Paranoid London’s slow, dirty and acidic march through the dingy lanes of the underground has won them plenty of friends over the last couple of years. While their sound is resolutely based on a framework laid down by the likes of Phuture and other acid house gods all those years ago, and doesn’t really overly bother itself about whether or not it caters to explicitly modern tastes, it has gained an extra – and interesting – element from the way the music itself tends to be a very contemporary treatment of the genre: heavier, darker perhaps, and certainly more biting.
Their first release since last year’s album takes this further, furnishing us with not quite remixes, not quite cover versions of a pair of classic electro tracks. The first reinterprets the Imperial Brother’s 1984 electro-rap classic We Come To Rock, With the B-side working over Fantasy Three’s The Buck Stops Here. And while any attempt to cover another artist’s work is an endeavour not without its pitfalls, Paranoid London have mostly managed to pull it off.
Part of the reason the two tunes work well here is that they have obvious ignored the obvious temptation to allow too much in the way of homage to creep into the music (well, largely), instead choosing to rework the tracks into something perhaps more palatable to modern dancefloors than the rough n ready nature of the original material. We Come To Rock immediately sheds the break beats, replacing them with a straight 4/4 beat and playing up a weighty, jacking feel which amplifies the duo’s acidic tastes. The bassline, such a highpoint of the original recording, is stretched out, becoming tougher and more daunting, pumping out the swaggering mood and actually coming closer to sounding like something Pierre or Spanky would have created. The vocal samples, detached from their true context but still containing something of their organic funk, are occasionally over played but serve to accent the tracks deep, prowling, energy.
In many ways Buck Stoppin’ remains closer to its source than We Come To Rock does. While, as with the A-side, it culls heavily the original tune’s rap, it feels slightly less detached, and even though it obviously misses The Buck Stops Here’s complete vocal and verbal rhythms the samples on offer seem less dispassionate and detached, and are bedded into the rest of the track with more completeness. But perhaps because it is essentially a straighter transfer of the original tune’s mood and verve, it feels slightly less successful than We Come To Rock, offering as it does less opportunity for Paranoid London to bring their own brand of midnight mayhem to the proceedings, the very thing that added such vitality to the other track.
Paranoid London’s raid on a pair of such well-loved gems is to be applauded, but things here work best when they allow space for their own dark magic to work. While neither tune is probably as vital as some of the stonkers in their back catalogue – contemporary classics such as Eating Glue, or the still amazing Paris Dub 1 – both are likeable and bring something subtly fresh to a scene that often seems to dive into the past for no other reason than a bit of distraction. With a bit of luck We Come To Rock might kick-start some history pillaging in a new direction and remind people there was more to the past than disco. Oh well, I can dream.