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Yardcore: Horsepower style (2002)

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Steve Goodman
London Hyperdub HQ
Also published in Deuce magazine 2002

‘Yardcore’, from jungle to garage and forward, is the mutant strain of the uk hardcore audio virus, where Jamaican dancehall flavour meets London’s freshest riddims. Apart from its sonic qualities, ‘yardcore’ continues Kingston’s dubplate culture and version-mania. Garage has already produced countless home-grown ‘yardcore’ anthems including Pay As U Go’s ‘Know We’ and Sticky & Ms. Dynamite’s ‘Boo’ and gruff vocal talents such as Sweetie Irie. But when a bashment legend gets the rerub from one of the England’s most talented, underground production crews, then you can guarantee that dance’s will get mashed. After unique releases on the deep Tempa and Turn U On imprints, the Horsepower Productions crew’s heaviest dancefloor release to date is sure to be their Greensleeves ‘raggage’ remix of Elephant Man’s ‘Log On’. Yes, that’s right, Elephant Man, a.k.a. ‘Energy God’, the ‘punk rock of dancehall’ and infamous homophobe (“Log-on and step on chichi man”). Named after yet another move in dancehall’s repertoire of provocative ‘batty-to-the-floor’ waist-winding, the stepped-up version of ‘Log On’ features Horsepower’s characteristic sharp, skippy, slinky beats, warm swung out bass and spacey skunk fx. The mighty Greensleeves label requested a Horsepower treatment after hearing their version of the hardcore anthem ‘We Are E’ on Vertical Drop Records.

Horsepower Productions are Benny ill, Nassis and Lev Jnr and are to date best known for their unique synthesis of New York house, Jamaican version flavour and Berlin techno rinsed through London’s riddim innovation engine. The product is a mix of electric soul blended with dread garage – all gaseous female vocal refrains condensing into lush textures, rootsy organ stabs, rewinds, socatronic percussion and dread samplemania. It is no surprise that Horsepower have ripped it up with their first Greensleeves remix. They have stealthily established maximum respect from both open minded garage heads (particularly outside the UK) and curious visitors from other genres for the rollin textures of the Tempa label. Highlights from this label include the lush ‘What We Do’ remix (Tempa 3), the Berlin/Kingston via Croydon dub step of ‘Gorgon Sound’ backed by the old school Strictly Rhythm flavour of ‘Triple 7’ (Tempa 2), the deep and spacy ‘Fist of Fury’ (Tempa 5) and the darker bassline warpers of ‘Vigilante'(Tempa 3) and ‘To the Beat Y’all’ (Tempa 5). Or check the smokey vocal line of ‘One U Need’ and the nice’n’nasty Electro Bass on drum’n’bass label No U Turn’s garage channel, Turn U On.

When you catch the pale, long haired and bearded (what jesus would look like if he came from Croydon and smoked weed) Horsepower producer/dj Benny ill on the decks, you get a deeper, wider sound than most. You might have caught him in London doing early sets at the monthly Forward night at the Velvet Rooms, in the Forward room at True Playaz at Fabric or at the Hyperdub ‘Steppa’ special in Brixton. “The climate just now means that it’s easier to drop a couple of 4beat tracks, so I try to keep it varied.” The ‘ill one’ doesn’t just select from the racks of 2step, breakbeat and 4/4 garage, but is just as liable to drop the occasional spot of deep, dubby Berlin techno into the mix. It’s this experimental approach that has seen him receiving healthy props stateside after appearances at both Buzz in Washington DC and the highly regarded Driveby and Wikkid nights in New York. Alongside his Horsepower productions, Benny ill is also responsible for Horsepower offshoot Dubwar (with Bill Fuller), with the driving breakstep of ‘Murderous Style’ (immaculate fx, lush organ washes, reggae drum rolls and customary dread chants), the righteous swingdub of ‘Generation’ on Tempa 4 and the incoming solo High Planes Drifter 4beat project and spooky ‘Tales from the Basside’ collaboration with Hyperdub’s kode9.

For the 2002, apart from the heavy impact of ‘Log On’, keep it locked for more Greensleeves remixes in the pipeline (with names such as Mr.Vegas, Capleton and cousin of Bob, Ky-mani Marley), more on imprint Turn U On (currently on ice while label boss Nico Sykes is in Canada), Nassis’s drum’n’bass work with Rhyme Tyme, the Horsepower rub of Blazing Squad’s ‘Standard Flow’ on East/West, the exciting prospect of a Horsepower Tempa album late in 2002. And Benny ill will be back in the US throughout 2002.

‘Yardcore’? It seems like Horsepower know the score!

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Copyright © Hyperdub 2002 – Reprinted with permission.

Category: Hyperdub

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