Mixcloud Select 198: Coldcut Solid Sphinx live – Strictly highlights 14/10/1994

MS198 Tape
As described in earlier posts, a Solid Sphinx was an occasional Solid Steel show – usually live – with no ads and very little talking. It might have been that there were no ads booked in that week, no ‘reads’ (KISS-affiliated announcements to be made during the show) or just that there were only a few ads lined up and we conveniently forgot to air them. Either way, it was heads down and concentrate on the mix for two hours rather than have an eye on the clock for the next ad break.

What we have here are some edited parts of a 2 hour Sphinx where I was in control, I think Matt started the show off with a 30 minute mix, then me, then PC finished up, I don’t think Jon was around for this one. It’s marked as live on the tape which means we probably did it Saturday night directly to air whereas we usually pre-recorded it on a Friday night around 9pm if memory serves. I’ve snipped out some bits here and there just to make it a bit more digestible but you get the flavour – trip hop, electro, old school hip hop and spoken word interludes. I had acquired a copy of the Firesign Theatre’s Everything You Know is Wrong album and eagerly added some passages in here and there to add to the usual Coldcut Word Treasure jingles. We kick off with the end of Matt’s mix, some early jungle, and I come in with a Digidub tune that was a regular spin back in the day.

Cue Coldcut’s ‘More Beats’ on 45rpm then switched down to 33 for a tempo change before the underrated and overshadowed (by UNKLE on the A side) Howie B vs Major Force ‘Martian Economics’ – a fab slice or early trip hop if ever there was one. I loved that 12”, to me it embodied everything I wanted from ‘trip hop’ – dusty drums, weird electronics, samples and spoken world with a sci-fi touch. M.S.P. stood for Manic Street Preachers and the track ‘Faster’ was taken from a ‘promo’ 12” named Done & Dusted, featuring versions of MSP tracks made over by The Dust Brothers before they had to change their name to the Chemical variety of siblings. This was early big beat colliding with rock – as the Chems would perfect later, more electro than trip hop but still coming from similar sources, very exciting at the time – no idea if I still have it in the collection.

Kraftwerk cycle into the mix with ‘Tour de France’ – never ages – before an ambient breakdown I can’t identify and a clip of Matt Black’s dad reading a text called ‘The Ninth World’. There was an ad break here, or the tape ended but we proceed with Air Liquide’s ‘ The Increased Difficulty of Concentration’ and into Two Sandwiches Short of a Lunchbox which was Andrea Parker and David Morley on the Apollo label, an ambient subsidiary of R&S records. Weirdly I’ve just designed an LP sleeve for David for De:tuned records, how odd the way things circle back? The Dust Brothers are back with ‘Dust Up Beats’ from their My Mercury Mouth EP, I was obviously smitten and hoovering up everything I could find by them (which was probably less than 5 releases at the time including remixes). We slip into a couple of old hip hop classics, evidently played directly from Street Sounds Electro 4 by the sound of it as the two mix into each other exactly the same. I still think D.St’s mix of Herbie Hancock is one of the greatest mega mixes of all time, he obviously had access to the studio tapes and a proper studio to do it in but it’s a superb creation.

A brief blast of the Firesign Theatre before a track I’d forgotten all about, GTO’s ‘Dub Killer’ from their Data Trax vol.1 12” – a great example of odd little B side experiments that would turn up on dance singles around this time, very Renegade Soundwave / trip hop-sounding. Autechre’s ‘Teartear’ from Amber is up next, a track I still play out occasionally with its tempo switch down. Sheila Chandra was a big element of my ambient sets a couple of years earlier after I found a clutch of her LPs in Cheapo Cheapo’s in Soho. Her ‘Mecca’ track from the Roots & Wings album is a bit out of tune here but mercifully not for long. Tori Amos’s ‘God’ appeared in a variety of mixes including three from Carl Craig but my favourite was by The Joy – possibly their only remix work aside for one for D:REAM – and a 12 minute+ epic. Looking them up I found they were fond of long tracks with two mixes of their debut, ‘Shine’, clocking in at 27 minutes each(!). Denise Johnson was part of the group and they did work with her later, it’s very much in that post-ambient / baggy / Screamadelica / long Sabres of Paradise remix mode that was the thing around then.

Encoded tapes
Only one more entry until we hit the magic 200 mark and this series comes to an end. I probably have less than 10 tapes left and not all of them are going to be uploaded as I don’t want to go over the 200 mark at the moment. I also have drawers full of encoded cassettes I don’t want/need now so if anyone wants to make me an offer to take custody of them then feel free. I’m trying to clear things out that have been with me for decades that I don’t need.

Track list:
Coldcut – Solid Steel intro
L.S. Diezel & Launch Dat – Rougher Than A Lion
Coldcut – More Beats (on 45/33 rpm)
Howie B Vs. Major Force E.M.S. Orchestra – Martian Economics (Unified Plant Theory)
M.S.P. – Faster (7-11 Dub)
Kraftwerk – Tour de France
Matt’s Dad – The Ninth World
Air Liquide – The Increased Difficulty of Concentration
Two Sandwiches Short of a Lunchbox – Too Good To be Strange
The Dust Brothers – Dust-Up-Beats
Pumpkin & The Profile All-Stars – Here Comes That Beat!
Herbie Hancock – Megamix
The Firesign Theatre – Everything You Know Is Wrong!
GTO – Dub Killer
Autechre – Teartear
Sheila Chandra – Mecca
Tori Amos – God (The Dharma Kaya mix)

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