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The Guest List: Commix shares a vital selection of Asia-inspired musical gems

The celebrated producer takes us on a nostalgic tour with his carefully chosen top-ten

  • Patrizio Cavaliere
  • 17 November 2020

London based producer and DJ George Levings is perhaps better known by his Commix alias, the name under which he's scored countless club-destroying drum 'n' bass hits over the last two decades. As someone who's brought his far-reaching sound to Asia on many a happy occasion, we decided to reach out to him in the hope that he'd furnish us with a list of tracks that, for him, are remindful of or inspired by his journeys throughout the continent. Fortunately, not only did he agree to do so, but he was also kind enough to offer up insightful explanations of why the tracks in question made it on the list.

Previously operating as a duo alongside fellow producer Guy Brewer, George now flies the Commix flag as a solo artist and continues to throw production heat and – health crisis permitting – play his expansive sound in the world's most renowned clubs. Having announced their arrival on the drum 'n' bass scene in the early 2000s with releases on labels including Hospital, Looking Good, Liquid V, and New Identity, it wasn't long before Commix began to generate tidal waves of support from the community's heaviest hitting selectors. The 2005 'Urban Legend' single on Goldie's revered Metalheadz label was the beginning of an ongoing and fruitful union which has led to somewhere in the region of 20 EP and album releases to date, including the seminal 'Call To Mind' long-player back in 2007. We've heard whispers of more to come from this long-running association and are eagerly awaiting confirmation on this.

Interestingly, we happen to know first hand that George's musical background doesn't start and end inside the d 'n' b spectrum, and his list here is a testament to that. His music draws heavily on influences from soul and funk, as well as golden era Detroit house and Techno – with the likes of Kevin Saunderson, Carl Craig and Derrick May providing boundless inspiration. These Motor City roots extend into his techno-themed productions forged under the Endian moniker, under which he's released on labels including Secret Sundaze, Electric Minds, and Cynic.

Recently, in part as a result of the Covid pandemic, George has taken to offering his refined skills and vast production knowledge as a tutor via his Bear Music School. The project has been so successful and has led to the formation of new label CMX Recordings as an outlet for the work of some of the talented students he's met in the process.

Now onto the list. George has come up with a pretty sensational top ten here, complete with stone-cold classics and lesser-known gems alike. So, press play on these, read the wonderful descriptions and join Commix on his carefully curated virtual tour of Asia. The celebrated producer takes us on a nostalgic tour with his carefully chosen top-ten

1 Photek 'Ni Ten Ichi Ryu'

"Japanese/martial arts inspired 90’s drum and bass by one of the all time masters of the genre. As a producer, I see this as a masterclass in science of the breakbeat. In my eyes no one has ever come close to Photek’s wizardry when it comes to beats. The track features classic Kung Fu movie samples and traditional Japanese percussion sounds and its always in my bag when travelling east on tour."

2 Elecktroids 'Japanese Elecktronics'

"Classic electro from two master producers Gerald Donald and James Stinson. Otherwise known as Drexciya. Their music is a constant inspiration to me, both in their synthesis and sound design and their simple but effective compositions. Futuristic, edgy electronic music at its best."

3 DBridge 'China Blue'

"An early favourite from one of Drum and Bass’s key figures. I remember dropping this in Womb (Tokyo) to an unexpectedly huge reaction, only to later find out that the name ‘China Blue’ had been taken from one of the clubs signature cocktails. Love a coincidence like this!"

4 Pepe Bradock 'Deep Burnt'

"I personally consider this one of house music’s masterpieces. I am forever in awe of its simplicity and the beauty of the sample (Freddie Hubbard 'Little Sunshine'). It features in this list because whenever I listen to it find myself back in Shibuya. One of my first memories in Japan. I had arrived after a long travel and decided to head out on foot to see what all the fuss was about. So donning my headphones I stuck this on and wondered towards Shibuya. The resulting memory and stark juxtaposition I found myself in will stay with me forever."

5 Krust 'True Stories'

"DJ Krust should need no introduction. In my eyes he remains one of the true masters of Drum(s) and Bass. ‘True Stories’ is an epic 11 minute testament to his attention to detail. There aren’t many places I can play this kind of track but one of the things i love most about playing in the east is the ability to slow things down and allow the music to breath and build. By the 8th minute there is an intensity that is otherwise hard to achieve on the dance floor. Some of my best memories as a DJ involve the later half of this track. Killer!"

6 Commix 'Japanese Electronics' (Instra:Mental’s Moog mix)

"After our debut LP ‘Call to Mind’ we set about commissioning remixes for each track on the album from artists outside Drum and Bass. The music that came back to us went above and beyond our expectations and this mix was no exception. The original version was inspired by our travels in Japan, the hustle and bustle of Shibuya, busy arcades and sushi spots, but the remix offers a more serene viewpoint, lending itself towards peaceful temples and sakura. I often start my sets with this as a way to reset a dance floor and set the scene. I'm sure it will never leave my bag."

7 Heurco S 'A Sea Of Love'

"Another headphone memory here. This time walking the busy back streets of Hong Kong. As a producer of fast, dance floor oriented music I find myself drawn to the polar opposite when listening for pleasure. This track by Heurco S is a beautifully deep, saturated ambient piece and is perfect for creating a steep contrast to a busy environment. This is a scenario i love to put myself in. It’s surreal and trippy in a way. I can draw a lot of inspiration during these moments."

8 Actress 'Caves Of Paradise' 

"Actress’s music always haunts me in a way I can’t explain. This track is a beautiful example of how haunting his music can be. It nods to various corners of dance music without fully committing to any. I love his use of atmospherics and obscure, mangled samples. I especially love the organ bass and flute samples in this little number."

9 Wax Doctor 'Offshore Drift'

"Wax Doctor was one of the producers that inspired me to start producing music. He remains one of the kings of the atmospheric ‘intelligent’ drum and bass sound if you ask me. I always loved how he fused that deep house sound with jungle breaks and basslines. This track, and the entire album ’Selected Works 94-96’ has been with me since my late teens and refused to get old."

10 Solid State 'Just A Vision' (Marcus Intalex & ST Files Remix)

"I absolutely love the music Marcus and ST were producing around this time (2005). A perfect mix of house/techno influences whist staying true to drum and bass’s dance floor mentality. This is another track that has rarely left my record box as it never fails to lift the mood when the time is right…"

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