Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Music I Love - Now Yours To Download!

Sebby's Retro Electrorave mix by SebbyP

As readers of this blog will know, I was rather excited about seeing Africa HiTech, Mark Pritchard and Aphex Twin perform live earlier this month.

As well as inspiring two laudatory reviews, this led me to while away an afternoon investigating the entire Warp Records back catalogue – or at least as much of it as I could find on Bleep. $100 later, I had on my hard drive a large collection of tracks from the classic Sheffield electronic label of the 1990s.

In Energy Flash, his seminal history of rave, Simon Reynolds criticises Warp for snobbishly setting itself apart from the scene – and argues that by doing so it cut itself off from creative explosions, such as the birth of jungle, that occurred precisely because producers and DJs needed ever newer and crazier sounds to keep the dancefloor pumping.

There is at least an element of truth to this. Warp is known as one of the founders and custodians of electronica or, as it is sometimes known, IDM (intelligent dance music). With compilations like Artificial Intelligence in the early 1990s, they helped create a sound somewhere between rave’s main room and its chill room. But Reynolds’ critique glosses over the hugely influential work of artists like Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Boards of Canada and in particular Autechre – who have drifted steadily from the dancefloor but somehow continued to develop an immense oeuvre that is, at its heart, rave.

The music I was looking for on Bleep was the electro-beat, ambient-acid rave of the first half of the 1990s. I’m sure there’s more out there, and I plan on tracking it down, but I did find what I was looking for: an early twelve-inch by Move D (now known for his deep house); various Pritchard aliases including including Link and Reload; some Underground Resistance and Drexciya connections, still fresh and showing the influence of Detroit electro on the UK scene; and, most notably, two LPs and three EPs from the little known and short-lived Sheffield outfit RAC.

RAC’s music fit the bill pretty closely, and two of their tracks have found their way onto this mix I put together on Ableton to showcase some of these new/old tunes – as well as other favourites that clock in around 134bpm. The only genuinely new tracks are from Scuba and Shpongle, and both could be described as looking backwards to move forwards.

It was fun (and pretty easy) making the mix, although I struggled to get the volume levels as even as I would have liked. Mixing the records live would be another story altogether, although I do feel more inspired to get behind the decks than in quite some time.

You can download it from Soundcloud or just have a listen, and if you do I’d like to hear your thoughts. What’s your favourite track? Can you imagine dancing to this music? It starts very mellow but works its way onto the dancefloor, I think. What are your thoughts on the electro-style breakbeat? I love how the off-beat gives the music more bounce, while the 303s and other percussive elements make it flow – four-to-the-floor can sound so wooden and lifeless at times. The Buckfunk 3000 (AKA Si Begg) track hints at where this style would be taken with great commercial success but much less nuance in the early Noughties, i.e. the breaks scene.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the mix. If you haven't been out in a while, have a dance around your bedroom! I certainly have been.


GroƟ O said...

Great mix Sebby, unfortunately I did notice some of your volume issues, but otherwise I like the flow and progression through to the end. I was definitely dancing in my chair when I was listening :) especially with one of my all-time favourite tracks from Ellen Allien & Apparat - Rotary.
My highlight from this blog entry is your ability to name genres ie. electro-beat, ambient-acid rave.
Another entertaining entry Mr Sebby-O

CC said...

This is super. The writing and the music. Love all. And you. x