by Don Crispy
|When we started
making this music it was nameless.
Drum n' bass, the music that arose
in the early '90s out of hip-hop, the electronic beats
of rave and the subterranean reggae bass lines of the UK's
Caribbean immigrant community, has been declared both the
next big thing, and, more recently, dead in the water.
But, like much dance music that has been forced into ever-smaller
pigeonholes, drum n' bass was always a broader
music than many gave it credit for. The career of one of its
innovators, and a producer who has been accused of betraying
the movement, the movement he helped create, illustrate this
Dego Macfarlane, as part of 4 Hero and through his Reinforced
Records label, was one of the architects of the emerging sound,
known in its early '90s form as jungle. But when he and
partner Mark Clair released the jazz-inflected, crossover
success Two Pages in 1998, many fans cried foul.
We were the showpieces of drum n' bass, so
to change that much was disappointing for the hardcore drum
n' bass community, Dego said in an interview
held during a Tokyo visit at the time of last year's
World Cup. But it's ridiculous now with all these
different segmented styleswhen we started making this
music it was nameless.
Two Pages may have lost 4 Hero a few diehards, but it gained
them a far more diverse spectrum of listeners, including many
Japanese who began to see more of Dego at Drum and Bass Sessions
parties and his own 2000 Black events held at Liquid Room
in recent years.
It was tricky for me in that people associate me with
drum n' bass, the rabid football fan said,
sporting a broken leg earned playing with his local team.
So it's been good for getting the message across
that I am more eclectic. People in Japan have open ears, which
has allowed me to be able to experiment with different things,
whereas in some places they want to pigeonhole me.
2001's popular Creating Patterns and a series of 2000
Black compilationssome featuring Japanese producershave
cemented Dego's ties to Japan's electronica community.
And, like many DJs, the man himself clearly enjoys being here
and the chance to stock up on new vinyl at Shibuya's
DJ specialist shops.
The record shops in Tokyo are much better than in London,
and the staff more helpful, he enthused. I'm
waiting till just before I go home because I don't want
to carry too much vinyl.
In contrast to previous bills that have paired Dego with local
drum n' bass and club jazz DJs, the upcoming event
sees him taking on the challenge of Liquid Room's demanding
7hours series. The DJ should have plenty of time to stretch
out and look at the full spectrum of music that has informed
drum n' bass: from jazz to soul, reggae, hip-hop
and techno, to the hybrids that have grown out of it, like
breakbeats and future jazz.
Dego 7hours Special@Liquid Room,
2/8, 11:30pm, ¥3,000 (adv), ¥3,500 (door). Tel: 3200-6831.