Some Turbulence History
I've decided to write about some of the more memorable turbulence events I've been to over the years. I can make no promises about accuracy but I hope you enjoy my haphazard recollections all the same.
Ed Rush and Optical 20th of October 2001
After establishing themselves as genre defining artists with their seminal debut album “Wormhole” Ed Rush and Optical had a lot to live up to with their second full length LP. This event was part of the album tour to promote “The Creeps” and has to be up there with one of the best turbulences of all time. Accompanied by Ryme Tyme, the pair went back to back for around 2 hours, smashing the dancefloor to pieces with the relentless, technical drum and bass that defined this era so strongly. The university basement had a very special atmosphere on nights like this, the low ceiling would rain sweat because of the frantic, frenetic activity below and the seething mass of bodies would generate the heat of a tropical rain forest.
This night stays in my memory because of the music and the atmosphere. The music was tough, speedy and aggressive and looking at the faces of some of the characters in the crowd, you would imagine the atmosphere was the same. Although a lot of people were frowning or staring in to the middle distance as their legs smacked the floor in time with the snare, there was no sense of genuine hostility. Everyone there seemed to be interested in dancing as hard as they could for as long as they could, it was almost as if it had been rehearsed. Towards the end of the night the floor was still bouncing long after the bar had closed and almost everyone stayed to chant the obligatory “one more tune!” at the DJs. This night was particularly messy and the rainy October weather coupled with the indoor showers of sweat left the floor slick with a black film that my friends lovingly christened “turbulence filth.” If ever that phrase was appropriate to describe the whole event, it was that night.
Some of the defining tunes of the night for me were:
Kemal and Rob Data: Gene Sequence
Optical: To Shape the Future
Technical Itch: Analysis
Saturday 18th November 2003 Fresh, Twisted Individual, L Double (Turbulence’s 5th
By this time Turbulence had already gained national recognition and their 5th birthday was a huge party. Drum and Bass Arena came to film the proceedings and the triple bill of heavyweight headliners was enough to attract people from all over the North East and beyond.
In 2003 the jump up sound had well and truly exploded and some of the moodiness that dominated the early part of the decade had given way to a high energy, synth driven sound that had more in common with early rave than with the sparse and sinister productions of the previous years. Long atmospheric intros would lull you in to a false sense of security before a snarling reece bassline tore into your chest like a crowbar. Fresh’s headlining set was littered with tunes like this and although the intensity was still there, the quality of the production and the melodic elements in the music made the whole thing more accessible and less aggressive. The crowd reflected this change in mood and the stereotypical shaven heads were starting to be replaced by a more mixed demographic. Gone were the days of 50 blokes to one girl. (Thankfully.)
Twisted individual was arguably responsible for creating what we now know as the modern jumpup sound and his set that night was full of tunes that many people consider anthems of dance floor drum and bass. I distinctively remember his controversial “bandwagon blues” track being drawn back to screams of approval. That simplistic, high energy sound was exactly what the crowd wanted that night: Pure party music. To add to the proceedings, North East hip-hop legend Stig was on the mic alongside regular host Mikey Rider and vocalist Mizbee. This combination made the whole thing seem more professional and in many ways very different from some of the earlier parties. The niche days seemed to be over as Turbulence and North East Drum and Bass was beginning to go from strength to strength.
I found a video of Twisted’s set on DnB TV, so if you fancy a trip down memory lane or a bit of a history lesson, give it a watch.
Here's an old one I found. You might have excuse the overzealous rhetoric, I was much younger and less cynical back then!
AlleyCat Temper D and Twisted Individual at Turbulence, Northumbria University, Newcastle. 07/08/04
A triple header of drum and bass delight was on display tonight. U.S label Skunkrock’s first lady AlleyCat, Renegade Hardwares new hot property Temper D and the ever popular Twisted Individual. A diverse line up to say the least!
Alleycat took the early slot (11-12) and played a fine selection. I remember being impressed the last time I saw her play turbulence as she threw down some ferocious tunes that sounded very different to a lot of things that were being produced at the time. Nothings changed really, and you have to respect that. She is pushing the more break driven/amen kind of sound that has often been ignored in the wake of the simplistic bouncy castle anthems that seem to dominate many djs sets these days. I wasn’t the only one who warmed to this either as the dancefloor was rammed full of bouncing loons for the vast majority of her set.
I have always had a lot of time for Temper D as both a producer and a DJ. He plays and produces exactly the kind of drum and bass that I like, ultra dark, brutally hard and superbly intricate. His was the set of the night for me; playing some virus classics alongside some of the freshest techno influenced bangers he created a blissfully intense noise for just over an hour. The main thing that strikes me about Temper D when he’s DJing is that he’s working all the time, constantly tweaking the mix, teasing the crowd with tunes and putting together deadly double drops. Chris SU, Muffler, Raiden and Evol Intent were all among his set. Very underground, very well produced music from the darkest depths of bassline hell. Marvellous.
When twisted took to the decks I expected things to cool down a bit but thankfully the crowd seemed to be so hyped up that they were still very receptive. A lot of criticism has been thrown this mans way recently. “clownstep etc etc” Admittedly he makes a very specific style of music, and it is often quite simplistic and not very “serious.” I have one question for his critics though. “WHO CARES?” Dance floor drum and bass is not designed to be listened to in the same way as a classical symphony or an opera. Funnily enough it is designed for the dance floor. The trademark wobbly bass lines were all there but it would be unfair to say that the whole set was unashamed clown step. I may be wrong (I’d had more than a few by this time) but I’m sure he played calibres superb collaboration with MC Fats “Drop it Down,” hardly the standard jump up no brainer that he is often accused of rinsing. What was refreshing was that he actually played a tune that I asked him to. (Many DJs just sneer at you when you do this, irritating really considering your door/bar money goes some way to pay their wages!) I rudely shoved my phone in his face with the words “pull my finger” typed across the screen. I wasn’t inviting him to participate in my favourite primary school game but was actually requesting one of his new compositions. An excellent combination of sub low booming bass and a disgusting little mid range line that snakes in and out like a possessed lizards tongue.
Overall this night surpassed all expectations, as I mentioned in my last review Northumbria’s “Red’s Bar” is no where near as good a venue as the regular home in the Bassment, it is however a worthy substitute that provided a couple of much needed injections of “the fast stuff” over this long summer.
Ed Rush and Total Science @ Turbulence June 24th, 2011
Drum and Bass is now deeply embedded into the cultural fabric of the 21st century, it’s even taking giant leaps into the mainstream again. DJ Fresh produced a number one single, as did Nero. (I know it was dubstep but they have made dnb as well.) That polished, chart friendly sound is what a lot of people will think of when they hear our genre’s name and in a lot of ways, it is the dominant sound at the majority of big events. During term time, the headliners at Turbulence smash that style and the crowd go insane for it. They scream for rewinds, they throw their hands in the air and they dance on the stage. (Before being thrown off by a disgruntled Aems as his considerable patience begins to wear thin...) Summer events are a little bit different, especially this year with the arrival of the “retrospective” parties. The flyer promised a “Virus Vaults” set from Ed Rush as well as a “Classics” set from Total Science. To some people that sort of line up is unbelievable, especially the “Virus Vaults” part.
For those that don’t already know, Virus is Ed Rush and Optical’s label and is responsible for some of the most influential music of the last century, certainly within dance music, anyway. Rumour had it that there were several DAT tapes lying around that contained unreleased tunes from that golden era. These tunes were eventually released on the “Virus Vaults” compilations to squeals of delight from scores of neurofunk nerds all over the world. To hear an all virus set on that crisp function one system at Digital would be a rare treat indeed, so it’s a bit of a shame that Ed Rush’s selection was a little bit light on actual releases from his own label. I don’t want to criticize the set any more than that, though, as it was genuinely masterful from start to finish. Opening with Messiah by Konflict and teasing the likes of Kraken, 4 days and killa bees caused so many screwed up faces on the dancefloor, it was as if someone had hidden a three week old egg sandwich in the bassbins. Aems seemed to be enjoying himself and complimented the set well by acting as a “host” and only letting rip with his bars when necessary. Knowing when to be quiet is a skill that sadly too few MCs possess.
Total Science delivered with the “classics” set and we were treated to the likes of Sidewinder by Special Forces (AKA Photek) and Titan by Ram Trilogy. The crowd seemed to respond a little less favourably but by this point it could have just been the fatigue setting in. It would have been good if Q Project was a little bit braver with his selection. Champion Sound is and always will be a phenomenal tune, but it can sound a little bit overplayed the 1000th time you hear it. Again, the criticisms are minor, though. The mixing was spot on and the selection kept the summer crowd bouncing until closing time. If this is a taste of how good summer events can be, I think we all have good reason to be excited about Dillinja and Die at the end of August.
Pictures from the event can be found at Digital's website