Just Be/Bushwacka!’s classic labels Plank and Oblong relaunched digitally on December 2

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After many years out of print from their original vinyl pressings, Matthew “Bushwacka!” Benjamin finally made his long-dormant labels, Plank Records and Oblong Records, available digitally on Friday, December 2, 2016. Also included as part of the digital launch is a newly remastered version of the out-of-print 2003 album release, The Everlasting, including the original continuous mix as an album-only bonus track, plus all of the individual tracks available for ala carte download.

Part of legendary UK rave crew The Rat Pack in the late ‘80s, Benjamin’s roots are in the raw underground warehouse and illegal parties that shook Britain to its core. Nowadays, his sound is a fine fusion of breaks, techno, house, ambient and downtempo and has held up to four residences – most famously, at The End in London, where he was a key player for 14 years.

Both labels’ catalogs, mostly produced by Benjamin under his Bushwacka! guise, as DJ tools for his own sets or in collaboration with close friends as Two Full Minds, Mashupheadz and Makesome Breaksome, released some of the most influential and genre-redefining UK breaks and tech-house tracks of the late ‘90s / early ‘00s. Plank and Oblong releases were undeniable staples found in the record boxes of practically every influential breaks and tech-house DJ worth their salt at that time with tracks immortalized on iconic mix albums by James Lavelle (FABRICLIVE.01, 2001), Adam Freeland (Techtonics, 1999), and Terry Francis (Architecture 2, 1998).

The labels shuttered in 2003 as Benjamin’s touring and production schedule as half of Layo & Bushwacka! – with Layo Paskin – became too much to maintain and run both labels. Following Layo’s retirement from the music business in 2013, Benjamin reinvented himself as Just Be. Since then, he has been releasing tracks and remixes for labels such as Suara, MOOD, Get Physical, Intec, Tronic, Crosstown Rebels / Rebellion, Bedrock and VIVa MUSiC as well as continuing to headline leading clubs around the world from Cocoon, DC10 and Space in Ibiza to Burning Man’s Robot Heart camp.

Looking back on both labels in anticipation of this long-awaited digital launch, Benjamin reflected on Plank and Oblong’s earliest beginnings and impact on the breakbeat and tech-house scenes:

“I started these labels basically 20 years ago as an extension of me. They gave me the freedom to put out music I loved, made alone or with close friends, and explore the fusion of breaks, jazz, trip-hop, and house. These were tracks I could incorporate into my sets or, form entire performances from, to create a very special energy on the dancefloor.

Plank was my brainchild with my best friend Mark Varney (aka DJ Vorn) and started from our bedrooms, making tracks on an old hi-fi speakers and using whatever we could get our hands on to experiment with. Oblong was born a few years later with my old friend Lewis Copeland, the manager of the Bluebird Records Shop on Berwick Street.

All told, the two labels together released over 150 tracks and remixes across 12” records and was only available on vinyl, to which I am immensely proud of the catalog and the influence it had on underground music.

Now, nearly 20 years after they launched, it gives me great pleasure to make this body of work available for the digital domain to the past, present, and future generations of music lovers.”

The Plank and Oblong catalogs will be available on all good digital music download retailers and streaming sites beginning Friday, December 2, 2016.

2017 looks to see both Plank and Oblong relaunch in full with a schedule of new releases, edits and remixes of the classic back catalog from Benjamin and a slew of his well-known producer friends, as well as collections of previously unreleased tracks and mixes.

About Just Be/Bushwacka!:
Just Be has held many guises in his journey through electronic music. Launching his career as Matthew B in the midst of the UK acid house explosion, his identity and sound has undertaken many a metamorphosis, through Bushwacka!, The End Soundsystem, Layo and Bushwacka! to settle for the meantime on Just Be. His continual evolution, thirst for new sounds and epic touring schedule has ingrained his many identities across the international club scene.

Just Be’s roots grew out of the underground warehouse parties and illegal outdoor raves that shook the foundations of the establishment, quite literally, and gave inspiration to a new generation of ravers. This anarchic environment gave Just Be total creative freedom, an ethos that continues to this day in his music, always pushing the boundaries of House, Breakbeat, Techno, Downtempo and Ambient.

Just Be emerged from the melting pot of the UK electronic music scene of the late 80s early 90s and was soon hosting up to four residencies in London every weekend at some of the best parties around, from the Rat Pack to the Clink Street warehouse parties. The End – London’s legendary club, situated in an abandoned train tunnel became his home for 14 years, this residency acted as a springboard into the international circuit. From here Just Be, in his many guises toured the worlds biggest clubs and festivals.

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Frederick Mintchell

Frederick is a featured writer for Morning Ticker, where this post originally appeared.

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