Three years ago Commix released their debut album on the legendary Metalheadz label. Call to Mind was one of the most talked about releases of that decade and put the unassuming Cambridge duo on the drum & bass map. Now they are back with Re:Call to Mind, a stunning remix album, and they have recruited some heavyweight talent to help them.
"We made the track Satellite Song, which was really heavily influenced by the Detroit sound, like Underground Resistance," explains Commix's George Levings. "We wanted to get an Underground Resistance mix of that and managed to get Mad Mike on board with the project, which spurred us on to get others to remix the tracks."
"Originally it was only supposed like a 12"," adds Guy Brewer, the other half of the Commix duo. "We had one Underground Resistance remix on the original album as a hidden track at the end and the idea was to just use one of the other versions, as he had done about four, and get another mix for the other side. The first remix we commissioned with a view to that was the Burial remix. This was just after Untrue had come out, which we were completely blown away by. Goldie had just done a track with Burial so we were able to get Be True done."
From these early mixes the idea snowballed until Commix were going through the album thinking of the artists that they would like to do remixes of their tracks. Each song on the original album has its own various influences, so there was a pool of talent for them to consider. "The original Japanese Electronics track was heavily influenced by Drexciya, who Instra:mental are also fans of, so we got them to do that one," explains Guy.
George adds that they listened to the tracks and singled out a few artists they would like to do a remix. "We had to consider whether it was a viable option. We tried lots and lots of people, some were busy, so we had to have other people in mind," says George.
MATTER OF TIME
There had been murmurings of discontent around the length of time taken to release Re:Call to Mind, something the pair accept is par for the course, but they will make no apology for it. They were happy to take their time if it meant the end product was something they could be proud of and happy to put their name to. "The speed that things that come out means nothing to us," says George. "What matters to us that what we are putting out is a good product."
"It would have been easy for us to say 'right, let's make a remix album' and we could have contacted this or that producer and thrown it together quite quickly if it was a solely drum & bass project," adds Guy. "The original plan was to have no drum & bass on it at all, but then Instra:mental did their mix, which is loosely drum & bass. Then dBridge did his remix of Belleview, which wasn't originally meant to be on the album but he did such a good job that we knew it had to be on there."
"We didn't want an album that had anything too insular, too samey," continues George. "We wanted it to tell a journey through different genres of music."
It was important for Commix to give the artists they worked with complete artistic freedom. "We like everyone on the album so much, we weren't going to ask them to use any specific samples or whatever," explains Guy. "We have never liked the idea of flogging one sound for too long. We did Talk to Frank and Strictly, and it would have been easy to continue doing those bass lines, but it gets boring doing the same things in the studio day in, day out. We don't want to see ourselves as drum & bass producers. I want to look back on my musical career and feel like an artist, rather than someone who has just churned out 12" fodder."
George adds that one of the downfalls of drum & bass is that a lot of the listeners will be too reluctant to explore outside of the genre. "A lot of people won't listen to electronic music as a whole. They are too involved with it so will not consider listening to things like house or two-step. I think this album is a good opportunity for us to put drum & bass into context a little bit. By getting artists from other genres to remix drum & bass stuff makes it easier for people that are solely into drum & bass to try something different."
WELL POLISHED WORK
Following the original Call to Mind album, the pair have been able to learn from any mistakes and ensure their latest venture is a totally fresh and well polished offering. "We've teamed up with an amazing graphic designer who has come up with a whole new concept and essentially remixed the original artwork, making it something really fresh and modern – in the same way that the tracks have been," says George, speaking of the "crazy bear" as he describes it which adorned the sleeve of the original album.
"We are also going to have a really cool launch party on October 8 at Corsica Studios," adds Guy. "We've got some of the artists that featured on Re:Call to Mind like Marcell Dettmann playing a three hour set, Pangea and Instra:mental, and we will be doing a DJ set."
"There were mistakes we made with the first album and this has given us the chance to iron out those creases," continues George. "We have had plenty of time to market and promote it and there is great hype around it; it has gone really well."
Commix are also keen to heap praise on the team around them. Being part of the Metalheadz label has given them huge opportunities to open creative doors. "Having Goldie there has enabled us to contact people we would never have been able to get hold of; he has been able to get them on the phone straight away," says Guy. "The way we work with Metalheadz is a real inspiration and it's given us loads of confidence."
"We were so inspired by the discography of Metalheadz that at times we found it hard to find the confidence to match up to the Dillinjas and the Photeks that had come before us," says George, "but whenever we went for a meeting with Goldie he just fills you with motivation."
Aside from Re:Call to Mind, the Commix pair look set for a busy future. In making the original album three years ago, the duo made well over their allotted track space, with enough material for three or four albums. "We are hoping to release it as what we are calling Vault Tracks, a collection of tracks that never made it to the original album," says Guy. They have also just signed a contract for another full-length album on Metalheadz, which they will begin working on imminently. One thing is for sure, Commix look set to continue gracing the ears of club goers for a long time to come.
Words: Matt Jane
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