By the end of 2001 I’d completely fallen under the spell of Rhythm & Sound’s Burial Mix incarnation. There was something so perfect about those 10″ releases – exactly the correct intersection between the dreamy end of dub and techno. I played them over and over, scanned the web for more information. And tried to find similar fixes elsewhere.
Of course, I couldn’t. Because nobody came close. Only Pole’s 2nd album really did it for me, and whilst I had a lot of fun with the Chain Reaction and Basic Channel releases I got hold of, it was too techno and not enough dub for me.
Previously I’d been a devotee of Kevin Martin’s Macro Dub Infection compilations and it seemed like there were one-off releases out there, b-sides, remixes, etc, which needed to be collected together in that manner… if only you could find them.
A couple of years later I’m none the wiser, but some stuff has recently crossed my palms which reminded me of those times.
Sandoz – Scientific Exploitation (Soul Jazz 12″ 2002)
Cabaret Voltaire were going on about dub being an influence back in the 70s, way before most people in the industrial scene caught on (or let on?). Despite dub’s dread darkness and sonic experimentation there’s still something righteous and life-affirming about most orthodox reggae versions from that time. So perhaps it just didn’t fit into the identikit genre-specific imagery of black & white photos of old warehouses, etc.
This release came out as a taster for the album and my copy came courtesty of the man like Dubversion.
It’s… alright (Nick Gutterbreakz will kill me!) – very much “Richard H Kirk does electronic dub”, which is what it is. It sounds very “meaty” – a full sound which mixes up squiddly acid b-lines with skanking, and manages to sound… alright. A rasta floats in and out of the mix talking about technology, capitalism and being a rebel.
I guess this suffers from my personal bias – techno artists simply incapable of escaping the confines of the genre and simply chucking in some dub elements rather than producing a terrifying mongrel of the two. I think that’s what I was reacting against when I did the first Shake The Foundations mix. If Sandoz lost all the contemporary “dancefloor” bits and just went industrial dub I’d be in seventh heaven. But this will do for now. The version is far too restrained, though.
Bandulu – Jahquarius (Music Man Special 7″ 2002)
Bandulu – Detention (Music Man Special 7″ 2002)
I saw Bandulu at one of the free festivals at Finsbury Park and didn’t quite “get” them. Perfectly good techno marred by cod-patois vocals. I was intrigued by these two when they came out but was shocked (Shocked, I tell you!) to see that they retailed at something stupid like six quid each. I recently picked them up for 50p a pop in and end of year sale (ha!). Anyway – I think the plan was that these were uber-limited promos for an album.
Jahquarius is the same story as my first encounter: “Cos it’s a new age – it’s the dawning of Jahquarius, so live it up now, and never make no fuss” – all delivered in crisp tones which should probably leave patois well alone. The female backing vocals are alright though.
But… the version side is a nice bit of funked up swirly Chain Reaction-esque stuff, with good horns which I think must be synths but-sound-alright-shock-horror. (It can be done! They don’t have to sound like a piss poor binatone keyboard! Touring reggae bands take note! Or get some proper hornsmen in FFS.)
It’s what I guess you’d call “tracky” – a linear endless groove. But it’s a good one, only broken up by the occasional hint of echo or a rimshot.
“Detention” is about being banged up. “Free up my brothers one by one […] Lord it a go rough in here”. So, immediately better in terms of subject matter, but still let down by delivery. Tune’s a good ‘un though: shaka-esque minor chordage. The dub is more warm tracky dubbed out business with some good percussion fills. Close… so close…
There are probably a lot of frustrated DJs who want these on 12″.
FSOL – We Have Explosive [Pt 5] (off Virgin Promo 12″ 1997)
I have no idea when Future Sound of London signed to Virgin, but they were slinging this single out like music was about to go out of fashion. It was impossible to walk into any central London charity shop for a while without the staff begging you to take at least one copy of the other promo 12″ of this with the Mantronix remixes on it.
I saw FSOL at one of the Essential Festivals in Brighton around this time, doing a “live” set via an ISDN line from their studio. I thought it was really alienating. Like – watching people play instruments is (visually) more involving than watching (some) people play records, which is more involving than watching people tap stuff into a laptop. But to watch someone, on a screen, twiddle with knobs 50 miles away was just a bit crap really. I suspect that probably put me off for a while, though of course “Papua” is wicked.
This remix is pretty fine. It’s more “ambient” than dub, but qualifies because it is bass heavy and does remove virtually all traces of the original to make it chilled out rather than quite good boshing sub-tackhead breakbeat bizness. Plus there are echoey bits and all that. (oh, and somebody once told me that you needed 3 examples to construct a decent article. Writing tips as well today in yer uncarved update!). In some ways this track is more ambient prog than anything (don’t let that put you off!) which I think is what FSOL have moved towards now.