On a Sunday in November, shortly after lunch hour in Europe, the internet seemed to hold its breath for a second. Then, like swarm of insects, the noise started filling the wires again. It was November 14th, 2009, when Dominic Stanton, better known as Domu, announced his good-bye from music making. I suffered long and hard before I could express some words about it. Today, I’m sharing my little Domu story with you.
By the end of the nineties, I’ve become a true drum & bass head and labels like Reinforced or Moving Shadow were among the ones to look out for. Still, I couldn’t tell when I first came across Sonar Circle, the moniker Domu was using at the time. However, I do remember when I first heard Message to Omar when it came out on Archive in 2000. It was only the second 12-inch under the name of Domu and I got myself a copy as it came out on one of the hottest labels at the time. Archive also released Body Electric, a song that is the perfect blueprint of the many other tracks and remixes to come.
If it’s not those scattered snares, then it was definitely that warm synthesizer that won my heart and made me become a vivid collector of most Domu releases to come. And that wasn’t always an easy task, if you look at that long list of remixes alone. By adding the names Umod and Zoltar to his portfolio, or collaborations like Rima, Kudu, Bakura and Yotoko (just to name a few!), digging for anything Dominic Stanton had become a sport of its own. But when it comes to sports, there is no limit to my ambition.
Though I don’t want to be put in the situation to choose my favourites, the years 2001/02 were certainly my favourite period of Domu’s career. For King Britt’s Scuba project he layed down the devastating Give It All remix, for Big Bang he created the percussion-galore called Pressure. 2000black put out the massive Save It, a track written by label-founder Dego and featuring his longtime-collaborator Face on vocals. The track features some of the most bizarre, yet funniest lyrics I have ever heard. It became an instant favourite. In the same period, Domu created the masterpieces One Last Look and his remix of Rednose Distrikt’s NY Boom.
In 2004, Domu surprised his fans with a change in style. For the Japanese market only, the Discotech mini-album was released, while the rest of the world only got an EP with four of the tracks. Discotech was Domu walking in the footsteps of Moodymann and Theo Parrish, his homage to the city of Detroit and its music. Around the same time, Jazzanova’s Sonar Kollektiv label unleashed the Umod project. Another name, another sound – well, almost. Think of all your favourite Domu ingredients and use them to create a hip-hop album: Enter the Umod. For me this record not only meant a new kind of music, it also had one of the best cover artworks, and in Rest With You I found my favourite tune that year. In some odd way it can be regarded as a precursor to the quirky instrumental hip-hop that is not so uncommon anymore these days.
Between 2003 and 2006, it not only became more difficult to track down all the remixes under various Dominic Stanton aliases, but it was also the time when my wallet was constantly starving. Domu released more remixes than ever, including some for comparably “big” labels like Ninja Tune, Sonar Kollektiv, Grand Central or Especial.
So, while most of my favourite Domu records were put out in that period of 2001/02, there are two of his later releases which I count to my absolute favourites. First comes his post-Rogue 12-inch Dangerous Times and second his remix of Ben Westbeech’s So Good Today. Incidentally, these were also the last two Domu records I have added to my collection until the Springbreak EP came out last year.
The first DJ set I heard from Domu was the Co-op Easter Spesh 2005, which was aired on Benji B’s Deviation show. Only a few months later, on one of my annual trips to London, I came to witness my hero for the first time at a party at Cargo. Wow! Simply one of the best DJs I have ever heard and fortunately not for the last time. I’m sure many will agree without ever having been to a party with him on the line-up. There was a time when Domu recorded a new mixtape every month. On these, he not only proved his skill to smash dancefloors around the world, but also established a reputation as one of the most versatile and knowledgable DJs on the planet.
Now, having told my story, at least a small portion of it, what do I think about him quitting? It’s quite really, I respect his decision, in fact I think I can say that I understand it as well. If you have been following his (highly enjoyable) blog for a while, you might agree that his decision was somehow foreseeable. To me Domu seemed fed up with making music for a long time, even though it might have appeared like a temporary low at first. I think you can even hear it in his last music from the last year. While it still had an undeniable Domu touch, it also seemed worn out, something that doesn’t surprise you anymore. At least I stopped buying any of his music all of a sudden.
There is this video from 2007, in which Arision label founder Simone Serritella (aka Big Bang) is having a conversation with Domu. When I first watched it, I didn’t take further notice. In retrospective, however, it can be interpreted differently: Could it be that Domu had been thinking about an end for quite some time already?
So, I don’t want to deny there is some sadness to the story. But I’d rather see a self-respectful Domu who knows when to pull the plug, than get tired of one of my idols and eventually turn my back on him. In the video above, he mentions writing would be something he’d love to do and I think that’s great idea! His blog posts were something to look forward, well written and highly entertaining. But whatever he chooses to do, don’t worry about his music – it’s a rich legacy and it’s here to stay!
Whether you haven’t heard about Domu before or you just want to go nostalgic, there were a bunch of radioshows and podcasts paying tribute. So far I have only listened to Moonstarr’s Future Classic Radio and the Beyondjazz Domu ’99-’01 Tribute Mix. Both are focusing on Domu’s early period, hence I can recommend them both. More tributes come from Urban Landscapes Radio, Just A Groove, DJ Offbeat and Beane the Noodler. And Cubikmusik has an exclusive mix from Domu, in which he plays some of the music that influenced him. Make sure you read the anecdotes to each of the tracks he’s playing.
If you want to catch up on Domu’s music, Thru Thought’s One Offs, Remixes and B-Sides is a good way to start, the first CD contains mostly music from Domu’s early 12-inches, while the second half focuses on his later remixes. Another compilation is available on Papa Records and was compiled and mixed by Domu himself, it’s called Sounds for the Soul Volume 4. From Japanese label Especial comes Domu’s Disco Jazz Volume 1, a mixed CD that’s part of the label’s DJ Classics series.
Unfortunately, there are no more official Domu sites to link to. The TrebleO website, MySpace, SoundCloud and Facebook – all have been deleted. Thanks to various web-caches, I managed to get a copy of his final blog post, in case you want to read a second time or check out the many comments. Feel free to link to it! You are also more than welcome to share your Domu story in a comment below.
April 4, 2010 Here’s a bunch of mixtapes posted by Domu over the years