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Photek reflects on Modus Operandi, his classic 1997 debut albu...

http://www.factmag.com/2012/07/28/photek-reflects-on-modus...

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Photek reflects on Modus
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PHOTEK REFLECTS ON MODUS OPERANDI, HIS CLASSIC
NEWSLETTER
TIP US NEWS

1997 DEBUT ALBUM THAT CHANGED THE FACE OF
JUNGLE (HTTP://WWW.FACTMAG.COM/2012/07
/28/PHOTEK-REFLECTS-ON-MODUS-OPERANDIHIS-CLASSIC-1997-DEBUT-ALBUM/)
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PUBLISHED

28 Jul 2012

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(http://factmag-images.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads
/2012/07/photek_0322121.jpg)
In 1997, Photek (http://www.photek.fm) released Modus
Operandi.

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It was one of the most eagerly anticipated albums of its era, at
least among those interested in all that was new and vigorous in
underground music. By the time it arrived, its maker – real name
Rupert Parkes – was already well established as a unique talent in
drum ‘n bass. For three years he’d been evolving his sound, a
sound rooted in deft, fanatically detailed drum programming that

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FEATURES
Photek reflects on Modus
Operandi, his classic 1997
debut album that changed
the face of jungle
(http://www.factmag.com/2012/07
/28/photek-reflects-on-modus-operandihis-classic-1997-debut-album/)
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7/3/13 10:42 PM

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as mind-blowing
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Photek reflects on Modusis Operandi,
his classic
1997
http://www.factmag.com/2012/07/28/photek-reflects-on-modus...

one contemporary producer to have expressed his awe for the
texture, swing and precision of Parkes’ percussion.

On Modus, those inimitable Photek drums conspired with the most
refined spy-flick jazz atmospherics and eerie, dystopian synth
sequences partly inspired by Detroit techno to create an album of
both serious muscle and balletic poise. Though not without its
flaws, it remains an out-and-out classic, one which will influence
new artists for many generations yet to come.
Parkes, by his own admission not one prone to looking back,
earlier this week revisited Modus for a special set at Tiger Beer’s
Hidden Depths of Hospital Records party. FACT’s Kiran Sande
seized upon the occasion to talk to him about the making of the
album, and his feelings about it 15 years on.

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“I REMEMBER WHEN I FINISHED MAKING THOSE
TRACKS, I REALLY DID THINK: THESE CAN’T BE ANY
BETTER, THESE ARE P E R F E C T .”

(http://factmag-

images.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07
/MODUS-front.jpg)Why did now feel like the right time to
revisit Modus Operandi?
“Well, the request actually came from Tony at Hospital. He asked
me to come and play that kind of set because I’ve not done it for a
long time, not really since when the records were first out. To tell
you the truth, I spend most of my time trying to think about what’s
happening next rather than looking back. I mean, last night, that’s
probably only the second time I’ve played a retro set ever…the only
other one I can think of was in LA a couple of years back, when I
played a best of ’89-’95 set on vinyl.”
What exactly was the content of the Modus set?
“90% of the set was tracks from the actual album, and a load of
stuff from around that time. Singles that came shortly before and
after, remixes…a ‘Still Life’ remix I did for Goldie…oh, and ‘Pulp
Fiction’! I think that was only one tune that wasn’t by me, ‘Pulp
Fiction’, that was kind of my encore track [laughs]…But yeah,
mostly all original Photek stuff from that era.”

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7/3/13 10:42 PM

“I LISTEN BACK NOW AND I THINK HANG ON,

FEW
T Oalbu...
O MANY DRUMhttp://www.factmag.com/2012/07/28/photek-reflects-on-modus...
EDITS IN
Photek reflects on ModusTHERE’S
Operandi, MAYBE
his classicA1997
debut
THERE…”

How do you feel about that music some 15 years on? Anything
you wish you’d done differently?
“There’s a few different reactions. With tracks like ‘U.F.O.’, I
remember when I finished making them, I really did think: these
can’t be any better, these are perfect. You know, with ‘U.F.O.’/'Rings
Around Saturn’ I honestly thought, wow, I’ve just made a perfect
12″. And the thing is, they really do stand up today – even now,
there’s nothing at all about them that I’d change.
“But then there are other tracks… like ‘Water Margin’, which was
just one release before ‘U.F.O.’, that I hear now and think, hmmm,
that was a crusty old Amen break, eh? [laughs]. But you know, it’s
still got vibes, and I don’t wish that I’d done it any differently…often
it was just the limits of technology, anyway. There were a few
different programming styles going on in music at that time, and
one was that style of really stuttering drum edits…and now I hear
them and I think hang on, maybe there’s a few too many drum
edits in there [laughs]. But you know, at the time that was what I
was into.”
(http://factmag-

images.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/photekold.jpg)Modus Operandi comes across as a very deliberatesounding album – not only does the drum programming sound
intricate and tightly controlled, the record as a whole seems
to be very carefully constructed. How clear about what you
wanted to achieve were you when you first sat down to write
it?

3 of 7

“I feel like there was definitely a concept behind it…but I’m not sure
how well I could articulate it, even now. I mean, that’s how the title,
Modus Operandi, came about in the first place: back then so many
different people, in interviews or whatever, were asking me to
define jungle. The way I chose to define it to them was as a style of
programming, a style of using sonics to make music, as opposed to
using instruments to make music. This was music purely about
soundscapes, space, bass…and you can forget how hard this was
to explain to some people at the time. And at the same time , it
was quite open: I felt like any style or tempo of music could fit on
Modus Operandi if it was sonically right. And yeah, I’d thought a lot
about the whole package: I knew what the colour scheme for the
artwork was boing to be, I knew what the atmosphere was going to
be like, you know?”

7/3/13 10:42 PM

Photek reflects on Modus Operandi, his classic 1997 debut albu...
http://www.factmag.com/2012/07/28/photek-reflects-on-modus...
“THIS WAS MUSIC PURELY ABOUT SOUNDSCAPES,
SPACE, BASS…AND YOU CAN FORGET HOW HARD
THIS WAS TO EXPLAIN TO SOME PEOPLE AT THE
TIME.”

To state the bleedingly obvious, echanges in the way people
encounter, consume and collect music, have really diminished
the idea of the album as a major artifact. It’s hard to an
imagine an album like Modus Operandi, or Timeless, or
whatever, having the kind of impact now that it did back then.
“Right. I think I was very aware of it then…and yeah, it’s become
more and more relevant in the years that have passed. You know,
what is an album all about, what kind of a statement is it? I’ll tell
you something: I was very lucky that I started making music in the
year that I did. Very lucky. I’m grateful that the planets were
aligned for me to do a lot of great things. Have you read that book,
Outliers? By Malcolm Gladwell. He talks about the fact that, for
example, Microsoft wouldn’t have happened if Bill Gates hadn’t
been in Seattle the year that he was…a year either side of that and
it really might not have happened at all. Some very simple factors
with big consequences.”

RELATED

(http://www.factmag.com
/2013/02/26/goldie-workingon-new-projects-with-flyinglotus-burial-photek-and-more/)
Goldie working on new projects

(http://www.factmag.com
/2012/12/06/grammynominations-are-in-frank-oceanjay-z-kanye-and-photek-in-therunning/)

with Flying Lotus, Burial, Photek

Grammy nominations are in:

and more

Frank Ocean, Jay-Z & Kanye and

(http://www.factmag.com

Photek (!) in the running

/2013/02/26/goldie-working-

(http://www.factmag.com

on-new-projects-with-flying-lotus- /2012/12/06/grammyburial-photek-and-more/)

nominations-are-in-frank-oceanjay-z-kanye-and-photek-in-therunning/)

4 of 7

(http://www.factmag.com
/2012/10/04/stream-pyramidthe-first-track-from-drumnbassicon-photeks-new-album/)
Stream ‘Pyramid’, the first track

(http://www.factmag.com
/2012/09/24/photek-fantasticmr-fox-and-paul-white-linedup-for-vauxhalls-lightboxthis-friday/)

from drum’n'bass icon Photek’s

Photek, Fantastic Mr Fox and Paul

7/3/13 10:42 PM

album his classic 1997 debut albu...
White lined up for Vauxhall’s
Photek reflects on Modusnew
Operandi,
http://www.factmag.com/2012/07/28/photek-reflects-on-modus...
(http://www.factmag.com

Lightbox this Friday

/2012/10/04/stream-pyramid-

(http://www.factmag.com

the-first-track-from-drumnbass-

/2012/09/24/photek-fantastic-

icon-photeks-new-album/)

mr-fox-and-paul-white-linedup-for-vauxhalls-lightboxthis-friday/)

COMMENTS

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7/3/13 10:42 PM

comments
Photek reflects on Modus10Operandi,
his classic 1997 debut albu...

★ 4
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blaq tape



11 months ago



"With tracks like ‘U.F.O.’, I remember when I finished making
them, I really did think: these can’t be any better, these are
perfect. You know, with ‘U.F.O.’/'Rings Around Saturn’ I honestly
thought, wow, I’ve just made a perfect 12″. And the thing is, they
really do stand up today – even now, there’s nothing at all about
them that I’d change."
I'm glad he feels that way because that 12" really was his peak.
Seriously, the perfect jungle 12".
Reply

2

T3x#Radio

Share ›
>

blaq tape



11 months ago

I concur... even today I'd still call it perfect.
Reply

2
Ninzumecha



Share ›

11 months ago

Photek was one of those artists that was at the forefront of
experimentation back when you could tell real love was put into
tunes. I think it's the lack of these two elements that gets up my
nose about modern dnb. Now dnb is as formulaic as house.
Intead of expressing themselves at 180 bpm, people just make
dnb. I know there's always a few doing there own thing but...
1

Reply

1

Interim



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11 months ago

Didn't anyone bother to proof read this before putting it on the
site?
Reply

3
Slabface



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11 months ago

Just booked tickets to see the 'MO' set here in Wellington, NZ.
Absolutely cannot wait.
Reply
TB 303



Share ›

11 months ago

THE PERFECT ALBUM. Never have ever got bored of MO. Burial
cites him as an influence, but never learned from the MASTER.
Reply
Raul Cornejo



Share ›
11 months ago

As a retired junglist and fervorous music lover I have to say that
as much as I truly love this album I think it lacks a bit of the rage,
that almost restrained anger that you can hear so clearly in his
peers' music of the time, esp. Source Direct. Don't get me wrong,
MO is a cornertsone of the genre (and any genre of electronic
music for that matter), it is Photek at his best, showing all his
accuracy in beatmaking and nearly anal precision for crafting the
perfect mixdown, elements of his talent that have been praised
endlessly thus far, but I always thought that his prowess was also
his greatest shortcoming: the surgical method sometimes
deprives his music of something I always thought was
quintessential do Jungle and D&B. Ok ok... tl;dr... please carry
on...
Reply

6 of 7
Implo



Share ›

11 months ago

Best Drum n Bass album ever, in my opinion. A kind of quasi-

7/3/13 10:42 PM

Photek reflects on Modus Operandi, his classic 1997 debut albu...

http://www.factmag.com/2012/07/28/photek-reflects-on-modus...

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