Monday, 24 March 2014

Top Ten: DjRum picks out ten of the best from Bristol

DjRum completes a sturdy lineup for Tempo Clash which features an extended set from Hedmuk favourites Akkord, as well as appearances from Visionist, the inimitable Tempo Clash residents - Blue Daisy and Kidkanevil - and the broken barrier stylings of  Filter Dread, with Luke Benjamin lurking around the mic stand. The event will take place at London's Autumn Street Studios, and advance tickets are available from

In the run-up to the night we got in touch with DjRum to take us through some of his favourite records to have emerged from his hometown of Bristol, and the results are as varied and interesting as could be expected from a producer known for his wide-ranging sample library and cross-genre approach to making music.

Hedmuk: Bristol is a place with a rich musical history, and there's a broad sphere of influence that's extended out from the city too. It's probably no simple task to pick a list of just ten, but are there Bristolian records that you would say have had a particularly strong personal influence on your own music?

DjRum: There are so many great records that have come out of Bristol: props to Phaeleh, Addison Groove, Massive Attack, Kahn, Mensah, Smith & Mighty, Tricky, Breakbeat Era... the list goes on. A few of my tracks could have been on this list too. I actually did the mixdowns for a few tunes off Seven Lies at Phaeleh's studio in Bristol, and I did the mixdown for my remix of Phaeleh's 'The Cold In You' down there too. So although all those tracks were made in London, in a way they did come out of Bristol! But here are the top 10 records to come out of Bristol that I would say have influenced me the most...

1. Portishead - Dummy

One of the finest albums ever made, let alone Bristol's finest. Every track has been my favourite track on the record at some time or other. I want to pick out one second from 'It Could Be Sweet' as a highlight, though: the crucial moment in this track for me is at 3:25, when you hear the smacking of lips, an intake of breath and a sigh. This little moment has been a real influence on my production. I had listened to the record over so many times before someone pointed this bit out to me. Now I wait for it every time I hear the track. It's a very deliberately chosen moment of accident: the producer, Geoff Barrows, has increased the volume of the sound to the same as the rest of the vocals, making it feel closer, more personal. There's something very intimate about a quiet breath at such high volume. With loud beats and bass sounding out, you could only hear someone's breathing like this if you were cheek to cheek. It brings you right up close to the music. There are lots of moments that make this album special: the first snare of 'Biscuit', the breakdown of 'Strangers', the drum roll in Mysterons; but the thing that has really stayed with me is that one moment in 'It Could Be Sweet'.

2. Pinch - Qawwalli

When I first heard this tune on Mary Anne Hobbs' Dubstep Warz show in 2006 it completely blew me away. It was unlike anything that was around at the time. After two hours of forward-thinking bass music, this totally stole the show.

3. DJ Krust - Burnin'

This track is a lesson in progression. The movement from one idea to the next is so simple, but totally draws you in. The pads at the beginning and middle are the perfect balance of mysterious and hopeful. Jungle music at it's finest - not to mention that it has 'Jazz Note' on the flip!

4. Monkey Steak - Grim Dubs: Vol. 1

I can't believe this is not up on Youtube, it's a seminal release. 'Crowsteppah' is phenomenal and it was a real game changer for me in 2005. It's an incredible deep mix of jungle and grime. One half of Monkey Steak, Atki 2, is from Bristol and is so underrated. He's one of these artists (like Boxcutter, Various Production, and Burial) who was making post-dubstep in '05, back when most people hadn't even got to grips with dubstep yet. Check Grim Dubs: Vol. 5 too.

5. Krust - One Moment (from Coded Language)

So many albums have token cinematic interludes in the middle, but this is much much more than that. Again there is a great progression: from the initial hopeful theme, into a darker more mysterious section (that sounds to me like it borrows quite heavily from Charles Ives' 'The Fourth Of July'), and then back again to the opening theme.

6. Björk - Venus As A Boy (from Debut)

Hey Björk's from Iceland, not Bristol! OK yeah, but this track (and most of Björk's debut album) was produced by Bristol boy Nellee Hooper. I love the way he's put this track together: the offbeat kick-drum is the work of a mad genius. There's loads of other great Nellee Hooper productions I could have chosen, Massive Attack and Soul 2 Soul come to mind, but I'll settle with this one today.

7. Roni Size - Hot Stuff (from the New Forms bonus disc)

Without doubt my favourite thing he's produced: it's really stood the test of time for me. The breakdown is so beautiful, I love the idea of having such a long ambient section with sine-wave bass stabs throughout it. This was the inspiration for the ambient section in my tune 'Mountains Pt. 3'

8. Peverelist - Salt Water

It's not often I get so excited about a new tune as I was when I first heard this one. The rhythm is incredible, I hear new complexities in it every time. This is Pev at his finest.

9. Appleblim & Peverelist - Soundboy's Ashes Get Hacked Up And Spat Out In Disgust EP

I'll never forget the reaction this got when I played this at Outlook Festival last year. After a sequence of hip-hop tunes, I brought the ambient intro of 'Over Here' in over the breakdown of a J-Live tune. The mood flipped from hyped up to deep down so nicely, everyone got straight into it. When the sub hits it's so understated, yet overwhelming. Amazing!

10. Limewax - Cracking Core (Technical Itch Remix)

I'm a huge Tech Itch fan; he's a very skilled producer, and he creates great cinematic atmospheres. There are loads of standout tracks from him: 'Pressure Drop', 'Implant', and the remix him and Dylan did of Photek's 'Baltimore' are all great. But this remix takes it for me: so powerful, so driving... infectious!

Catch DjRum playing alongside Akkord, Visionist, Blue Daisy, Kidkanevil, Filter Dread and Luke Benjamin on Friday the 4th April for Tempo Clash at Autumn Street Studios, London.



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