“You know you’re feeling elated, lost in wonder, not out of your cranium but wondering why there seem to be continents on the moon, and suddenly a dark cloud descends and you’re enveloped by gloom? Hole are those kind of party-poopers. Their ability to depress in the name of entertainment is unrivalled.” (Dele Fadele, 1991)
The second volume of Trance Europe Express appeared at the end of May 1994; some eight weeks after Hole released Live Through This – in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s death. It’s synonymous with the end of the college year and exams. Of cramming in the library and cycling home in the fading light. Back then I just had a taped copy; I didn’t pick up the CD version until later that summer. Dele Fadele – of my favourite NME writers – was a contributor to this one. He passed away in 2018 but the news only broke in recent weeks.
I usually hit play on my Walkman as I walked to bicycle racks. I was never in a rush at that time of night; it was a leisurely spin home, one where I’d let the days events slowly slip out of my head. By the time I got to the architecture building, Microglobe’s Trust was really building steam. “We all see, what we want to see.” This is the Suspicious Mindgear Mix, the sound of grown-up German raver Mijk Van Dijk. Now it sounds timeless, like a capsule preserved for future generations. Next is Speedy J’s electronica mindbomb The Fun Equations, from the Warp LP G Spot. Tracks 3 & 4 are incorrectly labelled; the third is actually Paul Van Dyk’s dreamy concept piece Today, a most intense realisation. He lists five favourites in the text – The Smiths’ Half A Person and Inspiral Carpets’ She Comes In The Fall are among them. The other half of the pair: Analogical did their interview by fax and Camillo is an old skool acid house monster. “It’s everywhere all over the world.”
“Until we lose ourselves, there is no hope of finding ourselves.” (Henry James)
Mixmaster Morris AKA The Irresistible Force is described as “the most extraordinary DJ in the UK and possibly the world.” He also admits to being a zippy – that’s a hippy with a computer. Lotus Position is a perfect example of ambient trance that defines these ace releases, a soothing and almost pastoral symphony. Playing it now I close my eyes and think of The Beast In The Jungle; the red-haired lecturer possibly named Denis who brought Marcher and May Bartram alive. And in the midst of the book, a two page advert with Sister Ray with contemporary listings. Look at those prices – AFX’s Selected Ambient Works II triple LP for £9.99! Techno banger: A Positive Life’s Pleidean Communication or “a Rubik cube of influences and idiosyncrasies” – blindingly wicked undertow. Enigma worked one of their tracks into Out From The Deep; despite the goading by the snobby interviewer (Mandi James), APL’s Steph keeps his cool and welcomes their taste.
Salt Tank’s Dreams remembered by Anthony Francis: “I loved this way back, getting home 6.00am Sunday morning, ruined, showered and back out to Brighton Station for the market.” Shades of Orbital in their halycon era. Next is Dave Angel with his synth swirl Life’s Little Pleasures. The text is illuminating, touching on a late ’80s jail sentence and the Sweet Dreams breakthrough. It’s interesting to see that he mentions the local scene as “closed” and states that Europeans are far more open-minded. I certainly can relate to that. +8 Eat Static’s Element 115 or the megadogs’ bollocks, a psy-trance delight & then by Megalon’s spacious techno jam Symbols. Load up on conspiracy theories while listening to Pressure Of Speech’s stark Aphelion. The cream rises to the top with Secret Knowledge’s progressive Afterworld. Played while going for brisk walks, pace quickening at climax.
CD2 begins the begin with FFWD and Lucky Saddle. Fripp, Fehlmann, Weston and Doctor (Alex Paterson). Heavenly stuff that’s well paired with Scanner’s soothing Safety, a track that sounds like beatless surveillance hop. Staying sedate, The Frenchman from The New London School Of Electronics, a nicely repetitive tune that combines mellow experimental chords with scattered beats. And thanks to Einexile for the info on Oneski, Richard H Kirk’s slow-burner: “For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s essentially an alternate version of Freezone from the (amazing) album Virtual State.” In the book there’s a nice mention of the upcoming Artificial Intelligence II while Kirk goes onto pass comment on Enigma and Deep Forest: “Commercial and financially motivated” – and claims that what he, Fun Da-Mental and Transglobal Underground do is “something deeper”. I always cringe when I read this stuff; two different markets, no need to punch down. Or up or even sideways.
Pentatonik’s restrained techno slammer Real is the creation of Simeon Bowring, a man whose first record was the Human League’s Mirror Man. He meant to buy Love Action. Which brings me to….December 1981. Sinnott’s Waterford. I went looking for Don’t You Want Me but it was sold out. So I bought The Sound Of The Crowd 12″ from the bargain bin. Record #00001 in my collection. Elsewhere Pluto’s Rockefeller is a stunner, a classic end of night banger, all dark and funked-up. Pluto is Rolo McGinty whom you may also know from The Woodentops, occasional Balearic favourites. Check out their melancholic Lloyd Cole-like strum of You Make Me Feel. If you managed to catch the music video on The Chart Show, then you’re in for a treat – the sight of Rolo running with a dog. We keep it dark on the Human Beings’ intricate gem, the moody Orbit.
Starting with a countdown, the Pete Namlook’s track is actually named Escape To Earth. Symphonic techno with a sweeping groove. A series of Escape 12″s were released on the Fax label. Of similar length is Autocreation’s densely packed Justice Loop which provides an epic foil to Hardfloor’s tightly structured Reverberate Opinion that explodes into a form of juggernaut techno, the kind that reminds of the Ormond Multi Media Centre back then. Trippy, no tops. “I’ve always thought it sounded like someone playing a didgeridoo next to a large washing machine.” (Anton Banks) We end on another euphoric high, Ambush’s Sun with its perfectly programmed drums eventually erupting into a glorious trance finale.
Hardfloor – Reverberate Opinion
Paul Van Dyk – Today
Pluto – Rockefeller
Lest we forget
A Positive Life – Pleidean Communication