Archive for the ‘Leftfield’ Category

Electribe 101 – Inside Out [1990]
February 11, 2011


Seriously, Billy Ray Martin’s voice could end wars its so buttery smooth. Another classic from the Electribe 101 folks with heavy basslines and breaks taking a second place to the 8th Wonder of the world, Billy Ray Martins vocals. No messing, she makes what would otherwise middle of the road downtempo loungecore track and makes it absolutely incredible. Sorry about the gushing but come now, its justified and you know it.

From Discogs
Named after a Soviet refrigerator and the Roland SH-101 synthesizer, the band was composed of four electronic composers and producers from Birmingham (Brian Nordhoff, Joe Stevens, Les Fleming, and Roberto Cimarosti) and a female vocalist from Hamburg, Germany (Billie Ray Martin).

Before signing with Mercury/PolyGram Records in 1988, the group released its first single, “Talking With Myself,” without much success. However, before its next single release, Martin guested with Eric Robinson of Eric and the Good Good Feeling on the S’Express record “Hey, Music Lover.”

The Top 10 success of “Hey, Music Lover” sparked interest from the music press in Martin’s band, although Eric and the Good Good Feeling’s album flopped.[citation needed] Electribe 101 signed with Mercury/PolyGram Records, and its single “Tell Me When The Fever Ended” was issued. It reached number 32 in the UK Singles Chart.[1]

In 1990 Electribe 101 released its debut album, Electribal Memories. The group also re-released its single “Talking With Myself,” which reached #23 on the UK Singles Chart. In late 1990, the band released its version of the Jesse Rae song “Inside Out” (a hit for Odyssey).

Not wanting to carry on under the Electribe 101 name without Martin, the band renamed itself The Groove Corporation and signed with the Network Records subsidiary label Six6.

Stereo MC’s – Step It Up (Stereo Field Dub) [1992]
January 31, 2011

You’ll find this banging remix on the B-Side of the Step It Up 12″ and what a track it is. Remixed by leftfield, this is pure, unrestrained tribal darkness. This is the vocal edition, preserving just a touch of the original, using Hallam’s vocals only. The second track on the B-Side is the instrumental version of this which is as, if not more incredible than this version if only because its a completely different tone without the vocals.

Regardless, its another classic Leftfield remix of what is still one of my favourite tracks of the early 90’s. The Stereo MC’s never quite broke through to the acclaim they deserved, what with their sound being many genre’s at once. Still, I think connected is one of the best up AND downtempo albums of the early nineties. Total Quality.

Portishead – Mysterons [1994]
January 3, 2011

Wow. Even now its still incredible. The first track from Portishead’s first album, Dummy and what a way to kick it off. Its not my favourite on the album, that beauty is buried further down but as a stand alone track, Mysterons is a stroke of genius. The Theramin coils and slivers between the broken breaks and the haunting vocals performed impeccably by Beth Gibbons. I remember being handed the tape way back in 94, taking it home and suddenly having my perception shifted way past all the Jungle and DnB I was enjoying at the time, way past my dabbles in other downtempo tracks – Massive Attack, Tricky and the like. The pure analogue sounds of Mysterons is what grabbed me by the lapels and dragged me deep into the depths of Dummy. What a ride it was.

From Discogs
Dark beautiful haunting trip hop of the very highest order. Beth Gibbon’s voice is unbelievably unique & beautiful. The touch of melancholy in her vocals & her voice sometimes at breaking point, coupled with Andy Smith’s superb beats make for a stunning & compelling combination. One of the greatest dance/electronic albums ever and probably of any genre.

Banderas – This Is Your Life (The Less Stress Mix) [1991]
July 7, 2010

While we’re talking atmospheric, sweeping string sets, how about this Balearic classic from Banderas way back in 1991. They didnt really have any bigger hits than this but I remember coverting this from when I heard it on a Now Dance Album the same year. I think I caned this so much the track skipped to death, so I picked up the vinyl and found this Less Stress mix and was blown away. So chilled, so perfectly put together with those vocals. Its aging hasnt been the kindest but its a total stormer after a hard ass day. Its recently enjoyed a resurgence of popularity due to some average to above average trance remixes. But this mix is the tip-top. Enjoy!

Banderas – This Is Your Life (Original Mix) [1991]

From Discogs
British duo with vocalist Caroline Buckley and violinist/keyboardist Sally Herbert. Produced by Stephen Hague. Their one and only album, “Ripe”, did not do well in Europe and was even less successful Stateside, despite collaborations from Jimmy Somerville, guitarist Johnny Marr, and New Order’s Bernard Sumner. Perhaps its failure was due to consumer confusion; is Banderas a Spanish-language punk band, or a bizarre Sinead O’Connor side project? (The duo sported shaved heads). Two singles were released from the album, but they never released a second.

Apparat – Wooden (Anders Ilar Rmx) [2008]
June 30, 2010

Taken from Apparats truly superb remix compilation “Things to be Frickled”, this is probably the most ambient of all the IDM offerings and what a track it is. The track is almost 7 minutes of lush string compositions, organic basslines and a metronomic synth snare to keep tempo to this otherwise purely ambient track. It evokes memories of some truly classic ambient and abstract Guerilla and Leftfield works mixed up with, dare I say, a refined structure that would give even the mighty FSOL a run for their money. Anders Ilar has many truly epic compositions, few that reach these heady heights but worth a look in if your wallet is itching for something truly abstract.

From Discogs
Deep IDM from Apparat, both doing remix duties and getting himself remixed. Swayzak’s dancefloor sensibilities get a click and cut treatment in “Smile and Receive,” and Boyznoize receive an electro-flavored mix of “Shine Shine.” He gets a hand from Ellen Allien for a dark mix of Paul Kalkbrenner’s “Queer Fellow,” while Raz Ohara has the gentleness of “Where He At” echoed in a slow and thoughtful mix that explodes with sound 2/3s of the way through. The female vocals on Nitrada’s “Fading Away” receive a backdrop of clattering percussion. But it’s his mix of Lusine’s “Drift” that stands out the most, a stuttering melody that gives way to long, modulated synths. But Apparat (oftentimes accompanied by Raz Ohara) receive as good as they get: Telefon Tel Aviv get their hands on two tracks, “Komponent” and “Arcadia,” and work their considerable mellow magic on the former and go to the dancefloor with the latter. Meanwhile, Chris de Luca and Phono get groovy with “Holdon” while Modeselektor gives the track an acid flashback. Boyznoize return the favor on “Arcadia” with an almost ambient mix, punctuated with acoustic guitar and Rhodes chords. Monolake take “Steinholz” on a deep and abstract journey, and Anders Ilar gets even more blissful with “Wooden.” After repeated listens, I’d say Apparat frickles well, in addition to being well-frickled.

Nitin Sawney – Breathing Light [2001]
May 7, 2010

“We are free, to be free” – Nelson Mandella

Quite possibly one of the greatest songs of all time and certainly one of my all time favourites. It even manages to work in an Amen break in there too. Hows that for class. Nitin Sawney is one of the UK’s most prolific and talented songwriters of this generation, criminally overlooked in my opinion since his ability to fuse musical styles has absolutely no equal. He was introduced to me by my good friend Alex when the album this track is taken from “Prophesy” was released. Alex even won tickets to the Albert Hall to go see Sawney on the Prophesy tour. The live show was fucking incredible, absolutely bloody amazing. One of my top 5 all time favourite live gigs. Sadly, since Alex has long since passed away, its one of only a handful of tracks that genuinely take me back to hanging out with the guy, chatting tunes and drinking beers. Miss you mate.

From Discogs
An incredible artist that transcends musical boundaries. He has created some of the finest downtempo electronic dance music of the past 5 years. He utilises a bewildering array of influences from across the globe, notably India where his roots are but also Blues, Soul, Brazilian, Latin, Middle Eastern, Arabic, Hip Hop, Deep House, Balearic… Yet his albums & collection of songs gel together so perfectly. He’s also a true political & social commentator for the ‘No Logo/Make Poverty History’ generation and this is always echoed poignantly through his music. His last three albums are fantastic from start to finish and really showcase one of the most talented musicians/composers in Britain today (he’s also superb live).

Moby – Go (Woodtick Mix) [1991]
May 5, 2010

Talk about a timeless track, Moby’s Go has held up for almost twenty years and remains as fresh as the day it was released. Although, ok, i’ll conceed, the “GO!” hit could probably do with less of a presence to make it fully water tight but hell, in the grander scheme of things, its a small note on an otherwise MONSTER tune. Sampling the theme from Twin Peaks perfectly, mixing it with a lot of effectively understated synth and piano hooks, the layering on Go is perfection. Its the track that launched Moby into the mainstream, he released some great tunes and for all its overplay, his album “Play” is an epic. What the hell happened?

From The Cans
‘Go’ is the track that launched the legend into the public gaze.

This hails from an era when tracks would be played on pirate FM radio stations several months prior to general release, giving those in the know the coolness factor over joe public.

The ‘Woodtick’ mix is the most famous mix of this track. Of course is samples the Angelo Badalamenti produced theme from the Twin Peaks TV series expertly, but possibly the real beauty with this track are the kick beats that sound as though they’re emanating from somewhere down the road.

Many years on, this track has been updated for the Moby greatest hits compilation. Indeed the updated version is very good, but it’s still the ‘Woodtick’ mix that stands out head and shoulders above all its peers.

With music licencing laws now so restrictive, we may never see another track like this again.

Sleazenation – Scratch The Itch Compilation [2000]
March 24, 2010

Zan Lyons – Caustic Window Remix

Eschelon – Enter The Carousel

Way back in 2000, I picked up a copy of Sleazenation with this CD on the front. What should have been a fairly pedestrian collection of tracks actually wound up being some seriously mixed up belters that ive loved to this day. The two above are the two favourites.

Zan Lyons track is an example of pure industrial ambient. Hard, depressing, desolate. Awesome. I strongly recommend picking up his first album “Desolate” (appropriate) for more.

Eschelon on the other hand (aka DJ Scientist) released this what could only be termed Nu-Breaks banger way back before “Nu Breaks” had even been coined. Its a cracking break, awesome twangy bassline and an acid riff to rip your face off. Stellar bedroom production.

Underworld – Dirty Epic [1994]
March 9, 2010

Way before Born Slippy and all the other tripe Underworld produced in the late nineties/early 2000’s came Dirty Epic, an absolute monster progressive house tune. So what you have here is a track so forward thinking im still catching it on mixes to this day. Why? Have a listen, its a fucking beast of a tune. Heavily layered, sweeping synths and strings with a vocal that pushes the track along rather than dominating it. Nine minutes of complete and total bliss.

From Stylus Magazine
Somewhere in the hardbound, dust-jacketed Bible of Pop there lies a formula, a kind of master one-sheet for the rules and conditions that make for a “classic moment in pop music.” Something along the lines of “thou shalt not exceed three-and-a-half minutes,” “thou shalt discuss God or sex but not both at the same time,” “thou shalt have a discernable snare,” etc.

I won’t go so far as to say that “Dirty Epic” shatters all conventions of pop songcraft, but it certainly places little faith (no pun intended) in the most obvious ones. Rarely does less happen over the course of ten full minutes in quite so grandiose a fashion as it does here.
…read the rest of the article here…

Leftfield – Song Of Life (Underworld’s Steppin Razor mix) [1992]
February 9, 2010

This is it. This is the track. One of the greatest remixes of all time, takes the heavy dub of Leftfields original, turns it on its head and coverts the whole track into a seven minute behemoth. The synth is so huge on this track with so much depth that you just get lost in it. Its got a sawtool phaser on it so slight you barely notice it until it begins to growl and fragment half way through the track and then BANG, your back in it. A song designed solely for 100K stadium sized sound system and to be heard floating across the fields early on a Sunday morning with lazers reaching into the sky.

From Discogs
Of all the versions of Leftism’s ‘Song Of Life’ that are out there, Underworld’s Steppin Razor mix would probably get my vote for the best of the bunch. In my opinion, it is the most timeless and progressive sounding of any mix (though, I still love the original mix’s bouncy bassline). Of course, if Sasha & Digweed’s immortal ‘Song Of Life’ medley featured on the Renaissance The Mix Collection were considered a legitimate version, then it’d be a different story. Anytime I listen to the Lemon Interupt or Dub For Life mixes, I feel like something is missing (those familiar with the above mentioned medley and unmixed versions as well will know what I’m talking about).