James Clements, best known as ASC, is an astoundingly prolific producer of deeply atmospheric electronic music ranging from drum'n'bass to ambient, all with a fixation on space and science fiction.
Throughout the 2000s, he became known for experimental drum'n'bass tracks featuring highly intricate beat programming and a sense of weightlessness, which set them apart from the genre's more club-oriented side. Following 2009's The Astral Traveller, one of the final releases on Clements' Covert Operations label, ASC turned a new leaf with 2010's Nothing Is Certain. Along with works by dBridge and Instra:mental, the acclaimed album was one of the key releases of the autonomic subgenre, a hard-to-define mixture of drum'n'bass, IDM, techno, dubstep, and other styles. While ASC continued exploring this hybrid on releases such as 2012's Out of Sync, much of his output during the decade consisted of deep space ambient releases like 2016's No Stars Without Darkness, as well as abstract techno albums such as 2018's Astral Projection.
James Clements was born in England and raised in different parts of the country. With early influences including Motown, techno, and the U.K. hardcore/rave scene, he began to DJ on pirate radio while in high school, and started to produce drum'n'bass tracks in 1997. Starting in 2000, ASC released tracks on labels like Nu-Directions, LTJ Bukem's Looking Good Records, and Clements' own Covert Operations. His debut album, Environments, was released by Nu-Directions in 2003, followed by Open Spaces (on Testflight Recordings) in 2004. Around this time, Clements relocated to San Diego to live with his future wife, Christine Clements (dubstep producer Vaccine). While he continued releasing drum'n'bass as ASC, he also explored dubstep and ambient techno as Intex Systems, and dub techno as Mindspan. In 2009, the ASC full-length Heights of Perception was released digitally by Thermal Recordings, and The Astral Traveller was the final album on Covert Operations.
In 2009, London producers dBridge and Instra:mental started a podcast and club night called Autonomic, which gave a name to the hybrid 170 BPM sound they and ASC had been establishing. Released by Nonplus, the label run by Instra:mental's Alexander Green (aka Boddika), 2010's Nothing Is Certain found ASC moving further away from drum'n'bass. ASC co-founded an Autonomic-inspired club night called 170SD in 2011, and his "Starkwood" single was released by the short-lived Autonomic label. ASC's first ambient full-length, The Light That Burns Twice as Bright, was released by the Canadian label Silent Season during the same year. Several more ambient albums followed on Silent Season, while more beat-driven recordings appeared on Clements' Auxiliary label, and others such as Samurai Red Seal (2012's Out of Sync, 2015's Imagine the Future). By 2018, ASC's rhythmic output was far closer to techno than drum'n'bass, as reflected by singles on labels like Konstrukt and Semantica, and the 2018 full-length Astral Projection (on Horo). ~ Paul Simpson, Rovi