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Luke
Slater
Luke Slater
In an era saturated with recorded sound, few musical talents ever manage to become a full-blown institution in their own lifetimes, but Luke Slater has done precisely that. As one of the UK’s most consistent and resilient DJs and producers from the 1980s onwards, he has been one of the key individuals shaping the scene’s character, and has helped to guide the style through those times when its grip on the public imagination was not as firm as it is today. Slater’s persistent club appearances beginning with the ‘Troll’ parties at London’s infamous Heaven nightclub, along with accolades from respected electronic music digests (e.g. FACT magazine, Resident Advisor) and his participation in other taste-making projects (e.g. the Fabric mix CD series) all point to a level of activity that is engaging as it as diverse. His diversity of output, combined with a consistency of quality and spirit, has placed him not just at the epicenter of club techno, but also makes a strong argument for his influence upon the development of ‘intelligent dance music’ and the gradual popularization of electronic tools within the whole independent music realm.

In the true spirit of underground techno, his is a career that owes itself to real ingenuity and uncompromising personal vision than it does to skillful marketing. A full overview of Slater’s recorded output reveals him to be a master strategist who has always known the right time and social climate in which to drop a new technique, with those techniques themselves ranging from the creation of rapturous spatiality to overdriven percussive battering. These different techniques have been assigned to their own musical aliases in order to facilitate greater concentration upon one stylistic mutation at a time. For those desiring un-tethered and oneiric ambience, there is the work of Slater under the 7th Plain moniker (which has offered the initial releases on the promising new A-Ton label). For those more inclined to cyborg dialogues drifting in upon rolling tides of deep bass, there is the work of L.B. Dub Corp. And for those looking for intricacy and subtlety encased in the hardest of rhythms, there is of course his Planetary Assault Systems.

Slater’s professional affiliations are like a map of the tantalizingly shifting electronic music terrain: starting from his time at the Jelly Jam Records shop and label, Slater had a significant tenure with the Peace Frog and NovaMute labels, and in 2009 became the first foreign artist to release on Germany’s Ostgut Ton (with his landmark Planetary Assault Systems release Temporary Suspension). Since 2007 he has been the selector-in-chief of the Mote Evolver label, where he has rallied likeminded talents around his ethos of enlightening intensity and confirmed it as a bona fide global movement (current Mote Evolver label mates include Marcel Fengler, Lucy and Sterac).

Though a steady accumulation of alliances testifies to Slater’s unflagging ambition, pure drive alone is not always enough to guarantee an exceptional artistic communion with an audience. Something extra is needed to break through, and for Slater this is his ability to look beyond music itself for inspiration, and to detect the common impulses that unite music with other expressive forms. His love of poetry, for example, has led to collaboration with the poet Benjamin Zephaniah, and his more ethereal ambient work as 7th Plain has been coordinated with the work of the Berlin Staatsballet. With this dedication to creative crossover comes Slater’s interest in providing a narrative or storytelling experience, which has perhaps contributed to his double-digit number of musical characters or pseudonyms. These are never “side projects” in the traditional sense - i.e. aliases meant to take the pressure off of a “primary” project - but are instead different dispositions of the same unified creative force.

With a number of these projects – including L.B. Dub Corp and P.A.S. - simultaneously active and regularly issuing new sound missives from Slater’s Spacestation Ø production studio, Slater shows no signs of kicking back and letting his past accomplishments speak for him. As Slater’s mature approach applies itself to rapidly advancing musical and communications technology, it does what the Forced Exposure staff claims: “depict[ing] the futurist aesthetic and musical agenda of the '90s in a contemporary context, without nostalgia but confidence of its timelessness”. As such, the future may yield his best work yet.