Most of the blog’s features are thematically based on informal conversations with my guests. Although I often include verbatim excerpts, it’s been a long time since I posted an actual interview. This is the first installment of a new category introduced to replace one of the blog’s oldest series “Jump The Q”, which has unceremoniously completed its cycle. The “Jump The Q” questionnaire template was designed to be short and simple rather than thought-provoking; the general idea being to discover a few personal details about artists and djs (from their favourite drink to the worst live performance they’ve witnessed), whose music-related work I admire and respect.
The new category titled “On The Outside, Looking In” will encompass a broad and conceptual music-centered scope. The timeline is intentionally non-linear, jumping back and forth in times and places and the head-title is borrowed from the first Modern Urban Jazz release by Glider-State (Blame & Justice); a casual chat between friends and a retrospective sneak view into old photo albums, collections, musical diaries, hazy memories and internal monologues.
Sicknote x Soul Beat Runner
The new series kicks off with two guests, who share common musical taste, vision and aesthetics, dating back to the early days of drum & bass. Really intrigued to find out more about their views, perspective and insight, I am very happy to present Lewis ‘Sicknote’ and Michael ‘Soul Beat Runner’ (SBR) discussing all things music.
What the sleeve notes never tell you
It’s been 16 months since the original post , which was meant to be a one-off feature; however I always felt that it’s been somehow incomplete. The constructive feedback I received, occasionally bordering on debate over a matter de facto subjective, convinced me to revisit the topic; paraphrasing Nick Hornby “a sneer at the bad choices, an understated but supportive raise of the eyebrow for the good ones”. So, instead of updating the list, I decided to compile a new one containing record artwork I had intentionally omitted for a variety of reasons, as well as couple of recent entries.
from Kiel and Berlin to London and San Diego, cool has been re-imagined
“… ‘77’ seems a piece that has a rather elegant flow, something I always appreciated about d&b very much. Although this might not be a d&b release from a ‘genre-stalinist’ perspective, I’d still argue that it at least attempts to relate to that kind of aesthetic …” – Ulrich Schnauss
James Clements and Ulrich Schnauss in their studios
Leaping in time from the nostalgically distant 1994 and Foul Play to 2012 for the 10th installment of the ‘Tracks I Wish I’d Written’ series. It’s been a rare occasion that two of my all-time favourite electronic music artists have combined their studio wizardry for an exquisite collaboration, which succinctly encapsulates their cinematic aesthetics. Having a visionary and eclectic scope, sophisticated production and composition qualities, as well as enviable back catalogues transcending genres and styles, James Clements and Ulrich Schnauss are purveyors of fine electronic music.
“Modern, cinematic takes on ambient electronica and vintage aesthetics, sprinkled with bitter-sweet nostalgia”
Short Trips logo
In the dawn of the 90s emerged a new musical hybrid, fusing various elements and structural forms of electronic music, relying upon composition, experimentation and innovation rather than adhering to formulaic standards associated with specific genres and styles. Free from dance-floor reactions and limitations, championed by electronic music luminaries, the new style was regarded just as suitable for dancing as for home listening. A plethora of generic, as well as imaginative terms were conceived to outline the genre. Continue reading
“We’re trying to push the sounds that were around in the mid-1990s, but update them … We’re keen to bring back experimentation. I think it’s something that has been lost over the past ten years. You’ve got more and more dance-floor fodder coming out. Drum and bass became about the same people for too long. We’re well aware that in two years it won’t be our stuff that’s being played, it’ll be someone else’s. That’s what makes it healthy” – Guy Brewer, prior to a Commix set at Aperture, June 2008
This is the second installment of the blog’s new series “Tracks I Wish I’d Written”.
Every track that will be presented in the series has been hand-picked from my personal record collection and has had a profound impact on my musical taste. Featuring a variety of tracks across the electronic music spectrum, emphasizing mainly on drum and bass, from undisputed classics to underrated gems – all tracks I wish I’d written, as the title of the series clearly states.
Commix – Be True
The first feature of the series has been about a Photek production released in 1996. Making a leap in time and fast forward to 2007, the second issue is about a modern drum and bass classic; perhaps the most celebrated track from one of the most fascinating and talented drum and bass outfits of the last decade, Commix.
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
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