The bass. The bleep. As British as fish and chips.
A strain of house that arose in the UK at the time of the acid house explosion, it didn’t rely on the 303, instead taking the massive sub bass of dub and combining it with robotic bleeps.
This list is in no way definitive – some of the tunes don’t even qualify. Rather it’s a personal playlist of UK house from that period that fits the vibe.
Interestingly it’s a sound that has resurfaced many times, and hasn’t really dated. It’s probably the best type of music from the early UK rave era…it feels less nostalgic and gimmicky than a lot of hardcore for instance.
1. Mental Cube – So This Is Love
Mental Cube was a version of Future Sound Of London – the more famous tune was the epic trance techno number ‘Q’ which goes for 50 quid on Discogs. This one is possibly even better though.
2. Sweet Exorcist – Testone
You can’t do bass and bleeps without mentioning Warp Records, can you? That would be ridiculous. Sweet Exorcist was a pair of Richards (see, avoided the obvious knob gag) – Richard H Kirk, from Sheffield electro-punks Cabaret Voltaire, and Richard Barratt aka DJ Parrott – recently hitting his stride again as Crooked Man. Close Encounters sample, those classic bleeps, and a video by Jarvis Cocker.
3. N- JOI – Techno Gangsters
Remember when The Prodigy were an N-JOI tribute act ? This almost veers into hardcore territory but it’s still minimal enough to qualify as a bass and bleep number. This EP came out just before hardcore had really established its formula – it was an interesting time cos a lot of the records were weird hybrids. And this tune kicks.
4. In Sync – Storm
Irdial Discs was a strange label – lots of releases that were a bit unhinged. Lovely warm bass and drums here, mastered to cheap tape – a sound that people emulate nowadays with plugins.
5. No Smoke – Oh Yes (Freedom)
Tony Thorpe, tropical house kinda thing…for hot summer nights. I know it’s January, but sling this on and turn up the heating. Probably doesn’t qualify as bass n bleep but my brain files it in the same bin. And it’s very good. So much good recent house music sounds very like this. (Example) This International Smoke Signal album is a cracker, lots of tracks on it that totally stand the test of time.
6. Nexus 21 – Self-Hypnosis
Mark Archer and Chris Peat had their chart-topping moments later with Altern 8 but it all began with Nexus 21.
7. Original Clique – 3 Phase 415V
Chill Records put out original bleep anthem ‘Unique 3 – The Theme’ in 1989, which may well be the tune that was guity of starting the whole thing. We haven’t included it here, just to be annoying. The other side of this is equally good but less bleepy.
8. Autonation – Sit On The Bass
Dad Hero Jerome Hill remixed this for the modern age in fine style recently on his own Don’t Label. Can’t decide whether his remix or this original version is best. Both are great.
9. Rhythmatic – Take Me Back (Bass Head Mix)
We are well into brown note territory when the subs arrive in this Network Records bad boy.
10. Nightmares On Wax – Aftermath (LFO Remix)
Of course we could have included LFO- LFO, but this remix allows us to get a 2-for-1 deal going and it’s just lovely. Ultra-spooky house for extreme smoke machine/strobe moments when you suddenly realise that it’s all getting a bit weird – always the best moments – and listen to those subs.