28 April 2005


Headphone Sex getting on a serious Detroit Techno tip at the moment, too. Follow the link to that new Juan Atkins compilation on Tresor. Essential purchase for anyone wanting to explore Magic Juan's legacy.

In an effort to further the Atkins revival, here's another classic that didn't make it onto "20 Years Metroplex: 1985 - 2005", randomly chosen from the Gutter collection:

MP3: Model 500 - Sound Of Stereo

A couple of other specialist Detroit blogs: Techno Rebels and The Motown Elavator (based in Spain, of all places!).

Oh, yeah - and here's a link to Matt Woebot's seminal "29 Detroit Techno 12"s", originally published at the T.W.A.N.B.O.C. blog in 2003. A sobering document for those people (like me) who think they know their shit. Read and learn, muthafuckaz...

Back to the future!

26 April 2005


Way back in October 2003, I was ranting about the lack of re-issues of classic Chicago House and Detroit Techno. I'm pleased to see that the situation appears to be changing for the better. Certainly in terms of vinyl, there's been quite a few interesting compilations and represses of late. To be honest I feel like a bit of an old fart going on about this stuff, but it's in my blood and defines my youth, as well as my age. I guess bigging-up re-issues is the Dance Culture equivalent of the 'Byrds-Bore', harking on about how great music was in the old days and kids today don't know jack-shit about quality etc etc. And whilst I have little or no interest in the scene currently termed as 'House Music', I'll go down fighting the cause of the Chicago Originators. There's a brutal simplicity about these artifacts that probably comes from the conditions under which they were created. Without any of today's processing power, people like Adonis, Pierre, Fingers etc (spot the quote!) built their beats using what was then regarded as antiquated/discarded Roland machines like the TR-808/909/707 rhythm composers, TB-303, MC-202 etc. Since then of course, these machines have become highly sought-after by those who like to keep their sounds 'authentic', in the same way that rock groups prize certain types of guitars, amplifiers and FX pedals. This is entirely accountable to the way that the Chicago and Detroit artists pushed these devices to their limits in the late '80s. The 909 open hit-hat. The 808 snare. The 303 acid squiggle. All have become cliched, formatted sounds that continue to drive dance music to this day.

Not only do those old records define a sound and a culture, they also define a generation. I doubt anyone born before 1966 ever felt the urge to 'Jack'. I pick that year for it's symbolic significance, rather than accuracy, as it represents a watershed year for the previous generation in the same way that '88 means something to their children. The '77 revolution was a half-generation hiccup - my dad liked Punk when it came along. He started coming home with strange 7 inch singles by groups like X-Ray Specs and declaring them the best things he'd heard for years (to his credit he always hated Prog). But a decade later he couldn't understand House music, or Hip Hop for that matter. He'd hit a certain age where his senses were unable to assimilate something that different. And I believe it's absolutely crucial for a young person's development to be into something that your parents cannot comprehend. Fuck The Beatles and The Stones. Fuck Elvis. Fuck Hendrix and fuck you too, Pops. I'd rather Jack.

It's a funny thing: even though it was an awful cash-in record concocted by Pete Waterman and his cronies, the Reynolds Girls' "I'd Rather Jack (than Fleetwood Mac)" has become something of a personal manifesto. True, over the years I have explored many records from the 60's and '70s, yet still I resolutely refuse to listen to Fleetwood Mac to this day, and it's all due to that bloody song! Perhaps because, if I did embrace the Fleetwoods, it would be the final admission that I am no longer A Young Person (or at least young at heart). Actually, there is a Fleetwood Mac CD in my house ("Tango In The Night"), but it's my wife's. She hasn't listened to it for years. I bet if I threw it in the bin she wouldn't even notice.

A few weeks ago, my good friend A. came to stay for the weekend, on one of his rare visits to Bristol. We spent a whole evening going back-to-back on the decks in my living room, just taking it in turns to play a tune to each other, seamlessly cross-faded, with our mate Dave and my eldest son for an audience (although Gutter Jnr. soon got bored and decided to watch a DVD with the headphones on). One of the first things A. played was some bloody obscure Fleetwood Mac album track! Obviously I didn't recognise the song and made some derogatory comment about it sounding like REO Speedwagon. Suffice to say I was not converted. But the night did throw up some fascinating soundclashes, like Jimmy Edgar colliding with Ornette Coleman. Best of all was when A. decided to break out his "Anthology of American Folk Music" box set. As the grainy sounds of a bygone age enveloped our senses, I felt suddenly compelled to mix-in Armando's "151", a brutally minimal slice of first-generation Acid House. The effect was amazing. We all just freaked-out at how brilliant the two sounded together. We then tried it with several other tracks and the result was the same each time: crucial! It was two different forms of American Folk music, 40 years apart, coming together in total harmony. I know we were all a bit pissed by that point, but I swear it was incredible. As Dave commented: "You guys really ought to be taping this".

"151" can be found on "Jackin' The House Vol.1", a double-vinyl set released on JTH Records in 2003, although I only discovered it myself a couple of months ago. It features some wonderful Acid/Jack music from the likes of Adonis, Phuture and Mr. Fingers and it's great to hear them on freshly-cut vinyl, rather than the crappy old C-90s that most of my Chicago collection is stored on. Points deducted for using the 'Martin Luther King' version of "Can You Feel It", but otherwise it's all class. Available at Warpmart and Boomcat.

Volume 2 arrived last year and continues the quest to unearth all those forgotten gems. Includes a crazy Latin percussion-drenched tune called "Cuban Jackin" by the Rio Rhythm Band that was previously unknown to me. Points deducted for: printing Phuture's utterly awesome "Your Only Friend" on the label, but not actually cutting the track. I was fucking devastated when I found out. I spotted this collection at Warpmart a week ago and ordered it straight away, but now it appears to be out of stock everywhere. Sort it out, Marcus!! I think there might be a Volume 3 out there somewhere too, but I haven't tracked down a copy yet.

Venerable re-issue label Soul Jazz have also finally realised that the Chicago sound needs to be re-assessed, with the imminent release of "Acid: Can You Jack" in May. Although it covers a wider period (up to 1995) the tracklist looks intriguing. Includes Phuture's "Phuture Jacks", which was a featured MP3 at the Gutterbox a few weeks ago. Unlike the JTH releases, this will also be available on CD, so even if you're one of those who disconnected their turntable years ago, there's no excuse for not supporting this venture.

The equally innovative contemporaneous sounds from Detroit are also beginning to get re-pressed too. I came across TNO Records' excellent "Rare Techno: Classics From Detroit and Beyond 2" at Boomkat a few weeks ago. This is just totally essential, featuring Ron Trent's epic "Altered States", Rhythim Is Rhythim's "Nude Photo" as well as a bit of Brit-Techno from Musicology (aka B12). Not forgetting two offerings from Carl Craig in his Psyche and BFC guises that serve as a timely reminder of just how great he was on those early records. This is deeply spiritual shit - nourishment for the fucking soul -the Gutterbreakz equivalent of Gospel music. Damn, I really must track down volume 1!! Also included is a wonderful cut from the Originator: Juan Atkins aka Model 5oo. I notice that Tresor have re-issued a couple of his other tracks recently: "Off To Battle" b/w"Alleys Of Your Mind" ( which was the very first track he released as Cybotron way back in 1981). Cornerstones, mate. Fucking Cornerstones.

Although not quite of the same vintage, the recent re-press of the Underground Resistance 1998 triple-vinyl set "Interstellar Fugitives" is another must-have. I must admit it completely passed me by first time around (my head was in a completely different place back then - but I don't want to talk about that). I came across it by chance in the racks at Replay Records recently, but it's also available at Boomkat. Although I'm not a fan of everything that UR have released, this particular collection of Militant Techno beats hits the spot, featuring choice cuts from Drexciya, Suburban Knight and of course UR head-honcho Mad Mike. Of all the second-wave Detroit labels, it's UR that have most fervently mined the Juan Atkins 'Black Kraftwerk' blueprint, with Chaos's "Afrogermanic" being a perfect example of the Detroit-Dusseldorf interface in full effect.

I'm probably just scratching the surface of the current re-issue market - but it's all I can cover with my limited resources for now. Its interesting that in nearly all cases the music is being re-pressed on vinyl, rather than CD. This suggests that they're not aimed at 30-something males who want a handy collection to pop into their car CD-changer - they're intended to be used. These formally expensive/difficult to find rarities are being freshly-cut so that those classic grooves can find their way back into DJ sets once more. Presumably there is a market for it. If so, where are the clubs that these tunes are getting played?!

I wanna be there...

24 April 2005


In the first of what I hope will be a regular series of MP3 mixes from areas of Dance Culture not normally covered by this blog, Gutterbreakz is hosting a mix from the Hatfield Peverel Junglist Massive. "Who?!", you cry. Well, I haven't yet ascertained the connection with this Essex village, but the Peverlist Massive is basically one person - Tom Ford, proprietor of Rooted Records, one of the nicest little specialist record shops in Bristol. That's Tom above, slightly worse for wear, entertaining the crowd in the bar at Subloaded II at about 4.00am. Whilst the dubstep revolution was busy going on next door, Tom was taking a righteous trip down memory lane, breaking out some prime mid-90's Drum 'n Bass for a small yet appreciative (and very mashed) audience of Red Stripe-guzzling bassheads. Tom's first love is D'n'B, and his shop is full of the stuff. Now, whilst I'll occasionally wax lyrical about the old school junglists and the breakcore Amentalists, I freely admit that I know fuck all about what's really happening in modern underground Junglism. So I invited Tom to supply me with a mix of some of his favourite joints from the past year or two, to give me (and all the Gutterheadz) an idea of what's going down. Of the artists featured, the only name I recognise is Digital, but that's 'cos he's been around for years. A couple of the record labels are familiar too. Be warned: this is strictly hardcore bizzness...none of that 'ironic' Shitmat sampledelica or Amen Andrews 'raves from the grave' nostalgia here. So, if you think you can handle it...

Download the Hatfield Peverel Junglist Massive 'Xmas 04' Mix


Nucleus & Paradox - Think About It (Offshore Recordings)
Nucleus & Paradox - Tell Me The Truth (Esoteric)
Special Forces - Babylon VIP (Tekdbz)
Paradox - Our Future Is Extinction (Paradox Music)
Equinox - Acid Rain (Breakage remix)(Inperspective)
Digital - Natty Dread (Reinforced)
Optiv & Bulletproof - Black Cell (1210)
Digital - Hard Ears (Function)

Although Tom is a committed Junglist, his shop (pictured right) also caters for Reggae, Dub, Hip Hop and Electronica tastes, as well as being Bristol's only dubstep specialist. Currently in stock are two essential new dubstep releases: the third installment from Kode 9's Hyperdub label - Burial's "South London Boroughs" EP (also available at Warpmart) and the first release from Ital, Skream's awesome "Traitor/Angry". If you're in the Gloucester Road area this week, I strongly advise you to grab them. Failing that, if you want to order them online (or just want to tell Tom how much you like his mix) you can e-mail him.

On the subject of grime/dubstep (aren't I always these days?), check Blackdown's recent experience at Forward>>, where the East and South London crews collided in a very positive exchange of energy. Great to hear that Wiley is down with the DMZ axis...who knows where it'll all lead...? Oh, and check out the clips of Blackdown's own tunes which should be doing the rounds in the near future, plus some classic Rinse FM sets . Top blog, innit...

20 April 2005


One thing you didn't hear much of at Subloaded was breakbeats. Not that I'm complaining, 'cos I generally prefer the 'stiffer' artificial step-time riddims of Grimey Garage. The breakbeat is essentially a means of adding 'human' funkiness to sequencer-driven music, but you can sound funky as hell with a bloody metronome if you get the arrangements right. But I do love the ol' breaks, especially the more grungy sounds coming from old Rare Groove cuts which is probably why I still like the junglist/breakcore and some of the old hip-hop and Big Beat stuff (and check the Rum & Black tune at the Gutterbox for some classic early Shut Up & Dance ruff-rave breakage). But a lot of the modern breakbeat (or 'Nu Breaks' if you prefer) leaves me cold. The breaks generally sound too clean, digital and formulated - where do they come from? Surely not lifted from the drum-breaks on ancient '70s funk obscurities? Are they the sort of things you can get on those sample CDs? An endless supply of prefabricated grooves to suit any desired tempo?

Freakaboom13Prior to my dubstep epiphany, the last time I delved into the world of 12 inch dance music was around 2002-03 when I got curious to hear some of this nu breaks style; just picking up random releases from labels like Functional Breaks and Freakaboom. I thought some of it was okay, up to a point, but mainly just fairly boring in an amorphous, trancey sort of way. I'm sure much of it sounded great in the clubs, but probably not the sort of clubs I would attend. Been listening to a few tunes again today and can't really say that view has changed, although tracks like Starfire's "Freq Out" still sound quite pleasing with the prescient warped bassline and bleepy arpeggios. These days, with high-speed internet connections, it's much easier (and cheaper!) to get a flavour of what's happening in the Breaks scene. If you fancy it, check out iBreaks. Go to the archives section where you'll find plenty of DJ sets to download for free.

It's interesting that, even though Nu Breaks has a much broader fanbase than Grime, I rarely read anything about it in this little corner of the blogosphere. Nor will you see any mention of it at places like Dissensus. Is it just generally perceived as music for the clubbing masses, of no artistic merit? Some sort of snobbery coming into play? Or is it because it really is shit? Despite having the inclination,I haven't had the time to investigate this scene thoroughly enough to say with any authority what is actually worth hearing . I'll occasionally read some intriguing little article in DJ magazine, like the one back in January about how the Breaks scene is supposedly splitting in two between the Housier 'girly' sound and the 'laddish' Dark Bass sound. Lots of labels and artists get mentioned, but I know nothing about any of them!

Storm002With the borders between Grime, Dubstep, Sublow, 8-bar etc still a bit blurry in places, the issue is confused even more when you take into account that the Breaks sound must also be factored into the equation. I find it odd that artists like Jammin (not to be confused with Grime MC Jammer!) are classed as dubstep when, to my ears at least, they sound like (what I perceive to be) Breaks. Is it something about the basslines being a bit darker? Yet none of the artists or labels in the dubstep scene get mentioned in that DJ article - so what are the people who wrote it classing as 'Dark Bassline'? Another so-called dubstep artist is Dub Child, who's "Voodoo" EP came out on Storming Productions a while back. His sound is very breaky and, on the title track, very commercial-sounding with a sensual female vocal and glossy production. Yet in that very same issue of DJ, the EP is reviewed in the UK Garage section! What are my ears missing that makes Dubchild a UKG producer? Okay, so admittedly "Roll Dat Shit" is fucking grimey, but the other two tunes sure sound like what I would imagine to be dark-bass Breaks, although it should also be noted that Dub Child prefers using grungier, metallic breakbeats, which give his tracks some much-needed edginess. At the very least, I think it's important to distinguish this sort of style from the 'pure' dubstep of DMZ, Hyperdub etc, so I guess the term Breakstep is appropriate. Interestingly, new label Destructive Records have circumnavigated the whole issue by calling their first release simply "Our Sound". It is what it is!

The just-released third offering from Storming is Toastyboy's "Too Hot/Guesswork" which, like his previous excellent release on Hot Flush features some ingeniously experimental, dark atmospheric Breaks material. Toasty also likes his breakbeats a bit 'earthier' - some of these tunes remind me of mid-90s Metalheads cuts from people like J Majik. I think I even detected a bit of the old 'Apache' break on "Too Hot" as well. In fact, most of Hot Flush's output touches on Breaks, with Eric H's "The Lights" being another prime example. Slaughter Mob's "L'Amour" is an accessible breaky tune that sounds nothing like the tracks they released on "Grime 1".

Search & Destroy and Mark One will also mess with Breakstep too. Like many artists in this scene, Mark One started out making d'n'b (back when he was living in Sheffield) so I guess it's natural for him to work in that style. Some of his tunes like "Get Busy" and "Turn It Up" sound a million miles from the material on "One Way" - all soaring, club-orientated strings and infectious breaks. He's definitely a bit of a split personality as evidenced by his recent release on the Southside Dubstars label. Whilst "Life Support" is seriously stripped-down and grimey (you could almost be fooled into thinking it was a Plasticman tune!), "The Bomb" is full-on funky breakage. Even Vex'd, currently making some of the most advanced beats on the planet, have a background in breaks. Check their track "Function" (plus remix by Bristol-based breaks producer 30Hz) on the Drum & Breaks label for proof (if you can find a copy..).

As I said at the start, it's the 'pure' grimey beats that really excite me the most, but I'm still taking a keen interest in the Breakstep stuff, too. Although I love my Shitmat and Bizzy B, their music is all wrapped-up in nostalgia for the old Junglist sounds. Breakcore has gone to such extremes that it's hard to believe there's any mileage left in the genre. Ditto Broken-beat. To understand where breakbeat is going next, we have to keep our ears open to the Breaksteppers.

Check Blackmarket for the recent output from Storming Productions , Hot Flush and new labels Southside Dubstars and Destructive.

17 April 2005


Earth-shattering, to put it mildly. I arrived just before 11.00pm, with the end of ThinKing and October's set rumbling in the background as I made my way to the bar, where I immediately struck-up a conversation with Laurie Appleblim. I'm afraid I missed Cyrus' set too as I ended up being far too busy 'networking' in the bar. The sense of occasion was heightened by the fact that various non-performing artists were present, such as Kode 9 and Skream, and it seemed as though the entire cream of the South London massive had descended on this little venue in Bristol which was, for one night only, the dubstep capitol of the universe. Even Infinite (the first lady of dubstep reportage) made it down. My ego was given a damn good massage as everyone seemed to know who I was and were down with the Gutterblog thang, including Digital Mystik Mala who was very complimentary. Kode 9 bought me a pint and wouldn't let me buy him one back. Suffice to say I felt very welcome and very pleased that no one was taking offense about my occasional sharing of their work. On the subject of downloads, Mala was less militant than his DMZ partner Loefah, and conceded that legal downloads might be a possibility in the future. Also of particular interest to overseas readers will be the news that Plasticman is working on getting his Terrorhythm label online at Bleep.

Loefah, Mala and MC PokesHaving said that, I must admit that I'm coming to the conclusion that MP3s will never really do this music justice. In fact, when you're talking about the DMZ material, even listening to the vinyl on domestic hi-fi equipment will only give you an approximation of their sound. Until you've actually seen DMZ in action in a club situation, through a powerful system, you're only ever going to experience 50% of what they're about. At least DMZ003 is a heavier pressing with one track per side, because you need that space in the grooves to maximise the potential of capturing their essence (and it's now available at Warpmart, incidently). I think Rephlex fucked-up with Grime 2 because (a) they didn't pick the strongest tracks and (b) they crammed three tracks per side for the Loefah and Mystikz material and it just sounds too damn quiet. DMZ is truly soundsystem music, and the Black Swan's impressive spec. was capable of doing that music the justice it deserved. As Loefah and Mala (with Sgt. Pokes on the mic) prepared to hit the decks at midnight for a mammoth two-hour dubsession, we all shuffled into the main area with a real sense that something special was about to occur. We were not disappointed. I can't imagine even the most hardcore bass-junkie being unimpressed by this. In fact, the sound was so heavy that there were some initial problems with the needles jumping due to the vibrations! They had to put jumpers under the turntables to try and absorb some of it. I think the heaviest tune was actually a Kode 9 dub called "The Blues", which featured some of the deepest bass I've ever experienced. As Sgt. Pokes gleefully observed; "Feel it in your neck cartilage!". Abso-fucking-lutely. I felt like I was being strangled by it at one point. A couple of times I felt like a bit of a pussy for putting my fingers in my ears, but then I noticed that Appleblim was doing the same thing, so I didn't feel so bad. But of course it wasn't all about bass weight and we were treated to some really beautiful, spiritual music that must've won a few more hearts that night. And yes, it was a decent turn-out from the Bristol crowd. I think Pinch might've even made a small profit this time!

Two hours of DMZ would make for a great night on it's own but the evening was still young and so at 2.00am it was Plasticman's turn on the decks. Now, as anyone who's been reading this blog for the past six months will know, I love this guy, so you can imagine how pant-pissingly excited I was at the prospect of his set - my first experience of the man in the flesh. And any rumours you might've heard are true: Plasticman is tiny. Not like a Person of Restricted Growth tiny - he's slim and well-proportioned - but sort of scaled-down like a thirteen-year-old. Being a strapping six-footer myself, I had to stoop right down when talking to him beforehand. It was hard to marry this diminutive character with the gigantic sound that emanates from within him. It's as though, through his music, Plasticman is overcoming his physical form by turning himself into Empire State Human. And in case Plastic ever reads this, I should explain that's a reference to an old electropop song by a Sheffield group called The Human League - you see, as Plastic admitted to me, all he really knows is UK Garage and Grime. I had to explain to him who Blissblogger was - "yes, he lives in New York now but he's actually English and used to write for a music paper called Melody Maker etc etc" - which is one of the things I find so endearing about Plastic. He is unburdened by the weight of history or influence, which allows him to be free to make music that circumnavigates all the usual reference points and which sounds fresh as fuck to these jaded old 'scholar of electronica' ears. Even when some of his beats sound similar to the kind of thing that Cabaret Voltaire were cooking-up in the mid-eighties, it's simply a happy coincidence. He just happens to feel sound the same way Kirk & Mallinder did 20 years ago.

Genius of Modern Music: Plasticman (with Blazey at rear)

Working with the turntables and a couple of CD players, Plasticman treated us to a blinding set that totally lived up to all those MP3 mixes of his that I've been collecting. Apart from a fresh outbreak of needle-jumping when he dropped "Cha", it was an hour of pure grimey heaven. Plastic's sound is as invigorating at the top-end of the frequency range as the bottom, which is probably why most of his tunes still sound powerful even through a PC monitor. Those crisp, in-yer-face snare hits and ultra-resonant squarewaves just blow my head off everytime. Interestingly, early on in the set Plastic went on a really slow, grinding vibe (although when I say 'slow' most of these tunes would probably clock 140 bpm - damn, that half-step is a muthafucka!) keeping it stealthy and ominous, but then suddenly his hands would work the faders in a blur of motion and the beats would go nuclear and kick the shit out of your senses for a minute before easing back into a steady flow of grimy pressure once more. He was fucking with our heads and we loved it. Towards the end he broke into a 4/4 groove - the nearest thing to 'traditional' dance music all night - which made such cathartic sense, like a release of energy after all the incredible tension-building. I was spell-bound; rooted to the spot for the entire hour. Awesome. Inspirational. I worship at the man's alter. And then, later on, I was listening to him going into graphic detail about his recent bout of appendicitis when his mum had to rush him to hospital (he showed me the scar!) and observing him and his mate Smiler giggling like schoolboys as they told me about the well-hung transvestite they spotted on the bus down to Bristol. A very weird experience.

Roly & Jamie - Vex'dBut still there was more to come, as Vex'd took the stage faced with the unenviable task of following Plasticman. But don't worry, they excelled in the task. Roly kicked-off proceedings by taking the vibe right out into the unknown, with a track which was like a broken beat-dubstep hybrid, all hemorrhaging riddim convulsions and sledgehammer bass attack that sounded like the next level of everything. I think this one will be on the debut album "Degenerate" , scheduled to drop in June on Planet Mu. Make no mistake - that record is gonna be unmissable. Vex'd are my next Great White Hope for electronica and this album is gonna change the fucking landscape of our little world. I haven't actually heard it yet, but I feel it in my bones and the shit they were dishing out on Friday was just mindfuck after mindfuck. "Degenerate" will probably be the album of the year. Of course, when putting that idea to Jamie earlier on in the evening he was extremely modest of his group's achievements. But trust me, mate - you guys are white-hot. I hear trace-elements of early Aphex Twin circa the R&S EPs (back when he really was making Melodies from Mars), the abrasive-yet-spiritual intensity of Pan Sonic in full-flight, the sheer monolithic grind of Suicide at their most incisive, all wrapped-up in production levels of the highest order. This scene is still developing, yet Vex'd are already post-dubstep. They were also responsible for the other moment of supreme bassweight that night when they dropped new single "Gunman". I swear, that bassline was fucking malevolent. I was actually fearing for my physical safety as the bass frequencies tore through my nearly exhausted body - I could feel the pressure squeezing my scalp. Then I thought; "christ, are any of these people actually qualified to administer this level of bass?! How will they know if they've gone too far?! " The threat of permanent damage seemed immanent. So what did Vex'd do? Rewind the tune and play it again from the start. Bastards! Listen to the clips of "Gunman" and the flip "Smart Bomb" and then mentally pile-on the decibels to get some idea of what I was dealing with.

By the time Vex'd finished it was 4.00am and I was completely fucked and practically traumatised. I just about managed to catch the first ten minutes of our hosts Pinch and Blazey playing out the final hour, but my ears were pulp and my brain was mashed, so decided it was time to say my goodbyes and head for my bed, which was thankfully just a short trip up the Fishponds Road. Special mention for the man like Blazey, mind. He MC'd for two hours straight over Plasticman and Vex'd before doing his own set with Pinch and, like me, had the prospect of 'little ones' waking him up early next morning. A Herculean effort for the cause. I've even forgiven him for not sorting out a tracklist for that mix I've been hosting!

It's now late on Sunday evening, and I'm pleased to report that my ears and all other senses and major organs are back to some sort of normal functionality. I survived the evening without any major long-term side-effects, other than having my belief in this music even more firmly established. Here's to Subloaded III...

14 April 2005


DJ Gutter @ ContextIf you happen to be in the Easton area of Bristol tomorrow night, you might like to wander into The Black Swan pub where you'll probably find DJ Gutter slumped in a dark corner, a half-finished pint of Tennants Extra in one hand and a crumpled packet of Lambert & Butlers in the other; his eyelids propped open with matchsticks as he grimly attempts to stay conscious through to the bitter 5AM finish of Subloaded II. That's him on the left, snapped at Context last month, and no, he isn't trying to look like the new Dr. Who - that's just the way he dresses. DJ Gutter has kindly given us his latest mix, which was cobbled-together last night using two cheap 12-year-old turntables, a domestic CD player and an iPod, recorded 'live' direct to harddisc with the minimium of digital post-production. It would've been longer, but then Mrs. Gutter, driven to distraction by the infernal grimey racket, stormed into the room and demanded he cease and desist immediately before she rammed those fucking records down his fat throat. Perhaps he should've broken out Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" to placate her - '80's chart-pop being just about the only form of music that DJ Gutter and his wife are able to enjoy together.

Download DJ Gutter's 'Phon Mooda' Mix

Cabaret Voltaire - Low Cool intro (Plastex)
Indianhead - Oez (Serial Recordings)
The Gasman - Zarin (Planet Mu)
Blackletter - Shunt (Vibragun)
Various Production - Hater (Various Production 7")
Throbbing Gristle - Heathen Earth extract (Industrial/Mute)
Macabre Unit - Sense (Bline Recordings)
Virus Syndicate - Slow Down (forthcoming on Planet Mu)
Big $hot - Armageddon (Southside)
Dizzie Rascal - Off To Work (XL)
Plasticman - Death By Stereo (Rephlex)

DJ Gutter is available for weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs, baptisms, exorcisms, house parties, hospital radio shows and all general acts of civil unrest. His standard fee is 24 cans of Stella Artios, 200 cigs and the bus fare home.

13 April 2005


ZIQ075Another artist from the Planet Mu stable who I've been meaning to mention for ages is Chris Reeves aka The Gasman, resident in Portsmouth and purveyor of fine electronica that will appeal to people who still listen to, and derive immense pleasure from, 'classic' albums like "I Care Because You Do", "Tango N' Vectif" and Black Dog's "Spanners". Not that Reeves' music sounds especially similar to any of these milestones, more a sense that here is some 'proper' (I hate to use the word 'traditional') electronic listening music that manages to sound melodic and playful, texturally lush and rhythmically strong and groovy all at the same time. For an old 'Artificial Intelligence'-loving geezer like me, listening to the Gasman is like coming home. The first time I heard his debut longplayer "Remedial" I was grinning like a bloody idiot - Reeves knows how to tweak all my erogenous zones and if he'd suddenly walked in the room I'd have felt compelled to give him a big hug and say thanks for making an old wanker very happy, especially when those ancient Hip House samples pop-up on "Ajax". There's a gloriously unpretentious sense of fun about many of these tunes and a real emotional punch with all those uplifting arpeggiated keyboard parts. When I first heard "Pyrolic" I nearly went into cardiac arrest with the sheer fucking pleasure of it all - those lilting organ chords over an off-kilter rhythm that might be described as a jazz waltz and then when that ethereal synth melody came sailing over the top I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I get chocked-up just thinking about it. What a great little album! Buy here, or download if you prefer...

ZIQ093...but there is a darker side to Reeves' muse - you can hear hints of it in some of the more ambient pieces on "Remedial", but they've been heavily emphasized on his latest mammoth 2-CD collection "The Grand Electric Palace Of Variety" which, despite the child-like fairground cover illustration's promise of more joyful warm-heartedness, features a tracklist sequence that can only be described as 'courageous'. Disc 1 begins with a reverb-drenched suite of atmospheric pieces with ominous drones, choppy choral ensembles and ponderous piano noodles that make you wonder what the hell's been going on in Mr. Reeves' head in the intervening two years. The first hint of a beat doesn't arrive until track 4, but even here the vibe is more akin to the contemplative tracks on AFX's "Analogue Bubblebath 3". The first reminder of Reeves' former perky demeanor comes with track 6, the extremely lovely "Bifidus" which gets me feeling all warm and cozy again, but it's a brief glow in an otherwise oppressive series of frigid soundscapes that often verge on being positively solemn. But there's some wonderful moments to be gleaned from these too, like "Fridge", which sounds a bit like a breakcore version of Radiohead's "Pyramid Song" without the angst-Rock hangover, or the return of the choral stabs on the frantic, spine-tingling rollercoaster ride that is "Citrimax". Actually the female choir sound is one of the most dominant timbres on this album, recurring at regular intervals; the ultimate example surely being the gothic church organ-accompanied "Ark" which conjures images of graveyards, gargoyles and old Hammer-Horror films.

With disc 2 following a similar path it's quite tempting to use the old adage that this would've made a great single-CD, but having lived with the album for a couple of months now I'm coming out in favour of the over-generous amount of tracks. It's actually quite fascinating peeking into all the little nooks and crannies of Reeves' beautifully twisted mind. Maybe not as perfectly succinct as "Remedial", nor as enjoyable throughout, "Grand Electric..." should still be celebrated for the scope of it's ambition. It may not be quite up there with "Selected Ambient Works II", but it's a more satisfying album than "Druqks" if you ask me. Buy CD here, download here.

This Gasman can come 'round and service my boiler anytime;-)

10 April 2005


When these guys first contacted me, my initial reaction was "wow! groups like this still exist?!". For Indianhead are a northern Industrial act. Yes, it's true - the spirit of Skinny Puppy, SPK and even Whitehouse is still burnin' strong in Leicestershire. They very kindly sent me a copy of their latest, lovingly self-financed CD album "The Strongest Weapon" and I must say I'm rather impressed. They have a great sense of textural depth that carries them through some pretty hazardous territory, with strong rhythms bolstering the pro-noise electronic attack and occasional moments of ambient serenity helping to create a well-balanced selection of sonic experiments. Indainhead are the sort of group I sometimes fantasize about being involved with...exhuming the rotting corpse of Industrial Culture and doing something genuinely interesting with it. My man Kek-W would probably dig this stuff too. My only complaint being that the (occasional) vocals can sometimes grate on the nerves a little. C'mon guys - you don't need that post-Front Line Assembly Amercianised growl to get your point across. One of the best things about Throbbing Gristle was Gen's very English, slightly weak/pathetic voice drowning in the mix, which seemed more honest than the chest-beating aggression of later/lesser acts. Just a thought. Anyway, check Indianhead's website and listen to a couple of tunes if you're feeling adventurous...you might be surprised!

05 April 2005


I've been meaning to write this post since that Dissensus thread last month. "Bleep 'n' Bass" is indeed an anachronistic term for the style of music that was popular around 1989-91. Back then, we just called it 'Bleep music'. It appears that the "...'n' Bass" bit was retrofitted by Mr. Reynolds in the late nineties. Such is the power of Simon's reputation that we all just assumed he was right and started using the term ever since, even though it was a misnomer!

A couple of contemporaneous examples of the use of the term 'Bleep'....

Bio Rhythm

This is Network's first "Bio rhythm" compilation from 1990, subtitled "Dance Music With Bleeps". Actually, I wouldn't class most of the stuff on here as Bleepy, really. For me, true Bleep music comes from the North of England...artists like Sweet Exorcist, Unique 3 and Rob Gordon's Forgemasters. Nearly all the tracks here are licenced from American labels like KMS and Transmat (Detroit), Future Sound (Chicago) and Nu Groove (New York). The only tune that really meets the criteria is Mark Gamble's Rhythmatic project, which revels in sub-bass extremity and some pretty decent bleep riffs. Actually, I still really like those Rhythmatic productions, so let's have a listen...

MP3: Rhythmatic - Take Me Back (Bass Head Mix)

Bleeps International

Hrrrm...this deeply suspect-looking example of 'Bleepsploitation' was released by the Essex-based Fast Forward Records. From the dodgy sleeve art down, this album reeks of cash-in. All the artists featured are obscure (in fact, I suspect that most of them might be the same person(s)!), except for LFO. No, not that LFO. This duo were Les Cutmore and Lewis Paul III who, despite probably being the first to use the name, will always be known as the 'Fake LFO'. Perhaps the real LFO had them in mind when they recorded the line "There are many imitators but we are the true creators" on "We Are Back" (which was itself a thematic rip-off of Phuture's "The Creator").

I gave the record a spin on the weekend, and actually found most of it still pretty listenable, even though there's nothing that comes close to the sheer emotional depth and utterly alien textures of the true Northern sound. Still, thought I'd rip a couple of tunes for any curious punters out there...

MP3: Bleeps International - Bleeps International

MP3: LFO - Brainstorm


01 April 2005


DJ Pinch @ ContextIt's April already, and so the countdown to Subloaded II begins. Friday the 15th sees some of London's finest underground artists descending on The Black Swan, Stapleton Road, Easton in Bristol, for an all-night dubstep session that will probably become the stuff of legend. Plasticman, Planet Mu's new signing Vex'd, the DMZ crew (Digital Mystikz and Loefah) and Cyrus from Random Trio will be battling it out on the decks, bringing us Bristolian yokels some of the most FWD sounds on the planet. Yum!

As with most Bristol events of a dubstep nature, this little shindig is brought to you by DJ Pinch and his associates. That's him on the left, snapped by me at Context last month. Don't let that easy grin and casual attire fool you: Pinch is the Prince of Darkness. He ought to be wearing a fucking cape! Both he and fellow locals Blazey, ThinKing and October will also be spinning some tunes on the night, with Pinch and Blazey going back-to-back from 4AM. As you might remember from the interview, Blazey is more of a Grime specialist - the squarewavey-PS2-beats Yin to Pinch's deep 'n' twisted Yang, and to give you some idea of what they have in store, they've each given me a 20 minute mix to showcase their talents, to share with the good readers at Gutterbreakz.

Download Pinch's Dubstep Mix


1. N-Type 'Insomniac'(forthcoming on Southside Dubstars)
2. Pinch & P Dutty 'Alien Tongue'(forthcoming on Tectonic)
3. Horsepower 'Sholay'(Tempa)
4. Skream 'Traitor'(forthcoming on Ital)
5. Kode 9 'Ping'(Rephlex)
6. Pinch 'Quwwalistep'(dub)
7. Random Trio 'Troy'(dub)

You'll notice that Mr. Pinch has sneaked a couple of his own tunes in here, and jolly good they are too! I especially like the obsessive bassline-juggling on "Quwwalistep". I've noticed a couple of his tunes appearing in some other setlists recently, too. Talented bugger, eh?

Download Blazey's Grime Mix

1. Davinche - Eyes on You (D Paz Remix) (Dub)
2. F-Tizzle - Gype (Remix) (Dub)
3. Eastwood & Oddz - Retro (Dub)
4. DJ Q - Serial Killer (Dub)
5. Eastwood - Damage (Dub)
6. Dread D - Time Command (Dub)
7. Eastwood - 5 Patter Dragon Claw (Dub)
8. Oddz - Champion 2 (Dub)
9. Jon E Cash - Hoods Up (Dub)
10. J Sweet - Kerb (Sweetbeatz)
11. Dr Venom - Stick Up (Dub)

It's a tasty instrumental mix with occasional bits of dialogue from films like "Robo Cop" and "Pulp Fiction" thrown in for good measure. Set squarewaves on stun!

Incidently, in case you haven't noticed yet, the banner at the top of the page links to the Subloaded II audio advertisement, featuring Blazey on the mic. Check it.

The intinerary for the evening as follows:

ThinKing B2B with October


Digital Mystiks & Loefah



Pinch B2B with Blazey

Door tax:
£4 before 11pm, £6 thereafter, which is fucking good value for money as far as I can see.

My only worry is that I won't be able to handle the pace and have to go home to bed before Pinch gets on the decks. I bet none of this lot will have the prospect of two children waking them up at 7.30 next morning!