Props to Taxman: not just a heavyweight drum & bass producer, not just a blisteringly tight DJ… He’s also managed to single-handedly give one of the most loathed and feared professions a positive spin. Trust us; when this revenue collector comes knocking, you welcome him with open arms.
This year he’s knocking hard: last month saw the release of his biggest single to date. Shattering any illusions that he’s only good for gnarly basslines, Rebirth is a shimmering roller laden with unfettered soul. Featuring Diane Charlemagne, D&B’s premier vocalist since day dot, it shows a whole new side to the man who took his name from a Total Science record.
This month will see him develop this broader, more extensive sound with his debut album Synthetic Visions. Released this week on Hype and Pascal’s genre-defining Playaz brand, it’s the result of two years hard work and establishes him as the bona fide A-list drum & bass artist we’ve always suspected to him to be. We called him up to find out more about him, his album and, randomly, a bad dream…
“All music I grew up with was synthetic,” reveals the artist more conventionally known as Dominic Tindill. “My parents played Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and things like that, but my own personal musical experiences – especially growing up throughout the 80s – were synthetic. It was all very sci-fi and technological. All the main music I like is synthetic and made from machines. The fact you can make these sounds and create these feelings straight from box is beautiful, really. All these sounds you can make from scratch… How amazing is that?”
Suddenly the title of Synthetic Visions makes even more sense. Suddenly Taxman’s entire repertoire makes even more sense. But don’t go thinking he was born to be nothing but an electronic music producer; before his brother – fellow D&B athlete Original Sin – anointed him in the dark art of drum & bass jungle, Dominic was actually a BMX rider. Swapping bikes for beats, listening to Synthetic Visions you realise he made the right career choice…
“Listening to all my favourite albums – the way they were put together and the way they made a whole sound across the album – you could tell there was a signature. That had a big influence on me,” he explains, citing seminal works such as Leftfield’s Leftism and Jonny L’s Sawtooth as key albums. “When I get an album I listen to it over and over again and really soak it in. That’s the experience I hope people enjoy from my album. I want it to show me from every angle.”
With complete understanding of the synthetic part of the album title, now we move to the vision aspect. It turns out Dominic has synaesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that naturally wires certain sounds to particular colours and shapes.
“It’s totally natural,” he explains. “I instantly see shapes and colours when I hear the sounds. My brother’s got it as well, so when we’re working together I’ll say ‘we need more red’ and he’ll know what I mean. It’s like a special language or code. I really love films and soundtracks and I don’t know if synaesthesia has created that strong relationship because the sound and images are so entwined but it’s something I’ve always had.”
For example, the track Rebirth to Dominic is fluorescent green with big splashes of yellow from the strings.
With two years of writing work and two weeks of head scratching arrangement and fine-tuning decisions, it’s only natural Synthetic Visions would play a large role in Taxman’s dreams. Just not quite in the way he expected. Last month he dreamt his album was released in the rare and highly collectable sausage format. And he wasn’t happy about it.
“I remember them all on the grill. They were packaged with the album artwork and everything. I was really angry because some of them didn’t taste right!” he laughs. “I love cooking, especially Italian food, but I rarely eat sausages… They’re no good for you. I don’t know man; I must have gone to bed hungry I guess!”
You can insert your own banger joke here.
Synthetic Visions is out March 3 on Playaz. Don’t sleep on it.