A veteran producer, a prolific artist, a dexterous sonic fusioneer, a label owner and one of the most interesting figures in the drum and bass circuit Klute is the primary recording alias of Tom Withers.
Using various monikers along the years for his various solo projects (Dr. Know, Forensic, Klute, Mean Tom, Override, Scorpio, The Spectre, Supertouch and Tommy Stupid among others) as well being a member of various groups and acts (Brass Wolf with Tertius, The Stupids aka Frankfurter, Phume alongside Dave Campbell, Tongue and Tom & Tom) Withers has released countless classics for the most prestigious labels including the likes of Metalheadz, 31 Records, Certifcate 18, his own imprint Commercial Suicide, Shogun Audio, Hospital Records, Partisan Recordings, Samurai Music, Soul:R, Breakbeat Science, Dispatch, Signature, Language Records, Ninja Tunes and many more).
With six personal albums already under his belt, and a long string of releases on a plethora of labels, drifting constantly through tempos, moods and patterns, with clear influences from techno, house, dub and his punk/hardcore origins, frequently using vocal hooks, Klute’s productions cover a wide spectrum of drum and bass styles.
Withers’ career started in the mid 80s being the drummer and vocalist in the skate/punk band The Stupids based in Ipswich, UK. As opposed to the trend at the time, The Stupids’ lyrics were rather satirical and comical than poignant and political. The band was soon picked up by the Children Of The Revolution Records releasing an ep and two full albums before signing to the seminal, eclectic label Vinyl Solution, run by the homonymous record shop in Portobello Road, London. The Stupids after having recorded three John Peel Sessions disbanded in the late 80s and reformed in 2008 for a series of live performances. Furthermore, a 7” with new material and a re-issue of some of their previous tracks also saw the light the light of day.
Moving on to the next decade, Withers emerged with the alias Klute, inspired by the faceless mystique of the new music championed by the Ibiza Records collective, Noise Factory and fellow-Ipswich resident Photek and started making his own beats.
He was soon signed by the seminal jungle/drum and bass label Certificate 18 (C18) where he released as Klute his first 12” followed by 2 personal albums (Casual Bodies and Fear Of People) and more than a dozen of singles and eps on C18. In the meantime, he was also recording material under different monikers for other labels.
In 2001, his contract with Certificate 18 expired and Withers decided that it was high time he launched his own imprint to release his music. Receiving a help in the community grant from Sir Alan Sugar, Commercial Suicide was born. Initially set to cater for Klute’s own material, soon became obvious the need to foster a creative home for other artists too. To the time of writing Commercial Suicide has released 67 singles and eps, 12 albums and compilations, as well as a string of digital and limited edition releases growing stronger and stronger. The label’s roster is enviable to say the least, with established artists as well as upcoming talents from around the globe (Amit, Break, Digital, Spirit, Calibre, Hive, SKC, Nymfo, Gridlok, Tactile, D Kay, Silent Witness, S.P.Y., Dub Phizix, Beta 2, Zero T, Trei, Dose, Mindscape, The Upbeats, Ill Skillz, Chris Su among others).
On Commercial Suicide, Klute has already released four personal albums:
- Lie, Cheat & Steal (2003)
- No One’s Listening Anymore (2005)
- The Emperor’s New Clothes (2007).
- Music For Prophet (2010)
The first three are double CDs with one drum and bass CD and another of downtempo, techno and breakbeat, all receiving triumphant reviews by the electronic music press and the fans. The track “Time 4 Change” from “No One’s Listening Anymore” was the last tune played on-air by John Peel.
In 2007, Klute formed with fellow djs, artists and label owners Marcus Intalex, Doc Scott, Calibre, and dBridge the “A Bunch Of Cuts” collective aiming to make their music available to wider audiences, bringing together some of the most innovative and consistent labels (31 Records, Commercial Suicide, Exit, Signature, Soul:r & Revolve:r). The resident DJs cover a spectrum of sounds including drum & bass, dubstep and techno, with several of the major names in the drum and bass circles featuring as guests (Fabio, Goldie etc.).
Klute has also collaborated with many studio greats too, such luminaries as Lamb, Mogwai, Bis, Natasha Atlas, Harold Budd and John Tejada. Last but not least Withers has engaged in remixing duties for the likes of James Hardway, King Kooba, Photek, Tokyo Prose & Phil Tangent, Dj Dara, Lee Burridge, Concord Dawn, James Hardway and many more…
The plethora of Withers’ quality releases makes it really hard to pick out only 10 tracks. Intentionally, some of his productions on Commercial Suicide have been left out, in an effort to present his versatility as a producer throughout almost two decades of prolific artistic activity. With unique criterion my own musical taste and in strict chronological order, ten of Withers’ finest moments are demonstrated below:
- Klute – Leo 9 (b/w Blackout, Certificate 18, CERT1819, 1997)
- Klute – Silent Weapons (Total Self ep, Certificate 18, CERT1826, 1998)
- The Spectre – De-Pattern (b/w Breakers, Partisan Recordings, PART012, 1998)
- Lamb – Little Things (Klute mix) (All In Your Hands, Fontana, LAM X6, 1999)
- Klute – Dawn Of Reason (b/w Song Seller, 31 Records, 31R015, 2001)
- Klute – Saviour (No One’s Listening Any More LP, Commercial Suicide, SUICIDECD004, 2004)
- Klute feat. Laura Pacheco – Come Back 2 Me (b/w We Are All Dying, Soul:R, SOUL:R019, 2006)
- Klute – We Control The Vertical (The Emperor’s New Clothes LP, Commercial Suicide, SUICIDECD007, 2007)
- Klute – Divinity (b/w Hang With Me, Samurai Music, NZ002, 2008)
- Klute – Take A Breath VIP (Commercial Suicide Is Painless Vol 1, Commercial Suicide, SUICIDEDIG002, 2012)
An extended discography, reviews and everything Klute and Commercial Suicide can be found at the following links:
Follow the previous installments of the “Count To Ten” series here: