For our next example we will look into what many considered back then the perhaps only female counterpart of Tobin and other notorious, purely Breakbeat artists: Riz Maslen
Born somewhere in Gloucestershire England, this feisty cat with severe self-esteem hair problems and man hands entered the music scene in her teenage years playing guitar with her sister for some indie bands mostly in the folk/post-punk/shoegaze circles but moved to keyboards and then the mixing heads after seeing and analyzing how artists were moving shit around to give density and space to their guitar antics; sometime later she moved to London to try and get into the electronic scene. Soon she was competent enough to work on the jockeys after teaching and moving knobs (heh) herself in a small studio owned by a producer she was working with, man gave her the keys to do what she pleased at nighttime so i guess he was a nice guy yeah right. She met some other producers nearby and worked providing vocals or quick slings of an instrument, seems to have been in-demand as she worked singing on several of these outfits like Future Sound of London and 4hero but also freelancing as a player, most prominently with The Beloved, and/or moonlighting as a DJ. In an article she mentions how she went on trying to make the FSOL guys teach her at least the basics of the machine she was puzzled by the most in between recordings, the sampler, to the point she ended up entering a relationship with one of these dudes due to so much time talking, Brian Dougans, who in return taught her much of the magic behind them.
According to Ninja Tune it seems there was a specific moment in which she decided to get some money and build a small home studio, consisting of a sampler an Atari and a tape machine, to start making her own stuff as she didn't want to stay a small one-off sampled singer... so she started mixing samples, playing some instruments or voices in, getting some special hardware boost the MIDI ranges, overall resulting in some experimental demos but quite in the mood with the newly-forming Breakbeat scene (then still considered inside the Drum n' Bass panorama). She released them in different demos and compilation albums under the now-famed name of Neotropic, as early as 1994 with Bubble Dub, and soon she was seemingly scouted and given a contract for Ninja Tune records although in their "other"-category house called NTune. Outside she also released some tough-to-find material with the moniker of Small Fish with Spine accompanied by some of her friends from the scene and the old days.
With NTune she released a small EP called Tumble Weed in 1995 as an icebreaker in her initial endeavors, then a thematic EP called Laundrophonic concerning the increasing ambient of Laundromats and maybe the fear of boring yourself to dead inside one, i read a comment that the record is a "found sound" experiment as in it was made sampling sounds recorded inside places or themes, in this case a good old laundry center. Some months later, in 1996, she compiled most of the material so far and released, in my opinion, her best work and a classic in the genre: The melancholic 15 Levels of Magnification, written mixed produced and performed by her own roughed hands. The spirit of this album was around her countryside uncomfortable feelings towards the quick and drastic wave of surveillance measures the city of London was taking in their public spaces, specifically the cameras and cops on every corner, and with the previous experience of on-field recordings she went on to her fav (and not so fav) places and sample the sounds that appeared there, either in London or in her home town.
A Single was released later with some remixes made by her pals, along with old material, and then she went onto making the next one. After a small glimpse with remixes of the next material, 2 years after the big debut she released Mr. Brubaker's Strawberry Alarm Clock, a polarizing but still notorious record in the genre, either regarded as her actual best work and an instant classic in the genre or, in my opinion, a good album but maybe a bit too disorganized in content. It does have some cool vocal songs and features soon some of her constant collaborators, Nina Barry as female voice and PJ Fredericks as male voice/guitar/lyricist.
Its biggest stenghts are the eclectic use of sampled instruments, ambient changes and livid mood of it, it's a bit chaotic but people liked it a lot back then to the point the artist and label decided a tour would be a decent idea to capitalize on it as it actually received radio play, nothing new for Maslen who was a somewhat experienced producer herself. According to some articles the album was made in a torrid moment in her life due to woman issues i suppose but perhaps something went a little deeper, either way the songs do demonstrate strong feelings in their making but also with her usual attention to detail, it is a bit more polished than the previous record.