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Total pleasure: Uplifting trance led Robert Miles to become a true pioneer

Miles' passing is a tragic loss to dance music

  • Joe Muggs
  • 10 May 2017
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In his high-end recording studios he started to gather the cream of generations of talent, and after ditching his UK management and major label, his post-millennium albums became something else entirely. With the likes of Trilok Gurtu, Bill Laswell and Nitin Sawhney in tow, he explored global fusion, jazz, experimental drum'n'bass and psychedelic rock, but all with a Balearic sensibility of pleasure-first that stopped it disappearing up its own backside. He didn't lose touch with the dance world either, just broadened his connections – as you can see from the people he chose to remix his 2001 album 'Organik'. Fearsome noisenik 2nd Gen, the glitchy electronica “producer's producer” Si Begg, fellow psychedelicists Future Sound Of London, the then relatively unknown Riton: these were not just names plucked from a hat for hip credentials, but kindred spirits, well-chosen to expand the coherent soundworld. His music on his solo albums, this remix collection and his duo album with Gurtu is weird, wonderful – but continued to be successful, landing many major film score placings.

That Balearic sensibility was literal – Miles had been going to Ibiza since 1988, when he was just 19, and though he got diverted by trance commercialism, it was his roots in the original anything-goes-as-long-as-it-works spirit of Alfredo at Amnesia that allowed him to indulge his experimental urges later on. He was on and off the island constantly, and in 2006 bought a mansion and settled down there. In 2012 he founded the OpenLab internet radio station from his home, also in a sense returning to his roots (he had run dance pirate radio stations at home in northern Italy in the early 1990s) but bringing cultural and technological discussion into the mix as well as music. It is obvious that he had a lot more experimentation and hunger for the new in him yet; he was a lesson to us all in how to navigate the tricky line between commercial success and continued creativity.

Let's give the final word to Miles's close friend and collaborator, Nitin Sawhney: "Robert was never complacent, always restless and searching for new sounds and musical challenge. He could've easily sat back and reproduced the sound he had perfected and pioneered on 'Children' but he was so much more than that one ubiquitous track. On 'Organik' he was incredible to watch, with an attention to detail as a programmer I've never seen before or since. He was a true master of sound with his best work yet to come. A tremendously sad loss to music and the world."

Joe Muggs is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to Mixmag. Follow him on Twitter

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