16 January 2007


Free, yes. But don't get too excited - it's just some old crap by me.

Desperately trying to prove my techno credentials (to myself, more than anyone else) I went searching through a stack of old cassettes, trying to find any evidence of contemporaneous mixtapes that might shed some light on what sort of tunes I was playing out, 'back in the day'. I know I used to make recordings of practice mixes, but alas I can't seem to find any. Probably just taped over them. But I did come across several forgotten demo tracks I'd made, on a distinctly minimal tip, from around the mid-'90s, like Deep Pan. This is the sort of thing I would've almost certainly considered a failure at the time - the production is a bit ruff and over-compressed - but to my ears has actually aged quite well, in fact sounding a lot better than much of the work I considered my best at the time. I think there's more acceptance of degraded/wonky production values these days, and it might even fit into a particularly leftfield minimal mix today. I have a vague recollection of the session when this was recorded (in early '95, I think) and I was on a real purist analogue kick at that time. There's no samples or digital kit in there at all, not even any MIDI. The various machines were connected using Roland's old Sync 24 system, including three drum machines - the 707, 808 and 909, plus a filthy acid gurgle from the TB-303, and probably the Juno 60's arpeggiator sync'd to the 707's rimshot for the bassline part. The whole thing would've been a live jam, bringing elements in and out on the mixing desk, freaking with the fx as the mood took me. That's my dark, twisted soul laid bare on tape, folks. As such it's practically a live recording, and a nice illustration of the sort of performance elements I yearn to bring back to my own music, as described in my recent 'Guttertech' post.

is a much more palatable, melodic offering, featuring the unmistakably rich, noisy tones of the Juno 60 in full flight. The dense clouds of reverb and crusty veneer of cassette noise help to give an inadvertent flavour of Rhythm & Sound's delicately distressed textures, although obviously it's not anywhere near that league. I think I might've over-elaborated with the synth parts in the second half, and it sounds like something was out of tune. Finally (for now), an untitled piece featuring some crushed 808 loops on the intro and a fluctuating arpeggio riff that seems to think it's on some sort of jazz odyssey. For that reason, I've decided to call it "Jazz Hands", and I'm dedicating it to my mate 'Mr. D'.

These tunes are so old and half-remembered, I can barely recognise them as my own musical offspring. At the time I suppose I must've simply dismissed them as 'works-in-progress', half-developed and sloppily produced. It's only now, over a decade later that I can enjoy them for what they are: snapshots in time, the creative process in it's raw state. And it's hard to remember how isolated I would've been then. This was long before I had internet access. There was no Myspace or message boards to connect with like-minded people and promote myself through those direct channels. The only people I had any kind of feedback from were my immediate circle of friends, most of whom wouldn't have been inclined towards these type of tracks anyway. These are just a small handful from all the hours of music I made back then, and most of it has probably never been listened to by anyone but me. What was it all for, I wonder...?