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A Magazine for Sheffield


There are few electronic dance records that have a legendary yarn worth spinning beyond the turntable platter. The very best of them include Orbital’s ‘Chime’, recorded onto tape and costing less than £1 to produce. Then there's the story when punk new waver Gary Numan turned up to record his latest tracks to find a Minimoog had been left in the studio. The Numanoid picked it up, recorded a bunch of groundbreaking electronic tracks and the rest is history. This is where history comes crashing together for Sheffield-based label CPU Recordings' 50th release. Not only is it impressive that CPU has made it to its half century release within five years, but for that milestone it has totally rebuilt two Sheffield bleep classics from scratch. Over a quarter of a century ago, Sheffield was the hub of a vibrant electronic music scene that was buzzing around the likes of Warp Records, pirate radio and several cutting-edge underground nights. In amongst that scene, several bleep techno classics were emerging, none more interesting and mythical than a set of four 12-inches over the course of a year from the artist Detromental – all with minimal information on their white labels, all either stamped or handwritten, all feeling and sounding otherworldly, while very local to South Yorkshire. The tracks ingrained themselves into the mind of Central Processing Unit label boss CPSmith, and over the next 25 years he tried to discover who was behind the brooding, bubbling basslines and metronomic drum patterns. Eventually, piece by piece, it was revealed that the tracks had been created by Dean Marriott and Lloyd Douglas, with only a small vinyl run pressed. An attempt to source original sound files for licensing purposes proved unfruitful and, after much effort and discussion with Marriott, there was only one option left open to Smith: to rebuild the tracks from scratch using originally sourced pieces of recording equipment, finding each component sound and piecing it back together. Cover versions are a tricky business at the best of times. They are either too close to the original or so far away that they can sound utterly horrendous (see José Feliciano’s destruction of Sting’s ‘Every Breath You Take’ for an example of this). Yet the sheer effort of rebuilding tracks using analogue equipment – no software synths or resampling of the original on show here – is a testament to Smith’s incredible passion for a golden period in our city's rich music history. It is also telling of his technical ability in music production, something he sadly does not do enough of. The two tracks, ‘Rewind’ and ‘Move’, have travelled through time. They sit somewhere in 1991, but also comfortably in 2017. With a clean and polished sound, they are good enough to have been released by electronic giants Warp then and now. It is indeed their loss, but the connection is moved even closer with the release being treated with the iconic classic purple sleeve, complete with binary catalogue number and CPU logo. With the original records going for in excess of £50 on Discogs, it really is a no-brainer to track down a copy of these special rebuilds before they too sell out and acquire a similarly mythical status. )

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