CCL takes proto-step one step further

On their new mixtape for T4T LUV NRG, CCL has gone deep into the edit to create an era-spanning exploration of the dubwise dance music that has always been with us.

In a beautiful demonstration of how one idea can be approached so differently depending on the person, CCL has just announced a mixtape which chimes with Om Unit’s previously reported mixtape of pre-dubstep-dubstep. A Night In The Skull Discotheque is a meditation on the sonic threads which lead into dubstep as an extension of CCL’s time spent living in Bristol in the late 00s, when the sound was splintering in many different directions. Where Om Unit’s mix was focused on a particular thread around anomalies from electronica and techno in the 90s, CCL has looked further back with a selection spanning the late 70s through to 2000. Shards of roots, post-punk, industrial, early techno and electronica all get twisted to CCL’s dubwise mission, and while it reaches beyond the obvious template of dubstep into broader sonic spheres, it strikes upon some fascinating blends in the process.

T4T LUV NRG · CCL – A Night in the Skull Discotheque

We’re here for patchwork mixes that strip down older tracks for parts to create something new – CCL reportedly drew some influence from Eris Drew’s own Raving Disco Breaks Vol. 1 in that regard – and the ingredients CCL reaches for are second to none. Smith & Mighty are their baseline of inspiration, bookending the mix and namechecked for their seminal Bass Is Maternal album and its shelved predecessor, Bass Is Eternal, as the side A of the tape edition of the mix. Elsewhere, there’s everything from African Head Charge to Leo Anibaldi, Mad Professor to that Baby Ford tune we shouted out in the Om Unit piece. It’s a diggers delight, fully tracklisted with the years and all (check the image below), and it rocks with that fierce, fabulous energy synonymous with the wider T4T LUV NRG crew from Drew and Octo Octa to Bored Lord, Sage Introspekt and beyond.

It’s worth mentioning you can stream the mix in full, for free, via the SoundCloud link above, but if you want to support the release and cop the physical edition you can head to Bandcamp. It’s worth it, because as T4T LUV NRG state:

“A portion for the proceeds from this release will go to fundraiser ‘SUPPORT PALESTINIAN SOLIDARITY IN EUROPE!'”

We reached out to CCL to gain a little more insight into the origins of the Skull Discotheque concept, Smith & Mighty’s enduring influence and what their overall intentions with the mix were.

Could you tell us about how the idea for A Night At The Skull Discotheque came to you?

“Over the years I had come across quite a few tracks that had uncanny references or similarities to what we would now call dubstep but were far too early to be classified that way.  Sometimes decades too early. I started a folder in Rekordbox and began to collect these tracks, the playlist reached about 200 and I felt like I had do to something with them – it spans everything from Skinny Puppy to Herbie Hancock to Jah Warrior. When listening through the tracks some uncanny vivid images started to emerge in my mind and I decided to name the place The Skull Discotheque.  Huge love to my big sisters Eris Drew and Octo Octa for believing in my project idea, devoting such care and thought and helping it find a natural home on their T4T cassette series.” 

We’re curious about your specific mentioning of Smith & Mighty’s Bass Is Eternal tape. What was so inspiring about the sound of this tape in particular? 

“As far as I’ve been able to see, this tape was an extremely limited tape pressing of unreleased Smith & Mighty material. It’s tough to hear the tape in full as it wasn’t archived digitally properly, though some tracks have been released since. The closest thing to listening to the tape you can find here. More than any other artist that I’ve encountered, S+M deliver a consistent snapshot into the ‘proto’ melting pot, and lots of their tracks felt like the earliest, most consistent distillation of influences emerging that would then form the bass / hardcore continuum. I also love the DJ mixtape as a format – this is a nod to mixtape culture as a medium for spreading and exploring ideas and sonic worlds. I am also fascinated by the name which proclaims “Bass is Eternal” as early as 1992. I couldn’t agree more and hope [my] tape is further proof of this concept.”

What were your overall intentions with the mix?

“I wanted to reach a bit beyond the archival perspective, and beyond playing tracks that sound the most similar to dubstep now. I intentionally included many 80s-sounding tracks, which started to colour this ‘Discotheque’ in a particular light. 

“This project took longer than other mixes I’ve done because of the array of different styles and mastering the between the tracks – I had to do some home remastering – and many of the tracks are not quantised, or weren’t even close to 140. It was fun to figure out how combinations between these tracks would feel more or less like what we know now as dubstep, and how contrasting moods could create something unique but also eerily reminiscent somehow. In Lloyd Bradley’s [ed: essential] book Bass Culture, I loved how Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is described as, ‘Salvador Dalí of Dub,’ and I wanted to apply a similar surrealist brush to this tape. 

​​”Above all, I wanted the story of this vivid, imaginary dancehall to be fully explored and for the journey to be a fulfilling and enjoyable listen. I wanted it to be dusky and dark, gothy, kitschy, glittery and a bit camp at the same time.”

CCL’s A Night At The Skull Discoteque is out now on cassette and digital download.