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Experimental jungle producer Tom Withers is one of the more pigeonhole-proof of the London drum'n'bass set. Releasing tracks primarily as Klute and Override, his talent for composing the most relentlessly exploratory of tracks within the language of dancefloor drum'n'bass (as opposed to artful noodlers such as Plug, Mung, and Squarepusher) has played a role in pushing jungle beyond the more loopy confines of its "ambient" and "jazzy jungle" offshoots. While somewhat classifiable as an ambient junglist himself, Withers' tracks flit about with such pace and contradiction as to distance his work from the more manageable output of artists such as Alex Reece and LTJ Bukem. A guitarist in the semi-legendary British punk band the Stupids before finding the next level of extreme in the exploding hardcore (as in, hardcore techno) underground, Withers released a few spotty white-labels of straight-ahead dancefloor fare in the early '90s before settling into experimental breakbeat by 1993.
Withers' path through the labyrinth of underground labels -- from Certificate 18, Deep Red, and Octopus to Crammed subsidiaries Selector and Language -- brings his two most distinctive characteristics into focus; complicated, disjointed rhythms and tense, often melancholy melodic themes. While darkness constitutes an important component of many of his tracks (particularly his Certificate 18 and Octopus singles), it's often paired with a lighter, more dynamic thrust that gives his tunes an almost epic feel. Withers' Selector releases as Phume (together with Dave Campbell, ex-Hi-Ryze) are lighter still, with elements of techno and house combining with jungle's brisker BPMs. In addition to his regular schedule of twelves, Withers' production resume includes remix work for Sumosonic and Octopus labelmates Stranger (aka Inky Blacknuss), as well as releases as Tongue, Tom Tom, and Dr. No. Casual Bodies, released in 1998, was his first full-length. [See Also: Override] ~ Sean Cooper
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