The name µ-Ziq
was first on the list when it came to Mike Paradinas choosing a tag to accompany his debut release on Rephlex in 1993. And no wonder. Pronounced simply "music" not only is it all-encompassing but it also serves as the only logical way to describe the multi-faceted and unique new sounds he's conjuring up at any given time. Due to Paradinas' consummate skill at incorporating an array of disparate musical styles and references into his work, it becomes impossible to pigeonhole his music into any easily definable categories such as 'dance' or 'rock' or whatever. Suffice to say, he has become one of very few artists working with electronics to produce a recognisable and personalised sound whilst at the same time mixing far-reaching experimentalism with accessibility through infectious melodies and rhythms. Achieving healthy record sales AND staying true to the pioneering spirit of the 'underground' is no-mean feat.
Hailing from South West London, Paradinas began operating under the name µ-ziq in 1992 whilst studying for a degree in architecture at Kingston. He eventually left before completing the course, partially due to lack of interest, but more importantly to concentrate all efforts towards his musical preoccupations on a more full time basis. Early recordings first emerged on the Rephlex label with the album Tango n' Vectif
followed a few months later by a second Bluff Limbo
– on its initial release of 800 copies, it rapidly gained a notoriety out of all proportion to its availability, even entering the NME Top 50 albums of the year. 'Tango' meanwhile, has gone on to sell in excess of 60, 000 world-wide. In March 1995, Mike launched his own imprint, Planet µ
in association with Hut Recordings, and released Salsa With Mesquite
followed later in the year by the eclectic album In Pine Effect
. "The difference is that where the Aphex Twin's topographical doodles suggest undiscovered, unpeopled planets of techno, µ-Ziq's approach is a good deal more emotional, attempting to tap into the inner, surfing the soul... This is 'techno' elevated above the more functionalism of the dancefloor, lighting fires in the heart and painting pictures for the mind's eye." (Melody Maker).
May 1997 saw the release of Lunatic Harness
, his third µ-Ziq album proper, and saw Mike introducing aspects of drum & bass programming even more into his music, mixing this with elements of twisted hip hop together with his own inimitable style. Though he may incorporate these elements in to his music, Mike never lets these influences smother a track entirely, instead mixing it all up into an end result which is both innovative and new. And whilst the more conservative of Junglist cliques at the time might well have regarded these recordings as 'dangerous revisionism' within the genre, those who welcomed a progression from the then current coffee-table breakbeat styles weren't to be disappointed. At 100 000 world-wide sales (and still counting) Lunatic Harness
has so far proved to be the most successful and truly international µ-Ziq release to date.
Mike is no stranger to the live circuit either. And he actually plays 'live', as opposed to playing from DAT: "Water falls on the equipment and it blows up. It's only then that people realise its not all on tape". He's been playing live as, well as DJ-ing up and down the country since 1994, often taking his roadshow even further afield to San Francisco and Tokyo (with Jega and Luke Vibert) and more recently as support act on Bjork's 1998 year long world tour including Stateside, South American and European dates. In fact, Mike's popularity now stretches further afield than the UK including healthy fanbases in Germany, Japan and in the U.S. Last year Mike launched an independently distributed division of Planet µ, releasing the debut album by Manchester's Jega (who's previous releases had been on Manchester's Skam imprint) followed by albums by Horse Opera and Slag Boom Van Loon. Already the label has justifiably gained a healthy reputation for quality leftfield output and looks set to consolidate these successes with Mike's increasingly commercial µ-Ziq material early next year.
Paradinas also operates under a variety of pseudonyms such as Jake Slazenger (Warp), Tusken Raiders (Clear), Gary Moscheles (SSR), Kid Spatula (Reflective), to name but a few, and has also collaborated with Luke Vibert as Smooth Helmet, Richard ("Aphex") James as Mike & Rich for the album Expert Knob Twiddlers
and with Jochem Paap (Speedy J) as Slag Boom Van Loon, though it is under the name µ-Ziq that he is best known.
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