<

Moody Boyz

Tony Thorpe is best known for his groundbreaking Moody Boyz output, as well as for setting up a host of independent labels including Warrior Records, BPM, Language Records, and his newest imprint Studio Rockers. His productions remain at the cutting edge, including recent remixes for artists including Amy Winehouse, Erykah Badu, Lee Scratch Perry, Roots Manuva and Bloc Party. He also curated the ‘Dub Step Chronicles’ for Massive Attack’s Meltdown Festival, and continues to keep busy with DJ appearances around the world. Tony Thorpe is one of British musics true mavericks and has been surfing the contours of echo drop dub since he first started fusing tape looped noise with earthbound funk as 400 Blows over 20 years ago.

Back to 1987, and Thorpe released the first UK acid compilation Acid Beats and soon after launched his acid guise Moody Boyz with the funk-fried ‘Boogie Woogie Music’ on his second acid house compilation Acid House Volume One. Moody Boyz released a series of groundbreaking house cuts from the B-Boy-meets-techno top 50 hit ‘Acid Heaven/ Acid Rappin’ to the groundbreaking LFO bass attack of ‘Funky Zulu’. But it was ‘Journeys into Dubland’ that became Thorpe’s defining moment thanks to its fusion of acid house, reggae, dissonant noise-scapes and a heavy dose of dub medicine.

In the meantime Thorpe developed a creative partnership with KLF which stretched back to their incarnation as The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu when a 400 Blows remix of ‘Don’t Take Five’ was rejected. Instead he became KLF’s ‘Breaks, beats and samples’ controller, and remixed both the debut cut of ‘3am Eternal’ and the follow up chart topping version for which Thorpe was given full publishing – despite it being a remix.

Thorpe’s KLF work included ‘What Time is Love?’ ‘Last Train to Transcentral’ and best selling album The White Room. But he also continued to massage the dance underground with Moody Boyz singles ‘Lion Dance’ (featuring a remix by Frankie Bones) and ‘What is Dub?’ (with, Jamaican MC Screamer – pre-empting the Ragga Jungle fusion in the process). ‘Centre of the World’ and ‘Playing with Spears’ followed in 1992, the same year that Thorpe launched proto-jungle classic ‘Bad Man’ by Urban Jungle, followed a year later by the progressive dub house ‘Transmission’ EP as Voyager.

The 1994 Moody Boyz/ The Black Dog collaboration single ‘Shango’ (on the seminal Guerrilla label) previewed Thorpe’s stunning debut Moody Boyz album Product of the Environment and remix EP ‘Recycled’. Moody Boyz, it would seem, had truly arrived as a global player… and then the label went belly up leaving Product of the Environment as one of the great lost albums of the late twentieth century.

Undeterred Thorpe teamed up with Belgium imprint Crammed Discs to release a reworking of ‘Destination Africa’ from that lost album. A year later in 1995 a full set of uncompromising remixes called Recycled for the Environment coincided with his new record label Language, which specialised in genre defying sounds from electronic music’s outer edges courtesy of artists like Si Begg (Buckfunk 3000), Circadian Rhythms (aka This Heat’s Charles Bullen) and renowned drum’n’bass artist Endemic Void.

In 1998/99 he released a series of pounding, dissonant, sub-bass stunners under the name Wayward Soul including a stunning collaboration with Divine Styler called ‘PMT’. The album that followed in 2000, Brother from Another Planet found Thorpe stretching ever deeper into the darkest recesses of breaks driven dubland.

Currently splitting his time between his own musical production, running his own label Studio Rockers and some freelance A&R for PIAS UK, Wall Of Sound and most recently Essential Music Marketing, who look after labels such as RNS Records, Fat Cat and True Thoughts. Also credited with scouting Calvin Harris and working on his debut release “Let Me Know” on PIAS Recordings/ Geniune Records. Also having worked closely with labels and artists in recent years including Felix The Housecat, Mogwai, DJ Format and  Stones Throw Records.

His groundbreaking approach has laid the way for numerous artists to follow and succeed while he has all too often been ignored. Now with his dub armoury fully at the controls his time has surely come. Indeed The Moody Boyz’ ‘Freedom’ single, forthcoming on Studio Rockers, brings Thorpe’s journey full circle with its brilliant dubsonics, echodrop madness, smoke fuelled ghosts and the half remembered thoughts. Another groundbreaking moment from Tony Thorpe – the original dubstep pioneer.

MARTIN JAMES – 2007

(revised by Jacob Neal -2014)