Sunday, 22 February 2009

Pitchshifter


In October 2000 I was at the Portsmouth Pyramid Centre when this song came on and I got kicked pretty hard in the knee. Some nerve got trapped, I got a weird knee disease, and I never had to do P.E. again. I was 14 and it was the first gig I ever went to.

Pitchshifter were one of the most important and ground breaking bands for mixing electronic sounds with a traditional rock set up. Like The Prodigy's angry neglected little brother (they even shared a guitarist). They began releasing dark experimental industrial music in the early 90's, which developed into a much more mainstream sound by the release of 1998's "pitchshifter.com" and 2000's "Deviant", that fused metal, trip hop, drum n bass and electro. They were extremely pro-active, giving away thousands of copyright-free samples to encourage kids to make their own music and releasing their last EP on their own label, PSI records.

I think that there finest moment is a track called "Please Sir" from "pitchshifter.com", which combines drum'n'bass style percussion with almost punk guitars and is a good example of front man JS Clayden's political, dark and deeply sarcastic lyrics. Album closer ZX81 is an epic instrumental piece which shows how far ahead of themselves Pitchshifter were, the deep brooding bass and driving drums sound as fresh today as they did when they were released over a decade ago. I might get in trouble for these so they might not be on here long, but here is a couple of download links for you to check them out. (Also, if you're reading this thinking "This is just some shit nu-metal band", then I strongly encourage you to download ZX81)


Walter Schreifels (of Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand and Rival Schools) said this about them "My band Gorilla Biscuits played with Pitchshifter in 1990. Back then they were pierced, dredd-locked and drum-machined. I was kind of scared by them, but I was also very impressed. We toured together years later when I was in Quicksand. Pitchshifter were the first people that I had ever seen recording on laptops. I traveled with them to gigs and we became friends. For me, Pitchshifter were able to seamlessly mix modern technology with heavier than hell guitars.”

Despite their advances in the studio, I think that it was the live Pitchshifter experience that truly sets them apart, and to this day I am still amazed by full-live-band electro and dance music projects. One such project that has recently grabbed my attention is Tek-One, the brain child of the other Partyshank member (ie not A1 Bassline), Howard. They are soon to start playing as a full live band dubstep project, performing their own material and live re-mixes of big dubstep tunes. Embedding options are turned off, but do click here to see an amazing video of their drummer playing their remix of Caspa's "Where's my Money?" in his bed room.

I don't know if any of Tek-One were or are Pitchshifter fans, but it would be interesting to know if projects like theirs would have happened without a band like Pitchshifter inspiring so many others.

Pitchshifter have been on an indefinite-hiatous since about 2006, although I think they played a couple of random festivals in 2007. This year they are releasing a compilation to celebrate 20 years since they formed, so I expect they will tour to promote that. It's been 9 years since I last saw them but I would love to go and see them again, maybe I'll wear knee pads this time.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I went to this gig. Saw them at southampton uni too. I think I still have a blue pitchshifter hoodie somewhere from back in the day.

GregTeee said...

What a cracking song and a cracking band.

I remember hearing 'Hidden Agenda' on either a Rock Sound or Metal Hammer free cd yonks ago and thinking it was massive.

Dreadful that you were inflicted with a knee injury as a result of their gig.
Pits can be lethal places.

great post sir!

Beefcake said...

this is serious and before my time, however tek one are a delight

Russ Tannen said...

who is anon?

I think I chucked my hoody out, foolish!

Alex what do you think of ZX81?

Big Ron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Big Ron said...

The reason i bought my maverick!

bonnie said...

so in a live show the drums in zx81 would be live?

Russ Tannen said...

i think some and then some on a drum machine too, but I dont think they played that when I saw them. But its a tune right?

Russ Tannen said...

Actually I think that it would've been live. Their drummer is still highly regarded in drumming circles and gives workshops all over the country, I think he has a column in a drum magazine too, or definatley used to.

bonnie said...

yeah its sick. haha bless him. i love drummers. yes beefy, that means you.

KJ said...

"20 Years of Mayhem" is an album of new material. It'd be quite a monumental task to get 4 record labels to agree to a compilation.

"Messiah" is a new track of it that was given away at a couple of gigs in October 2007. There's an ok quality rip from the radio on youtube.

I think the band are in the studio at the moment finishing the new album. The official boards have kind of ground to a halt due to no admin authorising new members, but there's an interim board I've just setup here http://psivolution.proboards.com

Also I'm adding to a pitchshifter archive through blogger, http://psivolution.blogspot.com

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