Home » Inside The Album » MJAZZ presents The Modernists

MJAZZ presents The Modernists

The Modernists vol 1-4

The Modernists vol 1-4

The Modernists is a highly acclaimed, collectible, limited edition, compilation series project released by the forward-thinking Modern Urban Jazz (MJAZZ) label. To the time of writing The Modernists series consists of four volumes (official release date of the 4th volume is the 22nd of July, 2013), featuring mainly artists and affiliates of the MJAZZ collective. An eclectic cross-genre selection, covering a wide palette of electronic bass music, from techno to deep drum and bass, with clear electro, house and hip-hop influences, every volume seems to be pushing the music boundaries even further.

Limited to strictly 100 copies per installment, with hand finished artwork and stickers or badges included, every release is a collectible; an approach that seems to be becoming more popular within drum and bass, rendering every physical copy unique and individual.

The label’s head honcho Tony Bowes aka Justice explains how he has envisioned the evolution of the series:

“When we did the first Modernists I just wanted to put a collection together of some music that, at the time, was representative of what we were doing and present that in a unique way with the packaging etc… In fact I sourced the CD sleeves before I even knew what would be on the LP. Sometimes it helps that things happen or progress and with the series, the artwork and sleeve is on a par with the music. Once The Modernists was released and well received, it felt that it could become or would turn into a series, as has happened. The music policy – as always with the label – is to be progressive and not be constrained by boundaries or genres. The culmination of this is Modernists 4 which is a total cross pollination of all the genres that have influenced me and MJAZZ up to this point.”

Modernists 1

(MJAZZLP02, 2009, Various Artists)

The Modernists 1 - front

The Modernists 1

Adding to the boutique/bespoke limited nature of the project, comes The Modernists CD, which is housed in a unique recycled cardboard sleeve that requires no gluing and has a hand-printed sleeve and CD face, making each one unique. A well-balanced compilation of experimental drum and bass, featuring some of the label’s regulars as well as contributions by established producers and new-comers. Metro’s homonymous track is a pretext of the future album works with the label’s head honcho Justice, Asleep by Sub, Control Remote’s Haze and Invincible’s Solitude are representative samples of the MJAZZ drum and bass sound, whereas Reversed Water Streams by the Paranoid Society alliance and Last Days On Earth by The Square add to the versatility of the compilation.

The Modernists 1 - back

The Modernists 1

Tracklist

Justice  & Invincible – Unique 
Paranoid Society – Reversed Water Streams
Control Remote – Haze         
ICR – Same New Song  
Invincible & D’Zine – Sucker Punch   
Metro – Metro                         
Sinistarr – Pax Romana  
Justice & Chris Inperspective – Cryptic Lamb
Sub – Asleep                              
Invincible – Solitude               
Sh1 – Betrayal                           
The Square – Last Days On Earth

Modernists 2

(MJAZZLP04, 2011, Various Artists)

The Modernists 2 - front

The Modernists 2

Two years later, as a follow-up to the first installment, The Modernists 2 covers a wider spectrum of bass music, diverting from the traditional drum and bass blueprint, showcasing an array of new artists joining the MJAZZ collective. Subtle and minimal half-tempo improvisations, complex structures, cinematic landscapes and deep sub-bass assaults, characterize the second volume of the series; the highlights being Quantized Freedom by Nuage & Gerwin, Sounds Like Something by Justice & Metro and Felix K’s Reklas.

The Modernists 2 - back

The Modernists 2

Tracklist

Cuelock – Lypes        
Metro – Kit                 
Diamond Eye – Temple Dub   
Muted – Classified  
Sight Unseen – Stalker’s Theme
Marginal – The Mech Issues
Ultracode – Vanish  
Felix K – Reklas         
Nuage & Gerwin – Quantized Freedom
Dominic Ridgway – My Reflection  
Justice & Metro – Sounds Like Something
Sinistarr – Golgo 13

Modernists 3

(MJAZZLP08, 2012, Various Artists)

The Modernists 3 - front

The Modernists 3

The third stage of the series readily followed in 2012. The Modernists 3 carries on the saga, adding an eclectic blend of jazz-influenced fusions, eerie synths and complex drum programming to the melting pot. Diamond Eye’s Uninspired and Betamax Heard’s 4/4 structures are fine examples of the diverse sounds the series has been representing, whereas Envya & Survied’s cinematic Femme Fatale is the highlight, being clearly influenced from the Autonomic initiative.

The Modernists 3 - back

The Modernists 3

Tracklist

Justice & Diamond Eye – Mode         
Metro – Delete         
Justice & Invincible – The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea   
Diamond Eye – Uninspired                  
Control Remote – Wet Static
2nd City Blue – Down Hear
Muted  – Cope With It
Betamax Heard – Trash                         
Paranoid Society – Boxotron                               
Justice & Cuelock – Sun On A Friday    
Justice & Endemic Void – Ghetto for the Minute
Envya & Survied – Femme Fatale 

Modernists 4

(MJAZZLP11, 2013, Various Artists)

The Modernists 4 - back

The Modernists 4

In the most recent installment the mold is broken, since there is no drum and bass track included in the compilation, at least in its traditional form. The Modernists 4 is a mixed bag, abolishing music stereotypes, expanding in a wide spectrum of electronic music, showcasing a collection of futuristic rhythms with a retro touch. Half-tempo drum rhythms, 4/4 house and techno structures, bleeps, haunting synths and sophisticated drum editing is the canvas of the compilation. Intro with Jason oS’ interpretation of the seminal Time Undefined by Icons (Blame & Justice) originally pressed on the iconic Precious Materials in 1995, followed by a collaboration between two of the drum and bass’ golden era finest Justice & Deep Blue for Soul Function; a tech-house effort. The bleepy FSOL-inspired Fume by Cope, Larkin by Betamax Heard with a watermarked Detroit signature and the cinematic Just In From Michigan by Justice & Metro – not too dissimilar from their recent Oxymoron work – also stand out.

The Modernists 4 - front

The Modernists 4

Tracklist

Burlish – LMcDIAT  
Icons – Time Undefined (Jason oS remix)
Betamax Heard – Row-Land
Rawtrachs – Old Ting
Deep Blue & Justice – Soul Function
Cope – Fume
Milestone – Good Life
Critical Resistance – The Shakedown
Consumer – ED102
Betamax Heard – Larkin  
Justice & Metro – Just in from Michigan
3times – Outer Space

The Modernists 4 is now available for pre-order on CD, Cassette Tape and digital format via the MJAZZ Surus store. The official release date is the 22nd of July, 2013.

The Modernists 4 - CD & Cassette

The Modernists 4 – CD & Cassette

All volumes of the series are available for preview following the links below:

Modernists 1

Modernists 2

Modernists 3

Modernists 4

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2 thoughts on “MJAZZ presents The Modernists

  1. I bought a lot of older MJAZZ stuff back in the 90ies (‘Airsign’ being an all time favorite of mine) , but when they relaunched the label with The Modernists series, i didnt get most of that “new” sound at all.
    Thanks to the 50p friday, i bought every compilation and the music has grown so much on me.
    MJAZZ has become one of my favorite DnB labels ! They are way underrated !

    • I ‘ve been also following Justice and Modern Urban Jazz since day one, “Emotions With Intellect” is one of the finest dnb albums of all times in my book. It has been a genre-defying label, since the relaunch, and i agree; every time i listen to the Modernists series or Justice & Metro’s albums i discover something new.
      Thanks for commenting 🙂

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