Essential Drum and Bass – Modus Operandi by Photek

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In 1997, drum and bass was the most advanced dance music you could imagine and Photek was one of the most talented producers. His debut album "Modus Operandi" was a lesson in restraint and uncompromising experimentation.
From today’s perspective it might be hard to imagine, but fifteen years ago there wasn’t anything as cutting edge and futuristic in dance music as jungle or drum and bass, as it was slowly but surely being called. It was a time when drum and bass reinvented itself at short intervals and slicing, looping and re-programming breakbeats was executed with a nearly autistic attention to detail. Drum and bass producers seemed to be bonafide sonic scientists exploring the DNS of the break and rhythm in general like no one had before them, while at the same time experimenting with the heaviest low-end drops and the most haunting atmospherics you could imagine. One of the most uniquely talented producers of that time was Rupert Parkes aka Photek.

After Goldie’s seminal debut album „Timeless“ had blown up, catapulting a fiercely underground sound and its previously mostly stigmatized scene into mainstream attention, a true gold rush unfolded. Rumours of who got signed by which major label were making the rounds on a daily basis. Photek, whose various 12“es (under his various alter egos) had won him a nearly religious following (not unlike his friends from Source Direct) had signed to Virgin. When his debut album „Modus Operandi“ finally hit the shops in 1997, it was arguably one of the most anticipated drum and bass releases that year, with people expecting nothing short of the next big leap in the sound’s continuous evolution.

Clocking in at nearly seventy minutes, „Modus Operandi“ was (like many drum and bass albums) a drawn-out affair. The combination of Parkes’ trademark  complex drum programming with cinematic spy flick atmospherics and bleak synth swashes was truly uncompromising. Tracks like „The Hidden Camera,“ „KJZ,“ „Modus Operandi“ or „Aleph 1“ felt like jazz re-wired for the 21st century. Like most of Parkes' productions they had a unique sense of space, a fine balance between bass, drums, soundscapes and, well, silence.

To this day there aren’t many records that sound as futuristic and mind-blowing as „Modus Operandi.“ It marked one of the peaking points in the evolution of jungle and drum and bass. It still is a truly groundbreaking masterpiece, a timeless sonic statement, reminding you of a time when one of the thrills of going to a drum and bass party was the prospect of getting catapulted into the unknown for a few hours. There is still much to learn from „Modus Operandi.“ Rewind.
Published: Aug 6, 2012
by Sven von Thülen (artistxite)
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