Tag Archives: Robert Manos

15 Years of Secret Operations

15 years is a long time in music. 15 years from the time of writing, Nelly’s Hot in Herre was top of the US billboard charts – a position it had occupied for 6 weeks previously, and would surrender the following week.  15 years is an even longer period of time to be pushing music; some flash in the pan artists are lucky to go a five-year stint in the limelight. This makes Seba’s seminal Secret Operations label even more important.

Reaching 15 years of age, Swedish-sprung Secret Operations has decided to look back, not forward, to appreciate all that has gone before it to date. Seba has selected 18 tracks to represent the label’s ever-expanding history, including collabs and features from the likes of the timeless Robert Manos, the genre stalwart Paradox, and an unusual track from the ever imaginative Resound.

Musically, the LP features that signature Seba sound, carefully constructed breaks alongside a musicality so often overlooked by today’s brightest producers. Tracks like Pieces, Wake Up Call, and Forever amongst others capture that vibe expertly. That said, there’s also room for the darker side of drum and bass that has woven its way in and out of this genre’s discourse since the early 90s. Cuts such as External Reality, Fire Like This, and Day By Night are my go-tos as far as darker material goes.

But my wanton pigeonholing of tunes here doesn’t allow for some of the classics present on here. Before I Can Breathe from Seba & Physics was one of the first tunes I heard getting into the genre, and much of the rest of the album will represent similar audible milestones for you, too.

Distilling 15 years into 18 tracks would be hard for any label manager, but I think those selected for this compilation both reflect the outstanding musical ethos of the label, as well standing the test of time. Here’s to 15 more years of Secret Operations.

Written by James Austin, aka DJ Auzi, label manager at Terabyte Records

Facebook: facebook.com/auzidnb

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Dom & Roland – Last Refuge of a Scoundrel [Metalheadz]

Where do you go when you’ve been a mainstay of the D&B scene for twenty years, with six albums already under your belt and a back catalogue spanning Moving Shadow, Renegade Hardware, your own immensely successful imprint and plenty more?

If your name is Dominic Angas aka Dom & Roland, you head into the studio and write possibly your best album yet for none other than the mighty Metalheadz. As one of few labels with both the pedigree and the reputation to match Dom himself, we can’t think of a more perfect home for Dom’s work, and anyone who’s heard Goldie hyping the album over the last year will know they feel exactly the same way.

There’s always the risk with any album from a producer this established that the results will prove either too far from their style or too close to it, but thankfully the line trodden on the enigmatically titled Last Refuge of a Scoundrel sits perfectly within these boundaries; recognisably Dom, but pushing his style in new and intriguing directions. Those new directions are found most prominently on vocal tracks Sacrifice and Sirens Song, featuring Natalie Duncan and Robert Manos respectively. Both tracks blend Dom’s talent for heavy hitting, detailed percussion with a softer and more melodic side lent from the immensely talented singers he’s recruited, and they make a welcome change from the instrumentals of the rest of the LP.

That’s not to say in the slightest that said instrumentals become tedious; from classic Dom smashers like Tone Poem, Steam and Hive collab DMT through the hip-hop infused vibe of King of the Hustlers and out into more playful tracks like A New Renegade, there’s plenty of variety and every track is presented with that match of precision and scuzz that makes the Metalheadz output some of the best in the scene. The layers of drum distortion and bassline growl on even the lighter tracks give this a punky edge that ultra-clean modern mixdowns so often lack, and that’s just the icing on a very, very delicious cake. Check out the clips below and hit up the ‘headz store to grab the LP on vinyl, CD or digital now.

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Q&A – Adred [CIA Deepkut]

CIA Deepkut’s latest signing has come seemingly from nowhere. Bringing together a strong New York hip-hop influence and an obvious appreciation for D&B’s rich heritage, Adred’s new 300 Pages EP represents something fresh and different from a name we’re sure you’ll hear more from. We tracked down the man himself for a quick chat about working with vocalists, his link with Total Science and the state of the US scene.

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Ten [Spearhead Records]

BCee’s Spearhead imprint celebrate a decade in the game with a massive new compilation celebrating new sounds alongside the best in the back catalogue. Disc 2’s Future Sounds include a lush, summery VIP of Technicolour’s Centrifuge, top liquid rollers from Villem & McLeod and LSB and plenty more besides. Without bothering to describe every track, suffice to say they’re all well worth a listen.

As if that wasn’t enough, Disc 1 features 12 of the best from the back catalogue remastered specially for this release. Legendary tracks such as Netsky’s I Refuse, BCee & S.P.Y’s Is There Anybody Out There? and Redeyes’ Luv & Haight are among a tremendous selection of the label’s best and brightest rollers. Personally I don’t understand why Captured In Time wasn’t in there, but everyone must have their own personal favourites that didn’t make the cut.

Ridiculously enough you can cop this tremendous selection on double vinyl and CD for the incredibly reasonable price of £20 from the Spearhead Store, or you can pick up the 3CD set (including a mix from BCee) alone for a tenner. If you’re into your liquid this is the steal of the century – go grab a copy while you still can!

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Kimyan Law – Run Ames / Eclairage [Blu Mar Ten Music]

Blu Mar Ten Music present the debut single from 19 year old talent Kimyan Law, a producer with a talent for evocative, understated beats that have a hint of the cinematic to them. The tracks represent the first glimpse of his Coeur Calme LP, due next month.

Run Ames sees the producer teaming up with vocalist Robert Manos on a stark, moody slice of D&B; insistent beats, simple but satisfying bass reverberations and Manos’ vocal take centre stage, with the merest hints of melody echoed over the mix. This “less is more” approach is a stark contrast to the usual “fill every frequency” maximalism of much of today’s electronica, and the overall effect has much more impact through the clever use of dynamic range.

Eclairage meanwhile brings together soft, natural percussion set to an unusual, lilting beat and paired with a pleasantly natural chiming melody. The track is drenched in reverb, lending it a distant melancholy, as though we’re hearing a faint reflection from some other place or time. Once again there’s a mastery of minimalism at work here, allowing the different elements of the track to breath, and the results are stunning. Check out the clips below and grab this one right now from the Blu Mar Ten store.

You can also find a “Slumber Session” mix from Kimyan below, featuring a mellow selection with tracks from Massive Attack, Burial, Stray and more.

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