Pumped Friction

1997 - what can I say? Road rage, alcopops, the fucking Teletubbies and the ridiculous ever-increasing number of dance sub-genres. You thought the ol’ trip hop moniker was a bit silly, you guffawed at speed garage (didn’t we all) but unfortunately it was just the beginning of the plethora of increasingly fragmented musical styles which we just luurve to place name on. This brings me neatly to the latest night in the Capital to be causing a stir and raising the eye brows of the mountain of lazy dance hacks, namely Friction at Bar Rumba in the bright lights and pissed-tourist territory of Shaftesbury Avenue.

Thankfully the number of drunken Germans inside the club is reassuringly low, and as you slink down the stairs on to the dance floor you could be forgiven for describing the musical style pulsating out of the system as Big Beat. However, dare to commit such a dance faux pas and you’ll see the resident DJs cringe in horror at your foolish blunder. Mistakenly mumble “Well it sounds a bit like the Chemical Brothers” and they may well smack you round the chops. No, no, no. You see this latest hybrid is Nu-School breakbeat and future electro. Are you thick or something?

Although not a million miles away from the large beats which rule the roost at the Heavenly Jukebox, with this new little baby out go the unnecessary rawk guitar samples and in comes some much tighter production and crisper breakbeats. This, I dare say, is luring in far more proper clubbers rather than attracting the flailing drunken indie kids who’ll pogo to whatever Steve Lamacq and the NME have told them is cool this week, which the Big Beat scene tends towards.

The major queue outside and rammed atmosphere inside was heightened further on the night we attended, due to the fact the great Carl Cox would be joining Friction’s residents of ex-London Student deity Tayo, Rennie Pilgrim and Adam Freeland, for an exclusive set of those much vaunted breakbeats. First up on the wheels is the bedreadlocked Tayo who rocks the house for two hours solid with his own brand of turntable tricknology.

Looking like someone who’s just escaped from Wormwood Scrubs and equipped with the ferocious records to prove this point Rennie Pilgrim, Thursday Club Records mainman and one half of the Philidelphia Bluntz, is the next to work the system.

Taking things up a gear Rennie moves into harder electro territory, playing many of his own tunes off of Thursday Club Records. Some slate DJ’s for playing their own stuff but when Mr Pilgrim dropped his forthcoming “Blowpipe” track you’d be hard pressed to argue against the dancefloor’s explosive reaction. By the time Lord Carl of Cox had taken to the decks, Bar Rumba was full to breaking point. This man wasn’t voted the world’s number one DJ for nothing, you know.

Witness the headphones go on, watch in awe as his massive head starts to rock back and forth and then see the kids go mental. Although not strictly sticking to the breakbeat agenda it’s fair to say that the big man damned well rocked the place, and with name DJs queuing up to to grace Friction’s turntables it looks like this is only just the beginning of the breakbeat revolution.

Will Mills

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