Artist Spotlight: Juno Reactor

Usually I do these chronologically, as most artists have a career arc of building to (x) and then declining, and that leads to a fairly easy narrative to construct. Juno Reactor don’t have any sort of narrative, as they seem to have never really broken through past a certain level. Their best-known work was in a landmark film, but no one knows who the hell they are.

Juno Reactor was formed in the early 90s by British musician/producer Ben Watkins; Watkins had an Eno-esque desire to make non-commercial music that was a collaboration with artists in other media – films, installations, etc. Watkins had spent some time traveling the world with a DAT recorder, and after meeting up with some like-minded individuals, the Juno Reactor project was launched. With the rotating cast of collaborators, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say Ben Watkins essentially equals Juno Reactor.

Juno is unique (to me, at least – I’m not steeped in the scene so maybe the reason they’ve never broken out is because they’re unremarkable) in that they can smoothly oscillate from ambient-style work to more in-your face pieces, and incorporate a large amount of world music and orchestral influences into the mix. Even so, they’re probably most well known as collaborators – teaming with Don Davis on the soundtracks to The Matrix trilogy, and producing Traci Lords’ debut album.

Their own career has been more low-key; they’ve never had the breakthrough hit, or even an underground hit, or a big tour – they just continue doing their thing and appearing at big festivals.

Said thing being really fvckin’ cool….onstage comes across as Cirque du Soleil crossed with Prodigy…

Aside from the Matrix soundtracks, I don’t think you can go wrong with Shango(whose track “Pistolero” was featured in Once Upon a Time in Mexico) or Bible of Dreams (which contains my personal favourite JR track, “Swamp Thing”)