“… definitely there’s something about you…”
Golden Girl (GLR066)
Throwback to the season 2003-04, a happy and eventful period of my life I reminisce about with bittersweet nostalgia. I was living in London at the time immersing myself in the city’s night life like there was no tomorrow, camouflaging the cultural shock of rubbing shoulders with my musical icons. The London drum & bass scene was flourishing, club nights talking place in abundance. From mid-week events like Fabio’s ‘Swerve’ Wednesdays at The End and ‘Movement’ Thursdays at Bar Rumba to the main Friday residencies like Fabric Room 2 label takeovers, Good Looking’s ‘Progression Sessions’, Ram and Renegade Hardware at The End, to the ad hoc d&b parties at Jazz Café, Heaven, Ministry of Sound, Carling Academy, Cargo and Plastic People to Sunday evenings at Herbal with ‘Hospitality’ and Grooverider’s ‘Grace’. There must have been definitely many more I have forgotten to highlight as memories tend to blur after all these years, but there was always something happening to accommodate for every musical taste. It was evident, even then, that it was only a matter of time, before drum & bass would sell out big clubs and headline festivals across the world.
“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.
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.
Lee Batchelor and Keir Cleminson are Future Engineers, a Glasgow based drum and bass production outfit, best known for their music that was released by LTJ Bukem’s Good Looking Organisation between 1999 and 2003, and also for the progressive, dance floor friendly DJ sets that they have performed across Europe.
They released their seminal 12” (“The Silence”/”Shattered”) on Renegade Recordings in 1997, quickly followed by popular material on labels such as Temple Records and Partisan Recordings. Almost 10 years since they first broke onto the scene, they have retained their reputation as a boundary-pushing and prolific drum and bass act. Their solid working relationship has been built on the foundations of a life-long friendship, having grown up together in North London and then Glasgow when Keir relocated there in 1990, followed by Lee in 1994.
From early childhood they were constantly surrounded by music – from studio sessions to live concerts – due to their fathers who were working together in the industry. Most notably, Keir’s father was lead guitarist in The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and Lee’s father co-produced some of their albums (he also co-produced “Slide Away” for Oasis on their debut album “Definitely Maybe” years later!) As a result of this exposure and the uptake of musical and studio know-how, it was a natural choice by Lee and Keir to pursue a similar career to their fathers’. Continue reading