New York, NY. (Top40 Charts/ Fabric) - Commix duo George
Levings and Guy Brewer were famously raised in the historic English town of Cambridge. Of the Cambridge trinity - Nu:Tone, Logistics and Commix - it was Commix that were the last to take a firm grip on the D&B scene, yet when they did finally cement themselves it was in some style; their album Call To Mind was the sound of 2007, and it's tough to recall a drum & bass record that is quite so successful at marrying the beautifully listenable and the gloriously experimental.
It's the experimentalism of the boys' approach to production, and of their attitude towards drum & bass - and music as a whole - that is their most fascinating trait. But how did they reach this point? Whilst George's route into music had been through performance, playing saxophone, flute and piano, he developed a taste for hip hop which led him in to electronic music. Guy had gone from a broad canvas of taste that ranged from The Smiths to Dr. Dre, to receiving an education in drum & bass from a best friend's older brother.
Initially their records were very much in the vein of the likes of the more soulful, house and disco-influenced sounds of Marcus Intalex, Calibre and their ilk, but despite taking what they describe as 'a long time to find our sound', find it they did. Their development was rapid, and though many people would have expected them to naturally gravitate towards the Hospital camp, it was with Goldie's legendary Metalheadz imprint that Commix found their natural habitat, a symbiotic relationship that eventually resulted in the release of their remarkable debut album, and the first ever artist album to be released on Metalheadz, Call To Mind. The album was to some extent informed by their general dissatisfaction with the drum & bass scene as a whole.
'To be honest, a lot of the drum & bass scene depresses us at the moment; the whole state of the large majority of the scene is quite depressing. In fact, we'd like to say it's almost completely removed from what we do.' - Commix. But what came out of this malaise was an album that pushed stylistic boundaries to the limit, yet was still devastating on the dancefloor.
Their maverick spirit wasn't limited to what they demonstrated on Call To Mind though: they have a follow-up in the works, a remix album entitled Re-Call To Mind. Hankering after the days when the likes of Photek and Reprazent could tackle alternative genres or attract luminaries from alternative scenes to remix their work, Commix are looking to re-energise that spirit.
'We're hoping to regain the interest of people who gave up on drum & bass a few years ago; perhaps they'll listen to someone like D-Bridge and rediscover something new about it. It's a great thingBurial's done a remix for usClaude Von Stroke, Carl Craig, Mathew Jonson, Konrad Black, really good people. It's a new way of giving the music some nobility.' - Commix.
A bold statement, one they work by, and one that could just as easily be applied to the inspired mix they have put together for us here at fabric. Informed by the likes of Doc Scott and Fabio, a Commix DJ set has always been about smooth, rolling mixes, a continual flow - rather than the high-energy, high impact histrionics many D&B DJs have fallen into. However, it is the sounds and the techniques of the house and techno scenes that seem to have had the biggest impact on Guy and George, in the DJ booth as well as the studio.
'We're really influenced by tech housey stuff, and I suppose minimal stuff as well. On the minimal side of things Troy Pierce, Mathew Jonson; on the housier side of things- Steve Bug, obviously. Steve Bug can play for hours and he doesn't really do much, but it's just so down the same line of funky techno. And we really aspire to that in drum & bass - not really narrow-minded or just one-levelled, but with a bit of experimentation in it.' - Commix.
This way of thinking is demonstrated perfectly on FABRICLIVE 44; the mix ebbs and flows effortlessly, swerving unnecessary frills or gimmicks entirely, it is measured and precise. Commix have put together a selection of tracks that takes any listener - whether ardent drum & bass heads or curious techno enthusiasts with an adventurous streak - on a journey through the studios of the deepest and most innovative producers in D&B. From the enchanting keys in the opening bars of their own 'Life We Live' to the sublime closer - a downtempo Instra:mental piece 'Photograph' - there is beauty here, not an adjective often used to describe a drum & bass mix album, yet the music's integrity and credibility could never be questioned. This album has basslines that will warm your stereo, intricate and lovingly crafted drum beats, apocalyptic stabs and heart-wrenching vocal snippets. It's a complete mix that anyone with even a passing interest in any style of electronic music could take pleasure from. Magical and mystical. This is the sound of Commix putting nobility back into drum & bass.
'Creating a mix is almost like a jigsaw puzzle - there were a couple of tracks we knew would go at the beginning of the mix, a couple we knew would go at the end, and slightly harder tracks that would fill in the gaps. It's quite exciting because we were able to include new, key tracks that we play in our sets, but for us it was also important to showcase some older material that has really influenced us. Listening to this mix, we hear what drum & bass was when it started out - we hope to enlighten people about where it came from.' - Commix.
01 Commix - Life We Live - Soul:R
02 Rufige Crew - Sometime Sad Day - Metalheadz
03 D-Bridge - Creatures of Habit - Exit
04 Alix Perez - The Reckoning - Alix Perez
05 Data - The Causeway - Influence
06 Logistics - Murderation - Hospital
07 Commix - Justified - Metalheadz
08 Spectrasoul - Buried - 31 Records
09 Calibre - Can't Get Over You - Soul:R
10 Lynx & Alix Perez Ft. Kemo - Dangerous - Soul:R
11 Commix - Belleview (D-Bridge's Belle-reviewed Mix) - Metalheadz
12 Spectrasoul & Ben E - Suppression - Spectrasoul
13 Calibre - In Denial - Soul:R
14 Commix - Bear Music - Hospital
15 OAK - No Sunrise - Brand Nu
16 Jonny L - Common Origin - XL
17 Breakage - Old School Ting - Breakage
18 Instra:mental - No Future - NonPlus+
19 Photek - Yendi - Science
20 Instra:mental - Photograph - Darkestral
Upcoming Commix Tour Dates
March 13 Fabric
March 27 Future Sound of Breaks @ Soho Studios /
April 23 Pressure @ Warwick Uni
May 28 Urban Art Forms Festival Day 1 @ Wiesen