mentions Photek a lot, and each time I think to myself "Dang, Josh, have you checked out Source Direct yet?" I have Photek's Modus Operandi
album and it always fell into the "good but not excellent" camp for me, as a lot of drum & bass albums tend to do. Oh, there's "JKZ" with its "yes indeed, this is
the most whacked out jazz you've ever heard" drum programming, or the generally pleasing Detroitisms of "Aleph 1", and "The Hidden Camera" is a classic, but on the whole I've always been slightly underwhelmed (that said, I love quite a few non-album tracks: "Ni Ten Ichi Ryu", "The Water Margin" and "Rings Around Saturn").
Why? Probably because on the whole Photek's moroseness rarely translates into anything particularly compelling. His music is mysterious and paranoid, but it doesn't really pick you up and shake you by your collar. Which Source Direct always did in abundance. I'm thinking in particular of their Controlled Developments ep, which has six uniformly excellent tracks. Source Direct's style (full drumkit improvisation, sickly bass tones, grotesque samples and weird synth sounds) is incredibly similar to Photek's, only generally without most of the jazz leanings. But what they lose in jazz they more than make up for in their hard raviness, Hammer Horror goulishness and general robotc neuroses. "Computer State" and "Enemy Lines" are some of the scariest tracks I've heard, despite being relatively restrained in jungle terms.
The track though that rendered Photek irrelevant altogether was Hidden Agenda's "Dispatch #2: a thrilling combination of rigid techstep with more cinematic drum & bass, which can be found on the second Metalheadz Platinum Breakz compilation, and is one of my favourite jungle tracks ever. That said, I am looking forward to hearing Photek's new album Solaris, half of which is apparently house tunes! Perhaps this will be what will convert Josh to house then...