A Bunch of Questions (Mojo’s Smoked Hammond Remix)

The following set of remixes was released last week on the Cold Busted, label including a remix by yours truly, which is my first officialy released remix. These are remixes of the Gramatik tune “A Bunch of Questions.” All feature funky, soulful interpretations of the original.

A Bunch of Questions Remixes

Interesting side note, my remix was featured on a Dutch radio show on station Radio 6. The blog with the podcast and track list can be found here.

What I’m working on in February

Time is such a precious commodity, and this month I’m really spread thin, so blog posting will stay relatively dry. However, I am working on some interesting stuff.

1. I am taking a software engineering class and have been chosen as an assistant Project Manager. There is a team of 18 student developers as well as myself and the Project Manager. We are tasked with re-engineering a web-based software life cycle project management tool. The main goal of the re-engineering is to ensure that it conforms to the MVC (Model – View – Controller) standard. At this point we are redesigning the architecture of the database so that it is a truly normalized, relational database. We will be using a PHP framework called Yii so we can auto-generate the basic (CRUD) front end code and Yii is automatically an MVC compliant framework. What makes this project challenging is that we need it to be flexible enough to accomodate various software life cycles (e.g. Waterfall, Agile, iterative, etc.) and it also needs to be recursive so that multiple iterations of an entire project, or multiple iterations of just a subset of phases of a project can be reflected. So, basically I have a lot on my plate with just this stuff.

2. I’m also taking an Expository Writing class and am working on a Term Paper detailing research work done in the field of BCI (Brain Computer Interfaces), which is at least peripherally related to some of the content I usually post about on this blog. At some point I think it would be really interesting to work on a brainwave controlled or BioFeedback based music interface (as suggested by my music technology professor at Cal State). When I can find the time, of course.

3. My friend Steve, creator of the BeatSeqr, has kindly loaned me one of his BeatSeqr’s. And I am trying to document and demonstrate it working in a Windows environment.

4. I just wrapped up another Remix competition. I didn’t win, but I believe the tune represents my best effort to date in terms of overall production quality. Here’s the track:

Lank & Inkfish feat. Yota – “Let It Roll” (Mojo Remix) by DJMojo

I am in the process of trying to finish another remix piece by the end of the month, and of course, I will continue to work on remix competitions as there are some really interesting ones on my radar coming up.

5. I am still trying to flesh out my oldskool techno wiki…

So, got a pretty full plate at the moment… and that’s not even mentioning anything about my day job.

Kinect Theremin!

Ken Moore has been working on theremin emulation for some time now. He developed a Wii remote based theremin, and was quite helpful to me as I was developing my AirDeck project, which was also a Wii based theremin emulation application. Now Ken has done it again. This time, with the Kinect motion detection device that is used with the Xbox 360. Perhaps, if I can find the time, I can work on something similar with the PlayStation Move, which I have, and then we will have effectively converted all three motion based video game systems into theremins. Check this out:

The Most Commonly Sampled Breakbeats – Techno Edition (Part 3)

My first post here in 2011 is a continuation of something I started late last year, which is a list of breakbeats commonly used in classic techno songs. Sorry for the delay, between the holidays and working on some music, this was the first opening I had to finish this. Hope the wait was worth it!

These last four breaks may not have been used as much as the first seven that were documented in part 1 and part 2, however they each deserve recognition in that they were used in several songs that were in heavy rotation during the golden era of oldskool techno. They are also all very distinguishable breaks; easy to spot once heard.

The Klymaxx Good Love Break

All girl 80s dance/R&B band Klymaxx brings us this funky break from their tune Good Love:

http://www.youtube.com/v/a2xWXYfvDWg

This loop was also used in a remix of Kariya – Let Me Love You For Tonight, but Klymaxx predates the Kariya track and so this is very likely the original source. This break is very distinctive and was featured in one of the most well-known techno classics of all time… Bombscare by 2 Bad Mice:

http://www.youtube.com/v/iQVv40_9NSo

You can also hear this beat in DJ Phantasy and DJ Gemini – Never Try the Hippodrome:

http://www.youtube.com/v/kkmqyItSXU4

As well as is in this rare, well sought white label by Schedule 3:

http://www.youtube.com/v/0Z-HpbtUDOM

The Apache Break

This version of Apache is actually a cover recorded by Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band, released in 1974 without much acclaim. In terms of hip hop and drum & bass, this epic break ranks up there with the Amen, the Funky Drummer and the Think break. I cannot mention this break without featuring this historic clip of Grandmaster Flash cutting up Apache on the wheels of steel:

http://www.youtube.com/v/C9aG3xc9IZw

Like many popular hip hop breaks, it also found its way into several popular techno and acid house songs. It is very easy to recognize due to the powerful reverbed congas. Here it is in The Break Boys (aka Frankie Bones and Tommy Musto) – And the Break Goes On:

http://www.youtube.com/v/uit8WhT0XVM

As well as Panic – Voices Of Energy:

http://www.youtube.com/v/_6G9vQKdmNw

Listen to the little breakdown at (:57) of Todd Terry’s Just Wanna Dance. There is the Apache in all its glory.

Run’s House Break

This drumbreak is a hybrid creation of two other well-known breaks, with some additional flair such as a booming sub-bass and was featured in the song Run’s House off RUN DMC’s Tougher Than Leather album:

http://www.youtube.com/v/0xMJZHrG_94

The two breaks in question include James’ Brown’s Funky Drummer, which rivals the Amen break in terms of overall usage in hip hop, drum & bass and techno tunes:

http://www.youtube.com/v/dNP8tbDMZNE

The second break is from the song Ashley’s Roach Clip by funk group Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers:

http://www.youtube.com/v/ZfymVPOdMwk

Ashley’s Roach Clip is yet another very recognizable and well known loop that has been used in countless hip hop and even mainstream songs, probably most famously in Eric B. and Rakim’s Paid In Full.

The Criminal Minds used the Run’s House break in the 1992 ragga techno hit Baptised By Dub:

http://www.youtube.com/v/v84mJACUmu8

It is also featured in Urban Shakedown’s Some Justice:

http://www.youtube.com/v/e3x0BMNy99c

And again in Naz AKA Naz’s dark proto-jungle work Organized Crime:

http://www.youtube.com/v/nOKlm95G5nM

Get Into Something Break

Last but not least, there is this funky little break from the Isley Brother’s Get Into Something:

http://www.youtube.com/v/092WyVP4cv0

The break is somewhat similar to the Think breaks with the background voices, tambourine and snappy snares. We hear it on one of the very big tunes of the day, 4 Hero’s Mr. Kirk:

http://www.youtube.com/v/THCj2AJuNVE

It can also be found on Nation 12’s Electrofear(unfortunately, no YouTube clip of this version of the song is available).

The breakbeat is, and continues to be, a powerful weapon in the arsenal of dance music producers worldwide. While these samples have powered the energy behind many hip hop, drum & bass and techno tracks, it is also important to recognize and acknowledge the incredible drummers who were the original sources of these loops. I believe it is also interesting and worthwhile to listen to these loops in the context of their original songs. There is a wonderful history that flows from these rhythmic interludes. Thanks for allowing me to share at least a little bit of this history with you. I also hope that this will broaden people’s musical tastes into some wonderful work that, while clearly stylistic departures from the tunes which sampled them, are incredible gems that deserve to be enjoyed in their original glory.

The Most Commonly Sampled Breakbeats – Techno Edition (Part 2)

Before we dig deeper into the breakbeat vaults, first… a quick correction on Part 1. The break used in Isotonik – Different Strokes, Bass Construction – Dance With Power, Blow – Cutter (Acid Mix), Rabbit City #1 – Cutter Mix and Smart Systems’ The Tingler (State Side Swamp Mix), actually comes from a breakbeat loop record released by Warrior Records. Warrior released a series of loop compilations beginning in 1989, credited to The Original Unknown DJ’s. The break in question can be found on their 1991 Warrior Sampler E.P. I believe it is a modified Think break, but this Warrior Records series appears to be the source of this particular loop. You can hear it much more clearly in Quadrophonia’s The Man With the Master Plan:

http://www.youtube.com/v/Y6vsy1lRJgw

Continuing on with our exploration of breaks used in classic techno tracks, here are four beats which were also featured frequently during the oldskool heyday between 1990 and 1992.

The Let It Go Break

Let It Go (Part II) is a song by disco funk legends KC and the Sunshine Band. Their second, self-titled studio album, which is known for classic hits That’s The Way (I Like It), Get Down Tonight and Boogie Shoes closes out with Let It Go (Part II):

http://www.youtube.com/v/IKJBhNTwMQo

You can hear this break in the song Lock Up by Zero B:

http://www.youtube.com/v/h4UCsVGAl0g

Other songs that use this break include: DMS – Vengeance, The Scientist – The Exorcist and Fierce Ruling Diva – Rub It In. This is one of two funky breaks used in DJ Mink’s Hey! Hey! Can you Relate?

The Funky Nassau Break

The Beginning of the End is a band consisting of three brothers and a bassist hailing from Nassau, Bahamas. The 1971 track Funky Nassau (Part I) became a hit in the U.S. reaching #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and #7 on the Billboard Black Singles Chart. The tune also hit #31 on the UK Singles Chart in 1974. This particular break is literally a funk monstrosity which is easily spotted due to the clanging ride cymbals and booming kick drum.

DJ Mink’s Hey! Hey! Can You Relate? uses the the Let It Go break along with the Funky Nassau, as heard here:

http://www.youtube.com/v/dm9eODlT_EY

Other tunes featuring Funky Nassau are: Sonz of a Loop Da Loop Era – Far Out and Nebula II – Flatliner.

The I’m Gonna Love You Break

This powerful break, which is pitched up for techno tempos, comes to us courtesy of soul icon Barry White from his 1973 single, I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby. The song is a great exemplification of Mr. White’s smooth vocal stylings. Amazing to think that such a rough break evolved from this mellow and shall we say “intimate” work.

http://www.youtube.com/v/np5VvHx-1T4

Check out the I’m Gonna Love You Break as used by Rhythm Section in the 1992 classic Comin’ On Strong:

http://www.youtube.com/v/aiiHaexxK_I

This break can also be found on Rabbit City #3, TronikHouse – Uptempo and Is That It? – ICTOT.

The Go! Break

This break may be a bit more controversial. I did quite a bit of research and it appears as if Moby is the creator of this particular beat. If anyone can verify or correct this, it would be greatly appreciated. For now, it appears as if Moby, himself an immensely important member of the techno pantheon, deserves credit for crafting this incredible beat. Here it is in Moby’s Go!:

http://www.youtube.com/v/-3725vlV0nw

Moby and Jam & Spoon collaborated and remixed each other’s work, which may explain the use of the Go! break in Jam & Spoon’s immortal masterpiece Stella:

http://www.youtube.com/v/vZpkhpfecwg

A more innovative use of the Go! break is exemplified here by Acen, who cut it up to great effect in their massive hit Close Your Eyes:

http://www.youtube.com/v/L2eko6Ix-Sc

Finally, this break is also used in Rabbit City #1 – Beyond Control and M D Emm – Get Down.

There are several more influential break loops put to dynamic effect during the oldskool era that we will look at in Part 3 to close out this discussion.

The Most Commonly Sampled Breakbeats – Techno Edition (Part 1)

The mighty breakbeat. That funky, syncopated rhythm which is the backbone of so many dance-oriented tunes; culled from dusty crates of old funk and soul records where the drummer is given a moment to shine in a drum solo, a song intro or a rhythmic bridge. These moments of funk bliss were intitally looped by hand on the turntables of the early hip hop DJs. Once samplers became available, finding these breaks, sampling, looping and cutting them up became an art form all unto itself.

The use of breakbeats in hip hop music and drum & bass has been well documented and it is relatively easy to find lists breaking down which breaks were used on which songs on the web. When it comes to finding such lists for oldskool techno, it’s a bit more challenging. This list is an attempt to document several of the more common breaks used in techno. Many of these breaks are breaks also frequently used in hip hop, although typically pitched up or played at a faster tempo. I’ve always found it fascinating to hear the original songs, some of which are so different from the pieces in which their drumbreaks are sampled. The following list indexes the original source of a break and several of the techno tunes which used it.

The Amen Break

This can easily be called the granddaddy of all breaks. The genre of drum & bass, and its pre-cursor Jungle, owes heavily to this beat and there are literally thousands of tunes which feature this break in some form. This breakbeat plays such an important role in the evolution of electronic dance music, a gentleman named Nate harrison recorded an entire video devoted to the history of this breakbeat which you can watch here. I am sure many people who are even passingly familiar with electronic music have seen this video, but if not, it is highly recommended viewing. The original source of this break is from a 1969 B-Side by The Winstons called Amen, Brother.

http://www.youtube.com/v/GxZuq57_bYM

One of the earliest uses of this break in the dance music arena was Success-N-Effect’s Roll It Up:

http://www.youtube.com/v/8DTUk-rUhEI

Roll It Up was caned by Carl Cox in the well-known tune I Want You (Forever):

http://www.youtube.com/v/ve_h_-T6Hus

Other tracks featurning the Amen Break include: First Prodgect – Right Before, Atomic Brain – Atomic Brain, Skin Up – A Juicy Red Apple, 2 For Joy – Let The Bass Kick and Sys’tem X – Wind It Up (Bumpy Mix) (No YouTube Clip Available).

The Think Break

Think (About It) by Lyn Collins is a treasure trove of breakbeat goodness. This 1972 funk song was produced by James Brown and featured his backing band The J.B.’s. Probably the most well-known use of a Think loop is in the popular 1988 hip hop track It Takes Two by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock. There are actually 5 separate sections of the record where breaks have been sampled from:

Think 1
Think 2
Think 3
Think 4
Think 5

Here is the entire song, for context:

http://www.youtube.com/v/eHn48b7iWF0

One of the earliest variations of a think break is on the acid house track Hip This House by Shadows J (and their particular edit of this loop was further used by DJ Splix in Nasty Rhythm and Rhythm Section in Perfect Love (2 AM):

http://www.youtube.com/v/_UFYHKzHokU

Here is another techno classic using one of the Think loops, Da Juice – C’mon C’mon (Mental Bass Mix):

http://www.youtube.com/v/MYKaBGj_j-0

All of the various Think loops have been pitched up and down, cut and otherwise manipulated to the point of being barely recognizable. For example, Isotonik’s Different Strokes, in which the Think break is somewhat difficult to spot due to the layering of other drum hits:

http://www.youtube.com/v/m4-8BsQxLZI

Finally, here’s a list of other classic techno tunes, all using some variation of one of the Think breaks: Greed – Give Me (Quadrant Mix), Bass Construction – Dance With Power, E-Lustrious – Ragga Tip, Petra & Co – Just Let Go, Blow – Cutter (Acid Mix), Rabbit City #1 – Cutter Mix, The Gonzo – Lost and Smart Systems – The Tingler (State Side Swamp Mix)

The Hot Pants Break

Bobby Byrd is a funk and gospel artist and is credited with “discovering” James Brown. An instrumental dub of the track Hot Pants is the source of the final break we will be looking at in this episode:

http://www.youtube.com/v/K7doq5HouVQ

This beat was actually featured in the song Fool’s Goldby alternative britpop band The Stone Roses; their drummer Alan “Reni” Wren played live with the Hot Pants loop in the background, as heard here:

http://www.youtube.com/v/FuPfbfJm2rc

This particular version of the break, with the live over-dubbed drummer, was actually lifted and used by The Ya Yas on their 1991 techno track Looove (Quadromania Mix):

http://www.youtube.com/v/Q6gXDcI9TpQ

However, there are a number of songs that feature the original raw Hot Pants break, most notably The Prodigy’s Charly:

http://www.youtube.com/v/HntARyHUgng

You can also hear a heavily reverb-drenched version of this break in Meat Beat Manifesto’s Radio Babylon, which itself became a heavily sampled tune:

http://www.youtube.com/v/8ILqfpDD6XE

Other tunes featuring the Hot Pants Break include: Addis Posse – Let The Warrior’s Dance, Nebula II – Seance, Lab Technicians – Sweet Perfection, Bizarre Inc. – Plutonic and The Future Sound of London — Papua New Guinea.

These three songs, in and of themselves, form the basis for countless techno tunes. In Part 2, we will examine several other important breakbeats which provided the rhythmic glue for many other oldskool techno classics.

Oldskooltechno.com

Been working on a new project, which is the website oldskooltechno.com. The site will feature a blog, forum and wiki devoted completely to all things oldskool. The wiki is a pretty ambitious undertaking; I’m hoping to index oldskool tunes with corresponding video and sound clips to try and create a comprehensive, listenable, searchable catalog of tunes. I’m hoping to recruit other collectors of the music to assist me in entering tracks. So if you’re interested, please drop me a line.

Using the Kinect as a Midi Controller

Here’s a project that was done by Youtube user svenisnumb that uses the Microsoft Kinect as a Midi Controller. His Project was coded in C#. This is similar to my AirDeck Wiimote theremin. I don’t have an Xbox, so I haven’t been been able to fool around with the Kinect yet… but this intrigues me.

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