meastros Digital Mystikz playing live on Radio 1 next week. This is the blog that gave us a Kode 9 interview recently, and I see that they also interviewed the Mystikz way back in August. Excellent work! Where else are you gonna find such incites into the development of the 'Croydon' scene? Not the press, that's for sure. As Kode 9 pointed out, "the electronic music press is fucked".

Anyway, of all the Dubstep artists that I've heard, I think Digital Mystiks are one of the most exciting. Although it's not so evident on the "Grime 2" compilation, several of the tracks I've heard from their more low-profile 12 inches have a dark energy; a barely suppressed mood of anxiety and dread, rivaled only by Slaughter Mob. Perhaps we need a new catchphrase for this sort of vibe. I think it was Reynolds who came up with 'Grim'. I quite like Dreadstep myself.

MP3: Digital Mystikz - Lost City

This is the title-track from a fairly recent EP ("DMZ002"), which I 'acquired' recently on one of my regular trawls through P2P world (apparently Loefah is involved with this release too). I'm almost tempted to put the whole EP up, it's that good. But I'd feel uncomfortable about doing that. I'm not in the business of giving away someone's entire release, especially when you consider that these are hard-working people. If you read the interview you'll see that the Mystikz are holding down full-time jobs and raising families, just like everybody else. They're cutting-back on sleep to work on this music (which might explain why tracks like this have such a hollow-eyed, 'walking-dead' feel about them!). Their commitment should be rewarded, but apart from a few WMA clips, there's no way to support this music online yet. I like to collect full-length MP3s at a reasonably high KB rate, so have to dig around a bit on Soulseek to find them. I'd like to buy them legitimately, but until Bleep get into this scene, or Black Market Records get their MP3 store up-and-running, I'm left with no alternative. Why don't I buy the 12 inches? Fair point, but that's a format I'm just not into buying anymore. I want to hear high-quality MP3s direct from the master 'tapes'. Surely that's not such a difficult request?

The least I can do for now is let everyone know that the vinyl release is available to order from Warpmart and Boomkat.

More power to the Mystikz...if they ever play here in Bristol I'll buy 'em a pint or something.


Thanks for the responses to yesterday's post. To think I was actually considering disallowing comments on that one for fear of ridicule! Glad to see it clicked with a few people, in some cases to an almost supernatural degree. I did indeed 'uhhm and ahhh' about doing it for some time, and kept coming up with excuses not to, but when I got the Kinks theme going it all started to fall into place. Plus, I had to rise to the challenge laid-down by John Eden over at Dissensus the other day. But it was hard...the hardest thing I've ever had to wrench out of my guts. Don't expect another post like that for a while!

Oh, and thanks to 'anon' for pointing out that those TV commercials were actually for HP printers, not Kodak. Just shows how much attention I actually pay to these things.

I hadn't actually seen K-Punk's latest piece when I wrote it, yet mine does seem like a deliberate counterpoint to his 'anti-natal' theme. Pure coincidence, I assure you. For a true and proper response, check out Loki's post, paying particular attention to Psychbloke's comments, where he gets out the textbooks and takes Mark to task on an intellectual battlefield that I'm too dumb to get involved with. I personally have no qualms with K-punk. What I get out of that post at the end is a condemnation of the 'nanny-state' and a fervent call for personal choice and individualism. I choose to reproduce and raise offspring. I also choose to smoke, when the mood takes me (though not at the same time, of course!)

Yesterday was a bitch, but not because I was wallowing in misery. No, it's because both my lovely children have heavy colds and the baby (whose now turning into a toddler -god help me!) has been in an absolutely foul mood all day, only relieved by brief, fitful slumbers and occasional periods of tranquility when the Calpol rush kicks in. For a suitable soundtrack to my day, listen to this:

MP3:Mu-Ziq - Mr. Angry

This migraine-inducing slab of terror-techno is basically what I was dealing with all day, with added beats. It comes from the 1995 album "In Pine Effect" which, like all the early Mu-Ziq albums, retains a distinctive charm all of it's own. Surely the first post-Aphex Twin artist to find a unique voice in the medium.

Mu-Ziq is of course Mike Paradinas, who's also the one-man record label operation known as Planet Mu. Mike is also responsible for the only good thing that happened yesterday, when the postman called with a chunky Recorded Delivery package that was stuffed with Planet Mu CDs. You see, last week Mike e-mailed me to ask if I was interested in hearing a few things. Of course I was interested! After nearly 18 months of blogging, someone finally offered to send me some stuff for review. That this person is Mike Paradinas, as opposed to some complete nobody, is simply amazing. Now I'll start getting serious delusions of grandeur!

The contents of this package were unbelievably generous. I thought he was just sending me an advance cd-r of next years' Virus Syndicate/Mark One album. But I also got a stack of shrink-wrapped finished CDs from Planet Mu's recent and forthcoming release schedule and, best of all, a unique compilation CD-R entitled "A Comp. 4 Nick" featuring what appears to be a selection of stray unreleased tracks from Mu's artist roster, including some exclusives from recent signings 0=0 and Vex'd. What with all the other stuff going on, I haven't even begun to sift through the hours of music on offer here, but rest assured I intend to give each and every one the Gutterbreakz treatment over the coming weeks.

Thanks Mike, you're the best.

06 December 2004

I'm off out partying again tonight, so this is just a quicky to say that Kek-W's review of The Fall gig, and all the other stuff that happened before and after (or should that be 'after and before'?) has finally arrived. I think we'll take that as the official document of the evening. And looks like disposable analogue cameras still have the edge on those fancy digital things, eh Psychy? ;-)

Also, just in case any of my visitors don't read the Idiot's Guide (and if not, why not?), I'd just like to second Loki's recommendation for new blogger Kid Kameleon. If this first offering is anything to go by, I think we're gonna be in for quite a few treats in the future from this fella....
I'm a bit bogged-down with other things this week, so don't expect a great deal of excitement here for the next couple of days. I'm also experiencing ongoing difficulties accessing and posting at my Blogger account. It's starting to become a real drag. Anyone else experiencing this?

In the meantime, in case you hadn't already noticed, Moebius Rex has an exlusive Aphex Twin MP3 on offer, from an as yet untitled and unconfirmed EP. Where the hell did he get that from?!

Also, thanks to Robin over in Silicon Valley for sending me the link to DeepHouse Page.Com,
a truly impressive archive of mixes from the past and present of the Chicago House scene. Some cool vintage flyers too! There's a gigantic amount of music on offer here - it's almost mind-boggling! I had a bit of trouble loading the RAM files, but many of the mixes are available as MP3s too, like this wicked set by Farley 'Jackmaster' Funk from 1987. Relive the golden age of House for some serious spiritual nourishment. Cheers, mate!

05 December 2004

Psychbloke makes one of his rare attempts at music critique, with a personal reaction to seeing The Fall at the Bristol Bierkeller last Friday. Of course, being Psych(ology)bloke, he makes little comment about the actual music, preferring to linger on all the funny little details/eccentricities that come with the package, which is actually the stuff that I found most fascinating too. I was stood just behind him in the audience and concur with everything he says. Psych - you bloody nailed it, my son.

My main complaint was that the drumming wasn't up-to-scratch. On the more repetitive songs it worked fine, but on the tunes that I was familiar with, like "Mr. Pharmacist" and "Hip Priest" you could tell that it was a bit sloppy. However, after the show Kek-W informed me that they'd apparently only recruited the drummer about 40 minutes before the show, so on that basis it came off pretty damn good.

The young lady on keyboards was indeed extremely foxy. Interestingly, when that guy invaded the stage and started putting his arms around Mark E., it was she who leaped (or should that be 'tottered' due to outrageously high-heels) to his defense, pulling the drunken oaf away and giving him a good talking to before the security boys hauled him off-stage. Tuff babe! She looked young enough to be Mr. Smith's granddaughter, mind.

There isn't much else I can add, really. Top post, matey!

incidentally, it was of course an absolute pleasure to make the 'proper' acquaintance of my fellow 'Idiots', Loki, Kek, Psych and (very briefly) Farmer-Glitch. See you next time, guys....

POST SCRIPT: Just spotted Loki's own slightly bizarre account of the evening...
but what's that about me 'reeking of mini-moogs'? Kek was the one with the Moog T-shirt on!

04 December 2004


Last year saw a revival of interest in Cabaret Voltaire, and this year, we should all be focusing on their central figure - the Cabs' heart of darkness - Richard H. Kirk. In the next couple of month's we're gonna see a slew of re-issues and unreleased material from the great man hitting the streets. Here's what's happening:

19th April
URP VOL. 2 (Intone CD)
The second installment of unreleased dance projects from the mid-late '90s. Expect more latin-tinged hi-octane electro/disco.

19th April ?
BCD/Biochemical Dread - False Kings Of The Earth/Indiana Cuba 7 (D-Pulse 12 inch)

Lifted from last year's "Bush Doctrine" album, this has taken a while to get completed, as explained by d-pulse's Dean:

"It's been a very long time coming, but the oft-delayed dPulse/Pulsolid release of the Biochemical Dread 12" 'False Kings of the Earth' b/w 'Indiana Cuba 7' has finally entered its final stages.

A good deal of the delay was stemmed from remastering the original Bush Doctrine version of 'Indiana Cuba 7', a process that took two mastering engineers to capture the essence of the track and translate it to vinyl.

The second (and final) master has now been approved by all involved and the record will hit the presses early in the week.

Of course, we are immensely proud to have the opportunity to release 'False Kings of the Earth' and 'Indiana Cuba 7' on vinyl and are looking forward to the release of this record...

This edited and mastered for vinyl version differs slightly from the album version of 'Indiana Cuba 7', most especially in the outtro...

For more information on the release:


Thanks for your continued support!"

17th May
Sandoz - Digital Lifeforms (CD)

A re-issue of one of Kirk's early-90's technofunk albums. This is one of my favourites. Apparently it'll be a two-disc release...not sure what's gonna be on the second disc yet. Can't wait to find out....

17th May
Richard H. Kirk - Earlier/Later Unreleased Projects Anthology 74/89 (Grey Area Of Mute CD)

This is the big one....Kirk's own 'Attic Tapes' - a two disc collection of never- before-heard audio experiments from the early days, although it will also include the excellent 12inch mix of "Martyrs Of Palestine" from '86. Mandatory listening for everybody, understand?

Kirk will also be playing at Throbbing Gristle's festival thingy in May.

More info/reviews to follow....

03 December 2004


Last week, whilst hailing the mighty FUSE, I made some off-hand derogatory comment about Richie Hawtin's more famous alter-ego, Plastikman. But then I realised that I hadn't actually heard any new Plastikman tunes since buying the second album "Muzik", way back in 1994. The ultra-minimal acidic tekno on that record just wore me down and turned me off his stuff. But then I thought, maybe it'll sound fresh ten years on. So I gave 'em a spin. Some tracks, like the 12 inch "Spastic", actually still sound pretty mind-blowing - those scuttling, insectoid 808 patterns!! Others are maybe a bit too samey and over-long (a regular problem with much electronica at that time) but things like the appropriately titled "Lasttrack" on "Muzik" sound lush and spiritual with those much-needed splashes of choral melody.

So then I thought I'd explore some of the music he's made in the interim with a view to posting an MP3 or two. But then I discovered Plastikman's web-site and realised I didn't need to. Get this: just about everything Hawtin released under the Plastikman name can be listened to, in full, at the site. There's no options to buy or download, but as long as you're happy to play 'em off the media player within the site, you can basically listen to any track, free of charge, any time. It's one of the most well-designed (in a fittingly minimal style, of course), generous artist's official sites I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. I cue'd up a whole bunch of tracks on the player - my PC's been spitting-out Plastikman shit all afternoon. Brilliant! If you fancy discovering or reassesing his music, give it a go...

Moving on, I got sent a link to this interesting thread at the Rinse FM forum. Basically, it's Plasticman and a whole bunch of others including Kode 9 kicking-off on the whole Grime Vs. Dubstep argument. Things get pretty heated in places. Anyone who's been following with interest my efforts to make some sense of it all should definitely read it, 'cos you're getting it straight from the horse's mouth.

MP3: Plasticman - Cha

I know I said no more MP3's this week, and I was intending to post this track sometime next week, but couldn't resist slipping it in now, whilst the topic is still reasonably 'hot'. This is the A-side of the twelve inch released a little while back on his own Terrorhythm imprint. Of all the alleged Dubstep/FWD producers, Plasticman seems to be the one who connects with 'true' Grime the most, and "Cha" is one of his tunes that most people 'in-the-know' seem to agree is genuinely Grimey. It's a minimal, relentless riddim with ominous bass drone who's sheer emptiness in the foreground is presumably highly conducive for MC's to bust a ryhme over the top. In the past, a successful club track had to be constructed in such a way that it was 'mixable', pandering to the needs of the DJ's. For a track to work as Grime, it must also give priority consideration to the MCs - allowing the space for lyrical flow to develop. Essentially, it must be constructed from the outset as a fluid wash of rhythmic background.

02 December 2004


Received an e-mail today from a certain semi-famous, NYC-based music journalist informing me that he's getting timed-out when trying to download MP3s. So last week wasn't just an isolated hiccup. Guess I pushed my luck with those three Belgian tracks yesterday. This is getting ridiculous! Okay, no more new MP3s for the rest of the week, and hopefully everyone who wants them will be able to suck 'em down at some point before Monday. My sincerest apologies.

In the meantime I've added a few more names to my blogroll after noticing them in my tracker stats. Of particular note is Meobius Rex, an MP3 blog that I'd heard of but never gotten around to checking out. I seem to be getting a lot of referrals from this one, so hopefully can return the favour. Incidentally, the highest percentage of referrals come from the MP3 Blogs Aggregator, but after that the highest from an individual blog so far is Silverdollarcircle. Cheers, Simon!

I'm thinking that I'll have to start sub-dividing my blogroll into categories - it's getting a bit unwieldy. If I had a 'Grime Reportage' category, then it would definitely include Ghetto Postage, which although hailing from Toronto, seems to be really on the ball, esp. this cracking post about his adventures in London at the Eskimo Dance event.

I was pleased to see I've had ten hits from Belgium. Hi guys!! The thing that these trackers can't tell you is the sort of age groups reading this blog. I sometimes wonder if my 'oldskool' MP3s are just nostalgia trips for my fellow thirty-somethings, or if there are any younger readers for whom things like Technotronic are an unknown quantity. And you can't tell the male/female percentages either. I bet it's 99% blokes!

Incidentally, I've not long finished watching a BBC1 documentary on Brian Wilson's "Smile" album. I love the Beach Boys, me. I'll take anything up to and including "Holland" and I've got quite a few bootlegged bits from the original "Smile" sessions. So why haven't I bought the new, finally finished album yet? Dunno. Just can't get excited by the idea of this re-recording, even though my mate Aaron (another Wilson worshipper) reckons it's ace. Really enjoyed the documentary tonight, though. I'll get that album sooner or later...but when I'm good and ready.

Now what to do for the rest of the week? Well, I've got The Fall at the Bristol Bierkeller to look forward to on Friday (see you there Loki, Kek-W, Psychbloke, Farmer-Glitch and any others from the West Country massive who fancy it - maybe Rowche from SVC?), but until then....well, maybe I'll post some more bullshit at Loki's blog for a laugh....

01 December 2004


Paul Automaticforthepeople continues his gradual metamorphosis into an MP3 blog with yet another forgotten gem from the bottomless pit of NRG resources that is Rave Culture. "...a pretty decent tune from that moment when 909 kicks were giving way to stuttering breaks" says Paul. Indeed. I find that whole early-90s Hardcore scene fascinating. Observing in retrospect the gradual evolution of the breakbeat from mere workmanlike adornment - simply adding an extra element of funkiness to those otherwise fairly clinical 909 patterns - towards the 'rhythmic danger' and breakbeat science of Jungle/D'n'B.

The Belgian scene never really got as far as Jungle. It evolved in completely the other direction, ultimately leading to the speedcore machine-muzik of Gabba (one of the interesting things about current 'Amentalist' artists like Shitmat is that they combine those two seemingly disparate strands - incorporating whiter-than-white Gabba-fascism with black-as-night ragga/jungle influences). But for a time, commencing around 1990 and reaching it's commercial zenith in 1991, breakbeats were everywhere in Euro-rave. The archetypel Belgian hardcore sound of, say, T99's "Anasthasia", combines the dark, riff-driven techno of Beltram with an efficient, unedited breakbeat loop and accessible arrangements that betray it's origins in Hip-House. Yes, Hip-House. That commercially viable blend of hooks, raps and breaks underpinned by the omnipotent 4/4 kick of House that was a brief phenomenon at the end of the '80s that made stars of everyone from The Beatmasters, The Rebel MC and the lovely Betty Boo.

Turns out that the Belgians were quite adept at utilizing this particular style. Witness Hi-Tek 3's delightful Top 20 hit "Spin That Wheel", featuring uber-bitch Ya Kid K. Originally released on the Belgian ARS label, it's subsequent licensing in the UK by the Brothers Organisation proved an astute move, especially when it was tied-in with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

Hi-Tek 3 featuring Ya Kid K - Spin That Wheel (ARS, 1989)

MP3: Hi-Tek 3 featuring Ya Kid K - Spin That Wheel

Of course, Ya Kid K was already well on her way to brief stardom, having provided the vocal on Technotronic's mega-hit "Pump Up The Jam", which peaked at #2 the previous year. The brainchild of Belgian producer Jo Bogaert, Technotronic would go on to rule the UK charts throughout 1990. Although mildly dissed by LFO at the start of "What Is House", I always had a fondness for Technotronic's clinically precise take on Hip-House. By that I mean I'd always turn-up the volume on the radio whenever hits like "This Beat Is Technotronic" came on. Think of it as a guilty pleasure, like Girls Aloud today. And let's not forget that Grime/Dubstep producer Plasticman saw fit to excavate "Pump Up The Jam"'s rallying cry recently. Bogaert rarely used breakbeats in his productions, favouring a very pure synthetic europhile sound that still managed to sound irresistibly groovy.

Technotronic - Megamix (ARS, 1990)

MP3: Technotronic - Megamix

I've been dying to post a Technotronic tune for ages. Couldn't decide which one though, so opted for the megamix cash-in (#6 in October 1990) which features all the hits up to that point, edited together in a post-Latin Rascals stuttery style, and featuring just about every Hip-House cliche in the book. Marvelous!

Next time I'll be taking a look at the post-HipHouse Belgian breakbeat rave stuff that exploded into the UK charts like scud missiles throughout 1991, but for now let's just take a quick detour to The Netherlands, and a track released that year on the mighty 80 Aum Records.

MP3: Incubus - The Spirit

From the 'Volume 1' EP (not sure if there was a volume 2), this track might not have crossed-over to the charts over here, but it's a perfect example of what was going on. Taking it's lead from Beltram's "My Sound", but adding euphoric lashings of staccato bleepy rifferama and a healthy dose of breakbeat undertow, "The Spirit" remains a beautifully preserved period-piece. Your ass moved, or your money back.