Wednesday, December 28, 2022


My piece on Hou Hsiao-hsien's Millennium Mambo, a 2001 film partly set in the club scene of Taipei.  The piece also looks at the struggles that movie-makers have had with capturing what happens on the ravefloor - and why they've evaded it for the most part. It's for  the journal of The Metrograph cinema in New York, where a restored version of the film is currently showing as part of a Taiwanese New Wave series

Friday, December 23, 2022

"An Idiotic Rave" / version galore


Saw this while watching (very belatedly indeed) the Ken Burns Jazz doc.

The section on ragtime in the doc reminded me that the very first single I bought was Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer", when it was issued off the back of The Sting and became a small UK hit. 

Retrospectively, whenever this fact swam into memory again, I'd always think it was a bit uncool to have this as your first 7-inch single, given that at the time T.Rex Sweet Bowie etc were at their height while things like "Theme from 'Shaft'" were on the radio (a fave of mine as it happens - the wah-wah always made me think of a helicopter's whirring blades... 9-year-old me had no idea what that sound was - that it even came from a guitar). 

But watching the Burns epic, I decided that it was in fact supremely cool and showed a susceptibility to dance rhythm at a tender age - okay, very early 20th Century dance rhythm but still...  

As I recall, there were actually two dueling versions of "The Entertainer" released at that time and I might have accidentally bought the less-preferred rendition - not as bright and bouncy. Nowadays there are so many interpretations of  Joplins's tunes out there it's hard to know which one to go with (the Rifkind and Strickland recordings seem to be favored by some of those who know). But there are also a bunch of piano roll versions.  

It's like the head you have to put on when delving into classical music - like, which pianist's version of Satie's Trois Gymnopedies is the one to go for? Or which conductor's take on the Pastoral Symphony?. The level of variation in feel, attack, tempo, recording ambience, clarity etc is disconcerting for someone who grew up on pop music where there is a Definitive Recording.  

Now maybe you'd think that having been through the dance music culture and lived with (indeed reveled in) the whole remix thing, that this would set you up for this approach to listening. But it's different I think - a remix makes all kinds of substantial structural alterations and adds new material, so it is easy to accept a remix as an almost new piece of music - or something that only overlaps in places with the original. But the interpretative element in classical (and this applies in a different way with jazz... and in yet another different way with showbiz's many arrangements and vocalist interpretations vis-a-vis standards) can be disconcerting precisely for being subtler: the notes are exactly the same, the duration of the song is close, the timbre palette doesn't stray much from "piano" (in the case of "The Entertainer"), but somehow that proximity makes you hyper-aware of all those tiny differences in the player's touch and timing, in the recording ambience, that pervade the entire performance.  Every note is imbued with this difference. 

Perhaps the thing to shed is the idea that you'll find the perfect version of a piece that you prefer to all others, and just enjoy the subtlety of the iterative  range.  

Yet conversely, a form of variation that I do really enjoy with music is the way a song or album can sound really quite different when heard on different formats, through different playback set-ups.  I'll hear different things in a piece heard via streamer on the car stereo, than I do listening to the same streamer but through these computer speakers. Different things again through headphones off an iPod (no really, I still have one, still use it!). And if I happen to have the piece of music on vinyl or CD, there'll be different things again if played on the proper hi-fi with large speakers. We also have a boombox in the kitchen, so sometimes old cassettes get played - another format whose sound properties have a particular appeal.

I suppose the rock-era equivalent to the "many different orchestras / conductors / recording dates"  dilemma that you get with navigating classical music recordings, is the wallet-emptying racket that is audiophilia. You can get into comparing all these different remasterings and formats. Rebuying things in the latest remix, or ponying up for one of those half-speed mastering jobs that supposedly pull more information out of the tape and then what was a single album gets turned into 2 x 45rpm platters for the deep-grooved ultra-fidelity that offers.  Another sub-game here is hunting down particular back-in-the-day pressings that were legendarily closer to the original tapes, or pressed better quality vinyl. (People even have lore on legendarily superior mastering engineers whose cut is better).  Then there's the original mono mixes versus stereo mixes done then versus stereo mixes done today dilemma - yet another game. (The whole business of hi-fi equipment, cartridges, styluses, cables etc is another game altogether, an extra level of complexification and combinational possibiltiies, not to mention wealth-extraction... I hasten to add that I don't actively participate in any of these games, but am fascinated by those who do). 

These versions galore are not new renditions in the interpretative sense; the variation happens at the level of the mix and the mastering. The fundamental audio text is stable. The format and version choices are perhaps like trying on different glasses that change how clearly you perceive what is there; they don't change what is there. 

Or do they? In rock, pop, etc, the mix is what's there; it's not some transparent overlay extraneous to the music itself. The ranking and distribution of the elements in audio space is inseparable from  composition. To make one strand of overdubbed instrumentation peek out more prominently is to change the balance of the constituent elements. 

Another analogy: painting restoration. Removing all the discolorant crud off the surface of a painting, the tarnished  with age pigment and the adulterants deposited via the atmosphere, this reveals the true colours of the original. But for some viewers, they'd actually loved the semi-obscured image, its atmospheric murkiness; that was the original painting as far as they were concerned. 

Certainly there are records that have never sounded quite right when I've heard them later in much superior circumstances than the original hearing / bonding, when it might have been a taped off a friend, or an advance cassette.  

Sunday, December 11, 2022

"Electronic listening music from Warp"

A round-robin retrospective on Artificial Intelligence, Warp's landmark compilation - now 30 years old, Jesus, and being commemoratively reissued - convened by Daniel Dylan Wray, for The Quietus. I am one of the voices corralled. As you can imagine, the colloquy contains a fair amount of complaining, from various angles, about the term / genre / discourse "Intelligent Dance Music" a.k.a. IDM, which the comp unintentionally launched. "Electronic Listening Music", as flagged up on the cover itself, would have made for a much better, more neutral and non-inflammatory term (although even there's a subliminal hint still of a "music for the mind versus music for the body" dichotomy, with the implicit suggestion that people who are dancing are doing so mindlessly, they're not really listening). 

There were a few responses of mine that were not used, and being a waste-not-want-not type (a child if not of the era of rationing then of someone who lived through rationing, which lasted up until 1956, right?), here are those morsels.

Asked about the argument that IDM is a white cooptation of back music, I offered this demurral:  

"I didn’t really feel that was a factor. After all, there is a huge European history with electronic music – Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Eno. A lot of postpunk and industrial. And a Japanese history too, with Ryuichi Sakamoto and YMO. But also with most of the IDM artists, they would be the first to acknowledge being inspired by Detroit techno and the early Chicago acid and so forth. I think there was a commonality felt with figures like Carl Craig and great respect for Underground Resistance and so forth.   

"Where that became more of a thing was a bit later when you had the first-wave IDM artists adopting jungle’s breakbeat science techniques and then exaggerating them to the point where it was daft and undanceable. And there was a bit of attitude that irritated me then which was “look at us, we’re taking these ideas much further than the Junglists, who are all sheep, pandering to the dancers and the deejays”. It was an odd combo of coopting and arrogance. In fact, they weren’t taking the techniques any further than Dillinja or DJ Hype, they were just making them dysfunctional."

Quizzed about being "involved" in the IDM List and whether it was a real musical community. 

"I wasn’t involved really, I don’t think I ever commented in a thread. But I checked it out, I subscribed to the list – just to see what people were talking about and how they talked about it. Being a student of discourse and fan rhetoric, I was interested to see how this unexamined superiority complex manifested in terms of judgements about which music mattered and why.  

"I liked a lot of that kind of music – pretty much all the big names in IDM I thought were great or very interesting, and many of the smaller artists. Some of it is among the most beautiful music ever. I think its strong suit was melody and emotion. Well, you had interesting textures and sounds and atmospheres, but particularly melody and emotion was what it had to offer. If it had been called “emotronica” (admittedly a ghastly word!) then that might have been better. Not that hardcore dance musics are devoid of emotion, but it tends to be quite primary-color, unsubtle emotion, whereas in  Aphex and Boards of Canada, et alc, you have a subtle palette of feeling – it can be poignant, eerie, mystical.

And finally, thoughts on the legacy of Artificial Intelligence

"As I mentioned, I don’t think it’s that great a compilation, as a collection of tracks. There’s some good things and then as often with comps, the guest artists offer things that are maybe not their best work.  It wasn’t a record I played more than a couple of times, I shouldn’t think. It’s more the throw-down of the title and the iconic cover image – it all added up to this big statement that Warp were making. Along with some of the things that were building in ’92 through to early ’93, the release really opened up a whole area of music that just grew and grew. Up to that point, you’d a few really excellent techno/house albums – 808 State’ 90 and Ex:Cel, LFO’s Frequencies, Ultramarine’s Every Man and Woman Is A Star. But it didn’t necessarily seem like a massive zone for the future. A lot of techno artists stumbled when it came to the album.   But then I think with this comp, coming out at around the same time as Selected Ambient Works 85-92suddenly it seemed a whole new space of possibility opened up. 

From Artificial Intelligence's liner notes 

Autechre's formative influences - almost all black music but as much electro and Miami Bass as house or techno

Whereas Aphex Twin's earliest come from elsewhere altogether (Tomita!) (I was wondering who the hell Phonic Bod was and it turns out to RDJ's very first alias!)

B-12 'fess to completely Angloid roots

The Black Dog go even further back - to heathen  times! (Their more recent canon is entirely postpunk / avant-funk / industrial) 

The Orb, as you'd expect, place their sound amid a jumble of ambient, acid house, Krautrock, and dub lineages 

Here's a "Contextual Mix" that Autechre created to go with the anniversary of Artificial Intelligence - what sorts of music were happening around that time - 92-93

Sunday, December 4, 2022

feeling Gurley / the Gurley feeling

 A playlist compendium of Steve Gurley's work as Rogue Unit and as a remixer - the jungle / d&B (pretty complete selection there - please point out ommissions) and then onto the speed garage / 2step era (less complete -  he was in demand, churning the stuff out). Then in a chronology double-back, at the end there's a bit of 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse and just a smidge of Foul Play ("Finest Illusion" -  I remember Brad and John saying they had almost nothing to do with that track: they went off to deejay somewhere and when they came back, Steve had made the whole thing)

The Rogue Unit remixes like "Luv Dub", "Spread Luv", "Good To U", and especially "Peace Sign" and the naughty Princess "Say I'm Your Number 1" rebootleg are so so gorgeous.... as with other nuum auteurs, there's an identifiable signature here, particular  fixtures / fixations... I don't have the technicals to pinpoint, but there's certain chord changes and harmonies he's drawn to...  Even though working with vocal samples, he consistently gives them this thinned-out, stretched timbre, so that the diva sounds weak for love, ghostly and gaseous, wavering on the edge of expiry.... 


Thursday, December 1, 2022


Well who knew there was an early "Terminator"?

(Well, I didn't)

Seems like there must be other ardkore / darkcore / jungle tekno songs titled "Terminator" or that sample from one or other of the film?

Or indeed some gabber cases

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

AoN versus Prodigy x 2

"the masters of the headstrong" - yes, arguably

" the ultimate hardcore scream-up" - not quite

probably a nice bit of wedge Liam got for a track he could have done in his sleep, or possibly had lying around anyway and could slot in some stems (never heard the original and have no intention of seeking it out) 

but then in the battle of the paydays, it gets decidedly assymetric as Prodge do AON a BIG favor with "Firestarter", where the "hey! hey! hey!" is from "Close (To The Edit)"

As a result the publishing for "Firestarter" is divided between Liam Howlett /Keith Flint /Kim Deal / Anne Dudley /Trevor Horn / J.J. Jeczalik / Gary Langan / Paul Morley

Of course that doesn't mean the publishing is divided equally - but even so, it's a nice thought that a steady flow of royalties (think of the radio play, globally) would be chuntering in to Ann D and Paul M et al for years to come

Kim Deal too for the riffage nicked from this Breeders tune 

Sometimes I think I got involved in the wrong end of this business! I have no tunes in me but I could have / should have hooked myself up with some genius hitmaker and done the lyric. 

Mind you, most musicians, it's a pathway to penury.

Still, there is always that hope, that dream, that chance of scoring the one big smash, a radio regular in perpetuity

I read somewhere that the woman who co-wrote the lyric for "Don't Fear the Reaper" received a check for 50 grand a year for decades, it being such a classic rock staple

(However, checking now, it appears Buck Dharma wrote the words and music on his tod. However on the single of "Don't Fear", the B-side "Tattoo Vampire" has a contribution from someone called Helen Robbins. And given that the B-side gets 50 percent of a single's proceeds - she would have made some dough there. But it wouldn't be an annual harvest, given nobody plays the B-side. 

In America (I think I've got this straight) radio plays remunerate to the writers of the song (and the song publisher), but not to the performers who recorded it. So nobody else who played on the record gets a dime, no matter how often it gets played. That seems extremely unfair. Think of all the pleasure  - one example out of countless - the drummer in the Steve Miller Band has given me and millions. He should have a river of dosh irrigating his bank account in perpetuity. 

(In the UK, the writers and the performers both get paid per radio spin, I believe. Much more equitable). 

(In the US system, does the orientation towards songwriters and songpublishing company, again mean that the record company - who put out the record, developed the artist, promoted etc etc - gets nothing from radio play? Again, that seems unfair. How did this way of do things ever get set up?)

(What about MTV etc - does anyone get paid when a video gets played, or are they supposed to be grateful for the promotion? Talking back in the day, obviously - MTV should be renamed TV without the M given how it's dispensed with the music bit) 

Sunday, November 20, 2022

air breaks

I was thinking about the ways in which music seems to irresistibly provoke a mimetic physical response. 

Well, for some of us. 

Air guitar, air bass, air drumming - these are the big ones. But there's also air piano, air sax, air  trumpet, air trombone even... 

Certain kinds of music are particularly triggering. 

For me,  it's certain kinds of rock (not indie!), Certain kinds of jazz - fusion, jazz-rock, as opposed to Blue Note.  Music where there's a bit of a swagger, a performative flourish. But also where the music is hard-hitting, has a physicality to the impact as well as the playing.

Now this effect on listeners must surely have died out as music has become more digital - less about manually played instruments and more about click-and-drag, shunting information about on a screen.

There's no such thing as an "air" response to hip hop, is there? The mimetic response would be rapping along, which you'll see-hear in the street when someone is listening to rap or grime on headphones. I suppose one could imagine a mimetic impulse to trap drum patterns. But in practice, I think not - somehow the body knows that it's not a human hitting those drums. The physicality of impact, the pull on the body, is not paralleled by a physicality of execution. 

What got me thinking on this topic in the first place was playing some jungle and succumbing to the urge to mime out drum patterns - to do "air breakbeats".

Resulting, of course, in an absurd parody of actual drumming, based on things I've seen on TV - wrist-flexing, rimshot cracks, ride cymbal flutters...

That made me wonder if jungle really is unique among the digital-era musics in that it still has that capacity.

For instance, I can't imagine the mimetic impulse being triggered when listening to house or techno - anything propelled by a 909. 

Jungle - being based on samples of breaks, of hand-played drum patterns -  retains a musicality and humanity that can still pull at your limbs in this way. 

But with jungle, the mimesis is a bizarre distorted form of mirroring. You're responding to the human player still audible within the barrage of chopped-up, resequenced drum breaks - the ghost in the machine. But these are accelerated and hyper-syncopated beyond what the original player would be capable of, let alone flailing failing you.  So the element of wish-fulfilment is doubled. Two ghosts inhabit your flesh and take possession: the manual, near-automatized movements of the sampled drummer, and then the producer's edits, treatments and other decisions, which override and re-imprint the original performance. You feel the twin pull of funk and of superhumanization, and fall even further short than with regular "air drumming". 

postscript 11.25/2022

The unfinished thought here - the idea on the tip of my brain...

air guitar, air drums, air breaks, air whatever.... are they actually forms of dancing? 

Nerd dancing -  for those too physically awkward to get down.... but  who can model, or self-project, into the role of the one who makes others get down. 


postscript 11/22/2022 

Andrew Parker notes that "Maybe air-playing instruments is favoured by those who have no proficiency - their imaginings are unencumbered by technical knowledge." Although proficient in guitar and piano, he never air plays, precisely because  "When I listen to a fast passage.... I'm mindful of the technical demands and what they would require to be developed."  Good point: ignorance is prequisite for air anything! 

He also sends through a video of a drummer doing an authentically hectic and hyper-syncopated simulation of jungle breakbeats, showing that an exceptional human player can equal the "superhumanization" effect of breakbeat science 

If listening blind to this I would probably think it was a jungle track, except 1/ the rhythm switches up too often and 2/ I'd be wondering when the bass was going to make its entrance. After all, it's called drum and bass, not drum and drum...

Friday, November 11, 2022

He Be The Prophet

Randall Roberts on a soon to be excavated 1986  recording of Sun Ra exploring the potentials of a Prophet VS synth: 

"In the summer of that year while in Boston with his band, Sun Ra splashed down in a high-tech studio called Mission Control. Among the many synths and sound generators he approached was a newly released Prophet VS (“Vector Synthesizer”). The programmable digital keyboard, created by genius electronic synthesist Dave Smith, was remarkably sophisticated. Ra took to it and started playing. A recording of that session, called Prophet, will see release in December [on Modern Harmonics].

"You can thank gravity, the force of the cosmos and the magnetic field that a studio engineer as able to hit record, capturing for posterity the Space Traveler’s first experience with this particular synthetic future. Not that Ra was inexperienced. From an early age, the artist and composer took to new musical technology. Notes Ra biographer John Szwed in Space is the Place: The Life and Times of Sun Ra, the composer “kept up with new developments in music technology, especially those involving electricity, and dreamed of the possibilities of composing for instruments with new musical timbres."

That's the same synth that Keith Levene used on "Careering". Actually no, the Prophet 5 was the one he used - the Sun Ra one is a later, digital iteration. 

A pal of mine who shall remains nameless owns a Prophet 5. So I have actually touched one. He's a vintage synth junkie who actually had to conceal his habit from his wife, hiding the gear in closets and then pulling it out for a jam when she was off at work. 

Sunday, November 6, 2022

slowcore (when Belgium ruled the world pt. 2)


A 2011 mix by Soulwax that applies the New Beat trick - slowing house tracks down to make them sexy-eerie - to the faster Belgcore sound that came after New Beat.

(Via Plexitmind at Dissensus)

The footage of dancing Lowlands ravers (often shirtless) from back in the day (I presume?) really makes the mix - bringing out the funklessness of the movements  that was partially covered over by their sheer hyper-kinesis at the correct speed.  No diss intended: Eurorave reactivated folk-dance traditions deep-buried and dormant in the youth population of Northern Europe, a kind of kinaesthetic  race memory. Which is why jumpstyle for instance reminds me of jigging around the Maypole and Irish step dancing (all the action below the knee - kicky moves for kick-drummy music)

Release rationale: 

"Even though these Belgian records sound very "now", they are actually 20 years old and were meant to be played at a much, much faster speed. At the time this was the devil's music for us, but we have learned to listen through the claps and distorted kicks and discovered that if you slow these really dark and heavy techno records down all the way to about 115 bpm, it suddenly makes them sound less frantic,ballsier and a lot sexier.Belgium at its best when pitched down.

1. Yves Deruyter - Animals (Remix) 0:00 2. Pleasure Game - Les Seigneur Des Tenebres (Destructor Mix) 1:36 3. J'N'J - The Ballet 2:42 4. Dr. Phibes & Teddy Jones - Waresnare (Stelt Mix) 4:29 5. Ace The Space - Nine Is a Classic (Classic Strength Mix) 5:36 6. X-Change - Ready To Rock 7:08 7. Mackenzie - Cyclotron (Atomic Kick Mix) 8:06 8. X-Change - Let's Go 9:38 9. Space Trax - Vivisection 10:36 10. The Postman - ?? 11:43 11. Sonik Expander - Omega 12:31

12. Rave Crusader - Energy Overload (Acid Changes Mix) 13:57 13. Ace The Space - 9 Is a Classic 15:12 14. Krid Snero - Freedom 16:29 15. Krid Snero - F*** of Death 17:02 16. Next - Out There 18:17 17. Public Ambient - Revival Shadows (Side B - Track 2) 19:10 18. Bam Bam - La Casa 20:36 19. Dream Your Dream - Soushkin 22:46 20. Next - Transformed Temple (Remix) 23:54 21. Casa Nostra - Insomnia 24:52 22. Final Exposure - Vortex 26:07 23. N.U.K.E. - Dance With a Wolf (Pure Space Mix) 27:30

24. T.M.F. - F*** Off 28:04 25. Insider - Dreams 28:37 26. Hardfloor - Once Again Back (Rumble Mix) 29:44 27. Dreamland - Mind Penetration 30:30 28. Friends Of Django - F***in' Revenge! 32:14 29. Ramirez - Orgasmico (DJ Ricci Mix) 33:13 30. S.V.E.N. - For God's Sake 34:53 31. Ramirez - La Musika Tremenda 36:08 32. Krid Snero - ?? 37:40 33. Modular Expansion - Cubes 38:30 34. S.V.E.N. - Silencium 39:03 35. Groove Reactor - Magick 40:10 36. Krid Snero - White Line (D&S Remix) 41:50

37. BST - Êtes-Vous Coupable? 42:32 38. Synthadelic - I'm a Secretary 44:12 39. Tragic Castle - Say Hello To The Bad Guy 45:02 40. Yves Deruyter - Guess Who? 46:09 41. S.V.E.N. - Free Cocaine 47:16 42. Trigger - Stratosphere 49:13 43. Aqua Contact - La Sirena 49:46 44. Krid Snero - ?? 51:02 45. The Future - Locked In Madness 52:08 46. Plexus - Cactus Rhythm (Mike Ferlin Mix) 53:06 47. Second Phrase - Mentasm (Remix) 53:59 48. Ace The Space - Nine Is a Classic (Bay Area Drive-By Mix) 54:58


"The devil's music for us" -  Belgian hardcore really did strike fear and terror! Yyou had otherwise sensible people, who'd loved acid house, likening it to fascism... Older worn-out ravers couldn't decide if the vibe was Castle Donington or the Nuremberg Rally soundtracked by a lobotomized Carl Orff!

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

the new heavy me(n)tal (When Belgium Roiled the World)


- Mixmaster Morris aka The Irresistible Force sounds the rave alarm, September 1991, Melody Maker

A different viewpoint from Belgophile Caspar Pound of Rising High (who put out The Irresistible Force album)

Caspar's like, "Altamont? Bring it on, bring it on!"

More from Caspar Pound (plus a bit from Mark Archer of Nexus 21 / Altern-8) from an early 92 special issue of NME. 

Mark Archer still doffs to the cap to K-werk and the Belleville 3 while acknowledging that the genre has now escaped from ancestral clutches - "no-one can claim to have invented this monster called Techno". 

Here also is Joey Beltram in Melody Maker espousing a dark future techno whose spiritual homelands are Belgium and Brooklyn - and confessing to a love for actual heavy metal especially Sabbath (so perhaps hardkore tekno's spiritual homelands are Belgium, Brooklyn and Birmingham)

He also dismisses Frankie Knuckles and Tony Humphries as "old farty music" (shades of punk's Boring Old Farts dissage of the Old Wave)

When I interviewed Beltram in early '92, he claimed he was in the running to produce the next Metallica album!

Friday, October 21, 2022

"boy, this is too much!!!!!"

First appears at 0.44 and passim in "Futuroid" 

Sourced here at 3.48

"Futuroid" is an inspired bit of wordplay that I tried to deploy once when teasing out different ideas of what futurism and futuristic-ness might mean in music. 

Extracted from its original context of meaning,  here "boy, this is too much" works as a comic yelp expressive of Toffler's future shock

"Future? You can't handle the Future"

Other raw materials for the Noise Factory

Now the "I bring you the future, the future" bit - I'm guessing that is the voice of the record's creator? Or a mate? 

But then there's that American old-timer warning that where we're going the country's very wild and dangerous and we'll have to cut through jungle and climb mountains so high they reach above the clouds.... presumably from some Hollywood movie.  

And a stray "watch dis" 

Not forgetting "dubplates playing in the ghetto tonight"

So whosampled doesn't have the full inventory by any means. 

Ah! There is a fuller inventory at Discogs which references a vocal from Johnny Osbourne's "We Gonna Rock It Tonight" and the American male voice being from The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre

"Breakage #4" on the EP is the same song remixed.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Is This Techno?


Or is the question "Is this Techno's Off Spring"

It's weird to me that 4 Hero - under an alter-ego, Is This - would do something so passively inspired.

It's not so much offspring (as that would suggest the idea of another genetic input shaping the outcome, if we're going with sexual reproduction as the metaphor here) as it is a clone of Detroit. 

(Then we get into all that kind of quasi-biologistic stuff about bastardy and "illegitimate offspring tend to lead more interesting lives"  - True People, hereditary proprietorship, pedigree versus mongrels, the dangers of inbreeding, recessive genes...)

Below, an unreleased Is This bit that is less shackled-to-the-Source-of-All-Things. Indeed it sounds more or less like a 4 Hero tune, with the breakbeaty shuffle. 

Ah, they put out a whole EP on Reflective in '93, the techno-phile sub-label of Reinforced

this one is nice

4 Hero's true Detroit-homaging alter-ego was Nu-Era  - whose '94 album was reissued last year... 

A latter effort that is mutating into broken beat

Now I got that first The Deepest Shade of Techno compilation on Reflective back in the day

Don't remember much about it, though

Both the first comp and Deepest II are playable here

There's a Gerald track on it (he could do some very Mayday-ish tunes)

Saturday, October 8, 2022

you could feel the tension

Was playing the 4 Hero / Scarface "Seen A Man Die" rmx  and the missus pipes up "this sounds like Last Poets"

I say, you want to hear an actual Last Poet does jungle track? 

Opening soundbite is from this Last Poets solo project Hustler's Convention by Lightnin' Rod aka Alafia Pudim aka Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin - soundbite located at 10.44 mins

I think the "Roll Out" version was my preferred mix by a whisker - but both Die & Size sides got played to def that almost-a-year we spent in Belsize Park in '94. Joy would have heard the bass rumblizm coming through the wall between our workspaces.

She recognised the tune instantly.

Such thick, dense, roiling, seething choppage! Moody, murky, maruading, menacing minimalism.  

That near-year in Belsize started with this beaut, which was getting near-constant play on the pirates in wintry early months of '94 

"that dream is over"

Fusion-ripplige sourced here


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Original Chaosist

Beggars belief that he didn't release this in the Nineties. 

                                    I assume it was made in the '90s

                                    Stylistically, I'd peg this as 91 or 92 

                                    Bleep adjacent

                                    Anyone actually know? 

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Beyond Belief


This record came out in 1993!!!

Things like this I would listen to in disbelief  - first, that music like this could even exist, and second, that no one seemed to have noticed (I mean outside the core scene, which was completely cut off, media-banished, cognoscenti-scorned, and accordingly inward looking, out of necessity) 

I had a completely clear run at it for around 18 months. There was me and there was Kodwo, who would put some hardcore 12's in his monthly club trax column at the Wire - and that was it, in terms of serious-minded outside-scene coverage. 

Yes it was my Lester Bangs right side of History moment - you'll forgive me for being attached to it. 

(And in truth Lester had more company in his clairvoyance -  other crits-wise - than I did)

Ian McShane in the membrane

Saturday, September 24, 2022

"Get Donald!"

This performance by Loleatta Holloway is absolutely riddled with samples-to-be  - vocal bursts that when you hear them here, in their original timespace, hit a seasoned dance music listener as electrifying portals,  flash-forward leaps into any number of later dance tunes. A phenomenon known as the sample epiphany. But this must surely be the most densely packed song ever, in terms not just of the amount of usage but of the sheer number of different bits used.  An epiphany overdose. 

Here's an inventory, quite likely incomplete, of sampled snippets: 

you got me burnin' up

such a good sensation

fill me

sweet sensation

i can't find the words to explain

right on time

i wanna say yes

oh it's got me 

so good so good


a feeling that I know so well

find a way

walk right in



you get down

let me tell you

time won't take my love away

And then there's also various non-verbal outcries - moans shrieks gasps yells woahs...

But there is one moment in "Love Sensation" that I've heard in various tunes - hardcore and jungle,  for sure, possibly house tracks too - but I'm struggling to recall which.

This particular vocal burst occurs at 15 seconds in the below (it's also at 3.07 in the non a cappella extended version of the song at the top of the post)

And I always hear it as the ecstastic if somewhat mysterious diva command: 

"Get Donald!"

It used to tickle me -  "what's she got against this Donald fellow then? What's Donald done?"

Definitely feels vengeful to me, rather than say an urgent appeal for Donald's presence.

(Now it rings out even more oddly as a motto for our time - a demand to the DOJ and attorney generals across the country to end the impunity)

Probably the utterance is in reality something along the lines of  "get down y'all". But I always heard it as "Get Donald!" and I'm attached to this mishearing.  (In the rave / jungle uses of the sample, it's sped up and compressed, adding to the "Donald" effect).  

However I cannot dredge from memory which precisely are the hardcore or jungle tunes that deploy "Get Donald!" (whosampled is no help here). 

Any clues? 

update 10/2-/2022 - Spiro in comments identifies the hardcore tune that uses the "Get Donald" bit  - Noise Factory "The Fire" . First appearance is at 1.21 

Loleatta is also heard in the form of another famous much-sampled bit: "sweet sensation /i can't find the words to explain". And again with "oh it's got me in its...  feeling that I know so well"

And then Stevie Nicks and Loleatta Holloway in the same track - goddess overdose!

"wait a minute baby stay with me awhile / said you'd give me light / but you never told me bout the fire"

Always took that as the plaint of a raver coming up a bit too hard on their first pill or pills.

The whole song is of course an ode to E

Hark ye, a few years ago there was a Dramatic Remix of "The Fire"

Bit too frantic for me. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Pure Wicked Tune: Rare Groove Blues Dances & House Parties 1985-1992

Following sharp on the heels of the pair of Pause for the Cause London Rave Adverts compilations, here's Luke Owen from Death Is Not The End with another splendid compPure Wicked Tune: Rare Groove Blues Dances & House Parties 1985-1992.  A wonderfully vibes-full document of what you might take as the prehistory of the nuum - a musical mulch of smoovgroov that would get tapped all through the '90s as a source of samples and texture-flava to drape over the exoskeleton of beats + bass. 

Release rationale: 

Pure Wicked Tune is a mixtape-style collection of extracts & cut-ups, taken from DIY cassette recordings featuring rare groove and "soul blues" soundsystems playing at early morning house parties and blues dances - mostly in South & East London - between the mid 1980s & early 90s.

Sounds like Funkadelic, Touch of Class, Latest Edition, JB Crew, Manhattan, 5th Avenue (and the many more featured on this tape) originally began to form in the mid-1980s. With lovers rock dwindling, and the reggae scene becoming dominated by harder digital-style dancehall, these sounds provided a tight but loyal crowd with a potent alternative - playing a mixture of killer rare soul, funk and boogie records in an inimitably reggae soundsystem style, complete with toasting, sirens and effects aplenty.

They were most well-known for playing at house parties and blues dances, typically in small flats or warehouses, with timing of such events generally running from the early morning hours until late the next afternoon. Though the popularity of the sounds faded following the dance music explosion of the early 1990s, there has been continued demand for revival sessions ever since. Whilst the influence of key British reggae & dancehall soundsystems on subsequent UK sounds like hardcore & jungle is relatively well documented, a similar line can just as easily be drawn from these sounds and the aforementioned styles' tendency toward sampling popular rare groove cuts, particularly well evidenced in the work of Tom & Jerry, 4hero, Reinforced & LTJ Bukem among others.

This represents the first outing in a series of collections exploring the sounds of UK soundsystem culture, via extracts from archival DIY cassette recordings of blues parties, dances & clashes made between the late 70s and early 90s. Often duplicated and shared widely, these ruff and ready "sound tapes" provided keen ears with music that wasn't otherwise readily available on the airwaves or in the record shops, and would go on to leave a deeply-rooted but too often overlooked influence on the UK's musical landscape. 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Dream FM: Tales from the Graveyard Shift

An article about the London pirate radio station Dream FM by Chris White aka DJ YT focusing on the fun 'n ' games of the midnight-to-morning shows on Fridays and Saturdays: 

"... Dream’s proceedings descended into anarchy, with an eight hour non-stop party....  'It was mostly made magical by the crazy listeners the station had. I couldn't wait for Saturday nights to get up to the studio, take part in the show and have a blast', recalls MC Herbs....  Groovevandal adds '... we'd do live calls, MC Herbs would do dodgy singing over speeded up honky tonk music mixed into drum & bass, rap battles between us all or just generally trying to put the DJ off by roasting him on the microphone.” The live callers added to the fun, 'people were just absolutely out there talking about the meaning of life and the best flavour ice lollies.' "

Plenty of Dream FM sets online but can't seem to find any of these prank-filled, phone-in nuttiness small hours sessions... 

Sunday, September 11, 2022

hardcore, tu connais le score

Available now in France and other Francophone territories is Hardcore - pronounce it with a silent "h" and it sounds like ardkore. This collation of my writings on le Nuum has been attractively presented by Audimat Editions and translated by l' intrépide Jean-François Caro.

Texte de présentation: 

Jungle, ambient jungle, techstep, speed garage, darkcore, grime, dubstep, funky… Depuis le début des années 1990, une série de styles musicaux s’est répandue du Royaume-Uni jusqu’aux dancefloors du monde entier. Ces musiques électroniques ont pris forme autour d’une passion pour la basse, les breakbeats, les sonorités issues du dancehall et le fracas des samples d’orchestre. Alimentées par les drogues (ecstasy, kétamine) et longtemps indissociables des radios pirates, elles composent ce que le critique britannique Simon Reynolds (RétromaniaLe choc du glam) a nommé le « continuum hardcore », pour mieux insister sur leur histoire commune. Dans ce livre, Reynolds revient sur ses propres expériences pour nous faire (re)découvrir une foule de maxis et de morceaux légendaires ou oubliés. Il revendique leur radicalité contre le mépris de classe, écoute les rapports féminin/masculin se transformer au cœur des infrabasses, et les réinscrit dans les trajectoires de la diaspora anglo-jamaïcaine et le multiculturalisme anglais. Avec son écriture à haute intensité, entre essai et reportage, cette anthologie inédite constitue un hommage sensible à l’énergie de la rave ainsi qu’un manifeste en prise sur l’innovation et la catharsis des dancefloors, à l’heure où les sonorités hardcore reviennent exorciser l’« anxiété généralisée » d’un capitalisme passé en mode turbo.

Vous pouvez acheter le livre ici

                                                        Sacre bleu, voila Sacred blue!

                                                        "Appelle moi une star regarde moi briller!"

Friday, September 9, 2022

!!!!! the return of Omni Trio !!!!!

release rationale: 

"Omni Trio returns with never before released material - including tracks from a ‘lost’ seventh album. 

Release date: 2 September 2022. Available on Digital platforms, Bandcamp and VERY LIMITED edition CD. This material includes tracks recorded around the time of the Rogue Satellite album that were originally pencilled in as part of an EP release which never happened.

Six of the tracks are restored from stems and fragments that would have formed the basis of a seventh Omni Trio album.

A VERY LIMITED EDITION CD will be available from Over/Shadow from September. Contact:

A four track VINYL sampler of the album will be available later in the year on Blueskinbadger Records called TREELINE CUTS EP.

CD also available from Blueskinbadger Records.

Also available at the bandcamp is the sixth and final Omni Trio album Rogue Satellite originally released in September 2004.

Above the Treeline was the title that the Wire gave my second Nuum essay - on Ambient Jungle, in which Omni Trio was interviewed (remotely, by the Royal Mail)

But I'm sure that's just a funny coincidence

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Jungle Technology

Tasty exercise in time travel here from Gremino 

Particularly like this one, "Trouble"

This one and all - "Boomshank Crazy"

release rationale: 

A journey through tropical beaches and palm trees, aqua currents, technology, cyber networks, danger, vigilance and concrete, and all of this operated with smoothness. Jungle Technology is an album which has alongside breakbeats and bass, rooted oldskool hardcore and Detroit techno melodies. The album has tropical paradise sound, but later in the album, we also visit hardened concrete jungle.

Effort has been seen for album's entity, so this is not just a compilation of good tracks. There's story (with interlude tracks) and own theme/aesthetic. The sound has original "rave-melodiousness", so this is not your typical oldskool jungle.

Alongside digital downloads, I put out good old CD-Rs - 30 copies limited edition. Disks are duplicated in factory, so they have beautiful label art printed. Overall I have seen much effort for cover art and booklet.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

The Finest

Wondrous epic mix project here from Selectabwoy. Four mixes + a bonus mix makes five, corralling almost everything Moving Shadow compatriots / allies Omni Trio and Foul Play touched during their extended '90s peak. Original tracks (A-sides, B-sides, tucked-away EP gems). Remixes they did of each other's tracks. Remixes they did of other artists's tracks. Remixes others artists did of their tracks. Pearls expertly strung together, brimming shimmering raptures intensified with artful transitions and overlays.

Simply put - the Finest Music of the '90s, all there for the downloading and delectation. 

Here's the tracklist (including a few things I'd somehow never heard)


Foul Play - Open Your Mind (Foul Play Remix)

Omni Trio - Feel Good (Original In Demand Mix)

Foul Play - Dubbing You

Omni Trio - Renegade Snares (Foul Play Remix)

Foul Play - Survival

Omni Trio - Original Soundtrack

Foul Play - Murder Most Foul

Haute Control - Future Stylin'

Foul Play - Screwface

Omni Trio - Stronger

4 Horsemen Of The Apocalypse - We Are The Future

Omni Trio - Mainline

Foul Play - Feel The Vibe (Again)

Splice - Falling (In Dub)

Foul Play - Finest Illusion (Illegal Mix)

Omni Trio - Step Off (Gold Blend Mix)


Omni Trio - Nu Grooves '94

Foul Play - Strung Out

Omni Trio - Rollin' Heights

4 Horsemen Of The Apocalypse - Drowning In Her (Phantasy & Aphrodite Remix)

Foul Play - Total Control (Origin Unknown Remix)

Omni Trio - Renegade Snares (Foul Play VIP Remix)

Omni Trio - Thru The Vibe (Bongo Mix)

Foul Play - Ignorance

Foul Play - Chrysalis

Omni Trio - Living For The Future (FBD Project Remix)

Omni Trio - Soul Promenade

Omni Trio - Feel Good '95

Foul Play - Being With You (E-Z Rollers Remix)

Foul Play - Cuttin' Loose


Haute Control - Dream Series (Volume 1)

Splice - Hold Me

Foul Play - The Alchemist

4 Horsemen Of The Apocalypse - We Are The Future (Darren Jay Mix)

Omni Trio - Feel Better (Foul Play Remix)

Splice - Bus In (Strawberries)

Foul Play - Dub In U (Remix)

Foul Play - Ragatere

Foul Play - Open Your Mind (Nookie Remix)

Foul Play - Survival (Remix)

Foul Play - Ricochet (No Stopping The Remix)

Omni Trio - Future Frontier

Bug Kann & The Plastic Jam - Made In Two Minutes (Foul Play Remix)

Haute Control - Drum & Bass Collision

Omni Trio - Renegade Snares (Original Mix)


Nookie - The Sound Of Music (Foul Play Remix)

Omni Trio - Be There

The Terrorist - Sing Time (Foul Play Remix)

Omni Trio - Nu Grooves '94 (Deep Blue Remix)

Foul Play - Karma Pt. 2

Foul Play - Being With You (Foul Play Remix)

Foul Play - Being With You (Van Kleef Remix)

Omni Trio - Soul Freestyle

Omni Trio - Ghost Rider

E-Z Rollers - Believe (Foul Play Remix)

Omni Trio - Renegade Snares (Rob's Reconstruction Mix)

Omni Trio - Soul Of Darkness (Promenade '96 Rollout)

DJ Pulse - So Fine (Omni Trio Remix)

Foul Play - The Stepper (Remix)

Omni Trio - Torn


Foul Play - Artificial Intelligence

London Steppers - Nu Grooves

Omni Trio - London Step

Foul Play - Beats Track

DJ Pulse - Stay Calm (Foul Play Remix)

Hyper On Experience - Lord Of The Null Lines (Foul Play & Randall Remix)

Omni Trio - Shadowplay

Omni Trio - Rollin' Heights (More Strings Attached Mix)

Omni Trio - Soul Promenade (Nookie Remix)

Omni Trio - Living For The Future (FBD Project VIP Remix)

Foul Play - Being With You

Foul Play - Cuttin' Loose (Remix)

Foul Play - Re-Open Your Mind '95

4 Horsemen Of The Apocalypse - We Are The Future (Two Dreads In A Dub Mix)

4 Horsemen Of The Apocalypse - Drowning In Her (4 Horsemen Mix)

JMJ & Richie - Hall of Mirrors (Omni Trio Remix)

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Amen to That! (Or, What a Remarc-able Fellow)

This is the story of a beat and the story of a beatmaster. The beat is the immortal "Amen" break, originally from an early funk track called "Amen Brother" by The Winstons. Someone who should know better once described "Amen" as jungle's default option--but that's like saying the Bo Diddley beat, or the twelve-bar blues shuffle, is something people fall back on when their imagination fails. Actually "Amen" is jungle's highest common denominator: its hard core, the absolute foundation and essence of the genre. Those two bars of stuttering kicks, driving snares and splashy ride cymbal, laid down in the late Sixties in seemingly throwaway fashion, have been dissected, processed, and reassembled to create near-infinite polyrhythmic possibilities. If you listen to the original "Amen" today it sounds kinda tepid, after all the damage that has been done to it, and with it. But the junglists heard something in that break--it's not exactly funky, it's got this surging, explosive quality--and amplified it a hundredfold, turning the snares into machine-guns, the hi-hats and cymbals into strafing shrapnel, the bass drum kicks into landmines under your feet.

Between 1993-1996, thousands upon thousands of jungle tunes were built around "Amen." And some of the absolute best were made by a young man who went by the name of Remarc. When it comes to the "Amen" break, Remarc is King of the Beat. If the "Amen" is the genetic drumcode of the junglist generation, Remarc is one of the supreme genetic engineers, dicing and resplicing that primal riddimatic DNA, and creating mutant monsters that stampeded the dancefloors of mid-90s Britain. For his ultimate burial tune "RIP" alone, he'd be assured of his place in the Junglist Hall of Fame. But what about "Thunderclap": have beats ever been more mashed, rinsed, shredded to fuck, and still funked? Catch me in the right misty-eyed mood and I might tell you that no dance music has gone further than the "Amen" tear-out circa 1994-5.
"RIP", "Thunderclap" and a precious handful of others represent a pinnacle that has yet to be surpassed.

Remarc is one of those DJ/producers--see also his peers Hype, Pascal, Bizzy B, Dead Dred, Marvellous Cain, and others--who never got the puff pieces in The Face, iD or Mixmag. They never became professional faces or quote merchants. They were simply too busy--building the soundboy killers that mashed up venues like the Roast and AWOL and Thunder & Joy. People used to talk about "intelligent drum'n'bass", but the tunes that ruled the true junglist dancefloor represented a kind of rhythmic intellect at its most penetrating and ferociously complex. Pure science. No need for wishy-washes of synth, pseudo-sophisticated jazz chords, or embarrassing attempts at "proper" songwriting. Just snare-rushes, a cyberskankin' B-line, and some
sparingly used vocal samples (ragga boasts, gangsta threats, and sweet diva licks). That's all it took to put you in jungle heaven. So let's hear it for Remarc, the bashment bombardier. REWIND selecta!!!!

(liner note to a Remarc compilation for Planet Mu)