Postcards from Canada: Stasis Recordings

“We fit in where people decide they want to give us space to fit in, because of our label DNA, I believe we can fit in a lot of places – crevice or chasm. I tend to describe Stasis Recordings like a person and the styles represent character traits one sees depending on the vantage point …” – Sanderson Dear

The next edition of the blog’s label profile series is about a brilliant boutique record label from Toronto, Canada. I admit I’ve been late at the party, as I only discovered it six years ago, but I’ve tried to catch up pronto. Though not a bona fide drum & bass label, in fact Stasis Recordings covers a wide range within the electronic music spectrum, still their musical output is perfectly aligned with my personal taste and aesthetics; mesmerizing and emotional music transcending genres and styles, gracefully combined with beautiful imagery and artwork.

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Klute: The Certificate 18 Years (Singles 1995-99)

It’s no secret that I am a Klute fanboy; I’ve been following him since his first production forays for the Ipswich-based imprint Certificate 18. More than 25 years later, 9 studio albums and countless singles and remixes for literally every label that matters, his sound is still as relevant as ever. 

He has now remastered and re-issued his entire C18 collection of singles for the first time in superior digital format through his revered label Commercial Suicide. It’s a golden chance to re-live and recapture a time and place that has left an indelible print on the d&b history book, or even some great new discovery for a new generation of listeners. Whichever the case, head over to the label’s official webpage here to read one of the genre’s most compelling stories about how it all started, featuring many familiar names, narrated by Klute himself in his unique way of storytelling.

It is the story of an artist at his very beginning working closely with a label that shared a vision for a finite period before things imploded, a snapshot tracing the dots from the origins of Klute into the new millennium when drum & bass started to splinter off into smithereens …

Preview and purchase links for 17 timeless classics:

Tracks I Wish I’d Written (issue #22): Spirit – Life Goes On

We would talk for hours on the phone, him asking me questions, sharing ideas and tips. Soon we were both releasing music for Tom from Redeye’s labels ‘Deep Red’ and ‘Fresh 86’. The rest, as we say, was history … [Klute]

This month is my blog’s 9th anniversary. I never really expected that nine years and 120 features later it would be still around, but here we are. Reflecting on those years, so much has changed in my personal life and everywhere around us that it seems like worlds apart from those timid beginnings. Reconciling the arrogance, the naivety, old obsessions and spent ideals of a past life with a new reality of different priorities, the blogging experience has been frustrating and cathartic at the same time, like a confessional love letter to music; wavering between posting and shredding it to pieces.

The fundamental idea has always been to keep a personal musical diary and document those musical memories before they inevitably fade into oblivion; hidden annexes littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured, music you’ll probably never have time to listen to again, locked in its own era. Once again, a big heartfelt thank you to all readers, either regulars or those who have stumbled upon the blog by chance; the interaction with like-minded people has been the greatest reward.

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Love & Other Tragedies: Inside The Album

“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic”

(Extract from ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ written by Oscar Wilde)

The next edition of the blog’s ‘Inside The Album’ series is about a record which has the utmost sentimental value to me and I’ve gone to great lengths in order to add it to my collection. Regular readers might have noticed that the album title has become a reusable mantra in various posts. Although a neo-romantic album might seem worlds apart from the usual drum & bass features, I’d still hope that the timeless theme and the mesmerizing modern classical interpretation of concepts like hubris, jealousy, deception, self-sacrifice, devotion, grief, spent ideals, redemption and immortality, which have inspired philosophy, literature, music,   cinema and countless works of art, might have an appeal to you too.

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Portals: Atmospheric Drum & Bass Vistas

Following the recent release of Illuvia’s d&b album ‘Iridescence of Clouds’ on A Strangely Isolated Place, I’m proud to present my contribution to the ASIP ‘Portals’ series. Tracing the links from the halcyon days of the 90s to the present, from the classic to the obscure, this is a selection of 26 tracks showcasing the evolution of the atmospheric d&b sound or at least my own perception. The feature is supplemented with a mix, liner notes and fan facts. A long trip down memory lane for d&b fans, as well as an introduction of atmospheric drum & bass to a non-d&b audience. I hope this feature served its purpose and that you’ll enjoy it as much as we did.

You can read the original post here and listen to the mix on Soundcloud, Mixcloud or the ASIP Podcast.

For archiving purposes, I attach the full transcript of the feature below.

Words and layout by Ryan Griffin/ASIP
Comments in italics and track notes by Spyros/GodIsNoLongerADj

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Liner notes on 2020 – Part II

“It was my own countryside and I loved it with an intimate feeling, though all its associations were crude and incoherent. I cannot think of it now without a sense of heartache, as if it contained something which I have never quite been able to discover.” – Wardown Liner Notes

With a slight delay, this is the second part of my annual list (the drum & bass edition) featuring 21 of my favourite d&b records released in 2020, which I find worthy of your attention and – why not –  your credit card. The list is supplemented with liner notes, background stories and comments, trying to maintain an equilibrium between the (sorely missed) club sound system and the living room listening experience. A complicated epoch triggers complicated emotions and music can be the nostalgic reminder of simpler times.

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Liner notes on 2020 – Part I

“When someone isn’t there any more, the empty space is charged with emotional power. As if the act of vanishing leaves behind an ethereal, supernatural signature. As ever, the closing of one door leads to the opening of another. Without the experience of loss, this album would not be in existence and that is a silver sliver of light in an otherwise clouded sky. Everything at once, then nothing …” – ‘The Sound of Someone Leaving’ Liner Notes

It’s that time of the year again. Like you haven’t suffered enough, the list with my favourite 2020 releases, which I find worthy of your attention (and your credit card) is here. Amidst a second wave of the pandemic, where our social reflexes have been stretched to the limit, one of the positives in this mess is that home listening is no longer relegated to background music until dinner is ready; it’s become a routine to look forward to, a refuge and a remedy. So, I would like to take the opportunity once again to thank all artists and record labels for gracing this relentless year with their beautiful music, channelling isolation and insecurity into works of art, safeguarding the passion and the romance. A complicated epoch triggers complicated emotions and music can be the nostalgic reminder of simpler times.

Bandcamp has launched an initiative to support the many artists, who have seen their livelihoods disrupted by the pandemic this year. On the first Friday of every month since March, they have waived their revenue share and plan to continue accordingly in the next year, on February 5th, March 5th, April 2nd, and May 7th. More details here.

Continue reading “Liner notes on 2020 – Part I”

Tracks I Wish I’d Written (issue #21): Nuyorican Soul feat. Jocelyn Brown – I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun (4hero Remix)

“The most important thing about any version of ‘I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun’ is the fact that it’s a great, incredible song at the heart. The energy of Charles Stepney’s arrangement will inspire anyone who does a version of that song” – Marc Mac

Reinforced Records celebrate their 30th anniversary this year; a remarkable feat for an independent label, which has always been at the forefront of new and ground-breaking developments. Charter Road, Dollis Hill has been a melting pot for UK’s most innovative underground music: home to 4hero’s famous attic, FSOL’s ‘Earthbeat Studio’ was in the same building and even Suede, before reaching stardom, used to rehearse downstairs (as Goldie vaguely recalls in his memoirs). The list of collaborators and/or producers who were mentored and kick-started their recording career with Reinforced is impressive and quite long: Goldie, Doc Scott, Kemistry, Storm, Grooverider, Photek, Roni Size, Krust, Die, Randall, J Majik, Peshay to name a few.

4hero came to prominence in the late 80s. Embracing the dynamics of populist rave culture, they spearheaded the transition from breakbeat/hardcore to drum & bass via their own label Reinforced and maintained an avant-garde status as innovative and experimental producers. The label’s ethos and vision reaches well beyond the musical sphere. A community with strong allusions to their cultural roots and a creative hub, Reinforced has garnered praise across the electronic music spectrum, as well as a dedicated fan base.

In the words of co-founder Marc Mac:Reinforced Records will always be known for their experimental ground-breaking and pioneering style of Jungle/DnB pushing the whole scene to be more creative”.

It would be at least naïve to try and capture 4hero’s musical contribution and legacy in a single post. Instead, I will attempt a closer view into one of their finest musical moments. Words like classic, timeless, iconic or legendary, once reserved to laud people and exceptional gravitas, conveyed far more merit and accomplishment than they do these days. I’d style argue though that this edition of the series is a track which encapsulates all those terms in a literal sense; a cross-genre remix staple if ever there was one.

Continue reading “Tracks I Wish I’d Written (issue #21): Nuyorican Soul feat. Jocelyn Brown – I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun (4hero Remix)”

The Dutch Connection: GodIsNoLongerADJ for Radio Salto Amsterdam

I’ve had a friendly chat with the lovely people Trademarc, Morty and Kredo for their radio show ‘The Drum and Bass Break’, which is broadcasted every Sunday (22.00-00.00, GMT+1) on Salto Radio Amsterdam, selecting also the music for the show. I’m afraid though I couldn’t spare you my rantings about blogging, music, artwork, air traffic control, regrets and gratitude.

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Neon Loneliness: Inside Eschaton & Parallel’s ‘PM:AM’ LP

“Reflective, haunted by something and praying for absolution, then realizing that you had the power to change it all along”

In the last decade, the rapid advancements in technology effectively changed the channels of publishing and promoting music. A plethora of artists and smaller net labels emerged to fill in the new creative space, as it became significantly easier and cost-effective to set up a label and release new music without the restrictions of manufacturing and distribution. In a brave new world of endless possibilities opportunity is a double-edged sword, but that’s a topic for a future post.

One of those labels that have consistently carried the torch of atmospheric drum & bass is Omni Music. The ‘yin & yang’ logo encompasses the vision and ethos of the label: the symbol of dualism, the vicious pendulum between light and dark, reality and fiction, hope and despair, where seemingly contradicting forces actually interconnect and counterbalance. Omni gradually evolved beyond the confines of tempo and genres representing a sound and movement that never really went away; just moved on the fringes of the scene and re-surfaced with a modern twist.

I have the pleasure to host Chris Wright (aka Eschaton), music producer, writer and founder of the label to discuss his latest album with Parallel and the Omni Music canon.

Continue reading “Neon Loneliness: Inside Eschaton & Parallel’s ‘PM:AM’ LP”

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