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London-based electronic duo Swayzak are equally exploratory as producers, performers, and DJs. They emerged in the late '90s with a heavily dub-influenced fusion of deep house and minimal techno, as heard on their well-regarded 1998 debut album Snowboarding in Argentina. They began working with guest vocalists on 2000's Himawari, and their live shows evolved from hardware-based sets to laptop improvisations. They embraced microhouse with mixes like 2002's Groovetechnology v1.3, while albums such as 2004's Loops from the Bergerie leaned closer to synth pop and electro, as the duo incorporated live instruments and vocals into their performances. After founding member James S. Taylor left, David Brown released a dark, driving self-titled effort as s_w_z_k in 2012, then continued playing gigs and releasing low-key singles as Swayzak. Taylor rejoined Swayzak in 2023, as they celebrated the 25th anniversary of Snowboarding in Argentina with a deluxe reissue. Working together in a basement studio, James S. Taylor and David Brown originally began recording sample-heavy downtempo tracks as the Language Lab in 1993. They only played one live show under this name, and most of this material was unheard for decades, when it surfaced as digital archival releases. The duo renamed themselves Swayzak and began releasing dubby house singles on their own self-titled label in 1997. Snowboarding in Argentina, released in several different CD and LP editions by Pagan in the U.K. and Medicine Label in the U.S., collected versions of tracks from the singles and additional material, all maintaining the spontaneous feel of their live shows. The album was well-received, earning Album of the Year accolades from Mixer magazine. The duo followed the full-length with two versions of the single "Lokal" and a pair of instrumental hip-hop diversions titled Snooploops & Sneakbeats. They also collaborated with Detroit's Theorem for the 1999 EP Break in at Apartment 205, an early release on Richie Hawtin's M_nus imprint. Himawari, Swayzak's second album, arrived in 2000, with guests including dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah and former Opus III singer Kirsty Hawkshaw. The duo launched a label called 240 Volts the same year. Swayzak regularly broadcast DJ sets on Groovetech, an early Internet radio station, and double-CD mix Groovetechnology v1.3 was issued by !K7 in 2002, showcasing the then-emerging microhouse sound. Dirty Dancing, the duo's third album, incorporated elements of synth pop and electroclash, with ADULT. and Carl Finlow guesting on the song "I Dance Alone," and other tracks featuring vocalists like Clair Dietrich, March21, and Swayzak themselves. The duo were early regulars at London club Fabric since its 1999 opening, and their 2003 mix CD Fabric 11 incorporated microhouse, post-punk, and neo-disco. Swayzak continued fusing these influences on 2004's Loops from the Bergerie, their fourth album, which featured co-production by Kenny Paterson and guest vocalists Richard Davis, Mathilde Mallen, and Dietrich. 2006's Route de la Slack: Remixes & Rarities gathered the duo's mixes of tracks by artists including Señor Coconut, Slam, and Tahiti 80, as well as previously unreleased and hard-to-find material. Serieculture, a double-CD containing a disc of original material by Swayzak and a DJ mix by Roger 23, was issued by San Francisco-based organization Avantgarde. Some Other Country, the duo's final album with !K7, appeared in 2007, with Davis, Cassy, and Les Fauves as guest vocalists. Re: Serieculture, a Japanese issue of the duo's Serieculture disc, appeared on Timothy Really in 2009. Taylor left Swayzak around 2011, and concentrated on making experimental music as Lugano Fell. Brown released s_w_z_k, a self-titled album of dark, dubby techno, on Tresor in 2012. He then resumed activity as Swayzak in 2013, releasing the two-part Songs of My Supper on Third Wave Black, and the Richard Davis collaboration "Shut Me Down" on Construct. In Flanders Field EP appeared on Curle Recordings in 2016, and Gestures of a Syncophant was issued by Beatnik Boulevard in 2017. Swayzak released a series of Lost Tapes compilations in 2017, and "Odessa Calling" appeared on Rekids in 2018. A deluxe 25th anniversary remastered edition of Snowboarding in Argentina was released in 2023, and Taylor resumed activity with Swayzak.
© Paul Simpson /TiVo


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