“Forget the times ahead”
As another exceptional year for important things, like new wonderful music, draws to an end, I would like to take the opportunity once again to thank all artists and record labels for gracing this year with their beautiful music and safeguarding the art, the passion and the romance. Despite our culture of distraction and minimal attention span that seems hell-bent on burying new releases beneath an endless scroll and the convenience and luxury of streaming technology, the beauty of music transcends through time or media formats and listeners that are really into music are still paying attention.
Secret Operations is an eclectic record label launched in 1999 by the prolific Swedish drum and bass artist Sebastian Ahrenberg, widely known to the electronic music circles as Seba, but it was not until 2004 that the label picked up pace with a consistent release schedule. The label was named after the homonymous club nights hosted by Seba himself at a basement bar called Tuben (Tube) during the second half of the 90s in Stockholm, Sweden. To the time of writing, Secret Operations has released 19 singles, one compilation entitled Case One, which was the inaugural release of the label featuring various artists alongside Seba, as well as Seba’s second personal album entitled Identity that has been recently released to critical acclaim.
A veteran producer and one of the most experienced artists in drum & bass, Darren White aka dBridge is an artist whose multiple transformations and evolutions glide through a staggering list of achievements. Over the course of a long and distinguished career, he has been at the heart of some the most exciting collaborative partnerships drum & bass has ever seen from Future Forces to Bad Company and most recently Club Autonomic. Forging a strong bond with Instra:mental, they showcased their Autonomic sound with an award-winning Fabriclive mix CD, worldwide tour and residencies for Fabric and Rinse FM. In 2011, dBridge returned the focus to his label Exit Records with the Mosaic Vol. 1 compilation and more artist LPs as he continues to be a mentor to the new breed of producers inspired by his career. As a solo artist, dBridge remains versatile with his own productions for Exit, Metalheadz, Reinforced, Hotflush and many more.
Although his love of music dates back much farther, Darren’s career began in earnest in 1992 when he moved to London to make music with and produce for his brother Steve (himself a successful solo artist and front-man for the group “Spacek”). Catching the buzz of the nascent rave scene along with his brother, he ventured out to club nights such as Roast and the Astoria and drew inspiration from the deep dubby tones of the Jah Shaka Soundsystem. Darren soon found himself working with UK hardcore group Armshouse Crew, the production posse responsible for Lennie De Ice’s proto-jungle anthem “We are I.E.” and began to master the synths and samplers that were the source of this new sound. Continue reading
Lee Batchelor and Keir Cleminson are Future Engineers, a Glasgow based drum and bass production outfit, best known for their music that was released by LTJ Bukem’s Good Looking Organisation between 1999 and 2003, and also for the progressive, dance floor friendly DJ sets that they have performed across Europe.
They released their seminal 12” (“The Silence”/”Shattered”) on Renegade Recordings in 1997, quickly followed by popular material on labels such as Temple Records and Partisan Recordings. Almost 10 years since they first broke onto the scene, they have retained their reputation as a boundary-pushing and prolific drum and bass act. Their solid working relationship has been built on the foundations of a life-long friendship, having grown up together in North London and then Glasgow when Keir relocated there in 1990, followed by Lee in 1994.
From early childhood they were constantly surrounded by music – from studio sessions to live concerts – due to their fathers who were working together in the industry. Most notably, Keir’s father was lead guitarist in The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and Lee’s father co-produced some of their albums (he also co-produced “Slide Away” for Oasis on their debut album “Definitely Maybe” years later!) As a result of this exposure and the uptake of musical and studio know-how, it was a natural choice by Lee and Keir to pursue a similar career to their fathers’. Continue reading
The last few years, drum and bass has achieved an unprecedented popular expansion, appealing to wider audiences and receiving support and radio airplay by many non-drum and bass djs and radio producers as well as hitting top spots in the music charts. Going in circles, from the early hardcore/breakbeat days to contemporary drum and bass, it has been one of the most interesting electronic music genres to follow. Influenced by a plethora of music genres, whether it is hip-hop, techno, soul or jazz, drum and bass covers a wide spectrum to satisfy everyone’s taste and preference. The drum and bass road however, hasn’t been always paved with roses. Every now and then a new injection of fresh sounds and production techniques has been pivotal to refresh people’s interest, as it has happened several times during the 90s. Fast Forward to 2009…
Minimal drum & bass and the Autonomic initiative
For several years in the second half of the past decade, drum and bass had been fairly stagnant, focusing on dance floor smashers. Minimal drum and bass, as the term suggests, is a sub-genre (one of too many nowadays) of drum and bass, stripping down the sound, diverting from the traditional forms without however ceasing to be drum and bass. The tempo remains generally close to the average drum and bass speed (around 170 bpm), however many other aspects of the music contrast highly with contemporary trends in drum and bass. One of the main attributes is a half-time drum rhythm, reducing the perceived speed, while staying to the same bpm. The drum production versatility is retained; quiet percussions, deep sub-bass, eerie synths, subdued melodies and unusual beats are often used, similar to dubstep and future garage productions, hence the confusion that inevitably takes place due to the human need to pigeonhole. Continue reading
Looking Good Records
Looking Good Records (referred to as LGR onwards) was launched in 1995 as a sub-label of Good Looking Records. LGR has released to the time of writing 52 singles, 5 retrospective compilations under the title “Looking Back” containing tracks previously released as singles, as well as an unmixed 9-track compilation entitled “Visions” – available only in cd format – with contributions from various artists of the Good Looking Organisation roster. Focusing mainly on the atmospheric, mellower side of the drum and bass spectrum, the label has presented countless classics by some of the greatest artists in the scene including the likes of LTJ Bukem himself, Photek under his Aquarius moniker, Seba, PFM, Blu Mar Ten, ASC, Jason Greenhalgh of Total Science under the Hieroglyphix and Q Project aliases, a collaboration of Blame and Nookie under the New Balance moniker, The Invisible Man, Makoto, Artemis and Future Engineers to name a few. Many of the LGR releases have been also included in the various installments of the Progression Session series. Continue reading
A mini-interview with 22 short questions (some personal, some tricky) looking for equally short answers, addressed to artists, producers, promoters, djs, friends and affiliates of the blog in general.
Today D Base Athens Jumps the Q
D Base presents Submission
Let’s get started:
Set 1: The man behind the mask