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Echoing Through Time. The Universal Horn...

Article
Alexander Foy

Remixing a classic is no joke. If an artist is willing to take it on, they put at stake their name and reputation. Drum & Bass power house Sicknote has done just that. Dis one a remix.

JMJ & Richie’s ‘Universal Horn’ is one of 1995’s true masterclasses in intelligent Drum & Bass. Absolutely hammered by Fabio and LTJ Bukem up and down the land back in the day, it has stood the test of time and is a bonafide classic that must be considered a forerunner for what later became Liquid Drum & Bass. Released on seminal imprint Moving Shadow ‘Universal Horn’ is a key moment in an exceptional back catalogue.

Recently, while catching up with Lewis Joyce - one third of production outfit G.H.O.S.T and releasing solo productions as Sicknote, he let slip that he had remixed ‘Universal Horn’. I had to hear it. Anyone who is familiar with Lewis’ work or his Rude FM show will now that he is a walking testament to the genre, with a deeply revered knowledge and a passion that is only matched to the richness of the music. Lewis continued to tell me how he approached the task, employing techniques and the equipment that would pay homage to the original and respectfully honour the track. Lewis tells us more.

Reasons/Philosophy

My main reason to remix ‘Universal Horn’ was because I wanted to challenge my self and try and update a classic and this is one of my favorites from the Moving Shadow back cat so I thought I would give it ago more for fun than anything else. It was also for my own personal use so I could play it out at gigs or on the radio and would be something no one else has. It is hard to remix a tune like this and give it justice and is generally something you will get slated for so again another reason just to do it for fun. I also chose this track as it has already been remixed twice already. By J Majik on the remix 10” and then the Flytronix remix on the ‘Storm From The East’ LP, so I wouldn’t be the first remix.

I had set myself three guidelines/ goals before going in on the remix:

1. To not just sample the sounds of the original record if possible, I wanted to source the original samples they had used and rebuild the track from scratch.
2. To combine some old and new techniques when making the track, I wanted to use as much of my hardware as possible as well as using in the box processing.
3. Stick as true as I can to the original track in terms of structure and overall atmosphere and vibe.



Sourcing Samples

As mentioned above I wanted to source the original source samples instead of sampling straight off the record, so I searched the internet on the obvious sites: Discogs and Who Sampled etc. Drum breaks where quite obvious, the Apache, Think and the Cold Sweat breaks were used in this track originally and I wanted to use at least one or all of those breaks in the tune (the Apache break gets me every time).

The horn and vocal samples I managed to find through the info available on Discogs and in fact the horn is not originally a horn sample at all! The only part I had to sample from the record was the Rhodes/pad sound from the intro and I used a Rhodes sample along with shorter versions of the sampled pad sound to play the stabs on the break down. This track really shows how good source samples and using them in a clever way really can make a track. All the plugins and hardware will be nothing without those source samples.

We've made Sicknote's 'Universal Horn' remix available to download for free below on Soundcloud, but be warned! We have limited it strictly to 100 downloads, so once it's gone, it's gone!

https://soundcloud.com/sicky
https://soundcloud.com/originalghostmaterial