Out of all the tunes I bought on this recent UK trip, this might just be my favorite… absolutely lurvely deep 95 intelligent jungle rumored to be by Jonny L (who did a remix for Boogie Beat around that time, so it’s not out of the question). “I’ll be there” has a nice melody which sounds like it might have been lifted from some detroit techno or house track (ID anyone?), coupled with frantically chopped amens restrained with filter trickery ala T Power’s output around the time. In addition to the filtering, the bassline is relatively sparse and spacious, leaving extra room in the tune and (for me at least) keeping it well within the realm of “intelligent” jungle/techno of that era. All in all, an amazing track which I’d rate alongside some of my favorite Good Looking tunes from then. Baraka – I’ll Be There
First post of the singles I nabbed on my UK trip, here’s a great little 94 EP from DJ Infinity aka Bill Vega, who more recently has done breaks tunes with Paul Smailes aka New Decade (pretty sure I posted a mix by them) and was otherwise involved with tracks on the out of romford label. “Eternal” is a really solid jungle track, I think the other side is more popular since it’s an amen tear out tune (and those usually win out), but this B side is the one that does it for me… layered up hotpants break + one of those classic oldskool samples reversed + sinister pianos + what sounds like a lowpassed digeridoo. Cool stuff, not exceedingly technical or brilliant sequencing-wise, but more than does the trick and a sick vibey track for sure.
OK, finally back in Boston from my week in London plus some subsequent days in NYC etc. Ready to sum up the trip, give a quick Dreamscape review etc.
All in all, I had a great time. It was pretty cold and crappy when I left Boston, and while the weather wasn’t exactly *nice* in London, it was a bit nicer than Boston… so props for that I guess. Every time I’ve been to the UK in the past has either been with family (when I was younger), or playing shows etc, so it was kind of interesting to be there in strict tourist capacity – absolutely no obligations or things I had to do, but also no people looking to drop everything and act as hospitality coordinator for my stay
Record wise, I did a lot of digging in various shops in and around London. I definitely found loads of good stuff, which isn’t hard when you’ve got 2-3K records on your wantlist. But to be honest, very little of the records I found was the kind of “steals” I used to find years ago – seems like most every store has found out about discogs now and prices to it. I though I had slipped one past Notting Hill MVE crew when I found what I thought to be Bukem’s original 10 minute epic version of Jodeci’s “Feenin” for 3 pounds… which kind of surprised me since those stores are almost ALWAYS accurate on the price tip. Alas, that was me mixing up my tunes, since when I got it home I found out it was actually the significantly less rare remixes on Jetstar. So, not too many crazy hundred pound records for 1-2 pounds… there were, however, loads of crazy 1 or 2 pound records for 2 pounds, which was a huge plus for me since normally these records are 7 or 8 pounds after postage to the US. Also, these are the type of tunes I like featuring on this blog since it seems silly to only seek out the rarest-of-the-rare when there’s loads of great under-appreciated tunes which can be had for less than the price of a cup of coffee.
On the DJ tip… Thursday and Friday served as decent warmup for Dreamscape for me – saw Roska and Pearson Spund at Plastic People, a nice little club well set up with a tiny, packed, totally dark dancefloor area. Friday night, I caught Brenmar and Sinden playing two separate parties…. All good sets, Sinden is still one of my favorite current DJs playing out (also a great guy who knows his classics and has a proper record collection… bigup Graeme!)
Saturday I took the train to Northampton and headed over to Dreamscape for their 20th anniversary party (15th anniversary of their organizer Murray’s passing) . Due to my UK Geography ignorance, I had no idea Northampton was so close to Milton Keynes… had I known, I’d have been in touch w/ DSP who has written stuff for this blog before… sorry Leo! Anyway, the club the party was at was fine: friendly enough security, not a long queue to get in (this was made easy by the fact that the party was sold out well in advance), typical empty-your-pockets-check-everything, thorough but not impolite search.
The club itself was a large multi-room spot (definitely not an ARENA or anything, just a large segmented club). Pretty decent sound throughout, though I guess the front “Rewind” arena was a bit lacking once you got further away from the speakers. Still, that room seemed to be set up to give plenty of room for people to loaf around while figuring out what other rooms to go to. Up some stairs there was a bit of a hangout room, probably not set up ideally but good spillover and a place to get away from the tunes as well as an exit to one of the two smoking areas.
The other rooms were set up well – the main room was huge with a bit of a balcony (possibly just for VIP ticket holders), giant lasers firing every which way and shooting classic Dreamscape imagery onto two suspended mesh screens. lasers were crazy
The back room was more of a loungey bar, with DJs from onlyoldskool.com spinning garage and early hardcore. Outside there was food concession stands, some kind of gyroscope spin ride, one of those bouncy castle things, a hardcoretillidie promo tent, etc. All in all a good solid setup, my only complaint is that the bathroom situation was pretty abysmal. Sorry to get graphic for a second but…. 2 small bathrooms with 1 stall and a couple of urinals each for over a thousand people (or whatever percentage of the crowd were men), coupled with strict no re-admission policy, might have meant some tough choices if anyone’s doner kebab + drinks ended up not sitting well with them that night Moar Laz0rz
On to the music… I immediately caught some of Sy in the main room, some solid if not too nuts oldskool stuff if I remember right. nothing I can really remember details of now, as I was still in “exploring club” mode. Already though, I remember being happy that proper oldskool stuff was getting played every which where – it’d been 3 years since I’d been to any sort of oldskool party in the UK, and last time I was around there was loads of “oldskool” sets which were anything but: dnb remixes of classics, “top few tune” anthem bashing sets, rave breaks remixes, etc. Really no disrespect to that stuff, it definitely served its purpose and if that’s what crowds needed then more power to them. But, for the nerds like me who always wanted and still want the ORIGINAL tunes (and the lesser known ones at that), it used to feel like a bit of a bait-and-switch. Anyway, there was absolutely NONE of that this time around – everything was on the up-and-up.
10-11pm in the the Rewind room (trying to get in place for Tango + Ratty’s Set), DJ Becks was spinning some great early happy hardcore style stuff towards the end of his set. I definitely remember one of those “hidden gem” early Homegrown recs tunes that switches back and forth between darkside and hands in the air stuff, as well as maybe “In Complete Darkness”. I’m already wishing I had taken notes now as it’s a bit of a blur for obvious reasons. Regardless, the crowd seemed up for it and was a great lead-in for Tango & Ratty’s set, which as I expected was the highlight of the night for me.
Tango & Ratty pretty much played exactly the style of stuff they are known for – dark, deep 92-93 tunes, including a number of tracks Ratty is known for playing in classic dreamscape sets. They started with Smooth But Hazardous “We are the Creators” and got deep into that style, with some well placed occasional respite tunes which worked beautifully to break things up (I definitely remember having a “moment” when they dropped Foul Play “Survival”!) Absolutely NO anthem bashing was going on, even when they played the Metalheadz EP on Synthetic Hardcore Phonography, they chose “Knowledge” over “Terminator”.. result!!
For the heads, Ratty played some of his dubplates of never released 92/93 tunes that oldskool fans have been fiending after/trying to get IDs from for ages: Pascal’s “I’m sorry I don’t understand” and the never released “Dub War” remix. Their set was probably the best set I’ve heard since I can remember, just an absolute nonstop barrage of GREAT MUSIC that was familiar but not obvious. I even sobered up quite a bit during then since I couldn’t tear myself away for the few moments required to grab more drink(s).. it was that good!!
I got to talk to Ratty for a second after his set, seemed like a nice guy and I’ll definitely be doing a feature on him or T+R for the blog soon… watch this space!
After their set, I caught the tail end of Top Buzz in the other room. Full crew looked to be representing on stage with Mad P doing as he does best. A few mixing mishaps but no harm/no foul, track selection was on point and included stuff like their Anthill Mob remix as well as “Living In Darkness” of course. Top Buzz + fit dancer girl to the left of Mad P
After their set, there was a bit of setup time before Slipmatt hit the decks. Now here is someone who epitomizes the idea of a PROFESSIONAL DJ playing oldskool and related tunes for a living, who probably works tirelessly at it and has really honed his setup and skills… You have to appreciate the technique that develops from years and years of nonstop DJ’ing like this… Everything was absolutely flawless to my ears, tunes flying by fast and furious but mixed totally seemlessly. Again, the tracks played were NOT the obvious ones I expected to hear – just a great well-rounded selection of 92-94 stuff. Hearing Bizzy B “Obsessions” dropped in a massive room with the crowd eating it up was just amazing… At least, it was until the power went out during the peak of the track!
I think the power outage might have had to do with the fire alarm going off, since they had some guy on stage breathing fire and and another one grinding metal shooting sparks into the crowd. Once the tech issues were sorted out though, tunes continued flying by. Again, not much in the way of anthem bashing here at all – even when Slipmatt played “Edge #1″ (sort of the token groaner tune you used to be able to hear in every oldskool set maybe 5-10 years ago), he played the 93 remix not the original. Eventually he moved into more 94-95 happy hardcore style stuff which seemed to be a large crowd favorite in that main room, all in all a really excellent set and looking forward to hearing him spin again soon.
Clarkee was up next, and his set couldn’t have been more different. Playing largely 89-91 techno/rave like Beltram’s “energy flash”, Trigger “Stratosphere” and Pink noise “gimme some more (energy)” at a slow, deliberate pace… giving each tune what seemed like 3,4+ minutes. The tracks were all solid and the set was a great respite from the shedloads of bouncy 94-95 happy hardcore heard throughout the rest of the night, but it did go by a bit slow for my taste, especially after the madness which was that Slipmatt set. Crowd still seemed into it though and I didn’t exactly see people fleeing the room so respect to Clarkee.
Second to last tune by Clarkee, I forget the name but I remember Syko and Mak sampled it in one of those Parliament Recs singles… regardless, amazing track!!
More Clarkee, I always try to mix out of Trigger “Stratosphere” before this jazzy part drops. but that’s just me…
At this point, Grooverider was supposed to go on but apparently he was the first no-show of the night… no huge loss there, he probably would have played nu-jumpup anyway Kenny Ken filled in and played some decent stuff for sure, a bit more “obvious” than a lot of what other people were spinning, but that was perfectly fine since other DJs seemed to have stayed away from the bigger tunes like “renegade snares” FP remix, etc. After a while, I checked out the Rewind room where DJ AdamTimeless (off B2VOS) was playing a great 92-95 set. Loads of personal favorites like Bounty Killaz “Silent Voices”, he also mixed in a few “new oldskool” tracks but picked ones that were reasonably throwback sounding in their production so it didn’t sound awkward… definitely fooled me! If I remember right the crowd was thinning a bit by that point as it was getting later in the night (6 hours in) and likely he wasn’t a big “name” DJ from back in the day… shame as he probably put more time into that set than a lot of the more well known DJs did, played a ton of great tracks, etc.
DJ SS was up next, played a solid 96-2002 dnb set. I guess I can’t say for sure it was “solid” throughout since I only checked the first few tracks, he opened with Terrorist “chopper” which is fine and all but I was still very much in 91-95 mode so I kind of ducked back into the main room, wandered around a bit, etc.
Finally DJ Becks went back on in the main room in lieu of Ellis Dee, spinning 94-95 happy hardcore style stuff which people were still happy to hear. By that point I was fading a bit so I left halfway through that set, no idea if there were afterparties etc as I made the extravagant choice to rent a hotel room right in town so I didn’t have to stay up the extra hours waiting for that first train back to London.
All in all, a great party, RIP Murray Beetson and respect to Dreamscape for throwing it!! Also, thanks to Jim at Dreamscape for helping me sort out a ticket late in the game. I’m glad they held this in a somewhat modest sized spot which sold out quickly rather than booking a larger space. This meant that 1. it didn’t feel awkwardly empty for any of the sets I saw (though towards the way end of the night the front room was thinning a bit) and 2. the crowd seemed a bit more “selective” instead of just every random kid showing up for a rave-up. At last speaking from my own experience, the crowd seemed great, WAY less moody and a lot more friendly than most other club nights I’ve been to. This was highlighted for me when, working my way through the crowd at some point, some guy going the opposite direction accidentally slammed into me. We both immediately started apologizing to each other, before laughing and him saying something about how much better this was than any normal club night where people would probably be fighting over something like this. That about sums up the vibe of the party.
Still in London, can’t rip or really post anything here but I’ve grabbed a crazy amount of vinyl for the blog, as in it can’t all fit in my luggage so I’m gonna have to go buy a big box tomorrow to bring it all home in.
Have half a mind to just have a competiion real quick and mail off a bunch of the cheap-but-awesome stuff while I’m still here, to lighten my vinyl carrying burden…hmmm.
Anyway. some cool finds, nothing absurd but good stuff like a 40 pound longtime want for 40p, crazy obscure tunes not on discogs in this form, etc.
Can’t wait to get home and listen / post!!
I’m going to be making a last minute trip to the UK Thursday next week, for the sure-to-be-amazing sold out dreamscape party:
Staying through part of the next week up until Thanksgiving.
If anyone has any suggestions on lesser known record stores I can dig at for tunes to post on the blog, please drop a line!
As much as I love discogs it has killed a bit of the fun of record scrounging since so many shops automatically price based on it (or at least were last time I was there in 2008). I don’t mind paying “going rate” for records at all, but it is kind of a buzz kill when you have so many otherwise useless record names and catalog #s etched into your brain, not being able to use that knowledge to score some crazy stuff.
So if there’s any further out places that I might have better luck at, feel free to drop me a private email using the address on the right. Maybe it’s wishful thinking assuming anyone would let me in on their “secrets” like that.. but worth a shot
I’ll mostly be around London but am considering taking the train out to other places if there’s worthy stuff going on… Brighton or Bristol maybe (2 of my old favs)
Posting this track up since I’ve had it stuck in my head since earlier in the week and played it on the ustream session wednesday. L Double is probably better known for his later releases on Flex Recordings as well as his dnb show on BBC Radio1, but he did some pretty mean early tunes as well! This one is on his great and oft-overlooked No Noise Recordings label. Quality early ragga hardcore hardcore… curious if anyone can ID that breakbeat with the little vocal going in it (sounds a bit like “ohyeah”)? I’ve heard it in quite a few other tunes but can’t place it. L Double- Love This Style (Smig-Less Mix)
Haven’t been spinning much but got some great records as of late, worth throwing em together live. Get a preview of some stuff I’ll post on the site eventually and plenty I might never ever post.. (rare releases on bigger labels, etc).
Alec Empire just posted up uncompressed AIFFs of the “Bass Terror” 2CD reissue of his early tracks, including stuff off the original “Bass Terror” EP, the Suecide EPs, etc. Absolutely essential stuff!!! Grab them before he changes his mind Alec Empire – “Bass Terror” by Alec Empire/ ATR
I still need to nab those “suecide” eps on vinyl though…
OK back to something a bit less grimey. Aside from the tunes on its main label, Formation put out quite a few choice EPs on its offshoot label F PROJECT, run by Mark Yorath. A select few of those are quite in demand (Tango Project EP, Turbo Sound EP, Brainstorm Crew EP), but the vast majority are cheap/easy to find and have been for a long time now. In particular, I’ve always seen plenty of the later F Project records (part 2 / the return/ etc) around, since people probably know the earlier ones best Yet there’s some great tracks on these later release, and the production (no doubt thanks to Yorath) is rock-solid.
Here’s a particular favorite, a remix of the first Oz Beat EP which Easygroove played in his Fantazia New Year’s Eve 92-93 set. It’s got the soulful diva vocal / sinister synth combo of happy and dark that made so much early hardcore the sonic equivalent of “sweet & salty”. The track seems to slow down and goes half time for a bit, before regaining momentum and building to an absolutely massive synth breakdown (the original Oz Beat hook run through a flanger). Clocking in at just four minutes, “Return of Oz Beat” definitely doesn’t waste time and isn’t as overloaded with samples as some of my other 93 favorites, but it’s a perfect track for mixing OR listening on it’s own – definitely one to nab! Oz Beat – The Return Of Oz Beat
Seeing someone complain about low fi hardcore tracks today has motivated me to post a SUPER grimey EP that’s definitely not for everyone. As with some of the earlier boogie beat stuff, the production isn’t exactly razor sharp here, and I’ve done nothing to clean up/re-eq the mp3s. However, there’s plenty of good samples and fun sequencing in these tunes. The first track “Street fight” takes dialog from Enter the Dragon plus music and fx sounds from the Street Fighter video game (video game samples = always a plus for me in hardcore tunes). The B2 track “old school”, is more on a Bogwoppa tip – classic electro sounds plus pitched up female vocals. The Rising Damp – Street Fight
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