We invited Chris from production trio Blu Mar Ten to take us on a journey into his most formative influences as an artist. from the sub heavy to the sublime, let's discover the building blocks that sit at the base of Blu Mar Ten.
Founded by Chris Marigold and Leo Wyndham in 1995 and later joined by Michael Tognarelli in 2004, Blu Mar Ten have been around the block a few times. With a back catalogue that spans across seminal '90s Good Looking Records and it's various offshoots through to noughties Hospital Records and their own Blu Mar Ten Music imprint, they have done more than their "bit" for drum & bass. But what came before drum & bass? What led to the Blu Mar Ten sound. Let's find out...
Cybotron - Clear (Fantasy) 1983
I was about 10 when the wave of electro / hip hop (it was the same thing at that time) swept into the UK and me and all my mates were obsessed with it. "Clear" was one of my many favourites from that era. It came out in 1982 and Cybotron was a Juan Atkins alias, so I guess you could say this was a precursor of techno although for me it’s a proto-drum & bass track. All the elements of drum & bass are there, just at a slower tempo. On the rare occasions I play non drum & bass sets I always play this.
New Order - True Faith (Factory) 1987
New Order were the bridge between the electro I had been obsessed with (they were being produced by Arthur Baker at that point so the crossover was obvious) and the world of bands and indie music. There was something incredibly unpretentious about them but they still managed to achieve this majestic sweeping drama even though it came from a very prosaic, kitchen-sink place. I think thats a very Northern (UK) quality and you see it in many Northern film makers from the '70s and '80s as well. New Order also had that typically Northern dry humour, both as characters and in their music, which is also something I admire. It was hard to pick a single track but "True Faith" is as good as any.
Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart (Factory) 1980
Once I started digging into New Order I discovered Joy Division which was the band containing the original New Order members plus a singer, Ian Curtis, who committed suicide forcing the change of band name. Joy Division were just so profoundly serious it’s hard to compare them to people who make music now. When you watch videos of them live you really get the impression there’s something struggling to get out there and it’s not something caught up in record labels or marketing or sales or anything else. It’s a deadly serious effort to express something important and to this day I find it exhilarating and intimidating in equal measure.
The Cure - Disintegration (Fiction Records) 1989
The whole Disintegration album is a masterpiece but this is probably my favourite track from it. The Cure had many faults, mostly lyrical, but musically they were outstanding. I admired their habit of not bothering to make everything 3 minutes and rolling out a good 8 or 9 minutes if they felt like it. I saw them live twice on the Disintegration tour in 1989 and the version of this they played went on for about 15 minutes… and it was still too short. I often find myself unconsciously playing melodies in our tunes that sounds familiar and then realising they’re progressions from The Cure.
The Smiths - There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (Warner Music) 1992
Again, too many amazing tracks to choose from but I never get sick of listening to this. The small scale yet majestic drama the Smiths managed to achieve is just stunning. This track is soaked in humour and sadness which is an incredibly difficult thing to get right and the way the musical motifs string together is bordering on genius. The string progression at the 2:00 minute mark has been copied endless times (including by us) and is simply heartbreaking.
Egyptian Empire - The Horn Track (Fokus Recordings) 1991
I had to put this one in from that early '90s period. Everyone had their favourite track from that era and this is mine. Utter, balls out, no holds barred mentalism and I went nuts every time a DJ played this in a club. It sounds like it was written in one sitting and it probably was, but it’s verging on perfection, musically. I often play it as the last tune in my sets and the place goes crazy every time. That’s some achievement for a 20+ year old tune.