Angus Finlayson’s Minor Science project saw its finest moment to date on a sophomore 12″ for the Nic Tasker-helmed label, Whities. Where splintered rhythms coalesce with day-glo synths on his first proper release, last year’s decidedly UK-centric 2-tracker paired the same luminescent palette with bass-heavy mutations akin to the finest experimental byproducts of the dubstep diaspora, a particularly fertile period for British electronic music spearheaded by labels like Hessle Audio and Hemlock. With that in mind, it’s hardly surprising to hear that Hessle co-founder Ben UFO played a role in championing the earliest Minor Science releases.
Back on Whities once again, the latest effort follows a similar formula, paving the way for Finlayson to pick out a few favourites from a genre that has always proved popular on British soil: breakbeat. It also coincides with his appearance at No Bounds Festival, a brand new event that will see the likes of Jeff Mills, DJ Stingray, Terre Thaemlitz, Laurel Halo and Rashad Becker converge on a number venues around Sheffield.
1. DJ Xanax – Untitled (Gone Mix)
Like most great British inventions, the breakbeat is something we stole. Maybe that’s what makes it so hardy: it was already a rip-off in the early ‘90s, when rave kids started sampling the sampled funk breaks off US hip-hop records for their budget techno tracks, and so the endless reprisals and revisions since are completely in the spirit of the thing. This practice isn’t restricted to UK producers, either: DJ Xanax lives in New York, and this wicked riff on mid-‘90s jungle paranoia is a recent fave.
2. Daniel Avery – Taste (Paul Woolford’s Special Request Remix)
It’s hard to talk about breakbeats in the ‘10s without mentioning Paul Woolford’s Special Request. The project seems to get more ambitious by the year, but this remix from its early days sticks with a simple proposition: angular UK bass shapes with a dash of ‘90s ruffness. Love it.
3. Pearson sound – Quivver
When Pearson Sound uses breakbeats it often sounds like he’s a scientist poking at an exotic specimen in the lab. I’m thinking, in particular, of ‘Change For Me’ (back when he was Ramadanman) and this strange monster which, as the title suggests, isn’t funky so much as twitchy. A list of PS’ greatest hits would be very long, but this one’s up there.
4. 2 Bad Mice – Limit of Paradise
I don’t think it’s controversial to say that when old legends revisit their signature sound 20 years later it rarely goes well. Which makes this track from breakbeat hardcore legends 2 Bad Mice all the more surprising. The drop at 1:30 never fails to get a reaction.
5. The Maghreban – Wrong Move
The Maghreban migrated into dance music from hip-hop, thereby closing the breakbeat’s historical circle. There’s something blunt and obnoxious about his use of breaks which I love.
6. Lanark Artefax – Touch Absence (Intimidating Stillness Mix)
There’s a similar boom-and-clatter vibe here to the Maghreban track, but the effect is totally different. The main mix of ‘Touch Absence’ is an immortal floaty banger but this dubplate version deserves shine too.
7. Marco Zenker – Motion
Ilian Tape is another key node for contemporary breakbeats. I think of them as apostles of Shed, spreading the ‘90s UK hardcore gospel to the techno masses. My favourite tracks of theirs have a nostalgic spin — see Andrea’s recent ‘Blew’, or this wistful gem from Marco Zenker.
8. Altered natives – Callaloo
Altered Natives had a hit back in the UK funky days with ‘Rass Out’, which had a live drummer kinda feel, and breakbeats pop up in the music he’s made since. ‘Callaloo’ is a favourite – it’s worth waiting for the divebombing bass.
9. Fizzy Veins – Kool Down
As far as I know this fun-in-the-sun breakbeat banger was only released on limited 7”. Some crimes are hard to forgive.
10. Dance – Ha
‘Ha’’s drum programming is to the ‘Funky Drummer’ break what the horse in Guernica is to an actual horse – recognisable but compellingly off. Mixdown’s a bit ropey too, but the energy’s mad. Bonus points for squeezing another memetic dance music sample in there too (clue’s in the title).
No Bounds Festival takes place in Sheffield from 13th–15th October – buy tickets and see the full programme here.
Photo courtesy of Kasia Zacharko.