November 24th, 2011

The first full-length CD album I bought was The Grid’s Evolver.  A lifetime appreciation for the inappropriate juxtaposition of banjos against loud synth stabs was born.

The Grid – Swamp Thing

October 28th, 2011

“What’s your favourite band?” asked someone the other day.  A surprisingly easy question – it’s The Art of Noise.  “Who?” or perhaps “Why?” you quiz keenly.  Because they made stuff like this.  25 years ago.

The Art of Noise – Back Beat


October 12th, 2011

This rather shocking piece of history is mainly notable for Pat Sharp’s quite stellar hair.  I bought a cassette tape compilation from a Northants car boot sale around 20 years ago, the highlight of which this charidee cover of the Michael Zager band which rose to Number 5 in the charts.  (Well, it was the 80s.)  Didn’t realise it was actually a PWL production until I looked it up just now, but even so I still maintain that the synthy ‘Everybody move your body’ refrain is still pretty damn memorable even today.

Pat & Mick – Let’s All Chant

September 20th, 2011

The glorious silliness of having the Can Can played by Vanessa-Mae with a 4/4 beat and a slew of samples lobbed on top is only matched by my desire to find the time to re-edit this into something even sillier.  I can’t believe it’s taken me about 15 years to notice this even existed.

August 11th, 2011

Ever heard of 140 Jungle?  No, neither had I.  But if you’re anything like me, you’ll be glad that you have now.  A multi-monickered genre essentially reminiscent of – I imagine – 4am in the quiet backroom at Dreamscape in the early 1990s, it’s a rolling, slo-mo collection of breaks ‘n’ bass that’s as at home in your lounge at 1am on a Thursday as in a grimy tent in a forest.  Just as well, because the former is where it sat on heavy repeat just this morning.

The Hardcore Lives crew dropped me a promo of their latest offering just yesterday and it’s quite unlike anything I’ve heard – from them or otherwise – for some time, and all the better for it.  As dark and minimal as the cover implies, yet retaining a head-nodding accessibility and memorable bassline that leaves you reaching for Repeat.

A Roni Size-esque rumble underpins There’s Something Out There‘s minimal stylings, gaps between percussive breaks filled with sirens, telephone and ragga shouts evocative of jungle history.  Thin, lush pads, looped 30s horror-movie backgrounds and the occasional horn leave the listener’s old-skool desires satisfied.

Does progressive drum ‘n’ bass exist?  If so, The Plan is a great example.  Building around the rise and fall of a wonky, lethargic but catchy riff alongside choppy amen, an intriguingly quiet 4/4 pushes the tune along at an urgent pace.  A sparkling secondary synth line adds an unexpectedly sparkling atmosphere, and it’s easy to expect the whole tune to be verging on a big breakdown or reveal – that this never happens it’s no bad thing.  For me, this is the gem of the two; extremely listenable indeed.

The Plan E.P. is out soon on Hardcore Lives Records.