Once upon a time, in early 1992 to be as exact as possible, in a city far, far away, that's Perth, Australia, I went to a club called The Firm. It was really a nightclub that had been attached to a pub. I hadn't been to many nightclubs before. Just before we went, my friend and I took what we came to know as an E - nowadays we know it as a pill. Inside was a decent dose of the new drug MDMA, which I had never tried.
So I'm inside the club. It has two rooms, with different music in each. In the first room, dance music was playing, I don't recall what (but I have since learned a certain DJ named Shamus may have been involved). There were lots of bright coloured lights and everyone had huge grins on their faces. Shiny, happy people... my brain started feeling a little fuzzy and I went for a wander. The second room seemed all dark and noisy. Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit was blasting into the crowd and a wave of beer-scented cigarette smoke buffeted me at the door. There were bikers. To my young, fluffy mind this seemed slightly offensive... I had spent my teenage years listening to Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Pink Floyd, AC/DC and so on - but face-to-face with the rock'n'roll scene, it looked all macho and alcohol to me.
I wandered back toward the dance room, and found myself staring at a geometric design painted on the wall in the little room between the two rooms. I could hear both styles of music, I could see the punters from both rooms. Maybe it was the geometric design - maybe it was the MDMA - but I stared long and hard at that design and with a giggle to myself, walked into the dance room and back into the sea of warm and pretty. Then my pill came on and I nearly fell over, hands held me up and we laughed. I don't remember much of the rest of the night ......
And that was the beginning of my love affair with electronic music*, an affair that continues and grows stronger to this day. It's a love that in 1997 led me to London, England which is certainly a good place to find dance music, clubs and other mad-for-it clubbers. It's a love that gave me the energy and desire to help set up and run Pickle (my friend Ash built it, I was the tech guy). It's a love that has seen me spend thousands and thousands of hours listening, indexing, searching; seen me do loose things like set my alarm for 4:30AM so I can pop in a tape for the last 90 minutes of the radio show on RTR-FM.
* Actually - it wasn't quite like that. It was really my Dad's fault - he had a collection of records which included Pink Floyd, Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis, and other "space music" of the late 70's, and he had a record called Switched On Bach, the cover of which I found utterly fascinating as a child. I have now learned the music was "Bach played on the Moog synthesiser" and it was by Walter Carlos (1968), one of the pioneers of synthesised music - and I conclude that the cover of that record showed a Moog, in all its glory.
In 1982, as a teenager, I discovered synthpop - Dead or Alive, New Order, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, Human League, Yello. I was still exploring rock'n'roll and so also had a growing collection of the Eagles, the Doors, the Beatles, the Who and Pink Floyd, among others. The electronic music scene was still developing - with the mid-80's being a transition, for me at least - a slow fading of the mega-bands of the 70's, matched by a slow rise in the prevalence of electronic music. It was the "democratisation" of music production, made possible by new technology, which meant anyone could make a tune in their basement.
One day in 1990 I was talking music with my friend Damian - we both knew we both liked the Eagles etc.. but then I said to him, I've actually been getting into this new stuff - Delite, C&C Music Factory, Guru Josh and fun songs from the B-52's [Love Shack] and REM [Shiny Happy People]... and he was like "yeah me toooooo man!!!!" and that was it, we were off, and it was a perfect time to go off on a dance music trip because even as we talked, dance music was exploding, with Technotronic, Snap, Black Box and 2 Unlimited about to take over the charts.
And then came the Perth rave scene. Perth has one of the highest densities of Britons outside of Britain; it was no accident that quality UK-style warehouse parties were held in Perth in the early 90's. My first rave was called Elevation, sometime in 1992. The venue was a dusty warehouse at the end of a road in an industrial estate; inside, there were parts of big machines placed against the wall. The promoters had strung giant asterisks and other decorations from the roof. It was smoky - but this smoke was from a machine that made a crazy hissing noise. There were people with dustmasks and whistles, and everyone was friendly. The music was kicking old-skool - what's now known as "breakbeat hardcore" on Discogs. And there was a guy dancing on the roof of an interior office, wearing what appeared to be night-vision goggles. All I could think was, this is fucking wicked. My waterbottle became my most valued possession, and over the next 18 months I went to The Source, Juicy, Synergy, Communion (Shamus live), Temple of Dreams (Carl Cox live - the "sound of ni-ey free" - awesome lasers), Fantazia, and Splash, and frequented clubs such as Berlin, The Freezer and The Basement.
All of this is a long time ago now. Nothing lasts forever - a lesson all clubbers learn approximately 4 hours after their first pill. But some things can last a very long time... in particular, the music we listened to back then is still around. Of all the things that have survived from that time, perhaps it's fitting that the music has proven to be the most endurable. And what music it was...
My friend Damian sez, 92.1. I say when, he says, 1AM till 6AM. I tune in. It's sometime in 1991, and the show is called Sound Division; the DJ is Denis Liddelow. He plays GTO, T99, Digital Boy and so on, plus some classy house tunes like New Atlantic's I Know. I'm lovin' it... but sometime in 1992, there's a problem. Denis has disappeared! I await anxiously - will this be the end of my line on this music? A new voice comes over the radio: "Er... ahem. My name's Shamus, I'm your new DJ, and this is Auditory Spiral." ..and my world was never the same again.
In what are apparently Shamus' own words: "Auditory Spiral was responsible for introducing Perth to now classic Detroit label Underground Resistance and Canadian impostors +8 records; artists of the like of Kenny Larkin, Suburban Knight, Carl Craig, Robert Hood, Dan Bell, Aphex Twin, Luke Slater, Cristian Vogel and Fred Gianelli to name but a very few".
Of course, I didn't know I was listening to the finest techno on the planet. All I had was a radio, a tape deck and the occasional name mentioned by the DJ. But I knew these tunes were fantastic. As the years passed I learned more about the music I was listening to, and now in the 21st century, broadband internet means I can learn a lot more. The rest of this page is devoted to listing details I have learned (and is under construction).
Greetz to the people mentioned - you guys are legends. Music is my life ... but for you I might still be listening to Nirvana.
Possibly my most treasured possessions, these are (top to bottom): the cover of a pre-release copy of Richie Hawtin's Sheet One; a pre-release copy of Richie Hawtin's Sheet One NOMU22; CJ Bolland - Ravesignal III - Horsepower Remix RSUK06CD
If you can ID any of the following Old Skool tunes, I'd love to hear from you! My address:
|high-tech music||stomping Belgian-style tune, robot voice says the sample - this is DJ DD Hass & Extensive - Hi Tech Muuusic Remix - see also: DJ DD Hass & X 10 CIV - Hi Tech Muuusic|
|I've got it (I know you want it)||female vocal sings the sample|
|Let Freedom Ring||(free at last?) - samples Martin Luther King Jr's I Have a Dream speech|
|Give Us An E||possibly on this disc: http://www.gracenote.com/prof/music/album.html/ravemusic/264428ba7af02925b85b3e26fa1fac99.html|
|bring it back (to the daze of reality)|
|I feel alive!||female vocal, repeats this sample..|
|this is a test (of your stereo system, and should be played at high volume..)|
|I am an android.. proceed with the [something] attack formation||vocoded voice right at the start .. in the middle it sez, "you are being taken under our power to your destination..", then another voice says "program the computer!" and then a robot says, "I'm no longer human" .. then the sample: "this is master control...", then the sample, "you cannot be programmed"|
|dentist's drill||female vocal sings "I just can't get enough"|
|feel the magic||maybe http://www.discogs.com/release/37667 or www.discogs.com/release/163840|
|what do we want? funky-assed beats what do we want? something to dance to..|
|she keeps on running.. like this!|
|your whole life is just a dream||sample at start and end of tune - this is Synaesthesia – Feel The Dream|
|need you, want you, got to have you||female vocal sample that repeats - this is Synaesthesia – Concerto In E (The Zap Mix)|
|once upon a time in the garden||bill and ben (flowerpot men) samples|
|step off - you got it!||at the start: "cast your power - to the ends of this earth"; later a robotic voice sez, "energise" - this is Dream Frequency - Step Off (Orbit Mix)|
|take me away .. woo hoo! :)||male vocal sings the sample. in the middle a robot voices says: "termination"|