22 August 2011
This is not a new record. It was released at least six months ago by PMR Records. However, it deserves another mention (it’s had quite a few from blogs all over the world already) as it’s one of those records that will remain evergreen for months, if not years, to come. You can be sure everyone will still be talking about Battle For Middle You when 2011 comes to a close and those irrepressible end-of-year charts emerge, because it’s one of those tunes which stopped everyone in their tracks when they first heard it and raised the bar for contemporary dance music in the process. It managed to do this, because Julio Bashmore, production alias for young Bristol talent Matthew Walker, imbued his tune with enough soul, energy, rhythm and (perhaps most importantly right now) bass to make it sound utterly contemporary, utterly fresh and yet utterly classic all at the same time. Neat trick. The fact that he comes from Bristol may well have something to do with it.
This West Country metropolis has had a thriving music scene for decades. In the Eighties, it was the free-styling eclecticism of its post-punk scenes and groups and the sound system culture that emerged afterwards: Mark Stewart & The Maffia; Rip, Rig & Panic; Nellee Hooper and The Wild Bunch. In the Nineties, it was ‘trip hop’, jungle and drum ‘n’ bass: Smith & Mighty, Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead, Reprazent and DJs Roni Size, Krust and Die, not to mention their labels, V Recordings and Full Cycle, and crossover stars Kosheen. In the early Noughties, breaks: Breakbeat Era, Stanton Warriors; not to mention Up Bustle & Out‘s very Latin American hip hop/beats/jazz/funk fusions. Not so much house music per se, although Jody Wisternoff and Nick Warren did create a turbo-charged, progressive house sound from the region as Way Out West in the mid-Nineties, while Ben Westbeech introduced some soul and ‘broken beat’ to the form in the mid-Noughties. However, even these guys have leaned on bass and rhythm as much as the straight four-four orthodoxy of house music. And so it goes for most of the dance music to have emerged from ‘the Bristol scene’ – ruled by rhythm and bass and clearly a product of the ethnic diversity of the immigrant communities in and around the city and the rich musical heritage inherent therein. The point is that a musical melting pot such as the one you will find in Bristol often creates exciting, new sounds which seem to render just about everything else old hat until everyone else catches up.
Battle For Middle You is a brilliant record and, having witnessed the man in the mix at Ultrgroove‘s immense farewell fling at Cabaret Voltaire on Saturday night, it’s fair to say Julio Bashmore is a great DJ, too.