“… when I refer to the music now as d&b, I never really considered it much then. I know that may sound strange, but I think we always operated as outsiders; I personally always felt on the outside looking in, which is why our Glider-State track was called so…”
“… I hadn’t done anything on Modern Urban Jazz since the ‘Emotions With Intellect’ LP, so to keep the ethos going, we decided that this would be an ideal collaboration by using the Modern Urban Jazz tag on the Creative Wax label. I don’t think either of our labels had been ones to follow trends and certainly at the time we were ripe for a more experimental sound…”
Modern Urban Jazz front cover (CWLP001, 1997)
Modern Urban Jazz 01 is a seminal compilation album, curated by Tony Justice Bowes and published by Creative Wax. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the official release, this is a retrospective account of the series of events that culminated in the realization of a brilliant project, which transcends genres and time. Titled after Justice’s eponymous record label, the compilation shares similar aesthetics and musical direction. An amalgamation of sounds with allusions to musique concrete; jazz noir, hip hop, funk, techno and electro instilled into drum & bass, with all contributing artists showcasing their musical backgrounds and creative influences, free of formulas, dancefloor reaction and genre constraints. Walking down a long, nostalgic and captivating trip down memory lane, this is a colourful and emotionally charged narrative, through the protagonists’ looking glass, filled with fond and distant memories that capture vividly the atmosphere of the mid-90s drum & bass scene.
“Musically it’s the same button we’ve been pressing since day one, trying to find that particular and delicate place between sadness and hope. We rarely find it, exactly, but we come close sometimes. It’s like what they say about jazz players, always trying to find the ‘lost chord’ …” – Interview for UKF, November 2016.
Blu Mar Ten Album Covers
A common trait among music fans is their ability to recollect little details regarding their musical icons. A series of coincidences and seemingly unrelated events acquire a whole different gravity in hindsight. Although I firmly believe in the maxim “Don’t meet your heroes”, happily enough, meeting Blu Mar Ten has been a distinct exception to the rule and I feel quite honoured to have known them in person and consider them friends.
I accidentally discovered Blu Mar Ten in 1996 and I have closely followed their musical career path ever since. Their sophisticated approach, art and literature connotations, eclectic taste and cinematic aesthetics have never ceased to amaze me. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of their discography debut, Blu Mar Ten recently released their 7th studio album entitled ‘Empire State’. What follows is a retrospective, but not exhaustive account of their career from my biased perspective, emphasizing on releases, which I have associated with fond memories and have had a profound impact on me; an array of reminiscences printed on vinyl grooves. Browsing through my record collection, I also present my personal highlights from each LP, instead of a track-by-track review, trying also to deduce and identify their creative influences. This is essentially my own perception and an attempt to capture the essence of the album narratives, which is completely arbitrary and probably nowhere near Blu Mar Ten’s actual vision and purpose. Nonetheless, I believe that the value of an artistic product is to create different emotions, thoughts and interpretations.
“.. the name (Ancestral Voices) comes from the idea that knowledge and wisdom are passed down aurally, sonically, and experientially into our time for us to learn the laws of Nature …” – excerpt from an Ancestral Voices interview for XLR8R
Ancestral Voices is the side-project of British producer Liam Blackburn. Widely known in the electronic music circles for his solo outputs under his primary recording alias Indigo, as well as his collaborative work with Synkro for the acclaimed hybrid electronic outfit Akkord, Blackburn created Ancestral Voices to be a musical platform exempt from genre restrictions, formulaic constraints, expectations and musical agendas.
With prior releases on prestigious labels like Exit, Auxiliary, Apollo, Samurai Red Seal and Samurai Horo among others, as well as being affiliated with producers and label owners, who share the same musical ethos and vision, Ancestral Voices didn’t have to look elsewhere for a creative home. In fact, his long-term relationship with Geoff Wright (DJ Presha), the label owner of Samurai Music, who used to be Blackburn’s agent and later his mentor, provided him with the artistic freedom to re-invent his sound; hence Ancestral Voices found his natural habitat on Wright’s pristine experimental label Samurai Horo.
“ … a contemporary take on 80’s aesthetics, analogue synthesizers, flamboyancy and neon lights; a diverse canvas of nostalgia, audacity, luminescence, aspects and aspirations …”
Back To The Future poster
Beastie Respond is the recording alias of Danish producer Tobias Pedersen. He made his discography debut in 2011 for the bass music label Teal Recordings. After two singles on Teal, he released his sophomore personal album entitled “Fictitious Nostalgia” in 2013. Effortlessly oscillating between genres and styles, from electro and techno to experimental 85/170 electronica and drum and bass, drawing from a wide palette of musical influences (from the cinematic likes of Brian Eno and John Carpenter to the dark melancholy of The Cure to the minimalism and genre-defiance of the Autonomic movement), his talents were readily picked up by forward-thinking labels like Exit, CX Digital and Demand for a string of fine guest appearances; the highlight being the track “One More Second”, which was selected for the second volume of the critically acclaimed “Mosaic” series, released by dBridge’s Exit Records.
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”
“… A haunting sci-fi lullaby that quickly escalates to the soundtrack of the worst nightmare…”
The Descent – Chapter II
“The Descent” is the discography debut of Pact Infernal, a new production outfit hidden behind a veil of anonymity and mystery. Inspired from and thematically based on the epitome of medieval literature “Divine Comedy”, written by the poet Dante Alighieri in the 14th century, the theme title (‘The Descent’) is an implicit reference to Dante’s allegoric narrative of his epic journey through the underworld, guided by the spirit of the eminent Roman poet Virgil.
Although it could qualify as a full studio album around the aforementioned theme, the release has been split into two chapters (EPs) and consists of nine tracks equivalent to the nine circles of hell, as described vividly in the “Inferno”, which is the first part of the “Divine Comedy” trilogy (the other two parts being ‘Purgatory’ and ‘Heaven’ respectively). The first chapter (Circles I to IV) was released to public and critical acclaim on April 2015, whereas the second and final chapter (Circles V to IX) is due on March 2016. Both chapters have been licensed to the exquisite outlet of experimental bass music Samurai Horo.
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.