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As One

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As One's Kirk Degiorgio is one of the lesser recognized key players in the U.K. techno underground. While his visionary fusions of Detroit soul and cold, crystalline tech on records such as Reflections and Celestial Soul have earned him a strong reputation as a producer, Degiorgio has been as influential on the label front, with his Applied Rhythmic Technologies (A.R.T. ) and more recent Op-Art imprints contributing greatly to the birth and continuing vitality of the U.K. experimental techno/electronica scenes often more closely associated with and credited to labels such as Rephlex and Warp. Formed in 1991, A.R.T. released early tracks from Black Dog, B12/Redcell/Stasis, and Neuropolitique, and helped bring wider attention to a core of U.K. artists working in a vein inspired by (but not simply reducible to) the music's Detroit originators. Although the label has gained wider acknowledgment through co-release projects with names such as Rephlex, B12, and New Electronica (with two label comps titled Objets d'Art released on the latter), A.R.T. remains something of a connoisseur's choice, with limited releases that tend to disappear soon after they're released. Degiorgio slowed A.R.T.'s already leisurely release schedule in 1996, establishing Op-Art as a more artist-oriented label geared toward wider exposure. With his own material, Degiorgio has released records through A.R.T. and R&S (as Future/Past), as well as New Electronica and future funk Rephlex breakaway Clear (under his As One guise). Degiorgio's music dwells most often on his split affinity for Carl Craig/Derrick May-style Detroit gear and an ongoing commitment to the mid-'70s experimental jazz and funk fusions of Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis. The latter influence is less evident on his earlier A.R.T. and New Electronica records (such as Reflections and Celestial Soul), which tend to stick to a comparatively more conservative dancefloor framework, but his late-'90s R&S and Clear material moved progressively to the fringes of techno/jazz fusion, particularly in the increasingly bold keyboard work. His debut Clear release, The Message in Herbie's Shirts (a tribute to Hancock, whose artistic evolution Degiorgio somewhat facetiously claims, can be traced through the styles of shirt worn on the sleeves of his records), though hardly characteristic of the label, became one of its strongest, most consistent releases. After compiling his complete Clear material on the CD collection In with Their ARPs and Moogs and Jazz and Things, Degiorgio closed out an active 1997 with the release of his first album for Mo' Wax, Planetary Folklore. Degiorgio was just as busy throughout the early 2000s. Along with mate Ian O'Brien, he put together three volumes of The Soul of Science, various-artist compilations that helped connect the dots between jazz and techno. The hard-to-find mix album FX.MIX.01, as well as the As One anthology So Far (So Good), came out in 2003. A pair of As One albums -- 2001's 21st Century Soul and 2004's Out of the Darkness -- saw him stretch out his sound to remarkable effect. ~ Sean Cooper

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