The one thing that Paul Rose, better known as Scuba, really doesn’t want you to do is to try and pin him down. His roots are in London’s dubstep scene, but he lives in the techno metropolis of Berlin. His music is located at some unspecified point between those two cities – bass heavy, sparse, full of atmosphere and with propulsive rhythms, but above all impossible to define. His label, Hotflush, is one of dubstep’s spiritual homes, with releases by Distance, Benga and Mount Kimbie, but it also has that hard-to-categorize quality Warp had in the ’90s. He is, in a word, a maverick.
No surprise, then, that his DJ-Kicks mix resists pigeon-holing. A mind-bending 32-track journey, it ranges from the doom-laden ambience of “HF029B2” by Sigha, to the stripped down squelches and bleeps of “Acid Battery” by Boddika and the muted keys of Jichael Mackson’s “Gedons.” It’s deep, a set that engages your mind as well as your feet. “It’s loosely based around the last couple of sets I’ve played at my club night, Sub:Stance, at Berghain in Berlin,” explains Rose. “It’s the last set of the night. It’s longer than the other sets. We tend to have lots of people playing for 90 minutes. But the last set is at least three hours or more, so you have more freedom. It’s really varied. You can play more or less anything and people will stay with you. That’s so special. A key thing I’ve been doing in those sets is starting off faster, say 138, and slowing down. It’s really gradual, slowing each tune down a little bit. The idea was to condense that three hour set into an hour. It drops about 12 bpm over the hour, from 136 to 124. Each tune is a little bit slower. I don’t like mixes that jump around, I prefer things to flow.”
“For me, “An We Drop” by Addision Groove is one of the key tracks,” explains Rose. “It’s a fusion of two things, that urban, UK kind of sound, and something more techno. It sums up what the mix and my music is about.” It’s also a DJ Kicks exclusive, alongside “CPX11” by Beaumont, “Let Me In” by Sigha, “Streetwalk” by Jon Convex, “Acid Battery” by Boddika and Scuba’s own “M.A.R.S.”. Rose also points to “The Breakup” by Braille as another pivotal track. The skippety beats, jazzy keys and soulful male vocal are a 2011 update of the garage scene on which he cut his teeth.
01) Sigha – HF029B2
02) Surgeon – The Power of Doubt
03) DBridge – For Tonight
04) Badawi – Lost Highway (Incyde remix)
05) Peverelist – Sun Dance
06) Until Silence – The Affair
07) Addison Groove – An We Drop [EXCLUSIVE]
08) Roska – Leapfrog
09) Trevino – Shorty
10) Beaumont – CPX11 [EXCLUSIVE]
11) Function – Two Ninety One
12) Braille – Breakup
13) Quest – Everybody in the Place
14) Sigha – Let Me In [EXCLUSIVE]
15) George FitzGerald – Shackled
16) Jon Convex – Streetwalk [EXCLUSIVE]
17) Mr Beatnick – Don’t Walk Away From My Love
18) Boddika – Acid Battery [EXCLUSIVE]
19) Marcel Dettmann – Captivate
20) Arkist – Rendez-Vous (SCB edit)
21) Locked Groove – Drowning
22) Recloose – Tecumseh
23) Sigha – Where I Come To Forget
24) Sex Worker – Rhythm of the Night
25) Scuba – M.A.R.S. [EXCLUSIVE]
26) Jichael Mackson – Gedons
27) Rivet – Running S
28) Recondite – Backbone
29) Ludovic Vendi – Mental Bright
30) Rivet – Slant
31) Scuba – Adrenalin
32) Sepalcure – Inside
Kode9’s grasp on the throat of bass music in 2010 is almost unparalleled. His trend setting record label, Hyperdub, is in its sixth year of viral contagion; he’s become a published author on the theory of sound abuse and sonic frequencies being used as weaponry in his book ‘Sonic Warfare’ and his production work has mutated from an almost simplistic marriage of beats and sine waves into a fusion of dancefloor Ebonics and discordant synths.
Becoming a figurehead of UK dance music hasn’t been a quick process, and Kode9’s single-mindedness has contributed in some way to his notoriety, but it’s simply his tireless work as a record label boss and A&R that has marked him out as one of the most powerful ears within the scene. Probably best known to the wider global audience as the label that gave birth to two genre defining albums from Burial, Hyperdub has become one of the most reliably testing labels out there. Just as likely to release a glut of two and a half minute beat sketches from American beat maker Samiyam or Zomby as sprawling house opuses from Brixton bass bin temptress Cooly G, the label is at the forefront of innovation and it’s something that he has infused into his volume of the DJ-KiCKS series.
“Very simply, [the mix is] just a snapshot of my DJ sets at the first half of 2010,” he says calmly. “It’s definitely not an exploration of my musical heritage, but it’s not all new stuff. It probably signifies something about my relationship to dubstep that the mix only has a few dubstep tunes in it, and is instead a mix of UK funky, broken beat, dubstep, grime and some R&B. Unfortunately, I fear some listeners, because of my background, will think that all the tracks are just mutations of dubstep.”
Starting off in serene fashion with Nottingham producer Lone’s upbeat exploration of steel drum snatches on ‘Once In A While’, Kode9 dives into the percussive textures of Dutch producer Aardvarck before steering the mix into a duo of his own productions: ‘Blood Orange’ and the specifically tailored exclusive single, ‘You Don’t Wash (dub) (DJ-KiCKS)’. Jumping off from this point into a journey through current UK funky, Kode9 aligns tracks from Hyperdub artists Cooly G and Ikonika with works by Ill Blu, Sticky, Grievous Angel, Mr Majika, Ikonika and Scratcha DVA, sampling the textures and suitably brutal drum patterns that regularly inject London’s dancefloors with such a sustained level of energy.
“I find the whole mix pretty danceable in different ways. Some of the stuff is around 8 or 9 years old like the Aaardvark tune ‘Revo’ which Martyn introduced me to last year,” he notes; “And in the early 2000s, I was a big fan of Nubian Mindz as well so it was great to dig up that remix of his for the mix as I feel rhythmically things have swung back round to some of that broken techno stuff, with all its scattered snares, bent synths and maximalist percussion. Also that Maddslinky tune ‘Cargo’ is an oldie, but I’ve basically been playing it in practically every set over the last couple of years. The first time I heard that tune played at FWD>> at Plastic People I remember it was like someone had suddenly let the sunshine into this dark basement…”
The tracklisting is mostly, but not all London-centric, featuring a selection of big booming riffs and asymmetic percussion possessed by a guttural sense of forcefulness. “Cooly G’s ‘Phat Si’ really is one of those tracks for me; it’s just a timeless, mean, deadly roller and is effortlessly a Hyperdub classic. Producers like Lone and Zomby definitely have a magic touch and Mala, for me is like a tropical island in an ocean of dubstep sewage.”
On this mix Kode9 surfs through those artists and productions that sideswipe you in an unexpected moment of surrealist realisation. Whether it’s being brought by a track bringing the sunshine carnival vibe to a Shoreditch basement or by the sheer level of production and temperament that a producer pours into each of their tracks. Veering from the taught and poignant snare snap of Morgan Zarate’s ‘M.A.B.’ he flips from the troubled soul of Rozzi Daime’s falsetto on ‘Dirty Illusions’ to the bruised rhythm of JDaVeY and on into the advanced rhythm science of Terror Danjah and Headhunter’s breakout 808 anthem under his Addison Groove alias, ‘Footcrab,’ distilling some of the more powerful strains of modern UK dance music culminating in the big moody tombstone of The Bug & Flo Dan’s ‘Run’.
“I love the sour R&B tracks of Rozzie Dame and Jay Davey in the middle. If only more pop music sounded like that…” he notes tangentially. “The first and second halves [of the mix] are pretty typical … read more...