It isn’t ‘bro­ken,’ it’s just off beat

> Mu­si­cian-dee­jay re­vives eclec­tic sound sans la­bels

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Music - By Mark Richens


Amid the con­fus­ing lex­i­con of dance-mu­sic gen­res, the term “bro­ken beat” emerged in the late ’90s and early 2000s to de­scribe a Lon­don-cen­tered scene of mu­si­cians and pro­duc­ers who cham­pi­oned a highly syn­co­pated and mu­si­cally so­phis­ti­cated style in­flu­enced as much by jazz fu­sion and Afrobeat as by hip-hop and house.

Artists in the scene, in­clud­ing Domu, Bugz in the At­tic, IG Cul­ture and 4Hero, tended to dis­like the “bro­ken beat” la­bel, which they felt im­plied a pass­ing fad. At any rate, the term didn’t ad­e­quately con­vey what the pro­duc­ers were up to — a given record might sound like Tim­ba­land col­lab­o­rat­ing with Quincy Jones on an up­date of Michael Jack­son’s Off the Wall , or like Dee Dee Bridgewater sit­ting in on vo­cals with Weather Re­port.

The bro­ken-beat scene faded in the lat­ter part of the decade as other gen­res gained promi­nence, but its lead­ing lights are still shin­ing.

Domu (real name Do­minic Stan­ton) is tour­ing the United States to pro­mote his ret­ro­spec­tive com­pi­la­tion One Offs, Remixes and B-Sides, a decade’s worth of tracks that demon­strate his im­pres­sive range as a pro­ducer. The Bed­ford, Eng­land, man is also a top-notch dee­jay, and he will man the con­trols Satur­day at dish in Cooper-Young.

“A dou­ble CD of what I con­sider to be the most im­por­tant works of mine from the last 10 years is the per­fect way to show what I have been about, how I have grown and changed over the years,” Stan­ton said via e-mail. “I hope it also shows the va­ri­ety of my styles and pro­duc­tion skills as well as my per­sonal taste in mu­sic, which I hope is a good rep­re­sen­ta­tion of my dee­jay­ing style too. Peo­ple that like house, techno, drum and bass, UK garage, hip-hop, Afrobeat, funk, soul or jazz can all find a ref­er­ence in there some­where, but hope­fully hear­ing some­thing com­pletely new at the same time.”

Stan­ton says he was “one of the most out­spo­ken about not lik­ing the term” “bro­ken beat.”

“As soon as some­thing starts to fold up, as we all knew this scene would, peo­ple start mov­ing away from it in droves and onto the next thing. It is hu­man na­ture,” he said.

“I loved the feel­ing of co-op­er­a­tion when it worked and feel­ing part of a move­ment, but to be hon­est I have al­ways been check­ing other scenes and pro­duc­ing other styles and fight­ing this lazy tag on my sound. I couldn’t care less if peo­ple think it is dead or alive. ... Where we all go from now mu­si­cally is up to our imag­i­na­tions and determination.”

Domu (Do­minic Stan­ton) re­sents “bro­ken beat” to de­scribe the mu­sic he helped foster in Eng­land.

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