Scottish techno/house fusers Slam built a reputation as one of the most dependable, invigorating sources for high-quality dancefloor gear. Bent on breaking down stylistic boundaries, Slam's Stuart MacMillan and Orde Meikle took the less-is-more approach and released records only sporadically, yet those recordings consistently rose to the top of dance music charts and DJ playlists. Prior to their celebrated 1996 full-length debut, Headstates -- released, as with almost all their material, on their own Soma label -- the pair released a trio of singles ("Positive Education," "Snapshots," and Dark Forces"). But their progressive approach to the space between house and techno, two styles that measure innovation inch by inch rather than by leaps and bounds, positioned them (along with artists such as Motorbass and Lionrock) as one of the most important talents in post-rave European dance music.
Mates since childhood, MacMillan and Meikle grew up with a basic love of music -- from funk, soul, and disco to hip-hop, punk, new wave, and, of course, acid house. Both DJs of renown, they were more likely to reveal such disparate influences in a club setting than on plastic, but even 1998's Positive Education and tracks such as "Hybrid" and "White Shadows" from Headstates drew elements of that background -- dirty, Detroit low-end, funky electro-breaks, sparse house ambience -- together in inspired, head-twisting combinations. With a second Slam full-length nowhere to be seen three years on from the debut, MacMillan and Meikle released an LP from their Pressure Funk alias, also on Soma. Finally, in 2000, the pair issued the mix album Past Lessons/Future Theories under the Slam name. In 2001, they returned with an album of new material, Alien Radio. Two more mix albums (Slam in America, Fabric 09) followed during the next two years, and Slam returned to the studio to record Year Zero for a 2004 release.
During the next ten years, the duo recorded only two proper studio albums, but Human Response (2007) and Reverse Proceed (2014) both skillfully balanced lean techno and heady ambient. They continued to deeply support contemporary producers and DJs through the mix albums Nightdrive and Sci-Fi Hi-Fi 5, their annual curation of T in the Park's Slam Tent (a staple of the annual Scottish music festival since the late '90s), and the presentation of their weekly Slam Radio program. MacMillan and Meikle established Paragraph, a Soma sub-label dedicated to Slam's 12" output, while their productive spillover reached other artist-run outlets, such as Adam Beyer's Drumcode, Len Faki's Figure, and Gary Beck's BEK Audio. The duo continued to field remix requests for the likes of Radio Slave, Dot Allison, and the Black Dog. In 2015, a remix of Clouds' "Complete Control" -- the A-side of the Reciprocal Exchange 12" -- instantly became one of Slam's career highlights. ~ Sean Cooper
- Glasgow, Scotland