The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Semi-Chaotic Elements: Ekoplekz' Favourite Albums
The Quietus , June 4th, 2015 11:11

With his third album on Planet Mu out, Nick Edwards gives us an in-depth trawl through his top 13 LPs, a Baker's Dozen that scans his formative 90s electronica influences and acts as a "reference point" to Reflekzionz


Various artists - Platinum Breakz
I like to think I kept abreast of what was happening in the so-called 'hardcore continuum', but admittedly from a very safe distance. Generally I would buy cassette compilations and mixtapes to listen to in the car. Looking back I can see there was a line of progression from Breaks, Bass & Bleeps, to the Darkside and Jungle Tekno compilation series, and moving into the 'artcore' period by the middle of the decade. There were some really good attempts to translate to an album-orientated medium, in particular A Guy Called Gerald's Black Secret Technology and the one-off album 4 Hero made as Jacob's Optical Stairway were firm favourites. Omni Trio, Foul Play and Spring Heeled Jack were others who I recall impressing me with long-players at the time. Goldie made some amazing music but his albums were a bit overlong and very flawed in places. I remember going to see him play live at the Anson Rooms in Bristol around that time. It was interesting to observe him and his group bravely trying to push the music into a live format but I don't think it really worked. The opening DJ set by Kemistry & Storm felt far more representative of what the D&B scene was really about.

There were a lot of label showcase compilations, of which the first Goldie-curated Platinum Breakz still stands out as a very special collection for me. I bought it on double-cassette, which had loads more tracks than the vinyl edition, and those two owned the tape player in my car for ages. Tracks like 'Your Sound' by J Majik and Dillinja's Blade Runner-sampling 'The Angels Fell' were massive tunes, often requiring a quick cassette rewind! In fact I would say Dillinja's production methods were pretty influential on me. He didn't just chop breaks up, he would mangle them with filters and generally sounded a lot more dark and nasty than, say, Lemon D or Peshay. Listening to something like 'Armoured D' now still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. And I think perhaps the deliberate misspelling of Metalheadz and Breakz had some influence on my obsession with the letters 'k' and 'z', though that might also be attributable to my Polish ancestry - my mum's maiden name was Szlazak.

I did keep an ear to the ground on the local D&B scene and I was into the early Full Cycle stuff. The first Music Box compilation was another mainstay of my little collection of car cassettes, but by the time Roni Size won the Mercury Prize I was already a bit bored with it all. The funny thing is, several of my mates had been to school with Roni and I remember a few years earlier my mate Gary writing Roni's phone number on the back of a fag packet and telling me I should call him because he reckoned we would have a lot in common (I was dabbling with breakbeats and samples myself at the time), but of course I never bothered. But if I had, who knows what might have eventually happened? I lost interest in the whole 'nuum thing during the UK garage and 2-step period; it just didn't seem to do anything for me. I didn't pick up the thread again until grime and dubstep in the following decade, when things got a bit more dark and dubby.