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in 1995 when Martin Stovey, Steve Jones and Richard Pushong joined forces
with only a common love of hip-hop to make music which covered all their
wide range of influences.
Previously in the early 90's, Steve and Richard had been in a band making intense, hypnotic, mainly instrumental guitar music which took its cue from the late 80's noise bands like My Bloody Valentine, Loop and Spacemen 3.
Martin had many projects on the go which covered his wide range of influences from Miles Davis to Krs 1 and Kraftwerk. He was the producer in a North London hip-hop crew and co-produced many early drum 'n' bass tracks for the Zulu label.
Following the demise of these projects, the trio teamed up with Martin adding beats and samples to Steve and Richards guitar 'n' bass 4 track efforts.
of this was a hybrid music full of unusual and varied styles which was
described as the RZA battling it out with Mozart and Burt Bacharach. A
meeting with ex KLF collaborator Tony Thorpe, resulted in Elixir being
signed to his new label Language Records for an album and 3 singles.
Elixir set up studio and were surprised to find The Verve were using the adjacent room. Was it a coincidence that Bittersweet Symphony had a lot of Elixirs' trademark string samples??
The first tracks to emerge were released in 1996 as the debut 12", March of Osiris . The lead track defied categorization and was played in clubs at both 45 and 33rpm , it was a chopped up hip hop Beat in waltz time mixed with both easy and uneasy listening samples which when pitched up, would often be played in jungle clubs.
This was followed up by the second 12" in early 1997, Alien Rainbow which again had three very varied tracks on which were described as a"future trip-hop classic" in Mixmag and "lovely downtempo head-nod inducing beats" in Jockey slut.
Another 12", Dark Spheres was released later in the year which paved the way for the debut album.
Elixir's first album was released in september 1997 and was called The Phobos Incident after a russian space probe which was allegedly shot down on a mission to mars. The album gained great critical acclaim in the dance press with DJ Magazine giving it 10/10 and calling it "pure excellence in the beats and mixology department". Mixmag described it as "a record that's dark and atmospheric, boasting some inspired scary samples and on the button beats" and "brooding electronics, scuffed strings and spacey beats, perfectly soundtracking strange happenings on mars." While Jockey Slut called it "a rich tapestry of funeral stalking grooves spliced by classical rips and nightscape values."
After a forced studio relocation, Elixir started work on their second album. It wasn't long before bad luck struck again when arriving at their studio one day, they found they had been robbed. Elixir had to take a temporary break.
start again, Elixir began work on some fresh material which was a change
in direction from the first album. The tracks were more uptempo but retained
the sinister edge of previous releases.
The first material to be released was the 3 track "Good Cop Bad Cop" 12" in 1999 on the Altered Vibes label from south London. Again all tracks were quite different from each other resulting in comments such as "retro funk" and "roughneck rhythms dark as the sky at night". Once again DJ Magazine summed it up by saying it was "good hard breakbeat gear."
The following year, 2000 saw the release of the second Elixir album, "Music Mathematics and Magic" on belgiums Sub Rosa label.
This was described as "unsettling, mind bending breakbeat which leaves the listener wanting more" and "dark cinematic breakbeat bliss."
Elixir have had various tracks on compilations and remixes in the last couple of years, the most recent being a remix on their Sub Rosa labelmates, Bump 'n' Grind's new album.
They also have an exclusive track on the new "Bedroom Ambience 3" compilation album on Enraptured Records.
Early 2003 sees the release of the 3rd Elixir album on Quatermass called "Don't Be Scared" . This album signifies a more aggressive style than the previous 2 albums, but retains the Elixir sound. It's a menacing album, full of hostility yet containing an undercurrent of beauty which cleverly contrast the overall brutal feel. "Don't Be Scared" is a reaction against all the over-produced, slick, lightweight acts who
currently infest the broader genre of dance music. Elixir deliver a no-nonsense album of raw, nasty breakbeat cocktails, full of pummelling beats, twisted samples and distorted instrumentation.
Filthy dirty bass is the foundation for the majority of tracks and whatever the tempo, the beats flow with head nodding accuracy, subdued where necessary and brutally powerful for maximum impact when required. Building on that foundation is a collection of varyingly conceived sounds, both sinister and sleazy, and melodic and uplifting. Recorded to the point of overload at times, tracks appear to be heading towards collapse, conjuring up images of decay and desolation, yet there are frequent flickers of hope within the album which suggest there is light at the end of the tunnel. Which of course there is, as the final track provides the most calming moment of the album.