Hot Track Time Machine – Get Lost in 14 Progressive Breaks Tracks from Yesteryear

by | Jun 8, 2023 | Essay, Stories | 0 comments

Most retrospective music lists highlight well-known songs from yesteryear, overlooking the countless gems that didn’t attain anthem status but are nonetheless timeless pieces of excellent music. Hot Track Time Machine brings attention to cuts that largely flew under the radar of most music fans.

This edition focuses on progressive breaks, an amalgamation of progressive house and breakbeat which enjoyed its time in the limelight from the late ’90s to the mid 2000s. Artists such as HybridWay Out WestIvan Gough, Phil KLuke Chable, and Burufunk combined the melodic sounds of progressive house with the raucous, syncopated drums and heavy bass lines of breakbeat.

With progressive breaks enjoying somewhat a resurgence of late thanks to a new breed of producers such as AndersonEscape Artist, and Roza Terenzi, Hot Track Time Machine is here to take a look back over some of the formative tracks of the genre that you may not have heard before.

1. Momu – This Is Momu [Loöq Records] [2001]

The first release from the duo consisting of progressive house artists Jondi and Musselman, “This Is Momu” took their penchant for moody, dark melodies and gritty bass lines and explored how they fit within a breakbeat framework.

2. Electrotek – Superfly (Zouk Dub Mix) [Distinctive Records] [2000]

Electrotek was the short-lived alias of Hybrid‘s Mike Truman. “Superfly” is the only track he released under the name, but oh boy was it a banger. Thunderous beats and a huge, growling bass line are offset by euphoria-inducing vocal samples and acidic synth leads.

3. Luke Chable and Jono Fernandez – Before You Beat My Box [M Theory] [2003]

Australian artists readily embraced progressive breaks, with Luke Chable and Jono Fernandez representing the second wave of acts who took the sound in fascinating directions. With “Before You Beat My Box,” Chable and Fernandez mixed crunchy beats and a funky bass lines with trancey melodies and gnarly vocal edits, culminating in a twisted, halftime breakdown.

4. Phil K and Vance Musgrove – Lost Sunday [Lobotomy Records] [2005]

The late Phil K is regarded as one of the originators of the genre, but he never rested on his laurels once it blew up in popularity. His constant desire to push the boundaries and explore new paths is readily apparent on “Lost Sunday,” a collaboration with Vance Musgrove (later a member of The Ashton Shuffle). Unconventional drum patterns and heavily reverbed guitar samples create a spacey atmosphere that is complemented by the comforting embrace of a warm, analogue bass line.

5. Filta – Abuse (Chris Lake Dirty Breaks Remix) [Minimal Records] [2002]

Before he jumped on the electro house bandwagon, Chris Lake was name checked by just about every underground tastemaker as one to watch. His remix of “Abuse” leans heavily into progressive’s roots in trance, focusing around a hypnotic synth lead and rolling bass line underpinned by chugging, stripped-down drums. Fun fact: The label on the record is printed incorrectly and the “4/4 Remix” is actually the “Dirty Breaks” version.

6. Deepsky – Always On My Mind (Oracle’s Mind Fuct Remix) [Baroque White Recordings] [2007]

Oracle‘s remix of “Always On My Mind” is an important reminder to the naysayers that progressive breaks isn’t just brooding music for moody chinstrokers. This uplifting, peak-time cut features a cheeky, re-recorded vocal from the classic Pet Shop Boys track of the same name. It’s not necessarily the most challenging or forward-thinking example of the genre, but certainly one of the most fun.

7. NuBreed – Food For Thought [Zero Tolerance Recordings] [2001]

The follow-up to their massive debut “Welcome,” “Food For Thought” saw NuBreed head into deeper, murkier territory without sacrificing the heavy bass, crunchy drums, and futuristic sound design that made their prior outing such a hit.

8. Usual Suspects – Breaking & Entering [End Recordings] [1997]

Legendary duo Layo & Bushwacka! can lay claim to producing arguably one of the first ever progressive breaks tracks under their alias Usual Suspects. “Breaking & Entering” starts out sounding like a dark, hypnotic progressive house track before taking a hard left turn into chugging breakbeats, tribal drums, beautiful chords, and slowly evolving synth sequences.

9. Andy Page and Marscruiser ft. George Clinton – Elementalelectrofunk [Barely There Records] [2003]

Sound design wizards Andy Page and Marscruiser team up with funk icon George Clinton for a timeless jam. “Elementalelectrofunk” is perfectly named: Clinton’s cheeky vocal samples snake around Page and Marscruiser’s tight, chunky machine rhythms, while big sub bass wobbles and catchy melodic sequences chime in at just the right moments.

10. Pocket – Procrastinator [Thunk] [2000]

“Procrastinator” was one of the first progressive breaks tracks to move away from big, trancey melodies and high BPMs towards a more cerebral and groovy sound. Pocket blended tight, stripped-down TR-808 drums with a funky bass line, psychedelic synths, and heavily vocoded vocals. It was “progressive” in a totally different way to how other artists were doing it.

11. Dan F – Line Of Sight (Infusion’s Crosshair Mix) [Kilowatt Recordings] [2003]

When progressive house shifted towards a techier, grittier sound, its syncopated cousin followed suit. Infusion‘s remix of “Line Of Sight” is an exercise in patient, steadily-building arrangement that set the standard for this new era of progressive breaks. It slowly unfurls over the course of just under nine minutes, adding layer upon layer of repetitive synthetic sounds, chopped-up vocals, and otherworldly effects.

12. Switchshift – Head Pressure [Navigation Records] [2002]

Although “Head Pressure” is the most “of its time” track on this list, it is still an excellent example of what made progressive breaks such an exciting and creatively fruitful genre. Switchshift perfectly blended the funk and playfulness of breakbeat with the melodic sensibility and tension of progressive house.

13. Makesome Breaksome – Nightshift [Plank Records] [1999]

Bushwacka! teamed up with Dez Ingram for this subtle, lush journey which drew from their experience with tech house. It’s a classy mixture of shuffling drums, delayed chords, and catchy vocal hooks that worked in both house and breakbeat sets.

14. Icehouse – Don’t Believe Anymore (Ivan Gough & Colin Snape Cafe Latte Mix) [RockUp Records] [2002]

An absolute standout from the Meltdown remix album, Ivan Gough and Colin Snape‘s remix of “Don’t Believe Anymore” took progressive breaks from the dance floor to the living room. Using the original’s vocal in its entirety, the duo layer it over precise drum programming, rumbling bass, and melancholy pianos and strings. They combine it all so seamlessly that if you didn’t know of Icehouse, you’d believe this was an entirely original piece.

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