The second Record Box commissioned by The Space has been compiled by Mala of Digital Mystikz, who takes a look through the history of Dubstep, Jungle and Drum & Bass using high resolution images and recordings from John's own record collection.
Horace Swaby, who performed under the name Augustus Pablo, was a pioneering artist within the Dub movement. He was famed for his melodica playing, which at the time was used to teach school children and not taken seriously as an instrument. This early track was recorded whilst Swaby was still a teenager, it was produced by Herman Chin Loy, who gave him the name Augustus Pablo. The unique blend of East Asian and Jamaican influences and heavy bass sounds became increasingly popular with Jamaican sound systems, but this single was not a commercial success.
Misty In Roots were a British based reggae and roots band predominantly active in the 70's and 80's. They were heavily involved in the beginnings of "Rock Against Racism", helping to create a platform for both black and white musicians to stand and play together for the first time. As the 80's progressed the band looked to Africa, rather than Jamaica, to develop their uncompromising reggae roots sound.
'Live at the Counter Eurovision' was their debut album and it is cited as one of the greatest live reggae albums ever recorded, it's introductory speech had a profound effect on John Peel and reads as follows: "When we trod this land, we walk for one reason. The reason is to try to help another man to think for himself. The music of our hearts is roots music: music which recalls history, because without the knowledge of your history, you cannot determine your destiny; the music about the present, because if you are not conscious of the present, you are like a cabbage in this society; music which tells about the future and the judgement which is to come."
This 7" showcases Pablo's skill with the melodica, as he plays over a King Tubby dub of the Studio One classic "I'm Just A Guy" originally recorded by Alton Ellis. The "dub version" was usually reserved for the b-side of a single, which in many cases began to be more popular than the original version of the song, such was the skill of engineers like King Tubby and the subsequent impact the tracks had on dancefloors. These "dubs" were mixed and engineered specifically to be played through their own sound system; It was the very start of dubplate culture, with musicians and DJs making their own exclusive acetates, ensuring that they alone had the best sounds.
The Ragga Twins, AKA Deman Rocker and Flinty Badman, were MCs for the popular London based soundsystem "Unity", when they first switched their allegiances from reggae dances to acid raves. This 1991 collaboration with Shut Up and Dance arguably started the Jungle movement and many elements considered integral to the scene, and taken for granted as part of the culture, brought across from the reggae movement by The Ragga Twins. Like pulling up a track and starting it again, which was previously unheard of in dance music.
Although probably better known for his output as Nookie, Cloud 9 was regularly releasing music for the highly influential Moving Shadow record label in the early 90s as the Jungle scene found it's feet. Most notably "You Got Me Burnin'", which was released in 1993 and utilised samples like the siren sound from "Ironside" by Quincy Jones, since used in the Tarantino film "Kill Bill", and the powerful voice of Loleatta Holloway. Which helped to emulate the euphoria of acid-house and rave whilst Cloud 9 explored more intricate drum patterns.
Hyper On Experience was a short lived but much loved project from Alex Banks and Danny Demierre, who grew up in Beccles, Suffolk, and went on to form EZ Rollers and Flytronix respectively. This remix was a firm favourite amongst DJs because of the energy created by it's fast pace and the depth of the drum sound. Released in 1993 on Moving Shadow, it's frenetic beats and Predator 2 sample ensured it's cult status on dancefloors.
Tom and Jerry was an early alias of Mark Clair and Dennis McFarlane, who made music as the Mercury Music Prize nominated 4Hero, they were highly influential in shaping the sound and scope of the Jungle/Drum and Bass movement. 'Maxi' or 'Maximum Style' was an early indicator of the warm and soulful sound that the pair would be known for, whilst integrating more hardcore beats. The track sampled the strings, flute and vocals from Maxi Anderson's 1970s classic, "Lover to Lover". Whilst not having the commercial reach of their other project, Tom and Jerry was every bit as influential on dancefloors across the UK.
Kevin King, AKA Lemon D, is a legend within the Drum and Bass community, an innovator of the style, mixing soulful melodies and heavy basslines with rapid fire amen breaks. The name Lemon D is a play on Le Monde, French for 'the world', which is the name King first used to DJ under. The reggae infused "Jah Love" and the soulful nature of "Manhattan Melody" are poles apart, showcasing the eclectic styles employed by tenacious producers such as Lemon D, who were keen to push the boundaries in all directions. The "Vol II EP" was released on Conqueror Records in 1995, before going on to release music on Metalheadz, Dread, and V Recordings amongst others. Then setting up Valve Records with another respected Drum and Bass musician and producer, Dillinja.
"Dead Cities" is the third album from The Future Sound Of London, otherwise known as Manchester based duo Garry Cobain and Brian Dougans. They combined ambient noise, samples and breakbeats to create a dark atmospheric electronic sound, which was further enhanced by their use of 3D artwork to portray a futuristic cityscape in a state of collapse.
After the overwhelming commercial and critical success of his debut album "Timeless", an album that correlated with the popular explosion of Drum and Bass as a genre, and the scene he built around his record label, Metalheadz. Goldie released "Saturnz Return" from which "Digital" is lifted. Despite guest turns from David Bowie, Noel Gallagher, and this one from KRS One, the album was seen to be a commercial failure, receiving mixed reviews. However, ambitious compositions like "Mother", an hour long orchestral drum and bass piece, established Goldie as an artist prepared to take risks.
Souljah was one of a handful of aliases used by Lemon D, who released this 12" on Hard Leaders in 1998. "Fade 2 Black" is widely considered to be one of the best uses of the amen break, looping layer upon layer on top of each other to create endlessly relentless rhythms.
"Juggle Tings Proper" was the debut single for Big Dada Records by Rodney Smith, AKA Roots Manuva. His music was a blend of everything he was exposed to growing up in South London; hip-hop, dub and ragga all play their part. Such is his skill at representing his environment, The Times newspaper described him as "the voice of urban Britain".
This was the first release on Big Apple Records, the record shop and label that became pivotal in starting and shaping the dubstep scene. "Red" is a classic example of dubstep as it was beginning, before it was even known as dubstep, its jittery 2-step rhythm entwined with unrelenting bass riffs to make it an early dancefloor favourite, helping to set the tone for the movement whilst it was still in it's infancy. Artwork, AKA Arthur Smith could be cited as an unsung hero of the scene, managing to stay relatively anonymous whilst exerting a great deal of influence, until he started Magnetic Man with Skream and Benga that is.
Slaughter Mob were formed in the 90s, brought together by a mutual love for the darker sounds that were starting to inhabit the b-sides of many garage singles. The "Saddam" EP was released on Soulja Records in 2005 and was revered for it's energy, which led Slaughter Mob to a residency at Forward, the legendary club night that was at the centre of the burgeoning scene.
"Wot Do U Call It?" was the debut single for Wiley on XL Recordings. It made the UK top 40 and the album it was taken from, "Treddin' On Thin Ice", was an overwhelming commercial and critical success. Wiley is often cited as a pioneer of the grime movement, and the album as it's pinnacle; The way "Wot Do U Call It?" sought to define it, whilst mocking outside perceptions of an already insular scene, played a large part in assuming that mantle.
Benga and Skream were in many ways the poster boys for dubstep, still in their teens when their Big Apple hangout became the centre of the new movement, and responsible for a great deal of it's direction and aesthetic. After releasing this split 12" they went on to become the most recognisable names within dubstep, with a BBC Radio One residency and chart success both for their solo work and as Magnetic Man with Artwork.
This was Digital Mystikz first release on Big Apple Records in 2004 and an early sign of what was to follow; Mala, Coki and Loefah helped create the template for what would become the movement's standards, not only with their sound, but their attitude, and the way they conducted themselves. "Ugly", which you can hear here, is an early example of Coki's experimentation with bass wobble that later became synonymous with the dubstep sound.
When Big Apple Records ended, DMZ Records began, allowing Digital Mystikz & Loefah further freedom to express themselves with their music. They started the DMZ club night, which became known for it?s exceptionally deep bass sound and welcoming attitude, making it one of the most popular and influential club nights in the scene. Whilst its popularity enabled their self sufficiency, their approach set them apart; taking elements of dub, roots, reggae, jungle, garage, and developing a sound that felt fresh and new with all the familiar pieces.
Kode9 AKA Steve Goodman founded the record label Hyperdub in 2004. "Sign of the Dub" was his first release, it's sparse dubbed out rhythm signalled his intent to push the boundaries of electronic music. He was aided by The Spaceape, who provided his inimitable vocal style, intelligently presenting their world through philosophical street poetry. Kode9 and Spaceape went on to release two full length albums together, whilst Hyperdub went on to release some of the most important records of the last ten years by what seems like an endless list of pioneering musicians.