It’s hard to believe, but Youngstar’s seminal grime anthem “Pulse X” is ten years old this year. This means that grime, once dance music’s enfant terrible, is now officially old school. To celebrate the occasion, the new label Liminal Sounds has commissioned a round of new remixes from Visionist, Blackwax, Slackk, Pedro 123, and Elsewhere, all rising bass producers influenced by grime’s first icy wave.
Originally released by Youngstar’s former group, Musical Mob, “Pulse X” arrived as U.K. garage was winding down from its euphoric commercial peak and morphing into a darker, more anxious sound. Stripped down to little more than petulant, overdriven bass bleeps and nervous handclaps, “Pulse X” set the tone for grime’s lo-fi, no-frills, almost nihilistic brand of minimalism, and its gaping empty spaces helped usher in the era of the MC as a central figure at raves and on pirate radio. There’s even a case to be made that “Pulse X” is grime’s founding track: Wiley’s “Eskimo,” another contender, didn’t get released until later in 2002 — granted, in a dubplate-driven culture like that of garage and grime, you can’t put too much stock in official release dates — and Wiley’s own “Pulse Eskimo” (or “Gun Shot Riddim”) seems to acknowledge “Pulse X” both in its title and its sound.
This isn’t the first time “Pulse X” has been reworked. Musical Mob themselves reworked it as “Pulse Y,” “Pulse Xtra,” “Pulse XYZ,” and “Pulse 2005”; another version of the cut, “Bring Back the Ladies (Pulse X Vocal Mix)” featured vocals from the R&B singer Lorraine Cato, and a 2003 white-label mashed it up with Dizzee Rascal’s “I Love U.” Four Tet used “Pulse X” in his 2011 FabricLive 59 mix, and in 2010, Dubbel Dutch reworked the tune into a polyrhythmic tribal guarachero headfuck for the Hemlock Recordings sublabel SSSSS.
Listen to new remixes from Slackk, Pedro 123, and Elsewhere below; the full, 5-track EP is out on January 21, along with a 12-inch featuring the Visionist and Blackwax remixes.