Dual Control

The Dual Control moniker is descriptive of the recording set-up behind this stylish and classy collaboration between ‘street soul’ DJ Phil Styles and Grand Central Records’ in-house engineer Mike Ball. The former is notable for his DJ sets on the pirate radio stations of Manchester, England and for his inclusion in local crew the Rude Boy Assassins. The latter is a former graffiti artist who developed his music-making skills working as an engineer for Electronic and M People. Together, the duo forge an assertive and hard-edged UK take on soul/hip-hop/R&B that matches big basslines, layered horns, severe beats, scratching and samples of real instruments, and seems to suggest an overtly Mancunian take on a music more readily associated with sunnier (that is, American) climates. Styles and Ball have cited the influence of friend/mentor Steve Christian on their studio-birthed productions and also the acclaimed duo (Rae And Christian) of which Christian is half point to the impact of the sound system on their music-making. Nevertheless, Dual Control’s music is undeniably borne of the studio. The duo layer sounds with a high degree of complexity, adopting a laborious and painstaking process of assembling their music. That is, rather than sampling complete basslines and looping these, Styles and Ball sample only single bass notes which they rearrange and remodel. Such a methodology partially explains Dual Control’s debut album’s long gestation period: Styles and Ball met in 1997 and from 1999 onwards released ‘Bring It On’ and ‘Boogie Down Feature’ at two year intervals. The album, Left Or Right, was not issued until 2004, preceded by the ‘Stoned Mason’ 12-inch. For fans of the Grand Central sound, however, Left Or Right was undeniably worth the wait. The album notably featured the sampling/scratching of Peter Parker aka Fingathing, drummer/producer Dubble D, and the voice of Loretta Heywood of Bugz In The Attic.

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