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Where random ramblings run wild and radical journeys are stumbled upon, read the latest musings of a Digital Copywriter who isn't afraid of the dark...

Nothing grave about it

Live DnB at Hospitality, Leeds

Oohh… I do like a good rave. And I’m not just talking verbally. Yes, I love spinning out ‘The Helicopter Chop’ at all-night Drum and Bass gigs. You know – the one where your arms rotate at least 1000 times per millisecond which (surprisingly) clears a surrounding crowd radius of, well, the ENTIRE dance floor. Had you joined me at the most recent Hospitality gig in Leeds (serving up eight graveyard hours of bass-blasting bliss) you would’ve had the pleasure of witnessing this in its full sweaty glory.

What was that? You don’t know The Helicopter Chop? Oh. Where have you been. Note the lack of question marking. That’s because it wasn’t a question. That’s my utter despair at your knowledge inadequacy (sigh – there goes the cat’s contented purr. Again. In fact, I don’t even think the cat’s breathing at all. She’s snuffed it completely).

Now that you’re reading, we may as well carry on.  As you know, I love working the crowd into a fearful frenzy (or more likely, a mocking mob) with my rotary shapes, so you may be less surprised to hear about my verging-on-obsessive behaviour with Danny Byrd’s latest album, Rave Digger.

Danny Byrd's Rave Digger

Far from grave: Mr Byrd’s beats smash base.

Morning uplift, midday soul-snack, evening unwind, whatever you want to call my current nearest and dearest commuting companion (no crafting from bed for me on my current contract, groan), Rave Digger blasts through the line every time and has done ever since it was gifted to me on my recent 21st birthday. Uncanny how the years rewind, isn’t it?

Speaking of time travelling wonderment, this is where Mr Byrd’s latest concoction comes into play. As the album title suggests, classic 90s rave samples cheerfully sway through a heavy bassline, characteristically uplifted with hyperactive chirping and a tempo not even my rallying swerves can contend with.

In no particular order…

For some reason the first track of every album I seem to lay my hands on these days has me hooked and the opening Ill Behaviour storms on set without exception (just as Chase and Status’ fearless No problem throws their latest album into an eclectic <<I hate to use such a clichéd expression, but it’s very necessary>> bass-shunting frenzy that makes me go all wobbly at the ears. Please, don’t get me spinning). Yes, I’m a little uneasy about Ill Behaviour’s commercial resonance, but I’m not one to cut off my ear to spite my face (or whatever those nosey types do), so I’ll admit it fuels my propellers.

Skipped a beat.

It’s like fashion; I buy clothes because I like them, not because they’re clothes I should like.  Following the crowd for the sake of clambering onto the popularity wagon like a scared sheep isn’t going to govern my choice. It never will. And that’s the appeal of Drum and Bass. I know (even at my ‘tender’ age) that I shouldn’t really love it like I do. But do you know what? I just don’t care. I adore how DnB isn’t too fussed either. It’s arrogantly assertive. Yet it’s not too proud to roll-up an unlikely medley of influences. Its penetrating bassline and abrupt beats wave multi-fingered shapes at convention – in happy and sad times, it’s always relevant and never lack-lustre.

This is probably my biggest critique of Dubstep in its purest state. I get it, but in small doses because after a short while – unless it’s sliced into colourful chaos offering greater depths – hello Drumstep – it all becomes, well, a whirring bassline for the sake of noise, as opposed to a deliverance of conviction. Drum and Bass, on the other hand, provides substance – a journey to follow; an experience to burrow your mind within and siphon energy from.  (Just to clarify. This isn’t to say I’m not guilty of dipping into Shallowstep from time-to-time. Who isn’t? But for a short spell only, before I crave the solidity of DnB.)

Back on track.

Jumping back onto the giddy bass raving antics of Rave Digger and it’s hard to know which tune to celebrate first. And that’s just the point. All 11 tracks (+ the skit duo) pay homage to DnBs’ raving roots by resurrecting the electric energy of the 90s’ beaming face in the most celebratory fashion you can imagine.

Jubilant Judgement Day (feat Cyantific & I-Kay) ends with a bright flash fondly reminiscent of the dawn of Master (Roni) Size’s Out of Breath (one of the greatest DnB tracks of all-time – but that’s just my opinion), seamlessly winding up to the euphoric Tonight, which admittedly, does feature synthesised vocals that ever-so-slightly remind me of Cher when they they’re in full chorus (but that’s probably my over-active imagination). Despite its unfortunate connotations in my vivid mind bubble, Tonight boldly plummets and elevates the rave digging journey to deeper depths and higher levels. We Can Have It All continues to raise goose-bumps, with powerful vocals uplifting the voyage.

It’s at this point that Byrd (wisely) decides to calm the sugar rush, otherwise we’d all have euphoria overload, bringing the journey beautifully down to earth with Failsafe (feat the immense London Elektricity who devastated me by not showing up to Hospitality Leeds in February, but I’m not one to hold a grudge) which, along with the prodigal Planet Earth, is my favourite track of the album. Planet Earth really is a full-on rave that throws out every dance shape you can imagine, echoing The Prodigy’s iconic Out of Space. (Please forgive me for what I’m about to explode… I can’t hold it in… BOING-BOOM-TING!). Swiftly moving on, Quantum Leap lightens the sugar load once again, yet retains enough tempo to save it from leaping into oblivion before the closing two tracks cool the brow with a less polished, calmer, jungle-ish finish.

Skipped a skit.

The only track I do tend to skip is – again, the commercially-resonate – Sweet Harmony, because I really did flog that tune to death last year. But it certainly lives on. As for the two skits, I skip these too, not because they don’t deserve my attention in (near enough) equal measure – I just want to cut to the bass.

Numark 9 CD decks

Now who's up for a bit of Dolly Parton Vs Roni Size? Anyone...?

Loopy loops.

I tend to show quite addictive behaviour towards new tunes that strike a chord with me. I play them over and over… and over again. Much the same as repetitive beats spur me on (who can blame me for regressing back to our tribal roots; a place to seek refuge from the commercial humdrum of modern living), I get a kick out of testing tunes to see how long they can endure the relentless challenge. Considering it’s pounded my ears, in full, at least once a week since mid-March, Rave Digger’s faring pretty well, so far.

Spinning-off (I mean I could go on).

All this talk of musical hotness is really making me yearn for the days when I could scratch and tinkle on my Numark 9s, at best throwing out a spritely (cough, splutter) mix of Dolly Parton Vs Roni Size through super-sized (vintage) bass blasters. I really can’t think why, but for some reason my fiancé cruelly stripped these from my ludicrously talented clutches and sold them before I’d even had the chance to adorn them with a Korg Kaoss Pad. What a shame.

Now, as conciliation, who can tell me where to find a BA55Y BA6Y reg?

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