Upfront 016 / March 2, 2015

TB Arthur

41 minutes of over-amped acid and machine breakdowns that’s as brain-frazzling as its back story.

About this mix

During a warehouse clearance, a series of unreleased 12” vinyl test pressings by TB Arthur were given fresh sleeves and offered for sale to Berlin record store Hard Wax. The person representing the material identified themselves as a former partner who was attempting to claw back cash from longstanding debts the artist had left in their wake.

Upon examination, the run out grooves of the test pressings were inscribed "MMMJR" indicating the records were cut at Metropolis Mastering, Chicago: a vinyl cutting facility which had closed at the end of the 90’s.

The recordings had never made it past the test pressing stage due to financial issues. The artist was an unknown, owed people money and had completely dropped out of the scene. It is rumoured that substances had taken their toll, an unfortunate result of the nonstop partying associated with Midwest Rave culture during that era.

The ex-partner is also in possession of a catalogue of unreleased material on DAT master tapes. This material will be made available on vinyl over the coming months – including tracks contained in this mixtape.

Boiler Room says...

The further you look into “TB Arthur” the murkier it all becomes. Rather like the story of the mysterious “Lewis” in a very different area of music, it all seems a bit too perfect. The over-amped analogue machines, the extraordinary psychedelic qualities of the music, the stories of dusty warehouses and hints of distant raves, the messages in run-out grooves like secret messages from times past: it's all so perfectly designed to press the buttons of techno vinyl fetishists it can't be real. Can it?

Our contacts at Hard Wax are not the most communicative – like Hard Wax ever has been, right? But the one thing they have been absolutely emphatic about is that despite forum chatter, this is not some secret project for Adam X, or Shed, or anyone else. To be precise: “TB Arthur is TB Arthur and will remain so despite the speculations”.

Does it matter, anyway? Well not right now, it doesn't. For now – and for the eternal now of the dancefloor – what we have are three 12”s of really outstanding tripped-out machine funk that serve their purpose equally well whether they were made in 1995 or 2015, and whether they were made for fun, for a joke or as an expression of drug psychosis. And there's the promise of more to come, too. Perhaps it will turn out that there really is a dark and tragic tale behind them, perhaps there's a big game going on, or perhaps the background will remain shrouded in mystery. But for now, what we're left with is music that we have to judge entirely without prejudice, and which is good enough to more than justify any cloak-and-dagger shenanigans.

Joe Muggs

Joe Muggs

Joe is a key Boiler Room contributor. As well as years of freelance writing, he has been a compiler, curator and compere, and he drinks a lot of tea.