Dominick Martin’s a little bit of an anomaly in terms of contemporary drum & bass. Having been active and continually releasing music under his Calibre alias since 1998, it feels a little odd in a modern world so besotted with oversharing to think that he’s never had a remix made of his material, nor has ever released a commercial mix CD or ever managed an online presence. He’s one of those artists whose reputation simply precedes him; thanks in a large part to his incredible body of work that covers seven artist albums and countless 12”s, EPs and remixes. Almost as notorious for being a quiet person as much as he is a prolific producer, the Northern Irish musician has always been happy to let his music talk for him and with his unique blend of musicianship and tough, focused percussion garnering him releases on the pick of drum & bass labels, as well as his own Signature imprint, you get the impression that he’ll always be content not to say too much.
But poke at the surface and there’s an incredibly engaging story there; one that centres on one guy’s focus in finding his way through music institutions and social prejudice in a place that he himself admits “wasn’t a very nice place to grow up”.
Releasing his first record on the Dublin-based, U2-owned, Quadrophonic label, the multi-instrumentalist Martin found his feet in the clubs he found there, hooking up with drum & bass scene lynchpin, Fabio, and working closely on material for his Creative Source label - on which he released his landmark, 21-track Musique Concrete album in 2001. Blessed with an ear for perfect pitch, a trait that was recognised from an early age, he’d quickly developed a signature style that retained a kind of musicality that worked as well away from the vigorous climes of the dancefloor.
"This is the first time I’ve ever done a mix CD, so I was a little bit worried about how it would be received because sometimes when you’ve been doing something for so long, it’s hard to work out what people want from you because they all have different periods of work that they identify with. Some of the tunes that are on there, I’ve been playing at fabric over the years to varying degrees of effect. They’re just for me; they’re tunes that I’ve been playing for a long time some of them, so the mix is a representation of my work over the last ten years really." Calibre
It’s an outlook Calibre draws on quite heavily for the duration of FABRICLIVE 68, using his own music and that of his peers to create a mix that’s both reflective of the way that he plays when he DJs and the bafflingly bountiful body of work he’s produced. Including several soulful vocal tracks that are reflective of his background and passion for song-writing, Calibre drops a single track that’s exclusive to the mix with his take on stripped bare d&b on ‘Simple Things’, also adding a couple of sterling examples of him reworking songs, here taking tracks by Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and Bo Saris out of their pop roots and re-imagining them as mournful soul tinged standards alongside pieces like ‘Inner Disbelief’ which hark back to purist jungle.
Leaning on the music of Soul:r boss Marcus Intalex, Exit head honcho dBridge, Lynx and material from DJ Marky’s Innerground label, Calibre weaves the records together more by their key than anything else saying “I wanted it to be a bit more about things that would combine pitch-wise because sometimes DJs don’t have the pitched ear, where I do and I wanted to use that”.