The brainchild of veteran producers Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani, Metro Area was born out of the pair’s somewhat dichotomous love for both the classic moods of R&B, disco and boogie and innovative, modern dance music. Metro Area brings back the soulful experimentation of the early club classics, mixing live and electronic instruments. Simultaneously, the mood and minimalism of more recent forms creep into the mix: Detroit’s cold futurism, Chicago’s abstract track-modes, the warmth of New York and New Jersey’s deep house and the experimentation of brave pop music. All of these influences combine with the duo’s unique perspective to create a distinctive sound that is unmistakably their own.
After over a year of late-night sessions in New Jersey and Manhattan, Metro Area finally onto the scene in 1999 with their self-titled debut 12” featuring the cult smash “Atmosphrique.” With an angular bassline underpinned by a grungy 4/4 disco beat and the most distinctive claps this side of 1977, “Atmosphrique” sounds futuristic and retro at the same time, and spawned myriad heated debates concerning the record’s production date. Most of all, it left both DJs and dancers wanting more, and 2000 saw the release of the Metro Area 2 EP and its equally diverse follow-up, Metro Area 3, which included the melancholy anthem “Caught Up,” a deadly cocktail of tender Prelude-style disco violins, metallic percussion à la 1980 New York and Detroit’s electronic atmospherics. With only three releases to their name, Metro Area had made an indelible imprint on the world of dance music.
However, the runaway success of Metro Area 4 EP (released November 2001) surpassed all expectation, not least the duo’s own. The feature track “Miura”, a sinister, spare and pulsating antidote to the melancholic sweetness of “Caught Up,” captured the imagination of a broad cross-section of DJs, dancers and listeners from almost every genre. Ubiquitously charted and still played with reverence today, “Miura” fueled sales of close to 20,000 vinyl copies of the EP, with myriad compilation appearances, digital sales and a not-insignificant number of bootlegs.
Exactly a year after Metro Area 4, Metro Area’s self-titled debut album finally emerged on Geist’s Environ label (via Source/Virgin in Europe). Comprised of the strongest tracks from their 12” series plus 4 new tracks, the CD/LP elicited superlative responses from The New York Times to The Onion, from online blogs to BBC and The Wire. Metro Area won a place among Rolling Stone’s “Top 50 Albums of 2002,” a rock- and rap-dominated list from which dance music was usually excluded. Other accolades included BBC/Radio 1’s “Dance Album of the Year,” nomination for the 2003 Shortlist of Music, and the “Best New Artist” prize at the 2003 DanceStar/American Dance Awards, XLR8R’s Top Dance Albums of the Decade and others. In 2010, Resident Advisor awarded Metro Area’s “Miura” #1 in its “Top 100 Tracks of the Decade” poll and their debut album #2 in “Top 100 Albums of the Decade.”
The duo’s last Metro Area EP to date, Metro Area 7, featured “Read My Mind” (Metro Area’s first proper vocal track, with singer Philip Owusu) was released to rave reviews in October 2007. 2008 brought the release of Fabric 43, a mixed CD for the UK nightlife giant. 2012 saw the release of Metro Area 5 & 6, a remastered mini-album that pulled the remaining two vinyl-only EPs (originally issued in 2004 and 2005) into the digital world. A remastered package of their classic early A-sides will be released summer 2013.
Alongside their original productions, Metro Area have continued to remix and perform. While their much-loved live performances were put on hiatus in 2003, Metro Area continue to tour extensively as acclaimed DJs, playing their distinct and individualistic style to crowds from Norway to Japan to South Africa, at tiny specialist clubs to massive festivals. However, 2013 marks the duo returning to performing their music live for the first time in over a decade, commencing in May with two-month European tour.
Outside of Metro Area, Morgan and Darshan have taken time to cultivate their various solo projects. In an echo of the Metro Area’s beginnings, Morgan’s most recent solo productions as Storm Queen have gained footing within the span of only three releases, including licenses to dance music giant Defected Records. He continues to run his esteemed Environ label. Meanwhile, Darshan is readying the first releases for his new label, Startree. His first solo productions for Startree (plus some new solo remixes for other artists) arrive spring 2013.