Drum and bass, dub and dubstep from a true original.
Last month, Dominick Martin revealed his latest album would be a collection of 140 BPM tracks he's been writing the past few years. In 2019, he put out an ambient album, and three years before that, he released an LP of house music. All the while, his usual drum & bass records arrived apace, including the ongoing Shelflife series, of which he's releasing a seventh volume of later this year. All of that is to say that the Irish producer can make whatever kind of music he sets his mind to, which wouldn't be so impressive if his signature—and wonderful—sound didn't shine through so clearly in everything he does.
Drum & bass fans will know that style well: lifelike bass, sighing melodies, sculpted drums and a brush of baroque instrumentation. His music carries deeply felt emotion in all its forms, something you can particularly hear on albums like Planet Hearth. He's one of the most consistent drum & bass producers in the game. 16 albums in and over 20 years later and no one in the scene has come close to touching his sound.
It feels increasingly wrong to call Martin a drum & bass producer, however, something that his RA Podcast makes clear. Meant as a preview of sorts for new 140 BPM album Feeling Normal, it's made up mostly of originals. (Make sure you check for that Mark Ernestus dub edit.) Starting off ambient and heading through the 140 BPM pulses of that LP—soulful dubstep, garage and vocal tracks—the mix ends with the beloved drum & bass that has been delighting his fans for decades. Martin is a true original, and this is him at his best.
What have you been up to recently?
Moving to Berlin from Cologne, I am just starting to recover now. I had my makeshift studio up and running pretty quickly though, so I have been doing some work here for the first time, some great record shops nearby, so with that combo I am happy enough.
How and where was the mix recorded?
Here in Berlin (Kreuzberg) on a Pioneer mixer hooked up to an old Mac with a combination of vinyl and digital.
Can you tell us the idea behind the mix?
It's a presentation of my work related to the Feeling Normal album which is featured in the mix. I have been working around this tempo, at 140 BPM, since I started making electronic music, and it has a relationship with tempos above and below so it's really open in a
creative sense. The mix also features some ambience at the start and some drum & bass at the end to showcase my last release in the Shelflife series and a track from the forthcoming Shelflife 7 LP.
Your new album is a fully 140 BPM record. When did you start working in this tempo, and why did you feel like now was the right time for a full album?
So the title track from the album was written on Valentia Island [in Ireland] around seven years ago. I think some tracks when they are created tend to sit alone until other material comes along, so after the album Grow came out on The Nothing Special I wanted to refine what I had done and focus on that. Along with Cimone and DRS contributing vocals, its taken all that time to put it together and finalize the ideas.
What's your musical process like? You release so many different kinds of records—drum & bass, house, downtempo, etc. Do you sit down and decide to write a house tune, or do you just see what comes out?
When it comes to the studio I feel like I am someone there to learn. I tend to feel my way into it, I don't have any particular method other than working rather quickly and impulsively, in doing so I create a flow which allows me to discover things quickly and keep moving to the picture which forms. It feels the same across different genres so I am comfortable working with anything I like.
What are you up to next?
Next I'll be working on the Shelflife 7 album to come out later this year, we have other work to come with collaborations and remixes, plus look out for some releases related to the Feeling Normal album, which comes out on the 26th of February.