“If you want a taste of the chill-out rooms of the early 90s raves and the after-rave come down sessions in someone’s front room on the sofas as the dawn fights its way through the tightly closed curtains, here it is.” (Alka71)
I didn’t fully appreciate Kraftwerk until I bought The Mix during the weird summer of 1991. While The Electric Café was in my collection for a few years at that point, it wasn’t until I heard the remix of Radioactivity that their genius finally clicked. I also had the 7″ with mixes by François Kevorkian (not Pitton) and William Orbit. The Mix was preceded by The Robots, never sounding as urgent as that single edit. On the album it lasts 8:56 and is followed by a beautifully updated Computer Love. Side 2 consists of Pocket Calculator, Dentaku and a radically different Autobahn. Meanwhile side 3 sees Trans Europe Express followed by the enigmatic Abzug & Metal On Metal (on the 1977 LP it’s reversed) while Home Computer and Music Non-Stop see us home. Please note: Home Computer also includes elements from It’s More Fun To Compute. Music Non Stop also includes elements from Boing Boom Tschak. It later became a jingle on MTV Europe.
The A to Z of essential credentials and ingredients for making dance music:
A: Arse / Attitude
B: Bass / Bollocks
D: Dancefloor / Drum Club / Drum machine / Drugs
E: ‘Ere we go / Ears
F: Farty noises / Four on the floor
H: House music / Handbag
K: Keith Richards / Ken Dodd
M: Melon / Mix
N: Natural / New
Q: Quality control
T: Techno / Trance trousers
U: Underground / Underpants
V: Van / Versality
X: Marks the spot
Y: do you wanna make dance records?
While it was trailed in Volume Seven, it was the NME advert and review for Trance Europe Express that made us five lads living at 47 Marlborough Road, fork out for the double CD edition. There were two turntables in the flat but the quadruple vinyl set seemed like too much effort – who really wants to get up and turn the record over every three tracks? – especially when it was to soundtrack late night sessions. We all went our separate ways in July 1994; the outer sleeve went AWOL while one person took the book and another the CDs. I ended up buying my own copy shortly afterwards.
So we start with Orbital and the brain dance of Semi-Detached. Nine and a half minutes of bliss that could sometimes seem like weeks. It was also the era of the brown album; safely stashed in my bedroom. It would later appear on the Diversions EP of 1994 but for then, it was the perfect scene-setter. In the text, Paul & Phil pick an all time top 10 which included The Archies, Kraftwerk, Kate Bush and Wim Mertens. Their current listening encompasses The Black Dog, Disciples Of Gaia, Underworld and Bjork. The busy comedown flutter of Bandulu’s Gravity Pull follows with Berlin’s Readymade dropping the most uplifting dawn regenerator Face The Day. A trip to Spar in Ranelagh at 6.00am was a common journey.
“Bad music has no soul” says Steve Hillage. System 7’s Desir is a smooth trance monster, a gem that deserves its place when the history of the genre is written. On Dick O’Dell’s Guerrilla label come self-confessed Spooky in tow with Billie Ray Martin on a Throbbing Gristle cover Persuasion. The languid mood continues on Material’s Praying Mantra before we get hit with Warp on track 7, Carceres Ex Novum combined with reading a list of the label’s top successes really takes me back to those days: Sweet Exorcist, LFO, the Artificial Intelligence compilation, Polygon Window…. The Black Dog have no photos because there are no vocals. In their all time top 10 they cite the Stones and the Human League’s Being Boiled. D Barcles on the remix of Xeper that appears here: “This sounds like Stone Roses meets Radiohead’s entire output since 2010. But made in ’93.”
The Scubadevils’ Celestial Symphony has an interesting back story. Consisting of Dub Foundation’s Andy Ellison and Pete Latham along with Belfast DJ David Holmes, the track sounds exactly like you’d expect – heavenly and hypnotic. Read the comments on the You Tube video here. “It was pleasure to work with David Holmes on this but I prefer the remix that Pete and I did.” Moving on to 030 and the beguiling Midnight In Europe. I forgot to mention the female dancer in the corner of every page, by the time of Cosmic Baby’s pounding Space Track, she is motoring. Last but one, Youth’s Dragonfly records’ signings Total Eclipse and the mutant techno of Black Hole. CD1 then concludes with CJ Bolland’s swirling clatter of Random. All time favourite – The KLF Chill Out.
Disc 2 kicks off with MLO and then Source whose first record was Jean Michel Jarre’s Oxygene. The former’s Colour Of The Sun is a nifty banger with well-placed vocal samples while It’s A Kind Of Magic from Source is symphonic in its execution. After this opening assault, the tempo drops completely with Aphex Twin’s Analogue Bubblebath 3. An ambient masterpiece that’s been hugely influential on me. The text is very illuminating, interspersed with Joe Meek history and a mis-titling of Select Ambient Works to 78-85. I remember buying that stunning debut LP in the record shop along Merchant’s Arch. Appropriately faceless. And then The Orb with Majestic, complete with many samples including Life Of Brian. Tales are told of their strife with Big Life, yet any uploads of their tracks are routinely pulled off YouTube at the behest of a band member. In his own words: “I make stupid emotionally-based decisions, and I am very anxious.” Word.
You’ll remember the Moody Boyz from their work with The KLF – from Kylie Said To Jason to Last Train To Trancentral. Another act whose attitude to their own legacy is most disappointing, thereby denying new fans the chance to experience it they way we did. Glitch is functional tech house that sits well against Moby’s brooding Move. Check out the interesting Q&A with him too. Feeling So Real would subsequently become a house party anthem in Dublin 6, a euphoric rush. DiY – Washed Over By Masteman continues the rather downbeat groove before the gorgeous Follow The Sun courtesy of The Drum Club. A totally blissed out masterpiece – a key to understanding their DNA is in two of the records cited in the interview: Cocteau Twins – Pink Orange Red and The Beloved’s Sun Rising.
Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia always struck me as an unwieldy and affected moniker. But Dust is fabulous, a lovely bassline that builds. Next Barbarella AKA Sven Vath and The Mission, not a Morricone cover but a moody slice of electronica. I’m coming down: Sabres Of Paradise – Inter/Lergen/Ten/Ko and shades of Sledgehammer meeting Tour De France. The interview is brilliant too; won’t give much away but I find it poignant given Andrew’s death earlier this year. Lastly: “In a change to our normal tutorial I’d like to invite all pupils to my house on Saturday evening and we can discuss Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.” We were also asked to bring some music. I ran off a copy of Trance Induction’s N on the basis that we could all get high on techno. You should try it too.
Orbital – Semi Detached
System 7 – Desir
The Drum Club – Follow The Sun
Lest we forget
Trance Induction – N