Tonight we have a whole slew of music influenced by… well, sampling, mostly… the original Blade Runner and its incredible soundtrack by Vangelis. Later, drum’n’bass & weirdtronica abounds.
Pop Will Eat Itself – Wake Up! Time To Die… [RCA/Cherry Red Records]Pop Will Eat Itself – Live In Splendour: Died In Chaos (under talking) [RCA/Cherry Red Records]
The Poppies were one of those bands that just inevitably would be influenced by Blade Runner. If nothing else, they were influenced by vast amounts of pop culture, comics to sci-fi to sport. But also, they were such a cyborg band, combining their love of scraggly punk riffage with hip-hop and techno. They slathered everything in samples, and thus we have the eponymous words from the replicant Leon in the first track tonight. The second offering uses the gorgeous high-pitched statement of one of Vangelis‘ main themes (I think it actually appears near the very beginning of the movie) to bookend the track.
Vangelis – Tears In Rain [EastWest]
As well as featuring one of the most iconic bits of dialogue from the movie, in which the brutal lead replicant Roy Batty asserts his unique personhood in the last few minutes of his artificially-short life, this is a lovely example of the restrained beauty of Vangelis’ work on this soundtrack. He makes a lot of use of pitch bends and glissandi, apart from simply creating rich & varied sounds.
Vangelis – Rachel’s Song [EastWest]
This track, featuring the bewitching wordless vocals of Mary Hopkin, has been sampled countless times since its release. I recently heard a trance tune which I couldn’t track down which used the same segment as the following track:
The Future Sound of London – My Kingdom (Part 4) [Virgin]
Like PWEI, it’s no surprise that The Future Sound of London would draw from Blade Runner. Their psychedelic aesthetic oozes cyberpunk, and while the originating works of cyberpunk fiction probably came out a couple of years earlier, it was really the rain-swept, Tokyo-inflected Los Angeles of Blade Runner, with its ubiquitous advertising, hard-nosed film noir attitude and lived-in, aged futuristic technology, that defined cyberpunk forevermore. FSOL were so excited by where technology could take them that they fancied themselves archaeologists of the future, and they couldn’t help but be informed by works like Blade Runner. They integrated the Mary Hopkin/Vangelis sample beautifully into the various versions of this track, and I selected this one in particular because not only is the vocal very prominent, but it’s about as close as FSOL got to drum’n’bass…
Dillinja – The Angels Fell [Metalheadz]
A hybrid genre descended equally from the hardcore techno of rave, the syncopations of dancehall and breaks of hip-hop: jungle and its descendant drum’n’bass were strongly dependent on sampling technology, and its producers were keen from the beginning to draw out the cyborg aspects of making music this way. Both Terminator and Blade Runner figured strongly in this music, and here we find jungle original Dillinja sampling both a snippet of Roy Batty’s dialogue (“Fiery the angels fell…”) and basing his entire melody on a progressively pitch-shifted sample from the next little bit from the soundtrack…
Vangelis – Blade Runner Blues [EastWest]
Here’s Vangelis emoting his heart out with some synth sax and plenty of use of that mod wheel. Dillinja samples a two note phrase from earlyish in this track, and shifts it up and down a third to create the melody repeating under his chopped-up breaks.
Trace & Nico – Replicant [Idiosyncratic Records]
This track – played off YouTube – is highly sought after and highly limited, only released on a white label a few years after its creation, likely because of its hefty sampling from Blade Runner. Throughout are fragments of dialogue, primarily Deckard instructing his computer(?) to zoom in on a photograph – you know the bit.
Vangelis – Main Titles [EastWest]
That sample from the movie appears right here in the “Main Titles” that open the original official soundtrack (released on CD in 1994 – this is the source of all the Vangelis music I’m playing tonight). It then moves on to some of the important musical themes from the movie, including some lovely pitch slides, and those rising and falling chords…
Company Flow – Info Kill II [Rawkus Records]
I can’t find the specific section of soundtrack sampled here, but those falling chords are definitely there. It’s iconic – you couldn’t mistake them for anything else. Company Flow is of course the hip-hop crew from the mid-’90s where El-P grew up, and again it’s no big surprise that Blade Runner figures in his influences and turns up in one of his earliest mature productions. It’s very substantially used throughout, and augmented nicely with a funky bassline and beats.
Zomby – Tears in the Rain [WERKDISCS]
When infamous dubstep/uk garage producer Zomby put together his first full-length album he called it Where Were U in ’92 – a direct tribute to early ’90s rave, hardcore and jungle. He knows his shit, so of course he’s going to end up sampling from Blade Runner (even if he misquotes it in the title here). It’s a nice completion of the circle to end our Blade Runner tribute for tonight.
So Blade Runner 2049, you ask? Well, without spoiling anything, it’s very beautiful, the soundtrack is a workable tribute to Vangelis by Hans Zimmer, the plot, what there is of it, is an interesting and pretty satisfying extension of the original… and it has some nice appearances from original cast members. In keeping with the original, it’s indulgently slow-paced – even I felt it could have shaved off 15-25 minutes pretty easily – but I didn’t actually feel impatient. Equally in keeping with the Hollywood of 3 decades ago (and now), it has some fairly icky sexual politics, and restricts its POC characters to hackneyed small-time-crim roles (and a couple of other minor characters), which is a huge shame. It’s sumptuously beautiful in any case.
Forest Drive West – Persistence of Memory, Pt. 3 [Hidden Hawaii]
Sticking with drum’n’bass for a bit though, here’s a young artist with little info available on him. Forest Drive West may be based in Bristol, given he’s got a couple of releases on Livity Sound, giving him instant bass-techno cred. But last year he also dropped a great bit of jungle revivialism on Rupture, the Jungle Crack EP, and thus on the flipside of two fantastic dub-techno tracks, we have this piece of 5/4 drum’n’bass, really just switching up the tempo from from the dubby sounds on the A side, and adding some amen breaks.
Ziúr – Cipher [Objects Ltd/Planet µ]Ziúr – Human Life Is Not A Commodity [Objects Ltd/Planet µ]Ziúr – Bud Dallas [Objects Ltd]Ziúr – Fractals [Objects Ltd/Planet µ]Lara Rix-Martin, part of Planet µ boss Mike Paradinas, recently formed the Objects Ltd label to promote the work of female & non-gender-binary electronic producers, and has wasted no time in bringing some brilliant artists to greater prominence. Based in Berlin, Ziúr has released a number of pretty club-ready EPs, as well as running the Boo-Hoo club night that again focuses on non-cis-male artists. Her prior work is excellent (including a more straighforward dance-oriented EP on Deeform on Objects Ltd last year), but it’s wonderful to hear artists branch out in album form, and here were have glitchy-freaky ambient tracks like opener “Human Life Is Not A Commodity”, and many tracks in which the beats are so broken down that no dancefloor would tolerate them. There are also sampled riffs, intense hardstyle & footwork-influenced excursions, and even some emotive r’n’b slipping through. Top notch all the way.
Brainwaltzera – yamaha Hills  [Film]Brainwaltzera – 10_muddy_puddle Trot [Film]Brainwaltzera – 0Swald trace [-/+2] [Analogical Force]Brainwaltzera – Δlate Hither [ma8ema8mati7s a∫ nap version] [Film]
Here’s a mysterious European producer making pitch-perfect mid-’90s idm & “braindance”… Brainwaltzera was tipped by Aphex Twin on SoundCloud at some point last year and since then rumours have abounded about his identity, but if there’s one thing I’m sure of from listening to his stuff, it’s that it’s not Aphex. There are some lovely wobbly synth melodies redolent of Boards of Canada, and definitely some high class beat fuckery of the sort that Aphex, Squarepusher and µ-Ziq were wont to do back in the day, both high-speed drill’n’bass and head-noddy hip-hop beats. It’s melodic, electronic, and heaps of fun, although the production and/or mastering leaves things a little hollow sounding. In any case, for lovers of idm this is absolutely unmissable.
Herva – Smania [Planet µ]Herva – Slam The Laptop [Delsin]Herva – Bien [Planet µ]
I’ve been meaning to play this for a while, and this very electronic show is the perfect slot for it. African-Italian producer Herve Atsè Corti (I mis-spoke this as African-Spanish on the show, confused I think by the Spanish label releasing one of Brainwaltzera’s EPs above) brings an utterly bent take to dance music, whether house or broken beat genres, glitching up the sounds in ever-inventive ways. As well as two tracks from a new(ish) Planet µ EP, I played a fantastic bit of glitch-house with an infectious bassline from the 2014 album Instant Broadcast on Dutch label Delsin.
VVV x Holly – 09H1L7 [Hush Hush]
And finally, another EP I should’ve played months ago, out on Seattle label Hush Hush. Iranian-American producer VVV aka Shawhin Izaddost is often ambient in a vaporwavey fashion, often influenced by 2step & other genres; Miguel Oliveira aka Holly is a Portuguese trap producer. This collaboration is a stellar mix of slightly burnished rave influences, old and new. Highly recommended.