Audio visions of the future, whether galloping day-glo space odysseys or crumbling Philip K Dick-esque dystopian nightmares, have been front and centre within electronic music since near its origins. And although recent years have seen artists from multiple genres looking misty-eyed to halcyon years, mawkishly imagining the 'death of rave' or piecing together second hand memories beneath eighth hand Amen breaks, in suburban St Albans in the mid 1990s it was a wildly different story. Two young teenagers, Jim Baker and Phil Aslett, rigged up cheap synths and rudimentary samplers and started making the most future-facing electronic music around.

Forming close artistic allegiances with fellow St Albans drum & bass maestro Photek, Source Direct focused on sweeping pads, haunting melodies, chest-crushing subs and the most twisted breakbeat work imaginable. They quickly found their tracks being played regularly by LTJ Bukem and, a year or so later, the whole family of DJ's that surrounded the Metalheadz stable. Although the pair only released a few 12"s on 'headz itself, their style of production was intrinsically bound up with the whole 'scene within a scene' that surrounded that iconic label. DJs like Kemistry & Storm, Loxy, Doc Scott and, of course, Goldie regularly played the duo's work at the Sunday Blue Note sessions and also the countless label tours that were undertaken all over the world at the time.

This was music steeped in dark romance; brooding, foreboding and cold, unbearably tense. Check 'Stonekiller' – a colossus of clammy-backed fear, like being stalked through the twisting, flicker-lit basement alleyways of Hong Kong's dilapidated Chungking Mansions by machete-wielding gangsters, through the kitchens with the live hens, past the gambling dens and barbers. Truth be told it's a bloody nightmare of a track, and one that illustrates the fact that, though often black as night, Source Direct never gave into the base nosebleed aesthetics that came to dominate drum & bass just a few years later. Their music was beautiful and, as they scarcely left the studio and were uninterested in pursuing the breakneck DJ schedule of many of their contemporaries, they had the time they needed to craft it to perfection.

But although Source Direct were, and remain, unsurpassed in their ability to conjure dark audio visions, their sound was not one-dimensional. 1996's 'Secret Liaison'/'Complexities' 12", for example, remains one of the most beautifully powerful explorations of time-stretched amen bliss put to vinyl. This was music that took time. It is rare to find a Source Direct tune below six minutes; most surpass eight.

The 12"s rolled on through the late 90s, alongside genre-defining music from like-minded compadres Hidden Agenda, Digital, Ed Rush & Optical, the No U Turn crew and Dillinja. But, as is so often the case with young partnerships, things turned sour once major label pressure and money entered the equation - and in those days the majors were taking a big interest in drum & bass. Tensions came to a head over a deal with Virgin, Aslett and Baker eventually parted ways in 2000.

With a back catalogue such as theirs however, interest has only grown since. A new generation of drum & bass producers, including Blocks and Escher, Ulterior Motive and Om Unit, to name but a few, have drawn audible inspiration from the beauty, cinematic power and ambition of the original Source Direct sound. Outside of that genre, many other artists have also been vocal in their appreciation of the duo's work, not least those affiliated to the Blackest Ever Black stable, such as Raime.

Jim Baker has recently started DJing again as Source Direct and, as anybody who has seen him play in recent years will attest, it is an absolute riot, drawing on classic era jungle, hardcore and all manner else, succinctly joining the dots between styles and eras. However, this is no nostalgia trip - Jim has also recently begun making music again after a near decade-long hiatus.


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March 15, 2016
Absolutely ravenous human beings these fellows! The 90s would've been absolutely DULL without 'em, let me tell you.


June 22, 2015
I'm sure Goldie referred to them as some sort of Cell that mutated from Photek, anyway their releases got cained by anyone and everyone back in the day and I still enjoy playing them.
The thing about SD was the breadth of styles they produced with in D&B, whatever sound they took on they made it their own and surpassed their peers in quality of execution, from dark amen heavy tunes to melodic pad laden chill they nailed it.


July 12, 2013
Under Rupert Parkes expert tutelage, these gents took jungle to a whole new place. Prior to the Source Direct/Photek (and a little bit Doc Scott as well, though not as much), there was a strict dance-ethic. I feel that many of the Source Direct tunes are not (and really never were) dance floor friendly. But that's ok. They are true works of art. They took programming, editing and sequencing to new heights. And when you compare production in any EDM style circa 1995, there was no one creating sequences as complex and precise as Source Direct (and Photek). It really boggles my mind to imagine these complex patterns being made on hardware samplers! Hours and hours and hours of pushing little buttons. Respect.


October 2, 2006
edited over 11 years ago
The kings of editing an "Amen Break" Had a totaly unique sound meaning there tunes were both hard but had depth and musical input. Had releases on all the big labels at the time aswell as there own labels. Would recomend everything they did between 94-96 however be ready to pay as there stuff can be pretty expensive to pick up.


May 28, 2004
The sleeve notes to Platinum Breakz III as well as the artist profile on indicate that Phil Aslett left Source Direct towards the end of 1999, leaving Jim Baker to run proceedings alone. Evolving from Photek's shadow both musically and geographically, Source Direct took drum & bass somewhere dark (darker than No U-Turn's take on the world) with almost disturbing productions combining ill-boding atmospherics with non-standard time beats, breaks, and bass. One of a small number of drum & bass artists to record a full-length album (1999's 'Exorcise The Demons') their standout tracks include 'Capital D' and 'Stonekiller' - the latter comparable to a musical journey though Dante's Inferno.

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