First tune back, this EP is a definite longtime obscurity / second-hand bargain. According to a friend, “Ravin 2 Heaven” used to get played a lot, but my favorite here is the first track “What is a Ragga Twin”. Featuring a few super catchy ragga vocal bits (I assume at least one of which is from the Ragga Twins), solid looping amens, deep subby bass and quite catchy melodies, it’s a memorable slice of hardcore/jungle. If the Discogs date is right, it’s also pretty ahead of its time – combining all the elements of what came to be more formally full-blown-jungle 2 years or so later. Killersound – What Is A Ragga Twin
Here’s another track I played on the 92 show but never posted the set from, so here it is in ripped form… it’s a really cool whitelabel release of solid hardcore from back in the day, which Vinyl Connection reissued about 10 years ago. Back before Discogs became such a force in second-hand online record buying, Vinyl Connection was a great place where I bought a LOT of vinyl online. I still end up buying some of their stock which is listed on discogs on occasion. In addition to reselling vinyl, they also released a bunch of must-own own stuff in the form of reissues and presses of never released hardcore/jungle tunes. A lot of these reissues were focused on Nookie’s output, and are definitely worth owning. But the two which AREN’T are two of my favorites on the label: this EP and Anthill Mob – Penelope’s Theme. As it stands, it seems the original of this has gone down in price to the point where it’s almost as cheap as the repress, but the repress sounds great as well (presumably done from the original master DAT) so really either version is worth owning. DJ B & EZM – Shocking to the Break of Dawn
Here’s a gem I found in my collection while pulling tracks for yesterday’s radio show… Most people probably know Sound Corp for their dark anthem “Dream Finder”, probably not as much for this tune (or if so, possibly for a different mix of it – there’s at least 2 others). This mix of Regen-Time is pretty simple, but every single element in it is excellent: a classic Public Enemy vocal sample (repeated over and over to great effect before being pitched up and down), a frantic sixteenth note melody, stompy drums alternating with a super-heavy breakbeat, and some darker synths which enter the track via a breakdown. At a little over 4 minutes, it’s over before it has a chance to get boring. Definitely one worth checking, and worth picking up as (along with most Tone Def stuff) it’s still pretty easy to come by. Sound Corp – Regen-Time (Mix 2)
Here’s a nice track I nabbed recently by Persian Prince, which I actually bought from Persian Prince (he has a number of his old releases for sale on discogs in unplayed condition no less). It’s always great to be able to buy copies of a record from the original artist, knowing the cash is going to the creator rather than a secondhand collector. In case any of you want to nab one too, here’s his discogs sales page. A couple years ago I posted something off his Don Gorgon EP, and this doesn’t fall too far from that EP style-wise. This track is probably my favorite of the two, with the standout being the Middle Eastern singing and music, something which you rarely hear in oldskool. Since I was in touch with him buying these records, I asked him about the samples and got this info back:
The vocal is an Iranian modern singer called ‘Sharhrom Solatti’, singing about his journeys as he travels. The other main sample is the ‘Ney’ flute, which is very traditional still in Iranian culture, old & new….the Whirling Dervishes consider it a spiritual instrument.
The film sample voice is ‘Jefferey Hunter’ playing ‘Attila the Hun’ from a 1950-1960 hollywood movie.
And, yeah – thats my voice being timestreched at the beginning…hahaha!!
Aside from the samples mentioned above, the breaks are nice and gritty, well chopped and reminiscent of the stuff Bizzy B was producing around 91/92. According to PP, these tracks were written and released in 1992, not 1994 as Discogs says. It seems reasonable to me, though they definitely sound like they could have been made at any time during that range. Persian Prince – Desertism
Since doing these tracks, PP has also done a bunch of newer style tunes some garage tracks, some dnb, etc. Here’s a recent set from Kool FM featuring a lot of his tunes, including the one posted above:
Also, here’s a new DNB EP he did which just came out a month or two ago, available on Phonica, Beatport, etc.
This is possibly the strangest oldskool track I’ve ever posted, and that’s saying a fair amount. The artist behind this (Icons) is not to be confused with the UK early atmospheric / jazzy dnb Icons (aka Blame and Justice), or Icon (a Bay B Kane alias). Rather, it’s a group from Germany who I think were a bit more in the hardcore/hard trance scene. The A side of this EP is slightly more normal and playable, with some distorted shouted vocals that still sound pretty different from what was going on in the UK at the time, more in-line with what Alec Empire + DHR crew would start doing just a couple years later. Hidden at the end of the B side is this weird little number, all nonstop arpeggios and super quirky synths. Not exactly a dancefloor smasher, but really fun / funny and showcasing the “mental”est side of hardcdore. If you like this, definitely check out the earlyWeird Beard EPs I posted about a while ago. If you don’t like this, try to keep in mind that not every hardore track has to be super deep jungle cut, eviler-than-thou darkside track or an epic hands in the air piano anthem Icons – Stop – Go – Celebrate
Here’s a longtime favorite, not particularly hard to find or pricey but I can’t say I’ve ever heard it played. M.A.D. (Mental and Dangerous) did a lot of EPs spread over a few labels, including M.A.D. (his own label), Direct Force, Renk, and a nice jungle remix on Greensleeves. Some of his tunes are more raggamuffin style hardcore, like the a-side of this release. Others (like this one) are just frantic ravey affairs, practically bursting at the seams with samples. There’s some variety in quality level and I wouldn’t recommend his tunes to newbies trying to check out polished “classic rave” for the first time… but they’re great for obscurity hunters who love raw sounding stuff and want to find some under-appreciated jams.
“Drum Dance” is a great example of the more mental side of his work, combining massive stabs and synths, some dark orchestral snippets (possibly from the Psycho theme?), layered breaks and tense diva shrieks. At 8 minutes long, you’d think it’d be much more of a track for mixing than listening to end-to-end… but there’s actually loads of changeups and samples which keep it interesting throughout. It almost makes me wonder how he mangaged to fit all these sounds in his sampler’s memory!
Enjoy, and big respect to M.A.D. for making such Mental and Dangerous tunes! MAD – Drum Dance
Seriously nice ragga hardcore here… if you haven’t read about him on this site before, Macka Brown is half of Bug Khan and the Plastic Jam, and aside from his Bug Khan tracks is probably best known for the 92 feel good anthem “Go Down Baby”. Aside from that though, he did a number of other cool EPs, both under his own name (such as The Princess of the Posse whitelabel EP) and as Princess of the Posse (who did these two cool EPs). This tune is definitely inline with the other MB stuff, combining catchy dancehall hooks and vocals (in this case Home T Featuring Cocoa T & Cutty Ranks “Pirates Anthem”) with solid breakbeats and hardcore stabs. “Peoples Station” was released on the first Labello Blanco compilation album “Story So Far”, which is a 3-track-per-side triplepack where half of the tunes are released, half unreleased. Definitely a must-buy if you like your 92s, since you end up getting 9 unreleased LB tracks plus 9 of the better pre-93 ones on that label. Macka Brown – Peoples Station
Here’s a 92 piano hardcore jam I finally picked up recently, from the great D Zone Recs camp. Although D-Zone might have been a bit better known for their earlier stuff, their slightly later tunes are hidden gems with a few being mega-rare highly sought after obscurities now. This tune is far from the rarest but it IS a really solid anthemy hardcore number. This is the “not-on-label” version but supposedly this was also issued on D-Zone itself under the alias “Tekno Too”… I don’t have that release though so I can’t compare them. DJ Eevil – Cum On (Mix 2)
Definitely check the d-zone soundcloud page as well for loads of great classics!
Also, they have some nice looking merch for sale now… been meaning to pick up one of those hoodies or shirts! http://dzone.bigcartel.com
Here’s a definite classic which was on my wantlist for years. I finally just picked it up on vinyl as part of a big order I got in December (x-mas present to myself). I think hearing this over and over in a Doc Scott mix from 92 was what pushed me over the edge to finally nab it – “Rok A Bye” isn’t a tune I would have necessarily been all that excited hearing it on its own years ago, as it doesn’t have lots of immediately crazy sequencing or sounds. However, hearing it over and over in a mix made me really appreciate the subtlety and vibiness of it. As someone pointed out in a comment on discogs, it’s quite sparse and deep, dare I say almost “proto-intelligent” for a 92 track1. Not too much going on, not tons of changes or crazy sequencing. But the drums are great (same break combo as Brother’s Grimm – “Sign of the Times”), and when the portamento bit come in later in the track, the melody is downright haunting.
Aside from this EP, the guys behind Utomica each did a number of other big EPS in other groups – the the Full Logic Control EP I posted back in 2009, plus all of the great Law & Auder EPs (a number of which are quite rare these days), plus a variety of non hardcore/jungle related music. Utomica – Rok A Bye
1:Even though Discogs lists this as 1993, and the record could have come out in 93, it’s featured in some mixes which I think might have been towards the end of 92, so there’s a good chance it was written in 1992. I wasn’t sure which year to put it under so I listed it as both.
Here’s a leftover I meant to post for x-mas/boxing day… from part 2 of the Krispy Krouton series of EPs on Empire. Krispy Krouton was a hardcore alias for Luke Slater, and though from I remember hearing he’s pretty dismissive of these EPs now, they’re still pretty well regarded (especially part 1, which I unfortunately don’t own). This part 2 EP is also good, I find myself reaching for this tune now and then… Nothing too different or mindblowing, but a cool tune and cool EP! Krispy Krouton Vol 2 – Work Your Body
Comments, questions, unreleased oldskool trax to: Follow @blog2oldskool Blog to the oldskool Radio on Jungletrain.net every second and fourth wednesday of the month, 19:00-21:30 EST/1:00-3:30GMT Attn labels/artists featured on this blog: I run this because I love your music and want more people to know about it. If you want your track(s) removed, just email me and I will remove them right away.