Wow starkey rocked it! Crowd was mental, really going for it. Promoters are on it, pulled in a really good mixed crowd and the party went off. Sheffield loves it’s funky but it loves starket style hyperwonk even more. Mans a genius!
Starkey is at Sheffield’s DQ this thursday 8th October. Do not miss, he is AMAZING live. When I played with him at monsterbass in Bristol he utterly destroyed the venue. He plays high energy dubstep with a strong wonked out flavour and a bit of bassline and crunk, if you’re lucky a load of grime too. He is truly one of the best djs in the world and an electrifying presence behind the decks. The fact that he’s playing such a small venue is going to make for a truly legendary night. Check out his amazing gutter music 12 on keysound, the surety goodz vocal is fantastic while the VIP is a true anthem. It tore up radio 1 when blackdown dropped it during his mix for mah.
It’s been a mad couple of weeks since I last posted. Straight after I played at C90’s Summer Bashment party we had the floods, plus I’ve been mad busy with work and a couple of projects, one of which I am releasing now. But first a couple of words about the C90 party – it was idyllic! Just the way parties are supposed to be. All the DJs ate together with the C90 crew before we all clubbed together to get the equipment sorted out – a real collaborative effort. All the people were fantastic, really nice. And best of all the party went OFF. It was full by 11 and stayed full til late – I went at 3AM and it was still packed and jumpin’ by then. The venue was wicked – a GREAT Ethiopian restaurant with dark little venue in the basement – on this occasion half full of a soundsystem, which was fantastic. And musically, it was triumphant, with some varied shades of dancehall and dub. I played a fairly banging set of mainly 80s dancehall, with a bit of roots at the start, climaxing with Yellowman’s ZungeZungZung and Tippa Irie’s Lyric Maker. Rich C90 (http://www.c90.org/) played a really hot, creative dubstep set. Maga Bo (http://magabo.com/) was amazing – almost two hours of Baile Funk, ragga techno and dubstep all cut-up live in Ableton (with a nice 8-way M-Audio controller). Some of it was godsmackingly good and of course lots of it had samples of groovy, poppy Latin gear, though the best of it was this really deep, minimal, throbbing 140bpm bass music with ragga beats. As so often happens with Ableton sets, the mixing was so seamless and perfect that it got a bit relentless at times and you really wanted a rewind, a disjointed element. But it was brilliant. Check out his website – there’s loads of great stuff up there and he’s done some very interesting projects. The main event was Heatwave (http://www.scandalbag.com) playing back to back with RuffNeck Diskotek’s (http://www.myspace.com/ruffnekdiskotek) Tim Dub Boy who were just fantasic. Both Gabriel and Tim were unbelievably tight! And the selection was huge. Plus Heatwave came with Rubi Dan who is just a FANTASTIC MC – I’d absolutely love to work with him.
I shot loads of video but the quality is pretty patchy. I’ll probably stick a few bits on YouTube and I might save out some of the sets as audio files and put them up here as a memento but it’s not quite as good as I hoped it might be. That soundsystem was just too loud!
In Sheffield – the ultimate solstice night out! The hottest dancehall line up the UK can offer!
Next Friday at the Ehtio-Cubana restaurant at 15-23 Arundel Gate. It’s near the end of Arundel Gate opposite TJ Hughes, where the tram stop and Primark are, on the same side of the road as the Roxy nightclub and Odeon cinema. It’s got a big colourful sign saying ETHIOCUBANA.
I’ll be playing a bunch of mainly 80s roots, dub and dancehall, possibly with some 90s bashment cuts – and a bit of dubstep and ragga jungle if I can get away with it.
After seeing Youngsta last week I was HYPE for seeing Mala in Sheffield. He’s my second favourite DJ in the world (after Shaka). Sadly I was never likely to get there – I tried to schedule this week’s trip to New York so I could get there but I was going to fly the next morning, so it was going to be a struggle – and then I went down with chicken pox and was quarantined at home. (In fact I should really have been in bed constantly, but until today I’ve been struggling to function normally – big mistake.)
Normally this would mean no chance of a review, but due to the immense power of the dubstep community, I can put together a decent report – and even pictures.
The Tuesday Club put Mala on in the Foundry back room with C90 crew on before and Junglist Alliance on after. This was a student venue, a school night, and it’s exam time, but even so, 500 dubsteppers were crammed in there. Trust me, that’s a result. As I noted in my Youngsta review, Juliun C90 reckons that Sheffield is now “well and truly in the grip of the dubstep virus”.
The difference in the crowd in terms of numbers present and knowledge of the music from when I warmed up for the warrior dubs tour a while back to last night was phenomenal.” This is not such a long time – Halloween last year, when Loefah and Plastician played (and I was also sick. Bloody kids). And Godspeed 120 remembers Juliun doing a dubstep set at a Tuesday Club residents night this time last year, when there were about twenty people on the dance floor – things have changed.
As ever at dubstep events there was a great vibe in the dance, but it sounds like (and looks like) people were really going for it on the dancefloor. C90 crew rocked it with impeccable mixing.
But it sounds like Mala was, as ever, on another plane entirely.
It’s amazing that the two poles of dubstep DJing were representing in Sheffield one after another – the coldness of Yunx, the sweet heat of Mala.
His sound seems to have benefited from the intimate venue, especially with the extra weight brought in for the occasion. Apparently he was pure fire last night – dark, dubby, massive. Jah War, Miracles, Lean Forward and loads of new fairly fresh stuff all dropped.
Looks like people were worshipping the bass…
… getting munted…
… and getting happy…
… and giving some serious “defiant stare”…
Kode 9 destroyed Sheffield tonight.
He was playing on the Valve sound system opening up, with Julian C90 doing the early early set. And Julian was excellent, playing some dub and then a lot of very deep electro-y dubstep, bit angular and a bit brave but very enjoyable. The floor was very sparse, just clumps of people, but there was a bit of a mood of anticipation. People were listening. Then bang on 9.30 kode took over, opening up with Sine of the Dub, played in its entirety with Space Ape adding occasional deep inflections, before heading off into some lush instrumental dubstep deepness. I closed my eyes rocking out to it for a long time before opening them and finding that the floor had pretty much filled up. Space Ape was striding back and forth across the stage following some metronome within the beats while Kode gently inserted his groove deep into the crowd, and suddenly it all came together on Jah War, and with the first rewind of the night, the crowd just exploded. They’d managed to captivate a pretty big proportion of a crowd of new-school D’n’B heads. It was firing.
And then it got really good. Kode dropped a succession of devastating, fat, funky steppers that were an object lesson in magisterial bass inventiveness. Some were pure bass-and-drum throbbers, there was a couple with some excellent use of (I think) Wu Tang and Sizzla, and some were recognisable big tunes by other artists (that I’m a bit far gone to remember now!). It was just glorious. The music was alive. It was inspired. It hit some kind of peak with Mala’s Hunter, and then suddenly shifted up a gear with all sorts of crunchy, hooky subs and melodies. In fact there was quite a lot of housey-groove and acid riffage going on, which was both delightfully eighth-triplet hard-garage-y and seductively, oceanically tuneful in that nagging way that the best house has. Really infectious and even if this is not what people mean by the techno 4×4 sound of dubstep, I’m all for it – I’m even more interested in swinging house influences.
By half way through it was obvious that Kode 9 has an unbeatable arsenal of heavy , bouncy steppers. The most flavoursome of these was a quite shockingly fat Sleng Teng refix that simply convulsed the dancefloor. But you have to set that against the incredible atonal deepness of the heavily filtered version of Backwards Kode pumped out. Maximum-heaviosity dubstep dancehall devastation one moment, seamlessly segued into monumental emotive dub the next.
And Space Ape, while not as primally mental as when he played with Mala here last year, when he was able to get right onto the floor and raise hell, just got heavier and dreader and sharper and funkier throughout the set. Of course, he looked great, and danced even better. I’ll put some pix up later.
Kode closed with Left Leg Out – some 4×4, Hammond organ-led, deeply swinging dubstep brilliance that shows just how far down that house virus goes, and it was clearly a gauntlet laid down to the pure-breed d’n’b heads in the audience: can you touch your musical sensuality THIS deeply? And while it’s tempting to suggest, based on the music that followed, that the answer in most cases must have been kniown, the fact is that there were hundreds of people absolutely fucking having it to Kode and Space’s set, who were absolutely prepared to go wherever Kode 9 was taking them.
Because it was proper, full-on, emotive, grown up music. And it absolutely rocked.
A word about the legendary Valve sound system. It was very nice during Kode’s set – big, rich, beautifully clear and undistorted – like the best hi-fi you could imagine. Compared to the system in Mass, it was missing the “bottom octave” – there was a big chunk of low end missing compared to when DMZ is at its peak, and there was no comparison with Iration Steppas’ system for pure, world-encompassing, round / spherical bass. Nor of course with Shaka’s system, but that’s just something else again – it’s not a soundsystem, it’s a vehicle for spiritual transformation. In the hands of Mala and a few others, the system at Mass is capable of similar results. The Valve system sounds very nice but it is not capable of that kind of deep personal impact. With the system turned down (for “the warm up act”), it was really clean, very solid, but very obviously had some way to go before it could really overwhelm the senses. Unfortunately, when turned up for host clubnight Tuesday Club’s resident DJ MIkey J, or indeed for Adam F, actually had very little more to give. Yes it went louder, yes there was more low end, but by god you suffered for it. The volume was instantly accompanied by great gobfulls of painful mid-range distortion, the sort that really fucks your hearing, a nasty square wave on the whole of the low-end and a honking lower mid crunch in place of the sort of warm, deep rroundness you’re looking for from a big system.No wonder they were giving out (very welcome!) free ear plugs when you came in. By contrast, the Mass system would be much cleaner for a given volume level, and the really low end would be handled much more sensitively. Iration would have been something else again in terms of low end articulacy. But I really must hear it in the flesh to be sure – I have the session on Friday 27th April pencilled in as a possible first blood, though it’s likely something will come up to stop me…
In any event, I think Kode 9 and Space Ape had the best that the Valve sound system had to offer. Had they suffered being provided with the greatest loudness the system could provide, I suspect the result would have been unlistenable. Though not as much as the 180 bpm drum and bass (it wasn’t really “jungle”) that followed. I liked some of it and I really tried to get into it, but after two hours it was obvious that the modern incarnation of what was once the worlds most rhythmically inventive musical genre had finally succumbed to monocultural drudgery. I know this is both an all too familiar critique of modern drum and bass and yes, I really did enjoy one or two of the tracks (I was wryily amused by Mikey J selecting a Sleng Teng riposte to Kode 9) – but does EVERYTHING have to be at this dull 190 bpm funkless treadmill pace? And yes I SEE the connection with formulaic and functional hardcore, but it ain’t working for me. Does it all have to be that fast and that samey? No. During Adam F’s set I was just thinking “this is verging on heavy metal” when he dropped… a load of heavy metal, with funkless breakbeats under it.
It just wasn’t very nice at all, and the contrast with the multi-hued dubstep Kode was dropping couldn’t be greater. Dubstep really is the grown-up, music of the present (who knows what it the music of the future). I don’t know how long it will stay like this. Grab it while you can. For, right now, people like Kode 9 are playing records that are just about as much fun as you can get right now — so right on so many levels.
I queued up for an hour under the stars over the seven hills of Sheffield to see Kode 9 and Space Ape tonight on this, one of the last few days of my 39th year, and the sheer overwhelming musical delight of what they delivered made that sacrifice absolutely worth it, and it brought a large measure of the magic of DMZ up the M1 to Sheffield.
It was fab. I loved every minute of it.
Digital Mystikz’ set last night was the best thing I’ve witnessed in a very long time. I’m just going to tell you how it went and what it felt like. What I will say up-front is that Dubstep played live by a good DJ is just the most exciting music on the planet right now and Mala is an absolutely fantastic DJ.
It was a really sweet crowd and they just got better the longer the night went on. There was a massively friendly vibe, a real sense of community, and the same kind of atmosphere you get at a really nice reggae event, or like it used to be at old underground dance music nights. As you can see from the pictures the crowd was nicely mixed too, with plenty of women soaking up the bass vibes. I have to say I think the Mystikz bring this sort of inclusive, friendly atmosphere with them; it’s like they almost insist on it. Julian C90 did a very good warm-up set. When we got in D1’s Degrees was playing and he went from there to some really very sparkly tuneage. Tight mixing too.
Sure, there was a bit when he was dropping some very downbeat tekky halfsteppers and I couldn’t help thinking that I could see how people could be turned off dubstep if seems too, well, gloomy. I could see where the accusations of it being low in energy come from. But this didn’t last long – Julian rocked it, built up to a really cool climax, finishing with Rhythm & Sound – I think it was King of My Empire.
While bobbing around during his set I met Mala when he was coming in and we chatted for a while. Such a sweet, dignified, focused man. I broke off from talking to him to go dance when Julian played Loefah’s mix of Search & Destroy’s Candy Floss.
Mala came on at midnight. He dropped a bunch of reggae to start, which as you can imagine made me very happy indeed.
He and Space Ape were bouncing around in the booth in sheer joy but before long Space Ape got down onto the floor and started toasting from within the audience, and he stayed there the whole night. It was such a great way of hyping the crowd.
When Mala started, it was as if a whole range of subs had been added to the sound system. It was monstrous, but they were fiddling with the sound for much of the set, getting the sound guy in every now and then. I actually thought the sound was pretty good. It might not have had the cavernous, round, world-defining bass you get with Iration Steppas or indeed DMZ, but it was still low, full, and loud – excellent really.
The dubstep kicked off with a bunch of incredibly banging, high-energy tracks that were just stripped down noise-weapons: one-note bass lines in lock-step with the kick that were all about working the bass. It was minimal and slamming but incredibly funky. Then there was a long section of bouncy dubstep rockers, including what has been my favourite tune for the last year, Coki’s Mood Dub – the tune I had most wanted to hear him play.
After the bouncy stuff there was a very long and unbelievably intense section of hard steppas – sufferah’s tunes, in the sense that Mala seemed to be challenging the crowd to go with these incredibly heavy, deep, hard tunes, to endure the sweet punishment of the low-end. And go with it the crowd absolutely did. The heavier the dub, the bigger the response, people were just going mad for it, and the pay-off was this sublime sense of being transported, a really deep sense of spiritual release. And Mala was driven, almost possessed, turning down most requests for rewinds, intent on making the journey ever more intense.
But never to the point of being torturous or worse, dull; there was always a finely honed judgement at work. And at just the right moment Mala relented, dropping an absolutely amazing, slow-burning almost jazz-funk dubstep tune, that I absolutely MUST have. It was a DJing masterstroke; build it right up to a peak of almost unendurable intensity and then drop it right back to nothing, just Space Ape talking you down. Mala is both technically and creatively a superb, almost supernaturally gifted DJ. It wasn’t just that his mixing was tight, it was the whole flow of the set – it reminded me of the flowing, artfully-constructed sets of the great house DJs.
Then it was time for some more up-ful tracks. The crowd was still thick and baying for more, and when Mala dropped Loefah’s Root they went wild. The sense of intimacy and recognition was extraordinary; the crowd were screaming at tunes they obviously had never heard before but were immediately captivated by. It was just awesome.
The last section featured a whole heap of devastating 4×4 steppers that was like really evil, groovy but wonky house, which was just fantastic. And maybe my favourite moment of the night was this massively long, extended mix out of (I think) the VIP mix of Request Line into Kode 9’s Seven Samurai – it seemed to go on forever with wave upon wave of EQ action twisting the sound while Space Ape declaimed over it. Just magnificent.
Finally the lights came on and the roar was vast. I’m not sure that the Sheffield audience was quite as demonstrative during the set as the Mystikz might be used to – that’s Sheffield for you, sweet, soft and laid-back – but the crowd really showed their appreciation at the end. The lights still blazing Mala pulled out one last tune and everybody, as Simon “Whistlebump” Haggis said of his visit to DMZ, “Having it right off really slowly”.
And that was it. I was just overwhelmed by that point, staggered over the booth and mumbled some thanks. It was one of the best musical experiences I’ve had for a long time. Regular readers will know how much seeing the Abyssinians meant to me, how utterly transported and deeply moved I was by their performance. Well, it wasn’t as good as that, but then again, it was a very different kind of musical experience, albeit one with a similar spiritual core. Regular readers will also know how much l love Jah Shaka; for me, at his best and with his system in the right room, he’s the best DJ in the world. Well, Digital Mystikz are very, very nearly as good as Jah Shaka – which is extremely high praise from me – and the music is pretty similar to the more savage steppers’ sections of his performances.
For what Digital Mystikz share with both the Abyssinians and Shaka is that to go see them play is to experience spiritual healing. In my opinion, the Mystikz and Shaka in particular are not just fucking around when they drop relentlessly hard, pounding, one-note bass skankers; it’s not just some metallic testosterone work-out; they’re deliberately putting you in a different spiritual place. It’s like there is SOMETHING LIVING IN THE MUSIC, something really good and strong and powerful.
Dubstep is doing something very special right now and I don’t know how long the beauty of the current scene will last – two years? Three? Forever? – but if you have any opportunity at all to go and experience it, you should seize it.
… I can feel the vibes… so excited… can’t wait for the bass weight…
I dunno if it’s the done thing or not but I put some requests in… I doubt very much if Mala takes requests from some random fan off the internet but you never know, I might strike lucky — and if you don’t ask, you don’t get… Here’s what I wanted:
Johnny Clarke: Don’t Trouble Trouble
YT: England Story (or anything on 85 riddim)
Asher Senator: Fast Chat Originator
Tippa Irie: It’s Good to have the Felling You’re the Best
Anything on the Hard drive riddim
Any Jammy’s versions of Throw Me Corn
Anything on Water Pumping or Boxing riddims
DMZ: Mood Dub (please please please!!)
Dusk & BlackDown: Lata / Crackle blues
Random Trio: Indian Stomp
K9’s Kingstown… and Ghost Town
Skream: Dutch Flowers / Lightning / Smiley Faces
Here goes nuttin’…
I thought I’d blogged this once already…
DMZ comes to Sheffield. I’m going and so should you.
Here’s what Julian C-90 said about it…
DIGITIAL MYSTIKZ (DMZ, Rephlex, Big Apple)
MC SPACEAPE (Hyperdub, Kode9)
For one special night the stable at the very forefront
of the dubstep
movement travels north from its native South London.
will be joined by Hyperdub’s MC Spaceape to represent
at their first
Sheffield dance for c90. Expect bare exclusive dubs
bass weight pressure.
plus resident selector Juliun c90
Friday 21st April, 9.30pm til 2am (last entry strictly
@ Matilda Social Centre
111 Matilda Street
‘Invitations’ available from:
Dulo, Cemetery Road
Forever Changes, Hickmott Road
Record Collector, Fulwood Road
D’n’B Arena, The Forum, Division Street
Powered by the Sama Roots Soundsystem.
Another c90 rrroadblock. Brap!
www.c90.org / email@example.com”
Sheffield’s Devonshire Green witnessed a pretty good free (as in municipally funded) festival today. There were rides and face painting for the kids, there was jerk chicken and beef patties for the hungry (with rice and peas, though the season was not really kickin’, which would have disappointed Fat Bastard) and there were good vibes aplenty, with lots of totally unknown loca acts doing really pretty accomplished performances. Being a geek I noticed how promptly the acts got and off — some stage manager has enviable organisational chops. All the music was that mix of r’n’b, hip-hop, bashment, and grime that seems to be the mainstay of urban these days, with a leaning to reggae. Yes I said grime — it’s just part of the amalgam now instead of being an outsider, which seemed good today. The MC of the show was Richard Blackwood, who much to my surprise was fantastic. At one stage he even got people in he audience on to freestyle, one of whom, Inspector, was corking. No trace of arrogance from our Richard.
Best of all was the appearance of that legend of Brit fast chat, Tippa Irie. I love hi just for having survived, but I love him more for the fact that he still has magisterial authority on the mic and a natural showman’s instinct for working the crowd. He’s still on it, kicking off with an excerpt from Hello Darling, slagging off talent-free pop stars and generally making his poppy version of dancehall do devestating business. He even threatened to burst into Lyric Maker, but time was short. After years of obsessing over Tippa Irie I finally got to see him and he didn’t disappoint. Lovely.