The fifth installment of the series is dedicated to one of the most influential figures of the jungle/drum and bass scene Pete Parsons aka Voyager. A prolific producer and dexterous engineer, active since the early 90s and throughout the golden era of jungle/drum and bass, Parsons has made an indelible print on the underground dance music map, involved in various projects not pertaining only to drum and bass. The purpose of this article is to shed light on Parsons’ invaluable contribution to the evolution and transition of breakbeat/hardcore to ambient jungle and drum and bass.
Using various monikers along the years (Little Bro Pete, Pete Voyager, Rev-P and Voyager among others) for his solo engineering/production projects, as well being a member of groups (2D33P, Breakneck, Future Sound Of Hardcore, Street Science and Code Blue), Parsons’ career started around the dawn of 90s as an in-house producer, remixer and engineer at the famous Monroe Production Company (also referred to as Monroe Studios) based on Holloway Road, London. Monroe Production Company output a large cross-section of musical styles on many different labels including the likes of Dee Jay Recordings, Lucky Spin, Moving Shadow, Impact, Suburban Base, Soapbar, Proper Talent and Sound Entity to name a few. Pete Parsons has been one of the main engineers involved in mixing and production duties for some of d’n’b’s most recognized tracks and artists on the aforementioned labels.
His first release as an artist/producer was under the one-off moniker Rev-P for Dj Seduction’s Impact Records. A string of releases on the seminal labels Lucky Spin and Dee Jay Recordings followed suit, working solo or in groups. In 1995, he collaborated with the jungle queen Dj Rap for the critically acclaimed LP Intelligence released on Dj Rap’s own imprint Proper Talent.
Two years later, Parsons signed with the mega dance label R&S and his first solo album Future Retro saw the light of day, receiving triumphant reviews by the press and the fans. Voyager’s tracks were already receiving wide support by the big names of the dj circuit at the time and some of them had already featured in the first two installments of the highly acclaimed Promised Land series, released by Higher Limits (the first compiled and mixed by LTJ Bukem and the second by Fabio). As a result, Voyager was signed by LTJ Bukem’s Good Looking for the impeccable Apollo and readily followed Mysteron on Fabio’s Creative Source.
Going into the new millennium, Parsons took a break from drum and bass exploring other musical paths joining the London Breakz nu-breakz collective, co-producing with Dj Tamsin (a former Whitehouse Records and Juice Box artist) and DJ Vlad. Parsons had already experimented with lower tempos as an engineer for the UK Garage label Underground Classics in the mid 90s, under the name of Hi-Times with label owner, Ollie Red-Eye, producing one of the scene’s most classic and recognisable tracks; Journey into Jazz .
In 2009. he re-emerged in the drum and bass circuit releasing Long White Cloud on Camino Blue. In late 2012, Parsons contributed two tracks to the final release of DSCI4 Recordings Final Chapter; a label owned by his long time drum and bass co-writing partner Dj Trace.
The early days:
Parsons’ first solo production was under the moniker Rev-P (Rhythm Process b/w 1994, IMP022, 1994) on DJ Seduction’s Impact Records, with whom he was working at the time as an engineer. Both tracks were dark jungle cuts, with haunting pads, a trademark component of Parsons’ future productions in accordance to Impact’s sound, before the label moved on to releasing happy hardcore.
Pete Parsons had also been the main engineer of Soapbar Records, a UK hardcore/jungle label set up by the Total Music record shop in London. Dj Spice, who founded later the famous rave information service Rave Guide UK, was the A&R manager. Alongside jungle pioneer and Shy FX collaborator T Power, Parsons has been credited for the track Future Wars which featured in The Shape Of Things To Come ep released on Soapbar (SBR010, 1993)
In 1995 Parsons made also a one-off collaboration with Bionic of the famous hip-hop act London Posse (Feds, BULT 4, 1995) on London Posse’s Bullet Records.
Lucky Spin & Dee Jay Recordings collective
The great breakthrough for Parsons as an artist came when he joined the Lucky Spin & Dee Jay Recordings (referred to as LS/DJ onwards) collective and Voyager was born. Working solo, in groups, assisting as engineer and re-mixer, Parsons has been a significant member of the sister labels’ roster. LS/DJ released countless classics along the years, with records never leaving the bag of every major name in the jungle/dnb circuit. Run by the homonymous record shop in King’s Road, London (the premises were taken over ca ’94 by Moving Shadow setting up their own record shop and imprint Section 5), Lucky Spin Records relocated in ‘94 on Holloway Rd, with the Monroe Studios next door. LS/DJ have defined the blueprint soon to be followed my many artists championing an atmospheric drum and bass sound (frequently referred to as intelligent drum and bass).
As Voyager, Parsons released two homonymous 12”s (Voyager part 1, Knowledge b/w Haunted, LSR018, 1995 and Voyager Part 2, Voyager b/w Eastern Promise, LSR021, 1995). Knowledge had also received the remix treatment by Parsons himself, arguably better than the original, released as a single-sided white label under the limited edition STU catalog number series (Knowledge (remix), STU07, 1994). In 1996 followed his second and last release for the STU series (Sky High, STU024, 1996). That same year Voyager had also two releases on Dee Jay Recordings. He recorded, alongside fellow label producer and key artist DJ Trace, the ground-breaking seminal track Miles High (Miles High b/w After Hours, DJX029) which featured in the critical acclaimed compilations Logical Progression (compiled by LTJ Bukem) and Promised Land Vol 2 (mixed and compiled by Fabio). Readily followed (Baracuda Part 1, Voyager – Long Distance (Collect Call mix) b/w Ed Rush – Check Me Out, DJX030).
Apart from his solo productions, Voyager has been a member of various successful acts (The Future Sound Of Hardcore, Code Blue, Street Science) mainly collaborating with LS/DJ owner Slipmaster J. As Future Sound Of Hardcore they released two singles setting the grounds for the evolution of jungle to ambient drum and bass, establishing LS/DJ as one of the most innovative outlets of cutting-edge electronic music (Vol 1, Euphoria b/w Eden, DJX012, 1993 and Vol 2, Promised Land b/w Desire, DJX014, 1993). Euphoria has the same glittering chords reminding DJ Crystl’s seminal anthem Meditation, whereas Promised Land inspired the name of a LS/DJ offshoot Higher Limits, which was focused mainly on compilations with tracks from the labels’ back catalogue. A remix of Destiny made it only to the test press stage (The Future Sound Of Hardcore – Destiny (remix), DJX0016, 1993).
Code Blue was an alias of The Future Sound Of Hardcore for (Angels In Rhythm b/w Angels in Dub, DJX017, 1994) and Street Science an one-off project with Gavin Long for the track Come To Me, both tracks featuring in the first installment of the Promised Land series.
Voyager has been also credited for two official remixes during his time with LS/DJ, namely (Fokus – Trigger Happy (Voyager remix) b/w Trigger Happy (original mix), LSR024, 1995) and (Universal Traveller aka Simon Bassline Smith – Midnite (Voyager remix) b/w Midnite (original mix), DJX032, 1996).
In the meantime
Parsons’ prolific activity during the first half of the 90s hadn’t been limited only to LS/DJ business. His engineering duties at the Monroe Studios exposed him to a number of established artists and djs leading to great synergies. In 1995 Voyager joined forces with jungle queen DJ Rap for (Burning Love b/w Rhythm (remix), PT007, 1995) on DJ Rap’s label Proper Talent followed by the Intelligence LP, released to critical acclaim the same year. Shortly after, DJ Rap was signed by Sony, exposing her music to wider audiences.
Parsons has also remixed jungle headstrong champions Bizzy B & Pugwash aka The Dream Team (owners of Joker Records) (The Dream Team – LA Dreams (Pete Parsons remix) b/w Insane, JOKER018, 1995).
The big signing
In 1997 Lucky Spin & Dee Jay Recordings suspended their activity and Voyager joined the elite group of electronic music heavyweights signing with the mega dance label R&S. Parsons released his one and only solo album entitled Future Retro. As the title implies, the album consisted of past and present cuts, a melting pot of jazz, smooth basslines, subtle vocals and various tempos. The album received triumphant reviews by press and fans cementing Voyager’s place in the drum and bass scene of the 90s. Voyager also released two singles on R&S (Desire (remixes), RS97108, 1997) and (Hypersleep (remixes), RS97121, 1997), with remixes from the likes of Dave Wallace and EZ Rollers. Hypersleep uses a mesmerizing dialogue off the movie Aliens (1986). “They, uh, they tell me that all the weakness and disorientation should pass soon. It’s just natural side effects of such an unusually long hypersleep, or something like that… How long? – Fifty-seven years“.
Also, in 1997 Parsons remixed Smoke City‘s Underwater Love, a major hit of that year after being used in a Levi’s tv advertisement.
Voyager’s talent was soon picked up by the likes of LTJ Bukem and Fabio. Having already canned his tunes for several years, it was about time they signed him to their own imprints. Voyager released the cinematic, breathtaking Apollo on Good Looking Records (Apollo b/ Beatnik, GLR028, 1998). The captivating orchestral strings of Apollo in conjunction with the jazzier mood of Beatnik established the release as one of Good Looking’s finest moments. Voyager’s release on Creative Source the next year (Carter b/w Mysteron, CRSE026, 1999) was on a different tip, bass-dominated with subtle melodies; a production that embraced and captured the sound Creative Source was championing at that time. Parsons has also collaborated with Fabio in the past, for a couple of Fabio’s rare studio producing efforts on remixing Carlito’s Heaven and Blame by Everything But The Girl.
Parsons’ last release in the 90s was the inaugural release of DJ Trace’s DSCI4 label (DJ Trace & Pete Parsons – Sniper b/w Azure, DSCI001, 1999). Sniper is a characteristic amen assault clearly influenced by the tech-oriented productions at the time, obsessed with sophisticated drum edits, whereas Azure is a different affair, reminiscing Voyager’s earlier works and would not be out of place in Good Looking’s or Creative Source’s catalog.
To the new millennium – London Breakz
Entering the new millennium, Parsons took a well-deserved sabbatical from drum and bass, experimenting with other projects. He joined the now defunct London Breakz nu-breakz collective for a series of productions and remixes under the monikers Breakneck (with DJ Tamsin and DJ Vlad) and Qb project (with DJ Trace) on Londonbreakz and Thursday Club Recordings from 2000 until 2005.
Parsons with Trace formed Sequential to cater for minimal house/techno releases, however unfortunately the initiative didn’t achieve a distribution deal and their productions never saw the light of day.
The drum and bass return and fast forward to the present
Pete Parsons made a cameo appearance on the German drum and bass label Camino Blue Recordings (Pete Voyager – Long White Cloud b/w Electrosoul System – Ghost, Camino011, 2009) with an impeccable production equal to his prior drum and bass work. In late 2012, Parsons contributed two tracks to the final release from DSCI4 Recordings Final Chapter; one with label owner and long time drum and bass co-writing partner Dj Trace, under the guise of 2D33P and the second being Voyager – Chilli.
Currently relocated in Belgrade, Serbia, Parsons has been writing, and preparing for the upcoming LP from 2D33P which is aimed for a release in 2013. He’s also working with Trace at his new label Shark VIP with a new deep house signing Plastic Heaven; an act hailing from Budapest.
As a pretext of a great return, Parsons has also made a remix entitled Imaginary Skies due to be released on Eschaton’s Omni Music label. Clip available here:
2D33P are also planning to release an LP in 2013. Parsons’ latest initiative is the set up of LBZ Music Publishing, aimed at helping up-and-coming DnB artists who are on the more soulful and deeper side of underground music.
In 2005, Pete signed to the UK publishing company BMG/Zomba, to write and produce tracks for distribution in various TV/Film/Games and other multimedia usage. The tracks have been used, and continue to be used primarily by global national and independent TV companies.
As of November 2012, Parsons has been busy in the studio, writing and completing 10 new library tracks, for syncing to Film/TV/Games.
Instrumental tracks of his are continuing to be used by global broadcast companies including:
- BBC TV
- Discovery Channel
- USA General Broadcasting
- Japan General Broadcasting
- SKY SPORTS
Pete Parsons is Jumping the Q sharing some personal trivia in a highly interesting mini interview here:
If you have ever wondered whatever happened also to Hidden Agenda, Creative Wax, Partisan Recordings, Endemic Void, Essence Of Aura, Foul Play and Mouly & Lucida, visit the blog’s archive following the link below: