Saturday, December 09, 2000
Wideboys - Something's Got Me Started

The Wideboys end 2000 with the satisfaction of having been the most vibrant and hardworking producers on the UK Garage scene this year. Name any micro-development within the sound over the last twelve years, and they were always in the thick of it; from spearheading the four-to-the-floor "speed" garage revival with their sleek pumper "Don't Waste My Time" and the sly funk of "Westside (2 Da Floor Mix)", to being the remixers-of-choice for the stars, donating filthy basslines and slamming beats to tracks by the All Saints and The Artful Dodger, to besting even the most hardened rave-advocates with their nasty breakbeat garage tracks such as "Hustler (Break & Bass Mix)".

The group's movements have been difficult to predict, and if listeners have grown confused by their seeming schizophrenia, they can hardly be blamed. Happily, "Something's Got Me Started" solves the mystery by combining nearly all of their hitherto separate qualities into one bloody excellent track. The track's powered by a breakbeat as opposed to a constructed 2-step rhythm, but unlike previous breakbeat tracks of theirs that I've heard, "Something's Got Me Started" takes a leaf out of the Stanton Warriors' manual by chopping up the break and rearranging it so it simulates a syncopated 2-step rhythm. The Wideboys have a reputation for stiff-jointed, mechanical beats (see particularly their ravaging take on Shanks & Bigfoots' "Sing A Long") and fittingly, despite the fluid-funk feeling that breakbeats generally have, the break pattern here is even more robotic and cyborg-like than usual for 2-step, sounding like a gigantic factory trying to pretend it's James Brown.

Even better, the 'Boys splice up the beats with their trademark loud snares, breakdowns, drum rolls and judder-pauses (sounding like the needle's caught the vinyl right on a drumkick) previously best used on their remix of The Artful Dodger's "Woman Trouble, which helps to vary the onslaught of the breakbeat and creates an interplay with the pulsating bassline for an excellent, edgy dancefloor dynamic. Again like The Stanton Warriors, The Wideboys realise that the way forward for beat programming in garage is not simple looped breaks but rather an adaption of jungle's cut-up aesthetic to the template of Timbaland's cyberfunk matrix.

Balancing out the dark, rough underbelly of the track is a lighter melodicism and pop sensibility; the key hook is a cool, jazzy keyboard line and eq-ing effects stolen from house music are used liberally. The vocal isn't run through the skat-O-meter like on "Heartache" or most of their remixes, which is a shame because the complexity of the group's "vocal science", which outstrips even Todd Edwards, is one of their three major assets (the others being their motorbike basslines and their peerless beats), but the two contrasting vocal snippets fit together nicely, and their "classic", old-style garage feel helps ground what is in many other respects is an overcharged track; the key here, as with much of the group's success, is to keep looking forward but to still know where you came from.


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