Music offers those friendly reminders

Album Cover for MMII, a collection by John Digweed

I’m uncertain of the year. It was around the turn of the millennium. Late 2001, maybe. I was in London, in a basement flat. It was deep into the early hours of the morning, and I had been up for a while. I would say “awake” rather than “up” but for the fact that I had earlier fallen asleep in a nightclub after a day of heavy eating and drinking at a friend’s stag do. The stag and I have rather fallen out of touch now, and the marriage was not destined for longevity.

In truth, I don’t remember much of the day. There was a flight to London, dinner at a Mexican restaurant, where I asked the Mariachi band to play “Ace of Spades.” There was the aforementioned nightclub where the Vodka-Red-Bull “wake up juice” had the inverse effect.

I do, however, remember very clearly who I was with, and what was playing. It was MMII, a then-new collection by John Digweed. (Editor’s note: This would likely make the year 2002, then). The first track, “Pollon” by Lonely Planet just blew my over-tired, alcohol-saturated mind. I bought the album as soon as I returned home.

The people I was with were Adam and Gavin. Two university friends who met somehow but bonded over a love of music. They became editors of the music section of the student newspaper, which is how I got to know them.

The section editor would sullenly cooperate until it was done or there had been a brutal murder

Every other Sunday afternoon, we’d meet in an office atop the Student Union, and they would provide words and pictures for me to arrange onto the page. Usually this was a drab affair where the relevant section editor fronted up with not enough (or way waay too much) content, and a bunch of pictures eminently unsuited to newspaper use. The section editor would then sullenly cooperate with the process until the page was laid out or there had been a brutal murder, whichever came first. The working metric was one hour per page.

Not so with Adam and Gavin. They knew their stuff. They had a real breadth of knowledge of music and they absolutely loved it. They’d done their work, and they had energy. Working with them wasn’t really like working. We had a laugh and shit got done. Two pages inside the hour, easy. Smashed it.

Graduation rolled around and we all went our separate ways, but those afternoons were some of the happiest memories of my time at University.

We gathered back together in London (where Adam was by then living) for the stag do. He was putting me up for the night. I guess Gavin must have been staying there also. After the club, MMII was playing, and the always inadvisable “just one beer before bedtime” was being consumed. And a link between that album and those two jokers was cemented in my brain. I listened to it often

Fast forward 17 years…

Standing at Edinburgh Airport’s Gate 6, and Spotify Discover fires up this tune. I find myself back in that London flat. The confident beat, insistent piano bassline, and synth stylings over the top created a compelling, clean instrumental sound that took me right back to Pollon’s Lonely Planet. And with that, back to those two jokers (not so much any more, one is a lawyer and the other is a financial trainer).

It wasn’t the same tune, not even the same principle artist, but the flavour was right there. Tachyon Return, by John Digweed was in my ears. The link with recent favourites was there – I had been listening to a lot of Three Drives, Chemical Brothers, and DT8 Project – at the time. But the feel of the tune, that was pure MMII.

Cover artwork for Tachyon Return, by John Digweed

As I boarded my flight, I was full of the happy memories of those days at the Student Newspaper. And whenever I listen to it (which, according to Spotify, I do a lot), I think of those guys again. A new musical link has been formed.

As the guys at Marantz say, because music matters