Under The Counter (Volume Three)

Reviews of new releases and fresh promo’s.

Q-Project – Guitar Thing (MJAZZ Unreleased)

This year has seen a plethora of unreleased 90’s music finally see the light of day with a rare few being true sought after “holy grails” from the golden era, “Guitar Thing” falls into this category. Originally played by Jumping Jack Frost, Ratty and LTJ Bukem during the Summer of 1994 it has until now remained unreleased in any form.

Anything with “unreleased” and “as played by LTJ Bukem” in the description is bound to help shift units but like the Peshay & Roger Johnson track “Crazy Daydreams” (finally released last year on Basement Records) there has always been an air of mystery around “Guitar Thing” which only adds to the interest surrounding this release as not much is really known about it. Always believed to be from the Legend Records stable no one knew who it was by with the Invisible Man at one time suggesting he may have worked on it with Quiff whilst also admitting his memory of that era was a “little hazy”. No original release information was mentioned when it was played on KISS and it was also mooted that the track was never finished or properly titled which also added to the intrigue.

Fast forward to 2018 and Tony Justice has managed to secure its release on his new MJAZZ unreleased imprint backed with “Wild Pitched” and a sublime remix of one of their finest Good Looking moments “The Instrumental”. Taken from DAT and remastered by Macc the twelve inch sounds glorious with “Guitar Thing” taking up the A-Side and “Wild Pitched” and “Instrumental (Remix)” sitting comfortably on the flip. A must for any collector of Good Looking or Legend Records this would have been a seminal release when it was originally made and has lost none of its edge now. Minimal yet affirming drum and bass and arguably some of Q-Project’s greatest work from the early days of jungles evolution. Continue reading “Under The Counter (Volume Three)”

SB81 – Live At Vinyl Fantasy (Vinyl Only Jungle Set)

Previously unheard online this live audio of SB81 was recorded on 11th March 2017 at Vinyl Fantasy held at the Cellar Bar, Blackburn. The Metalheadz recording artist performed a storming set of progressive 90’s jungle classics including groundbreaking tracks by Dillinja, Digital, Photek and Goldie.

The club night has featured a wide range of influential DJ’s since its creation including Storm, Crystl, Champa B, FFF, Tim Reaper and Dwarde. The early sessions (including this SB81 set) were strictly vinyl only affairs.

Selected recordings will soon be made public on Mixcloud.

This week has also seen the release of the “Future Point EP” by SB81 on Metalheadz featuring three tracks on vinyl and a bonus cut called “Tribes” on the digital edition. This EP bolsters his reputation for crafting bold ominous soundscapes and adds to the growing furore surrounding the Metalheadz resurgence of breaks.

SB81 – Live At Vinyl Fantasy (Vinyl Only Jungle Set)

No tracklist.

Links: Vinyl Fantasy Events / Metalheadz Bandcamp

Champa B – Live At Vinyl Fantasy (Vinyl Only Set)

The second instalment of live mixes recorded at Vinyl Fantasy sees Champa B deliver a riotous sixty minutes of vinyl only tech step, dismantled amens and hefty reese basslines. If ever a set personified the darkness of mid-nineties jungle or Metalheadz at the Blue Note then this is it.

Wild, fast paced and tightly blended this is more than just a run through of classics this is a DJ in his element constructing a live tribute to the pioneers of jungle demonstrating that more than twenty years later its raw energy is still alive and well. Highlights include the introduction of Dillinja’s “Deadly Deep Subs (Remix)” over Adam F’s “Metropolis” and the frenetic onslaught of amens in the second half of the mix. Relentless and energetic this set captures the spirit and vibrancy of a Vinyl Fantasy event and the creativity of modern jungle producers and DJ’s.

Champa B has released his own style of amen fueled jungle on Scientific Wax, Hypercharger, Green Bay Wax, Ruff Cutz, Phat Bubba, Lickshot, Modified Magic and co-runs the Holotype Audio label.

Champa B – Live At Vinyl Fantasy (Vinyl Only Set)

No tracklist.

Links: Vinyl Fantasy / Champa B

Under The Counter (Volume Two)

Reviews of new releases and fresh promo’s.

Lewis James – Praying Out Loud (Laundry Zero)

Lewis James follows up his recent releases on None60 and Rua Sound with this sublime take on modern electronic soul. The first release on his new vocal label Laundry Zero “Praying Out Loud” also features an Om Unit remix which plunges the track further into a bittersweet cinematic territory. Lewis once again takes inspiration from all forms of electronic music to create a sound that is both heartfelt and personal. Telling the tale of how it’s a fool’s errand to try and change someone vocalist Dan Dans K delivers the message of the song with emotion and intent. A collaboration between friends the first release on Laundry Zero demonstrates a real desire to create meaningful songs that leave the listener with hope and a sense of community where feelings and emotions are shared. Gospel music for the electronic generation. Continue reading “Under The Counter (Volume Two)”

Under The Counter (Volume One)

Reviews of new releases and fresh promo’s.

Vroom – For The New Dawn (Cosmic Bridge)

First time I heard “For The New Dawn” I was reminded of “Universal Love” by 4hero. Blending live keys, horns and reflective vocals courtesy of Agama the title track is a wonderful example of space jazz fit for bass lovers. The flip side features the mesmerising opus “Stargazing” featuring label boss Om Unit. Coming in at almost ten minutes imagine a modern drum and bass collaboration between Weather Report and Autechre and you should get an idea of what to expect. If you like your jungle experimental and expressive I can’t recommend this EP enough. Continue reading “Under The Counter (Volume One)”

Alex Banks On Peshay’s “The Piano Tune” Session

“The Piano Tune” by Peshay is undoubtedly one of the finest productions to come out of the early drum and bass movement. It’s a blend of uplifting chords, piercing keys and rhythmic amens managed to cross the boundaries of a scene that was becoming fragmented. Similar to the Foul Play remix of “Renegade Snares” it managed to achieve the rare success of becoming an anthem at big events whilst retaining its cult status within the “intelligent” scene.

Played exclusively on dubplate by LTJ Bukem and an elite band of DJ’s in early 1994 the track was eventually released on Good Looking Records in 1995. The label correctly states it was written and produced by Peshay but omits it was Alex and Danny from Flytronix who engineered the tracks. Recorded in their Beccles studio located at the bottom of their garden “The Shed” spawned a wealth of breakbeat classics with “The Piano Tune” being one of the most instantly recognisable.

We caught up with Alex to get his thoughts on the track more than twenty years on as well as details of the recording process. Alex also talked to Peshay about his memories of the session and his approach to making music.

peshay

Alex (in his own words) on working with Peshay

During the early 90s, Danny and I engineered for a few producers. It was fun and taught me so much. We engineered about 6 tracks for DJ Peshay (Paul).

Peshay is awesome, he would roll into the shed, lighten up the mood with conversation and banter then pull out a bunch of floppy discs and say: “Right then…” And off we went!

Paul has great vision. We would listen to the samples while he spoke about his ideas for style and arrangement. These were firm ideas that were flexible enough to incorporate what Danny and I could achieve programming.

From a Friday start to Sunday night we would get 2 tracks done… Amazing! “The Piano Tune” was one of those tracks…

Alex reacts to hearing “The Piano Tune” by Peshay

I’m listening to it now and I think I can hear a dodgy loop point on the intro pad! Paul started playing the piano riff sample in the AKAI S1000 on the Korg M1 keyboard over MIDI (I think it’s a D dropping to a G?)… The string used to layer the piano and pad is the “Universe” preset from the Korg M1. Then there’s some superfly Amen programming leading to a breakdown…

Amen drops at two minutes fifty seconds. Lots of edits with gated kick and snares at the end of the four and eight bars. As I recall we took this idea from another track Paul had done with someone else! You simply reduce the note length for each hit you want to gate. This was done manually on the Alesis MMT8 sequencer.

After thirty-two bars another pad comes in and is then joined by another sound. Again, Paul had this idea before coming to the studio and would even have alternatives should one idea not work. Quality.

The pad then switches to Korg M1 Universe. The bassline is a sample from a Roland TR808 kick drum. Super popular at the time… I don’t remember if Paul brought one with him or used one of ours? Then, middle bridge out to “Think” break. Sounds very Danny on the edits… but also slightly reminiscent of the “Half Steppa” programming.

Piano riff returns for the outro and then last drop before a stripped back mixing outro.

Alex on the recording session

It was quite a joy to do some Amen programming. Danny and I had made a conscious decision to not use it in Hyper-On tracks. By the very early 90’s we thought it had been completely rinsed! Little did we know…!

Now, Paul is a Producer rather than an Engineer/Programmer. As such we sometimes came across communication problems as you do when you work with anyone. When it came to discussing drum programming we came up with something new.

Paul would often conduct the drum edits using his finger to trace a rhythm through the air following the shuffle. One time I was absentmindedly rolling an A3 poster across itself, nice and tight like a roach. I ended up adding a bit of tape to the end and a Bic biro lid to the top, it was quite sturdy.

The next thing I know Paul had got hold of it and with some enthusiasm started conducting the beats! It became known as the “Shuffle Stick” and as I recall was used on many sessions by both myself and Danny!

Alex interviews Peshay regarding “The Piano Tune”

Why did you choose to employ Danny and me to engineer for you?

I met Danny at a leisure centre in Norfolk somewhere, can’t remember exactly. It was a live gig that you were doing and I was also Dj’ing on the same lineup. It was 1991 or 1992 I think? I always liked the music that you guys were doing at the time as Hyper On Experience and after talking to Danny for a while I decided to ask if he was interested in doing some engineering for me. He said “yes” and that’s where it all began really.

Who else had you worked with before us?

I had worked with people like Bay B Kane and Dave Charlesworth from ADR Records at that time.

What did you think about the way we worked?

I thought it was really good, you both understood exactly what I wanted so the results were great and I was happy. We also had a great laugh and that’s one of the things that I remember very well constant jokes!!!

What do you remember about the equipment in the Shed?

The equipment was basic but that didn’t hinder what I wanted to achieve with the tracks I was doing and the sound quality was good for the time.

hoe_shed

How did you approach producing a track? Where did you get the samples?

I had been planning a rave type piano track for a little while as I was playing out at the time regularly. At that point, I had already made tracks for Reinforced Records, ADR and Good Looking amongst others. For the B side, I wanted to create a house type vocal breakbeat track which came out as the “Vocal Tune”. I can’t remember where I got all the samples from at that time, but a mixture of places and from different genres of music. I looked for the kind of samples that I wanted to use and had it in my head exactly how I wanted to do it. Of course, at that time we were all relatively inexperienced in what we were doing but I knew exactly how I wanted it to sound and you guys helped me to get it as I wanted it.

What other tracks did you have engineered here?

I can’t remember exactly but I did a few more with you that came out on ADR Records a bit later on.

Do you remember the cat, Benson?!

Yes, I do remember Benson, that was a funny cat that had a really good character!!!

What do you recall about Beccles?

I remember it being a quiet sleepy place with really friendly people. I used to enjoy going up there to work on tracks, especially after a crazy manic weekend of travelling to gigs and all the noise and whistles. It was the perfect place to get away and work!!!

Do you remember the Shuffle stick?

HAHA!!! Yes, I remember the shuffle stick!! Every time there were some drum edits done in the tracks then the shuffle stick would come out and get waved about vigorously!!! Funny!!!

What other tracks were around at the time that may have influenced you?

There were tracks around but I can’t remember names and labels. Reinforced Records and Moving Shadow were the labels that were amongst the front runners at that time…

Final words from Alex

I’ve worked with many great Producers over the years and Peshay easily taught me the most regarding producing a track. I used to just experiment with rhythm and sound but now I prefer to have an idea of what I want to achieve before I start a track.

Links:

Discogs: Peshay / Hyper-On Experience / Good Looking Records

The JMJ And Richie Case Reopened

JMJ & Richie released a series of singles on Moving Shadow between 1993-1998. The duo was well respected in the “intelligent” drum and bass scene largely due to their euphoric breakdowns and rhythmic amens.

Championed by the likes of LTJ Bukem and Fabio they mesmerised listeners with their mystical style personified on tracks like “Universal Horn” and the Lonnie Liston Smith inspired “Free La Funk”.

The duo has recently returned to production with new material and remixes of their classic tracks due for release in 2018. We caught up with Richie to discuss both the past and the future…

Can you explain how you started producing?

Well, I started DJ’ing back in 1987 and messed about a couple of times in the years that followed with stuff, but it wasn’t until the back end of 1992 that I started to take it seriously. It was while I was on tour with the Prodigy for their “Experience” tour that Liam Howlett (the man himself) said that when we finish the tour I should get into the studio to see what I could come up with.

Hang on a minute, Liam Howlett said you should get in the studio?? That’s quite a statement! What was he like and did you play him any of your material?

Yeah, Liam was a cool guy. He loved different types of music and really knew his stuff, he was classically trained as a pianist when he was young so knew his way around a keyboard, hence all that great music he made. We met through our manager Mike Champion, but the story really starts at the Caister Soul Weekender in 1990.

Mike was the manager of N-Joi at the time and they were one of the acts performing, they saw me play, liked what I was playing and asked to meet me. Shortly after they asked me to be their support DJ. The idea was that they wanted to get an agency up and running with several acts and DJ’s on their books and I was the first. I got to play some amazing events with N-Joi including playing Ibiza in August 1991.

The next act Mike Champion took on was a band from Braintree call The Prodigy and that’s how we met and I became a support DJ for them as well. That’s why Liam said I should get myself in the studio to see what I could come up with when we finished their Experience tour.

I did play all the boys our early stuff and from what I can remember they all thought it was interesting, the direction we were taking the breakbeat sound. Continue reading “The JMJ And Richie Case Reopened”

The Bay B Kane Years “1989 – 1994”

Bay B Kane has been making Jungle and Drum & Bass since it’s origin, being in the music game for three decades. It’s fair to say the industry has changed a lot in that time but his commitment to the scene hasn’t. Still making beats and releasing music he has plans stretching into 2018 on both digital and vinyl formats. We recently discussed his early releases and pivotal tracks from the nineties including “Hello Darkness” and “Quarter To Doom”. Other topics include studio equipment, cutting dubs and a fascinating insight into how he met Peshay and his work on the “Protege EP”.

nu_matic_hard_times

You are without a doubt one of the original pioneers of drum and bass. Can you explain to us how you first got involved in music and how you started producing?

First of all, I think it is important to mention that I started out on my musical journey as a hip hop MC in 1987. My MC name was Double T (which meant Turkish Terrorist) along with my then DJ partner Mr E and together we were called Eastside Chapter.

We were signed to a small independent label called TUF Records from Forest Gate and eventually released a double A-sided twelve “Sucka / Not My Style” in 1989. We had worked really hard during those two years with TUF but were getting nowhere, we realised we needed a new sound and, more importantly, we wanted to do everything ourselves so that we could have complete control over the music which we would release in the future so we parted company with them.

One night in 1989 I was at Dougies Night Club in Clapton, East London, and heard a tune called “Depth Charge” by J Saul Kane and everything fell into place…

Right there and then I knew this was the direction I wanted to go musically. We got straight down to business putting ideas together picking out samples of breaks and other different sounds and within a few weeks Break The Limits was born!

Right at the start of 1990, we released a 6 track EP called “Break The Limits Part 1” which was an immediate underground smash and went on to sell somewhere around 5.000 copies. Over the next two years, we had nine more releases on BTL. In March 1992 we released 500 white label promos of an EP called “Fragmental” and within a couple of weeks, we were approached by XL Recordings who wanted to sign us. I would not allow them to sign us under the name Break The Limits as I wanted to keep that for us as I fully intended to continue the BTL journey, it was our identity and something I was very proud of and did not want XL having a say in what we did with it. So, after much back and forth we signed a deal with XL for a large amount of money but under the name Nu-Matic and the “Fragmental EP” by BTL became the “Hard Times EP” by Nu-Matic.

Almost immediately XL wanted us to go on a live PA tour covering much of the UK promoting the “Hard Times EP”. While preparing to start this tour a friend of mine put me in touch with a young up and coming MC called Morris (Maurice) who turned out to be pretty exceptional, he had way above average skills plus charisma so became part of our live shows along with longtime friends Satin Storm (Travis & Donna) who also joined us as our dancers on stage…

At this point (I’m quite proud to say) I pretty much discovered and gave the young MC Morris his first major break and in later years he became one of the best known and most loved Jungle / Drum And Bass MC’s of all time…. MCMC!

So without going into too much more detail, I’ll just say that shortly after returning from the live PA tour myself and Mr E decided to part company… This marked the end of an era as it was also the end of Break The Limits as I left him to continue as Nu-Matic on XL and did not feel it fair to continue BTL with one of us missing. It also marked the beginning of a brand new era for me as now I would embark on the rest of my journey in music solo… it was kind of scary but exciting at the same time (as stepping into the unknown often is) and I had a lot to do but I was focused and ready.

Your first solo release was the “Ruff Guidance EP” that contains the classic hardcore track “Theme Spirit”. This was championed by the likes of LTJ Bukem and DJ Hype, were you surprised by how well it was received? What did you think when you first heard it being played at the clubs and on the pirate stations?

The “Ruff Guidance EP” was the introduction to what would become my own label and was my first solo release. The track “Theme Spirit” was my personal take on “The Theme” which was a track on the “Hard Times EP” on XL so in a way it was me giving XL the middle finger openly and a way for me to have closure on that whole situation… I had to come out swinging and felt like this track would make the necessary impact, which it did. Having said that I can’t say I was surprised at how well it was received but I can say that I was hugely relieved to be off to a flying start and it is always great to hear your own tunes being played on the radio.

Where and when did you produce that EP? Can you remember what equipment was used for it?

At the time when I produced the “Ruff Guidance EP” Mr E and I still hadn’t yet parted company completely as we still co-owned the studio which we had built together as BTL. We had an agreement to use the studio two weeks on then two weeks off so that we could both get work done without stepping on each other’s toes and it worked for a short period.

When I recorded that EP I was using an Atari 1040 STFM running Pro 24 midi sequencing software. The studio also had an Akai S950, Juno1, Kawai K1, Alesis Quadraverb, Seck 24/4/2 Mixing Console and Tannoy DC200 Monitors

Did that studio situation last long or did you find somewhere else to record?

As far as I can recall I think it lasted about 3 months and by then it was clear that we needed to resolve the issue of the studio and go our separate ways for real. Sticking to the two weeks on two weeks off rule just wasn’t working any more. We sat down and went through everything that needed to be divided fairly and I ended up with the studio within that deal which I then moved to a new location which was a unit within a property owned by Chris Energy of Hit N Run Records. This was only short term as I knew this would not be the permanent base that I was looking for.

You often hear stories of techniques people used in the studio to try and maximise the equipment back then. How did you find the technology those days, any tips or tricks you can give people as there seems to be a hardware revival at the minute as well as vinyl?

For instance, the Akai S950 was an amazing machine but very much lacking in sufficient amount of memory. Sometimes I would set up and edit certain samples, run them through the mixing desk with full EQ treatment plus other effects then re-sample the output at a lower rate. This meant I could save valuable memory for more elements and it also gave certain samples (especially drums/breaks) a unique sound and texture.

Sometimes I would also use a technique called “time compress” which is the exact opposite of “time stretch”, the result is rather hit and miss and does not necessarily work with everything but when it did work you could get great results and it would also save some sampling memory.

Yes, vinyl has made quite a comeback in the last couple of years which is great. I have been reissuing some of my older tracks as current Discogs prices for sought after titles are nothing short of ridiculous! It gives me great pleasure to be able to offer some of my back catalogue (which is extensive, to say the least) at a reasonable, affordable price plus at the highest possible quality. I am now partnered with Music Preservation Society which is run by a good friend of mine, Robin Allinson.

As far as your label you followed up “Theme Spirit” with the “Bay B Kane EP”, to me this really started to define your sound. Hip hop and ragga samples, classic breaks, rave stabs and those distinctive large bass lines. With the exception of “Sax In The Jungle” it’s quite a distinctive shift from RGR 001. What led to that and can you tell us a bit about this period?

RGR 002 (“The Bay B Kane EP”) was where I felt I was ready to start putting myself out as a brand. Developing a sound as an artist was equally as important and needed to be in tune with the underground music movement. My style drew from all different elements that appealed to me such as hip hop, reggae, dub, lovers rock, soul, funk and ska. Black music in general was and still is, where I draw most of my inspiration from as its what I grew up listening to. To this day one of the most exciting things for me is taking a sample and using it in a completely different setting than it was originally intended and creating something brand new with it.

By the way “RGR 001 / 002 /003 / 004” as well as “The Mystro EP” on Jack In The Box and “The Grey Matter EP” on Kikman were all produced within the time period of roughly three months before we finalised the split and I moved the studio to a new location! That should give you some idea as to how busy and focused I was during that time and determined to build a solid foundation.

You made all those in three months?? That’s mad! Everything you’ve just said brings me on to what is personally for me one of the all-time best hardcore EPs of all time. The Return Of Bay B Kane! All four tracks are undisputed anthems, did you realise those tracks where special when you made them and what was the reaction from the first few people who heard them?

Thank you, I appreciate your words! “Hello Darkness” is a very special track to me personally and if I am totally honest then I’d say I expected it to have a big impact as the “Dark” theme was just beginning to creep in on the scene here and there and I wanted this EP to take that to the next level. The best and most positive reaction I can remember was from Micky Finn who went absolutely mad about “Hello Darkness” which I had cut for him on dub. He was the driving force behind me making two further remixes later on but pretty much everyone who heard it was into it almost instantly.

That EP features “Quarter To Doom” which was co-produced with Peshay, can you tell us a bit about that session and how you guys hooked up?

I had printed my home phone number on the label of “The Bay B Kane EP” (RGR 002) and my first encounter with Peshay was when he dialled those digits. He started talking to me about how much he liked the EP and how he was a DJ trying to catch a break into the scene and how he had so many ideas for tunes… He went on and on so enthusiastically for what seemed like hours, hahaha…

I was impressed by his enthusiasm and positivity, plus the fact that he had a lot of front just phoning me out the blue and was able to keep me on the line without me getting annoyed.

I told him I would look into making some time available and having him come through the studio but I couldn’t say when and that I’d have to get back to him and to hold tight till then…

Well, he rang me daily from that day forward for about a week, sometimes several times a day, so in the end, I gave in and arranged for him to come to the studio.

One Wednesday in August 1992 Peshay came to my studio with two large cases of records and enough hyperactive positive energy to last for days! He was seventeen years old and more eager to get stuck in and learn to create than anyone else I had ever met before (or since)… Mind you at this point I had no idea how good he was as a DJ either which would come later. That day we spent about twelve hours in my studio and created what would later become the track known as “Quarter To Doom”.

What was a typical recording session like for you? Based on what you’ve said you seemed to go at it pretty hard.

Back then I would start most days around midday and work eight-ten hours typically and it wasn’t unusual for me to write and complete one track per session. Maybe even put down the basics of another track to continue with the next day. I generally won’t start a new track while I have one on the go unless I’m just messing about with ideas. Once I moved the studio to another location my work hours and patterns changed due to the fact that I had 24-hour access and found I could work much better during the night.

You mentioned a lot of your 1992 releases were all made around the same time. The “Grey Matter EP” seems to have slipped me by completely. Checking it on Discogs I see that it was the first release on Kikman but never seemed to get past the promo stage. It’s also widely different than the other tracks you were making at the time. It’s almost house and garage in places and there’s one track which has a strong Euro Techno feel to it. Can you tell us the story behind that EP?

“The Grey Matter EP” was an experimental project which I had no immediate plans to release, in fact, I held on to it for about a year until one day I played it to Noah Charlery (the owner of Kikman) who absolutely loved it and wanted to release it. It was very different in comparison to the usual output on the label so we decided to start a sub-label under Kikman called UFO Recordings. That’s why it has the cat number KIK / UFO 001, only 300 white label promo copies were ever pressed. It may have been too ahead of its time or just simply bad timing but whatever it was this EP just didn’t catch on like the other stuff I was releasing on Kikman and RGR so we decided to not go ahead with a full release. Today second-hand copies sell for at least £50 and that’s if you can find one for sale.

You continued to release stuff in 1993 for your own label, Kikman and then White House which has some seminal classics in its discography, how do you view this period of your production and experience in the music scene?

My deal with White House in early 1993 was one of the absolute highlights of my career in music as it gave me the freedom to really expand my brand of Jungle / Drum and Bass on a bigger platform without having the restrictions placed upon artists when they are signed to a label. My deal with them was a production deal where I granted White House license through my label Ruff Guidance to release my music. All rights remained with me and it was the only way that I would ever agree to a release on White House and all praise is due to the label manager Andy Bailey who was by far the best label exec I ever worked with. He is the one person who helped me more than anyone in the music business during the 1990s.

You are probably aware of what’s going on with producing vinyl at the minute, Robin and others are all having issues.

I am aware of the current problems in releasing vinyl due to unreliable pressing plants, a substandard product having to be re-pressed multiple times, the ridiculous waiting times involved and the fact that there were no pressing plants left in the UK until very recently. The arrival of a brand new state of the art pressing facility in Portsmouth running under the expertise of the man like Phil East “Vinyl Presents” is now leading the way to a brighter future in vinyl production.

What was it like running a label and pressing records in 1992/93?

Running my label was really not very hard as I had been doing this since 1990 and had built a great working relationship with all involved in the various stages of production.

I used JTS in Hackney for mastering and metalwork then Vinyl Cut which later became Tell Tales for my pressings who were in Stratford. Looking back I can honestly say that I never had a problem, worth mentioning in all the years that I used their services which is pretty amazing… Big shout out to Keith (Jah Tubby) and Joseph (Abashanti) of JTS Limited and Terry & Darren of Tell Tales wherever they may be today.

Whilst we are on the subject of vinyl and JTS, where did you used to get your dubs cut and do you have any unreleased material from that era?

Lets first clear something up… I am not a DJ and never have been, I’m strictly an artist/producer and have produced under many aliases. I have cut countless amount of dubs over the years for many different DJ’s and in that case, it was always the DJ’s choice as to where we cut them. I used to spend many hours cutting dubs at either JTS or Music House although left up to me it would have always been JTS but DJ’s used to favour Music House as they were cheaper and when you’re Micky Finn or Kenny Ken and you have 20 dubs to cut in one session every bit of saving is a blessing!

I have a whole bunch of unreleased material, especially from 96-97, some of which I have released exclusively to my Bandcamp, specifically Unreleased Jungle gems Volume One and Two.

I have also released one or two bits on vinyl in recent years and will release more next year.

You recently repressed the classic 1994 “Thunder”, what’s the secret behind that monster bass line?

The bass on Thunder is an 808 kick drum with full decay which I then distorted through the mixing desk (analogue distortion sweet spot). I then added a mixture of effects through the Alesis Quadraverb.

I’ll take this opportunity to say that by the time Thunder was created, in fact, quite sometime before summer 1993, I moved my studio from the unit in Chris Energy’s building to what became known as The Fridge.

It was a purpose built detached building which was originally a cold storage facility for meat products at the back of a shop front that used to be an old butcher shop but was now a kebab house. The cold store was there unused so I made a deal with the owner and leased the cold store from him. I built my own entrance to it through the alleyway next to the kebab shop then had all the electrics rewired and made it into a studio.

It was a unique and amazing place that had an otherworldly atmosphere inside, no windows, two feet thick insulated walls and a door that I can only compare to an airlock.

Pretty much all of my White House releases were written in The Fridge and by then the hardware in my studio had grown twice as much if not more. I still had the Atari 1040 STFM computer now running Cubase V3. I also had a Seck 24/4/2 Mixing Desk, a Roland Juno1, Yamaha DX7 Mk II, Roland SH101, Roland TB303, Korg M1 Rack module, two Akai S950’s, an Alesis Midiverb II, Marantz Solid State Reference Class Amp and Tannoy Berkeley 15 inch Super Gold Dual Concentric Studio Monitors.

Later I added an Akai S1100 and remained in The Fridge until the end of 1996.

The “Thunder EP” saw a return to working with Peshay. How was it for you seeing how he developed and what are your feelings about that EP in general?

I actually never stopped working with Peshay from 1992 through to around 1995 and the fact that he did a remix of “Thunder” for me at my request was simply because I co-produced and engineered three out of the four tracks on his Reinforced Records debut “The Protege EP”. A remix of “Thunder” and full credit on the “Protege EP” was all that I asked for in return but only got the remix, zero credit on his debut EP on Reinforced but that’s a whole other story on its own which I don’t think is appropriate to go into here.

By the way, The Rood Project “Thunder” 2017 repressing did very well.

I also repressed “The Return Of Bay B Kane” and the double vinyl 8 track “Survival Techniques EP”.

That’s a real shame about not getting credit for the production on the Peshay tracks. Especially considering it’s one of the most highly regarded early drum and bass releases. You did get a mention on the Chris Energy EP for the track Around also on Reinforced, you made an excellent amen VIP of that track which never came out that you’ve now self-released. What can you tell about this track and it’s VIP mix?

I don’t want to say too much more on the Peshay “Protege EP” except that I put a whole lot of time and energy into making these tracks what they are and making sure that his debut release, on such a respected label, would have maximum impact. I wanted very little in return (nothing financial) only because of who Peshay was in terms of my friendship with him and he has always maintained that he had no part in me not getting credit for the part I played and that it was others behind the scenes. Whether I believe him or not is irrelevant now, although at the time I was mad as hell and felt totally betrayed by him which led to us not speaking for 10 years but we reconnected in 2005 and got past all that.

Chris Energy was, of course, a long time friend in the music game stretching back before the rave scene. Here is a fun fact, Chris is the person who got me my first deal with TUF Records!!!

When I did the “Around” remix for Chris there was no Reinforced deal in existence but later when they approached him I was happy for him and at least he made sure I was credited on the label for my work.

I put the VIP version together as I felt it would give him leverage for a second release but for whatever reason he didn’t want to know and dismissed it so I kept it in the archives for many years.

Lastly, looking forward, what’s next..?

Next up is something big that has been in the works for a long time which is the re-release of the entire Break The Limits back catalogue on Mental Groove Records out of Switzerland.

This is a big deal to me as it will mean that the BTL legacy will finally be preserved and safe from extinction and future generations will be able to access and hear this music which was right at the beginning of the explosion point of the underground rave culture…

Big ups to Robin Allinson for pushing me to get this done and his help with cleaning up the original audio files, also a massive shout out to Olivier Ducret of Mental Groove Records for working with me to ensure a good deal was agreed upon and his belief and passion for the music.

There will be more re-pressings of classic Bay B Kane music next year as well as new music on vinyl. Digitally, I will continue to push the sounds that we all love. Ruff Guidance has a whole bunch of new releases lined up by various artists. I will also continue to release music on Boomsha Recordings and there is a new Bay B Kane solo album in the works which will be my seventh solo album when it lands.

Links:
https://ruffguidance.bandcamp.com/music
https://soundcloud.com/bay-b-kane
https://soundcloud.com/ruff-guidance-records
https://www.facebook.com/Bay3Kane
https://www.mpsvinyl.co.uk

Thanks for having me and peace be upon you all.

The Making Of Lord Of The Null Lines (Foul Play Remix)

Before we begin, have you ever wondered what a Null Line is? Let Alex from Hyper On Experience explain…

“It’s from the theory of special relativity. A null line is the path of a massless object travelling at light speed. Because at that speed you don’t experience time, all points in the universe will appear no distance away.”

Like any good scientific theory, Hyper On Experience productions were also complex and intricate in approach but when Alex and Danny sat down to produce Lord of the Null Lines it’s safe to say neither of them could have imagined the effect it would have on the drum and bass scene. The often overlooked original spawned a series of remixes which make it one of the most iconic pieces of nineties electronic music. It has been reinterpreted by some of the most respected names in drum and bass including Photek, Total Science, Aquasky and most notably Foul Play (including a second mix alongside DJ Randall).

Using a variety of sources for inspiration it’s perhaps most known for its liberal use of Predator 2 samples. Whilst these help to add character its the way they are integrated with the tracks other elements that give Null Lines its own unique identity.

We caught up with John from Foul Play to discuss their remixes of the track.

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The original Lord of the Null-Lines was created using a wealth of sample sources, what elements did you have to craft your remix?

We were given a DAT containing all the samples from the original version…… and there were a lot! This was our first ever remix for another artist, previously we had only ever remixed our own tracks. Hyper On songs were always brimming with ideas and samples coming at you at an amazing pace and Null-Lines was no exception. We basically just sat there and listened through all the samples and went yes, no, yes, no until we had the ingredients we wanted for our version.

How does your remix differ from the original?

Well, our take on Null-Lines is a stripped back version in the truest sense. We took out all the ravier elements from the original and delivered a mix with a darker feel. We focused on the Predator 2 samples and a couple of catchy basslines.

Who worked on it and where was it produced?

We produced it at the Foul Play studio which was at Steve Gurley’s house in Milton Keynes. At that time there were three of us in the group and we worked on it together, Steve Gurley, Brad (Steve Bradshaw) and myself.

What equipment did you use?

Pretty sure this was before we had a hardware sampler so it would all have been done with the Amiga using OctaMED. Not sure what we were using at the time for mixing and monitoring but it would have been cheap.

What was the reaction to it?

I think this was one of those rare occasions where something was universally loved from the outset. Even from the test press stage, I think Moving Shadow realised they had a hit. I can remember being at the Sanctuary in Milton Keynes just after the 20 or so test presses had been sent out to the top DJ boys and hearing everyone on the lineup playing it. At the beginning of the night, nobody had heard it and before the end of the night the crowd were going crazy for it, and this was even before the main promo mailout. Then when they had gone out all the pirates started playing it, after that it just took off, I remember everyone being excited about its release.

Can you explain the track’s arrangement and the theory behind its structure?

Well as I said before it was our first remix so we didn’t really have a process as such, we just went with our gut. The main thing I remember was the speed we did it, probably about 3 hours from start to finish, arranged, mixed and recorded to DAT in one afternoon. I remember Brad playing the intro 808 bassline and we decided to start the track with it, unusual I know but it seemed the right thing to do. An interesting fact which Sean Deep Blue told me is the 808 bass sound in the Helicopter tune was sampled from the Null Lines intro.

I think Steve Gurley may have played the second bassline, I certainly remember him playing the two melodies that come in over the top of it. I don’t remember us pondering over anything through the rest of the track too much, we just went with the first ideas we had and it all just went right on the day, sometimes it just goes like that (especially when you’ve got a genius like Steve Gurley at the controls anyway).

Are there any other versions that remain unheard?

Not by us but I do remember somebody doing a bootleg version of it with a few changes. A few well known DJ’s had started playing it and the guy had cheekily pressed it up but Rob Playford got wind of it, found out where it was being pressed and put a stop to it. As I recall, the guy in question was pretty unhappy and a few threats were thrown about but nothing ever came of it, it really was a little bit Wild West back then.

I assume the cover for the second remix was a reference to that?

I think the title must have been a dig at the bootlegger yeah.

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How did the re-remix with DJ Randall come about?

We were in a club one night where Randall was playing, Brad had disappeared for a while and when he finally showed up he said “I’ve been chatting backstage with Randall, he’s coming to the studio on Monday” it was as simple as that. He came to the studio and we did it in a day. I’m not sure if it was originally meant for release or just as a special for him to play but I know Rob Playford was really happy when he heard about it as Randall didn’t appear on wax very often and it eventually got a release.

With all these versions do you have a favourite?

My favourite mix is the first one we did.

I always wondered what the answering machine message left by Ray Keith for Rob Playford said on a rare test press release for your remix, can you enlighten us?

I don’t have a copy of the answerphone message version, until this moment in time I had no idea it existed!

The story goes Ray had his car broken into and had his records stolen, DAT’s taken everything. He left that message on the Shadow answer phone explaining this in relation to something he should have done for the label but now couldn’t. The answer phone message was added to the test press but was not kept on DAT… I’ve reached out to someone who has the vinyl so if I can get a recording I’ll send your way! Alex doesn’t have it either…

Notes from Alex Banks on the original version of Lords Of The Null Lines

This was a big deal for Danny and me. It was the first time we did a tune at 160 beats per minute. There was much debate in the shed as to whether we should make a tune that fast. In fact, on the floppy disk, the working title was just “160BPM”.

The melancholy intro was done on a Korg M1. I had programmed it so that some of the notes weren’t in time. Rob Playford asked if I had played it in live? I said “Yes”, but I lied…

The “We’re gonna rock ya!” sample came from my sister’s friend’s daughter. One afternoon we were sitting in the small courtyard that separated the shed from my sister’s house. Harriet was about 5 years old and I was demonstrating my dictaphone while getting her to say cool shit!

The bass note was from a sample CD. I remember sweeping the midrange eq ‘till I hit the sweet spot. The effect was a preset for a Zoom FX unit at Purple Rain.

Breaks are from Norman Cook – Skip To My Loops and the synth sound came from the A to D Sample CD.

The bell sound that comes in at the end was a late addition. Danny said, “I think it needs an extra sound at the end there.” I said “Nah mate, there’s enough in there already”

We have this argument about this bell sound and eventually put it in. Now it’s my favourite part of the tune! In Poland when I played Lords everyone in the crowd sung along to the bell sound! When Foul Play remixed it they asked for this sound, but I had lost the M1 card it came from. I was gutted!

Thanks to John and Alex for their help in putting this post together. John will represent Foul Play at the AKO Beatz Halloween Jungle Special on Saturday 28th October at Bar 512 London.

In Conversation With Blame

During the early to mid-nineties Blame released an impressive collection of genre-defining singles on Moving Shadow that ranged from big room anthems to groundbreaking experimental excursions into techno influenced drum and bass.

In 1991 he launched onto the scene with “Music Takes You”, an instant classic with its euphoric chords, in your face beats and Seal vocal samples. In the years that followed he adopted a more pioneering approach to production, still learning his craft yet fuelled with a creative desire to push boundaries he went on to record groundbreaking titles like “Essence” with longtime friend Justice and “Transitions” with fellow Moving Shadow artist and graphic designer Deep Blue. It’s no small feat that Goldie heralds “Essence” as the greatest Moving Shadow release of all time.

We caught up with Blame to discuss this period and the years that followed at GLR and beyond.

It seems to be a common theme that people from a design or art background end up producing music, how did you make that transition?

I’ve always seen a lot of similarities between design and making music. Placing sounds in the right place, leaving space where it’s needed, having taste for style. Having a contrast between colours or sounds. It was a really natural transition for me having that design background. It just felt right.

Tell us about that first time in the studio with Justice…

That day blew my mind. I realised you could go into a studio and come out with a record a few hours later! That was a dream for me. I started saving my money up and booking the studio whenever I could after that first day. We loaded up our favourite drum samples like apache, our favourite hip hop vocal snippets and it all just came together. We made a track called Death Row that day which was released on Chill Records.

Tony (Justice) told me about those Tuesday night studio sessions, what was that like for you?

They were amazing times, but quite frustrating in certain ways for me. I used to have ideas in my head that I couldn’t get out because I wasn’t skilled enough musically. It took me years of practice and persistence to be able to get what was in my head out onto tape.

How do you feel about those early productions?

I like them all for what they represent, they are all steps in the musical journey! Sometimes when I listen back I can’t even remember making certain songs, it’s like I’m listening to music someone else made, and then I realise it’s one of my tracks. That’s quite a mad experience! Continue reading “In Conversation With Blame”