Silicone soul

Since first appearing on Scotland’s seminal Soma label in 1998, DJ-production duo Craig Morrison and Graeme Reedie, aka Silicone Soul, have occupied a special place in the over-crowded field of electronic dance music, mainly through the depth and quality of their recordings plus innate understanding of music’s grand heritage and its constant development.

Silicone Soul is the perfect name to describe the way they cajole then sculpt every sonic ingredient from their machines with maximum care and emotion. They’ve always turned their heads away from vacuous trends to follow their passion and instincts, famously turning down Top Of The Pops for their 2001 top ten hit ‘Right On’ but happy in the knowledge that every single they release kicks off in the underground clubs; esoteric, melodically-textured and underpinned by a compulsive, euphoric throb harking back to the earliest days of disco. Over the course of four albums, the pair have turned the often tricky task of making a substantial electronic dance album into an art form, partly by remembering what made classic albums happen and last in the first place.

Craig and Graeme met at school but didn’t just rise from the rave, instead cutting their musical teeth on original punk ructions by The Stooges and MC5, while recognising the groundbreaking innovations of the Rolling Stones and soul pioneers such as Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield (whose ‘Right On For The Darkness’ provided a blueprint for their ‘Right On 4 Tha Darkness’). In the late 80s-early 90s the duo became justifiably addicted to the interstellar, drugged-out soul of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica and its attendant Andrew Weatherall remixes. When they heard Slam’s Orde and Stuart venting such at the first night of their Soma club at Glasgow’s Arches, the potential and euphoria of electronic dance music drenched their musical ambitions, leading to them setting up their own independent record label called Depth Perception in late 1996 (which included an early song called ‘Silicone Soul’). These releases caught the ears of Soma supreme Dave Clarke and Slam, who had started Soma at the start of the decade and, even then were counted among the top UK dance labels with a formidable roster. An underlying punk ethic has always been at the heart of Slam and Soma, which was enough to convince Craig and Graeme that this was the right label for them.

Silicone Soul’s first Soma releases were ‘The Strip’ followed by ‘All Nite Long’ (their love of the Stones emerging in the title of third track,’ Midnite Rambler‘) in 1998, followed by ‘Right On 4 Tha Darkness’ in 1999 with further 12-inches including ‘Nosferatu’, ’The Answer’, ’Seven Day Weekend’, ‘Inferno’, ‘The Poisoner’s Diary’, ‘Under A Werewolf Moon’, ‘Damascene Moments’, ‘The Pact’, ‘The Snakecharmer’, ‘Bad Machines’ and ‘The Pulse’. Silicone Soul have released four critically acclaimed albums (All on Soma) …A Soul Thing [2000], Staring into Space [2005], Save Our Souls [2006] and Silicone Soul [2009].

Early on, each release became an event; guaranteed carnage at sweaty clubs and while the albums made headily compulsive home listening as panoramic visions in their own right. Their tracks could be deep and exotic or roof raising in wild pitch style, while the sense of infinite space betrayed their fixation with Temptations producer Norman Whitfield.

Having already established themselves as one of the most constantly surprising, thrilling and respected outfits in electronic dance music, Silicone Soul launched their alternative dream machine Darkroom Dubs in 2003 with ‘I Need To Freak’ under the pseudonym of Astrocats, but also needed this extra outlet to accommodate the new unknowns regularly winging their way and deserving of exposure. After scoring success in its first years with names such as Jet Project, Martinez, The Spirals, Anthony Collins and Mirror Music, more were added to the roster in 2008, when Darkroom Dubs underwent a revamp/relaunch, including Gary Beck and Sei A. More recent recruits include Of Norway, Freska, Klartraum, Jairo Catelo, Antonio Olivieri, Luc Ringeisen, Edu Imbernon Terje Saether, Kiki, Robag Wruhme and Alex Niggemann.

Silicone Soul also Dj extensively, leaving indelible footprints anywhere from Murmansk to Melbourne, while holding residences at Barcelona’s La Terrrazza, Antwerp’s Café D’Anvers and Pressure, Slam’s current club at The Arches where it all began.

In 2009, they received two nominations in DJ Mag’s Best Of British awards (Best Album, Best Producer). Their accompanying praise cited, ‘a name that encapsulates the marriage of the synthetic and the sincere at the heart of their music…not only one of Scotland’s most exciting and challenging dance acts, but Britain and beyond.’

2010 saw remix EP’s from their last Soma album and label compilation ‘Darkroom Dubs Volume 2 Complied & Mixed By Silicone Soul’, a second collection of exclusive, unreleased and favourite tracks from their label, which stands tall as one of the year’s best musical journeys. It was according to Craig, « A real snapshot of the label’s music, philosophy and intent. » A Mixmag Compilation of the Month. Even as I said so myself in DMC Update: « Silicone Soul’s Darkroom Dubs imprint has long been the ultimate bastion of the deepest electronic dance music bathed in the aural anarchy of acid house and relentlessly jaw dropping in its output… »

In 2011, while becoming a mainstay of the UK’s most influential techno label culminating in their Dj mix compilation, ‘20 Years Of Soma Records’. They celebrated the 50th Darkroom Dubs release, headed by a full-pelt Silicone Soul behemoth called ‘Alive From The Opium Den‘, which could be the best excursion yet into the boys’ heliocentric world. Backed with the equally-hallucinogenic ‘Time Mariner‘s Mirrour‘.

There’s an emotional depth and subtle cinematic mischief running through Silicone Soul’s music of a sort rarely glimpsed in electronic dance music. They’ve never copied the afore-mentioned musical heroes, but that same indefinable spirit which drove them seems to have taken root in their creative juice dispenser, alive and knocking on house heaven’s door.