03 October 2005


A Fistful Of Bleeps

So Loki's regretting having sold off his early Warp 12 inches now, eh? Perfectly understandable when you think how utterly essential that first run of blinding releases were, perhaps only marred by the frankly daft Bleep 'cash-in' "Tricky Disco". But let's come back to those Sweet Exorcist records. Having already been at the vanguard of Northern post-punk experimentalism with the Cabs, Richard H. Kirk (along with new collaborator Parrot) suddenly found himself leading the field in home-grown Techno-innovation. Although Unique 3's "The Theme" paved the way in '89, Tests 1-6 remain the quintessential Bleep 'n' Bass recordings, each version an obsessive fragment of the whole. But what of the follow-up "Clonk"? At the time there was some attempt to place Clonk as yet another micro-scene. But without the instantly catchy bleep riff, Clonk was too way-out and avant garde to ever gain a firm foothold. But what did Clonk sound like? Skeletal insectoid electro beats, guttural chanting gasps, sound effects like malfunctioning ZX Spectrums and a sub-bass line like nothing heard before or since. It writhed and shuddered in spasms of epileptic low-end distress - the bassline became an unhinged, possibly malevolent force that defied all logical rules of dancefloor dynamics. The frequencies were so low that, on any small domestic system, they were practically inaudible (and if you play the MP3 on computer speakers, you probably won't hear anything at all) but add some serious wattage and they're fucking monstrous. Fifteen years on, "Clonk" still sounds absolutely ridiculous.

Actually, whilst I'm on the subject, there's something I needed to ask. Although the "Clonk" 12 inch label specifies two different versions ("Freebass" and "Homebass"), as far as I can tell both sides play exactly the same track. Was this some dadaist joke, or is my copy a mispress? If anyone out there can confirm that there are two different versions, I'll try and track down a properly pressed copy.


Although I'm not a massive fan of their subsequent work, there's no doubt that the earliest releases from Nightmares On Wax were milestones within the hardcore continuum. After debuting with "Dextrous", it was the follow-up "Aftermath" that really made their reputation. Less Bleep, but plenty of bass with added breakbeats skillfully chopped in the right places and of course that diva sample which, if you get him on the subject, will probably still get the Blissblogger foaming at the mouth. In fact, don't bother reading this garbage anymore, just look up page 101 of Energy Flash, where Simon explains it all far better than I ever could...