Pearsall’s techstep classics mix

by on June 19, 2013 in Mixes

Following a tipoff I came to this mix from Pearsall yesterday evening – and it’s worth a listen this afternoon if you fancy a dose of 90’s techstep – in my view, a currently maligned genre.

It’s bookended with a couple of tunes which remind me of recent nights at Rupture (the only Jungle/DnB night I unfailingly attend). A few months ago I had the pleasure of watching Source Direct open their set at Corsica Studios, as Pearsall does, with The Crane (a highlight of the evening) and just this weekend Paradox rinsed out a live set including A Certain Sound which finishes this mix.

In between you’ve a range of familiar classics – Mutant Revisited, Silver Blade, Peshay’s VIP Rollers mix of Jah – plus a few I haven’t heard in a while such as Dom’s You’re Something Else and The Specialist’s Deep & Rolling.

Pearsall adds a fairly extensive note explaining that the mix is a re-recorded variation on one originally recorded in 2005, including a passage from Simon Reynolds on the sub-genre. Although none of these tunes were new at the time, it does seem that the legendary quality of some of them has solidified. His comments that this music originally sounded “like the future” hold just as true now, and yet I’ve heard DJs such as Blu Mar Ten drop Dillinja tracks from this period and get just as big a reaction as to newer material.

Some of these tunes are miles away from the monotone kick-snare-midrange roar of much modern DnB in terms of texture and complexity, and to my ears bring a wider emotive range than simpler reggae influenced jungle, garage and hardcore tunes which have been eulogised by the recent crop of post-dubstep-nomenclature DJs, albeit a uniformly moody one.

Simon Reynolds gives a brief, mostly positive summary in his book Energy Flash, but describes the beats as “dirge-like death-funk”, and yet I hear endless beauty in these breaks.

The term was coined by DJ-producers Ed Rush and Trace, who shaped the sound in tandem with engineer Nico of the No U-Turn label. The ‘tech’ stood not for Detroit techno, dreamy and elegant, but for the brilliant brutalist Belgian hardcore of the early nineties. Paying homage to R&S classics like ‘Dominator’ and ‘Mentasm’, to artists like T99 and Frank de Wulf, Trace and Ed Rush deliberately affirmed a crucial white European element that had been written out of jungle’s history …

The sub groove at 15 minutes from Peshay’s On The War Path is as sexy as any dancehall groove, especially coming in after a particularly vicious amen. Basslines alternate between 808 hits and reeses, at the time astonishingly twisted, which now seem somewhat simplistic by modern production standards, yet in combination with the timestretched pads produces a slick, stealthy dystopic vibe. The beats vary between Paradox-level choppage and more stripped stepping beats, and some of the mixes are a little wavy. It’s a flowing, thudding tribute to an era before )EIB(‘s dominance took a hold of the scene.

And frankly, do you really need an excuse to listen to the drop in Silver Blade again? No. No you don’t.

Pearsall presents Orange Dawn
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01. Source Direct – The Crane [Source Direct]
02. J Majik – Arabian Nights [Metalheadz]
03. E-Z Rollers – Synesthesia [Moving Shadow]
04. Goldie – Jah (Peshay VIP Rollers Remix) [Razor’s Edge]
05. Dom & Roland – You’re Something Else [Moving Shadow]
06. Peshay – On The War Path [Street Beats]
07. Dillinja – In The Mood [Mo’ Wax]
08. Rufige Kru – Dark Metal [Metalheadz]
09. Trace & Nico – Squadron [No U-Turn Limited]
10. DJ Trace – Mutant Revisited [Emotif]
11. Ed Rush – The Raven [Metalheadz]
12. Nemesis feat. DJ Kane – System [Renegade Hardware]
13. Dom & Matrix – The Vandal [Moving Shadow]
14. Nasty Habits – 4 Da Cause [Reinforced]
15. The Specialist – Deep & Rolling [Dread]
16. Origin Unknown – Truly One Remix [Ram]
17. Dillinja – Silver Blade [Prototype]
18. Dom & Roland – Hydrolicks [Moving Shadow]
19. Dylan – Desolation [Droppin’ Science]
20. Paradox – A Certain Sound [Renegade Hardware]