“A song for a life I left behind”
Calibre – Hypnotise (SOULR016, 2004)
When I started the ‘Tracks I Wish I’d Written’ series six years ago, I had an abstract vision in mind: to hand-pick, document and present sentimental music from my collection in an endeavor to unlock something magical, to capture that moment in time and that beautiful place, which are both tantalizingly at your fingertips, but seem always out of reach. The blog is mainly d&b-oriented, as is my record collection, so intuitively most installments feature drum & tracks, or to be more precise tracks loosely or directly related to the drum & bass template and aesthetic.
The next edition of the ‘Tracks I Wish I’d Written’ was in fact pencilled to feature at the start of the series, but somehow I didn’t feel confident enough or emotionally detached to talk about it, until now. It’s a track that gracefully reflects the arrogance and naivety of an earlier life, which I wasn’t quite ready to leave behind. Quoting Johnny Lee Miller’s character ‘Sickboy’ in Trainspotting 2: “Nostalgia. That’s why you’re here. You’re a tourist in your own youth”.
“Love and other tragedies are recurring themes in the series. Whoever thought that d&b is cold, emotionless and monotonous music, clearly haven’t been paying attention…”
I realize that the series read like another generic countdown list, however there are deeper connotations to me. It’s a retrospective musical diary; a timeline that reflects and documents what I’ve been listening to in various periods of my life. Over time, my militant musical views have – thankfully – attenuated and I’ve come to embrace and appreciate a broader musical spectrum. Hence, all the producers who feature on the series are artists that have resonated with me and have steered away from rigid, formulaic corners.
The third part of the mini-series covers the period 2000-09. At the dawn of the new millennium the majors had turned their backs to drum & bass and adopted a more chart-friendly policy. The halcyon days seemed abruptly over, artists turned almost overnight from media darlings to pariahs and the music press headlines proclaimed the death of the genre. But drum & bass was too cool for that. After a short period of introspection and re-invention, d&b returned stronger than ever. A new wave of artists and record labels pushed the musical boundaries beyond genre confines and soon d&b regained its well-deserved place in the electronic music map; from a limited connoisseur circle to a global audience, from sweaty basements and midweek slots to headlining club main stages and festivals.
“… 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.
“Intrigue came about from a desire to put on liquid funk nights in Bristol and showcase our sound. After a few years it developed into a record label, which was something I’d wanted to do since getting into production back in 2000.” – Ben Payne
The fifteenth installment of the blog’s “Count To Ten” series is dedicated to one of Bristol’s finest drum & bass outlets Intrigue Music. The brainchild of Ben Payne, Intrigue has been an integral part of the Bristol drum & bass landscape. Named after the successful eponymous club night in Bristol, which in turn was inspired by Fabio’s famous “Swerve” nights in London (hence Intrigue Music has been arguably considered as the natural successor of Creative Source), the label’s inaugural release saw the light of day in 2009, however its conception dates back to 2003. Continue reading
Wednesday morning, October 2003, somewhere in west-central London
The BT technician had just left the flat. Finally, the internet connection had been restored and upgraded to 2Mb. After almost 48h without a connection, the return to civilization was a great relief. His flat-mate had fallen into an internet coma for the last 2 weeks and the lack of internet connectivity had made him a bit quirky.
He left the flat and walked to the tube station. J* would be meeting him outside the Bond Street HMV store. Last night at the local pub J was telling him that a new vinyl section had been introduced at HMV with second hand vinyl and recent represses. At first he thought it was the lager talking, but J never bullshitted about 2 things: football and vinyl, so it was worth the shot. After all, he would be paying a visit to BM records anyway; HMV would be a minor deviation. Continue reading