Published Jan 01, 2006Digitised drums thrust and parry generating explosive, yet disciplined rhythms. Unsettling interjections of sharp noises and Japanese percussion jab away at claustrophobic textures. That's the Photek beloved by many ? the complex break-beat theorist. His first album, Modus Operandi, contained some of the most crucial d&b ever, which might make his new CD Solaris seem like an abrupt change. There is very little drum & bass on the new disc ? one track to be precise.
"[Drum & bass] is definitely the most demanding music to produce," says Photek, aka Rupert Parkes. "It's like twice the buzz of any other music, because the tempo and the length of the tracks, and the complexity and you've got to keep things going just with sounds ? it's not like you can get a loop going and stretch things out with vocals. I suppose people burn out; after six or seven quality tracks, you've got to start struggling a little bit. It was originally a mixture of all kinds of music put together. So the people who make it are going to want to do other things too, because they've got other influences."
Beat doctoring hasn't totally faded into the past for Photek, it's just being applied to different forms and different tempos. The leadoff single, "Terminus," is a case in point. It flows like slower drum & bass ? it could be big beat, but the rhythmic variations are too non-linear.
Stylistically, Solaris ranges from atmospheric dub to old school house memories. Legendary house vocalist Robert Owens turns up on two tracks that more than recapture the joy of house, circa 1988. Owens' full-bodied vocals push Photek's programming into downright celebratory territory. Solaris is a mature musical statement coming from someone who fell in love with electronic music during the 80s. Photek now feels he is finally able to record and release his own hybrid of all those forms.
"I've released a couple of house-y techno bits in the past but not in great numbers. I've just decided to make music I want to hear right now, not to worry about what kind of music it is. It's a new angle for me, it's not necessarily a new form of music or something. It's quite nostalgic, actually."