Hip Hop, Jungle and UK Bass are musical siblings, eternally connected through their cul- tural roots. So it is no coincidence that the heart of KABUKI beats for all of these see- mingly disparate genres. For more than 20 years his music productions covered the full spectrum of beat science, always zeroing in on a particular feeling.
Kabuki began his musical travels during the nineties in Frankfurt as part of the legenda- ry Drum & Bass production outfit Makai. After this, Kabuki released three critically-ac- claimed LPs („Signal to Noise“ in 2004,„Warrior Soul“ in 2010 and „Meditations“ in 2014), as well as a multitude of singles via iconic labels such as V Recordings, Sonar Kollektiv or Reinforced Records. For a while he moved to Tokyo and worked there as composer for video games while touring the world as DJ.
Eventually, he returned home to Frankfurt to recalibrate and experiment with slower tempi and produce abstract Hip Hop instrumentals in the style of J Dilla, Pete Rock or DJ Premier, those very producers that inspired him more than 15 years ago to start writing beats in the first place. The resulting LP called „Meditations“ opened new avenues for Kabuki into the international Hip-Hop scene.
Even though Hip Hop and Bass Music were considered separate entities in the past, thanks to the resurgence of Soundsystem Culture they are now finally coming together: be it through DJs combining Rap vocals with Bass instrumentals, or thanks to veterans like Kabuki, who keeps finding new reference lines between the Black Atlantic and UK Hardcore Continuum: Dancehall-influenced Bass-Tunes, progressive LA Beat science from the Brainfeeder-Camp, the twilight zone between Footwork and Jungle.
Kabuki’s latest EP release titled „Rodinia“ fits perfectly into this concept: 4 tracks that cover the spectrum from Grime to Footwork and Jungle, featuring artists like TT the Artist from Baltimore, Fox from Manchester or Homesick from Toronto – all quadrants, all lev- les.
In 2016 Kabuki started the project New Forms together with dBridge from the influential Exit Records label. For this, they invite like-minded artists to the studio, where they pro- duce a track from scratch in a few hours. This process is streamed on the internet, and on the same evening the resulting track is premiered at a New Forms club event. A New Forms Boiler Room and a vinyl release of the tracks produced during Season One also help to show the full range of this exciting project.
So it’s clear that misty-eyed nostalgia isn’t Kabuki’s thing. Instead, he is more interested in the present and future of electronic music. And more than style and esthetics he is in pursuit of the elusive element that keeps it all moving: the soul.
© Stephan Szillus – Berlin, 16.09.2014 (Updated 23.05.2017)