A UK graffiti pioneer, REQ ONE - aka REQ TDK, or simply REQ - began painting walls in his native city of Brighton in 1984, initially as part of the TFU crew (The Fuckest Uppest) and then more prominently as part of the TDK crew (The Dusty Knights) with SHE ONE, CARD2 / VISOR, Vinnie Nylon a.k.a. BUICK, NOZAL / JAS and EUROH. Typically produced on a Casio FZ-1 and mastered direct to a 4 track tape machine, his first musical EPs and album releases emerged a little over a decade later in 1995 on renowned UK label Skint Records, followed a few years later by releases on FatCat Records, Ultimate Dilemma, Plush, Blue Juice, and Warp Records.
His double album for Seagrave collects a range of lost or otherwise forgotten fragments from 1994-2000, and sustains the humble, yet disarming b-boy machinism of his first official releases.
Rather than sequenced chronologically, each of the four sides are instead assembled for mood and vibe, presenting the diversity of REQ's reinterpretation and reconfiguration of 80s-90s hip-hop culture: some of his earliest pre-Skint stylings - scuffed percussive pieces and claustro-delic, close-to-the-wall micro-shuffles - are succeeded by a cluster of far bolder, lino-cut b-boy breaks and muted horn stabs, then by live percussive jams with jump-up energy, and finally, by instances of silky electro and lumpen, playful, cartoon skits. Across the album, REQ's palette of preferences manages to remain simultaneously Brightonian and Galaxian in spirit.
Whilst these late 20th century tracks remain inspiring archaeological pieces, integral as they were to the mid-to-late 90s trip-hop scene, it was perhaps more significantly the under-acknowledged influence that REQ's experiments with tape-recorded beats had on the recent wave of younger producers, who like him, continue to deliberately forgo the hi-fidelity audio of the present digital era, seeking instead 'obsolete' machines and techniques for their character and texture.
Despite painting a couple of 'GRAVER' pieces in and around the Black Rock area of Brighton with Seagrave's DYR ONE in spring of last year, plus a number of other graphic duties for Seagrave, REQ has made a general transition from graffiti lettering to life drawing and painting over the last decade and a half.
New music will emerge. Look out for at least one REQ 12" on Seagrave in the coming year, plus an adjacent tape project that encompasses his more recent work with his friend and muse Smudge.
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