“Ever get that feeling, when you experience some sort of musical epiphany and strive to memorize the melody and the lyrics of a song you have just listened to, before they‘re lost into the next morning’s haze?”
This month is my blog’s 8th year anniversary and to be honest I’ve never expected to make it this far. It has been a unique opportunity to connect with some of my musical icons, as well as with many like-minded people across the world and celebrate the music we all love. Traditionally, the anniversary features are retrospective accounts and this one will be no exception; another one of my tedious lists, supplemented with a few comments, liner notes and fan facts.
“Sacrificing time, energy and money to keep an independent record label afloat in a niche and saturated market is a reality we often ignore or overlook, especially when it comes to investing on the vinyl format. So, I take the opportunity to thank all artists and record labels for gracing this year with their beautiful music and safeguarding the art, the passion and the romance”.
The last blog post of the year is traditionally a retrospective countdown. Though our culture of distraction and minimal attention span seems unrelenting on burying new releases beneath an endless scroll, 2018 has been exceptional for important things like new, fascinating music. From the establishment of new boutique record labels and classic album re-issues, to much-anticipated debuts, spectacular or dramatic comebacks, this year abounded with great music. My penchant for LPs was more than clear in the previous post, however I feel the urge to express it once again: Album writing has always been and still remains an art form. When you want to make a statement in music, you write an album and at the moment those statements are more exciting, varied and relevant than ever before.
“… the track had a very heavy nostalgic feeling to it, like you were looking at an old photo album with the faded film of childhood memories, simpler times. We are both massive fans of video and with ‘Photograph’ it’s like we envisioned it to be scene of a film …” – Damon Kirkham reflects on the track’s conception
“… ‘Photograph’ takes the deep, emotive route of previous releases ‘Pacific Heights’ and ‘Sakura’ into the most beatific, blissful and evocative music they have yet conspired to create… in short, a modern masterpiece” – Triple Vision Distribution, Press Release, May 2009
Leaving the mid-90s drum & bass golden era and fast forward to 2009, the 8th installment of the blog’s ‘Tracks I Wish I’d Written’ series is about a distinctive and quintessential track of the ‘Autonomic’ era, written and produced by Instra:mental, the masters of electronic reverie. Introducing a wide palette of sound sources and analogue production techniques, profoundly influenced by a variety of musical styles from years past, Instra:mental re-imagined the drum & bass blueprint, applying a cinematic vision with a cross-genre appeal to their production output.
“.. 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.
A veteran producer, a prolific artist, a dexterous sonic fusioneer, a label owner and one of the most interesting figures in the drum and bass circuit Klute is the primary recording alias of Tom Withers.
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