From 97-03 Stakka and Skynet’s Audio Blueprint label took the Tech Step sound of drum & bass and infused it with faster skittering drums, arcing b-lines and a little Techno magic to create what ended up being the blueprint for Neurofunk. While Nuero ended up becoming a formulaic dead-end in a lot of respects by the end of the 2000s, the pioneering sounds of Audio Blueprint at the time was fresh and exciting.
Audio Blueprint ended up with an enviable stable of producers such as Psion, Arcane, Kemal & Rob Data, Skinny & Lynx and the mighty Gridlock. Many of these went on to have long and respected careers in D&B, but it was Stakka & Skynet themselves who really blazed the trail for the sound. Audio Blueprint (and its sister label Underfire Records) were unique with a sound that is seeing a revival today as new artists look back to what truly ended up being an Audio Blueprint for tech-infused D&B.
Some of the first Tech Step tunes I got into were on compilations such as Sound of the Underground Record’s – Nu Skool Flava and Emotif Recordings’ – Tech Steppin. These were dark moody tunes full of Hip Hop samples and hard beats. While they weren’t the best tunes in terms of sound production, for raw energy and intent they still hold up today as some of the most upfront D&B tunes ever written.
This mix is dedication to SOUR, Emotif, Prototype and all the other labels who pushed the sounds of Elementz of Noize, Ed Rush, Trace, Ray Keith and all the other pioneers of the Tech Step sound that went on to influence D&B for decades afterwards.
DJ Trace – Mutant Revisited Elementz of Noize – Hit The Deck Dylan – Witchcraft Shapeshifter – Talkin’ Mad Shit Skyscraper – Liberty One DJ Kane – The Way It Goes Down Elementz of Noize – Mars Needs Women DJ Trace – Jeamland ’96 Ray Keith – D4 Toxic Waste (Elementz of Noize Remix) Skyscraper – The Difference Click N’ Cycle – Trippin’ Tonic Remix (Tonic’s Re-Animated Mix) TC Islam & The Alien 3 – Let The Bass Boom T.Power – Amber (Shy FX Extended Version) DJ Trace – Mid Town (Level II) Ray Keith – D4 Toxic Waste B.L.I.M. – Onza Shapeshifter – Communicate With The World Shapeshifter – Mass Hysteria Freq Nasty -The Shadow Microburst – Punkmutha
Step in the 90s was all about rugged and raw beats and bass smashing through the speakers. But is also had it’s lesser know deeper and moodier sound that was being pushed by pioneers like Tonic, T-Power and to a lesser degree Ed Rush.
This was Tech Step with long, creeping b-lines and beats that had the odd high passed Amen threaded through it to give a more atmospheric take on the 2-step machine music.
Some of these tunes are my all time favourites from an era that was full of incredible Tech Step based D&B. From Tonic’s Renegade and Outcast, to B.L.I.M.’s Their Culture, to Purple Kola’s menacing The Thing — this is 90’s Tech Step done right.
Tonic – Renegade Doc Scott – Machines Genetic – Implants T-Power – 33rd Parallel Tonic – Outcast The Anger – Footlose Tonic – Renegade Phazed Ed Rush – Check Me Out B.L.I.M. – Their Culture Rescale – The Vision Urbanites – Transend Purple Kola – The Thing T-Power – Symbiosis DJ Nomad Vs. DaHeadbanger – Lord of the Rings
Part two of a series focusing on classic 2-Step and Techstep tracks from back in the day. This time we’re heading into the late 90s early 00s sound with such luminaries as Boymerang, Reprezent, Nasty Habits, Ed Rush & Nico, Jonny L and more!
This really is a who’s who of the turn of the millennium 2-step sound. This mix is designed to keep you bouncing around the house until it’s safe to go outside again. Enjoy!
Boymerang – Soul Beat Runner Ink – Ice Age Outfit – New York Dillinja – Hard Noise The JB – Say What (The Blind Man) Reprezent – Share the Fall (Grooverider’s Jeep Style Mix) Phobia – Clean Break Scorpio – Trouble DJ Krust – Warhead Nasty Habits – Prototyped Ed Rush & Nico – The Force is Electric Ed Rush & Nico – What’s Up (Alternative Mix) Desired State – Invasion Jonny L – Moving Thru Air Future Forces Inc. – Point of Origin Technical Itch – The Dreamer (Future Forces Remix) Flatliner & DJ Freedom – Deeper Levels (Remix) Marcus Intalex & ST Files – How You Make Me Feel
In 1995 when Alex Reece released Pulp Fiction and the D&B world lost it’s collective shit about the step beat in and pulsing bass in the track I just thought it sounded plodding and boring compared to the repecharge beats of the Amen break. When it spawned a million copycat tracks and then it’s own genre I thought the music had taken a huge step (excuse the pun) backwards.
Fast forward to 2005 and D&B had seriously run out of ideas and was looking for a sound to excite me again. Pouring over the back catalogue I started listening to all those old Tech Step tracks and the penny finally dropped a full 10 years later. Ever since I’ve made sure I pick up any old Steppers I come across knowing one day I’d come back to mix them and that time is now!
This is a who’s who of Tech Step classics. No point in calling out high lights as every track in here is there because they shaped a genre that turned out to be one of D&B’s best and most unique sounds. With new listeners currently drooling over Jungle as THE sound of D&B, it is only a matter of time before it takes another giant leap into the sounds of Step.
Gang Related & Mask – Dictation (Michael Caine Mix) Ed Rush, Optical & Fierce – Cutslo (Locuste Remix) Ray Keith – D4 Toxic Waste (Elementz of Noize Remix) Capone – Tudor Rose Dillinja – Go Dillinja Photek – Baltimore Jonny L – Wish U Had Something (Remix) John B – Secrets Nasty Habits – Shadow Boxing Genotype – The Germ Atom 1 – Imminent Adam F – Metropolis Dillinja – The Angels Fell Boymerang – Still Tonic – Delta DJ SS – Lost iN New York Dieselboy – The Descent Dom & Roland – Dance All Night Jonny L – Piper Fortran – The End Part II (feat. Fierce) Ed Rush & Nico – August (Unreleased VIP Mix) Ed Rush – The Raven
Everyone loves a roller, and no era did rollers quite like the start of the millennium. Stakka, Ed Rush & Optical, Matrix, and J Majik were smashing out big funky b-lines with those rolling techy beats that sent the floor crazy. Metro Recordings were one of the BIG labels in the game at that time and to celebrate the re-releasing of their classic tunes onto digital I thought I’d put together a mix that, for me, summed up the times and that awesome rolling sound.
Optical – The Shining
Klute – Unwind Yourself
Ed Rush & Optical – Fastlane
Stakka & Skynet – So Confused feat. K.Tee
Matrix & Danny J – Paradiso
Matrix & Danny J – Vertigo
Ed Rush & Optical – Reach Out
J Majik – Solarize (Optical Remix)
Ed Rush & Optical – Kerbcrawler
John B – Up All Night (Epic Remix)
High Contrast – Music Is Everything (Influx Datum Remix)
Matrix Vs. Goldtrix – It’s Love (Trippin’)
Pressure Rise – Focus
Hatrias vs J Majik – Spaced Invader
Elementz of Noize are one of those under-rated outfits that slips under the radar mainly due to the fact that they were good at just about every genre they tried there hand at. Alan Clark & Justin Maughan started out making Intelligent drops like the amazing ‘Astral’ and ‘Yes’ in 1995. But as things started turning to the dark side they released a load of classic Tech Step barn stormers on SOUR Recordings. Tunes like ‘Communicate With The World’, ‘Talking Mad Shit’ and thier biggest hit ‘Hit Tha Deck’ were monster Tech Steppers that threw out the subtlety of Ed Rush and replaced it with bitchslapping beats and cavernous b-lines to make dancefloor damage.
After the Tech Step sound died out they moved to Emotiv and had a few releases on Fuze Recordings. Their new sound was still Tech based but had a more stipped back Stepper rhythm. Then in 2002 they returned to their melodic roots with the killer 12″ of ‘Clock/Guided by Lights’, showing that a tune could be musical and still hard as nails. Although they haven’t released much since this time, their legacy is still one of a back catalogue very few misses and a shed load of hits.
Elementz Of Noize – Yes
Elementz Of Noize – Astral
Elementz Of Noize – Trrriple
Elementz Of Noize – Stick Up
Elementz Of Noize – Neon (Ray Keith Remix)
Elementz Of Noize – Flexiwidatek
Elementz Of Noize – Science
Micro-Burst – Punkmutha
Shapeshifter – Communicate With The World
Shapeshifter – Mass Hysteria
Elementz Of Noize – Hit Tha Deck
Shapeshifter – Talking Mad Shit
Ray Keith – D4 Toxic Waste (Elementz Of Noize Remix)
Elementz Of Noize – Cold Light of Day
Elementz Of Noize – Guided By Lights
Elementz Of Noize – Clock
This one is for Darklin who reminded me that this mix even existed and to Robotone for once again filling the holes in my archiving system.
This was a radio set I did in September 2005. Loads of classic Audio Blueprint, RAM, Liftin’ Spirit, Underfire and Skynet Tracks from those masters of hard techie funk Stakka, Skynet, Kraken, K-Tee, Spy, Profound Noise, plus a whole heap of others.
1998 was a pivotal year for drum & bass. Certain sounds like Tech Step and Jump Up were on the rise and other like the Intelligent and Rave/Hardcore sounds were dying out. What it did mean was that there were all sorts of experimentation taking place and some amazing tracks coming out.
In this mix I cross all sorts of genres from Jump Up & Tech Step through to early Neuro and Drum Funk and everything inbetween. Some of the tunes were big smashers back in the day, whilst others are hidden gems that time seems to have forgot.
But if you were around back in 1998, then this should make the memories come flooding back and put a smile on your face. And as always it is best played LOUD!
Exocet – Demon Seed
Ray Keith – D4 Toxic Waste (Elementz Of Noize Remix)
UTI – I’m Finished
Adam F – Brand Nu Funk
Test – Fluid
Paradox – Some Kind of Illusion
Kraken – Warped
Fortran – The End Part II
Photek – UFO (J Majik Remix)
T-Power – 33rd Parallel
Paradox – A Certain Sound
Gang Related & Mask – Dictation (Michael Caine Remix)’
DJ Zinc feat MC GQ – Bring the Danger
John B – Pressure
Ed Rush, Optical & Fierce – Cutslo (Lokuste Remix)
Pish Posh – Corrupt Cops
Jungle Bothers – Brain (Natural Born Chillers Remix)
Profound Noise – Soundscape (Remix)
Klute – In The Zone
Djork wanted me to put this old jungletrain set back up for the people. I couldn’t find it amongst my archives so big ups to Eric Digital who was able to point me towards a link from a German site that had a copy still up for download.
Deep, dark and brooding. That is the only way you can describe the Tech Step sound from 96-97. If you wanna know why Ed Rush and Trace are considered the legends they are today you gottah check out this set of pure 1996 Tech Step beats and bass. With support from Tonic AKA The Mac, Skyscraper and Dillinja this set goes to prove that tech step can be both beautiful & brutal all at the same time.
Tonic – Delta
Ed Rush – Autumn RMX
Tonic – Outcast
Ed Rush – Check Me Out
Cybernet vs Genetix – Program 3
Tonic – Renegade
Ed Rush – The Force is Electric
Ed Rush – West Side Sax
Cybotron (feat Dillinja) – Threshold
Ed Rush – Gun Check
Sureshot – Mindscape Pt1
BLIM – Jeamland (DJ Trace’s Word)
DJ Trace – Mid Town Method
Skyscraper – The Difference