Magazine \ Features \ Features

Hearts of Darkness

Deep house veterans crack the Mujina Code

2016 Sep 28     
2 Bit Thugs

Al Bradley and Deadbeat Disco buddy Phil Towers unveil their new label and production alias

Hearts of Darkness may have only just released their debut single, but the musical partnership of Al Bradley and Phil Towers stretches back 13 years, to a 10-minute meeting at the Miami Winter Music Conference.

"Al was in industry mode handing out CDs for his 3am Recordings label, and I was out there with my pal Leigh [Williamson] as Cosmic Groove Transmission," Towers remembers. "After that, we found there was a lot of common ground and started DJing together a lot".

The pair have been firm friends and DJ buddies ever since, running parties together in Leeds, DJing for Bugged Out! and fabric, and hosting Pulse Radio's popular and long-running Deadbeat Disco radio show. In many ways, it was inevitable that they would eventually get together in the studio. Two years ago, they started doing just that, and Hearts of Darkness was formed.

"We certainly took our time to bring a record out and be happy," Bradley says. "We didn't want to just chuck something out as fast as possible."

Towers nods in agreement. "We wanted to be part of the solution, not part of the problem!"

The duo's collaborative debut, Something From Nothing, is as quietly confident and well observed as you'd expect from a partnership with vast knowledge of house and techno's past and present.


"I definitely look back a lot musically," Towers admits. "[Older releases] seem to stand the test of time a lot more."

Bradley shakes his head. "I'm up to speed with modern stuff," he asserts. "I can remind Phil that most of his musical heroes are dead!"

Created almost entirely using vintage analogue hardware, the 12-inch boasts a quartet of cuts that variously doff a cap to early 90s Detroit, dub techno, the jackin' house sound of Chicago, East Midlands deep house and mid-80s machine music. As you might expect from two seasoned selectors, It's a noticeably DJ-friendly affair.

"The idea is that they are moments over an evening's set - warm-up, peak-time, and so on - put to vinyl," Towers says. "We want to give back a bit more musically to people who buy the 12-inch. If that means we sell fewer, so be it. I'd hang myself if we were trying to be like most of today's identikit house music."

Something From Nothing appeared in stores late last week, immediately climbing the Juno sales charts. It also marks the debut of their vinyl-focused label, Mujina Code, which in future will boast releases from like-minded artists as well as Hearts of Darkness material.

"A Mujina is a shape-shifting badger from Japanese folklore, and we liked the idea that they are trying to live by a code that preserves their way of life," Bradley muses.

Towers quickly interjects: "It's a bit like looking at old music and passing it forward to a new generation, but still keeping in tune with what's happening now. I guess the point is that we want to tread a different path, preferably with Mujina in the shadows... and with backpacks full of biscuits!"

Words: Matt Anniss

Something From Nothing is out now on Mujina Code

Follow Hearts of Darkness: Soundcloud





Tags: Hearts of Darkness, Mujina Code, Al Bradley, 3am Recordings, Phil Towers, Cosmic Groove Transmission, deep house, fabric, Bugged Out!, Pulse Radio, Deadbeat Disco