Over the past three years a London-based duo known as The Advent have been asserting themselves as an enigmatic deviation
away from the contemporary dance music norm, while still maintaining a strong dancefloor ethic that's hard to deny let alone
avoid. With other producers such as Luke Slater, Cristian Vogel, Russ Gabriel, Neil Landstrumm and Tony Childs (aka Surgeon),
they've been at the forefront of the UK's more progressive techno tangents and helped to redefine that country's grasp of
the sound and style of electronic dance music. Along the way The Advent have unleashed a string of singles, a remix EP and
two albums that are as much inspired by the legacies of Detroit and European techno's underground flourishes as they are by
the basic concepts of electro, minimalism and a strong funk ethic. All this has culminated in a global tour this year that's
already taken in cities as far afield as Moscow, Munich and Tokyo and is about to include Melbourne.
As a working project The Advent is the collaborative
brainstorming of (Fran)Cisco Ferreira and Colin McBean; together they produce a soundscape that's occasionally eclectic and
lo-fi, that veers towards minimalism without stripping away the funk. Typically there's an undercurrent of echoing breakdowns
interlinked with sweeping chord breaks and a definite tendency towards nu-skool electro.
The guys themselves have been heard to describe their
music - in less words - as "Motor City Martian techno oxy-torched into a galactic bass blast electro whirlpool." After the
recent release of their second album in April - titled 'A New Beginning' - does such a description still apply?
"Yeah, but forget the Motor City part," Cisco asserts,
"because everyone likes to associate with Detroit, whereas everything we do has nothing to do with Detroit - we live in London,
our vibe is from London . . . Detroit for me is very old techno that's very soulful; we don't do soul, we do very funky tunes."
How then would the protagonists themselves describe
their music in 1997? It's Colin who answers first. "Funky for the mind, via the floor, man. First of all the groove will lick
you, you know, and it might take awhile but when you get into the groove you'll realise it's strong and that you're caught
in a trap. Then it'll fuck with your mind. The funk elements in our music appeal to the old and the young, the black and the
white. It's there for everyone."
"The Advent stands for E-Funk," quips Cisco. "It stands
for Electronic Funk."
"Yeah, we just make music, but it's good funky music
- that's our main criteria," Colin concludes.
Capturing this stance, let alone the musical sensation
that comes with it, has been a long time coming.
While their shared project called The Advent has been
in existence for only three years, both Cisco Ferreira, age 27, and Colin McBean, age 36, have been around for the long haul.
Cisco worked as a sound engineer at Middle Street Studios in London at the same time as Traxx were bringing over US artists
such as Derrick May, Marshall Jefferson and Fingers Inc, giving him exposure to all these people and their peers during the
pre-natal stages of the dance music explosion in the late 80's. After hooking up with CJ Bolland and R&S Records at the
turn of the decade, Cisco is credited with helping to pioneer the Euro-techno sounds of 1991/92 by co-writing Bolland's 'Nightbreed',
'The 4th Sign' and 'Camargue' as well as releasing his own compositions under the alias of Space Opera.
Concurrently his future partner Colin had graduated
from a fashion course and subsequently worked with the likes of Zandra Rhodes and Issey Miyake; on an ulterior level he was
DJing around the traps and boasted an almost encyclopedic knowledge of music that covered the broad genres of techno, indie,
jazz, reggae and dub.
It was in 1990 that Cisco and Colin first came together
to work with Fade To Black for the release of 'Bio Rhythms 2' on Network, then they combined to produce Salt Tank's 'ST1'
and 'ST2'. In 1994 Cisco signed with Internal Recordings and along with Colin formed The Advent.
After a series of limited edition singles the duo released
their debut album called 'Elements Of Life' towards the end of 1995, which Mixmag subsequently described as 'majestic, beguiling,
bloody magnificent . . ..', while Select declared it 'has enough kick in it to take on Jackie Chan'.
That album in turn paved the way for last year's equally
startling 'Shaded Elements' remix EP which featured a virtual who's who of contemporary techno doing the remixing thing -
people like Luke Slater, Surgeon, Carl Cox, Mark Bell from LFO, Cari Lekebusch, Joey Beltram, Damon Wild and Steve Bicknell.
"These guys are all like our mates, our bros," advises
Cisco in a matter-of-fact tone. "We wanted to make 'Shaded Elements' something you could enjoy playing as well as DJing, and
instead of getting just one main guy to do the mixes we asked a few. These were the guys we thought would be best to do the
remixes of our material, so we got all of them to do it. There's something for everybody there."
Defying the norm, the critical accolades have continued
unabated. When The Advent's second album 'New Beginning' was released in April this year it achieved Album Of The Month status
in Eternity and glowing reviews in various other music publications around the world.
"We knew that the tracks on 'New Beginning' were going
to work because before we released it people had been going ape-shit whenever we performed them live," says Cisco. "That was
always a good test to see if the music worked."
Remixing is another sideline the duo have excelled with,
putting through the wringer tracks by people like Joey Beltram, Adam Beyer, Darren Price, New Order, Commander Tom and Empirion.
"Remixing gives us the chance to say something different," Colin analyses. "You know what The Advent stands for, but when
you get down to someone else's work you can really test the waters and change the formula." Cisco sees it another way: "You
also give those tracks The Advent ingredient - you've got to add the juice."
Apart from their new album and various remixes, Colin
and Cisco have also completed an EP for Dave Angel's Rotation imprint and contributed two tracks for the Sony Playstation
game of the Manga anime 'Ghost In The Shell' which also features music by Joey Beltram, Hardfloor, Claude Young and Fumiya
Tanaka. "There's been quite a lot of work really," remarks Cisco, "but we're happy about that at the moment."
When it comes to other artists Colin and Cisco are keen
to follow, reference if not reverence is freely given not only to all the individuals involved in the remixes on 'Shaded Elements',
but Dave Angel, Ian Pooley, Japan's Fumiya Tanaka and "people like Cristian Vogel, this up-and-coming group called Outline,
and anybody else who might come through - we DJ as well so we like to keep an eye on new stuff as well as records by established
artists like [Jeff] Mills."
The subject turns to music made in Australia, and here
the guys have their own question: "Are Juice Records still producing stuff?" asks Cisco. "I liked a lot of their stuff."
Colin pipes up: "I like their Dirty House records -
it's very, very rough and it fucking rocks!"
Cisco agrees: "Yeah! . . . and IF? Records as well.
It's good to hear something coming out of Australia that's very up-to-date. That's the good thing about music these days -
the way it's becoming such a global thing and it doesn't matter where you come from." Here he can't resist adding one very
pertinent point: "And you guys are really lucky - you have the beaches!"
It's left to Colin to close the conversation. "There's
a note on the back of our first album that says that techno is a global music that cannot or should not be ignored - and now
how true that is with the way techno's spreading around the world! You've got Croatia giving the funk, Portugal doing the
do, Australia's coming through nicely . . . there are so many places that are becoming strong outside of the north, and that's