Free at last Justin Robertson, returns with a few new surprises up his neatly tailored sleeve. As a true pioneer of the new school, Justin should require no introduction to anybody who's been following the rise of club culture over the last few years. With a broad spectrum of influences as his foundation he has been at the forefront of musical innovation for over nine years now. Stuff that's been and gone...History.
Justin's elevation to the position of one of Britain's most respected DJs/musicians began in Manchester back in 1990 with the seminal Spice night. A geographical counterpoint to Shroom. It has become an acid house reference point. This underground success was followed by the higher profile Most Excellent, a legendary night where the young Chemical Brothers rubbed shoulders with Bjork who rubbed shoulders with Home-owner (once Cream owner) Darren Hughes who to this day cites the club as an inspiration for his own uber-plans. Most Excellent was a sweaty, hedonistic affair held back from the clutches of out and out narcosis by Justin's legendary turntable skills; cutting records like a tailor cuts cloth. Oh Yes. Then a change of approach on Justin's part led to the creation of a new type of club. The Rebellious Jukebox originally started as a laugh for a few mates to share the pleasures of Curtis Mayfield. The Stooges, Northern Soul, Larry Levan, Dusty Springfield, hip hop, Studio and Coxone 72s, not to mention way too much ale, and inadvertently became the blueprint for the backroom club; the dark bluesy vibe where respected DJ's (David Holmes, Andrew Weatherall amongst them) could use their musical history to take a step back from the house music now and again; a considered eclecticism. The Rebellious Jukebox in time became the inspiration for Heavenly's infamous Sunday Social and countless other well-respected roots clubs around the country.
In-between these successful pioneering clubs Justin was also finding time to play all around the country and across the globe. In Britain he effortlessly crossed the divide between the legendary techno connoisseurs clubs like The Orbit and Liverpool's credible yet phenomenally successful Cream. From Slam in Glasgow and The Heavenly Social in London to his own packed to-the-rafters Sleuth night Justin has proved himself no slouch. Now of course he enjoys a residency (alongside fellow techno don Dave Clarke) at Bugged Out! (recently relocated to Cream) which is proving to be one of the most successful underground music nights in the country, boasting stars from Daft Punk to Carl Cox to The Chemical Brothers in it's line-ups. Justin also residents at Belfast's much respected Shine club on a monthly basis.
Abroad, he rocks crowds form New York to Tokyo, from Sweden to San Francisco, Germany, France, Italy, Czech Republic, New Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay with his deck skills and unique mixture of techno, house or electronic funk venue depending. All this experience has made Justin a seriously-sought after remitter. His CV is as long as your arm but Lionrock remixes of the Manic Street Preachers, Happy Mondays, Bjork,New Order, Placebo, Audioweb, Smoke City, A Guy Called Gerald, Erasure and The Stereo MC's (for starters) should mean something to some people. One of his first remixes was for Chemical Brother Tom Rowland1s previous band Ariel which has now become a tasty little addition to any vinyl junkie's collection.
Signing to the then thriving Deconstruction label in '92, Justin released a string of club-rocking and chart denting hits. The heady reggae vibe of his debut eponymous single (Nov'92) in its way set the tone for the healthy dose of influences that have always fuelled his music, but it was 1993's Packet of Peace with Mancunian lyrical legend (and subsequent band member) MC Buzz B that fulfilled the potential with its tough production, and evocative lyricism (a real counterpoint to most of the rap around at the time), that first met with widespread public acclaim.
Those who picked up this record will also remember a limited edition remix with blinding reworks by both The Chemical Brothers (their first at Justin's insistence) and ex-of-Detroit Underground Resistence/Purpose Maker legend Jeff Mills. The MC5 samplingCa rnival and its follow up Tripwire both took long runs up the Top 40 while rocking the nation's underground clubs complimented by limited edition dub plates versions for the aficionados.
An album was subsequently released to huge acclaim in March '96, taking Justin up the charts once again winding up as a fixture in every major magazine Best of Year lists. With its Sherlock Holmes fixation and cross-pollination of styles An Instinct for Detection swiftly became a yard-stick release giving dance producers a much needed kick up the arse when it came to putting a long player together, reminding us all that albums should not get away with just being singles sandwiched between filler. While Instinct for Detection was written by the studio based Justin, with MC Buzz B and long-time sonic collaborator Roger Lyons the live techniques he was already using set the tone for inevitable movement towards the stage.
As a band Lionrock played a string of highly successful headlining tours aswell as slots supporting The Chemical Brothers and The Cocteau Twins. They also played festivals all around Europe next to bands as diverse as Jon Spencer Blues Explosion,(Krautrock legends) Faust, Sonic Youth, Tortoise and Underworld. The result of these live forays was a second album City Delirious that again walked that tightrope between tough club suss and subtle lyracism.
The right here and the right now...
With just the right amount of poetic justice Justin walked free of his involvement with an underachieving label having delivered them his biggest hit to date - the connoisseur skank of Rude Boy Rock. Top 20 with a Top of The Pops performance no less. For some reason sports programmes liked the record to soundtrack athletic achievements. So did Sony MiniDisc. The rest of the country was thinking of far more sofa bound pleasures.
With a new found independence firmly at the forefront of his mind Justin, in true style, changed his tack and headed off into new waters. The inclusion of a Lionrock track on the (not entirely superb) Harvey Keitel movie City of Industry opened up possibilities for him and since then further soundtrack material has appeared with the remake of Psycho, the US underground gem Go!, and a rather classy reworking of the Get Carter theme. Back in the studio, Moriarty's Cavern, Justin has been hatching plans to take in a whole new independent label. The result is the whole Master Detective label project. The reason you're still reading this. With a one-off project for Manchester's much respected deep house label Paper Recordings, under the name Gentleman Thief, Justin and Co-conspirator Roger Lyons of Lionrock truly regained their love of original house music. Music at its essence. tracky grooves with an immediate hit. Music to rock the dancefloor. Purism of a kind often forgotten in the struggle to make good music these days. And most importantly the reason the good people got into this shit in the first place. So far there are a cellar-full of tracks ripe for release to be spearheaded by the imminent Gentleman Thief remix of Slot machine1 by German outfit Dis Jam.
Also look out the King Marvel Invention collaboration between Justin and Copenhagen's Tonny Svensson of Gada Gong on Master Detective. And Lionrock member Paddy Steer's somewhat off-the-wall Homelife project also to be released on Master Detective. Oh, and the sought after exclusive Lionrock track made for Jockey Slut magazine1s collector label Slut Smalls. These convoluted musical assortments will be trickling out over the next few months whilst leaving Justin to concentrate on the long-awaited forthcoming Lionrock album.
Born very much out of the need for independence Master Detective's agenda is to release the completed Lionrock album, a host of signings that have tickled Justin's DJ ear as he plays sets around the world and other one-off musical manifestations both overground and underground, So this is thus the plan, for the near future anyway. There is a schedule to adhere to. There is an agenda to be followed. There is not enough hours in the day to fuck around. You should enjoy the results.