T-Power: Police State

When Drum n´Bass morphed out of Jungle sometime during the mid-nineties there was the overall feeling that this really was the future of music. The year 2000 had arrived early with a musical style that was a combination of freefloating structures bound to a driving, totally artificial beat.

It couldn´t last!

After a few years of fascination we went back into our cave and watched the shadow-plays.

Marc Royal was responsible for some of the most expansive excursions in the field of DnB. While his fellow producers left the jungle madhouse with a "mature" sound full of "real" jazz instruments, his productions as T-Power were full of electricity.

"Mutant Jazz" was a lush single full of dark ambience and kitschy melodies which he pulled from every corner of the planet. To use a tired, but very fitting anology: It sounded like music that could have been played on the streets of "Blade Runner".

With "Police State" (Which is actually a three track EP, clogging in at 37 minutes) Royal went on to further explore this dystopian sujet.

T-Power: Police State

With its merging tracks it plays like a full album and creates a vast, somber, sci-fi world which still manages to sounds like fun to be in.
Packed full with samples from George Lucas´ "THX 1138" (which is only a minor letdown) the journey starts with "Police State", a 14 minute epic that unfolds like a fractal flower.

Metallic, glitching drum-rolls and displaced beats form a scattering, fragile rhythm. An asian melody fragment, like a half remembered play-back comes and goes as the track disolves into a spheric calm halfway through.
After a few moments of tranquility the rhythm comes back, but this time much stronger and forceful. A stepping beat and bassline are effect laden reminders of clanging sticks and gun-shots. But this phase passes soon and again we are left with more electronic ambience that never quite manages to soothe the listener.

We segue right into "Prospects for Democrazy", the sparkling heart of the EP.

T-Power: Prospects for Democracy

Its artificial saxophone melody, resembles "Mutant Jazz". Wonderful production, immersive stereo and imaginative programming makes this one of the stand-out tracks of its era. Time flies while the track morphes trough many stages and situations. Zooming in at things that seem of interest then scanning around to find something else.
The detached fascination of malevolent technology.

There are moments when the ambience comes close to early Jean Michel Jarre with a far more sinister twist.

"Synthesis" marks the final 12 minutes of this journey.

T-Power: Synthesis

This is the straightest and most dancefloor friendly track of the three.
A shuffling beat and a sparkling sequencer line captivate the listener while distant noises open up the sonic space of "Synthesis".
This is "end title"-music. But as strings come in to carry the rhythm, this is the only moment in nearly 40 minutes when "real" dnb beats are heard.
Amen-breaks appear like shy guests, fading in and out, supporting the beat but they never become prominent enough to dominate the fragile construction of the music.

The greatest thing about this EP is its distinct will to sound different. At a time when DnB was exploded all over the place and it´s fate as supermarket background music became evident, "Police State" dares to sound out of place. Not abrasive and close to kitsch, Marc Royal manages to sit comfortably between the chairs,

With the ermergence of glitch a few years later, the often fragile and "error"-laden style to produce beats was heard everywhere. But I am still fascinated with the amount of work and "design" that went into the programming of the beats and the tweaking of sound.

On his full lengths album "The self evident thruth of an intuitive mind", which was released in the same year, T-Power uses the extended playtime to its fullest capacity. He takes his time to develop his ideas.
The technological leaps that were made with Drum and Bass were amazing, but somehow the future-shock died down rather quick.

If you compare T-Power´s 1995 output with Goldie´s much hyped "Timeless" from the same year, the latter has aged much more. I would also say that the production and innovation of T-Power is far more impressive than Goldie, who relied a bit too much on impressive drum-programming but quickly outdated pre-set pads.

Pictures are taken from here

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