Terrence Dixon: Tales of an Accelerated Future
Brought together by shared desires and experimentations on the fringes of the drum’n’bass scene, individual producers Sabre, Stray and Halogenix joined forces to form Ivy Lab; a North London based production trio who cross-pollinate UK soundsystem culture with influences from future beats, the Mo’Wax era and LA’s Low End Theory championed beat scene.
Debuting in 2013 with the 'Afterthought/Brat' EP on Critical Recordings, the crew have stuck tight, now embarking on propagating a new generation of sub-genres housed within the framework of their ’20/20’ project. Initially established as a clubnight, 20/20 is broadening its scope with the launch of a record label, providing a platform and support network for the emerging sounds operating in the hinterlands between footwork, jungle, drum’n’bass, hip-hop and future beats – often referred to under the stop-gap moniker of ‘halftime'.
Celebrating a genre close to their heart, the trio share a 10 best run-down with us – touching on halftime tracks from Bristolian heavyweight Sam Binga right through to a set-staple track by Machinedrum. If you're that way inclined, have a listen on YouTube or check out the Ivy Lab extended halftime playlist on Spotify.
01. Alix Perez Gully Halves
Ivy Lab: "Of the half-a-dozen or so different threads that form the halftime landscape, the producer who has done the most to bring a hip-hop element to the music is undeniably Alix Perez. His experiments under the ARP 101 alias for labels like Eglo and Donky Pitch were way ahead of the pack. Since shelving that alias there’s definitely been some consolidation of ideas and his halftime material now has stronger bass music leanings, but that stateside influence always creeps in whether it’s chop-n-screw vocals / wonky beats / funkadelic riffs…."
02. Eprom Pipe Dream
Ivy Lab: "Speaking of stateside influence, Eprom was one of the first US producers we’d heard rocking the 80-90bpm thing in what was at the time, a freshly emerging dancefloor/bass-centric strand which now gets called the beats scene. The 'Pipe Dream' EP was released in 2012 on Dutch label Rwina Records. As an early adopter of material in this BPM bracket and incubator for more twisted takes on footwork and jungle-juke, the label has artists such as Krampfhaft as a staple presence, and gave early support to 20/20’s own Deft."
03. Digital & Spirit Phantom Force (Fracture remix)
Ivy Lab: "This '90’s drum’n'bass anthem from Digital & Spirit got a retweak at the very beginning of the halftime emergence. Fracture came through post-millennium as part of the drumfunk movement alongside contemporaries like Equinox, 0=0 and Breakage, and although this track doesn’t showcase the jungle/beat-programmer influences that typify his sound, the choice of remix material in the first place is a solid reflection of that provenance. A provenance that's worth noting as being fairly commonplace amongst many players in the movement."
04. Sam Binga & Redders Ayo
Ivy Lab: "We share a place on the Critical music rostrum with Binga – who a couple of years back came onto the scene following his passage from the post-dubstep landscape working under the alias Baobinga. Much Like Fracture in our previous entry, Sam borrows heavily from the jungle aesthetic as does his Londoner-cum-Bristolian MC Redders whose toasting style charts a lineage straight back to the likes of Navigator or Stevie Hyper-D. The instantly recognisable formula they’ve since coined first emerged in this track."
05. Mr. Carmack Hopscotch
Ivy Lab: "Combined with an impeccable sense of groove, a newly emergent engineering prowess was one of the key differences singling out a select group of predominantly LA based producers from the rest of the Soundcloud and Bandcamp beats pack, which was growing exponentially around the turn of the decade. Mr. Carmack was one of the leading lights amongst these producers, and there is perhaps some pertinence to the fact that going back far enough in time on his Bandcamp page reveals a host of drum & bass and dubstep material."
06. Darkhouse Family Brockwild
Ivy Lab: "Cardiff-based duo Darkhouse Family showcase the hybrid nature of the halftime sound in a very practical way. Metabeats boasts production credits for rappers such as Action Bronson, and Jamal is a Valve Recordings understudy – the record label and sound system run by gritty-bassline-fanatics Dillinja & Lemon D. Brockwild is without a doubt the quintessential 20/20 anthem."
07. Shades Minotaur
Ivy Lab: "Hearing the first batch of collaborative material from Perez and Eprom was a memorably ‘ooof’ moment for the three of us. Along with the music comes the story of how the pair got together in the studio, when Alix flew out to LA to play Low End Theory as the sole UK ambassadeur, which was an important turning point in the increasing enthusiasm for typically British motifs from the stateside beats scene. The 'Shades' EP is a perfect example of this fast expanding US-meets-UK aesthetic which sits importantly at the forefront of the halftime movement."
08. Om Unit & Kromestar Solar Cycle
Ivy Lab: "Cosmic Bridge is the outlier record label in this whole landscape. Its founder Om Unit is perhaps one of its best recognised members. The launch single in 2011 is not only an anthem, but also the blueprint for the label's trademark sound of dubwise and spaced out cuts that harness much of the same aesthetic found in early dubstep. I guess it’s not much of a surprise that one of those early dubstep stalwarts Kromestar collaborates with the label boss on this release."
09. Great Dane Invite Only
Ivy Lab: "In Great Dane you have a producer who channels much of the same energy and style as Mr.Carmack and he loves a distorted bassline. Although, unlike Carmack it’s unclear if he knowingly has any UK bass-music influences or is even aware his preferred range in-and-around 80bpm makes his music popular amongst the halftime crew. Invite Only was a turning point track in our live shows when we started dropping it. Perhaps one of the first tracks we came across that combined 85bpm with trap-leanings and grunge basslines."
10. Machinedrum Neujack
Ivy Lab: "One of the earliest and finest purveyors of footwork inspired uptempo, Machinedrum was instrumental in injecting the wider underground electronic music community with a rediscovered interest in our beloved bpm territory. His halftime beats bang: they borrow from ghetto/booty house and dirty southern drum machine electronica. A staple in our sets for some time now."
11. Phazz Insomnia
Ivy Lab: "Sorry to skip above our quota but this track has to get a mention. A producer best known for wavey future-R&B Soundcloud bootlegs, this cut from Phazz is one of darkest and most ominous beats we’ve ever supported and it sticks out like a sore-thumb from the rest of his catalogue. Noisia have even begun playing this in their sets recently, which comes as no surprise given its combination of sheer moodiness and technical brilliance."
‘Ivy Lab Presents 20/20 Volume One’ is out now on 20/20 Recordings.