Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Drum & Bass - Two Worlds Collide

This mix is unavailable at present (please read my other posts for an explanation)

OK, time for the first D&B mix on this Blog. there will be a lot more to come I can promise you. Just check the "My Mixes" link to the right for a whole load of older ones.
This is one of my most recent constructions, from just a few weeks ago - 7th November. Based around my favourite recent tunes, with a few older ones thrown in for a bit of variety, this is an unashamedly commercial, populist mix that nevertheless keeps it underground. I like to think this mix keeps the musicality of the tunes running together; there is some key-matching in the first half of the mix that I was pleasantly surprised about, and while the harder tunes come in towards the end, I think there is still plenty of fun in the mix.

Here's the tracklist:

Quivver- Chasin A Feeling (Skanna Mix) [BozBoz]
Adele - Hometown Glory (High Contrast Mix) [XL]
Eric Prydz - Pjanoo (High Contrast Mix) [Data]
Shinichi Osawa - Star Guitar (Brookes Brothers Remix) [Data]
J Majik & Wickaman - Crazy World [Brookes Brothers Mix) [Data]
Chase & Status - Hurt U [Ram]
Blame - Stay Forever [Charge]
John B - Blue Eyeshadow [Nu Electro]
JB - The Smurf [Back2Basics]
Benny Page - Crazy Bal'headz
LAOS - Panda Style [Hospital]
Chase & Status - Brazil [Ram]
DJ Hazard - Mr Happy [Playaz]
The Choice - Kist [Cutterz Choice Graff Series]
Rhythm Beater - Babylon [Cutterz Choice]

track 1 "Chasin a Feelin" is a choice tune that I suspect has been a bit ignored on the D&B scene. Quivver is John Graham, who cut his teeth producing hardcore as Skanna back in the day, but has spent most of his career making prog/trance. This tune draws the two threads back together, and I love its eclectic yet commercial feel. In all honesty I find the drum patterns a bit basic, to me reflecting the fact that the producer has not beein immersing himself in Drum & Bass. It is worth noting that when accomplished D&B producers put there hand to other forms, such as house, breakbeat, or more recently dubstep, the results are almost always impeccable. It seems that the skills required to produce D&B are more than sufficient to create quality funky house, hip hop, trip hop etc. Back to the drift - I would say this tune could do with a light-touch makeover from the likes of High Contrast just to give it the edge and make it appeal more to D&B DJ's. I understand that Sasha has been ending his sets with this tune, so I like to think I am taking over where Sasha leaves off :-) ! It is worth noting that I pitched it up a fair bit too, it is just a tad too slow for mainstream D&B, again probably to make it appeal more to the house/trance crew.

Strangely, when pitched up, it is exactly in key with High Contrast's amazing mix of Adele's "hometown glory". this tune has been massive on the D&B scene and charts, and quite deservedly so. In spite of Adele's odd diction and pronunciation, I love this song, and it keeps going round my head. This mix is just so joyous and perfect, it is a real lift. High Contrast seems to have made a niche for himself in remixing tunes from other genres into top-notch crossover hits, while at the same time not losing any of his credibility within the scene.

So more from HC with his remix of Eric Prydz' "Pjanoo". Many probably though Prydz was another one-hit-wonder / one-trick pony after "Call On Me", but he is not! First Floyd, then this, all three tracks completely different. And he keeps it underground, producing huge quantities of stuff under several aliases. This is the key I think for producers who hit the big time - do not get sucked into producing exclusively commercially-led material, stay true to your roots and let the good stuff come naturally. this is what the major labels have traditionally got so wrong - they want "more of the same" and pressurise the musicians into producing it, usually with disappointing results. I think the scene is now mature enough that this lesson has, largely, been learnt, and both High Contrast and Eric Prydz are shining examples.

As I played "Pjanoo" in the mix, I could just hear this remix of Shinichi Osawa's cover of the Chemical Bros' "Star Guitar" in my head. Yes, they are in the same key. I think I have developed some kind of perfect pitch in the last year or two. I don't know what key I am in but I can spot more often not correctly that a tune I am hearing will match another tune in my head. So all I need is a set of reference points ("tune A" is in G Minor" for instance), and I may be able to have truly perfect pitch! I'm not expecting any miracles, but from a personal point of view this is a very interesting development, considering I have been musically trained from about the age of 7, and mixing on the decks now for nearly 20 years, yet this ability is only now manifesting itself at the ripe old age of 40! Anyway, Star Guitar is one of those tunes that works its way into your consciousness. The original Chemical Brothers tune is a classic, and has a great video to match, who can forget the trippy repetitive train journey that always has elements of scenery matching components of the music - a truly original multimedia composition that hits all the right buttons for me - I just LOVE it when visual and audible elements are co-ordinated and it is so very very rarely done well, if at all, even in electronic music videos where the opportunity presents itself in spades.

Moving on, "Crazy World" is another recent D&~B classic that hit the big time, and the link here is Brookes Brothers, another outfit with a devastatingly commercial and hooky take on the D&B theme, that again has not alienated the D&B massive in the way that say, Pendulum did, to judge by the success of the more recent "Tears You Down" is anything to go by. The pitch-corrected vocals that they added to this tune really work for me, in spite of some reservations I had when I first heard it. The original remains a classic, and J Majik is one of those artists with a very long back catalogue that is worth investigating, remember he remixed Hatiras' "Spaced Invader to dancefloor-melting effect, and also produced the stunning "Love Is Not A Game" that was a big hit back in 2001.

Chase and Status follow, with "Hurt U" a big vocal tune that can be found on, but originally precedes, their recetn "More Than Alot" long-player. These boys have been smashing it all over the D&B Scene and one of the most refreshing things has been the variety in their tunes. I cannot receommend the album enough to anyone who needs to hear what the current D&B scene can offer.

Another artist with a heck of a heritage (ref: J Majik above) is Blame. His remix of 2 Bad Mice's "Music Takes You" is an all-time hardcore / proto-jungle classic, and he produced a string of big tunes throughout the 90s and 00s, following his own path of lush strings, chilled vibes and rich production even when the rest of the D&B scene went dark and raw to the exclusion of almost all else. There is still a tough edge in the sound though, as "Stay Forever" exemplifies.

These two tunes have a similar vibe, but I wanted to move along, and I think I managed the transition OK with help from one of the scene's maverick's , John B. "Blue Eyeshadow" is an awesome trance/electro styled D&B monster with more than a hint of "Blue Monday" about it. I first heard this tune on the "Trance'n'Bass" cover-mount CD that mixmag presented back in late 2002, and I think it still sounds fresh today.

Taking a slightly different slant on the retro electro theme is "The Smurf" from Jason Ball's JB. Jason used be head honcho of a mini-D&B empire in Birmingham, with Dead Dred/Dred Bass his baby, he had Back2Basics and other smaller labels ,plus the Music First record shop and club night, and strong ties with the Kool FM Midlands pirate station. Back in the late 90s early 00s I was living in Brum, checking Kool each weekend, and buying tunes from the hands of JB himself and a young DJ Hazard down at Music First. The tune itself samples an all-time classic of the same title byt Tyrone Brunson, an electro tune that takes me right back to the school disco in 1982, where it was something of a theme tune at my school!

Once that tune gets into its heavy B-line, it's time to get headz down for some serious dancefloor action. Benny Page's Crazy Bal'headz is just a nutty bange that has an irresistible hook. It is a very fast tune but I pitched it down just a tiny bit to keep it in this mix.

LAOS "Panda Style" is a real wacky one - take a listen. But while it might put a smile on your face, the tune absolutely kicks form its jazzy stabs toa ruff bassline. Chase & Status return with "Brazil", an EP tune from earlier in the year, that has a similar feel. This tune was Huuuuge and deservedly so.

DJ Hazard''s "Mr Happy" is an in-your-face jump-up tune that should need no introduction. Personally I prefer the earlier "Busted", but I think this one was bigger, and anyway that one is in an older mix...

the last 2 tunes are from Cutterz Choive. Rhythm Beater's "Babylon" uses a good old sample that will be familiar to old-skool junglists. I hear this tune on a pair of consecutive cover discs from Knowledge/kmag from last summer 2007, And I just had to track it down. On checking the label's web site I found the tune available to download, so I checked a few more tunes for purchase, including "Kist" and the earlier Benny Page tune. "Babylon" just has such a sweet rolling vibe with a ruff bassline and a subtle skank, that I think I could keep this one "in my box" for years.

I think I have rambled on enough now, so enjoy the mix!