The twelfth installment of the blog’s Count To Ten series is dedicated to a leading figure in the drum and bass proceedings; a prolific artist, a veteran dj with bookings worldwide, a label owner and the undisputed leader of the wave of noir that has swept the scene in the second half of the 90s, Ed Rush.
Ed Rush is the primary recording alias of Ben Settle. Constantly active throughout the last two decades, Ed Rush has been an outstanding member of an innovative, forward-thinking circle of like-minded artists and engineers (Nico, Optical, Dj Trace, Dom & Roland, Matrix and Fierce); a collective that has re-designed the drum and bass blueprint more than once, injecting new ideas, methods and techniques into the production template. Championing the transition from the atmospheric, ambient and jazz-influenced drum and bass, that was prevalent in mid-90s, to a darker sound, tech-oriented, with clinical, precise and sophisticated drum programming, dominated by distorted, moody bass lines, focusing on fills and edits, rather than polyrhythmic madness, Ed Rush and his recording partners abolished the drum and bass stereotypes, creating a new sub-genre widely referred to as techstep (a term attributed to Dj Trace, coined during a session at No U-Turn Records HQ), emulated by a plethora of producers and record labels.
Over the course of the last 20 years, Ed Rush has cemented his reputation as a prominent dj and producer. Working mainly within small groups rather than solo, he has released to public and critical acclaim more than 50 singles and EPs, 5 albums and a variety of compilations and mixes. Ed Rush has recorded for a wide array of major and smaller labels, whereas a large number of his tracks have featured in countless compilations along the years.
Ben Settle has used the following monikers for his solo outputs:
- The Psychic Ed Rush (used once for an obscure early release in 1992)
- Dj Ed Rush (used also once for a rare recording on Jet Star Records)
- Ed Rush (his primary recording alias)
- Hydro (used for his productions on Emotif Recordings)
The majority of Ed Rush’s productions however, have been a result of collective endeavour, fruit of great synergies between him and the following established artists:
- Ed Rush & Nico (with Nick Sykes, owner of No U-Turn Records, Ed Rush’s mentor and main engineer)
- Ed Rush & Optical (with Matt Quinn, engineer and co-owner of Virus Records with Ed Rush)
- Soundlab (with Duncan Hutchinson aka DJ Trace, prolific artist and owner of DSCI4 and 117 Records)
- Neo-Tech (with Dominic Angus aka Dom & Roland, prominent Moving Shadow artist and owner of D&R Productions)
- Fortran (with Matt Quinn and Daniel Burke aka Fierce, owner of Quarantine Records)
Ed Rush has been involved into remixing duties for the following artists and acts:
A Sides, Adam Freeland, Cymande, Dj Trace, Digital, Hatiras, Jon The Dentist, Lil’ Louis, Noisia, Ram Jam World, Ram Trilogy, Roni Size & Reprazent, Sigma, Tali, Tanya Louise, The Source.
Ed Rush’s tracks have been remixed by the following artists and acts:
Boymerang, Origin Unknown, Matrix, Pendulum, Ram Trilogy, Ill.Skills, Gridlok, Baron, The Upbeats, Peter Van Hoesen, Perc, Prolix.
Ed Rush has recorded for a wide spectrum of record labels including the likes of:
31 Records, Audio Porn, Dee Jay Recordings, DSCI4, Emotif, Jet Star, Lucky Spin, Metalheadz, Metro, Moving Shadow, No U-Turn, Nu Black, Perc Trax, Prototype, Quarantine, RUN DNB, Space, Sublogic, Subtitles, Trouble On Vinyl, V Recordings, Virus, Vision.
The early days:
As most of his peers, west-Londoner Ben Settle moved from the early hip-hop and electro, in his early musical years, to the emerging underground rave scene. Tipping the Spiral Tribe Sound System as his first introduction to electronic music, that conveyed him to a new, fascinating world of hardcore, Ed Rush soon engaged into production himself.
With the aid of his neighbour Nico, Ed Rush’s debut tracks saw the light of day in 1992. Deeply influenced by the chopped up breaks and the ever-increasing speed of the late-period hardcore tracks, Ed Rush rode the wave, introducing himself to the scene. However obscure his first two EPs might have been (Look What They‘ve Done b/w What If My Heart Stops, PSY001, 1992 and I Wanna Stay In The Jungle & 5AM b/w Touch Me & Keep On, ER007, 1992) the follow-up the next year has been indicative of Settle’s potential and only the prelude of his prolific career.
In 1993, Ed Rush released the darkcore anthem Bludclot Artattack (b/w Bludclot Artattack (Dark mix), NUT-002) on Nico’s No U-Turn label; a track with pulsating momentum, in a period when the transition from the hardcore euphoria to the jungle/darkcore detachment, heralded by tracks like Goldie’s Terminator and Invisible Man’s The Beginning, was already taking place. Bludclot Artattack samples the catchy vocal hook “Let It Go” from the acapella version of the song I Need You Now by the disco group Sinammon (that acapella version has been heavily used for samples by various Suburban Base artists as well). The strings in the Dark mix have been sampled from Queen’s The Ring, off the Flash Gordon movie OST. Bludclot Artattack was remixed the next year (Bludclot Artattack (Licks 1 & 2), NUT-007, 1994) featuring the vocal snippet “Every time, I think I’m gonna wake up back in the jungle” from the movie Apocalypse Now.
In the next three years, Ed Rush released 8 more singles on No U-Turn and its sub-label Nu Black, with Nico on mixing, production arrangement and engineering duties. 1997 was marked by one of the genre’s essential, paradigm shifting outputs Torque, with contributions from Ed Rush, Nico, Trace and Fierce. Torque is a pivotal compilation, accompanied by a 14-track live mix by Ed Rush, featuring 4 tracks that are not included in the unmixed version.
- Ed Rush – Gangsta Hardstep b/w The Force Is Electric, NUT-011, 1995
- Ed Rush – Guncheck b/w The Force Is Electric (remix), NUT-012, 1995
- Ed Rush – West Side Sax b/w August, NUT-013, 1995
- Ed Rush – What’s Up b/w August (remix), NUT-014, 1996
- Ed Rush – Mothership b/w Defect, NUT-016, 1996
- Ed Rush & Nico – Sector 3 b/w Comatone, NUT-017, 1996
- Ed Rush, Trace & Nico – Mad Different Methods b/w The Droid, Nu Black, NNU021
- Ed Rush & Nico – Technology b/w Neutron, NUT-018, 1997. Technology received also the remix treatment by Boymerang released on a single-sided record (NUT018R)
- Ed Rush & Nico feat Trace & Fierce, Torque, NUTCD001, 1997
The first two (NUT-011 and NUT-012) are on a jungle tip, with clear hip-hop influences; the highlight being the remix of The Force Is Electric, with diffused electrostatic noise sounds, like a busy beehive, enhanced by a thunderous, pitched amen break. Re-mastered versions of Guncheck and Bludclot Artattack on the flipside were re-pressed in 2002 under the catalogue number NUT-030.
The next releases however, showcase a clear shift to the sound No U-Turn would be championing henceforth, moving the focus away from the chopped breaks of jungle to the funky sound of two-step. All tracks are characterized by a rigid, cutting-edge drum programming over No U-Turn’s trademark Reese bass-line. West Side Sax is dominated by a heavy sub-bass and a desolated sax riff; “High as a mothaf*****”, as the vocal hook in the track implies. Mad Different Methods uses snippets from the classic Wu-Tang Clan debut album 36 Chambers, which has been a blueprint for 90s hip hop. Mothership and Technology are definitely two of the label’s finest moments, included both in the Torque compilation, considered today as genre classics.
Jet Star, Lucky Spin and Trouble On Vinyl
Back again in 1993, Ed Rush hooked up with Dj Trace, a significant member of the Lucky Spin/Dee Jay Recordings stable, forming Soundlab; a collaboration resulting in two consecutive releases on the seminal Lucky Spin imprint: (Ed Rush & Dj Trace – Don Bad Man b/w Clean Gun, LSR008, 1993 and Soundlab – Vol 1, LSR009, 1993). Both releases are trademark b-boy jungle productions, with pitched hip-hop vocal hooks and the occasional gunshot sample over a cascade of time-stretched drums; the highlight being the track Badman Style off the Soundlab Vol. 1 EP.
That same year Ed Rush also contributed the track The Dreadd to the inaugural limited edition release of Trouble On Vinyl Records Here Comes Trouble vol. 1 EP.
In 1994, Ed Rush, under the one-off alias Dj Ed Rush, released a rare, highly sought after, white label vinyl on Jet Star Records; a label mainly specialized into reggae and hip-hop, but had released a series of ragga jungle records (stamped white label only) in the mid 90s. Two versions of the track Selecta feature in both sides of the record; a merciless use of mentasms over dexterous drum edits: (Dj Ed Rush – Selecta b/w Selecta (remix), Jet Star, XTC001, 1994).
Hydro – Techstepping Into The Future – Dee Jay Recordings
In 1996, Ed Rush emerged with the one-off moniker Hydro with Pete Parsons on engineering and arrangement duties this time. The Zone b/w Tha’ Bomb Shit, EMF 007 was released on Emotif, a S.O.U.R. offshoot. Both tracks, plus Check Me Out were included in the scene-defining compilation Techstepping – A Journey Into Experimental Drum & Bass with contributions also from Doc Scott, Trace & Nico under the aliases Skyscraper & Rollers Instinct, Grooverider with the sobriquet The Limit, Chronic Crew and Raw Deal.
Settle’s and Parsons’ paths crossed again the same year; Check Me Out was officially released as a single by Dee Jay Recordings with Voyager’s (the primary recording alias of Pete Parsons) track Long Distance (Collect Call mix) on the flipside: Voyager & Ed Rush – Baracuda part 1, DJX030, 1996.
Metalheadz, Prototype and Moving Shadow
1996 has been a pivotal year for Ed Rush, marking his rise to prominence. Eventually, the hideous distorted bass sounds Ed Rush crafted with Nico (created with the archetypal Roland Alpha Juno, synthesizer, with rigid and precise manipulation of complex waveforms) had been accepted by a wider drum and bass audience. As a result, Ed Rush’s productions were picked up by the most prestigious independent record labels of the scene: Goldie’s Metlaheadz, Playford’s Moving Shadow and Grooverider’s Prototype.
Dominic Angus (aka Dom & Roland), who had made his first steps into production in 1994 through Saigon Records, a No U-Turn sub-label, collaborated with Ed Rush assuming engineering duties. It was Dom in fact, who formally introduced Ed Rush and Optical to each other. As Settle and Quinn were moving around the same music circles, sharing a similar taste and passion for drum and bass, it was inevitable that the two of them would form one of the most prolific, dynamic and pioneering duos of the scene, in the years to follow.
Ed Rush released the Skylab EP on Metalheadz (Skylab b/w The Raven & Density, METH024, 1996), one of the finest moments of the label’s back catalogue. With an artistic cover by Jon Black (a satellite photo of Detroit with a ‘floating’ Metalheadz logo) this particular EP is a celebration of minimalism. Skylab’s intro is a dialogue from the movie 2010, however the highlight of the EP is The Raven, with haunting staccato keys and an eerie male vocal sample, until the introduction of the famous Reese bass-line. An alternate mix of Skylab featured in the third volume of the acclaimed Artcore series released by React the next year. In 1997, Ed Rush and Optical also contributed two tracks (Sabotage and Westway) to the collectible limited edition box set; a “film-reel” style round, tin box with the Metalheadz logo stamped into the front.
Ed Rush’s debut on Prototype was the impeccable Killamanjaro (mixed by Nico), whereas Subway on the flipside was mixed my Dom (Ed Rush – Killamanjaro b/w Subway, PRO 005, 1996). Two years later, Ed Rush (with Optical & Fierce) contributed his second production to the Prototype catalogue (Cutslo (Locuste mix) b/w Alien Girl, PRO 014, 1998), demonstrating his progression in terms of production maturity and versatility.
Ed Rush combined forces with Dom again in the one-off project Neo-Tech, for a standout release on Moving Shadow (Neo-Tech – Valves b/w Terminal, Shadow108, 1997); an amalgamation of the No U-Turn sound with Dom’s cutting-edge sequencing techniques. Valves featured in the essential compilation Blueprint – The Definitive Moving Shadow Album, released the same year.
Ed Rush had created the short-lived project Fortran, alongside Optical and Fierce, for two essential production outputs in 1998. Both recordings were for labels already embracing the sound Ed Rush had been pushing. The first one was released on Metro Recordings, a label owned by Matrix, who is Optical’s brother and Virus’ close production affiliate (Fortran – Places To Be b/w Sardines, MTRR 003, 1998) and the second on Doc Scott’s 31 Records fine imprint (Fortran – Search b/w The End part II, 31R006, 1998). The End part II is definitely the highlight of the trio’s outputs under the Fortran alias and one of the finest moment of 31 Records’ back catalogue.
The “Virus” proliferation
In 1998 and after a gig in New York, Ed Rush and Optical decided that their music seemed no longer suitable for other labels and it was high time they launched their own, as an outlet to release their material. Searching for a label title, a term that would encapsulate their infectious beats and the “organic” sense of the analog equipment they were using, they came up with Virus. The first releases have been strictly an Ed Rush & Optical affair; however Virus soon expanded its roster, fostering a creative home for similar-minded artists, always on the lookout for new talents, nurturing their development.
Sixteen years after the label’s launch, Virus has established an enviable collective, including the likes of Matrix, Ryme Tyme, Bad Company, Audio, Fierce, C4C, Noisia, Sonic & Silver, The Upbeats, Optiv & BTK and InsideInfo among others. Representing the darker side of the drum and bass spectrum, loyal to the label’s ethos since day one, Virus has explored unchartered territories in the drum and bass musical map, forging the progression of the techstep movement to a new sub-genre referred to as neurofunk (a term attributed to Nico ca 1998), pushing the music boundaries even further. During the sixteen years of Virus continuous activity, Ed Rush & Optical have released 16 singles and EPs, 5 LPs and two deluxe mixed compilations.
Having the “luxury” of a fully equipped studio in Soho, central London, Ed Rush and Optical accumulated a great deal of material. With no initial plans to write an album, they eventually realised that certain tracks would formulate a general theme and the result was no other than their paradigm shifting debut LP Wormhole, regarded as one of the most influential albums of the genre. Steering away from the traditional breakbeat roots, with clinical and precise programming that was the hallmark of the two-step sound, Wormhole inspired a whole new generation of producers. The highlights of the album are the homonymous Wormhole, Point Blank, Mystery Machine and Glass Eye.
The inaugural release of Virus has been Medicine b/w Punchbag; a rather raw and gritty arrangement that paved the way for an impressive string of singles and EPs in the following years:
- Ed Rush & Optical – Medicine b/w Punchbag, VRS001, 1998
- Ed Rush & Optical – Zardoz b/w Satellites, VRS002, 1998
- Ed Rush & Optical – Lifespan b/w Crisis, VRS003, 1998
- Ed Rush & Optical – Watermelon b/w Sick Note, VRS004, 1999
- Ed Rush & Optical – Gas Mask b/w Bacteria, VRS005, 1999
- Ed Rush, Optical & Trace – Socom ep, VRS007, 2000
- Ed Rush & Optical – Kerbkrawler b/w Capsule, VRS008, 2001
- Ed Rush, Optical & Fierce – Pod, VRS010, 2001 /single-sided Test Press, replaced by the official release: Ed Rush & Optical – Pacman (Ram Trilogy remix) b/w Universal Project – Vessel, VRS010, 2002
- Ed Rush & Optical – Remixes Vol 1 & 2, VRS014-A & VRS014-B, 2004
- Ed Rush & Optical – Reece b/w J Majik & Wickaman – Taxi Driver, VRS015, 2005 / Mispress, replaced by the release: Ed Rush & Optical – Reece b/w Sick Note (Ill.Skills remix), VRS015, 2005
- Ed Rush & Optical – Chameleon LP sampler, VRS018, 2006
- Ed Rush & Optical – Pacman (The Upbeats remix) b/w Sonic & Silver – Rocket Launcher VIP, VRS012, 2008
- Ed Rush – Book Of Sight b/w Arcadia, VRS026, 2010
Furthermore, Optical and Ed Rush have contributed the track Junction to Matrix’s debut album, entitled Sleepwalk, released on Virus in the dawn of the new millennium.
Following the great commercial and critical success of the immense Wormhole, Ed Rush & Optical have released 4 more albums (featuring also bonus mixed versions) on their label:
- The Creeps (Invisible And Deadly!), VRSLP003, 2000 with contributions from Ryme Tyme & Matrix
- The Original Doctor Shade, VRSLP004, 2003
- Chameleon, VRSCD006, 2006 an incredible semi-live project
- Travel the Galaxy, VRSLP007, 2009 considered as the sequel to Wormhole, embodying old ideas and sounds filtered through new production techniques.
In 2004, Ed Rush & Optical released a deluxe digital edition (cd + dvd) entitled Out Of The Box on Resist Music, the successor of React Music, a label famous for hosting an array of diverse artists across a wide range of electronic music genres. The 1st disc is a mix CD by Ed Rush & Optical and the 2nd disc is a DVD featuring live footage, studio tips, and a full discography. The DVD is double-sided and contains the PAL & NTSC versions. In late 2005, Ed Rush & Optical released the Virus Vaults compilation, featuring re-mastered versions of previously unreleased tracks and classics from the label’s catalogue, spanning a 10-year period (1996-2005).
EDTRAFIENICAL (ED RUSH TRACE FIERCE NICO OPTICAL)
Back in 1997, a small chapter of the drum and bass history was written at the No-U Turn Studios in west London. Due to their busy schedules, Nico, Ed Rush, Optical, Trace and Fierce were hardly ever at the same place, the same time. However, the building momentum of them being in the same room that night, resulted in an ultra-rare collaboration amongst them! The result was EdTraFieNiCal, a word suggested by Fierce, unanimously agreed upon instantly, made up by the names of the contributing artists. The track, however didn’t see the light of day, besides the odd dubplates, until 2009, when Sublogic Recordings, a label specialized into re-pressing classics in limited edition vinyl format (the label’s catalogue includes works by Criminal Minds, Skanna, Essence Of Aura, Q Project, Intense, Satin Storm, Justice & Mercy and many more) released it, as part of its Dubplate series, with a joint catalogue number with No U-Turn (Ed Rush, Trace, Fierce, Nico & Optical – Sublogic Dubplate Vol. 3, 2009 / Edtrafienical – NUT035, 2009).
Nico’s analytic account of that night’s events, features in the press sheet of the release.
Fast forward to the present, Ed Rush is still at the forefront of contemporary drum and bass, headlining line-ups worldwide, with productions still in high demand by the biggest names of the circuit. His latest offering has been the track Pheromone, featuring in the compilation Sine Language, released by Teebee’s Subtitles Records in late 2013, with contributions from a variety of well-established artists affiliated with the label.
Ed Rush & Optical are currently working on their latest album, a project, which promises an eagerly awaited injection of that classic Virus future funk , with a blend of today’s production techniques that will prove hard to resist
Count To Ten
The plethora of Settle’s quality releases makes it literally impossible to pick out only 10 tracks. Intentionally, many of his productions on Virus and No U-Turn have been left out, in an effort to demonstrate his versatility as a producer throughout almost two decades of prolific artistic activity. With unique criterion my own musical taste and in strict chronological order, ten of Ed Rush’s finest moments are presented below:
- Ed Rush – Bludclot Artattack (Dark mix) (b/w Bludclot Artattack, No U-Turn, NUT-002, 1993)
- Ed Rush – The Raven (b/w Skylab, Metalheadz, METH024, 1996)
- Ed Rush – Killamanjaro (b/w Subway, Prototype, PRO 005, 1996)
- Ed Rush & Nico – Technology (b/w Neutron, No U-Turn, NUT-018, 1997)
- Fortran (Ed Rush, Optical & Fierce) – The End part II (b/w Search, 31 Records, 31R006, 1998)
- Ed Rush & Optical – Point Blank (Wormhole LP, Virus, VRS 001LP, 1998
- Ed Rush & Optical – Gas Mask (b/w Bacteria, Virus, VRS005, 1999)
- Ed Rush & Sonic – Kinetic (b/w Sonic – Tenshi, Space, SPACER012, 2005)
- Ed Rush & Optical – Life Under Water (Chameleon LP, Virus, VRS 006CD, 2006)
- Noisia – Split The Atom (Ed Rush & Optical remix) (Noisia – Split The Atom EP, Division, DVSN006EP, 2010)
You may find the previous installments of the “Count To Ten” Series clicking here.
Extended discography, reviews and everything Ed Rush can be found at the following links:
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