Smith & Mighty – Ashley Road Sessions 88-94
Despite being inextricably linked to the South West England sound, Ashley Road Sessions proffers an array of styles, the breadth and spectrum of which might surprise.
Celebrating 30 years since their first release, on November 9th foundation laying forefathers Smith and Mighty release Ashley Road Sessions. This special one-off double label partnership between Pinch’s Tectonic and Peverelist’s Punch Drunk is an endeavour in homage to their Bristol neighbours, whom they both hold in high regard. Despite being inextricably linked to the South West England sound, Ashley Road Sessions proffers an array of styles, the breadth and spectrum of which might surprise. Breakbeat, hardcore, balearica and acid house all feature as prominently as the dub, reggae, hip hop beats and soul for which they’re most commonly associated. Especially timely in light of the recent breakbeat and jungle revival, this important document feels both historical and relevant, with the classic hip hop sample, crisp breakbeats and Gat Décor bass of perky opener Always Be There (Step Up) sounding remarkably current .Airborne dub fx float around heavy beats on the sparse pulse of ‘Stalagnate’, which wouldn’t seem out of place on Bokeh Versions, sounding both vintage and very now. The aptly titled Morning Light surely soundtracked the end of long orbital rave nights, straddling funky hardcore breaks, emotive melody, sub bass and heartening Balearic optimism.
The deft break chopping of Film Score shows they could do deep jungle as well as anyone, contrasting with Higher Than Tempo – a cerebral slow IDM trance dance, that was post E2 E4and pre Landcruising. Dub Song seamlessly blends hardcore, jungle and steppers with a smooth liquidity, whilst frenetic sixteenths, hard snares and purring bass drive the skeletal head-snapper Through A Dark Cloud. Percussion and drum machines meet melodic chords on Leaving Pt 1 and 2, which exemplifies the plaintive, melancholy British bass, later made famous by Massive Attack.