Friday, January 14, 2011

Deepgrooves - Unitone Hifi

Unitone Hifi was/is Joost Langeveld, Stinky Jim and Angus McNaughton. Sitting by the phone came out as a single in 1992 and also featured on the compilation Deep in the Pacific of Bass. The song was also called Sitting by the telephone on the CD itself. It featured Teremoana Rapley, Bobbylon (Hallelujah Picassos, Riot Riddum), and Just One (Sole). From memory, it was aimed at getting commercial radio airplay, and is probably the one time Unitone Hifi ever even attempted to get themselves on that particular format with a poppy offering.

I asked Stinky Jim recently about the history behind this tune. He says his memory of this is a bit hazy and it was a long time ago, but he kindly attempted to fill in a few gaps.

Jim remembers that "Tere had submitted a single for Deepgrooves that was adjudged too political or such like. I can't remember quite how we [Unitone Hifi] got involved, but I do remember there being an attitude of going to the other extreme of excessive popiness in response.

"The beat/song was knocked off in an afternoon, and was an homage to the minimal swingy rhythms of the day that were being ridden by Chaka Demus and Pliers etc, it was hammered on Iwi Radio, bless 'em.  It's unlikely to feature in any of our most cherished musical moments but it was a bit of humour, and to this day I get miniscule APRA payments for 'Shining By The Telephone' (sic) which somehow sounds like a more interesting song!"

It was recorded at The Lab by Mark Tierney and produced by Unitone Hifi, with keyboards from Kev Rangihuna (who later worked with DLT on the Trueschool album). There was a video made for the song as well.

Posted are the Ansaphone mix, plus Bobbylon's version, Turn yourself around. The tune sounds to me like it is loosely based on My Love by UK reggae act New Age Steppers from Adrian Sherwood's On-U-Sound label, which was a hugely influential label on many of the Deepgrooves acts.

Unitone Hifi's later work (including their two albums) came out on European label Incoming!, like the track below. They took a 12 year tea break in 1996 (as you do), returning in 2008 with the excellent vinyl single Up To Eleven, followed up by Sneeze Off. Their remix of Overproof Sound System is also worth a listen.

You can listen and buy Unitone Hifi's extensive back-catalogue from Bandcamp.Go have a listen, there's some great tunes over there. Unitone Hifi discography

Up next... things get jazzy with young Nathan H.

ADDED Nov 2012:  Sitting by the phone video....

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