Just when drum & bass looked like going terminally out of fashion, RONI SIZE MATTERS mass appeal. The Mercury Music winner's new album
he's taking it live. Words: Mark Robertson
don. KRS-l. and what 4 Hero got closest to on their Mercury Music nominated album 'lim Pages: turning drum & bass from a dancefloor hybrid to a fully grown. wide-reaching music form in its own right.
Roni Size and Reprazent have a new album. In The Mode. it sees them being not more aggressive - this. Size refutes — but ‘focused’. The beats are rough and incessant. the bass lines still fatter than a whale omelette. but there is real song- writing skill. something often dismissed in the electronic music world in favour of production skills. It‘s proof that the two can happily survive away from the rock archetype.
A prime example is the first single. 'Who Told You'.”. a staggering (in both senses of the word) car chase of a track. led by MC Dynamite’s staccato chants and a jittering drum beat that refuses to be nailed down. This. along with ‘Ghetto Celebrity‘. their collaboration with CS hip hop megastar. Method Man of Wu Tang Clan. are the instant stand-outs. The others ooze their addictive qualities more slowly. But ooze they certainly do.
Meth is not the only guest on the album. L'S human beatbox king. Rahzel. and Rage Against The Machine rapper. Zack de la Rocha. both provide vocals on tracks. But equally. it‘s not just the Roni and pals show. Reprazent is most definitely a group. Drummer Si John and bassist Rob Merrill provide a rhythmic backbone. while Die. Krust and Suv turn on the melody. with MC Dynamite and ()nalee splitting the vocal duties. All have their own part to play. lining up behind Size as spiritual leader and iigurehead.
The album was born out of an impressive lineage. Its predecessor New Forms. Reprazent‘s debut platter. won the 1997 Mercury Music Prize and went on to sell ()()().()()() copies. But Size is profoundly conscious of the roots of his music and he remains admirably modest about his own achievements. ‘L’nless you actually come from the underground you don‘t realise how difficult it is.‘ he says. ‘When you see your name on a flyer one night and it‘s months before you see it again. that‘s hard. I love the underground: that's what made me. I don‘t take any of this for granted. 1 hope me breaking through gives people some hope.’
While others have attempted the live/dance crossover to varied success (Reprazent are the inspiration behind the recent Groove Armada and Rae & Christian live set-ups). Reprazent have prospered because of their broad appeal. They have graced the stages of most European festivals and. as Size points out. shared many an eclectic bill. 'We played on a boat at a tiny party in Paris and then the next week we’re up in front of 4().()()() people playing between The Prodigy and ()asis.' he laughs. ‘That‘s the beauty of it. People don't know where to put us: jazz stage. rock stage. in a field at a rave. in the dance tent. playing on the pirates. playing on Radio I. That’s why it‘s so exciting.‘
Just as our conversation is drawing to a close. Size brings the interview to an abrupt end in suitably unique style. He has an accident with a kettle. ‘Sorry. man.’ he yells. ‘l was talking to you and making tea at the same time and l burned myself.’
Truly a musician who believes in suffering for his art.
In The Mode is out on Mon 9 Oct on Talkin’ Loud. Reprazent, MI Cole and DJ Gilles Peterson play Glasgow University, QMU on Thu 12 Oct.
is a cracker and now
Young King Cole
Following in the footsteps of Roni Size, UK garage's biggest success story Ml COLE is finally going live. Woros: Catherine Bromley
Y2K is M) Cole's year. Nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and for 'Best Garage Artist' at this year’s M080 awards, he has won plaudits across the board for his debut album Sincere. Many regard the West Londoner as the foremost producer on the UK garage scene. Perhaps the most exciting development, though, is the prospect of M] Cole taking his unique sound live. Glasgow audiences will be among the first to hear him when he joins the line-up of the massive Talkin' Loud party (see left).
Although the studio is the young producer’s home, Matt Coleman — for it is he - has an established DJing history and is still in demand across the globe. Indeed, he has taken up the task of spreading the UK garage gospel worldwide, playing regular dates in Norway, Ibiza and the summer mecca of the scene, Ayia Napa. Having laid this foundation, Cole is keen to fulfil the live potential of his ground-breaking album. A quick perusal of his CV makes it clear he has the credentials.
A graduate in music from London City University, Cole also boasts Grade 8 distinctions in piano, oboe and music theory from the Royal College of Music. As much a graduate of club culture, he was intimately involved with the early rave scene and the first burgeonings of drum & bass. Having absorbed all things breakbeat, Cole was thrown into the hub of the newly-emerging underground garage scene in 1996. After only a year, he had gained a reputation for being one of the most hard-working and sought- after engineers, programmers, keyboard players and co-producers on the underground racket. And he hasn’t stopped.
After signing to Gilles Peterson's Talkin' Loud in the summer of 1998, he began producing soul songs for Sincere that would both epitomise the UK's garage underground and have enough variety to satisfy fans of jazz, funk, R&B, deep house and drum & bass. As exciting as the tunes are on record, the effect will be dramatically heightened live when Cole’s keyboard and computer trickery will be fleshed out by Elizabeth Troy on vocals, Danny Vicious on the mic and Guy S’Mone on guitar.
Sincere is available now on Talkin' Loud.
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