Brixton Bass Pressure: DMZ report

Just got back to Sheffield.

I was one of the first in to DMZ – was great chilling out on the grass ouside beforehand with Boomnoise and the crew – but was one of the last to stagger into the milky six AM light. A serious all-nighter, and I still haven’t slept… But I just had a shower and I’m feeling pretty fucking good.

Of couse, it was a magnificent night. And it was very different to the last DMZ; less rammed but still full, with plenty of space to dance (an sit down – they opened the back bar area which was a very good idea), no bouncer hassle AT ALL this time and no problems with burning (someone’s been reading the Dubstep forum). Most important of all, the crowd was, again, just A1, top notch, offering pure sweetness and love vibes all night and no attitude whatsoever. This is still a precious scene filled with beautiful people. Oh, and the soundsystem was noticeably cleaner and less distorted this time but still with chest-caving power. Most welcome.

Musically, this DMZ was less of an homage to, well, DMZ, and more of a showcase for the other DJs on the scene. However, the biggest tunes of the night (played repeatedly) were all Loefah / Mystikz tunes (Mud, Ruffage, Earth Run Red, Conference etc.) and their set had the best, deepest tunes. But for me the most enjoyable set was from Skream and Hatcha, offering a seemingly endlessly selection of sparkling, bouncy digi / dubstep vibes. I want Dutch Flowerz released NOW (and if you put a female vocal on it, it’ll be a crossover pop smash) – and yes, I am getting a bit obsessed with this tune. But Skream’s stuff is just brilliant right now – I still prefer DMZ gear for deepness, but Skream is rave-tastic.

Youngsta and N-Type were unbelievably good. I thought it possible they might go too minimal but as music, it was both extraordinarily deft and intelligent while also being achingly funky. Yunx played out of his skin, dropping very deep meditational gear with lots of long drawn-out house-style mixes and flips – every tiny EQ flick and shift having maximum impact. Sometimes he took it just a little too deep and lost focus but then he’d turn the decks over to N-Type, who would typically open his sections by blasting the reggae vibes… he played SO many party dubstep tunes with ace vocals, and I’m just dying to get hold of all of them…

Loefah and Mala were fantastic, and as I mentioned, they have the best tunes as well as doing the tag-team thing brilliantly. Plus they opened their set with a Wailers cut (Mala) and a couple of tunes on the Wede Man riddim (Loefah) which was exceptional – I’d like a lot more reggae at DMZ. Most of the time it was just a blissful selection. But sometimes their set dipped below the level of perfection we’ve come to expect. I think the crowd were flagging a bit by the time they came on for the 1.30 til 3.30 slot. Last time they did the 12 til 2 slot and it was one long uninterrupted love-in, with the crowd in peak-time form, adoring everything Loe and Mala dropped – I don’t think the energy was quite there for them this time.

However, the energy definitely was there for Benga vs Chef – their set was just a revelation. At first it was Chef on his own, building the vibe with well-known tunes, Benga off somewhere feeling worse for wear, and then suddenly, they were OFF. Chef hunched over the mixer looking like Grooverider back in the day, Benga with his ‘fro all skewiff and laughing out loud, both of them just locked into the crowd’s vibe. They absolutely tore it up, they absolutely rocked the crowd and by the end the energy was immense, explosive. It was like going to see Iggy. It was extraordinary.

And at the end Distance and Vex’d took it down nicely, some of it was a bi too industrial (lots of ring-modulated FX on the tunes – maybea bit much…) but had some great moments, especially hearing buck and bury.

Overall, there was a little less of the rewinds – still plenty to hype the crowd, but no too many – and a lot more extended house-style blending in all the sets which was just fantastic to hear – just what i wanted. And it was really, really, REALLY obvious that the energy in the crowd shot through the roof when a vocal tune got dropped. There were a LOT more vocals this time and YES we want MUCH MORE!!! (What was that really amazing roots-vocal Mala track that Pokes pulled back, like, five times? Awesome…)

So it was another fantastic DMZ and this scene is still getting better and better: it was great seeing Boom, Deapoh, Dr Bluebeat, Lucky Strike, and the French contingent, wicked people.

Pix later…

Tense Nervous House Music, Volume 2

Tense, Nervous House Music? Take this...

Around this time last year I did a spring-tide mix of old and new house, which I called Tense Nervous House Music. It was kind of a follow on from Beltane and was specifially inspied by spending time in the old temples on the island of Gozo. Now, as is very obvious now, this Spring was dominated by my going out to various Dubstep events, which have all been fantastic. And yet, in some way I can’t quite describe, my mainlining dubstep over the last of years has ineluctably led me back to house. Partly it’s because of a renewed appetite for that delicious syncopated deep house pulse. part of it was knowing that a favourite dubstep producer likes proper deep house, and increasingly seeing dubstep through a house lens. (The fact that quite a lot of people on the excellent Faith forum, which is the coolest house forum in the world, are quite into dubstep helped as well.) And part of it is the fact that this year I finally cottoned onto the fact that there’s been a quite fabulous renaissance in house with the emergence of the “minimal” style.

Now admittedly, not much of this stuff is that minimal. And yes, some of it sounds a bit too close to electroclash for my liking. In fact, most of it just sounds like deep house or tech house. But there’s some cracking stuff in there and most of all, it just demonstrates the indefatigable ability of house to renew itself.

Hence, this Beltane, I found myself splurging on reasonably fresh house music, and the product is Tense Nervous House Music Volume 2, a digital mix of new-ish house that has, as usual, been subjected to some heavy dubbing. It starts off all deep with a brace of Ame tunes – and yes, Ame do thoroughly deserve the hype they’re getting from every deep house head in the world right now – moves onto some increasingly twisted sleazy minimal, before climaxing with an edit of the very wonderful Carl Craig remix of Theo Parrish’s Falling Up and a couple of Trentemollers – who also thoroughly deserve the hype that is being showered on them at the moment – before winding up back where we started with an Ame dub.

I like it.

Tense Nervous House Music, Volume 2.
68 minutes 40 seconds. 157.2Mb. 320K LAME-encoded mp3 (at the “Insane” setting).
Find i here:

Here’s the tracklisting:

Tense Nervous House Music, Volume 2
0:00 Dimensions 6: Living In the Sunshine (Ame Ohio Dub)
3:18 Dimensions 6: Living In the Sunshine (Ame Main Mix)
7:19 Nigel Hayes: Augustus (Ame remix)
13:08 Blaze: Lovelee Dae (Carl Craig’s 70 Degrees & Sunny mix)
14:40 Kirk Degiorgio presents Esoterik: Starwaves (Jimpster remix)
19:15 Spirit Catcher: Street Hawk
22:18 Booka Shade: Blue Rooms (Original Mix)
25:38 Audio Soul Project: Reality Check (Mix 2)
28:55 Layo & Bushwacka!: Life2Live (Jesse’s Stripper dub)
31:25 Terra Deva: Fresh Start (Derrick Carter’s All Hail The New Ugly Re-Dub)
33:25 Sharon Jones: Want to Need To (Trentemoller remix)
38:38 Terry Francis: Music Freak (Nathan Coles House Mix)
43:20 Spirit Catcher: Voo Doo Knight (Grievous Angel Edit)
47:25 Theo Parrish: Falling Up (Carl Craig Mix)
51:06 Trentemoller: Serenetti (Original Mix)
57:31 Trentemoller: Minimal Fox (Original Mix)
62:20 Dimensions 6: Living In the Sunshine (Ame Ohio Dub)
68:00 Ends

Cos most of the tunes on here are just fabulous

John Eden presents: RSI Radio

Undaunted by the fact that he can no longer blog, use forums, or do email due to his RSI, John has done the decent thing and become a [B]radio personality[/B]. Yes, rather than have to rummage forlornly through his old posts on Dissensus, UK-Dance, Blood and Fire and, of course, the mighty Uncarved itself for the pearls of wisdom he carelessly dispenses, you can now curl up with headphones, a good book, and the tipple of your choice while his calm, lucid voice oozes its way into your consciousness…

… for John has started recording his own occasional radio show.

It’s right here:

And it’s total aceness. I shan’t spoil the surprise for you, but it features, a amazingly, an exceptionally good selection of reggae. And, errr, other stuff.

Try it. You’ll grow to love it.

And let him know what you think of it by dropping him a line at BM Box 3641, London, WC1N 3xx.

DMZ 060506

what came between BASH and DMZ

Man and woman and Pan and boom
And siren song and spiral pulse

Blood blessed by fire and touch and light,
of silver, quick, and hot, and bright


Oh my god.

Fucking unbelievable.

That just went OFF.

Absolutely rammed, but a really sweet crowd and oh my god that music was just incredible. Aural warfare. Party rocking, crowd pleasing, bass wobbling aural warfare. The crowd was absolutely gagging for it, and it was really well mixed too. And even though it was way too full for my taste – it was pretty hard to get space to dance – there was still that fabulously happy sweet DMZ vibe. Other than one bloke who hadn’t clocked that you’re really not supposed to make space by throwing your weight around, and the knobhead bouncer. I reckon there will be twice as many people trying to get in next time cos every new DMZer is bound to tell all their mates how much fun it was. And it was rammed all the way to the end of the Mala / Loefah set, so the people dem were clearly well into it.
N-Type rocks the crowd

N-Type in darkness

Kode 9’s set was the most artful of the lot, seriously progressive. Dropping Prince was a masterstroke (and demonstrated how sadly lacking in swing too much halfstep is). I think Loe pulled it up for him. 9’s set structure thereafter was really good, lots of chuntering breaky details. And his “On the Corner” t-shirt is the bizzle, I want one.
Tha Nine
Nine and Space Ape: so where'd you get your t-shirt from again?

No, I don't think they have it in your size...

DMZ rocked it. Literally. On the stage I could hardly stand up from the bass pressure. Mala and Loefah were fab, nice bit of sleng teng action at the start, plus all the big tunes you wanted (could maybe have done with a few more new ones?) and Mud was just huge. There was a lot of soul starting to come through, especially on Mala’s sections which I would have liked more of, that “belaeric” stuff.

Skream was incredibly good — class tunes. His stuff seems mastered louder and with much clearer mid range (that “plasticky”vibe) than the other big producers. But enough nerdery — the three things I loved most about Skream’s set was first, the sheer bouncy energy of it, second, the magnificent hooky tunefulness of it, and last, those female reggae vocal samples — I want LOTS more of that please. Add them together and it was just huge fun. And he’s got some gorgeous melodies nestling in those tunes.

Downsides? Well, there’s still too many monotone, dull halfsteppers around. I’m aching to hear more vocals on dubstep (see Martin Blackdown’s recent blog post for some additional support for that idea). There were a few too many rewinds. And most of all I didn’t quite get that incredible spiritual sense of flight that I got from seeing Mala play solo. But then, we are at the other side of Beltaine rather than on the wild ride up to it.

But none of those minor criticisms matter. Oh, and the security were arseholes, for which there was absolutely no need, because…

Above all, that night was all about the crowd. Even though it was “moody” London, even though it was way too packed, even though it had loads of people new to dubstep, it was still an immensely sweet crowd. Not a trace of attitude despite the crush and the aggression from security. The massive just shrugged it off and got down.

I loved it.

Many thanks to Hijak’s mate Charlotte and Danny Bwoy fo additional pix – their’s are the ones that look good. Mine don’t.

Grievous Angel Vs Bill Withers: No sunshine

No Sunshine

There’s been some discussion recently about the possibility of a softer, more melodic dubstep emerging – even a “coffee table” version of dubstep. There’s something to be said for this approach – a 4hero or Massive Attack style of dubstep – though it’s fraught with danger.

Anyway, this isn’t it. 🙂

I’m going a different way towards softness – taking a dub, and dubstep, approach to acoustic soul rather than my beloved reggae. In this instance, I’ve taken Bill Withers’ solid gold classic “Ain’t No Sunshine” and made it into a bit of a dread monster. This is famously a song that invites re-working, it’s bare two minutes and minimal structure inviting musicians to toy with its plaintive yet brooding melody; The Temptations turned it into a vast, long psychedelic soul epic, for example. Personally, I was haunted by the sound of Withers’ voice intoning the “No Sunshine” refrain over dubstep bass; it was an earworm I couldn’t escape, an earworm of a track that didn’t yet exist. Clearly I had no choice but to make it.

Let me know what you think.

Grievous Angel Vs Bill Withers: No Sunshine. 5:49. MP3.

Bash 21 04 2006

The Bash Crowd
This night felt like a pilgrimage. Getting there took a train journey from Sheffield to London; getting back, a long journey by foot via an old droving path in the early hours, to Hackney; via London Fields, with glowing blossom, while artful foxes stared at us.

It was a nice little meet up in the Barley Mow. This tiny little Victorian pub was my regular haunt over a decade ago when I worked on Rivington street. Dan, who is an old reggae head, translated from Brixton to Hackney and my host for the night, runs into an old friend as soon as we arrive, a guy who went to see the Abyssinians with us last year. I regard this as a good omen, given the connections I’ve been feeling between the spiritual overload of the Abyssinians, and of Shaka, with dubstep, and hence with Bash. Springtime vibes! Then the ever avuncular Martin comes over and I embarrass him by saying what a great writer he is, and it’s not long before John Eden shows up. I get a text from Woebot saying he is – surprise! – on his way, and one phone call and a few seconds later he arrives, resplendent in Stussy T-shirt and one of the nicest fleeces I’ve seen in a long time. (I’d like to say that one of Matt’s perks from his moonlighting as a restaurant reviewer is that he gets access to the latest threads from his colleagues in the style section, and that I anticipate him doing a Trinny and Suzzana soon, but of course, it wouldn’t actually be true…) The delightful and charming Boomnoise makes his entrance, before my gaze locks with a mysterious, wryly smiling, rakish figure across the bar… for it is Marcus.

To my surprise and delight, we have assembled what is effectively a Dissensus posse.

A quick trip to one of the worst shitholes in Shoreditch later (fuck knows why we went there but it did at least provide a violent contrast with Plastic People) and we were in – well, me and Dan were, we couldn’t stomach that place for long. I’d turned down a guest list but we were sitting at a table in seconds anyway, soaking up the roots and lovers that Loefah was dropping. I really wish he’d been playing later because his selection was magnificent. It wasn’t really syrupy UK lovers, but big, fat, rolling dancehall with romantic slow-paced vocals. Sadly the place wasn’t that full by that stage, but then, Loefah going on first meant that Bash’s strategy of putting women centre stage was intact.
Mary Ann Hobbs at Bash
And so to Mary Ann Hobbs, who acquitted herself well despite a touch of nerves. Opening with Anti-War Dub, she moved on to some Sizzla and a bunch of roots, doing some nice set construction by noticeable taking everything down in the middle before slamming back in with a rocking Barrington Levy / Roots Radics tune.

I popped out mid-set to say than you to Space Ape for his superb set on Friday, and he said how much he and Mala had enjoyed playing Steel City. (Like, it seems, everyone else in the dubstep scene, he is an incredibly nice person.)
MAH with Apace Ape in crowd
Mala heading backstage during Mary Ann's set
Yes, it would’ve been “better” to have had Loefah on second, but Mary Ann built the vibe just fine. Dan, who knows her quite well, gave her a big hug as she left the booth; lets have a few more live sets please MAH…

Mah handing over to Kevin Martin
The Bug’s set was a real musical highlight; I’ll remember it for a very long time. As usual he was mixing high-tech JA ragga with his own angular distortion, but this time he was setting this against two – yes two – quite fantastic female vocalists. For we had the magnificent Nicolette, who was repeatedly and deservedly bigged up for being the Nina Simone of dancehall, by post-punk’s genius of skank, the irrepressibly dynamic Ari Up. Both were, well, brilliant.

Nicolette added righteous jazz-inflected roots vocals whose startling tonal inflections – all fifths, sevenths and other twisted but perfect harmonics – crunched gloriously against the body slam vibrations generated by the Bug.

But then her honeyed flow gave way to Ari Up’s fabulously tight, syncopated MCing which was a perfect contrast with Nicolette’s voice. The impact was multiplied as they continually swapped the Mic through each riddim.
Not everyone liked Ari as much as me, and it was amusing the way she kept telling off Kevin Martin for playing too fast and too hard, but then again – errr – she was right. But this just added to the fun. In the end the combination was just devastating and it all came together on an extended, hyperkinetic Bionic Ras section.

And near the end of the set a third voice was added to the mix – a gorgeous a country soul version of female roots that was a bit of revelation – I think her name was Diana Love but I’m trying to check.

And then, basically, Flight slew dem.

With Pokes back on the mic she assumed control of the booth with stentorian musical authority. Sticking firmly to a blue print of 100 per cent classic 70s and 80s roots, dancehall and especially dub, she injected the night with some much desired soul and dread. Clearly Flight is an expert and unimpeachably confident selector; the crowd was just putty in her hands all the way through, cheering every Tubby rocker and sticking with her right into the ska and rocksteady climax. Yes, truly, rocked it.

Around now Loefah is holding court at the bar, and I’m talking cod with strangers and friends of all ages, making up for spending the night carousing rather than circulating. Kode 9 reflects that, no matter how much he loves dubstep, he’s missing that dark garage swing, and I agree. It’s the end of a fine night, and it’s time to head off into the balmy night for a drift across a silent, deserted, dark-of-the-moon London. It is quite beautiful. We get back to Dan’s at 3.00 and I don’t think I slept till 4.00. Dan’s awoken before six by the baby; I make it through til 7.30. A long night and a short sleep and long journey home, and I am buoyed up.

In the brutal, cold light of day this Bash was not perhaps as great as the first two; the energy levels were a bit uneven. But with a handful of dubstep nights now being put on in strip clubs, it was a gentle assertion of the real inner values of the dubstep scene, even if filtered by that scene’s showcasing of a related music. And it works. Despite the fact that Rhythm and Sound are playing with Skream across town in Ladbroke Grove, the room is full, more so than at the first Bash. It’s a bit more than just another club night, is Bash.

Digidub: the occult roots of dubstep. New Murdertone mix

Uncarved correspondent and reggae archivist Pete Murdertone has done a fabbo mix for Jahtari showcasing the eighties digidub sound which is such an important precursor of dubstep, and before that garage, and before that, acid house.

It’s a streaming Flash-based recording only, I’m afraid, but it’s record-able, it sounds great, and it has some of the key tunes.

Go here for the mix. Big up Pete for mixing it and Jahtari for hosting it.

And for further elucidation, go read John Eden’s seminal article on the connection between digidub and acid house, ands all that came after: London Acid City: When Two Eights Clash.

DubWar in NYC

Some video of DubWAR in NYC is up here:


Joe Nice action in the first one which is essential viewing and gives a pretyy good impression of the night