“Ennio Morricone meeting Isaac Hayes in a full-on jungle vibe, Endemic Void pushes the limits of time-stretchology with this deep, cinematic, frontline fanfare. Rich, vibrant and all-encompassing” – (Melody Maker, 1995)
The fourth installment of the series is dedicated to one of the unsung heroes of the golden era of drum and bass Danny Coffey (aka Basic One, Blades, Tertius, Endemic Void, Slipstream and Strictly Rockers).
With a plethora of releases on several established labels under his belt (Labello Blanco, Renegade Recordings, Vibez, Language, Partisan, Modern Urban Jazz and Creative Wax to name a few), Danny Coffey has carried out one of the most interesting and successful fusions of jazz, dub and ambient atmospherics in a drum and bass context. Frequently switching styles from dark and angular productions to breezier and jazz-influenced releases, a dexterous manipulator of samples and loops, constantly re-inventing himself as a fusioneer, Coffey has been one of the most interesting drum and bass artists to watch.
He has been in the circuit since the early breakbeat/ hardcore days recording for the seminal Labello Blanco as Strictly Rockers, however his first major break came up in 1995 when he hooked up with Tony Thorpe (of Moody Boyz and an ex-KLF collaborator) and signed with Language Records. Endemic Void began as a side-project deviating from the rigid demands of breakbeat/hardcore and ragga jungle, although the project’s popularity quickly transformed it to full-time status. That same year Endemic Void released the inaugural single of Language Records and readily followed his debut Equations LP released to critical acclaim in 1996. The album earned instant praise as some of the most characteristic mixtures of jazzy drum and bass yet maintaining a hard, innovative edge. As a result, remixes for artists such as The Creatures, personal hero Airto Moreira and Tek 9 followed, with TOV’s Shogun and No-U-Turn’s Nico Sykes in turn trying their hands at Endemic Void originals.
In 1996 Coffey emerged as Tertius; an alter-ego to accommodate for harder yet atmospheric productions. It was around that time when drum and bass productions were shifting from the contentious “intelligent” sound to darker tech-oriented productions. In the following years Tertius collaborated with some of the major names of the drum and bass scene (Justice, Deep Blue, Klute and Artemis aka Shogun) making an indelible print on the ever-changing drum and bass landscape.
Many of Dan Coffey’s tracks as well asa number of his remixes have been included in various compilations and mixes along the years.
The Early Days
The first track Coffey actually mixed down himself was a track called 9mm. He gave it to Darren Jay to play and he played it as the first tune of his set at the Ministry of Sound. A VIP version of that very track featured some years later in the compilation Jungle Massive 4 Presents: Jungle Vs. The Hardsteppers released by Labello Blanco.
Dan Coffey’s first production saw the light of day in 1992 under his Strictly Rockers alias on Labello Blanco (Strictly Rockin’ b/w Crisp & Tuff, LB12, 1992) followed by a 4-track ep (Killer Mix & Murder b/w Killer Man Thunder & Coffee Mix, LB21, 1992) the same year. Both releases have clear influences and samples from reggae, a dominating trend in breakbeat/jungle at the time. Killer Man Thunder is the track that stands out featuring samples of Rat Cut A Bottle by Lion Youth. He also contributed the track Cut Like A Lumberjack to the compilation The Story So Far (Labello Blanco Selection Box) on Labello Blanco.
In 1993 Coffey experiments with lower tempos using a new alias Basic One for a house production (Devastatin’ To Your Ear, OUT3570) released on the Italian disco-house label OUT Records. In 1995 he contributed the track Gigaleengang Sound Du Ghetto as Basic One to the jungle compilation Jungle Vibes released by the Belgian label Selector.
- The Language Records era
Over the years, Coffey, a musical equipment connoisseur, was constantly building and updating his own studio. Starting off with an Akai S2800 sampler and a Casio PSR home keyboard, which had a MIDI socket, moving on to the Atari and Cubase, Coffey got his deal with Language Records on the strength of a demo really just using those.
In 1995 Coffey under his new moniker Endemic Void signed with Language Records and was responsible for the inaugural release of the label; a 4-track ep setting the pretext of what was about to follow. From 1995 to 1998 Endemic Void released a string of eight 12”s on Language Records in total. His debut album Equations was released to critical acclaim in 1996 creating serious waves, receiving triumphant reviews and gaining loyal fans such as Gilles Peterson, Mixmaster Morris or Fabio along the way. Cool, groovy, intricate and exciting…
In chronological order the releases on Language:
- Endemic Void – The Whole World & Turn Da Tide b/w Infectious & Sub Ether (WORD12001, 1995)
- Endemic Void – Equations (WORDD04, 1996)
- Endemic Void – Infectious b/w Steppin’ (WORD12006, 1996)
- Endemic Void – Fuzed b/w Serious Intent (WORD12008, 1996)
- Endemic Void – Lost Souls b/w Evolution (WORD12010, 1996)
- Endemic Void – Lionstone (Nico remix) b/w Hydrosphere (Shogun remix) (WORD12012, 1997)
- Endemic Void – Lamentations b/w False Moves (WORD12016, 1997)
- Endemic Void – Down The Line b/w Gardian Angel (WORD12021, 1998)
- Endemic Void – Dark Blue b/w Melody by Chrome (The Family 12”, WORD12022, 1998)
In 1997 Endemic Void collaborated with fellow-Language artists Elixir (Yesterday Was Cool b/w Chronos, EVE01) for the one-off label Eves.
- The second incarnation
Endemic Void was “resurrected” in 2005 (in the meantime Coffey was still producing as Tertius). Off The Market b/w Tundra Sprouts (Omni Trio remix),OSR013 was released on Offshore Recordings, arguably a successor of Partisan Recordings in regard to the ethos and the sound Offshore was pushing. In 2007 a collaboration with an old fellow-artist Justice (more about that in the Collaborations & Affiliations section) was released on Justice’s own label MJAZZ as the flipside to a remix of the seminal anthem Aquisse by Justice, celebrating a decade of its first release on Basement Records (Monochrome b/w Justice & Neil Trix – Aquisse 2006 version, MJAZZ6). The duo (Justice & Endemic Void) went on to co-produce on digital format a 5-track ep (Ghetto For The Minute EP, MJAZZDIGIEP3, 2008) as well as Follow Me featuring in the Mod Beats EP, MJAZZDIGI1, 2008 also on MJAZZ.
Super Hero waving his Blades
In 1996 Coffey shortly returned to his jungle roots. Alongside the Brodie brothers, owners of Smokers Inc they formed Super Heroes, remixing Turone’s Herbal Powers on Toxic Recordings. The following year Coffey launched a one-off side-project Blades to cater for a different sound than usual, clearly influenced by the sound drum and bass was heading to at the time. Rat Bastard b/w Funky Squad, SMINC007 was released on Smokers Inc. Funky Squad is a sharp production with haunting strings and fierce basslines whereas Rat Bastard rather shifts to “jump up” – closer to the sound Smokers Inc was championing. This particular production demonstrated his versatility as a producer.
Tertius – Deep Into the 90s
While recording as Endemic Void on Language, Coffey emerged in the second half of the 90s under another moniker Tertius. As Tertius he began a string of releases (as a solo artist and various collaborations along the way) on many key labels of the drum and bass scene.
The first production as Tertius was for Trouble On Vinyl (TOV) sub-label Renegade Recordings (Miracle Switch b/w Awakening, RR12, 1996). His second and last release for Renegade followed the next year (Vibez & Sky High, RR14, 1997). The title was prophetic as later that year Tertius recorded for Subject 13’s label Vibez (Pace Waves b/w Meditation, VIBEZ010, 1997).
In the meantime (1996) Danny Coffey came up with an one-off project Slipstream (Interference b/w The Abyss, UBC005, 1996) for Urban Culture Recordings; a short-lived Labello Blanco imprint . This was his last recording for the LB collective. Lush pads, eerie melodies flutes and a trademark bassline were the main ingredients of that release in sync with the dominating sound of drum and bass at the time.
In 1998 Tertius joined the Partisan Recordings collective. (Structure b/w Infra, PART006, 1998) was his first release on Partisan paving in darker paths than usual, whereas the next year a collaboration with Moving Shadow’s legend and member of the Partisan Recordings managing crew Deep Blue for the claustrophobic (Affirmative b/w Negative, PART020, 1999) saw the light of day.
Collaborations and affiliations
A contribution of the downtempo track (Breath Of Life, CWLP001, 1997) to the highly acclaimed compilation Modern Urban Jazz, compiled by Tony Bows (aka Justice) on DJ Pulse’s Creative Wax was the kick-off for great synergies. Tertius & Justice formed the act Krash providing two more tracks Motorworld & Never Again to the aforementioned compilation as well as two releases on Ultimatum Breaks: Drum Poison b/w Shade, UB002, 1998 and the Burn EP, UB006, 1999.
In 1997 Tertius & Justice collaborated again for a 3-track ep on Echo Drop (Essential 4 Life b/w Miles Apart & D.T.’s Reprise, DROPT015, 1997); Essential 4 Life being the highlight of the ep. That same year they also recorded on Justice’s own label Modern Urban Jazz (Chains b/w Asylum Seeker, MJAZZ5, 1997).
1998 was a prolific year for Coffey. Alongside Oliver Lomax (already established as one of the finest under his Shogun and Artemis monikers with releases on key labels such as Renegade, R&S and Good Looking) they formed Machine releasing Off The Cuff b/w Off The Cuff (Spirit-ual mix), CW121, 1998 for Creative Wax as well as Blowfish a track that featured in the aforementioned Modern Urban Jazz compilation.
Coffey and Bowes also assisted to the set-up of Funk 21; a short-lived label affiliated with Partisan Recordings and run by Terry Wilson. Tertius joined forces with Professor Smalls of Elixir for the fifth release of Funk 21 (9th Episode b/w Wolf, FUNK21005, 1998). Both tracks featured in the superb compilation Funk 21 – The Album, PARTFKL601 the same year.
The next big collaboration was with Klute (a Certificate 18 major artist and later owner of Commercial Suicide). As Brass Wolf they recorded One b/w Two, AC002, 1998 on the newly-founded Moving Shadow sub-label Audio Couture.
Hardleading to the next Millenium
Entering the next decade, Coffey contributes tracks for compilations released on Hardleaders. Offset & Evidence as Tertius as well as Bar-B-Q & Transient as Krash feature on the Listen Up compilation (HLCD9, 2000). Holiday & Falling Science were also included in the compilation Modern Living – A Collection Of Beats, Rhymes & Basslines, HLCD11, 2001 the next year.
His last single release as Tertius is for Tricksta’s (owner of Urban Flavour and Nu Directions) Wideload label (Mainframe b/w Decisive, WDL002, 2000).
After a 4 year hiatus, Coffey re-emerged as Endemic Void again in 2005. Less prolific than on his previous spell he re-joined Justice for a string of digital releases on MJAZZ.
As Endemic Void, Coffey has been credited with a number of remixes along the years; the highlights being the dope mix on All She Could Ask For by The Creatures (a side-project of Susan Ballion and Peter Clarke of Siouxsie & The Banshees), the remix on Oscillations by Bill Laswell and the remarkable remix on Tek 9’s (Dego of 4 Hero alias) Is It On?.
Endemic Void has been on remixing duties for the following tracks:
- Prizna – 10000 Babylon, Kickin’ Underground Sound, 1994
- Mayte – If Eye Love U 2night, NPG Records, 1995
- Phosphorus – Inspiring Light, Language Records, 1995
- Tek 9 – Is It On, SSr Records, 1996
- Bill Laswell – Oscillations, Sub Rosa, 1997
- Subject 13 – True Skillz, Selector, 1997
- Rude Dog T – Badself, Rude & Deadly, 1997
- Tupilaq – Chapel Perillious, Dot, 1997
- Airto Moreira – Revenge Of The Killer Bees, Electric M.E.L.T., 1998
- St Esprit – Respire, Selector, 1998
- The Creatures – All She Could Ask For, Sioux Records/Hydrogen Dukebox, 1999
- Airto Moreira – Banana Jam, Electric M.E.L.T., 2000
Fast forward to the present
The last official release by Danny Coffey was in 2008. Priorities in life constantly change and musical inspiration is not always a given, however in Danny’s case periods of silence have always led to great returns. Plans to start soon with some possible collaborations with his former partner and Language Records boss Tony Thorpe are now on the cards. Watch carefully for the return of Endemic Void…
Danny Coffey sharing some personal trivia, Jumping the Q, here:
An extensive discography, reviews and all things Endemic Void can be found in the following links:
If you have ever wondered whatever happened also to Hidden Agenda, Creative Wax, Partisan Recordings, Voyager, Essence Of Aura, Foul Play and Mouly & Lucida, visit the blog’s archive following the link below: