Widely recognized as one of the world's greatest electronic-music producers, remixers, and DJs, Andrew Weatherall passed away today at age 56 of pulmonary embolism, according to a statement released by his management. Weatherall came up through the UK's late-'80s acid-house scene, DJing at the influential club night Shoom. He also co-ran the rave-culture zine Boy's Own, which evolved into the label Boy's Own Recordings, notorious for issuing early works by Underworld and Chemical Brothers.
Weatherall broke into the remixing game with his and Paul Oakenfold's revamp of Happy Mondays' "Hallelujah." This led to Weatherall reworking Saint Etienne's cover of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," Primal Scream's "Come Together," New Order's "World in Motion," My Bloody Valentine's "Soon," and many others. With his remix skills, Weatherall enhanced the original tracks' danceability while adding off-kilter, psychedelic elements. As a producer, he is best known for helping to make Primal Scream's 1991 LP Screamadelica a blissful and propulsive fusion of acid house, psych-rock, and dub; the album has gone on to attain classic status, ranking as one of the definitive documents of '90s music. He also worked on Fuck Buttons' ambitious 2009 album, Tarot Sport.
Besides all of this activity, Weatherall headed two important electronic groups in the '90s and '00s, Sabres of Paradise and Two Lone Swordsmen, both of whom recorded for the excellent Warp Records. The former unit with Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns created a lumbering, sinister strain of techno with edgy trip-hop and dub undertones, culminating in 1994's Haunted Dancehall. With Two Lone Swordsmen—which also featured Keith Tenniswood—Weatherall helmed three classic albums (The Fifth Mission [Return to the Flightpath Estate], Stay Down, Tiny Reminders) that took electro and experimental techno down some unusual back roads. I played the hell out of these releases on my radio show at WCSB in Cleveland, and they still sound wicked, reveling in their own enigmatic sound worlds.
TLS later deviated into electro-rock with 2004's From the Double Gone Chapel, featuring, to many people's surprise, Weatherall singing (he'd played in post-punk bands in the '80s, so this was somewhat of a return to his roots). The record even included a ripping cover of Gun Club's "Sex Beat." In a review in these pages, I wrote: "This album sounds more like the Fall's ragged garage-rockabilly than TLS's angular, warped IDM symphonies. But rather than mercenary trend-hopping, Chapel comes off as a skilled detour from veteran musicians who can adapt to many styles without losing their edge—to paraphrase LCD Soundsystem, who'd probably dig this album." As late as 2017, Weatherall went off on another tangent with his brilliant krautrock homage, Qualia, whose cover replicates that of Walter Wegmüller's 1973 kosmische klassik, Tarot.
This obit only scratches the surface of Weatherall's accomplishments. Dig deeper into his vast discography and you'll have your head zonked by a variety of sonic delights for years to come.