Having utilised a wide variety of different aliases over the past twenty-five years, it’s safe to say that B12 have graced us with some of the finest techno to ever be transmitted from the British Isles: much of which was created during one of the UK’s most fertile and influential periods for electronic music. You might even go as far as saying that Michael Golding and Steve Rutter have left an indelible mark on the very fabric of Britain’s musical landscape, and rightly so. In light of Clock Strikes 13‘s recent Electro Soma showcase, where Steve put on an outstanding performance of the classic Warp Records LP in full, we’ve thrown together a shortlist featuring some of our favourite tracks from their expansive back catalogue.
1. Cmetric – VOID/COMM
Presumably taking its titular cue from Blade Runner‘s Voigt-Kampff machine, Time Tourist is an album filled with science fiction references, many of which are scattered across the album’s packaging. With its atmospheric, soaring percussion and shining synths that are eventually stripped away, the fantastic opener to B12’s second Warp LP, ‘VOID/COMM’ sets the tone for what follows: a rather dystopian vision of the future.
2. Redcell – The Silicon Garden
Also featured on Time Tourist in ’96, a lengthier version of ‘The Silicon Garden’ first appeared a year earlier on a compilation from the short-lived Likemind imprint. Like a deep space voyage through the uncharted cosmos the serene synth washes envelope the subconscious, with Golding and Rutter injecting just enough groove to spur some involuntary head-nodding.
3. Musicology – Satori
The original version of ‘Satori’ that was included on the important Hall Of Mirrors 12” is a fantastic track, although the revamped version on 1993’s Electro-Soma is perhaps more alluring. Extended by a good three minutes or so, the full-length version is e aided by a beautifully haunting sample from ambient mastermind Brian Eno. It relentlessly pervades the mix throughout, lending ‘Satori’ an even more cosmic sense of existential alienation.
4. B12 – New Age
Whilst initially released out on an untitled white label under the Redcell guise back in 1996, it was over 10 years before ‘New Age’ officially saw release as a B12 tune on the Practopia 12”. Its exotic pitch and playful melody conjure images of a futuristic Far East, while its relatively rapid tempo and classy sense of ambience give it a dualistic sensibility and function in that it truly is dance music for both the mind and body.
5. Musicology – Epilion
Unlike our first two picks, ‘Epilion’ was exclusive to the Time Tourist LP. An absolute masterpiece, the shimmering patchwork of mesmerising synth melodies eddy around one another, filling the dark spaces around them like an artificial light source illuminating the inky blackness of space itself. The moment it all comes together around the 4 minute mark is close to perfection.
6. Musicology – Obsessed
With impeccable drum programming and a buoyant groove, ‘Obsessed’ is instantly recognisable – it certainly provoked one of the strongest reactions from the crowd at the aforementioned Electro-Soma showcase. From the tribal nature of the percussion to the sci-fi synths, it’s easy to see why several of Rutter and Golding’s aliases were mistakenly believed to have hailed from Detroit.
7. 2001 – Future Bass Seven
One of Golding and Rutter’s lesser-known projects, the only outing as 2001 arrived on B12 in the shape of their Space Age EP. Just as popular with the hardcore selectors as it was with the techno faithful, ‘Future Bass Seven’ is insistent and infectious, combining rapid-fire drum patterns with searing grooves that will find favour with a lot of feet.
8. Musicology – Preminition
Originally delivered to audiences on the Outlook EP in 1992, Musicology’s ‘Preminition’ also came to the attention of many via its appearance on one of the UK’s most important dance music compilations – Warp’s first and original Artificial Intelligence LP. It’s brilliant B12 fare right from the get-go, this time augmented by an extremely infectious vocal sample that screams “I can’t help myself” right until the very end.
9. B12 – Brownian Motion
‘Brownian Motion’ is the latest material from B12 on this list. taken from 2016’s ‘Transient Life’ EP released back in February, it has all the hallmarks of a vintage B12 cut; hypnotic rhythms and intricate melodies work together to weave a strange sonic tapestry that simultaneously captivates and warps the listener’s mind to no end.
10. Redcell – Practopia
Describing music as “timeless” or “ahead of its time” is pretty cliché, but we would likely run out of superlatives for the best B12 material before finding something more suitable. Well, those phrases certainly apply here. A stunningly delicate ambient composition, ‘Practopia’ has all the hallmarks of a classic B12 cut: spacey, reflective and mesmeric, it ticks all the boxes.