Two Pages album cover
Two Pages

4hero

1998
Talkin' Loud

In the second half of the 1990s DJ Gilles Peterson signed a series of albums to his Talkin’ Loud imprint for Mercury which used modern dance culture as a Trojan horse to bring the deeper, older values of soul, jazz and funk — “grown folks’ music” — to a large, young audience. Masters At Work’s Nuyorican Soul LP did this for house heads, Roni Size Reprazent’s New Forms for drum’n’bass and MJ Cole’s Sincere for UK garage. Most ambitious of all, though, was Two Pages. Only five years before Marc Mac and Dego had been making great, but still raw, rave music — but over 80 minutes here they covered decades of musical history and showed complete mastery of the studio. The record begins with the beat poetry of Philly’s Ursula Rucker, instantly linking it to 70s spiritual jazz, and lavish orchestration (thanks to wayward genius Chris Bowden) and song structures throughout show understanding of the classic arrangements and production of the likes of Isaac Hayes and Rotary Connection’s Charles Stepney. But likewise there is hip hop, there is drum’n’bass, there is production, synthesis and beat manipulation as advanced as anything Dego did in his work on Goldie’s Timeless. While many of the jungle / drum’n’bass generation fixated on Afrofuturism, 4hero embraced past, present and future all at once.

Joe Muggs

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