I’ve wanted to do this for aaaaagges. When I was talking to droid about what sort of blogariddims I wanted to do next, I had a bunch of ideas in mind, including:
- a techno-y dubstep thing (this is forthcoming!)
- a jungle one (also forthcoming – part three of the 94-era jungle series, this one will be amentastic!)
- a vocal pop one (weird I know)
- some kind of electro one… didn’t really have the material for it…
- some weird slow halfstep thing entirely made of refixes (which might happen if there’s not much work this year!)
- another reggae one (at least two of which are forthcoming – a dancehall hits thing based on the set I did at solstice last year at C90’s bash with Maga Bo and Heatwave) and a slightly deeper ragga hits thing
But in the end there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to do one on what is for me the best music ever made that’s not overtly reggae (instead this is covertly reggae and all the better for it) – namely 2step UK Garage. This is simply the most exquisite. funky, deep, transcendental music ever, the surface obsession with bling and coke concealing a vast underworld of chthonic musical figures and traces that dazzle and seduce like no other music I know. Jungle, r’n’b, house and reggae meld into an intoxicating sweet yet dark confection that is both instantaneously satisfying and compellingly more-ish.
No, Reynolds fans (of whom I am proud to number myself), I’m not talking about 2step’s association with the endlessly reflexive arousing and denying high of cocaine. I am talking about the experiential vigour of the music. For this is not another example of Great British Drug Noise – though it functions perfectly at that level. Rather, 2step is both late night ganja smoking bassline vibronics, and great music to do the washing up to. Late night hedonic indulgence music, and an extraordinarily effective antidote to the boredom of long car journeys. Mates music and girlfriend music.
I love it, I can’t get enough of it, and I am delighted that the core of the dubstep movement is reverently keep its flame alive. And that Grime almost perfectly turned 2step inside out, remaining defiantly true to its swinging rhythmic even as it inverted it.
This is the second big 2step mix I’ve done. I did Abtract 2step, on CD, in 2000 IIRC, which had loads of top notch dubby and ragga-touched 2step from the big boys of the time such as Dem2. Groove Chronicles, El B, Wideboys. People seemed to like it. Most of those records have been in storage for the last four years, but in 2007 I bought up quite a lot of old garage. Much of the old skool 4×4 stuff went on to what was for me an exhilirating mix to do, the 4×4 Heaven mix that came out a few weeks back. I’ve got a load of mental Narrows style early 2009s new school 4×4 which is probably better than most of the bassline around at the moment, though it’s really a different thing. I fancy having a go at that at some point, probably in combination with some really girly soft garage.
But the real focus was on 2step – preferably dark, but not unremittingly so, and not too breaky, though it had to be awesomely funky to make the cut. There were some fantastic tunes that didn’t make the cut. Over a couple of weeks, I went through a series of mixes, discarding each version as I went, before finally editing together the mix from three late versions. None of the actual mixing on this podcast is digital – it’s all vinyl, decks and mixer, no Ableton on this one – though it’s made from four takes. It’s pretty close to what I really wanted to do with this mix – just a touch too dense and twisted early on. And there’s a couple of imperfections in the mixing, but that’s just vinyl for you. But overall, I like this a lot, cos most of the tunes aren’t too familiar, and the good bits are just fucking mental. I hope you like it.
Now, a bit about the tunes…
0.00: Sonrisa Feat. MC Onyx Stone: Grooving Me (Splash It Like Champagne Mix). Public Demand 2000.
God, this is so heavy, yet so slinky. I have no idea who any of the people on this are. But it’s a TUNE. MASSIVE bass, achingly swung beats, sleek vocals… ultimate garage dub. Until you hear…
7.01: Dem 2: Baby (You’re So Sexy) (Big Time Scary Dub Mix). Locked On 1999.
Dem 2 are just the best, aren’t they? I mean, Groove Chronicles is almost perfect, Chris Mac slays it, but there’s something about every Dem 2 record that is just so… eeeeeevvillll… in a really GOOD way. This one has some of the most ridiculously fucked, swinging beats ever made, constantly feeling like they’re about to fall into a precipice… Really hard to mix actually. The A-side is superb vocal 2step and I really must put that in a mix too, but the Big Time Scary Dub is, well, just that.
11.24 Groove Chronicles: Masterplan. Groove Chronicles 1998?.
An utter and complete classic. Here I have just trashed the tune into Dem 2. Meditational love on wax.
15.15: Victor Romeo: Love Will Find A Way. (Ray Hurley & Mark Yardley Dub Mix). Public Demand 1998.
Ray Hurley’s odyssey into the 1989 Jack Tracks house classic that became a yardstick for UK Garage brilliance. I couldn’t resist bringing MasterPlan back in. Reaches a peak at about 18:29 when Trick Or Treat starts cutting in. Woudn’t it be great if they played this at DMZ?
19.33: Trick Or Treat Feat. Paradise: 2Step Flavas. FTL 2000.
Smart, sharp, almost political rap and one of the greatest 2step beats ever made.
24.19: Frances James + DJ Face: Girls Play Too (Baffled Angry Vocal Edit). AM:PM 2001.
Awwwwwww, yes! Utterly delicious r’n’b-relick garage as only AM:PM can do – just check out the Roger Sanchez remixes of Janet Jackson’s When I Think of You for undiluted US Garage dub. This one has WICKED bubbling r’n’b-style bass and SICK discordant percussion and of course, the superbly self-pleasing female vocal.
29.12: Suburban Lick: Here Come The Lick (DJ South Central Remix). Locked On 2000.
A really nice sub-aquatic dub rendering of this hit, complete with delightful jungle-referencing helicopter (beat) samples.
33.13: Mr. Vegas: Western End (The Birmingham Crew) ( B-15 Project Original Remix). Oracabessa Records 1999.
Why Mr Vegas was bigging up the Birmingham crew I don’t know (doubtless John will illuminate me). But it’s a great bit of ragga flavoured 2step.
35.00: Tracie Spencer: It’s All About You (Not About Me) (Zed Bias Remix). Contraband 1999.
This was a late addition to the arsenal – it arrived one day and was in the mix the next. Awesomely funky requantised break. I just kinda slammed it in while keeping Mr Vegas in, Basement Jaxx-style.
38.05: Shade Sheist Feat. Nate Dogg & Kurupt: Where I Wanna Be (Dub-A-Holics R&B Switch Mix). Public Demand 2001.
Yeeeeeeeeeessssss!!! This is just fantastic… so colourful, flavoursome, yet so banging and bouncy too.
42.00: Tasty Jay & Nicky Ni: Rinse Out (Tasty Mix). Strange Youth Recordings 2000.
I think this is both a great record and a fascinating piece of musical history; you can hear jungle so clearly in the beats it could have been an early crossover record from jungle to garage, but the MCing is very obviously an immediate precedent for grime. And of course it melds perfectly with…
45.48: Stone Kold Joints: Wicked Press. Krunch Records 2001.
This, my friends, is quite simply one of the five greatest achievements of western civilisation. One of the all time timestretched warp basslines wraps itself around one of the greatest bits of infectiously deadpan MCing in any genre. I love this tune to death. Even more so when you keep the mother running perfectly in time with Rinse Out for minutes at a time :-). Wicked tune, thoroughly deserves the rewind. And the langourous, twisting solo bassline goes all the way into Vincent J Alvis.
50:35 Vincent J. Alvis: Body Killin’ (M-Dubs Breakbeat Funk Vocal Mix). Babyshack 1999.
For many people this was it – this was the tune that really turned them on to UK Garage. Unbelievably heavy, underpinned by the biggest garage break yet deployed, saturated with male lust whose sheer need was tempered with a dark tenderness, this was the chthonic apocalypse people had been invoking since 1997. This record is so big it destroys almost any tune you care to mention in the jungle canon, even thought it’s a vocal tune.
55.02: James Lavonz Feat. She & Mr D: Mash Up Da Venue (Mash Up Dub). Locked On 2000.
Something dark yet cooled to come down from the otherwise obscure sensuous peak reached by M-Dubz and Vincent J Alvis (which I had to bring down in tempo a bit to make fit – hope that doesn’t annoy you too much).
58.04: Groove Chronicles: Stone Cold. Groove Chronicles 1998.
And just to bring you down to a sweet plateux – what many regard as the single greatest record in the entire garage catalogue. Ridiculously soft, fluffy sax rides over a super tight garage riddim, before a cone-shakingly malevolent bassline finally takes hold. From dub to jazz funk and back.
And then that’s it. Many thanks to Droid for inviting me to contribute to the series and big up to him for keeping this brilliant show on the road. It must be a major hassle making it work month after month.
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