“The words ‘Every second takes an hour’ explained perfectly the strange time-warp-like atmosphere in ‘The Fridge’; it was so easy to lose track of time in there. Then the next line ‘and each one seems the last’ illustrates that feeling of impending doom that I felt at the time …”
I have been contemplating a Bay B Kane blog feature for years. I had even drafted several sketches, but for one reason or another they remained buried in my digital archive. So, in that sense, the 16th edition of the “Tracks I Wish I’d Written” is long overdue. I was recently listening back to Bay B Kane’s ‘Rise Of The Phoenix EP’, when my daughter playfully asked me about the vocal sample. That was the trigger to finally pay my respects to one of the true pioneers, who heralded the transition from hardcore to jungle; a master manipulator of breaks and samples from the most unusual sources (from hip hop and obscure techno to art rock and pop) and whose musical contribution should be sung really louder.
Jelal Tanur has used various monikers for his projects, but is widely known by his primary recording alias Bay B Kane. In fact, he’s one of the first artists I discovered from a mix-tape, when I started immersing into the wonderful world of hardcore/jungle and there’s been no turning back since then. The particular track was ‘Quarter to Doom’ (co-produced with Peshay and re-titled as ‘Rhythm’ for Bay B Kane’s debut album 2 years later). I still remember trying to hum it red-faced (yeah, like you haven’t been there) to a record store clerk, pitching up the last ‘rhythm’ for emphasis.
His love for hip-hop and a fervent desire to create unique music, defiant to the industry standards and confines, have been the musical and cultural compasses throughout a stunningly prolific recording career. The road hadn’t always been paved with roses though. The formative years have been extensively covered in previous interviews (*links at the end of the page), so this feature will focus mainly on the ‘Unfolding Perspective’ series, the White House Records era and his spectacular comeback after a long production hiatus.
Bay B Kane’s musical journey started as a hip-hop MC in 1987, when he formed with school mate and dj Matt Edwards the outfit Eastside Chapter (a reference to their East London upbringing). Their first EP was signed by the small indie label The Underground Family, but regrettably the partnership didn’t leave the ground. That proved a blessing in disguise, as necessity and frustration resulted in the establishment of the new chapter Break The Limits (BTL).
Assuming total artistic control over the musical path they were about to explore, the ethos and vision of Break The Limits as a record label/production outfit was self-explanatory and a statement of intent. However, an unexpected turn of events took place in 1992. A small white label pressing of BTL’s ‘Fragmental EP’ attracted the attention of XL Recordings, which culminated in a massive record deal. The ‘Fragmental EP’ effectively became the ‘Hard Times EP’ under the duo’s new alias Nu-Matic. A recurring story in the music industry, friendships and partnerships ending untimely due to the pressure, disagreement, drama and resentment, after a turbulent promotional tour (where they were joined by MC Morris and long-time friends Satin Storm) BTL disbanded. Edwards carried on as Nu-Matic with short-term mediocre success and Tanur continued to pursue his dream on his own terms.
Rather than resign, Tanur embarked on a mission. He established his new record label Ruff Guidance, which after a long dormancy (1997-2014) has been re-branded and is active to this day. He enlisted Steve Davis of Splat Design to draw the logo, which encompassed the stance of the new venture: slightly aggressive and cheeky, yet modest and bold. The second release of the label (Bay-B-Kane EP) was named after and dedicated to his son (who turned 30 on June 20th) and its popularity at the time became eponymous with the artist name. After a bit of pondering, Tanur decided to adopt it as his main production moniker and Bay B Kane was officially born.
Around that time, Mo’s Music Machine, who were part of the music giant Polydor and one of the main distributors of UK underground music, including Ruff Guidance among a wide array of other labels, announced the launch of White House Records and Bay B Kane was one of the first artists they approached, alongside The Criminal Minds, Skanna, Bizzy B, Ellis Dee and Justice. The partnership was pivotal to Bay B Kane’s advancement as a producer, exposing his music to a wider audience outside UK (luckily to Greece as well). Given total creative freedom by the label manager Andy Bailey, Bay B Kane isolated himself in his custom-built recording studio – a converted industrial refrigeration unit aptly named ‘The Fridge’ – where he set the operational center for a remarkable musical odyssey that lasted from 1993 until he retired from the scene 4 years later.
Discography Highlights (1993-95)
The next few years were sensationally productive. The first two EPs for White House (‘Guardians Of Ruff’, WYHS015 & ‘The Next Step – Forwards in Reverse’, WYHS018) and his collaboration with American producer Sheryl Morrison (The Rood Project) for Pennywise’s Symphony Sound (the artist name was initially misprinted on the Symphony label, but later corrected when they signed to White House), cemented Bay B Kane’s reputation within the scene and he became almost overnight a highly in-demand producer and remixer. The stellar Rood Project track ‘Thunder’ has been their most celebrated track and Bay B Kane’s greatest commercial hit, which has been licensed to countless compilations. And that was only the prelude of greater things to come.
One of the first jungle artists to record a full length album, 25 years later it still remains the crown jewel of his career. His debut LP ‘The Guardian of Ruff’ (2×12” plus a bonus 10” featuring a characteristic full artwork cover with a raven on the front and his son Kane – 3 years old at the time – playing with sand on the back) elegantly captured a beautiful time and place; prophetic glimpses of promises and hopes in a somber, uncertain future; a future that “will be your yours if you believe” (quote taken from the album’s liner notes). That same year, the first part of the ‘Unfolding Perspective’ trilogy was published, a string of releases for Kikman Records, as well as the 4 Star limited edition series; a platform for recordings under different aliases and collaborations with affiliated artists and former label mates.
1995 started with the emotive and poignant ‘Rise Of The Phoenix EP’ (WYHS040) featuring Unfolding Perspective Part II and re-interpretations of previously released tracks, followed by a collaborative single with T-Para (WYHS041) and the ‘Survival Techniques EP’ (WYHS046). Bay B Kane, persuaded by Andy Bailey, compiled in the course of a month, one of the first strictly jungle sample pack CDs with breakbeat variations and edits, which became the blueprint for a new generation of aspiring producers. The title ‘Have-A Break’ and the CD cover were a cheeky reference to a famous chocolate bar.
By the end of ‘96 there was a general shift in the scene’s musical direction and the popularity of jungle releases effectively declined. Many small indie labels folded and suddenly it wasn’t financially sustainable any more for Ruff Guidance to keep releasing jungle music in an adverse environment. The writing was on the wall and Bay B Kane made a conscious decision to retire from the scene in order to focus on personal and family matters and pursue higher education in Information Technology.
The Unfolding Perspective Trilogy
Part 1: Unfolding Perspective/Let Me Go, WYHS033. 1994
Part 2: Seconds & Hours (Unfolding Perspective II), Rise Of The Phoenix EP, WYHS040, 1995
Part 3: Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Days (Unfolding Perspective III), Shredded Beat LP, Ruff Guidance, 2015
Part two had finished with a sense of a cliff-hanger ending, like something was left unsaid. The final elusive part was released 20 years later and the emotionally-draining trilogy eventually came to a fulfilling and redemptive closure. Bay B Kane reflects on the conception and vision of the project:
“The Unfolding Perspective Trilogy… It was born out of a very turbulent and dark time in my personal life, the details of which I don’t want to go into, but I can tell you that it was a hugely problematic and emotionally draining situation of my own creation. Interestingly, from a creative perspective I thrive on emotions, so I guess you could say that the worse I feel the more creative I become. I have often found that I can express how I feel much better through music than I can with words alone. With all that being said I saw Unfolding Perspective’ as an ongoing outlet for specific emotional expression and knew that just a single chapter would not be enough and that I would need to return to it again, which I did and you seem to have chosen part 2 which was ‘Seconds & Hours’. Each part of the Unfolding Perspective trilogy represents a point of overload, where the dam within holding a vast reservoir of mixed emotions fills beyond capacity and bursts!”
Bay B Kane – Seconds & Hours (Unfolding Perspective II), Rise Of The Phoenix EP, Whitehouse Records, WYHSX040, 1995
Bay B Kane patiently weaves a satiny veil to camouflage the melancholy, loneliness, agony and despair of the sample’s lyrics. Masterful amen break edits, scavenger howls and pulsating bass synth tones diffuse and hum as vignettes in the darkness until the breakdown. The mesmerizing vocal snippet, intimate and fragile as a whisper, has received a new lease of life and is a verse from Judie Tzuke’s heart-breaking ballad ‘Ladies Night’ (Welcome To The Cruise LP, The Rocket Company, 1979). What if ‘beginning’ and ‘end’ are both words that capture the same exact moment in time?
“The words ‘Every second takes an hour’ explained perfectly the strange time-warp-like atmosphere in ’Fridge’; it was so easy to lose track of time in there. Then the next line “and each one seems the last” illustrates that feeling of impending doom that I felt at the time. Put all that together with Judie Tzuke’s haunting vocal style and it was all just irresistible to me” – Bay B Kane
Fast forward to the present
The interest in Bay B Kane’s music by the jungle/d&b community never really faded and records have been changing hands for eye-watering prices in the second-hand market, a testament to his musical legacy. Combined with the burning desire to make music again, the much anticipated return to music production took place in March 2010 in a head-turning fashion. There’s a time for every purpose and we have all witnessed dramatic comebacks with mixed results, however Bay B Kane’s return has been a case of grace and style, like a single day hadn’t passed.
He spearheaded the Future Jungle movement, a musical hybrid with jungle structures and ethos, slowed down to around 140 bpm, which foreshadowed the recent modern jungle revival. Followed by a barrage of selected past works, previously unreleased tracks, as well as brand-new material for a variety of labels (Boomsha, Junglelivity, Audio Theory, Spandagle Selection, Labelless, Top Drawer, Stay on Target and many more) Bay B Kane re-launched Ruff Guidance in 2014, drawing from the glorious past with a nod to a reassuring future.
Ruff Guidance is now also a platform and creative home for nurturing up-and-coming artists. The latest release intentionally coincided with his son’s 30th birthday and the 25th year anniversary of ‘The Guardian of Ruff’ LP. It is the 7th installment of the long running series of Future Destination. Bay B Kane explains the concept: “… the idea behind it has always been the same: exploring random Exits branching off the main road, but this is the first time it will be coming out on my own label”.
‘Future Destination Exit 7’ is available from the usual outlets and the label’s bandcamp here. It is a contemporary take on the genre’s halcyon days with the jazzy flair of ‘Jazz Mint’, the snaky synth lines of ‘Boxed‘, the aggressiveness and anxiety of ‘Suspect’ and the haunting and daunting ‘Dark Manors’. But the best is saved for last: ‘Reminisce’ will definitely remind you why fell for jungle in the first place, absolutely beautiful.
All tracks of the series have been hand-picked from my personal record collection and have had a profound impact on my musical views and aesthetics. Featuring a variety of tracks across the electronic music spectrum, emphasizing mainly on drum and bass, from undisputed classics to underrated gems, all are tracks I wish I’d written, as the title of the series suggests.
Visit the blog’s archive for the previous editions of the “Tracks I Wish I’d Written” series here.