Fri, Feb 27, 2009 - Page 15 News List

THE VINYL WORD

By Tom Leeming  /  STAFF REPORTER

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Luxy’s most-booked international DJ, LTJ Bukem returns tonight with collaborator MC Conrad for his sixth gig at the club.

“The way … music is made has changed a lot over the 20 years I have been playing drum ’n’ bass,” Bukem, real name Danny Williamson, told the Vinyl Word.

But after two decades in the business, Bukem said he still only plays vinyl and dub plates.

A dub plate “is basically a plate of metal in the shape of a record and is used to test cut tracks to see how they sound before final mastering,” Bukem said in an e-mail exchange. “You can actually push the levels of any track harder when cutting into metal due to being able to cut deeper grooves, thereby getting a louder, bassier cut.”

These new tracks are played in clubs to gauge audience reactions before vinyl pressing takes place. The system ensures that only privileged DJs receive copies of the latest produce.

Drum ’n’ bass, more than any other electronica genre, makes use of vinyl and dub plates.

“We have gone into an age where sound quality is secondary to expense, [which is] a shame, but [an] understandable progression,” Bukem said, alluding to the growing popularity of digital deejaying equipment.

One development Bukem does take issue with is the classification of drum ’n’ bass using labels such as “liquid funk,” a term coined at the turn of the noughties, or “intelligent.”

To Conrad (last name Thompson), “liquid” is “a loose metaphor for the current beat patterns, trends, sounds and style … Differences lie in rolling drum patterns, spacious trippy grooves and a ‘less is more’ attitude applied in production.”

The term, said Conrad in an e-mail interview on Monday, reflects the evolution of drum ’n’ bass rather than representing something completely different: “This style has been around for sometime but a broad selection of producers have focused on it … so it was given a nickname.”

“It’s not new. It is what I have been doing and supporting always: musical drum ’n’ bass,” said Bukem. “Just a different name for the same thing.”

Using “intelligent” as a taxon is also controversial.

“I never liked the term intelligent,” said Bukem, “and have never referred to it as a style of music … [I] don’t know where it originally came from.”

“I think everyone who has used or not used this phrase by now knows it was not meant to belittle other forms of drum ’n’ bass,” Conrad said, “but at the time the feelings of others outside of the reference felt it was a diss. I personally hate the tag.”

With fans of other forms of electronica, drum ’n’ bass occupies a special position, in that it is either loved or loathed.

“To really understand drum ’n’ bass you got to be in it twenty-four-seven, and I think that contributes to the love [or] hate of it,” Conrad said.

“Isn’t this the case with all music? You either love or hate it,” said Bukem. “I strongly feel it’s not about how a piece of music is made or constructed … but how it sounds when complete and therefore do you like it or not?”

Given the prevalence of house and formerly psytrance here, it is perhaps surprising that a drum ’n’ bass DJ is Luxy’s most-booked international act.

But then again, “there is always something in every style for everyone if you have the time to listen,” said Bukem. “I have never classified my music, everyone else has always seemed to do that for me.”

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