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X-Press 2

イギリス出身のDJ/プロデューサー・ユニット。メンバーは、アシュレイ・ビードル、ロッキー、ディーゼルの三人。1986年に出会ったロッキーとディーゼルがDJユニットとして活動を開始し、その後ロンドンのレコード・ショップでマネージャーとして働いていたアシュレイが加入したことで、現在のラインナップとなる。

デビュー曲は、1993年にリリースした「Muzik X-Press」。名門レーベルJuniorBoys Ownから発売された同曲は、イギリスのハウス・シーンのみならず、ニュー・ヨークのハード・ハウス・シーンでもヒットを記録し、一躍彼らはその名を轟かせることとなった。その後も「Lonodn X-Press」、「Rock 2 House」などのヒット・シングルを次々と送り出すが、90年代半ばには活動を休止させ、アシュレイはブラック・サイエンス・オーケストラ、そしてロッキーはプロブレム・キッズと、それぞれのソロ活動へと移行した。

2001年には、エクスプレス2としてのカムバック・シングル「AC/DC」をリリース。そして翌2002年に、トーキング・ヘッズのデヴィッド・バーンをゲスト・ヴォーカルに迎えた「Lazy」を送り出すと、同曲はクラブ・ミュージックのシングルとしては異例とも言える全英チャート2位の大ヒットを記録した。同年のうちには、その「Lazy」も収録した初のフル・アルバム『Muzikizum』もリリース。そして2006年には、セカンド・アルバムとなる『Makeshift Feelgood』を送り出す。ミュージックのロブ・ハーヴェイや、ポリフォリック・スプリーのティム・デラフターといった多彩なゲストを迎え、ニュー・ウェイヴ的なポップ・チューンからダークなハウス・トラックまで様々なスタイルに挑戦した同作は、各方面から高い評価を獲得することに成功した。

 

Such is their swashbuckling sense of adventure, it's hard to believe thatX-Press 2 have been at the vanguard of British electronic music for twodecades now. Whether it's as musicians, DJs or remixers, the London duoshare the same sense of musical discovery that first united them on theacid-house dance floors of Shoom and Spectrum and the Balearicplaygrounds of Ibiza. A pioneering spirit that fuelled early Ninetiesunderground anthems such as the percussive, US-influenced MuzikExpress and London X Press. And why not? Chutzpah that helped themcreate languid deep house classics like Lazy and Give It with vocalists asunlikely - yet inspired - as David Byrne of Talking Heads and Kurt Wagnerof Lambchop. A DJ bravado that led to them thinking, two decks are forwimps. Why not six or seven? Why not twelve? The Three Musketeershave recently become two, with the departure of Ashley Beedle, but itsfull steam ahead for remaining members Rocky and Diesel. We shouldn'tread anything into Beedle's absence beyond the pressures of combininghis solo and production work with X-Press 2, insists Rocky. It just got tothe stage where Ash was trying to do too much. He's the kind of guy who,if he could please everyone, he would, but it just wasn't conducive toproducing good music on either side. It's absolutely cool between us -we're still good mates and the door is always open if he ever wants to getinvolved again. So, now X-Press 2 are two, what does the future hold? Inshort - loads. Lazy is currently to be heard at a cinema near you, as partof the soundtrack Byrne and Brian Eno contributed to Wall Street: MoneyNever Sleeps. Then there are the two EPs they've recorded with TimDeluxe, a kindred spirit whom they got to know well when they shared DJbills at the Ministry of Sound. Small-hours monsters such as ToneheadChemistry and Siren Track combine the heads-down grooves with whichthey made their name (Classic X-Press 2, says Rocky) with spacious,action-packed breakdowns They're the most visceral, dance floor-gearedproductions Rocky and Diesel have been involved with for years.

Obviously, with Ashley leaving, the dynamic has changed, says Diesel.

But we are carrying on the X-Press 2 sound and developing it. The key isthat the pair are as excited about music as they were when they first metin Hayes, Middlesex in the mid Eighties. In their DJ sets - now on arelatively restrained four decks and CDJs - and on their Thursday eveningshow for Ministry Radio they steer away from the Lazy era and chart anew course through 21st century house of every hue, from the lush andstately to the sparse and jacking. We are just overwhelmed by how muchgreat stuff there is, smiles Diesel. We just can't get everything in. Thepair see strong parallels between their Balearic formative years and theirreverent eclecticism of 2010. Our earliest influences were pre-housewarehouse parties where you had rare groove, soul, jazz, go-go music, alldifferent sorts of stuff being played, says Diesel. In Ibiza in the lateEighties, we'd be dancing to Acid Trax, then a Rolling Stones record, orthe Woodentops. And 20 years later, says Rocky, there's a bit of thatgoing on again. Clubs like the Social have an anything-goes ethos - KingTubby one minute, a dubstep record the next and then a house thing.

When things get sectioned off you just lose all sense of progression orcreativity, says Diesel. So when it came to working on their untitledforthcoming album, it was time to scale back the club dates and retreatto the studio armed with a spectrum of music old and new. With us, it'salways records, because we're DJs and record collectors, says Rocky.

Lately, their ears have been filled with everything from Fifties rockabilly,Sixties gospel and Eighties boogie through to up-to-the-minute gems byleftfield electronic voyager Caribou and Brooklyn house wunderkind FelixFeygin. As that colourful selection suggests, Rocky and Diesel retain theirtaste for the unexpected, especially when it comes to selecting guestvocalists. We always try and go for someone whose not associated withdance music, says Rocky. For the new album, that means people like RobHarvey, former frontman of Leeds alt-rockers the Music, who previouslycollaborated with X-Press 2 on Kill 100 and co-wrote a new track calledThe Blast. The lyrics are quite cryptic, says Diesel. I haven't asked himwhat they mean yet. It's got a double chorus and its bit Lennon-ist that'sLennon, not Lenin. Things get fiercer on another album track, "This isWar", which features Hannah Scanlon of Brighton's incendiary indie outfitDoll and the Kicks. "She's got a really powerful voice and the song isfucking nuts," says Diesel. "What really appealed to us is the fact that it'sabout war rather than throwing your hands in the air and loving everyone," says Rocky. "We want war, we want shit to happen!" Indeed, in X-Press2's world of limitless possibilities, only one thing is certain. We will nevermake a song that says; Take me higher, insists Diesel. That's just nevergonna happen. Rest assured - Rocky and Diesel are as restless and averseto predictability as ever. Long may the adventure continue…