30 December 2006


Despite being resolved to get back into producing this year, I only managed to complete a meagre half-dozen tunes, nearly all created within a brief two-month creative spurt in April/May. My extended absence from blogging should've been a perfect time to concentrate on the music, but it just didn't happen. I seem to be crippled by a deep-set lethargy. The ideas are still coming, and there's several other unfinished sketches lying around on my hard drive, yet I just can't find the will to see them through to the finish line. I think the problem might be the soft-studio environment I'm working in now. Although initially excited by the potential of FL Studio, I must admit I now find the whole thing a bit of a chore to work with. I see Fruity Loops now like an executive toy - fun to play around with for ten minutes, making a little 8-bar riddim, but then all the box-pushing, copying and pasting required to build it all into a finished piece of music just seems too steep a hill to climb. It's never really felt natural to me to build music in structured sections. I like to set something linear and repetitive in motion and then modify it at the mix-down, in real time. I like to feel that I'm performing as the music is recorded...applying freeform/intuitive improvisation, because I think maybe that's the part where a bit of my soul might leak out...or maybe just because I feel comfortable and satisfied by that approach. And of course that methodology requires a certain 'touchy-feely' interface with the machines, and that means hardware. It means knobs, sliders and switches, because I need some kind of physical relationship with my machines...which is maybe pretty weird, but that's just how it works for me. And I like linking machines with other machines...not just in the sense of midi/sync, but in terms of creating audio chains - jacking a drum machine into a distortion pedal, then into an echo unit, then through a synth filter...treating the whole studio like a big modular laboratory, surfing on a sea of quarter-inch jack plugs. Yeah, that's what making electronic music is all about for me. Of course I admire loads of stuff being done with software - I love the amazing results other people can obtain, but it's just not what makes me tick creatively. Listening to that Reanimator record that came out a few months back, and then reading Philip Sherburne's article on them in The Wire reminded me of the joys of hardware exploration, and I began to realise what I'd been missing. I've done my best to embrace this digital-virtual world, but a vital chunk of my creative instinct is stuck in the old analogue one.

Okay, so now I've isolated the problem, but unfortunately I no longer have a hardware studio, other than a dusty old cassette four-track and a few other bits and pieces stored away somewhere. There's also a big cardboard box that's literally stuffed full with every type of audio connecting cable you can think of. At one point I was thinking of just throwing them all away, but now I wish I had a few machines to plug them all into again. The idea of rebuilding my old hardware studio is tempting, but right now I have neither the time nor spare cash to even consider it. Thankfully, the writing and dj mixing provide a sufficient level of creative outlet to make me feel that I'm at least doing something productive. I'm not sure what the far-flung future might hold for me, but for now I guess I'll have to just bide my time. The really irritating part is that I now have more industry contacts than ever - I'm pretty friendly with a number of people running good record labels, and if I only had some decent product I reckon I might've been able to convince someone to release it. But I'm just not cutting it as a producer. The tracks I made this year are okay...they're quite basic, but I wanted them basic, because I like to work with a very restricted sound-palette. I can't deal with too many options. Keep it simple. And they're all attempts to emulate older drum machine sounds and synth textures and dub fx, taking the feeling from the classic music that first inspired me, but trying to place it in a contemporary setting - which at that point was 140bpm halfstep. I was trying to realise my own personal take on 'Roots 'n Futurism', and there's a couple of things in there I'm actually quite pleased with, but I know they're not really 'marketable'. So I'm giving them away to you, dear reader. Some of my close friends and associates will already know some of these - "Show Dem 626" got played once on Wedge's radio show, "Cloister Bell" featured in one of Forensics' recent mixes, and I sneaked "Substation" into my own Afterimage Mix under an assumed name - but I think there's one track in there that's never been heard by anyone apart from me. Maybe it should've stayed that way, but what the fuck.

So, here's a zip file containing all six of my musical moments of 2006, rendered at 320kbps...

Guttadubz 2006

You know the deal with Yousendit links - this download is only available for a limited period. There will be no reloads.

Happy New Year!

28 December 2006


1: Droid + Slug - Shwantology: 2
2: Gutterbreakz
3: Matt B. - Idle Thoughts
4: Paul Meme & John Eden - Dancehall Pressure
5: Bassnation
6: Soundslike1981 - Collide+Coalesce
7: The Rambler - Voices From Afar
8: Paul Autonomic - Mr. Bump's 'Rude Interlude'
9: 'Hal' Halvorsen - Absolute Norwegian
10: Heatwave - An England Story
11: Wayne&Wax - Another Crunk Genealogy
12: John Eden's Office Party Mix

Subscribe/back-issues available here.

Well, it's been an amazing ride so far, with plenty more to come. I think bloggers have that perfect combination of a major superiority complex (we all secretly think we've got the best fucking music taste/record collection in the world) combined with the pathological urge to share our knowledge with the world at large. We've probably all been doing something like this for our entire adult lives - but where once it was just making cassette comps. and lecturing our friends down the pub, we now have an international stage on which to vent our unqualified opinions on the ignorant masses. I think Blogarriddims is like the ultimate get-together of all these weird, musically obsessed people. It's a bit monstrous in it's all-consuming, relentless intensity, but really quite exquisite, too. Big-up Droid for envisioning, creating and managing the whole project. Dealing with all those high-profile bloggers and their super-egos must be a thankless task. I'm still hoping that some of my fellow west country cohorts like Kek and Loki might come on board, but whatever - here's to the next twelve installments!!

21 December 2006


Last night was the first time I've reached a H.E.N.C.H party since the summer. I had my door tax at the ready, but it seems the old privileges are still in place, and I was waved through straight away. It's like I've never been away! First time I've hit the town for well over a month and, despite the freezing fog conditions, it was well worth the effort. As expected, much of the material being played by the H.E.N.C.H djs in attendance was new to me, especially Komonazmuk's set. What really impresses about his material is the high level of engineering - he seems to find more frequency space than anyone else. His basslines are heavy, yet the kick drums punch through forcefully, the snares sound gigantic and the high end is always very tight and well defined. Komonazmuk (above) has made it his business to learn a lot of professional recording tricks (he was trying to explain to me some stuff about compression and side-chains) and the results speak for themselves. Later, Whiteboi, back-2-back with Headhunter, turned out a truly shocking series of halfstep-horror anthems - full of gothic choirs, piercing feedback drones and ectoplasmic waves of lo-end filth. Bizarrely, most of the audience at that point were female...so strange to watch all those women in their party frocks twisting and swaying in slo-mo to this violent rapture. Headhunter provided the more uplifting counterpoint, also throwing in a couple of new dubs by Jakes that are completely off the radar. There was one with a gibbering synth line sounding like The Clangers through a ring modulator, and another with a freaky screeching sound like an elephant in labour. I dunno what the fuck is going on in Jakes' beautiful little mind, but I love it. I'm assured that some of the material these guys are firing out will finally be getting released early next year, and about bloody time, I say. More news as it happens, etc.

The headliner for the evening was original souljah Geeneus (left), who treated us to a high-octane set that, as expected from a man with his pedigree, flowed freely between dubstep and instrumental grime. I was particularly impressed by a D1 dub called "8 Bar", which recalls the fierce urgency of classic Plasticman. That's the sort of D1 material I'd rather see released. It was also a pleasure, as always, to check another set from The Peverelist, aka Tom from Rooted Records, dropping a typically understated selection, including some choice cuts from Bass Clef and Pinch's rather beautiful "One Blood". But it's Tom's own productions that are really getting me excited right now...trying to find the common ground between minimal/hypnotic techno and dubstep. Anyone who listened to my new mix will see that I'm interested in combining elements from both genres, and I'm totally on Tom's wavelength. It's not as far fetched as it sounds, afterall some of Mala's tracks, like "Left Leg Out" show clear connections with Techno's pulse beat, and with Shackleton forging links with Ricardo Villalobos, anything's possible, right? Whether or not this approach is a possible exit-route from halfstep orthodoxy, or a creative cul-de-sac, remains to be seen, but you can be sure that when Tom releases "The Grind" and "Erstwhile Rhythm" on his Punch Drunk imprint early next year, he'll be at the vanguard. Check Kek's review for further insights...

All in all, a great party. I left just after 3am, and punters were still paying to get in. It's fantastic that H.E.N.C.H has built up such a successful format in my absence. The venue is nice, although the acoustics are a bit weird. If you wanna feel some proper chest-rattling bass, you need to stand along the back wall. Move forward a couple of paces and it just disappears!

Shout-outs to all my crew who reached: Doppleganger, Bubonic, Delsa, Atki 2, Gatekeeper, Madboy...and all the others I always say hello to, but aren't quite sure what their names are.

Honourable absences: Wedge & Appleblim (gigging in Wales), Pinch (gigging in Helsinki), ThinKing (too skint).
Woebot: Next Level Shit.

20 December 2006

With the new baby taking up so much of my wife's attention, it's left to me to try and look after his older brothers during every spare minute of the day. This extra-curricular parenting is fucking exhausting. Still, hopefully we'll all adjust to the new addition soon, and some semblance of normality will return. But first we've gotta get bloody Christmas out of the way...

Managed to grab a spare hour today and thought I'd use the time profitably by recording a quick end-of-year mix. This isn't a 'best of 2006' by any means, mainly just a little selection of tunes that I've picked-up in the latter half of the year, since I stopped blogging.

The mixing is a bit sloppy due to me being a bit rusty, plus I was making it up as I went along so not sure it flows that well in places, but what the hell. This mix is basically for all my 'older' mates who don't buy 12" singles anymore...a little taste of what's going on out there.

Switched-on listeners might notice a bit of minimal techno creeping into my setlist. It's certainly an area I've been taking a keen interest in these past few months and, when I get the chance, I'll hopefully write down a few thoughts on that matter. In the meantime, enjoy the beats...

Gutterbreakz - Post Natal Oppression Mix

Boards Of Canada - Under The Coke Sign (Warp)
Andy Stott - Hi-Rise (Modern Love)
Marcel Dettman - Quicksand (Ostgut Ton)
Substance & Vainqueur - Immersion (Scion Versions)
Mala - Left Leg Out (DMZ)
Geiom feat. Terrible Shock - Feel So Bad (Berkane Sol)
Hijack - Nightmarez (Tectonic)
Kromestar - Surgery (Deep Medi Muzik)
Shackleton - I Want To Eat You (Mordant Music)
Pinch - Punisher (Loefah's SE25 Remix) (Planet Mu)
Skynet - Isolate (Argon)
Reanimator - Special Powers (Community Library)
Deitrich Schoenemann & Tony Rohr - Lockjob (Hidden Agenda)
Sleeparchive - Transposition Reverse (Sleeparchive)
Gez Varley - Nemesis (Keys Of Life)

18 December 2006

Whether it be from Jeff Wayne's soundtrack album, or Marvel Comics' adaptation (see left), Spielburg's blockbuster, or even the original book itself (first published in 1898), H.G.Wells' War Of The Worlds must've touched everybody at some point. A true timeless classic, it's fearful account of humanity under dire threat of annihilation at the tentacles of an alien invader remains the first, and still definitive, example of this particular form of Sci-Fi horror.

I was quite a keen reader of Wells' science fiction writing as a young teenager, in particular The Time Machine and The Invisible Man. Then, a couple of years ago I chanced upon a secondhand hardback edition of his collected works at a local bookshop, for a mere four quid. Of course I couldn't resist it, but then it spent the next 18 months collecting dust on my book shelf. Eventually I made a start on it and, several months later, I'm still reading it on a nightly basis, gradually working my way through Wells' entire sci-fi oeuvre. I've already ingested the horrific antics of mad vivisectionist Dr. Moreau, shaken my head in wonder at the keen imagination of The First Men In The Moon, and been completely enthralled by lesser known works like The Food Of The Gods. It's possible to detect a clear development of sophistication through his work. The earlier stories are shorter and focus on the scientific ideas that drive the fantastical storylines, but by Food Of The Gods, it's clear that Wells was intent on injecting some deeper observations about society and the human condition. One of my favourite moments is near the end when Redwood is suddenly struck by the way his relationship with his grown-up son has changed...

"For the first time in his life perhaps he realised how much more a son may be to his father than a father can ever be to a son; he realised the full predominance of the future over the past. "

But it's the combination of fanciful scientific ideas from the perspective of the beginning of the 20th Century, coupled with Wells' keen eye for social commentary and subtle political observations that really brings Olde England to life. I'm currently halfway through In The Days Of The Comet, which so far has had very little scientific element at all, apart from the ominous threat of the approaching comet. But the main focus is the Socialist anti-hero, railing against his lot at the wrong end of the class system in a grim industrial town, against a backdrop of war with Germany (an uncanny prediction from Wells in 1906). Wells' attention to detail, describing so eloquently the particulars of the man's life, and the relative levels of filth and squalor endured by the working man, really are very pungent. And it's quite strange that, the older I get, the more interested I become in history. I realise that I've never actually explored any of Wells' non-science fiction work. Perhaps I really should.

17 December 2006

xmas hench

Wedge's show on Sub FM this Tuesday (19th) promises to be a bit of a party. He'll be joined by a number of guests, including Thinking, Appleblim, Atki2, Peverlist and of course all H.E.N.C.H. crew in attendance. One big party for tha Bristol massif! All happening from 8pm GMT. I got a text from Wedge inviting me to go hang out with them at the studio - a secret location in central Bristol...so secret I don't even know where it is yet, but hopefully that information with be forthcoming shortly. I haven't been out anywhere for over a month, since the new baby arrived, so could certainly do with a change of scene! Failing that, I'll try and reach the H.E.N.C.H. night at the Tube on Thursday (see flyer, above).

Happy Xmas and New Year to all (and get well soon, Kek).

Now, let's get Spannered...