Not only are pioneering rave, drum & bass & jungle label Suburban Base back with a new compilation, they’ve also made their entire back catalogue available digitally for the first time. Here are our ten favourite Sub Base tracks in chronological order…
Sonz Of A Loop Da Loop Era – Far Out (1991)
An early alias from the one and only Danny Breaks. Images of whistles and glow-stick infused rave euphoria spring to mind within seconds of listening to this one. Whilst being musically similar to many other tunes of the era, there’s a touch of class in this release that helped Suburban Base immediately stand out, apparent through the constantly evolving nature of the track: the unexpected switches, breakdowns, addictive piano riffs and memorable vocal samples.
Q-Bass – Hardcore Will Never Die (Telepathic Mix) (1991)
Q-Bass was one of the many production names that label head Danny Donnelly created music under during Suburban Base’s formative years. Guess what, it’s another early label release that immediately has that ‘rave classic’ vibe. The remix was courtesy of E Type who, on further research, it seems did not go on to do too much else! Hats off to him to though, as this is up there at the very pinnacle of the emerging break-beat hardcore sound of that era.
DJ Krome & Mr Time – The Slammer (1993)
Krome & Time are smashing out old skool dance, break-beat hardcore and jungle at raves and festivals all over the world today, despite not having released anything in a long time. This speaks volumes for the number of classic tracks they brought out back in the day, many of which were on Suburban Base. ‘The Slammer’ remains one of the best remembered; you simply can’t not want to get your ‘rave shoes’ on when listening to this euphoric piece of dance music, which is exemplary of the style that led to the term ‘Jungle’ being thrown around.
Boogie Times Tribe – Dark Stranger (1993)
Label owner Danny Donnelly and Jay D’Cruze brought out a handful of tracks on Suburban Base under the Boogie Times Tribe moniker. They named themselves after the Boogie Times record shop which Donnelly ran, which was where the label was based and many of its musicians and fans congregated. ‘Dark Stranger’ remains the most well-known track under this alias, with its chilling vocal samples and underlying sense of paranoia. The Origin Unknown remix is also well worth checking out.
Flex & Fats – Somebody (1994)
Cool Hand Flex was a prolific Jungle producer and DJ who played with the likes of Randall in the early days, here collaborating with MC Fats who was making a name for himself hosting raves and collaborating with key producers. Keep your ears peeled for the tight progressions within the drum programming of this track. Retrospectively, it came from a golden era for Jungle and is an example of the increasing musical diversity of the Suburban Base label as its following and roster of artists increased. MC Fats has in fact stood firm in the scene, and in recent years has collaborated successfully with the likes of Calibre, A-Sides and Prolix.
DJ Hype & MC GQ – Roll the Beats (1994)”
DJ Hype began producing in 1989, engineering and co-producing tracks (including “Exorcist” and “The Bee”) for Kickin’, Strictly Underground and Suburban Base before starting his own label Ganja Records. This classic Sub-Base release features a sampled vocal from MC GQ live at AWOL in October 1993, MCing over a Hype set with the Reggae section from Barry Brown – Children, Children as well as a vocal from The Abyssinians – Mabrak.
Johnny Jungle – Johnny ’94 (Droppin’ Science Remix) (1994)
Johnny Jungle aka Pascal, now label manager for Hype’s Ganja Records – wicked track which got the Sub-Base treatment in 1994 with 4 remixes including this one (the best one) from Danny Breaks. Both tracks from the 12″ sample dialogue from the film ‘Marked for Death’. This track pretty much sums up the Jungle vibe from the year that really established the genre.
Remarc – R.I.P (DJ Hype Remix) (1995)
With Jungle fully possessing its own musical identity by 1995, it was only a matter of time before the logical combination with reggae/ragga/dancehall vocals began to dominate the scene. ‘R.I.P’ is an all time classic of the genre and that sound, remaining a firm favourite of DJs and fans all over. This one is Remarc and perhaps Suburban Base’s best-known tune, and arguably the finest example of the production mastery of the man dubbed ‘King Of The Amens’. Remarc continues to DJ internationally and his tunes continue to have an influence. Many modern producers have expressed extreme admiration at the advanced drum patterns he created with such basic technology by today’s standards.
D’Cruze – Freedom (1995)
D’Cruze moved into solo production after his stint as one half of the Boogie Times Tribe, a move which went extremely well! His full length album ‘Control’, from which this track comes, was one of only a handful of artist LPs released on Suburban Base. It’s an album of contemplative, at time experimental Jungle and even today is extremely highly regarded. After a string of releases in the jungle scene and during the label’s golden era, D’Cruze faded into obscurity in the mid-late ’90s.
It was a tough choice between this and the more dance-floor focused DJ SS remix which also uses Cutty Rank’s infectious ‘Limb by Limb’ sample. Marvellous Cain had already used the sample on his 1994 hit Hitman on his own IQ label so was the obvious choice for remixing the track when Suburban Base officially licensed it a year later. Marvellous Cain was one of a number of up-and-coming producers who released on Sub Base between 1994 and 1996, and his album ‘Guntalk’ is a full-length that encompasses everything about the music of that era.
Words: Patrick Muncaster via Kmag Features http://www.kmag.co.uk/editorial/features/the-essential-suburban-base.html