7 Oct 2017

The Mixtape: Unitone Hifi

From RNZ Music, 4:00 pm on 7 October 2017

Seminal '90s dub merchants Unitone Hifi have been quiet in recent years, but they're re-energized and working on new material ahead of their appearance at Laneway 2018. Tony Stamp sat down with the trio for an hour of their favourite tunes.

Unitone Hifi

Unitone Hifi Photo: supplied

Unitone Hifi began in the early nineties, when 95bFM alumni “Stinky” Jim Pinckney and Joost Langeveld would duck into the bFM production studio to work on their own musical creations. At the time Joost was part of Nemesis Dub Systems with Eddie Chambers, and Jim was just starting his show, Stinky Grooves, which he would go on to helm for over twenty five years.

“It’s all intermingled in a vague, strand-y, can’t-quite-remember kind of way” says Jim.

Soon after, Joost moved to New York, but the musical partnership continued, a challenging proposition at a time when the internet didn’t exist in its current form.

Jim explains, “We moved to working in two different ways. One was endless DATs and faxes, and the other was me heading over to New York, maybe going to Jamaica first and getting some inspiration. I’d spend a couple of weeks with Joost, holed away in some corridor cooking up tunes.”

Joost adds “The version of ‘Wickedness Increased’ on the CD was literally recorded and mixed in a hallway.

 

 

Angus McNaughton, formerly of 80s industrial experimenters Tinnitus, joined the group halfway through the recording of their debut.

“It was just to have a local studio production base to compliment the New York one, so we were able to send those DAT tapes back and forth and gather enough material for the album.

“I was a programmer, audio engineer, composer, music production-type person who’d be wrangling those beats and samples and sounds, and putting together a production.”

Unitone Hifi’s debut Wickedness Increased came out in 1995, swiftly followed in 1996 by their second album Boomshot, and the remix project Rewound and Rerubbed. Signed to German label Incoming!, they toured Europe, and in the years that followed released a handful of EPs, singles and seven inches.

 

 

The trio have hit pause for long periods of time, but never officially called it a day. So their upcoming appearance at Laneway 2018 isn’t a reformation so much as a re-emergence. There’s also the promise of new songs on the horizon.

Joost says “I’ve had lots of messages from people saying how excited they are. People who cut their musical teeth in the nineties will remember, but people whose musical maturity started in the two thousands… well, they need to learn a thing or two!”

 

Hit play below for the full interview with Unitone Hifi, including tunes hand-picked by the gents themselves.

 
Music details

Artist: Dr Alimantado
Song: Unitone Skank
Album: Best Dressed Chicken In Town
Label: Greensleeves

Artist: Board Of Canada
Song: Aquarius
Album: Music Has The Right To Children
Label: Warp

Artist: Special AKA
Song: Racist Friend
Album: In The Studio
Label: 2 Tone Records

Artist: Naram
Song: Mogwai Riddim
Album: March Of The Gremlins
Label: Jahtari

Artist: Little Rabbits
Song: L'Amour (Purple Penguin remix)
Album: L'Amour
Label: Soundcloud

Artist: Sister Nancy
Song: Bam Bam
Album: One, Two
Label: Techniques Records