Dusting Off... Bomb The Bass' Into The Dragon
What is it?
Released in 1988, Into The Dragon is the debut album from DJ and producer Tim Simenon, better known as the creative force behind Bomb The Bass. Starting out as a DJ at London's Wag Club in the mid 1980s, Simenon's big break came in 1987 with his first single, 'Beat Dis', a track constructed mostly from samples recorded for £300, reportedly funded by Simenon himself with funds earned from his DJ sets and a part-time job as a supermarket shelf-stacker.
Although Simenon grew up in Brixton, in an attempt to create an air of mystique around his Bomb The Bass project 'Beat Dis' was released on the now defunct Mister Ron imprint and disguised as a U.S. import in order to create the impression it was from an underground act based in New York. The track soon became a hit in the clubs and exceeded all expectations on its release when it landed at No.2 in the UK Singles Chart. Propelled by this success, 'Beat Dis' was soon followed up by a debut LP, released the following year.
Usually described as dance music, Into The Dragon is more accurately described as a blend of house music and hip-hop, particularly in its extensive use of scratching and samples layered over house rhythms and basslines ('Beat Dis' reportedly contains more than 70 samples, culled from a a variety of sources including TV shows, obscure films and tracks by everyone from Public Enemy and The Jimmy Castor Bunch to Jayne Mansfield).
Into The Dragon is presented as if you are listening to a radio broadcast -probably inspired by shows popular at the time like Tim Westwood's rap show for Radio 1, or New York's The World's Famous – and several of the album's tracks include intro skits from the likes of Soul II Soul's Jazzie B and Mark Moore of S'Express. The album is a real melting pot of styles and samples and along with 'Beat Dis', standout moments include 'Megablast', another of the album's singles, the instrumental 'Dynamite Beats' and the frenetic scratch freestyle 'Beat Dat'.
Why should I revisit?
Along with acts like M/A/R/R/S and Coldcut, Bomb The Bass were one of the first acts to bring sample-based music and scratching to a mainstream audience in the UK and Simenon's pioneering approach led him to produce tracks by Neneh Cherry, Depeche Mode and Sinead O'Connor.
Much like other records of its era like the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique, Into The Dragon's extensive use of samples took the music industry into uncharted waters in terms of copyright laws and as a result it's much more difficult to create records like this without considerable legal headaches, meaning that albums like this rarely make it to the shelves any more, making this LP something of a rare oddity, the like of which we may never see again.
Who will enjoy it?
Coldcut and others on the Ninja Tune label are probably the closet reference point to Bomb The Bass, so if you're a fan of tracks like Coldcut's epic remix of Eric B. & Rakim's 'Paid in Full', this will be right up your street.