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


Renegade Soundwave - In Dub
Appropriate to kick-off with a group I first got into in the late 80s after I heard them played on John Peel. Back then I would listen to Peel's show primarily to hear new house and hip-hop imports, plus any weird experimental stuff (basically anything that wasn't crappy indie guitar music), but the first time I heard 'Kray Twins' just blew me away. Even though Gary [Asquith] had that naff American twang on his vocals you could still tell this was a British group doing something genuinely new and exciting with sampling. The way they mixed up hip-hop with dub bass and soundtrack elements was really unusual for the time, plus the lyrical subject matter was completely different to anything else around. Most hip-hop was just MCs boasting about how great they were, but Gary was talking about the Krays and the dark, seedy side of British life which I found far more interesting.

In Dub wasn't really a dub album, more of a remix project with some new tracks thrown in, but it totally worked as an instrumental electronic album in its own right. The opening track 'Thunder' is a monster tune, really heavy dub bass with the soundtrack-y strings. These guys and Meat Beat Manifesto were probably my biggest inspiration at that point, along with some of the European stuff, like The Young Gods, Front 242 and the Belgian hardcore sound, which was darker than the UK equivalent. I was into 808 State too, but not really into the rave scene in general. I never got involved with that whole 'loved-up' ecstasy thing and I've never liked big crowds!

RSW flirted on the outskirts of the dancefloor, but were way darker, and there was a sleazy, slightly sordid undercurrent about them, completely opposed to the sexless hedonism of the mainstream rave scene, which made them far more appealing to a person like me! Plus they were signed to Mute, which had sustained me throughout the 80s with so much great music, and that connected them to a lineage of experimental electronics going way back to the late 70s post-punk era.

The standout track for me is still 'Transworld Siren' on account of the piano sample, which can still send chills down my spine. It always seemed familiar to me, but I couldn't pinpoint where I'd heard it before. Then a few years later I discovered it was from John Barry's theme for The Persuaders. I have no recollection of watching that TV show, but my dad probably watched it when I was tiny, so I guess the theme music just subliminally crept into my little head and then, years later, RSW retriggered a dim memory with this track. So I guess it was the first time I experienced what might now be called the 'hauntological effect', where sounds trigger vague, unformed feelings of nostalgia for some lost period in your childhood. Deep.