Mixcloud Select 199: Coldcut Solid Sphinx Strictly section 25/11/1994

MS199 Tape
As I’ve said before in these missives, a Solid Sphinx was an ad-free, minimal chat mix for two hours. The upside being that both we and the listeners could dive in and really immerse ourselves into the music without interruption between 1-3am. The downside is now evident when listening back and trying to identify the songs contained within as there were no track backs to let people know what was played. The old memory is unreliable three decades later and Shazam can’t identify everything you throw at it and so the track list for this upload is far from complete. Once again I implore anyone with a better recall to fill in the blanks here as I’m struggling although a couple are annoyingly familiar.

This show was at the tale end of 1994 and, to my trained ear, features all four of us in the original two hour rub. Kickstarted by PC, then I, Matt and finally Jon each took approx 30 minutes to mix and match whatever we had been feeling that week. This is just my section and I will forewarn you, it gets pretty nasty in places, certainly not a chill out half hour, you can almost feel the testosterone dripping from the speakers. Unknown DnB track 1 – no idea – in fact it may not even have come from my box, the lines are blurred as to where and when each of us end and begin but the second track, Caustic Visions, is definitely me. One of the group – I think his name was Tim possibly? – visited Ambient Soho one day brandishing their new single (actually Caustic Visions 2) and a brace of very well-designed promo posters. I was immediately taken with them and the disc was a fresh-sounding mix of acid, Gabber and industrial noise with a clear nod to Aphex Twin in both style and title (Caustic Window being one of his aliases). Always looking for the latest thing, I jumped on it and kept in touch, collecting several of their other releases, some of which were on Industrial Strength, the US hardcore techno label run by Lenny Dee. At one point I was convinced that Gabber would be the next thing to blow up but it never really caught on in the UK to the extent it did in Europe.

Anyway, I really liked what CV did and kept an eye on them for the few years that they were active as they always seemed to be occupying their own corner of the techno world. Three unidentifiable tracks follow; a rattle-y Amen-led DnB breakfest that seems to pre-figure Plug and Squarepusher with those rapid-fire machine gun edits and another that stops and starts like a scratch DJ who can’t keep their finger off the turntable stop button. Bridging the two is a wall of looping 8-bit noise that was also by Caustic Visions but the two DnB tracks show off my love of highly-detailed drum cut up programming before DJ Crystl’s classic ‘Let It Roll’ arrives to calm the waters somewhat. Crystl was originally the DJ with UK rap group The Brotherhood under the name of DJ Pump Action but left to pursue a DnB career before they achieved commercial success. ‘Let It Roll’ was a fresh sound at the time, even though the genre was still in its infancy. Racing in at what almost seems like double time is another unknown tune, and I’m barely keeping it in time at points before the actual track breaks down itself and shudders to a stop.

Mark Van Hoen’s Locust project was a big favourite back then, he didn’t and still doesn’t sound like anyone else and there were a lot of Aphex copyists around in the early 90s. You stood out by being original and having your own sound. With his spindly IDM and Designers Republic-designed sleeves he should have been on Warp by all accounts but wound up on the next best thing, R&S. I’d forgotten the next classic; this got a LOT of play at the time, a Sabres of Paradise remix of the Wolfgang Press of all people! They did two of which this was the second and I’m mixing the extended percussion breakdown of ‘Trans Europe Express’ over the middle of it for some time. The last track was a frustrating head scratcher until I ran across it by complete chance whilst researching something else just yesterday. Coming on like a slower version of Soul Coughing’s ‘Super Bon Bon’ (the Propellerheads remix – they must have used the same break) – it was local group Camberwell Butterflies with a track entitled ‘Gloop’ from their sole release on The Chill Out Label.

Next week is upload 200 and I’ve still not decided what it will be… with that I bring this round of Mixcloud Select weekly uploads to an end after 4+ years of almost weekly activity. The CDrs are done, as are the DATs and there are just a handful of tapes left. My third show for ROVR radio debut’s today at 2pm worldwide with two hours of new music and a sprinkling of oldies or obscurities. Tune in at 2pm wherever you are in the world

Track list:
Unknown DnB 1 – unknown
Caustic Visions – Contortion
Unknown DnB 2 – unknown
Caustic Visions – Virex
Unknown DnB 3 – unknown
DJ Crystl – Let It Roll
Unknown – Unknown
Locust – Good God
The Wolfgang Press – 11 Years (Sabres Main Mix 2)
Kraftwerk – Trans Europe Express
Camberwell Butterflies – Gloop

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