Various Artists - Breakbeat Bass Vol. 3, mixed by Nick Thayer
Mon 21st Apr, 2008 Music Reviewsin
It’s been a year since the last offering of Breakbeat Bass from Passenger Records, the label owned and run by scene veterans Aquasky. Having mixed the previous two editions, these boys have enlisted the help of Aussie breaks hero Nick Thayer for Volume 3. Passenger have been responsible for constantly pushing the boundaries of the breakbeat sound, and many of their releases can be considered classics of the genre. With this release, Thayer has interestingly used Coldcut’s legendary 70 Minutes of Madness Mix as a touchstone for the blueprint, dissecting and re-arranging the beats to best fit his style. The genres on display here include drum & bass, hip hop and Baltimore ghetto tech (whatever that means). With the rapid evolution of the dance scene, and conversation about what is still technically termed ‘breaks’, let’s see what this package has to offer the interested listener.
First up, flick to back and note that there are 22 tracks crammed on the disc. Thayer likes to mix and match, and many acappella’s appear over different beats. There’s familiar names appearing – predictably Aquasky, as well as The Ragga Twins, The Body Snatchers, Stanton Warriors, Meat Katie, El Hornet, Freestylers and Scratch Perverts. A few tracks will be familiar too – Have A Good Time, Girls & Boys, Overneath, Still Here and One In The Front. So, while not exactly fresh, I wasn’t going to write it off just yet. Thayer’s got a way of crafting an amazingly dense mix, as seen recently with the driving nature of his inthemix50 CD a few years back.
The Intro has slices from almost every track on the album as a way to whet the appetite. Then, it’s straight into the big bass booty shakin’ delight of Move Girl from Rok Raydio. One thing that is immediately evident is Thayer’s obsession with vocals, rhymes, raps, acapellas, vocal stabs and samples. It’s an overuse affliction that brought down his inthemix50 comp in my eyes, and it ultimately serves to make this CD a little annoying from the get-go. The vocals come from everywhere and are almost constantly in the mix, taking away from the fine beats that are presented. The Meat Katie remix of Freaky Ho is very ordinary – “Twist that ass, make your backbone jerk”. Bad, bad lyrics.
When the vocals do let up, there are some cranking tracks. Movin The Hype is a bleeping joy to behold, and Aquasky’s Have A Good Time is perfectly timed. These familiar tunes are used in forward thinking ways and given a new lease on life. The second half of the CD picks up nicely, forgoing the Baltimore-like sound and stepping into some more rolling breakbeat action. Thayer’s own dancefloor bomb Toasted is easily the highlight of the disc, strangely introduced by N’Fa who just pops in to say g’day. It’s a huge techy breaks monster, thankfully without any vocals. It’s also one of the only tunes presented in full, with the massive breakdown good value indeed.
Le Crowd C’est Beau (Aquasky Mix) is also a fave of mine, as a big phat synth bassline with rolling drums is something I cannot resist. The mix then detours into drum & bass, with some smooth High Contrast action and Aquasky vs Masterblaster taking it back to their roots, then there’s a little downtempo scratching by the Perverts finishes off an interesting ride through modern beats. Thayer’s got his new double A-side 12” single – Mind Control/ Toasted – dropping on the same day as this release. It sets Nick up nicely for his first LP due on Passenger late in 2008, as he’s a kid with definite talent. The Ableton mash-style of mixing is sure to expand minds, as some samples used aren’t even on the tracklisting. It’s a true collage of beats and rhymes, some really hit the mark… Some don’t. Still, Passenger remain at the top of the tree with this collection from their treasured vaults.