The DNA of Electronic Music

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Synth Heroes create mixes of their formative electronic music influences



Interplanetary Sound Explorer

To celebrate 25 years of Planet Mu records, we invited its founder and legendary electronic producer Mike Paradinas to create an epic 90-minute Synth Hero mix of some his favourite tracks from the label’s archive. 

But first, some history. Over the last three decades Paradinas has made a name for himself as one of the very few artists working with electronics to produce a recognisable and personalised sound while at the same time mixing far-reaching experimentalism with accessibility through infectious melodies and rhythms. 

He began playing keyboards during the early 1980s and spent eight years on keys for the group Blue Innocence. 
After the group broke up, Paradinas and bass player, Francis Naughton, re-recorded some of his older tracks, which Richard D. James released on Rephlex Records under the alias μ-Ziq. The photo above is from that early period.

Naughton then left μ-Ziq to start Rocket Goldstar and Paradinas signed to Virgin Records. In 1995 they gave him the means to start his own sublabel, Planet Mu, to release his own work and to develop similar-minded artists such as Venetian Snares, Capitol K, and Luke Vibert.
Paradinas later broke with Virgin and in 1998 established Planet Mu as his own independent label.

As well as μ-Ziq, he has gone on to release music under the aliases of Tusken Raiders, Jake Slazenger, Gary Moscheles, Kid Spatula, and a one-time collaboration with Aphex Twin under the Mike & Rich moniker.

This month, Paradinas marks 25 years of Planet Mu with a fifteen track compilation of their current roster, from Skee-mask and Ital Tek, to RP Boo and Bogdan Racyzynski.

To celebrate this milestone, he has created this mix featuring some of his favourite tracks from the label’s back catalogue, including Mr. Mitch, Machinedrum, AFX, Floating Points, Boxcutter, Remarc and many more. You can also read his persnalised annotated track notes below.

Always innovative and uncompromising, Paradinas and his Planet Mu peers constantly redefine what’s possible with electronic music. This mix and the new compilation is the perfect opportunity to explore how far they’ve pushed it... so far. Enjoy.


AFX - Bummy

Richard James kindly gave me this track for the first Planet Mu compilation ‘Mealtime’ back in 1997. It’s a take on the Soul Pride break, twisting it back and forth, putting some of the other tracks on that record in the shade.

Remarc - Ice Cream & Syrup (Hard Mix)

I was very excited to release the two Remarc collections back in 2003 and 2004. This was one of my favourites when it originally came out on Suburban Bass back in 1995. The Amens are cut up beyond belief while maintaining the funk.

Hrvatski - Vatstep DSP

Now better known for his records on Kranky as Keith Fullerton Whitman, this was his take on jungle complete with a robot voice mc.

Venetian Snares - Einstein-Rosen Bridge

Venetian Snares does pop. This is one of my favourites by Aaron Funk, sampling an old TV show theme.

Jega - Geometry

Slinky perfection from Dylan Nathan here for his second album. The melodies intertwine and complement each other beautifully.

Slag Boom Van Loon - Poppy Seed (Boards Of Canada Remix)

I was very pleased that the Sandison brothers agreed to remix SBVL's little 101 ditty and transformed it into this gently evolving masterpiece.

Capitol K - Doe (My Pooter Sings)

Kristian gave me a demo tape at one of the first Planet Mu nights in 1998 or ’99. I was very impressed with his ramshackle dictaphone melodies.

Luke Vibert - Acid 2000

By the early 2000’s I had known Luke for almost a decade and felt comfortable to ask him for these tracks, this is my favourite, sample 2 obscure records, and one not-so-obscure one and creating something more than the sum of its parts.

Big-E-D - Frontline (Terror Danjah Remix)

This was part of the ‘Gremlinz’ compilation of Terror Danjah tracks and remixes, and is one of my favourite After Shock 12s from back in the day.

Distance - Traffic

I had been aware of DJ Distance’s previous 12s which were more breaks driven, but this is where he revealed his metalhead roots, and it always raised the roof at DMZ.

Vex’d - Angels

2005’s ‘Degenerate’ was a mindblowing acheivement by Jamie and Roly, with this being one of the main dancefloor tracks. It was hard to believe Jamie would reinvent himself as Kuedo a few short years later.

Brackles - LHC

The forward momentum in this track is relentless, driven by the wiggly softsynth, a classic.

Boxcutter - Kaleid

Barry was a mainstay on Planet Mu for several years and Glyphic is his masterpiece I think.

Darqwan - M/a…ximum Reespek

Darqwan’s ‘Texture’ label was a favourite of mine so I was happy that he created this amazing 12 for us.

Pinch - Qawwali

Another classic and only the second track he ever wrote if the story is to be believed. This was emailed to me thanks to Jamie Vex’d.

Equinox - Acid Rain (Breakage Final Chapter Mix)

Breakage’s final remix of this absolute classic amen rinser originally on Inperspective records.

Slugabed - Ultra Heat Treated

Lumbering Wonk Hop from Activia Benz’s founder Mr. Slug Abed.

Floating Points - K&G Beat

I think this is one of the most beautiful pieces of music that Sam ever did and I’m very proud we released it.

Ikonika - Dkhdbtch

I was a big fan of her first single ‘Please’ and cheekily borrowed her from Hyperdub for this 3-track 12 of tasty morsels.

DJ Nate - Footwurk Homicide

I think this is one of DJ Nate’s strongest tracks and it certainly caused a stir when we first released footwork back in 2010.

DJ Rashad - Itz Not Rite

Rashad always brought the soul to footwork and this is no exception. An expertly cut up battle track.

DJ Diamond - Freakazoid

Karlis brought the weirdness to footwork and his album ‘Flight Muzik’ is probably my favourite footwork album ever.

Traxman - The Comeback

The way Traxman creates a soulful flow with the cut up syncopated samples is masterful here.

RP Boo - Invisibu Boogie!

The space is the main instrument here. Scratching and expertly placed sub pulses garnish this masterpiece of tension.

Young Smoke - Liquid Drug

An almost drexciyan style of footwork from Young Smoke who was only 18 at the time he made this track.

Jlin - Guantanamo

What can be said about Jlin that hasn’t already been said? She carved out her own room in genre-space and is still sitting there on her own.

Kuedo - Whisper Fate

Who would have expected this after Vex’d? Jamie went all Vangelis on us with trap and footwork influences. Severant was his masterpiece I think.

Mr. Mitch - The Night

Mr. Mitch seemed to come from nowhere in the early part of the last decade with his fully formed sound

Machinedrum - She Died There

Travis’s take on Juke had a lot of appeal, combining it with post-dubstep (can we say future garage again yet?) widened its appeal beyond the footwork heads and it still sounds good today.

John Wizards - Tet Lek Schrempf

Cape Town based John Withers’ album was truly eclectic melding his African influences with electronics and bringing in Rwandan singer Emmanuel for some jawdropping moments.

Rian Treanor - Hypnic Jerks

I think ‘File Under UK Metaplasm’ will be seen as Rian’s classic album, and this track sums it up for me. Window wiper synths with metallic percussion and machine-drum kicks.

Synth of the Month:
Yamaha DX11

Mike Paradinas: “My synth of the month (I feel dirty typing or thinking that) is the Yamaha DX11. It was the main workhorse of my early µ-Ziq material.

It is a very versatile multitimbral 4 operator FM synth which slots really well into many styles of music.

It wasn't just the typical FM sounds that I loved, but it was also very good at woodwinds and pads. Adding a bit of outboard reverb really softened it up and the thin sound meant it worked very well as an 8 part multitimbral ensemble.

It had very similar presets to the DX100 (and DX27) which was a favourite of Aphex Twin in his early material.”

Vintage Synth Explorer: The DX11 was released in 1988, four years after the DX7 hit the market. The DX11's synthesis and sound quality is classic DX-style FM synthesis using 4-operators per voice.

The DX11 has one major advantage over the DX7 and other older DX-synths, however. The DX11 offered 8-part multitimbrality, whereas older DX synths were monotimbral. The DX11 is essentially a keyboard version of Yamaha's first true multitimbral FM synthesizer, the TX81Z rack module.

The DX11's multitimbral features allowed you to spread various sound patches across different areas or "zones" of the keyboard. It also allowed for complex ensemble performances using external sequencers or while playing live using "Performance" patches. Also added were some Quick Edit functions so you don't have to delve into the complexity of FM synthesis to make a few simple tweaks. These quick edits affect the tone, envelope attack and release times.