Thursday, January 18, 2024

big up the Originals raving cru

A while ago Spiro alerted me to this great mix of amapiano from a few year back, this outdoor festival in London called The Originals. He pointed out that while the music didn't have any real connection to the Nuum, the peripherals - the MC-ing - were soaked in the London vibe. And it's true - there are points where the MC chants "oi oi!" just like his ancestors would at the Labrynth in '92. 

There's one at 36 mins 55 or so, where the MC asks the crowd "who's a true raver?" and then leads a call-and-response of "oggy oggy oggy, oi oi oi".

Listening again, I noticed another nuumological flicker - it occurs at 31.15 or thereabouts, the MC goes into this chant that sounds like "E come E come alive E come alive" (it might actually be "you come alive you come alive you come alive")

"E come E come alive E come alive" is a nigh-on thirty-year-old catchphrase from this Xenophobia tune "Rushing The House" that was big in '92. I associate it with Spiral Tribe, on account of the Spiral-connected MC Scallywag being on the record. But it was produced by Grant Nelson aka Wishdokta aka the G in N'n'G aka Bump & Flex aka dozens of aliases up and down the length of the nuum from ardkore to 2step.

It recurs again in the Supa D amapiano mix at about 37.15 reworded as "you come alive, I come alive, you come alive, I come alive". Just before, the MC talks about how he feeds off  the buzz from the audience and then gives it back to them. The chant "you come alive, I come alive, you come alive, I come alive" crystalizes the feedback-loop between crowd and MC+DJ beautifully.

It's noticeable also that most of the MC-ing is Jamaican flavored in slang and accent - "big up", "pon" etc. And in this next Originals set, lots of "my selector" "wanna reload?", etc 


Also at 37.57 or so, there's a shout-out to the four quadrants of the city - "North London, South London, West London, East London", flashing back to the opening interpellation in Gant's "Soundbwoy Burial (187 Lockdown Dancehall Mix)"

Echoes of jungle and UKG, in 2023-  a quarter-century later. And the whole thing representing yet another of those only-in-London recombinations of the Caribbean, the Black American, and now the African. 

Looking up the Originals festival online, I see the slogan: It's A London Thing.

Monday, January 15, 2024

now that's why they call it...

 you can complete the sentence I'm sure.... 

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat 2step-tribute relick remake redream of one of the grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreatest of ardkore tracks ever 


Vocal ghosted from 

Ah, never noticed before, or perhaps forgot - but there's a snippet of the Urban Soul  vocal once again - garbled and ultrawoogly - in "Jim Skreech", the track that immediately follows "Menace" on the Darkrider EP. 

At 0.56

Making it all even more nuum numm nuumy, there's a lovely bleep-tinkle-echo-echo swipe from Sweet Exorcist's awesome "Clonk's Coming" in "Menace"

Oh never knew this - sweet tremolo'd-2-fuck vocal rip from "Menace" appears in this tune "Sensi Addict" by The Candyman - at 2.26 

Nice tune

Back to "Jim Skreech", always wondered if there was an inspiration taken from this Big Youth track 

Must be surely (Goldie had a Rastafari-phase in his past) 

In the Rufige Cru tune "Jim Skreech", there's an ultra-jittered vocal lick - "fee-eee-eee-eel it" -  sourced in the postdisco song "Life Is Something Special" by the Peech Boys, an era of music where dubby FX enters the mix and especially the remix, the flipside versions on 12 inches

But I wonder if Goldie + kru got the "fee-eee-eeel it" second-hand, via late-bleep classic "Feel It" by Coco Steel & Lovebomb

Well, I never heard this mix... 

It's dubbier, yet tepid compared to the fevered original. Worthy of Guerrilla Records or Hard Hands.

There's a Justin Robertson remix that's even duller yet presumptuously calls itself "Dub Excursion".

This "5 am" mix by Kid Batchelor is a bit better but still too muted

Oh god, somehow I've strayed far far from all that was glorious and world-historical in 92-93!

It's funny how almost the exact same sources and constituents - dub, house, disco + postdisco- could produce such drastically different results at more or less the exact same time. 

"Dub", in the early '90s-  as a track title parenthetical / remix title or just vague invoked ancestry -  could be the promise of "Babylon shall fall" tectonic wreckage or milquetoast numbing nothingness 

But let's end on a high

Back to the era of D.E.A. and its "Menace" remake "Sacrifice"

Goldie knew what the score was, where the spirit had gone (saw him once, at one of the UKG clubs, gladhanding Spoony from Dreem Teem up in the deejay booth) 

But I wish these guys - M.J. Cole, Groove Chronicles, Grant Nelson aka Bump n' Flex - had been remixing this earlier Goldie + kru tune with the exact same title

That would have been a true "now that's why they call it..." moment... 



Tuesday, January 9, 2024

a quarter-century+ of UKG

Crazy to think that's it over a quarter-century since UKG!  Well over 25 years, actually, depending on when you date it from (e.g. the pre-speed UK garage tunes)

Below is all my website writing on UKG, 1997-2001, drawn from the annual faves / unfaves surveys. Five of the best years of my listening life.  

Actually there's one thing I left out, the theory-slanted, macro-analytic Feminine Pressure Footnotes. Below is the more juicy stuff - rhythmtexture-evoking paeans to particular tunes. 

It's a textual accompaniment to this 2step garage playlist and this (much shorter) speed garage playlist (suggestions for expanding that, or indeed the already very long 2step, most welcome)



Things I like about Speed Garage

1/ It's a composite of potent clichés -- the best, most effective (what some call "cheesy") elements from the last ten years of club and rave culture mashed together: garage's skipping, syncopated snares; house's brassy diva vocals and EQ-ing/filtering/phasing/stereopanning effects that make sounds shiver up your spine; 1992 hardcore's squeaky vocals (hence speed garage covers of Jonny L's "Hurt You So", Urban Shakedown's "Some Justice", that "Sexual Feeling Is Mutual" track); 1994 jungle's ragga-dalek timestretched chants and Dred Bass radioactive-glow B-lines and Omni Trio-style soul-diva plasma-acapella loops.

2/ Such a simple idea--fusing the best of house and jungle--ruffing up house just at the point when it had gotten a little too sedate and glossy, and joy-juicing up jungle just as it lost its rude-bwoy exuberance and (with neurofunk) became utterly desiccated and frigid, what Peter Shapiro called a "cyber-Calvinist pleasure-free zone".

3/ Those lewd, lubricious butt-surging B-lines really erogenize your rump-zone.

4/ The Arthur Russell-like dub-spacious and percussadelic side of the sound (artists like Ramsey & Fen) looks like it might develop into "ambient speed garage", while the ragga-sampling and dirty-bass driven end of the scene (what UK Dance's Bat calls "dangerous garage") has already taken over the role of jump-up jungle. This potential split between "musical"/"experimental" speed-garage and the rougher, darker stuff that appeals to "garage ravers" (once a contradiction in terms) could be highly productive or highly amusing, or even both. Either way it's going to be way more interesting than the song-full stuff that just sounds like a slightly tuffer and faster version of New York garage.

Things I Don't Like About Speed Garage:

1/ Such a simple idea--fusing the best of house and jungle--simple, and once the initial surprise has worn off, kind of obvious. 

2/ Precisely because it's a composite of house and jungle, whereas jungle was a mutant of hip hop and techno -- a mutant that warped all its sources (speeding up and chopping to shreds the breakbeats, for instance). I don't hear an equivalent factor of warpage in Speed Garage yet, I don't hear enough future.

3/ Too many tracks with the exact same beat--something you could never say about jungle, at least until 1997 and the tyranny of the two-step trudge. I've heard tracks that interlace and leaven the skipping, wood-chop snares with micro-breaks and percussadelic ticks, but too much speed garage is as rhythmically monotonous as house and trance.

4/ The "politics" of Speed Garage are so much less interesting than those of jungle, which was shadowed by the desperation and darkside gloom caused by the 1992/93/94 recession, whereas Speed Garage is colored by the feel-goodism and living-large of the late Major/early Blair boom. Hence its reversion to the pre-rave clubland exclusivity of the last economic boom, the mid-to-late loadsamoney Eighties; hence its resemblance to the playaz of post-Puffy rap/post-Timbaland R&B, products of the Clinton boom. Same flash clothes (literally--shiny, man-made, near-fluorescent fabrics), designer-label fetishism, champagne-swigging, we-are-the-beautiful-people/we-be-the-baddest-clique ethos. Now, I don't wanna come across like a playa-hater, but as someone who wears trainers, and crap trainers to boot, I resent the return of style codes and the implicit "quality people, quality sounds" ethos.

5/ Its victory has been too easy (coming out of the London underground to conquer the rest of the country and penetrate the Top 30 within less than a year); its appeal too straightforward and accountable. Where's the difficulty, the danger?

Nonetheless, for the curious, here are some killer speed-garage tunes. Shake your ass to:

Gant --"Sound Bwoy Burial (187 Lockdown Dancehall Mix)" (Positiva)

187 Lockdown --"Gunman" (EastWestDance)

Fabulous Baker Boys --"Oh Boy" (Multiply) [sampling Jonny L's "Hurt You So (Alright)"]

D.J. Ride -- "Renegade Bass (Unreleased Mix)" from Power House Recordings

Limited Edition Part 1" EP (Power House) [sampling Renegade's "Terrorist"]

Ramsey & Fen -- "Underground Explosion" from The Off-Key Experience EP" (Very Important Plastic)

The Hornet --"Just 4 U London" from The Hornet Presents "The Rockin' EP" (Sting

City) [remake of Bodysnatch's "Euphony" a/k/a "Just 4 U London"]

The Unofficials Vol. 1 [bootleg of Notorious BIG track]

Underground Distortion --"Everything Is Large" (Satellite)

R.I.P. Productions--"The Chant (We R)" (Satellite) [samples Lennie De Underground's "We Are Ie"]

Ruff Da' Menace -- "Kick The Party Into Full Effect (Ruff & Menacing Mix)" (Obsessive House)

A Baffled Republic--"Bad Boys (Move In Silence)" (One Step/Catch)

Double 99 --"Ripgroove" (Satellite)




The book's verdict on speed garage was that it's "a composite (house plus jungle) where drum and bass was a mutant (hiphop times techno)", that where jungle "twisted and morphed its sources; as yet, an equivalent warp factor is barely audible in speed garage". 1998 was when the warp factor really began to make itself heard, with producers reasserting the breakbeat legacy of jungle and creating the strange nu-funk style called 2-step--basically slow-motion jungle, something for the ladies massive.

At the same time as being lover's jungle, 2-step is also like a UK response to American R'n'B. Timbaland's twitchy hypersyncopation has long been widely attributed to a drum and bass influence, something steadfastly denied by Tim 'n' Missy. All through '98 you could hear that imagined (?) compliment being repaid by the children of jungle, in the form of 2-step. Dropping the four-to-the-floor house pulse and replacing it with Timbaland's falter-funk kick drum, producers like Dreem Teem, Dem 2, Chris Mac, Steve Gurley, et al are basically making smoov R'n'B filtered through a post-Ecstasy sensorium: midtempop bump'n' grind; sped-up, succulent cyborg-diva vocals; a playa-pleasing patina of deluxe production. At the same time, 2-step is geared towards the UK polydrug culture (where cocaine has usurped E as the paradigm drug, the vibe-setter), so alongside the sexed-up, VIP opulence there's all these dark-but-sensual elements (warped vocal ectoplasm, convulsive hypersyncopations) that hint at coke psychosis on the scene's horizon.

More on this in a thinkpiece in the April 99 issue of The Wire (it'll also later get posted in director's cut form on the site--footnotes galore!). Right now, the specifics--in no particular order, my fave 2-step tunes of 1998.

DEM 2--Destiny (Sleepless) [Locked On]

--Destiny (New Vocal Mix) [Locked On]

U.S. ALLIANCE --Grunge Dub/All I Know [Locked On]

GROOVE CONNEKTION 2--Club Lonely (DEM 2 Don't Cry Dub) [Locked On]

Dem 2--Dean Boylan and Spencer Edwards--are the outfit whose music makes the most convincing argument that 2-step is a brand nu-funk for the Nine Nine. One listen to "Destiny (Sleepless)" is enough to tell you it's not house music; it barely has any relationship to garage as hitherto known. So deceptively simple is its groove (every element--and they're all simultaneously melodic/rhythmic/textural--dovetails with a Zen perfection) that it's almost impossible to describe. It doesn't sound overtly avant-garde or abstract, but I defy you to name a record before 1998 it resembles or owes much to: the tremulous, heartbroken cyborg vocal faintly recalls Zapp, the darting and stinging synth-lick recalls Gary Numan, there's an electro flavor in there, but that's about it. Crisp and juicy, joyous yet tense, "Destiny" is one of those key records in the hardcore/jungle/speed garage continuum, like 2 Bad Mice's "Waremouse", Renegade's "Terrorist" or Gant's "Sound Bwoy Burial", that announces a paradigm shift, codifies a new style, sets the blueprint.

Dem 2's "Don't Cry Dub" of "Club Lonely"--like the original "Destiny", released way back in late '97--has a similar do-androids-weep-electric-tears? feel. Here you can really hear Dem 2's virtuosity at the diva-manipulation techniques that Bat from ukdance calls "vocal science." Texturally, they scintillate the voice, fluorescize it, make it gleam and refract as though you're hearing it through ears wet with tears; rhythmically, they shred the vocal into micro-syllable and sub-phoneme particles--cyborg-sniffles, sounds as fleetingly iridescent as spit-bubbles in the corner of a sobbing mouth--and make them syncopate against the groove (pure Timbaland twitch-and-bump).

"Grunge Dub" by U.S. Alliance--a Dem 2 alias--shows the duo's darker direction for 1999: a rhythm matrix so assymetrical, angular and stop-start off-kilter it's almost impossible to dance to (this is 2-step's big break with house's E-d up 4-to-the-floor egalitarianism--you have to be really good at dancing to move to these beats), and a twisted, gibbering groan-riff of a male vocal. 

CHRIS MAC--Plenty More/Get It [Confetti]

Possibly the most accomplished and inventive producer to arise out of UK garage last year, Chris Mac is doing as much as Dem 2 to prove that 2-step is a new thing. "Plenty More" is silky, svelte sensuality corroded with darkness: a simultaneously brittle and supple rhythm track dominated by squishy, spongy snares (possibly reversed), strings that slash across the stereofield like the orchestral equivalent of a skid, and a mix so shiny you almost have to squint your ears against its harsh gloss glare. The vocal is interesting too, plugging into garage's rapacious appetitiveness (all those divas demanding "give me", "I need it"). The voice is ambiguously pitched, recalling Prince's sped-up alter-ego Camille on "If I Was Your Girlfriend"--the lyrics go "not a little girl anymore/used to be the one I adore/but there's plenty more fish in the sea/for me", but you're never sure if it's a diva putting down a guy and asserting her sexual autonomy, or a playa putting a girl in her place by telling her she's disposable, replaceable. Either way, "Plenty More" evokes the coked-up roving eye feasting its gaze on the sexual bounty of the nightclub's babe-arama. "Get It" is even more rapacious, transmitting an ants-in-your-pants alloy of desperation and desire. Brass stabs and jungalistic sub-bass pressure-drops weave around a dense web of drum some of which (in a typical 2-step sleight of subtle avant-gardism) reveal themselves on close inspection as made of the human voice: hiccups, chokings, winces, gasps and stutters.

OPERATOR and BAFFLED--"Things Are Never (STEVE GURLEY Remix) [Locked On]

LENNY FONTANA--"Spirit of the Sun" (STEVE GURLEY Remix) [public


"Things Are Never" is moody. (It actually reminds me of E.S.G.'s "Moody"). Crisper-than-crisp beats, a baleful bass-drop (making your stomach plummet like you're on a rollercoaster), a one-note synth-bleep wincing like a hypertense vein pulsing in your temple. In the new sonic context crafted by Steve Gurley (ex-Foul Play, a/k/a Rogue Unit), the originally romantic-heartbreak themed diva vocal ("things are never/what they seem") becomes a more general statement of existensial instability. The lush-but-dark vibe reminds me of Nightmares On Wax's "Aftermath", the plinkily metallic, melodic-percussive xylophone riff recalls Unique 3's "7-AM". There's a bunch of tunes around in early 99--like "Slamdown" off New Horizons' Scrap Iron Dubs No. 1 EP--that have a clonking industrial feel that harks back to the bleep-and-bass era of 1990: the first time the British merged house, reggae and electro to make a new sound system stylee.

"Spirit of the Sun" has the archetypal 2-step mood-blend of euphoria and tension, retaining garage's overwraught diva histronics but resituating them amid dynamics and drops that are totally un-house. The bit where the beat pauses and the "shine on, shine on, shine on" chorus explodes never fails to send goosebumps prickling up my neck. The lyric is kind of interesting too, the diva talking about how she's going to be infused by "the spirit of the sun"--it takes garage's traditional obsession with summer to the verge of Bataille-style helioatry: his worship of solar extravagance and his exaltation of a "will for glory" in the human soul "which would that we live like suns, squandering our goods and our life." Bataille-style will-to-expenditure, aristocratic potlatch, largesse, and garage 'n' R'n'B's luxury, commodity-fetishism and larging it --same thing innit?

RICHIE BOY AND DJ KLASSE--"Madness On The Street (2 Step Mix)" [Stamp]

Another stunning torsion-and-treatment job on a female R'n'B vocal of unknown (to me) provenance. "I can't stand/All this madness on the street"--this short phrase, pretty funky to start with, is subjected to all kinds of vivisection and resequencing over a sublime cyberfunk groove. Combining the anti-naturalism of R'n'B vocal production with the filtering/panning techniques of late 90s house, producers like Richie Boy and DJ Klasse fracture the vocie into tiny percussive shards, create new accents and stresses, make the vocal haemorrhage or pulse, fold in on itself, buckle, crinkle, or glow uncannily. It's serious posthuman business, you're not listening to a person anymore but a passion that's being enhanced and mutated through interaction with technology. A cyborg, in other words.

SOME TREAT -- Lost In Vegas (JBR)

A tribute to/remake of Shut Up And Dance's 1990 (or was it even 1989?) track "Ten Pounds To Get In," this samples the Suzanne Vega vocal-riff from "Tom's Diner" that SUAD must have got from DNA's unoffical-then-subsequently-sanctioned dance version of the S. Vega track. We're talking multiple levels of citation here, serious intertextuality. On a broader level it's a tribute to the hardcore continuum--getting on for ten years of London's multiracial rave scene, a culture of mixing it up, of hybridising hybrids and mutating mutations; the continual reinvention of flava and vibe. A tradition of futurism. Roots N' Future = the endlessly fresh now.

DOOLALLY--"Straight From The Heart" (Chocolate Boy/Locked On) 

A lot of people have said there's a ska element to this tune. There's definitely a skanking vibe-- the trace of a reggae afterbeat, a strange bubbling bassline that winds and weaves around the crisp, push-me pull-you 2-step. So irresistibly poppy and chuneful it made the UK Top 20, "Straight From the Heart"--and its sequel, "Sweet Like Chocolate", released as Shanks and Bigfoot--make the strongest case for 2-step as a millenial update of lover's rock: the UK-spawned hybrid of US soul and reggae that emerged at the end of the 1970s as second-generation Caribbean-British women demanded songs that addressed their concerns (love, relationships) rather than a Rastafarian agenda. As Dick Hebdiges says in Cut 'n' Mix, rather than the fantasy of utopia through repatriation to Ethiopia/Zion, these women's (only slightly less unrealistic?) dream was of a caring man. A song hymning devotion, commitment and holding out for the long-term emotional dividend, "Straight From The Heart" is also a sign that the hardcore nation's grown up and settled down. Borderline cheesy, it reminds me of the way hardcore could alchemize the most cheddary pop hits and make them sublime (c.f. Goldseal Tribe's '92 push-me-pull-you pirate monster "Only The Lonely"). Love it.

AMIRA--"My Desire (DREEM TEEM Remix) [VC/Virgin/Slip'n'Slide]

N-TYCE--"Telefunkin' (FIRST STEPS Remix) [label unknown]

JODECI VS CLUB ASYLUM--Freak Me Up (Steppers Vocal Mix) [white label]

US R'n'B gods/goddesses (and some Brit-wannabes) given the now almost obligatory 2-step remix for the London market--sometimes official, sometimes strickly bootleg. "My Desire"--glossy gamelan clatter'n'tinkle of percussion, B-line that hops and skips and flutters like lovestruck butterflies in the stomach, a perpetual forward tumbling flow (pivoting around a micro-second hesitation in the groove that makes all the difference), a trembling-with-joy vocal re-patterned to dovetail with the groove in such snugly funky ways you'll want to leap out your own skin. "Telefunkin'"--slow-burning, svelte menace, hilarious love-junkie phone-sex lyrics ("I've got the fever for your flava", "I'm addicted to you baby/tied to the telephone line"). "Freak Me Up"--simply very, very horny.

NEW HORIZON--"Find The Path" [500 Rekords]

--"It's My House (Bashment Mix)" [500 Rekords]

--Scrap Iron Dubs No. 1 EP" [500 Rekords]

Not 2-step, but a reggaematic and rootical reinvention of house music so marvellous and peculiar I had include it here. '97's "Find The Path" whisks a Gregory Isaacs-style nightingale croon into a falsetto froth of melisma-plasma that quivers and ripples like the fronds of a jellyfish; organ vamps create an almost Gothic-dub atmosphere. "It's My House (Bashment Mix)"--"bashment" is a dancehall patois term for the ultimate, the works--has this amazing dissonant-verging-on-microtonal blare of drones that's somewhere between the Master Musicians of Jajouka and the old hardcore rave blow-your-own-horn classic "One Time For the Foghorn". Scrap Iron Dubs No.1"--killer tune is "Slamdown"-- is part of what Bat from ukdance identifies as the "latest micro-trend in 2-step... weird techno bleepy clanging noises peppered all over the trax", further pointing out that "This is a pretty radical departure for garage, which has stuck to the same portfolio of 'organic' sounds (real instruments, proper singing etc) for yonks. Now we get those organic noises mixed up with all manner of strange vleeps and metallic klungs - something I haven't heard since the heyday of hardcore and jungle around 1994."

KMA--Recon Mission EP (Locked On)

The title declares this EP a probe into the unknown (as does the sample "this is a line to the future/leave a message). From the outfit responsible for the dark garage classics "Cape Fear" and "Kaotic Madness," this is one of the most emotionally and rhythmically confused records I've heard in years. My favorite is the third track, "Blue Kards," a hybrid of the first two: disjointed beats that seem to stampede out of the mix, gaseous swirls of phased vocals (sung by producer Six), stricken guitar licks, and an overwraught doubt-wracked bluesiness of mood. Alarmingly the new KMA jam "Kemistry" is a supersmooth four-to-the-floor tune with a full-on vocal; Six's thinking seems to be that the only unpredictable thing left for KMA to do was make a totally conventional garage track. Shame, but the debut album The Unanswered Question, set for Jan 1st 2000 release, might well rival be 2-step's Timeless .

ANTONIO-- "Hyper Funk" (Locked On)

Crisp-and-spry 2-stepper whose simple drum machine beat, Scritti prickle of glossy funk guitar, and block party MC exhortation ("hype hype hype hype the funk") hark back to early Eighties simplicity. 2-step's very own "Rockerfella Skank"?

GROOVE CHRONICLES--"Stone Cold" (Groove Chronicles)

Crafted by rising producer Noodles, this languid-yet-foreboding track samples just a few vocal phrases from Aaliyah's sublime "One In A Million" (a Timbaland production which I always though was like a jungle ballad) and totally reinvents them; Aaliyah's hushed devotional tenderness becomes the ghost-of-my-former-self whispers of a love addict going through emotional cold turkey. The key phrase is "desire" (phrased "deee-siyah", putting a sigh in it): in the original, it's Aaliyah promising to do anything her beloved wants, his heart's desire; here, it becomes a floating signifier, pure intransitive craving, and yet another sign of garage's relentless imagery of appetite and neediness ("what you want, what you need', "giving you what you wanted," etc). Killer moment: when the beat and the jazzy sax solo drops out, leaving just Aaliyah's pleas and reproaches ("you don't know, what you do to me"), then in comes the moodiest wah-wah dread bassline ever. Goosepimples a-go-go.

RAMSEY and FEN--"Love Bug" [BUG]

--"Desire" [BUG]

--"Love Bug Remixes" [BUG]

What blows me away about "Desire" is the amazing density of rhythmic information RAF are able to cram in without the groove feeling cluttered. The intricate high-end percussion--shakers, hi-hats (closed and open), tambas, the trademark RAF ultra-crisp fills and rolls --is so dazzling and glitterball spangly that the first time I heard it the phrase "cocaine music" sprung into my mind (and it's not a drug I know much about). Turns out that (according to Kodwo Eshun, who heard it from Portishead's engineer) the "cocaine ear" prefers bright, toppy sounds. "Love Bug" is similarly dense-but-groovy with weird detuned drum fills. There's also an amazing "Love Bug" remix out any day with an electro feel--if it's the track I heard Fen playing out, it's got a Roland 808 bass-drop driven groove that throbs and whirs like a monstrous clockwork mechanism. 

CLOUD 9--"Do You Want Me (DEM 2 Steps To Heaven Mix) [Locked On]

CRAZY BANK--"Your Love" [Locked On]

These go together in my head for some reason; "Do You Want Me" is sheer amorous euphoria with great percussive vocal stabs, which are contorted, twisted and clipped short to make for an exquisitely tender frenzy. Crazy Bank does much the same but with a more desperate tinge, making the diva sound like she's about to leap out of her own skin. There's no narrative coherence to 2-step's love songs: sentences are left hanging, the object noun or qualifier snipped to make the phrase fit the funktionalist requirements of the track. Here it's like the lover's discourse in random shuffle mode.

M-DUBS--"Over Here (Sugar Shack Break Beat Funk)" [Babyshack Recordings]

A minimal 2-step roller very much in the "Destiny" mold--crisp snare-kick groove, simple synth-vamp, great organ licks and dub-wise flickers in back of the mix. What really makes it though is the fantastic drawling and nasal ragga vocal from the Emperor Richie Dan, playing a ladeez-man tendering his services ("if you wanna take a chance/I'm right over 'ere") while a female backing vocals seem to be singing "Iron Mike" for some reason. 

SKYCAP--titles unknown [white label]

Two tracks in the vein of their awesome dark garage tune from '97, "Endorphin". So wired they're dsyfunktional, they make me think the next step after charley-spliffs might be freebasing. The best side has a gibbering and mewling male vocal (which eventually goes into single-phoneme scatting --imagine Bobby McFerrin reduced to a crackhead) strung around an ultra-brittle 2-step anti-groove. The flip, also good, features a seriously overwraught and accusatory diva and some blues-wracked guitar licks. 2-step's journey beyond the pleasure principle should be as interesting as '93 darkcore's.

VARIOUS ARTISTS Locked On, Vol 3: Mixed by Ramsey and Fen [Virgin]

DREEM TEEM Dreem Teem In Session Volume 2 [Deconstruction/4 Liberty]

Locked On is the best UK garage compilation yet (the full circumference, 2-step to 4-to-the-floor), and also, I'm afraid, the American reader's best chance of hearing this stuff: a few 2-step tunes are slipping through in the speed garage/UK garage bins, but this is a London thing, inevitably if rather sadly.

You can find this comp in American specialist dance stores and also in Virgin megastore. Mixed by RAF, it's the bomb: alongside above-mentioned lovelies "Destiny", "Love Bug," Amira, Crazy Bank, it includes such killers as Dreem Teem's bubblicious proto-2stepper "The Theme," the astounding Dem 2 cyberfunk mix of Aftershock's "Slave To the Vibe," M.J. Cole's slick, Bukem-of-2step "Sincere" and RandF's gorgeous Latin garidge mix of The Heartists's "Belo Horizonti." The Dreem Teem comp has many of the same 2-step classics,, plus New Horizon's "It's My House (Bashment Mix)" and a great woozily vocalized Chris Mac cyberballad, "Set It Off".



The Artful Doger--"Rewind" (Public Demand)

DJ Double G -- "Poison" (DJs For Life)

Shanks & Bigfoot--"Sweet Like Chocolate" (Pepper)

Master Stepz. feat Splash--"Melody" (Outlaw)

Deetah--"Relax (Bump N' Flex Remix)"

U.S. Alliance--"All I Know (Dem 2's Grunge Dub Mix)" (Locked On)

Bump N'Flex --"Step 2 Me"

DJ Double G - "Special Request"(DJs For Life)

Groove Chronicles-- "99/Black Puppet". (Dat Pressure Recordings/DPR)

EP of remixes of Ratpack's "The Clipper" aka "Champion Puffer" (Confetti Dubs)

Cisco--"Bonnie & Clyde"

DJ Dee Kline & Pixie --- "I Don't Smoke" (RAT)

The Corruption Crew--"G.A.R.A.G.E." from Tales of the Corrupted EP (Kronik)

Groove Chronicles --"Masterplan"

M Dubs -"Bump'n'Grind" (Babyshack)

M-Dubs -- "Body Killing" (Babyshack)

M-Dubs--"For Real"

Lee Edwards--"Your Mind, Your Body, and Your Soul"

Artists Unknown--Bootleg remix of KP and Envyi's "Swing My Way"

Glamma Kid & Shola Ama--"Sweetest Taboo (MJ Cole Remix)"

E.S. Dubs--"Standard Hoodlum Issue" (Social Circles)

Box Fresh--"Talk To Me" (Prolific)

In Sinc-- "Cool The Menta" (500 Rekords)

Same People -- "Dangerous" (Locked On)

Large Joints--"Dubplate (Brandy--Down With You Bootleg)"

Architechs--"B&M Remix/The Boy Is Mine"

Y-Tribe--"Enough Is Enough"

New Horizons-- "Slamdown" from Scrap Iron Dubs Vol 1 (500 Rekords)

DJ Luck and MC Neat--"Little Bit of Luck" (Red Rose Recordings)

Angel Farringdon & L'il Smokey--"No Fighting/Clean Rhythm" (JBR)

Mad Shag --"Madness on the Streets Remix" (Stamp)

10 degrees Below meets Fierce--"Dayz Like That"

Norris 'Da Boss' Windross -- "Heartbeat" (Pseudo)

Antonio--"Bad Funk/Bad Funk (Dem 2 Remix)" (Locked On)

DEA--"Sacrifice" [remake of Rufige Cru's "Menace"] (DEA)

Various Artists--Locked On... The Best Of

Various Artists--Pure Silk: The Album

(to name but a few.....)

Even after the "Feminine Pressure" UK garage epic, I find there's always more to say about 2-step, new twists and folds, contours and crinkles. It's endlessly seductive and thought-provocative. For now, just a couple of thoughts: 

A/ I'm always struck by the way the ads for clubs and raves on the pirates go on about the main room playing "house and UK garage". At these events you can be sure you will never hear a house record in any of the commonly accepted senses. You'll be lucky to hear any four-to-the-floor pump, it'll be 95 percent two-step twitch all the way. The latest wave of tunes--by M-Dubs, Groove Chronicles, E.S. Dubs--are moody midtempo breakbeat with evil basslines and dub-spatialized mixes, topped with menacing ragga vocals or pure darkside-revisisted samples. In other words, fuck-all to do with house music or garage. So why this strident prioritisation, "house and UK garage", with the word "house" upfront? Why the reluctance to announce, proclaim, shout from the rooftops, the fabulous novelty of this music? Why the semantic restraint? (M-Dubs actually call what they do "breakbeat funk" but this is really unusual). The insistence on "house" is a re-pledging of allegiance--as if the swerve into jungle, as a named, differentiated genre, distinct from house, was a terrible mistake; the first split that beget all the subdivisions to follow. Yet the re-dedication to "house" is not at all the same as, say, the UK purist house scene's emulation of American deep house maestros, its fidelity to Chicago or New York. It's more about a reinvocation of the spirit (rather than substance) of a specifically British moment, an all-too-brief phase before the subgeneric dis-intergration of the rave diaspora began. This phase, circa 1990, was when house started to get inflected in all kinds of specifically British ways, yet it was still house: the bleep house of Unique 3 and Nightmares On Wax, the hip-house/breakbeat house of Blapps Posse and Shut Up and Dance, the dancehall/dub house of Ragga Twins and Moody Boys, the hardcore house of Congress and Psychotropic. What's being re-proposed is an idea--again British-of a house music that's so elastic, hybrid, and protean, it almost has no stylistic contours, no delimited range of emotion--it can comprehend any influence, any feeling. House as a literally catholic church -- so inclusive and adaptable there's no need for schisms or breakaway heretic sects--because it can be almost anything. And that's what 2-step is--what house sounds like when almost every defining characteristic of house music has been eliminated or tweaked until near-unrecognisable.

In the tradition of hardcore and jungle before it, London's garage scene works as a gigantic laboratory, a permutation space where new hyphenated hybrids and creole micro-genres flicker into life for a few months or even just weeks, then disappear: speed garage, slow jungle, ska-house, acid swingbeat, hyper-funk, breakbeat garage, disco-ragga, grunge dub, riddim & blues, electro-gamelan, divas-in-the-echo-chamber, crack house, tech-2-step, quiet stormcore, sugarshack breakbeat funk, scrap iron dub, bleep garage, wildstyle soul, lover's jump-up. In this music you hear spectral traces of 20 plus years of London "street sounds" culture---the ghosts of Loose Ends, Janet Kay, Ratpack, Buju Banton, Gappa G & Hypa Hypa, Soul II Soul, Public Enemy, Ali G., Anita "It's the Way" Baker, Cherelle & Anthony O' Neal, Smiley Culture, Tina Moore, Mantronix, Leviticus, JVC Force, Deep Dish, Nina Simone, Kaotic Chemistry---not just in the form of assimilated influences, but often as blatant samples, cheekily plagiarized interpolations, even total remakes like the ones of "Mr Kirk's Nightmare" and "Lord of the Null Lines" going around at the moment.

B/ my favorite bit in Artful Dodger's fabtastic "Re-Wind" isn't the "when the crowd say 'bo' selector/re-e-wind"" chorus or the windscreen-smashing beats, but the bit where Craig David croons "got our groove on, dancing yeah, real hardcore." The fact that he can convincingly claim to be "real hardcore" in that silky-soft swingbeat Nutrasweet voice highlights the transvaluation that's taken place; when drum'n'bass started to fall into the grim orbit of techno, the London massive conversely started to feel the gravitational attraction of American R&B--almost as a kind of counter-force. At any rate, what used to be "jungle" got pulled in twain by these opposed gravitational tugs, so that a huge gulf now exists between, say, Optical and Groove Chronicles. The "real hardcore" line, so smoothly crooned amidst the lethal slickness of Artful Dodger's production, emphasizes just how elastic this London subculture is--how it can assimilate pop melodics and R&B smoov-ness and still be ruff, still be hardcore.

2-step is where the musical advances made during 10 years of collectively living at the cutting edge of rave's drug-technology interface (acidhardcorejungledrum'n'bass) are now being folded back into song-oriented house and American R&B (ie. the humanist, hypersexual pop sounds that ravers originally broke with to pursue manic sexless drug-noise).




 CHRIS MAC-- "Dubplate Style" (2step dub mix of 'Baby Gonna Rock Dis') 

ZED BIAS -- "Neighbourhood" (Locked On)

ARCHITECHS -- "Body Groove" (Go Beat)

NAPA TAC -- "Dibby Dibby Sound" (white)


SHOLA AMA--- "Imagine"

B15 PROJECT --"Girls Like This"


OXIDE & NEUTRINO--"Bound 4 Da Reload (Casualty)" (EastWest)

CRAIG DAVID--"Fill Me In (Artful Dodger Remix)" (Wildstar)


LEEE JOHN--"Your Mind, Your Body, Your Soul" (Locked On)

DJ ZINC -- "138 Trek" (label unknown)

TEEBONE FEAT. MC SPARKS AND MC KIE (a/k/a TKS) -- "Fly Bi' (ditto)

WOOKIE -- "Battle" (Soul 2 Soul)

VARIOUS MCs-- "Millenium Twist" and "K.O" on the Warm Up EP (Middle Row)

ARTIST UNKNOWN-- "Warship" (Pulse)

STEALTH MEN--"Chapter 1: Behind the Wall" (Phatt Budd)

2 WISEMEN-- "Hardcore Garage" (Ibiza)

SO SOLID CREW -- "Dilemma"


BASEMENT JAXX--"You Can't Stop Me (Steven Emmanuel Remix)" (XL)

TEEBONE & SKIBA DEE -- "Super S" (Solid City Records)

SECOND PROTOCOL -- "Basslick" (EastWest)

SOVEREIGN -- "There You Go (Pink bootleg)" (All Good)

MONSTA BOY feat. DENZIE Denzie-- "Sorry" (Locked On)

BRANDY VS X-MEN-- "Angel" (white)

MJ COLE---"Sincere Remix" (Talkin' Loud

El-B feat. JUICEMAN -- "Digital" (Locked On)

Y-TRIBE-- "Computer Love" (label unknown)

VARIOUS ARTISTS--- Blackmarket Presents 2Step Vol II (Black Market)

VARIOUS ARTISTS--- Pure Garage: Mixed Live by E-Z and Pure Garage III 

VARIOUS ARTISTS--- The Sound of the Pirates (Locked On)

VARIOUS ARTISTS--Masterstepz freebie mix-CD on cover of Mixmag

VARIOUS ARTISTS--- 2Step Pressure mixed by Merlin (

UK garage/2step enjoyed its fourth fabulous summer in a row, defying both the Law of Subcultural Exhaustion that decrees genres get three years tops before going pear-shaped (e.g. jungle) and the usual problems of over-exposure leading to boredom that accompany mainstream crossover. But I've got to admit I started to lose much of my interest before the summer was out -- assisted by close encounters with the sheer unpleasantness of 2step as club culture (see over-rated of 2000, forthcoming), the mounting drabness of the "breakbeat garage" tendency (see over-rated of 2000, forthcoming), and just personal exhaustion with that sound. If you're really into something, by a certain point, you've accumulated so much of it (and I probably have more UK garage 12's than jungle at this point) that an inverse-ratio syndrome sets in: it becomes harder to be surprised, it feels like the genre isn't moving as fast as it was, fast enough for you. (The same thing happened with drum'n'bass for me around early 97--although I'd argue that was real stagnation setting in, not a perspectival trick). Plus it's tough getting the records in New York, and the excitement doesn't get continually recharged every weekend by being plugged into the electrical grid that is London pirate radio. At any rate, here's an inventory of 2step delights from this year.

Chris Mack's "Dubplate Style", Leee John's "Your Mind, Your Body, Your Soul": love the way the drums on these tracks are so digitally texturized and glossy, it's like the whole track's made from lustrous fabric that crackles, crinkles and kinks with each percussive impact. The way the latter morphs into the former on that Masterstepz/Mixmag freebie is my fave 2step sleight-of-mix this year. Fabulous also to hear Imagination's Leee John again nearly 20 years after "Bodytalk". "Dubplate" has sticky-the-most snares and this fantastic pinging and chiming xylo-bass that's sort of pizzicato and rib-rattling all at once. Chris Mack generally is a supreme exponent of 2-step's art of decentering and spatializing the drums across the stereo-field---so it's like you're moving through a mesh-space of pointillist percussion, your body buffeted and flexed every-which-way by cross-rhythms and hyper-syncopations. Shame he doesn't often have good-enough songs to work this magic through and around, though ("Beep Beep" and "Baby Gonna Rock Dis" don't quite cut it as Tunes).

"Vocal science" seems to have faded a bit from the scene--the cyber-melisma effects, the percussive voice-riffs, the way producers make the diva twinkle, tremble, buckle, pulsate, fold in on herself. Nowadays these deployments tend to be more subtle: like the ecstatic shiver-stutter woven electronically into the word "re-e-e-mix" by Artful Dodger on their version of Craig David's already ultra-warbly "Fill Me In." It's unnerving because the line between what's human and what's artificial isn't so clearly defined.

Oxide & Neutrino's much-detested "Bound 4 Da Reload" --possibly the most tuneless UK Number One ever, but bleakly compelling all the same: those icy staccato strings, that sinisterly bubbling bass. Cool, too, that it infiltrated dancehall's metaphor of the killer track as ordnance in the war of sound versus sound right into the heart of popland. Also on the nu-dark tip, "Warship" which is either by or on Pulse, I'm not sure: the best techstep record since"Metropolis" essentially, albeit substantially slower of course. What's weird is that you'd hear it in the mix with soppy garridge tunes like SFA's "Flowers" orlush musical ones like "Sincere", but this is a track that contains no garage elements whatsoever. Weird also that the scene's getting into the kind of caustic acid-y sounds that originally drove people out of drum'n'bass and into speed garage in the first place. Stealth Men's "Behind The Wall" is in that strung-out coke psychosis mode a la Skycap, and is notable for its creepily effective Tracy Chapman samples --from some song about hearing either wife abuse or child abuse going on in your next door neighbour's flat, but here taking on something of the audio-hallucinatory agony of Coppola's The Conversation. Also plugs into that hardcore continuum of using anything that comes to hand, not being afraid to be cheesy (see also: garage remake of "Tainted Love", the UB40 "One In Ten" chorus borrowed in Suburban Lick's "Here Comes the Lick Again", etc).

B15's "Girls Like This", Shola Ama's "Imagine".... high-pitched melisma anthems that showcase a crucial aspect of 2step: the way that extreme treble can be as intense as extreme bass, triggering a fizzy-dizzy sensation like champagne running through your veins instead of blood. Leading the counter-reaction to chart-step's trebletastic effervescence, Second Protocol's "Basslick", El-B's "Digital", and So Solid's "Dilemma" bring the new bass-2-dark minimalism... Amazing to see how when the high frequencies are stripped away, the ladeez just disappear from the floor ("gir-rls, don't like this, n--n-n-no no"). "Basslick" is just jump-up jungle slowed to 130 b.p.m., right down to the shlocky classical music intro, but the one-note bassdrone of "Dilemma" is bracingly innovative, echoing electro without replicating it. Shame about the cliched martial arts movie samples, though.

Why can't 2step's balance of yin and yang, tweeter and woofer, lite and dark, stay where it's at? Especially when the result is chart smashes as jarring and weird as Truesteppers's "Out of Your Mind". I saw them on this crappy CD: UK pop show on TV the night I arrived in England to do a garage story for Spin: Posh Spice wearing one of those R&B singer-style headset microphones and moving amidst this huge phalanx of militaristic-looking backing dancers shrouded in a sinister cloud of dry ice, Jonny L and the other guy lurking at the back with their keyboards. "Out of Your Mind" is so shrill and jagged-sounding it's almost atonal, R&B-meets-Schoenberg. I love the vocal duel between Posh and the indignant vocoderized male singer. And the way she warns "this tune's gonna punish you."

Wookie's definitely over-rated and liked by the wrong sort (acid-jazzy, Rhodes-fetishising tossers) but the first one-note section of "Battle" is undeniably great, building this fabulous tension. Then it opens up into ghastly Giscomby Brit-Soul. Thank Heaven for the dark mix that's just the tense, terse first part of the song---remixing at its most effective and improving!

Napa Tac's "Dibby Dibby Sound": one of those great tunes that come out, probably get played a few weeks on the pirates, you'd have to be in the shops that week to get a copy (I just happened to be in London), and then it's gone: a glorious composite of tried-and-true elements from across the hardcore continuum 1990-2000 (lovely housey shimmer-riffs, bit of ragga chat, rolling bass, ravey stabs, bleep'n'bass echoes) that for some reason makes me think of Foul Play at their finest. If you ever see it, buy on sight. 

Teebone feat. Sparks & Kie's "Fly Bi": my favorite of this year's many MC tunes, boisterous, exuberant, insanely catchy. 

What else? The fractured funk of Stephen Emanuel's remix of the Jaxx's "You Can't Stop Me "..... Zed's "Neighbourhood": the plangent roots vocal and twin bass-riffs (a midfrequency blare of drone-swarm distortion and an electro-style battery of sub-low thuds and booms)..... Sovereign's boot of Pink's "There You Go": a tuff little unit, with Star Trek/Lieutenant Uhuru type radio-sonar blips running all the way through.... Monsta Boy "Sorry" with its absurdly weepy and prostate-with-regret sounding Denzie vocal..... Architechs's sultry "Body Groove".... N&G feat. MC Creed and Rose Windross's "Liferide": not sure if this even came out this year, but a melodic/percussive plinky xylo-bass classic, and a good spur to pondering why exactly that garage MC style of prissy, prim, clipped delivery sounds so cool... 

There's probably dozens more I've forgotten. Perhaps strangest of all, and the kind of record that will always keep me fixated on "the sound of the pirates", was Middle Row's The Warm Up EP, with the Dickensian dancehall of "Millenium Twist" complete with comical Fagin impersonation and the bizarre boxing-ring MC narrative that holds together "K.O."

A good year, then, but we're overdue another paradigm shift from the London hardcore continuum. Within a year, I expect another "all change" on the part of the pirates. Can't wait, and can't imagine what it could be---always a good sign.




When this flavour of "garage" first started to come through--must have been late 1999, with Deekline-- I remember being excited by the way the sultry, swinging R&B-2step flow would be disrupted by this much more raw, stripped down and rhythmically unsupple sound that was disconcertingly similar to Big Beat: 130 bpm breaks, bulbous bass, wacky samples. But what was refreshing about these tunes--"I Don't Smoke", later the more electro-flavored "Dilemma" by So Solid--when they were a brief tang of different flavour, becomes tediously homogenous as a scene/sound on its own. Stanton Warriors's "Da Virus" especially seems to be the drab template for a lot of this stuff, and "138 Trek" wore out its welcome fairly quick. There's some cool-enough stuff, I suppose--like Blowfelt's bippety bassline tune "Lickle Rolla"---but generally it sounds too much like jungle minus the extra b.p.m speed-rush, hardcore without the E-fired euphoria. Or worse like nu-skool breaks (alarming to see Rennie 'Stupid Fucking Name' Pilgrem reviewing 2step tunes in Muzik's breakbeat column).

That said, the last batch of pirate tapes I got, showed signs of a new twist in this breakstep (or whatever they're calling it) direction: not so much jungle-slowed-down, and more like a post-rave, drum'n'bass influenced form of English rap. On these spring 2001 pirate tapes, there's hardly any R&B diva tunes, and every other track features very Lunndunn-sounding MCs or ragga-flavored vocals, over caustic acid-riffs and techsteppy sounds, like some latterday Dillinja production. Unlike with techstep or recent d&b, there's very little distorto-blare in the production, there's this typically 2step clipped, costive feel, an almost prim and dainty quality to the aggression-- a weird combo of nasty and neat-freak. Lyrically, the vibe seems to be similarly pinched in spirit, a harsh, bleak worldview shaped subconsciously by the crumbling infrastructural reality beneath New Labour's fake grin; UKG seems to be already transforming itself from boom-time music to recession blues. The Englishness of the vocals reminds me of 3 Wizemen Men and that perpetual false-dawn for UK rap.

Lots of killer tunes I can't identify, but one in particular stood out that I could: "Know We" by Pay As U Go Kartel. As I say, quite mean-minded and loveless music but sonically very exciting-- a new twist if not quite paradigm shift from the hardcore continuum.



Dynamite, "Boo"/Genius Kru -- "Boom Selection"/Pay As U Go Kartel, "Know We"/Gorillaz, "Clint Eastwood" (Ed Case Remix)/Shut Up And Dance, "Moving Up"/So Solid Crew, -- They Don't Know/Oxide & Neutrino, "Up Middle Finger", Execute/The Streets, "Has It Come To This"/More Fire Crew, "Oi!"/etc etc

The new and often genuinely nasty face of UK youth culture. Proof yet again of the endless productivity of "the streets" as both social reality and pop myth. This MC cru thing in 2step seems to confirm the final utter victory of hip hop values over rave ones in the U.K. (although arguably that hip hop/rave border never really existed in Britain, was always porous; maybe the most exciting subzones of UK dance were always permeated with hip hop values, like hardcore/jungle; maybe it's always been just a "street beats" culture, at least in London). At any rate, ain't no love in the heart of that city no more; to be a raver just means you're someone who steps out and parties at the weekend, there's no cluster of values or attitudes attached to it (unless "bad attitude" counts).

(the analysis / recent-history-retracing carried on at Blissblog with this Footnotes to "Garage Rap" I did around a piece I did for Village Voice on what was soon to be called grime) 

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

where's it gone, where's it gone


On a mad jag of listening to peak 2step and UKG - here's a playlist of the stuff - and this one, Stephen Emmanuel presents Colours, "Hold On (SE22 Mix)" -  leaps out at me for its feverish sultry hard-swung insanity.


Here's what I wrote about it at the time: 

"The vocal – a paroxysm of hair-trigger blurts and stuttered spasms of passion – doesn’t resemble a human being so much as an out-of-control desiring machine."

Of course, Todd Edwards is overwhelmingly present here as an influence, but I think the student has surpassed the master.  As always, the UK pushes the US template just that little bit further, into the deranged. 

Many questions remain unanswered

- who was Stephen Emmanuel?

- why is it an "SE22 Mix"?

- was the "Cute Mix" any cop? 

SE22 - which includes bits of Herne Hill and East Dulwich - is quite near where I used to live (Effra Road, close to Brockwell Park). Although that was back in the early '90s - by 98-99 I was in New York. 

I must have the vinyl with the 'Cute Mix' on it somewhere.

Ah, SE22 is a Stephen Emmanuel alias - S E, geddit?

Andy Lysandrou is somewhere in the background of the project - A.L. as in Boogie Beat Records and then Ice Cream Records (and also Truesteppers)

But apart from a couple of other tunes, SE leaves scarcely any spoor for the nuumologist to track 

Nice tune - nice 'n ' ripe

10 degrees Below - a name I remember, fairly vaguely

Alongside SE's slim discography, those Basement Jaxx boys had the good taste to invite this mysterious personage to remix one of their tunes 

The SE22 mix of "Hold On" is so preferred by the massive that - even when it isn't credited as such, but just as "Hold On" - that is it what you will find on YouTube. 

Aha, hold on a minute - found a version of "Hold On" that isn't "SE22"

But it is a remix, by Y-Tribe,  that uses the "SE22" as its launchpad

As does this by Duncan Powell, an auteur of "late 2step"

These remixes seem to be from four years or so after the original release 

Neither manages to make "SE22" any more jittery or eroto-delirious than the original 

If anything, it goes into the Zone of Fruitless Intensification

Becomes an irritant

Bit like drill & bass or breakcore's relationship to jungle 

Yet these re-renderings are by tru believers, not outsiders

Blimey, even more remixes!

And yet another by Duncan Powell, which  admittedly is quite eroto-delirious

4/4, so basically turns it back into Todd Edwards, but more flailing and disjointed than he'd ever dare.

And then this one which is just vandalism, and I assume unsanctioned 

Back to the immaculately maculate original

But wait a minute! With the YouTube clip above, in the artist and track title, suddenly someone called June Hamm appears!

The vocalist, one must assume. But there's no trace of anything else by someone of that name.

Crikey, another fold in the fabric - Craig David did a kind of cover / rewrite of the tune 

Most of what's good about it is the original - and Craig, mostly, squirts a load of vocal whipped cream over it. The Niche-y Bassline element is nice, but Tinchy's contribution is fairly feeble.

But I like it -  it could hardly fail to tickle my nuumerogenous zones.  

Now with nuum, there's always pre-echoes as well as after-echoes

And I always connect "Hold On (SE22 Mix)" with earlier febrilities such as this