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absolutely records / phunk investigation / taormina / biba-rom / white spaces

Stefano Silvestri
Dino Maggiorana

Phunk Investigation hail from the premier league of Italian Dance Music. This successful duo have been impressing us for years with their top class productions, from their incredible mainstream work with George Michael 'Flawless' and The Ones to their skilfully crafted club grooves and dubs. Phunk Investigation are known for producing and remixing artists such as Way Out West, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Light House Family, Rhythm Masters, Simple Minds, Boy George... the list really does go on and on! Their ultimate hits have been 'Get Up Stand Up' by Stellar Project (UK top 14) and Hound Dogs 'I Like Girls' (number 26 in the UK charts for five weeks).
Naples based Absolutely Records was founded in 2001 by Stefano Silvestri and Dino Maggiorana. Both had been active in the recording industry: Stefano’s various professions such as A&R, producer and remixer saw him working with UMM, UMD, Billy Ray Martin, Karen Ramirez and Planet Funk; whilst Dino was a producer, remixer and sound engineer. The pair had released various remixes under the guise of Phunk Investigation for several years and founding their own label was the next logical step.

Their participation with Simple Minds was probably the impetus to found the label. Both were involved in the Neon Lights/ Cry recording sessions after being introduced to Jim when he moved to Sicily in 2000. Dino co-wrote some of the key tracks on the album, whilst Phunk Investigation reworked Gloria for the covers album, giving it the hard techno sound associated with their name. Stefano’s connections with Planet Funk also helped, leading to the recording of One Step Closer with the band. And with the newly formed Absolutely Records, they cheekily released The Floating World as a single sided 12” under the name Taormina.

Simple Minds were keen to release mainstream material through their major label (Eagle) whilst leaving remixes and reworks to Absolutely. Therefore as the main Cry singles appeared through Eagle (Cry and Spaceface), remixes later followed via Absolutely Records, comprising of radical Phunk Investigation reworks, and remixes by artists who’d later break onto the international stage (Tomcraft and Stonebridge in particular). In the meantime, Dino and Stefano worked up a roster of clients, regularly releasing hip new acts and contemporary remixes on DJ friendly 12” vinyl. A year after the Cry album and tour, Jim returned to the studio and re-recorded Don’t You (Forget About Me). The result, duly remixed by Stefano and Dino, was released as Biba-Rom, the name of Jim’s old school band (which existed many years before the formation of Johnny And The Self Abusers). They also used the Biba-Rom name for a radical, funked up reworking of One Step Closer. This prompted speculation that the rumoured remix album could be appearing, although nothing came of it. Dino and Stefano suggested further new remixes of older Simple Minds material. Jim obliged, asking that the duo change their name to White Spaces; the meaning behind the naming appearing twofold: being partly inspired by their promo photograph, which was printed as a negative; and it suited the concept of making a musical outline to be filled in by guest artists. Further remixes appeared, including Alive And Kicking and The Man Who Sold The World, all released as “White Spaces featuring Jim Kerr”. By the end of 2004, in conjunction with the Vodaphone campaign, the Don’t You (Forget About Me) remixes were resurrected, and reworked by another set of DJs. Issued as either White Spaces featuring Jim Kerr or Simple Minds, the relationship between the Sicilian trio and the band Simple Minds became further blurred. The Phunk Investigation name, now long established in its own right, was kept for harder edged, contemporary remixes whilst White Spaces remixes tended to be softer and closer to the original song. During the recording and release of Black And White 050505, Absolutely Records were unfortunately absent, but this changed when they took on the various remixes of the Different World with gusto.