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Basslaced Presents: Exit Records UK vs Metalheadz – Studio Spaces E1, London

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As any music fan will know, there are line-ups and then there are line-ups. So when Data Transmission found out that Dbridge‘s game-changing Exit Records was to take on Goldie‘s mighty Metalheadz in an all-out drum & bass battle for supremacy… well, we always knew this would be one of the latter cases.

Heading into London’s Studio Spaces E1, we’re tantalised by the night ahead. Legends of the scene such as Storm, Doc Scott and Source Direct; new heroes like Stray and Alix Perez, who have revitalised the genre – the gang’s all here. Kicking off, Rinse FM favourite Flight goes head to head with Instra:Mental‘s Damon Kirkham, now using his Kid Drama alias. The pair compliment each other well, taking things deep and dark as the appropriately named Warehouse room gradually fills. With so many DJs to get through, all sets are limited to the standard hour, thus before we know it our hosts have made way for two of the ‘90s most treasured possessions, Randall and Fierce. Although a distinctly less jungle-y set than expected, when Dillinja’s ‘Capone’ comes blasting through, we indulge the need (and it is most definitely a need) to weave our way to the front and show our appreciation.

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The highlight of the night comes in the form of Fracture vs Stray. Aside from being an ideal match up due to both artists now working predominantly in drum & bass’ juke splinter, the set reflects the openness to change and thirst for fresh, exciting rhythms that has been the driving force behind both Exit and Metalheadz’s success. Inducing an energy level higher than a whole box of blue Smarties (remember when E numbers were fun?), our diligent DJs throw out banger after banger. Finally hearing Stray’s funk-laden ‘Matchsticks’ on a system is not something we’ll easily forget, whilst Fracture’s ‘Loving Touch’ also went down a storm, seemingly becoming the tune of the night after it pops up in several set lists.

As we make to leave for Goldie vs Dbridge, drum & bass’ resident jokers Dub Phizix and Strategy arrive. Hilarity ensues as the duo impersonate their opponents, “Greg” and “the other one” of Ulterior Motive, who have failed to appear, and we can’t help wondering if the Jedward-gelled wig mounted on Dub Phizix’s head is the most hair he’s ever had.

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The rest of the event goes as expected; both label bosses destroy the packed out dance floor before them; Om Unit showcases exactly why he’s one of the electronic music’s most promising new artists, and claims a most deserving rewind when he offers up Dillinja classic ‘Nasty Ways’. Closing the proceedings, we enjoy a rare chance to catch Source Direct, who graciously jams in as many extra tracks as he can after his “last one”. The label clash is an excellent premise, and Exit vs Metalheadz was always guaranteed to be a success. Our only complaint? It’s all over too soon!

Words: Ben HindlePhotos: Hana Makovcova

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Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

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