A Thousand Beautiful Things: Inside the Blu Mar Ten albums

“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.

Mosaic

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.

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Tracks I Wish I’d Written (issue #7): UB40 – Until My Dying Day (Icons remix)

Until My Dying Day was a tune UB40 had written, which was touted to be the theme for the latest Bond film at the time (GoldenEye) …”

UB40 - Until My Dying Day (Icons remix)

Until My Dying Day (Icons remix)

By the first half of the 90s, UB40’s constant touring had taken its toll and the band was ready for a well-earned rest. During their sabbatical, several of the band’s members worked on their own musical projects. Earl Falconer, the group’s bassist, would follow his passion outside UB40, engaging into jungle/drum and bass production and promotion activities with remarkable success.

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Whatever happened to … Precious Material?

“… At Basement Records we also wanted the artists to sample as little as possible, to create pioneering and original material, hence the label title ‘Precious Material’. Some of the releases are produced in the studio and some are recorded live performances…”- Phil Wells reflects on the label’s ethos and purpose

Precious Material

Precious Material

After a long hiatus, the blog’s “Whatever happened to …?” series return with the 9th installment. This time into the limelight is Precious Material; one of the most exhilarating and pioneering drum & bass labels of the mid-90s. Though short-lived, Precious Material has been one of the finest outlets of experimental drum and bass, integrating elements from various musical genres into the drum & bass template, defying stereotypes, constraints and agendas.

Established by Phil Wells in 1994 as a Basement Records’ subsidiary, during a time when drum & bass was still in its infancy, the main driver had been to foster a creative environment for established, as well as up-and-coming artists, free from dance-floor reactions and limitations. Following the huge success of the parent label Basement Records during the early rave years and the jungle/drum & bass evolution, Phil’s aspiration and incentive had always been to spearhead a new musical direction and introduce drum & bass to wider audiences.

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Tracks I Wish I’d Written (issue #5): Black Rain – Another Silent World

“… with desolate, even mournful piano notes, oscillating effortlessly between the robust and the fragile, ‘Another Silent World’ is a streamlined, almost cinematic take in a drum & bass context …”

album-cover-front

Black Rain (album front cover)

The fifth installment of the blog’s “Tracks I Wish I’d Written” series is about an obscure track, produced in 2003 by one of my all-time favourite musicians/artists. At first glance, Black Rain might not ring any bells, as it was a cross-genre, one-off musical project, which was active in the first half of the new millennium, but regrettably stayed under the radar. Nonetheless, the members of Black Rain have been two of the most respected and celebrated drum & bass artists; Robert Haigh and Sean O’Keeffe, widely known by their primary recording aliases Omni Trio and Deep Blue respectively.

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Tune Of The Day #2 – Review for drumtrip.co.uk

UB40 - Until My Dying Day (Icons remix)

UB40 – Until My Dying Day (Icons remix)

UB40 – Until My Dying Day (Icons remix) – Dep International (DEPDJX4512, 1996)

This is my second contribution to the oldschool specialist blog Drumtrip; a review and the background story behind the classic Icons remix of UB40‘s Until My Dying Day.  You can view the original post, as well the previous installments of the TOTD series here:

By the first half of the 90s, UB40’s constant touring had taken its toll and the band was ready for a well-earned rest. During their sabbatical, several of the band’s members worked on their own musical projects. Earl Falconer, the group’s bassist, would follow his passion outside UB40, engaging in jungle/drum and bass production and promotion activities with remarkable success.

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Future Engineers “Exhale” interview – Athens, April 2013

Godisnolongeradj caught up with Lee Batchelor of Future Engineers in Athens after his gig, to discuss his new Exhale compilation on his own imprint Transference Recordings and all things Future Engineers, starting from day one.

Lee Batchelor

Lee Batchelor

Interview:

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Whatever happened to … Partisan Recordings?

The third installment of the series is dedicated to the short-lived but highly influential label Partisan Recordings, established as one of the most innovative outlets of cutting-edge drum and bass in the late 90s. The purpose of this article is to shed light on the high impact of the label on the drum and bass landscape of the late 90s, having been the creative home of some of the most prominent drum and bass artists of that time.

Partisan Logo 1

Partisan Recordings

History and label set-up

In the late summer of 1997 and after legal wrangling with Moving Shadow’s head honcho, five key members of the Moving Shadow managing staff resigned from their posts, namely: Caroline Butler (Label Manager at Moving Shadow Records), Sean O’Keeffe (aka Deep Blue and Art Director at Moving Shadow also), Simon Colebrooke (of 2 Bad Mice and A&R Director – responsible for the recruitment of all artists), Paul Rhodes (of 2 Bad Mice also – Label Assistant) and Gavin Newman (Label Assistant); essentially the entire staff aside from Rob Playford.

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