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Master craftsman: Remembering Marcus Intalex and his exploratory d'n'b

Dance music is mourning the loss of the Soul:r boss

  • Words: Ewen Cook | Image: Ashes57
  • 30 May 2017
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A 1990s innovator, his ’94 release ‘What Ya Gonna Do’ (as Da Intalex with Mark XTC on L Double’s Flex Records) is an early genre masterpiece of melodious jungle warmth and hardstepping breakbeat groove, framed by the Motor City synths he would explore for the next quarter of a century. Already presenting the Kiss / Galaxy 102 jungle drum ‘n’ bass show, Intalex moved to Manchester from his native Burnley in the same year, becoming a jungle specialist at record store institution Eastern Bloc and laying the foundations for one of the finest underground drum ‘n’ bass labels of all time: Soul:r.

Forged in 2000 in the thrilling fires of liquid-funk’s golden age, Intalex’s Soul:r label gave drum ‘n’ bass arguably its first ever boutique imprint: a thing of handcrafted beauty on every level, and an undisputed signifier of deluxe drum ‘n’ bass production craft. No self-respecting DJ’s box was not littered with those visually magnetic brown and green sleeves, each one a guarantor of some deep, musical, mystical, rolling voyage. Calibre’s ‘Fire and Water’, Mist:i:cal’s ‘Mistical Dub’, M.I.S.T. vs High Contrast’s ‘3am’ – those early releases joined the dots between jungle’s melodious basstones, liquid’s infectious sunshine and the futureproofed appeal of earthy, dense, rolling drum ‘n’ bass grooves. All were instant classics. All remain so – unlike many other liquid ‘anthems’ of the time.

In Soul:r, Marcus Intalex created something that stayed pure: a quality-over-quantity vision of underground drum ‘n’ bass, which famously showcased some of the genre’s finest young artisans including Lynx, Break, Marky, Klute, High Contrast, and latterly like likes of DRS, Chimpo, Dub Phizix and LSB. That both the label and its Soul:ution night exist today, and have continued to develop, is testament to Intalex’s enduring influence.

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