- Release Date 2016-03-04
- Label Beta Recordings
- Catalog BETACD010
Aged with authority and authenticity: Visions reminds us just how forward-thinking the Beta Records founder has always been. Strictly doing his own thing since he came into the game at 18; John penned Visions as two distinct chapters, both parts grasping two of late 90s drum & basss most exciting sounds and pulling them into groundbreaking new directions.
Part one, Organic saw John swerve the standard sample-smashing of the era to create warm, full bodied natural grooves from real musicians.
In a stark twist of contrast, part two Synthetic foretold both the techstep phenomenon and his own angular, precision electro edge that were to soundtrack our entrance into the new century. One side au natural, one side machine manufactured: both techniques and approaches still dominant in drum & bass today...
Visions by name, visionary by nature. It also comes complete with total remake of his hugely successful Vangelis-inspired Starburst. Previously constructed on analogue synths, Starburst 2016 was re-created from the ground up with modern synths and contemporary production.
While the scene continues to forage for antiquities, John shows us the other side of the sonic coin once again.
Starburst isnt the only track to enjoy an update: every track you hear on the album has been remastered. The production, however, remains timeless: No one knew how well Visions would sound 18 years later. No one knew how well it would document drum & basss infant years. Still sounding slick and bursting with creative ideas, the album tells the story of both an artist and a genre growing up, fizzing with directions and ambitions.
Organic: A maze of mischievous jazz and funk experimentalism. A sharp sense of youthful melody and off-beat surprises await as we spring through the horn-heavy haze of tracks such as Sax Therapy, Jazz Session, the purring keys and slap bass of Slamfunk (Moog Remix) and sunset soul of Reflections. The spacious, Orient-focused penultimate track The Second Judgement teases for the darkness of whats set to follow...
Synthetic: While the first part showcased Johns funkier, soulful musicality, Synthetic really established his pedigree as a premiership producer. Forecasting todays highly technical, synthetic production style you can hear John pushing his machines to their limits, finding new sounds and techniques. The wriggling alien bass of VCF, the razor-sharp Detroitian electro iciness of Electro Shock, the iron-fist two-step and sci-fi breakdown of Travelogue. Not to mention the clear proto techstep dynamics of Sight Beyond and Secrets.
Several years ahead of their time, they play a role in one of the most gamechanging chapters in drum & bass. No surprises, then, that Visions found home in the selections of the most influential DJs at the time - Grooverider, SS, Adam F, Goldie, Photek.
Its here where John dug deep foundations for his fusionist, futurist signature: an amorphous sense of development and narrative, tightly balanced shades and contrasts, well-chiselled breaks and sharp synthesis.
Every genre has its small selection of pivotal albums that show clear signs of progression, influence and documentation and brand new benchmarks: Visions is an album that lives up to its name in ways John never could have imagined at the time. The future is now...