Semtex (20th Anniversary Edition)


Double LP version. On the occasion of the 2016 20th anniversary of The Third Eye Foundation's 1996 debut album Semtex, one of the most influential drum and bass albums of its time, it is worth revisiting the career of Matt Elliott, its composer. Elliott was not even 16 when he decided to stop his studies and devote himself to his passion for music. He got a job at the famous Revolver Records in Bristol (profiled in Richard King's 2015 book Original Rockers, which explains how the shop influenced the spread of indie music and especially trip hop) and began DJing in Bristol clubs, though he wasn't old enough to be there legally. Beginning as The Third Eye in 1993, he appeared on albums by Movietone and Flying Saucer Attack and started his own band, Linda's Strange Vacation, with Kate Wright and Rachel Brook; he also used the band's name for his micro-label, on which he released the first songs from The Third Eye Foundation. In 1995, Elliott was one of the very few artists involved in the tribute album for the famous US krautrock duo Silver Apples, Electronics Evocations. He was then invited to open for them on their US reunion tour. By the age of 20, Elliott had already been involved in nearly every area of the music industry. But the story was only just beginning. In 1996, he finally released his first album as The Third Eye Foundation, Semtex, on his own label, with support from Domino (the beginning of a longstanding collaboration). Recorded in a squat Elliott shared with Matt Jones from Crescent on a four-track recorder borrowed from Dave Pearce from Flying Saucer Attack and mixed with headphones at excessive volume (resulting in permanent hearing loss at around three kHz), Semtex is brutal and uncompromising. Featuring a mix of noisy, ripped-up guitars and hectic drum machines, with Debbie Parsons's vocals on some songs, it is the antithesis of electronic dancefloor music. It branded its style into Elliott's discography, in which social unrest, loneliness, political confusion, anger, and anti-establishment feelings are regular themes. This deluxe 20th-anniversary reissue includes eight previously unreleased tracks, mostly recorded on cassettes between 1991 and 1997 and all remastered by Anders Peterson. This expanded document testifies to the corrosive never-say-die attitude of The Third Eye Foundation. Play very loud (bearing in mind the risk of ending up completely shattered by music of such rare scope and scale).