Secret Operation – 15 Years Of Secret Operations LP – [Review]

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Secret Operations was established in 2002, and has seen numerous hits and Drum & Bass anthems adored by many heads. Seba, the label’s sole owner and founder has decided to commemorate a 15 year old milestone with this release.

It is a musical journey of the label spanning eighteen tracks, with the majority (nine to be exact) of them being Seba’s solo works. The rest are collaborations with other notable artists such as Paradox and vocalist, Robert Manos who have evidently been his favourite musicians to work with in all those years in his career. There is one song included in the compilation where all three are together is ‘Wake Up Call’. There is also collaborations that were done with the likes of Physics; Lenk; Krazy; and Method One featured in the mix. As for the exclusion of the main man behind Secret Operations, there are a couple of done by namely; Resound with ‘Second Thoughts’; and ‘Call To Arms’ which is a joint effort by Andy Scopes and Mr Joseph. Some of the favourites to peep are ‘Forever’; ‘Say You Love Me’; ‘Fire Like This’; amongst others. The album kicks off with ‘Pieces’ and ends with ‘Stasis’ respectively.

Of course, these are tunes from the early years, to stuff that’s recent, and all they have in common is that they are all classical in every respect of the word. We, at BFTR HQ would like to send a huge shout out to Secret Operations, and wish them fifteen more years and beyond.

Words by: Tsheola Asavela

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Fokuz Recs – Seba – Sweet Magnolia EP – [Review]

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The Swedish Drum & Bass legend and icon comes through with a double dose of sweetness, compliments of Fokuz Recordings. If not mistaken, it is Seba’s first noted release for the year.

The release is titled Sweet Magnolia EP, and it features the well-known, harmonic vocals of Jenna G whose voice is as sweet as honey. The song is named ‘Sweet Magnolia’, after the title of the EP and I must say that, it does not come as a surprise that it is a really good tune considering Jenna’s hit infested track record; and Seba’s similar and pioneering career. It doesn’t get more soulful and sweeter than this; how Jenna’s lyrics describe the beauty of this music through comparison to the magnolia flower and the ocean; and how the song cruises on the laid-back piano notes.

The other tune to sweeten those ears is ‘A Little Closer’ which, possesses Seba’s recognisable, distinct production style in the form of the atmospheric pads and bass line; behind a pattern of clean, crisp drums. The layout is straightforward and uncomplicated thus, flows easily, especially for virgin ears. My favourite part of the song is when it breaks for the interval (from the 3’40’’) where; the background atmospherics take centre stage for a while and then; the high-end filtered drums take over; and lead straight to the quick drop. Also, there are some vocals herein that sound dreamy and sensually hypnotic.

I quote from Jenna G: “… It’s only Sweet Magnolia; follow the track to the ocean. Rising high in symphony; beautiful, you and me”, enough said.

I guarantee that, listeners will not be disappointed with Sweet Magnolia EP that, it is unfair that is only just two tracks. If you love your cool, calm, and collected D&B then, this wonderful double-single is for you. It is a definite classic.

Words By:  Tsheola ‘Vagabond Asavela

http://inkpunkblog.wordpress.com

Seba [Secret Operations] Interview (2015)

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Sebastian ‘Seba’ Ahrenberg has been amongst the biggest influences in the Drum & Bass scene then, and still is now. He has quite a handful of releases that have moved the masses throughout the years. To cut to the chase, we at BFTR asked the Secret Operations boss a few things…

1. Before we go anywhere… kindly tell us, what inspired the naming of your label Secret Operations?

It was actually the name of a night I was promoting in Stockholm back in the 90’s. We called it Secret Operations because the music was a bit unknown back then, so the people that came to our events was almost like a secret society.

2. Before the Seba that we know came about, how was life in Stockholm for Sebastian Ahrenberg?

I became “Seba” in mid 90’s. I was in my twenties and life was pretty much like most people in my age. I was a middle class kid, with a passion for music. I started using music equipment at the age of 15, stating with my Atari computer, a synthesizer and a drum-machine. I eventually bought a sampler and got in to using breakbeats in my music. It added another level to the production.

3. And please add briefly, by explaining a factor or two that has given Secret Operations the strength to rise, towards its re-establishment and growth after re-emerging in 2004?

Secret Operations was first used in recording purpose in 1999 when I compiled the compilation “Case one”. At this time I was under pressure from the record label that I had an exclusive recording agreement with, and got the opportunity to set up Secret Operations. But it was not entirely managed by me, so eventually it got buried. But I got in touch with a distribution company in UK in 2002, and we decided to setup Secret Operations as my own platform for releases. This is what I consider the start of my own label.

4. Now, coming to your music and artistic persona as whole, what is the main drive behind the creation of your music, besides the love and passion you have for the genre and the culture? For example; for some people it’s past experiences; or current situations; for others, it might be a special something or someone; etc. what is it for you?

I get inspired from other types of music. Mostly Techno and Jazz, but also other types. Sometimes even pop music. I also get inspired from going to a dnb event and hearing some ground-breaking music being played. Not necessarily specific tracks, but the effect and impact certain music has on massive sound system. This kind of inspiration however, is become less frequent. I can find inspiration in movies, games, seasons and other things that have an impact on my life. The music I make is deep and emotional, and things that affect me as a person will also affect my music.

5. Your 2004 release ‘Steel Feat. Robert Manos/Piemo For B’ [Paradox Music – PM04] is amongst the main influences that started, schooled, built and shaped a handful of Junglists, in a small township called Daveyton, somewhere in South Africa… May you please take a trip back in time, and reminisce about the inspiration behind those tracks, and how you felt (or still feel) and/or what they mean or meant to you, since well they mean a lot to some people especially, those who listen to your music.

This was around a time when I’ve taken a step away from drum&bass because it became something I didn’t like. I was uninspired to write anything between 2000 and 2004, but drum&bass is my curse. I can’t stop even if wanted to. I made a string of tracks with a bit more emotional depth than the more grimy noise that came out. I also teamed up with Paradox who had the same philosophy about music as I did.

6. This October sees the release of ‘Jungle Music’, the 24th release by your stable, which consists of two singles; as well as two more singles under the label Warm Communications. Both are indeed good listens, question is, is there anything else yet to come out before we conclude 2015?

No. I have some releases lined up for Soul:r, Commercial Suicide, Samurai and of course Secret Operations. I also have a track on the next Liquicity compilation.

7. Outside the D&B genre, is there any artist(s) out there that you would you like to collaborate with right now? If so, who may that possibly be?

I don’t really have time for collaborations. I have 6hr day-job as an assistant in school for children with social disabilities, so I use all my time I can get to sit in the studio for myself.

8. What is jamming in Seba’s playlist at the moment? Name only a few artists (strictly D&B).

I don’t listen to a lot of dnb. Artists I rate are paradox, Loxy, Gremlinz, Calibre…among others.

9. Should we expect any new agents signing up/releasing under Secret Operations in the dawn of the coming year? If so, please spill the beans.

The label is primarily for my own productions. But if I find music I like, then I’m willing to put it out.

10. And lastly, if you had to project the future of Drum & Bass as a genre, where do you think it will be in the next say, twenty years?

It will stand firm. It is a form of music that can’t be mistaken. It will evolve in different directions, but it will still have its own identity.

Thanks for sharing with us, BFTR wishes you and Secret Operations all the best for the remainder of the year, and beyond. Peace.

Interviewed By: Tsheola ‘Vagabond’ Asavela
The Ink Punk.

Secret Operations – Seba – Mesmerise EP – [Review]

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Following his 2013 release titled ‘Identity’, the much renowned Swedish Drum & Bass legend left us for only a short time, just so that he can come back again; and recruit the listeners for another Secret Operations project.
Mesmerise EP is what Seba has to offer us in this first trimester of 2014. As usual, he does what he does best, timeless; classical D&B that does exactly what the title of this EP says.

Mesmerise is a four-track EP which consists of four neatly produced joints, kick-starting with some deep; hypnotising sounds of ‘Mesmerism’, which welcome the listener with a magician’s confidence. The slow rolling of the drum patterns, together with the mysteriously eerie elements, is able to invoke a sense of relaxed curiosity, on what’s to come next…
Physickl’ is a “get down and just move your body” track, which expresses the transition from being hypnotised in the first track, to dancing and letting loose now. Here, Seba presented the fan and the Disc Jockey alike, with a perfect party starter that can blend really well with almost any Jump-Up; or Liquid set. The seemingly fading in and out pad creates a heavy atmosphere, right before an exhaling voice asks “Wanna get physical (physickl)?” and next thing you know the kicks are kicking; and the claps are clapping hard; as the simple, yet heavy bass ushers the track forward. To cut a long story short, this one here is for the DJs who want to make sure they win the crowd from the get-go.
Track number 3 is simply titled ‘Life Is’. The opinion could be that, it mentally takes one on a reflective journey throughout one’s life, probably parallel to the beloved Jungle/D&B genre/culture. Whichever the case, this is one of those songs that have the potential of sentiment in one’s life. This song waves the flag of Intelligence, and it has soul on a deeper plane. This is Seba at his finest, reminiscent of some of the stuff he dropped in his Goodlooking days; as well as his return to D&B under Secret Operations which he owns. Besides being a versatile artist of finesse, Sebastian Ahrenberg’s true style is shown in productions such as this song- soulfully dark; deep; and possessing elevating elements of pure emotion and thought.
Lastly, but definitely not least, the EP is concluded with aggro-nasty vibes with ‘Science Fiction’. The deep bass (of course), just growls and swallows the ear with its well-cut; nicely adjusted EQs. On the other hand, you find the drums to be aggressive as well, even until the last moments, this track maintains its aggressive relentlessness, until the moment the once powerful bass line starts retreating into the abyss; then the outro abruptly cuts without much of a predictable warning… Overall, the track is sheer bliss for the hard-core Junglist, and not for feather-weight amateurs who only know Seba for his more chilled stuff.

Mesmerise is yet another clean and on-point project from Secret Operations. All-time Seba fans will not be disappointed; and the new fans will grasp a minimally summarised insight into understanding his unique sound, such as the signature feels of his bass lines.
The project is undeniably a great start to the year for this well renowned veteran.

Words by: Ink Punk

Release: March 2014

Warm Comms Records – Seba / Blu Mar Ten – Shades Of Me & You / Never Let you Go (Remix) – [Review]

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As the last bits of summer are dying out in the UK one can still find them resonating in the latest offering from Warm Comms imprint in the likes of Swedish producer Seba, coupled with a remix on one of his tunes by Blu Mar Ten. As ‘Seba‘ makes his comeback on digital store shelves ever so subtle in his forte of liquid productions, the ‘A’ side of this release is a classy “Shades of Me and You” that carries a depth of feeling with luxuriant pad work and delicate female vocals that give a warm brush of air. Warmth is the order of this track inspiring intimate like emotions…

On the flip, the ‘AA’ is a stunning remix of “Never Let You Go” by ‘Blu Mar Ten’ maximisimg the atmospheric nature of this track. Definitely with added BMT signature work on that narcotic mellower take leaving the appeasing vocals that solidify this composition into a stunner of a track. Meticulous design all in all. This is music with a texture

Release Date: August 19