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Revisit, Revise, Redo


With the re-emergence of the hardcore sound of the early 1990's permeating through modern bass music, Organic takes a look at the best of the bunch.

It has long been observed that music and culture moves in cycles, with certain motifs re-emerging every so often. Around 2002/ 2003, the hardcore sound of the early nineties reared it’s breakbeat head with the original tracks of yesteryear seeing a resurgence in popularity a generation of ravers on. Now in 2013 we see that original hardcore sound return. This time with a twist.

Today’s re-interpretation, rather than rehashing the original formats, instead reinvents them with the gloss of new technology and less rudimentary techniques. Whenever there is a collective revival of a long established and often defunct sound, the question needs to be asked; Is it still relevant? And maybe more importantly, is this approach still creative or simply mimicry?

The truth is that dependent on your opinion, it can go either way!

Let’s take a look at Paul Woolford’s “Special Request” project. At this point I will say that before actually hearing any of the music, I was really turned off by the premise of the project. What Woolford describes as “false memories” to my mind described recreating the hardcore sounds of 1992/ 1993 all under a moniker that used a namesake which hijacked the title of a classic Manix tune. It was probably that last bit that I found most sacrilegious…

Upon hearing the music, first the “Hardcore EP”, followed by the “Soul Music” LP, it was clear that Wolford’s recapturing on a sound is so much more. Allegedly transmitting the music on an FM signal before recording and re-sampling, Woolford’s work as Special Request manages to sound fresh and innovative while maintaining a tried, tested and well worn-in sound palette. There is the distinct flavour of hardcore; crunchy breaks, four to the floor thuds, reese, hoovers and mentasms. but this paradoxically sounds new.

Album track “Soundboy Killer” samples the elusive hardcore, gabba and techno MC Ribbz, stalwart of the underground and the narrator to a whole era of sound. To me this is the conscious sample choice of someone who is on top of the cultural references that give this project credence.

Elsewhere, Logos alongside Mumdance, Dusk + Blackdown and Rabit interpret reinvention in an altogether more cryptic manner. With the “Cold Mission” LP dropping in November, another reference to 4Hero/ Manix (Cold Mission being a less used alias).

Quoted as drawing influence from classic Metalheadz, paranoid jungle classics and early more angular grime, it all makes for a pretty tense concoction, and like Special Request is drenched in sounds that became synonymous with the bass genres of the 1990’s; Gunshots, rewinds, tubular bass synths emulating the playstation bottom end of grime and ras vocal samples. Taking a different direction to Special Request, “Cold Mission” is referencial in it’s sampling of Dillinja’s “Lion Heart”, Lenny D Ice’s “We I E” and Grooverider's “Sinister Remix”. Again like Woolford’s work pronouncing the echo of hardcore, jungle and original format drum & bass across modern bass music.

The drawing of parallels between grime and the more clinical sounds of mid nineties drum & bass is a view maybe only seen clearly with the passing of time since the prominence of each respective sound, but is certainly there.

Qualifying this recent revival and re-jig of the original hardcore sound is Manix AKA Marc Mac AKA one half of 4Hero. The creator of some of the most iconic tracks of the early years and together with Dego, the fathers of drum & bass. Manix has been revived for the “Living In The Past” LP. If that doesn’t qualify a resurgence in rave sound I’m not sure what does?

Unlike Special Request or Logos, Manix does not try to reinvent what was already created back in the day. "Living In The Past" picks up from where the early classics left off, straight up revivalism from one of the few artists qualified to do so.

Whistle crew, make some noise!