Last week I was finally able to announce the imminent release of something I’ve been working on for some time: the companion compilation to my book Join The Future: Bleep Techno and the Birth of British Bass Music.
Entitled Join The Future: UK Bleep & Bass 1988-91, the double vinyl and digital download album gathers together a mixture of historic tracks, rare gems, sought-after cuts, scene classics and unreleased material – all re-mastered for release by a key figure in the bleep story, Forgemasters member and Warp co-founder Rob Gordon.
It’s now starting to appear on various online stores, including Juno and the Warp-owned Bleep.com, who are exclusively selling a limited edition purple vinyl version. Both the regular and limited edition vinyl versions include an insert with extensive sleeve notes courtesy of yours truly, plus a code to download the expanded digital download edition (to guarantee a DJ-friendly loud cut, we had to omit two tracks from the vinyl version).
Fittingly it’s appearing as the debut release on Cease & Desist, a new label set up by Optimo’s JD Twitch, who of course wrote the foreword to Join The Future. Believe it or not, the compilation was first mooted six years ago and stemmed from conversations I had with Twitch following the publication of my article on bleep techno for Resident Advisor. The original idea was to put together a more expansive set (including a number of better-known anthems) that came bundled with a chunky booklet telling the story of the sound. Twitch and myself put together a track list and pitched it to a sizable independent label known for the quality of its compilations. Talks got to an advanced stage before they decided against doing it – at which point I decided to write a book instead.
Two or three years ago the compilation idea was brought up again when Twitch went to dinner with the owner of another label, who had – unprompted – mentioned his desire to do a bleep retrospective. Twitch mentioned the book I was working on and connected me with the label owner. I had several meetings with said label manager, but for whatever reason the compilation never happened – though this time I wasn’t told as the label just stopped responding to my emails. This kind of stuff happens all the time in the music industry so I didn’t lose any sleep over it.
When Colin Steven at Velocity Press offered me a deal to publish the book, one of the first people I told – besides my family – was Twitch (he’d been on the journey with me throughout the book writing process and had been slated to write the foreword from the moment I started work). It just so happened that he’d been in discussions with a distributor to start a new compilation focused label so generously offered to fund the Join The Future one if I did the donkey work (licensing is a time consuming process – I won’t bore you with the details). Ten months on, that compilation will soon be hitting stores. I want to put on record my thanks to Twitch for his faith in this project and ongoing support – it means a lot and without it the compilation may never have happened.
From a personal perspective I’m particularly excited about this as I’ve dreamed of putting together a compilation for years. It’s something that music nerds and vinyl hoarders love because, like DJing, it’s a way of sharing your passion for, and love of, a particular type of music with others. To be entrusted with a commercially sold compilation usually means that you’re either widely regarded as being the authority on something, or are a DJ/record collector with a sizeable following and high reputation. For that reason it’s a genuine badge of honour and a calling card.
The other day I had a look at the original “possible tracklist” myself and Keith put together for the first compilation pitch. From the start, it was going to be called Join The Future (the title came before the book, fact fans), begin with Unique 3 & The Mad Musician’s “Only The Beginning” and end with Tuff Little Unit’s “Join The Future”. It seems fitting that the final compilation retained that title and start/end sequence – though I should point out that everything else about it is different to our early concept. I always wanted to get Rob Gordon involved, though it was only when he finally agreed to an interview in the summer of 2018 that I put it to him. In the end he did an incredible job mastering the final compilation, but you’d expect that – he’s a genius when it comes to getting warm, weighty, bass-heavy sound!=
We expect Join The Future: UK Bleep & Bass 1988-91 to drop around March 27th. You can pre-order and keep tabs on possible delivery dates via the Cease & Desist Bandcamp page. If you run a record shop and would like to stock it, you need to talk to Above Board Distribution.