Music Report: Training Music: Slave To the Rhythm…

15 Aug

Or… how ’90s Drum & Bass may be the only thing stopping this blogger from dying of heart failure this weekend…

Well if you haven’t already guessed by now, in a few days timer i will be running the Reykjavik Marathon. Hey! Stop laughing there! I’m serious about this! For the last 9 months, i’ve been regularly pounding the paths and pavements in lceland and the UK,. as I’ve tried desperately to get this knackered body of mine into some kind of shape. This isn’t easy as I’ve got a gut that could crush a small child, as well as man boobs that could put Ásdís Rán out of business in a second.

I’m still not sure why i actually did the drunken boast before Christmas that meant i got held to doing this. I still don’t know why, despite many opportunities where i could have easily backed out, I’m still training for it. Because i hate it. I hate all this running. My body is not built for running (it’s pretty much the shape of an egg meade out of steak). All these training runs are a complete pain in the arse, as well as the rest of my body (So far I’ve suffered shin splints, torn muscles, a sprained ankle, as well a knee that’s feels like it’s been held together by balsa wood), my social life has gone down the toilet, i´m too tired to masturbate, Mrs Sex Farm won’t touch me, let along kiss me because of the “motivational” beard I’ve been growing since April, and i haven’t lost any weight at all since I’ve started. In fact, i may have actually put ON a couple of kilos.

And all of this for… ridicule from my friends and peers. You would’ve thought that people could have managed some kind response along the lines of “Hey man, good on you!” or a hearty, “Keep it up! I´m sure you can do it!” But I’ve haven’t heard any of that. So far the response has veered from mild bemusement (“Ha! that’s a good one!” followed by “What? you’re SERIOUS?? Why would you want to do that??”), to one of the Grapevine interns, when hearing of my challenge simply said, “Dude! you’re gonna DIE!” (thanks Byron). And then there are the ones who just look at me up and down before going, “I see…..”.

But fuck it, it’s coming on Saturday and like a mountain, it’s there to be climbed and fucked over. What no one tells you though is that running for long periods of time is booooring. And this is no good to my training as my boredom threshold are rather miniscule to say the least. It seems that when it comes to stimulus and exercise, there are too kinds of runners – ‘associators’, which means they tend to focus inwardly when they are running., and ‘dissociators’, which means they look for stimulus and distraction from what is going on around them. It’s pretty obvious that I’m the latter.

But what music should I run to? Well for starters it’s definitely wouldn’t be what these two runners listen to (I mean who the fuck would listen to The Mountain Goats or Oasis while running? Do they want to fall asleep only to be run over by a lorry or something?).

Perhaps i should run to techno/house music. This could be a good idea. the repetitive beats over long periods would enable me to reach my optimum endorphin levels in no time. Besides, you often see the likes of Ministry of Sound flogging “Trance Classics” every new year as a soundtrack for people to work off that Xmas food storage. Just one problems though. Even though most dance music runs at 120BPM, i found that this was actually too SLOW for me! I needed something faster, or with more iterations in its rhythm.

What about high level rock/metal/punk music? For example you may not know this, but the debut album from the Futureheads is actually really god for a high tempo run! Or “‘The Battle Of Los Angeles’ by Rage Against The Machine, along with other assorted fast paced West Coast US punk/hardcore bands. Well this worked for a while, but i found that the high levels of distortion and the overall swamp of noise, as well as the screaming vocals was ultimately off-putting and made my ears hurt after an hour or so. Back to the listening board it was then

So what was out there that was fast paced, but didn’t distract me with a barrage of treble-y noise and screaming noise? the answer came about 6 months ago when i decided to spin “Platinum Breakz, Vol 1” by Metalheadz for a training run at the local gym. Listening to this seem to make my run not only go quickly, but with a minimum of fuss along with a perceived lack of wheezing or destroyed limbs afterwards.

could it be that ’90s drum and bass may have been what i was looking for? Well it was rather obvious why when you think about it. With tracks that peaked at around 160 BPM, allied with clear soaring vocals and minimalist synth, samples and string noises, along with numerous effects, meant that i could  zone out and get into the music without it hurting my head, while also having something that would encourage a strong steady pace.

After a while i found that there were two main sources for my running soundtracks. The first was PHOTEK, one of the greats of ’90s Drum and Bass. During the period 1994-97, he also produced under a slew of aliases, such as ACQUARIUS, THE SENTINEL, STUDIO PRESSURE, SYSTEM X, PHAZE 1, and many others. Photek used many of these aliases to explore various avenues of ambient drum and bass music, where many of the tracks produced would have sounds and melodies and samples  that wouldn’t sound out-of-place on an album of new age immersion tank music. sounds of waves crashing against the shore, bird sounds, ambient synth sounds, etc, but all set to a fast paced DnB beat. Also, at over 6 minutes per track, a few 12″ releases would mean that you have an electronic soundtrack that easily runs over an hour!

The other soundtrack source were SOURCE DIRECT. Although their albums were a little too dark to run to properly, i found that their 12″ releases over the years 1994-97, both in their own name and aliases such as SOUNDS OF LIFE and HOKUSAI did the job perfectly. Again the tracks were filled with building melodic lines, soft whispering vocal samples, as well as high reverb/sustained guitar and keyboard sounds that would make Brian Eno blush, all the while the beats would still be furious, but not overwhelming.

so it’s safe to say that if it wasn’t for 1990s Drum and Bass, then there would be absolutely no chance i would have been able to train for this fucking marathon let alone finish it. Now at least i have some sort of slim chance. that’s if my rectum doesn’t prolapse after the 15km mark.

And if WHEN i finish this race, i will be coming for you Byron Wilkes to make you pay for your insolence! But not before i get this sodding beard off…. and have a pink and a wank.


Steve Sampling – The Optimist

Zomby – Nothing

Girl unit – Club Rez

Om Unit – Aeolian

Raime – FACT mix 292

Source Direct (and aliases) – Assorted singles 1994-1996

Photek (and aliases) – Assorted singles 1994-1997

Kasra – Fabric Live 62

Subminimal – Microfluidics EP

Lone – Echolocations EP

Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92

Futuregrapher – Tom Tom Bike EP

Post Run Listening – Lots of whale music. And Neurosis…..

1 Comment

Posted by on August 15, 2012 in music


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One response to “Music Report: Training Music: Slave To the Rhythm…

  1. I'd Rather Be In Iceland

    August 16, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Trust me, the music will be the least of your worries. Good luck! I’d love to do this race one year.


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