wax Poetics

Alex Reece

“Pulp Fiction”

Released 1995
record label Metalheadz
Written by Paul Terzulli

Alex Reece - Pulp Fiction
Alex Reece - Pulp Fiction

Making a name for himself around 1992-93 with a prolific output under a variety of names on various labels, Alex Reece became part of the original Metalheadz crew on its inception in 1994. His second release on the label—the iconic “Pulp Fiction”—would completely change the drum & bass landscape. It was credited as creating the 2-step style that would become standard across the genre for the rest of the decade and beyond. An innovative, minimal record that managed to be a guaranteed floor filler at a time when the use of manic chopped-up breaks and ragga vocals was at its peak, “Pulp Fiction”’s warm bassline and jazzy horn sample was nothing short of a game-changer. Sporadic releases aside, Alex is all but completely detached from the music industry these days, and does not give interviews. It is left to others to comment on the track’s significance.

Phil Wells: There was such a variety of sounds within the drum & bass formula. The records got bigger and bigger, and the record that took it to another level was Alex Reece’s “Pulp Fiction.” For years people found drum & bass difficult to dance to because there was no 4/4 beat to it. Alex put it back in but used a snare where there’d usually be a kick drum. I knew Alex from when he first started as a trainee engineer at Basement Records; he was a lovely guy and extremely talented. His techno stuff was amazing, his drum n bass was brilliant. Him and Wax Doctor were like brothers, glued to each other. That period when they were at R&S Records resulted in some astonishing pieces of music; amazing records. “Pulp Fiction” was a pivotal tune, like “Demons Theme,” “Valley Of The Shadows,” or Doc Scott’s “Shadowboxing,” certain records that were just outstanding and had a massive influence on the scene. Every year you had one or two tunes that come along and change everything, and “Pulp Fiction” was one of them. 

Fabio: A game-changer. The most minimal tune you’d find. Jungle had loads of samples and noises, layered breaks. “Pulp Fiction” was the first minimal tune. There’s nothing to that tune, no big breakdown. It's drums and a bass. No strings or pads. That track is dear to my heart, and I was going to put it out. Alex Reece brought it to me at Speed, and I played it and thought it was amazing. Creative Source hadn’t started yet, and I was thinking about making it the first tune, but the process of starting the label took so long that Alex ended up taking it to Goldie. Goldie heard it and said: “I’m having that.” Alex had given me a tape at first and then gave me a DAT, so I cut it. The first time it got played I was doing a set at Voodoo Magic at Leicester Square, I went on after DJ Ron who absolutely smashed it. I had decided to play a liquid set. Anyway, I looked behind me, and Micky Finn, Ron, GQ, all of those guys were there, and I was dying; my set was not happening. The crowd weren’t into the tunes at all, and I was thinking, oh my god, I’m dying on my feet here. I had “Pulp Fiction,” and I’d never played it out and I was thinking this track is so different, can I pull this off in here? I was playing some Hyper On Experience or Flytronix tune and people were starting to leave, and I was thinking this is a disaster. I put it on, and the whole place stopped and just erupted about a minute into the tune, and it got rewound seven times. No joke. Micky Finn rewound it, GQ rewound it, Ron rewound it. No one could believe what they were hearing. You can play it now and it doesn’t sound outdated, you can play it anywhere and it’s possibly the only tune you can do that with, where you can play it anywhere at any time and it will work because it’s unique. It doesn’t start with a break, it starts with a bass. It’s just this rolling, dark, minimal tune. It saved my night; I’d never played a set where I just wanted the ground to come and swallow me up and that tune dragged me out of a hole. After that, everyone was on Alex. The next day he must’ve got 200 phone calls. Goldie took the tune and the rest is history. I even named the track, it was untitled when he gave it to me; I was really into Tarantino films and suggested he call it “Pulp Fiction”. Alex thought it was a bit weird but I said trust me, call it “Pulp Fiction.” He went along with it. That tune was a big moment for me.

Getting that reaction and that many rewinds on a new tune won’t happen to a DJ many times in their career. The only other time that’s happened to me was with “Strings Of Life'' back in the acid house days when no one was really playing it. It just destroyed the place. 

Goldie: I definitely took it from Fabio. I heard him play it and thought that’s got to be on Headz, and Fabio was cool with it. No other label deserved it at the time, to be honest. Was there anyone else who was worthy enough? Think about what Metalheadz had already put out by then; you never knew what was coming next. “Pulp Fiction” was the beginning of 2-step drum & bass. It could be played anywhere in any part of the scene. I saw that crossover potential straight away and knew it would be huge. I went to Alex and said this record is ridiculous, I’ve got to put it out on Metalheadz. 

Alex’s downfall was his manager. I felt these outside people coming into the scene were taking shit from it that they didn’t deserve. Around that time everyone was being snatched up by major labels, so Lemon D and Wax Doctor were on R&S, and Dillinja was on London Records. I told him he should’ve signed with Metalheadz and then licensed his album to them, instead of signing directly with London, where his record got stuck in their pipeline. I advised all of them not to do it. I told Alex it would be the end for him if he did this. He did the Model 500 remix and a few other things, and then any remix he could possibly get, but there was no artist development, and he crashed. Wax Doctor ended up doing kind of the same thing, but he stayed faithful to Metalheadz, and Alex did to a certain degree. There were stories that I beat him up and took “Pulp Fiction” from him. The best one I heard was that I drove to his house in a rage, put a gun to his head and demanded that the DATs were handed over. I thank Alex for his contribution to the art with that track though. It was a massive contribution, and I think he could’ve gone on to do greater things. His manager fucked his head up, and it should never have happened like that, but he was young, and maybe he didn’t know any better. It’s a shame as he was a phenomenal artist, really outside of the box.

Wax poetics

Who Say Reload: the Stories Behind the Classic Drum & Bass Records of the '90s, from which this Re:Discovery is excerpted, is out now from Velocity Press. U.K.-based readers can find copies here, while U.S.-based readers can save on postage by looking here.