Savage Times: Inside Modern Urban Jazz

“… 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

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.

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Whatever happened to … Foul Play?

Foul Play

Foul Play

Intro:

The seventh installment of the “Whatever happened to …?” series is dedicated to Foul Play; a pioneering, genre-defining and innovative electronic music act, heralding the transition from hardcore breakbeat to jungle/drum and bass. Being active almost throughout the 90s (the band’s synthesis changed twice during its activity, due to unforeseen circumstances) constantly re-inventing themselves, with dexterous, second-to-none programming and sample manipulation, their illustrious productions have marked indelibly the UK underground music map.

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Whatever happened to … Essence Of Aura?

Essence Of Aura

Essence Of Aura

Intro:

The sixth installment of the “Whatever happened to…?” series is dedicated to a highly influential music trio; one of the pioneering electronic music bands that came from hardcore beginnings,  progressed through jungle techno to drum and bass and has been active throughout the first half of the 90s. Despite their short-lived career, the trio released timeless classics along the way, before they finally disbanded in 1996.

Essence Of Aura, referred to also as EOA onwards, were formed in late 1990, originally based in Kenilworth, UK before moving to Coventry in 1992. The founding members have been Tim Grantham (DJing, Management and Production responsibilities) Ian Scott (Sampling and Production) and James Mitton-Wade (Production, Programming and Engineering duties for all EOA tracks).

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Whatever happened to … Creative Wax?

The second installment of the series is dedicated to one of the most influential labels of the jungle/drum and bass scene. From the early hardcore days to the second half of the 90s, Creative Wax fostered an enviable stable of producers and artists, releasing a plethora of classics during its activity. The mix-up of Detroit techno influences and later jazz established Creative Wax as one of the most innovative outlets of quality music in the drum and bass scene of the 90’s. The purpose of this article is to shed light on the massive contribution of Creative Wax to the ever-changing drum and bass landscape, having been the point of reference and an indelible influence to the next generation of jungle/dnb artists.

Creative Wax logo

Creative Wax

Creative Wax was founded in 1992 by Ashley Brown aka DJ Pulse (1/3 of Dance Conspiracy and Jazz Cartel) and Jack Horner (Bad Influence). The label roster includes some of the biggest names in engineering and production of that time, collaborating frequently with each other under various monikers. Early releases have been predominantly by label owner Pulse alongside Wax Doctor, with Alex Reece and Professor Stretch (Underwolves) taking care of the engineering duties. The label also had various collaborations by Alex Reece and Wax Doctor under names such as Fallen Angels and Unit 1. Other notable names in the camp were The Underwolves, who went on to record for Ross Allen’s Island Records imprint Blue and Compost Records, Tango, who also recorded with Pulse on the legendary Moving Shadow, Justice another Moving Shadow artist, who now runs his own Modern Urban Jazz label and finally Digital (a well established artist from the Metalheadz and Timeless Recordings collective among others). Continue reading

Memoirs Of a Vinyl Junkie – part 2

Vinyl

Tuesday morning, October 1993

09:50

He is staring anxiously at the classroom clock counting the nanoseconds. It’s almost 10 and in about an hour or so the boxes with the new releases at the record store downtown are bound to open. There is no way he can make it before 2, unless he skips the last hour at school. He already knows that’s exactly what he is going to do.
The guy behind the counter had promised him that the tunes he was searching for the last weeks would be included in those boxes. It was not the first time the guy made such a promise just to get rid of him, but it didn’t worth the risk. He had to be there in person; phone-calls were never effective. Everybody, who has been at a record store more than twice, can tell a story about a record in a shelf already reserved for a radio producer, a dj or a mate of the store owner.
His impatience was intensified by the fact that every Tuesday morning all the big dogs of the scene would be there. He was a bit intimidated by them and the fact that they always had priority over him to listen to the tunes in the private booth was a bit frustrating. He could not spend as much as they did, as his only resource was his weekly allowance, so their priority status, however irritating it was, actually made sense.

13:10

He enters the record store which is already packed and many familiar faces are already searching the shelves and discussing with the guys behind the counter. There is a queue on the decks where one can hear a preview of a record before he can buy it. He heads directly to the jungle/breakbeat section. He knows that the possibility to find on the shelves the records he was looking for is much greater than to find them behind the counter. He’s right! Two records of the list are already there along with a couple of promos he should definitely check out. He picks them all up and visits the other sections waiting for a slot in the private booth. Continue reading