& co: Drifting Stars (1994)

The remixing arm of the Dark Company project was named & co, and Drifting Stars is the album that features various club remixes of assorted songs from the Dark Company albums Rage in Heaven, Alien Heat and Ghost of the Art.

Tracks by & co have a strong dance flavour and tend to lack guitars and vocals. You could compare the relationship between & co and Dark Company to that of Eat Static and Ozric Tentacles.

The name & co seems rather strange, yet the name was chosen for various reasons, despite it being hard to find this music using an internet search engine. The name needed to be some kind of echo of Dark Company. The ampersand symbol comes from the title of the song Armed & Dangerous which spawned this musical outfit. The name also needed to be somewhat non-descript and anonymous to reflect the blank non-communicative aloof and elite DJs of the music scene of that era and the nameless white label vinyl records which they played and were so prized by fans.

It was Jeff who was inadvertently responsible for beginning the & co project when he started to fool around, making dub mixes on the old Silent Running Studios mixing desk. The results of these early twiddlings can be heard among the bonus tracks of Dark Company’s Signmaker album, when Jeff and George both produced remixes of Dark Company’s Armed & Dangerous. Those particular remixes are fascinting historical relics of the recording of that glorious allegorical piece of progressive rock, as they contain audio from the eight-track reel-to-reel that was later deleted when subsequent parts that you can hear on the final released version of Armed & Dangerous were laid down.

Jeff was the main creator of & co tracks during the days of Dark Company’s first incarnation. More of the & co material began to be created in earnest when Dark Company had shrunk to just three humans and a lot of electronics, the period regarded as their second incarnation.

By the time Pete retired for the night following a long session of music creation for Dark Company on the Atari and the studio synths, the air in the place had inevitably become thick and smoky for the time of year. Jeff would then develop a Dark Company song into an & co remix by taking just three or four elements of the sequencer track and writing new parts using the same sounds.

If you listen very carefully to the original songs and the remixes, you may discover the parts and phrases they share. They are not always obvious – it might be only a bongo and a hi-hat from one song, and just a tambourine and a cowbell from another. George would assist by operating the Rizlas, interjecting occasional random guitar licks, and providing technical assistance when it was needed. Remixes that were created by George tended to be solitary activities.

Jeff would take the & co tracks he created and include them in his DJ sets, where they would please the crowds and fill the floors. He was a well-known and highly regarded DJ on the free party and club scene during the 1990s as well as being an amazing multi-instrumental talent and Dark Company’s bass player. When wearing his DJ hat, he was known as Jeff the Bass, or just Jeff Bass, and occasionally: Jeff the Bass (Lost In Space!). His talent was hot property and he also played bass in The Jazz Posse, Jazznost and Edward Bear.

Some of the tracks on Drifting Stars are original and were never intended to be Dark Company songs. Original & co tracks do not contain the term RMX in their title.

When other tracks are uploaded to Drifting Stars, we shall publish these developments in our News service and on Twitter, so be sure to follow us and subsribe to these pages.