Classic Album: 2 Bad Mice, Kaotic Chemistry
Sm:)e Communications, 1995
Picture the scene: we’re at an end-of-terrace house in Stevenage – 55 Conifer Walk, to be exact. A curious music rumbles the top left window, as it would most nights in the early ’90s. It’s a bedroom studio, owned by Rob Playford (behind the legendary Moving Shadow label), and inside, a seismic shift in underground music is happening.
Rob, alongside Sean O’Keeffe and Simon Colebrooke, are tinkering with the musical mechanisms that would arm dancefloor dynamite. They brought vinyl to sample, and had riffs from last night’s rave running around their heads as Rob, channelling their inspirations and enthusiasm, is interpreting their vision – heavy on the fast, chopped, breakbeats, and awash with the pads, bleeps, and sine waves of hardcore.
“We’d say, ‘We love this Joey Beltram bassline', and Rob would play the Yamaha DX until he had something close,” says Sean. “Then we’d speed all the breaks up – I don’t know why. Things just got faster. DJs would pitch up tracks on their turntables anyway, so we’d make the next ones so they didn’t have to.”
It was proto-jungle – a new formula for dance music that would cause shockwaves still felt today.
“We pushed the sounds of breaks,” says Sean. “It came from an inability to play instruments. You didn’t have to have to know music theory. You just had to have some rhythm and know what was gonna sound good on a system.”
Under the aliases 2 Bad Mice and Kaotic Chemistry, this three-man bomb squad would be responsible for some of the most incendiary singles and EPs to hit the scene at the time. The best of these were compiled together as the artist album, 2 Bad Mice – Kaotic Chemistry. “That album was a few years in the making in that studio,” says Simon. “It was very much a collection of singles, right from the first one that we did in 1991 which was 2 Bad Mice/No Respect, right through to the darker and more experimental Underworld EP. “Looking back, it’s a real chronological progression of our style... A lot of magic happened in Rob’s little house.”