Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2 Bad Mice are one of the absolute foundations of hardcore and jungle, an outfit as innovative and as important as 4 Hero. The house band of the Moving Shadow label, they were actually 3 not 2 of them: Sean O'Keeffe, Simon Colebrooke, and Shadow label boss Rob Playford, And they had an alter-ego identity as Kaotic Chemistry whose output was just as creative and influential as the 2 Bad Mice material. 2 Bad Mice's most famous tunes are "Bombscare", "Waremouse", and their remix of Moving Shadow act Blame's "Music Takes You". All three tracks were crucial for bringing a boombastic hip hop vibe into UK rave, starting the process that would lead to jungle. "Music Takes You" features a squelchy scratch-riff that slots right next to the Morse Code keyboard stab and piano vamps, while staccato blasts of sped-up diva samples sound like Minnie Mouse having an orgasm. "Waremouse" is radically minimal, just seismic bass and machine-gun snares, while the equally stripped down "Bombscare" used the sound of a suspect device detonating to make ravefloors shake with nervy excitement. It became one of the biggest anthems of the rave era, selling tens of thousands of copies on both sides of the Atlantic. Kaotic Chemistry, meanwhile, pioneered darkside on the LSD EP, a cheeky celebration of polydrug naughtiness with tracks like "Space Cakes", "LSD", "Drum Trip II", and "Illegal Subs", a pun on both illegal substances and sub-bass levels so punishing they should be outlawed. (A latter remix EP added "Vitamin K"). Widely played on the pirates all through 1992 and into '93, "Illegal Subs" paid tribute to the rave nation by sampling a Nation of Islam orator who hails her African-American audience as "the people of chemistry... of physics... of music... of civilization.... of rhythm". Sonic highlights of the EP included the frenzied percussive carousel of "Drum Trip II" and the eerie jitter of "Space Cakes". Then came 2 Bad Mice's darker-than-thou Underworld EP, featuring dense slabs of menacing minimalism like "Tribal Revival", "Pitch Black" and "Mass Confusion". Eventually the trio went off in separate directions with O'Keeffe recording as Deep Blue (of "Helicopter Tune" fame) and Playford becoming Goldie's right-hand man. But they left behind a compact but crucial legacy of tunes that rocked dancefloors worldwide but also pushed the music forward and opened up the future for jungle and drum & bass. So all hail the Mighty Mice.

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