Justice 'Viewpoints LP' 2x12" (Reissue)
Justice reissues his pioneering debut album ‘Viewpoints’ on Hydrogen Dukebox, 23 years after it was first released
Since it first dropped in 1998, Viewpoints, the debut album by UK producer Justice, aka Tony Bowes, (not to be confused with the French duo who came much later) has been celebrated as one of the most influential albums by DJs and producers across the spectrum of electronic music. The 11-track album was the product of a fevered burst of creativity and experimentation that explored Justice’s many influences, resulting in the creation of unheard-before sonic hybrids. Now, Viewpoints, originally released on cult imprint Recordings Of Substance, is being reissued by Hydrogen Dukebox Records, complete with striking new artwork and on vinyl for the very first time with all 11 tracks.
After the success of his early hardcore and ambient jungle records which were made with frequent collaborator Blame, Justice was keen to strike out on his own. Eager to escape being pigeonholed as a Drum & Bass artist, in 1997 he set to work on Viewpoints, incorporating a variety of genres and moods and free from categorisation. The low-slung drums and dreamy bleeps of ‘Breaker One Nine’ (featured on Sky Sports links in summer 1998) hint at his love of hip-hop production. ‘Gemini Reprise’ mixes moody soundtrack samples with beats doused in dub FX, and the tumbling jungle breaks of ‘Westside Centre’ are surrounded by sparkling synths, like the gleams from some futuristic chrome vehicle.
Especially prevalent on the album is the influence of Detroit Techno. The album’s centrepiece, ‘Aquisse’ mixes crisp Drum & Bass-styled drums with a warm funk bassline and shimmering pad textures to create what sounds like a dream collaboration between the Motor City and London. Recently played by Doc Scott on his Rinse FM show, listeners who asked for a track ID were astonished to be told the tune was over 20 years old, affirming Viewpoints as an album that truly was ahead of its time.
“Detroit techno was one of my great loves,” Justice says. “I always had in my head that if Carl Craig was doing drum & bass, maybe it would sound a bit like this.
“No one else was doing that style then,” Justice adds. “It was the first tune within drum & bass that had done that. It was a turning point.”
“But I didn’t just want to be this Drum & Bass guy. I always felt I was on the outside looking in, on the periphery of this scene. The range of styles was just the stuff I liked, that had influenced me. I wanted to show that I wasn’t a one trick pony.”
Key to the unique aura of ‘Viewpoints’ was Justice’s use of analogue synths and studio hardware. At the time it was made, most Drum & Bass was made chiefly with samplers and software, so the outboard gear not only contributed to the record’s signature sound, but made it entirely new. Using a wide variety of gear including a MiniMoog, E-mu Orbit, Korg Prophecy, Roland JV-1080, Juno 106 and Oberheim OBX, as well as drum machines and effects units, Justice was able to conjure a dazzling electronic dreamscape, the likes of which were unheard of before.
Jungle and Drum & Bass, always vibrant on the underground, has enjoyed a resurgence lately, with new blood flooding into the scene and many of the genre’s original producers making staggering new records.
“If you heard ‘Viewpoints’ now for the first time, you’d think it was made last week,” Justice says. “A lot of the stuff I’ve done with Blame, the work we did as Icons, and the ‘Viewpoints’ album, they’re as fresh now as they were then musically and conceptually.”