It isn’t ‘broken,’ it’s just off beat
> Musician-deejay revives eclectic sound sans labels
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.