🏎️ Speed garage¶
Speed garage (occasionally known as plus-8) is a genre of electronic dance music, associated with the UK garage scene.
Speed garage features sped-up NY garage 4-to-the-floor rhythms that are combined with breakbeats. Snares are placed as over the 2nd and the 4th kickdrums, so in other places of the drum pattern. Speed garage tunes have warped, heavy basslines, influenced by jungle and reggae. Sweeping bass is typical for speed garage. It is also typical for speed garage tunes to have a breakdown. Speed garage tunes sometimes featured timestretched vocals. As it is heavily influenced by jungle, speed garage makes heavy use of jungle and dub sound effects, such as gunshots and sirens.
A widely regarded pioneer of the speed garage sound is record producer, DJ and remixer Armand van Helden, whose Dark Garage remix of the Sneaker Pimps’ “Spin Spin Sugar” in 1996 helped bring the style of speed garage into the mainstream arena.
Speed Garage differs from regular Garage in its affections for Jamaican culture and cliches. Not actual Jamaica, of course, but Jamaican transplants in England (this is a UK genre after all). Dancehall call and responses, gun shots and other stock reggae sound effects, and of course that stupid bassline which sounds like the school teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons scolding one of the Peanuts kids for his inability to spit, sing and gargle at the same time.
Some like to point to the 1994 track George Morel - Let’s Groove as the originator of the dumb bassline, but he was using the Reese bass – a rolling bassline that was a big thing in Darkstep at the time – in a high register for some reason. So you can call that the first Speed Garage track if you like. The Electronic Music Standards and Classifications Consortium will not penalize you for it.
Speed Garage didn’t invent time-stretched vocals but it abused them to the point of nausea. Garage music itself was moving toward a heavier, bassier sound and it is customary in electronic music that when someone comes up with a catchy hook, idea or technique, the next wave of imitators often take it to cartoonish extremes. It’s like inventing an ice cream sundae, and the next guy comes along and thinks “If the fudge is everybody’s favorite part, why not make a sundae that’s all fudge?” So in effect, Speed Garage is like a late 90s parody of what Garage sounded like in the mid 90s.
Speed Garage also did one other thing regular Garage doesn’t do: Breakdowns and builds. But hey, it was the 90s and every genre was doing that to some extent blame Eurotrance. Speed Garage was so popular that it often beat Eurotrance for the peak hour main room slot at massive raves.
Such overexposure and over-reliance on gimmicks meant that it could not possibly last and it didn’t. By 2000 Speed Garage had almost dropped off the face of the Earth. All the producers shifted to making 2-Step Garage instead, which is basically just Speed Garage with downtempo breakbeats (and other lousy ideas).
10 years later, however, Speed Garage would make a triumphant yet subtle return as people remembered the goofy gimmicks and stupid sounding basslines and started making it all over again, this time influenced by Dubstep wubs and production gloss. They call it Bassline House or House Garage or Bass House or Dumb Bullshit House for some reason, probably because every generation wants to think that it invented something if it gets to come up with the name for it.
You can find more details about its formation and development on Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music, and you can listen to progressive music right away.
The Every Noise at Once platform provides an opportunity for people to get to know better the names of the creators who have ever been in the genre and thus the peculiarities of it.
- MENNYEK KAPUI - Az elektroniks zene évtizede (The decade of electronic music)
- Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music
- Every Noise at Once