February 2, 2009

Black Secret Technology [A Guy Called Gerald]

Gerald Simpson, aka A Guy Called Gerald

Black Secret Technology is my newest musical obsession these days. Produced by A Guy Called Gerald (formerly of acid house collective 808 State), the album is one of the original drum n' bass long players and considered by many as the genre's crowning achievement. There is a reason for this - the album doesn't skip a beat, providing a seamless blend of pummeling high-BPM jungle beats, smooth bass and eloquently direct and soulful vocal work.

One of the albums greatest attributes is its production. While there are several formidable drum n' bass albums, including Goldie's Timeless as well as fare from LTJ Bukem and Klute, much of them sound almost too clean, methodically constructed to the point where the human element seems to be missing. Black Secret Technology, and Plug's Drum n' Bass for Papa for that matter, don't have this kind of production. They are works of perfect imperfection - sometimes the vocals are too close in the mix and the drums snares slightly muddled - but this is what makes them sound raw and, ultimately, a greater pleasure to listen to.

Unfortunately, today's drum n' bass doesn't have the punch it once had, often complacently played at low volume in modern clothing boutiques or that new hip lounge everyone is talking about. Though drum n' bass's early works, notably Black Secret Technology, still retain that sense of raw madness that helped coalesce a genre built on speed.
A Guy Called Gerald - Finley's Rainbow (featuring Finley Quaye) [Black Secret Technology LP, 1995]
A Guy Called Gerald - The Reno [Black Secret Technology LP, 1995]

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