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Uk garage in the free jazz bean bag

Written by: 20 October 2008 3 Comments

So I headed up to BMP towers this weekend to record my Stinkfinger podcast which is now probably overdue. I was somewhat hesitant having let loose a large quantity of beanbag beans over Lelo’s record collection on my previous visit. This time I managed to spill (white!) wine over Websta’s uk garage collection and a small patch of carpet. To conquer my awkwardness I decided to down a few beers but unlike most occasions this didn’t seem to help my mixing or even my perceptions of my mixing and I proceeded to mangle a variety of my records for what seemed to be an interminable length of time until pity was taken on me and I was booted out to catch the bus home and reflect on what may have been.

This is all a lengthy way of saying I don’t have my mix ready yet (sorry!), although an eclectic (well, not house at least) mix I prepared earlier will hopefully be making an appearance on the site soon.

One record which would have hopefully made it into the mix is Manitoba remix of Mr Scruff’s ‘Sweetsmoke’. I have been playing this one a lot recently having dug it out a month or so ago. As someone who did a lot of his formative teenage electronic music listening, and well, smoking, in the late 90’s/early 00’s, ninjatune and it’s artists will always hold a place in my heart. Mr Scruff was always a favourite of mine, he was a dab hand at catchy melodies and samples and brought a touch of humour and fun to the ninja roster. He’s also a fun dj. He did rip off Moondog wholesale for ‘Get a move on’ didn’t he, but at the time I was unaware of Moondog so that all went over my head, I just heard a catchy cartoon jazz dance record.

Anyhow, Sweetsmoke is a ridiculously chirpy and happy uptempo number, emerging in 2002 for his second album for Ninja ‘Trouser Jazz’. It is pretty hard to hate this record, at least it always puts me in a good mood. It helps that it was complimented by the following amusing pie-focused video.

A year later Ninjatune put out a remix of the track with mixes from Ashley Beedle and Manitoba. I was a fan of Beedle’s from the Black Science Orchestra records and he turns in an appropriately sunny and happy house cut. The other side contained a somewhat more radical version from Manitoba – a Canadian producer who I didn’t know much about. Apparently Manitoba dabbled in idm and speed and uk garage before developing more of a ‘folktronica’ (not big on this word but there you go) influence. He eventually was forced by threat of legal action to change his name, he became ‘Caribou’ and went on to release a great record called ‘Andorra’ last year which was full of 60’s influenced vocal touches and big ecstatic moments.

I am partial to big moments in music myself and there are few of them in his Mr Scruff remix. This mix possibly catches him in a moment of this transition from idm/garage experimentalism to folktronica – there’s some steppy clicks, rhythms and drum hits, but also some slumpy, slushy drums, and all manner of droning and wailing horns over the top. Things build and build to a climax and then break down back to a double bass and one of the few moments where you hear the melody of the original tune come out. Just when you think you’ve adjusted to that, another crescendo hits and you get a full on speed garage bassline for 16 bars before the track resumes.

Check it out – I was going to post the mp3 but the clip was right there and I am lazy so here we go.

I love it when you pull out an old record from your collection that you haven’t listened to in years and it fits right in or clicks with you in a new way. I always try pretty hard to anticipate whether that will be the case before I sell any of my records and in this case I am really glad I hung onto it.

It looks like I will be djing at the supper club again this week, hopefully I can redeem myself somewhat from Saturday’s debacle. The bbq should be out, so I’ll have an excuse to dig out lots of reggae. If you’re in Auckland this Friday come along – I’m not sure yet when I’m playing but given previous summertime sets it will hopefully be sometime between 7 and 9.


  • websta said:

    nice 1 benny!
    good read to start me day

  • The Ninja said:

    I have decided to cordon off a little section in the corner at BMP towers for you for future use. Please do not leave the allocated area.

    That manitoba thing is freaky cool – nice post.

  • Bob said:

    don’t rope off the smokers corner

    looking forward to rude not 2

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