“Back then, you might hear an incredible new tune played exclusively on a plate by a DJ like Bukem or Fabio and you’d have to wait for months before you could get it on vinyl. That was part of the magic of the scene at the time. Nowadays, if you hear an amazing tune played on the radio you can typically stream it instantly online. The convenience is great, but with this ease of access, people (myself included) are more inclined to take music for granted to the extent that its impact and mystique is lost”.
When I started listening to drum & bass I was intrigued, inspired and seduced by the faceless mystique and the self-reliant attitude of so many artists and labels exploring this bold new cultural form. That experimental fearlessness, an entry point and an outlier both at the same time, captured a vital moment – one that could probably never be replicated – where no approach was off-limits. In the early 90s, the connections with my musical heroes were the odd dj gig, cassette tapes changing hands, magazines and the liner notes/credits on the record sleeves. Then the internet revolution came, which provided a portal to a (brave) new world and unprecedented access to all of us who had been on the outside looking in.
“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.
“I think things are cyclical and in the advent of digital, people crave the physical”
“And I think record collectors will always be buying vinyl and building a collection of good music, then passing on that knowledge to others who might not collect yet, because it’s great and fun and a way of life!”
This is the second installment of the blog’s new series titled “On The Outside, Looking In”. As the title suggests, it is a retrospective sneak view into my guests’ photo albums, collections, musical diaries, hazy memories and internal monologues. The discussion timeline is non-linear, jumping back and forth in times and places, as it would probably be in a real-time conversation with friends, whose music-related work I admire and respect. The concept of interviewing my guests in pairs has been intriguing and thought-provoking, trying to find out how their paths have periodically intersected and eventually converged through music: from rented studio time in the early 90s to custom-made studios and modern production, from raves in warehouses and sweaty basements to transatlantic tours and remixing punk priestess Siouxsie (well, that’s a story for another day), from tape packs and pirate radio to record fairs, eclectic record collections, running boutique record labels in 2019 and everything in-between.
Justice & Dissect
The head title of the series has been inspired from the first Modern Urban Jazz release by Glider-State (Blame & Justice), so it is with great joy that I present the man himself Tony ‘Justice’ Bowes alongside one of the most interesting figures of the new generation of producers Michael ‘Dissect’ Walsh.
Every track presented in the series has a special place in my collection and is associated with a different period of my life, hence the time leaps. Throwback to 1997 for the 13th installment of the Tracks I Wish I’d Written; a stellar classic with one of the genre’s most recognizable and revered lead synths, written and produced by one of drum & bass’ unsung heroes that captures elegantly a nostalgic time and place.
Odyssey – Expressions (720-002)
“… God bless the path of the musical children, walking the steps of change going forward-bound, our music’s taking you to higher ground …” – MC Conrad
“… from a musical point of view, I always intended to release stuff that would hopefully stand the test of time, hence the label name. Having said that, I never would have thought that people would still be listening to some of it 20+ years later! It’s proper mad, but really cool, it’s made it all worthwhile!” – Graham Mew (aka The Invisible Man) on Timeless Recordings
This is the first installment (an updated version in terms of content and structure) of the blog’s “Whatever happened to …?” article series, inspired by the eponymous Hidden Agenda album, released on the Swiss label Straight Ahead in 2000.
“They’re talented boys! Fusing old-skool jazz, with a touch of the Miles stylez. They deal with a genre which was previously missing from Metalheadz. Our Urban Break-beat representatives up north”. – Goldie on Hidden Agenda
“Metalheadz gives us the freedom to try out new things and to develop our music without the usual constraints alongside like-minded artists”. – Hidden Agenda
(Notes taken from the inner sleeve of the first Platinum Breakz volume, released in 1996)
Mouly & Lucida
The eighth installment of the “Whatever happened to …?” series is dedicated to one of the most exciting, though short-lived, mid-nineties drum and bass outfits Mouly & Lucida. Both hailing from the town of Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK, the duo emerged in 1995, championing the quality over quantity ethos, creating serious waves in the drum and bass landscape of the time.
A prolific drum and bass artist and a dexterous dj, with bookings all around the globe, Nymfo is the recording alias of Bardo Camp. Hailing from Netherlands and currently based in Amsterdam, Nymfo has been creating serious waves in the international drum and bass scene, since his inaugural release in 2007. Fast forward to 2013, Nymfo has cemented his reputation as an innovative and versatile producer, covering a wide range in the drum and bass spectrum. With numerous production outputs under his belt, on some of the most prominent drum and bass labels, as well as dj sets at the world’s most prestigious venues, the future seems ever brighter.
The third installment of the series is dedicated to the short-lived but highly influential label Partisan Recordings, established as one of the most innovative outlets of cutting-edge drum and bass in the late 90s. The purpose of this article is to shed light on the high impact of the label on the drum and bass landscape of the late 90s, having been the creative home of some of the most prominent drum and bass artists of that time.
History and label set-up
In the late summer of 1997 and after legal wrangling with Moving Shadow’s head honcho, five key members of the Moving Shadow managing staff resigned from their posts, namely: Caroline Butler (Label Manager at Moving Shadow Records), Sean O’Keeffe (aka Deep Blue and Art Director at Moving Shadow also), Simon Colebrooke (of 2 Bad Mice and A&R Director – responsible for the recruitment of all artists), Paul Rhodes (of 2 Bad Mice also – Label Assistant) and Gavin Newman (Label Assistant); essentially the entire staff aside from Rob Playford.
Conceived by D&B visionary Kasra back in 2002, in a front room in north London, the Critical Music name has since blossomed into one of the most successful independent record labels in the UK today. Grown from a simple idea driven by a commitment to putting out the best music the scene has to offer, it has now become one of the most well respected electronic dance music labels in the UK. Nurturing new talent and releasing some of the freshest breaks and beats from the likes of Enei, Foreign Concept, Break, Rockwell, Sabre, Stray, Cyantific, Marcus Intalex, S.P.Y, Calibre, Total Science and many more, it has gone on to build a loyal following around the world driven on by Kasra’s never ending quest to release quality underground bass music.
Not only a record label, the Critical empire now boasts its own highly esteemed club nights with a residency at London’s world-renowned Fabric night spot, as well as regular branded Critical tour nights across the UK and abroad. Drawing in familiar faces from the world of D&B you can be sure each and every Critical event is programmed to perfection, with leagues of fans attending each one in abundance. Continue reading