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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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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Metro – The “Ortem” Interview – Athens, January 2016

Ortem is a platform, which will be the home of fresh tracks, overseen by Metro. The emphasis will be stationed around drum and bass and electronic music delivered in all its innovative forms” – taken from the label’s inaugural press release

“A grid usually refers to two or more infinite sets of evenly-spaced parallel lines at particular angles to each other in a plane, or the intersections of such lines”

Ortem 2

Ortem

Metro is the primary recording alias of Scott London. I have been following his production output since day one; from his collaborative work with long-time friend and recording partner Justice for Modern Urban Jazz and its subsidiary Muj for downtempo, breaks and broken beats to his regular appearances on a wide array of affiliated record labels.

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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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MJAZZ presents the MPOD series

“The music policy – as always with the label – is to be progressive and not be constrained by boundaries or genres” – Tony “Justice” Bowes

MPOD

MPOD

The MPOD series is a critically acclaimed podcast series, published by the forward-thinking indie label Modern Urban Jazz (MJAZZ). Featuring a plethora of artists, producers, djs, collaborators, affiliates and friends of MJAZZ, coming from all over the globe, the MPOD installments are characterized by an eclectic cross-genre selection, covering a wide palette of exhilarating and experimental electronic music, abolishing all musical stereotypes.

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Tracks I Wish I’d Written (issue #3): Saint Etienne – The Sea (PFM mix)

“Down by the Sea, No-one but me, Caught in the rain, I’m free again, Stood on the pier, No trace of tears, Right back where I started from, I know that I wasn’t wrong, Right back where I started from”

Saint Etienne – Down By The Sea, Continental LP, L’appareil-Photo/ReadyMade Records, Japan, 1997

This is the third installment of the blog’s new series “Tracks I Wish I’d Written”.

Every track that is presented in the series has been hand-picked from my personal record collection and has had a profound impact on my music 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 had written, as the title of the series clearly states.

The third issue of the series is about one of the most exhilarating and beautiful fusions of pop sensibility in a drum and bass context. PFM, an artist always in the vanguard of the atmospheric and ambient side of drum and bass, has applied his studio wizardry to capture the desolation and melancholy of a pop song and encapsulate it in an elegant and illustrious drum and bass masterpiece.

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