Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pleasuredome '94 - Best party ever?

Everyone has a party they look back on as a favourite.  For me, it's Pleasuredome '94.  It was absolutely massive but retained just the right illegal, warehousey feel.  It was the third party I went to and I'll never forget first walking in and wondering why so few people were dancing.  It was a mad surprise realising the small group I could see was just the very back of the dancefloor, and there were about 4,000 more happy ravers going nuts just around the corner.  And with sparklers, everyone seemed to have sparklers.

What an awesome night followed - the huge chillout full of old, street-side lounges; a pumping, intense hardcore room up the back, and particularly memorable sets from Pee Wee, Jade and a little, unknown group named Infusion.

The UK's DJ Slipmatt headlined the night and first introduced me to the UK breakbeat style, a style it baffles me never really took off in Sydney.  His set covered all the big, breaky numbers of the day - all four SMDs, "In Effect", "In Complete Darkness", "Ool Lortnoc" and many more.

Adelaide's Maestro D is on MC duties and, despite my general distaste for MC'ing, I really enjoy it.  His style really carries forth the idea that you were in that moment, in the midst of something epic, a true Australian raver aesthete.

There were more Pleasuredome tapes in existence.  I had the Pee Wee set on loan at one point and would love to track it down - or any other sets from the night for that matter.  Can anyone help?

Click here to download Slipmatt live at Pleasuredome '94 Side A
Click here to download Slipmatt live at Pleasuredome '94 Side B
Click here to download Slipmatt live at Pleasuredome '94 Side C
Click here to download Slipmatt live at Pleasuredome '94 Side D

Friday, December 18, 2009

Who the f*** is DJ Apex?

I have no idea who DJ Apex is but this might just be my favourite hard trance tape ever.  I lost my copy back in '96 and have been trying to find it ever since.  Happily, through this little blog it has once again come my way! 

The tape was originally picked up in '94 and as far as I can remember had a prism with light passing through it on the cover.  I also seem to remember being told Apex was DJ Fenix using a different moniker for his trance sets.  Can anyone confirm or deny?

The tape flies along around 170bpm and, unusually, gives barely a nod to the predominant happy-hardcore sound of the day.  There's the odd scattering of anthems like "Enter the Arena" and "Wizards of the Sonic", but for the most part this tape is all about the underground, with a hard trance sound that's somewhat bigger and dumber than the more popular Hi-Shock tapes of the day.  I say that in a good way as this set really is a lot of fun!

Click here to download DJ Apex - Spectrum Side A
Click here to download DJ Apex - Spectrum Side B

Friday, December 4, 2009

DJ Jade - Liquid Everything

So I'm going to do some tape ripping of my own this weekend, but in the meantime I've discovered the one and only DJ Jade has posted her entire back catalogue for download on Facebook.  "Liquid Anthems" is my pick of the bunch, distilling the best of the other tapes into one sweet 90-minute mix.

I purchased three copies of this tape back in the day.  The first I lost along with a prized Walkman.  The second was part of a long-running argument with my girlfriend at the time, to whom I was adamant I'd loaned the tape while she was adamant I hadn't.  Needless to say, it turned up at her house some months later.  Total win for her 'cause she got to keep the tape since I'd already bought another.  Smart girl.

Click here to check out Jade's back catalogue on Facebook.
(You don't need to be registered with Facebook to view this page, but seriously, is anyone not on Facebook these days?)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Trance used to be GREAT. Really!

So next on my list of rips was meant to be Jasper's blindingly good Mercury Mixes, but I've been beaten to it  by Spectrum on ITM.  Cracking tapes these are, and well worth the download. When I listen back to trance like this, it really does make me wonder what happened.

Part 1 is especially good.  It's taken from a time when  trance really began to establish itself as not just a genre but a force within dance music.  The raw trance from the early 90's is spit-polished with shiny, new production values but the template of what makes trance "trance" is still not quite set.  As such you get a varied set, each track experimenting with the palette in its own little way.

You can tell trance has developed that little bit more by the time Part 2 rolls around.  While following a similar path to Part 1, there are definitely parts that are identifiable as one of the many genres that splintered-off around the time - psy-, hard-, techy or whatever.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Can't mix with 2 decks? Try three!

Okay, so the title of this blog is a little harsh.  I've heard Crisis pull off some blindingly good mixes.  But the fact remains for the most part his mixes were deeply unsophisticated.  An off-time train-wreck, if you will.  How this prompted him to become a master of three decks intrigues me.

But it was always about the tracks with Crisis.  Solid sets of hardcore were his trademark, never heading overboard into nosebleed territory and never settling for crowd-pleasing cheese-fests either.  Respect to the man for that.

This mix comes off CD, picked up around 2004 or 2005 from Cash Converters of all places.  A $7.00 win amongst a whole rack of Hanson's first album.  I'd never heard this album before then (I'm back on Crisis now), but the artwork suggests it's a companion title to the much-loved "Crisis Sunday 3AM".  And it's of a similar quality to that mix, if a little harder.

Downoad Crisis Mental 666 Techno Extreme

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Carl Cox Live in Sydney, wrecked by a shit MC

I fucking hate MC's in electronic music.  There are three exceptions to this rule:
  • The UK's MC GQ, who appeared on a few UK Jungle tapes I managed to pick up over the years.
  • Adelaide's Maestro D, most famous for his MCing on Spellbound 8
  • Steve Spacek.  If you haven't heard him get your ass down to Void NOW to see what I'm talking about.
In the above cases, these men apply their own creative talents to give something more to the music.  Most importantly, they use their talents sparingly.  Less really is more.  The other 99.9% of MC's "work the crowd" by screeching random shite over the top of the music with scant regard for anything but the sound of their own voice.

This mix contains possibly the WORST MC EVER, who comprehensively destroys Carl Cox's otherwise epic DJ set at World Party in early '95.  Damn shame, because the music is brilliant.  The set covers similar ground to the infamous F.A.C.T mix CD, with the energy levels increased by Cox's vigorous 'live' mixing style.

Audacity, the software I've been using to rip the tapes here, has some fantastic filters like "Noise Removal" and "Click Removal".  If only there was an "MC Removal" it would be a win for everyone.

Download Carl Cox live in Sydney 1995

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pleasures of the flesh

The gap between trip-hop and nu-skool breaks was filled with some awful, awful music.  The fact that Big Beat as a genre has completely disappeared into history is a testament to the awfulness of the bulk of it.  

Around the time Big Beat emerged, Torque dropped this utterly brilliant mixtape.  This tape is most definitely not Big Beat, at least in the Fatboy Slim sense of the term.  But what we do have here is a blindingly good mix of mid-tempo breaks and electronic funk - perhaps an alternative, cheese-free Big Beat from a parallel universe.

I can't say much about DJ Torque.  He sort of appeared on my radar out of nowhere, dropped this tape, then disappeared into obscurity again.  I might also have seen him play at one of those squillion stage Freaky Loops/Astrofunk-type parties at the Wentworth Centre.  Of course, as this interview from 3D World attests, he was around the traps long before I was.  It wouldn't surprise me if he was still kicking about somewhere, doing his own thing.

Even if this tape doesn't sound like it's your own thing, I urge you to give it a go.  It really is freaking awesome and not quite like anything else.

Download Torque's "Pleasures of the Flesh Side A
Download Torque's "Pleasures of the Flesh Side B

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The festival that never was....

Bit of a frivolous post, this one.  All this talk about Field of Dreams got me thinking about the follow up party - "One" - which set its sights on being the biggest party in the whole history of the goddam universe.  Despite emulating fOd's massive gimmick-filled promotion strategy, ticket sales were poor and the party never happened.

The greatest gimmick of all was the audio-tape flyer.  I was given this tape at the South-east Queensland party Strawberry Fields at the tail-end of '96.  To be promoting a party so far afield (and so expensively) suggests they truly were expecting big things.  What let them down, I imagine, was the all Australian line-up that lacked the 'star power' to draw the big crowds, and perhaps the fact that it fell only half a year after the Field of Dreams juggernaut shipped out.  Off memory, the tickets were a great distance north of the $100 mark, unprecedented at the time.

Regardless, the tape paints a wonderful portrait of a party that might have been.  Think of this post as a tribute to all the parties that promised so much yet failed to deliver.  There are many.

Download One 'Audioscape' now (128 kbp encoded for quick download)


fOd4 - EPIC

Field of Dreams 4.  Quite possibly the peak of my raving career.  Having missed the legendary FoD3 a year-and-a-bit beforehand, my posse and I were determined not to miss this one.  And we were determined to make it a HUGE one.  Extra shifts were taken at work, nights out for months beforehand cancelled to save as much money as possible.  For a good eight weeks, the entire focus of life was preparing for this party.  (Sadly, not for my HSC just a few weeks later.)

This Paul Holden tape, released a few weeks before the party, played a massive part in the pre-fOd gee-up, along with a staggering number of trinkets: stickers, keyrings, massive and elaborate flyers and posters...  The ticket itself came in its own crisp white envelope filled with all sorts details about the fun you were going to have on the night, thick with the hippy-ish buzzwords of the day. ("Energy", "Experience", blah-di-blah.  They all started with the same letter.  Clever, huh?)

Paul Holden's mix indicates the direction of his (count'em) two mainroom sets that evening.  UK-style bouncy happy-hard is the order of the day here, peppered with a little breakbeat. (Breakbeat?  Just keep moving, junglists, this ain't your thing.)  This tape also holds the dubious honour of introducing me to Dune's "Can't Stop Raving"....although, facing facts, I really quite enjoyed it at the time.

Download Paul Holden's fOd4 gee-up Side A
Download Paul Holden's fOd4 gee-up Side B

The night itself was a total blur.  It was undoubtedly epic, but it just went by so fast, especially given the months of excitement leading up to it.  My memories just don't seem to do it justice.  The video above shows what was meant to be the peak of the night but the energy and scale of the evening is well and truly lost.  The full video is online here and goes a little further towards revisiting the vibe.

To say I clearly remember Dynamix's set would be something akin to an outright lie.  He played around 4 or 5am and my night was well and truly in the midst of 'blur' territory.  Nevertheless, I eagerly picked up the tape to "relive" the experience the moment it was released.  And it's a pretty darn fine example of hard-house-slash-hard-trance as it was at the time.  There's a whole bunch of killer tracks here like "Rock tha House", "Higher State of Consciousness" and X-Cabs' "Neuro".  It seems to sum up the kind of music that was playing around that point of the night and for the most part still has me happily bopping along today.

Download Dynamix's fOd4 set here

Got any more memories of the night you can use to help me fill in the blanks?  Are there any more Field of Dreams 4 sets in existence?  Leave a comment below....


Monday, November 9, 2009

Let It Out '95...the unknown sequel

When DJ Vagas' "Let It Out '94" appeared as part of a ticket package to a party which I did not attend, it quickly became the stuff of legend.  Somehow, everyone ended up with a copy and everyone hammered it to death.  At a time when Vagas was better known for playing hard as hell, "Let It Out" came totally out of left field.  It was a bouncy, fun tape of happy anthems and it went down a treat.  My copy was a terrible, hissy "tape of a tape of a tape" that seems positively archaic compared to today's instantaneous file-swapping.

Less well known was "Let It Out '95", a follow up tape of a similar music style that never gained the widespread traction of the former.  Regardless, it's an entirely worthy mix showcasing the cheesier side of rave in 1995.  There are some awesome tracks here.  Some were HUGE at the time, like Legend B's "Lost In Love" and N-Trance "Set You Free".  But there are also some more forgotten tracks - many I can't name and had totally forgotten about until I listened through a day or two ago.

Vagas was never the most technically sophisticated DJ; his mixes always seemed flippant - if the beats were in time the bars weren't and if the bars were in time the beat-mixing was invariably out.  Nevertheless, his sets somehow always worked - the messy mixing creating a frenetic, crazy and unpredictable vibe.  Compared to modern, perfectly machine-matched beats, it's kind of refreshing! 

Download Vagas Let It Out 95 Side A
Download Vagas Let It Out 95 Side B

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Everything dies...except Hardcore...

Hardcore will never die!  Seriously, every time you think it's finally done and dusted along it comes again, banging away like it always was.  Case in point, a friend recently turned me on to this this mix of nouveau gabber-crunk, which I've listened to quite a lot lately and actually quite like.  Which is funny, because I generally pretend to myself I'm not into hardcore and never was.  I guess it's not credible enough for my own ego or something.  Of course, I was into hardcore, quite seriously as a sixteen year old with enough boundless energy to withstand a whole night at over 180 bpms.  And they didn't come harder than Geoff Da Chef. 

"Just Desserts" was always my favourite Chef tape - it was Geoff at his "happiest", but the mix is most definitely "hard", not "happy".  This tape was on seriously high-rotation in my Walkman back in the day, and I have so many great memories attached to it. 

The first time I heard it was while hanging about around St Leonards station one night.  We were waiting there, for something or other, before heading off to the third Ecky Thump party and anticipation was in the air.  I'd missed the first two at the Glebe silos and was determined not to miss this one, which was held in an underground carpark near Central station.  (Of course, it's now an apartment building.)

With one ear plugged into a friend's Walkman I was thoroughly enjoying myself, bouncing up and down on a street corner, not caring about how I looked to the passing traffic because, well, they just wouldn't get it.  Most enjoyable was the remix of The Doors' "Break on Through" which features early on Side 2.

The party that night was great fun - there are two things I remember most about it.  The first was my friend running around with a sports bag inviting people to "have a feel" inside without looking.  The sports bag contained possibly the softest blanket known to humanity.  You can imagine the wide-eyed smiles. 

But my favourite moment of the night was when the "Break on Through" remix I'd first heard just hours earlier came on over the speakers.  The smallish crowd just erupted then sang-along with Jim Morrison....all at 180 bpm.  I'm sure the man would have turned in his grave that night.

Download Geoff Da Chef Just Desserts Side A
Download Geoff Da Chef Just Desserts Side B

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ray tape good. Needs more Phil.

It would be criminal to post a Sugar Ray Sabotage mix with out its matching Phil Smart, thus here it is.  I do have this tape, but in this case the rip wasn't done by me.  I downloaded it from the original Sydney Oldskool group on Facebook (RIP), hence the lower bitrate. 

Absolute cracker of a tape, this one is.  Side A is the "Proton Side", a deep and brooding tech-house mix with hints of cut-up funk and disco.  The "Electron Side" on the flip, however, is where it's at.  Upping the energy levels, it kicks off with Donna's "MMM" and slams along with some of the late 90's most exciting tracks like Oizo's "M Seq" and Sasha and BT's at the time utterly surprising "Ride".  Still gives me goosebumps!

Download Phil Smart Sabotage 1998 Side A - Proton Side
Download Phil Smart Sabotage 1998 Side B - Electron Side

Monday, November 2, 2009

What is Techno?

“Techno” as a style of music has always been quirky to define.  When I first discovered it, techno was something of an umbrella term for dance music over 140 bpm.   But then things became less clear.  In the mid-to-late 90’s I became aware of more ‘purist’ strains of techno, like the crunchy, minimal Detroit-style stuff.

So when I first encountered the music played by the Sabotage/Jus’ Right/Tweekin’ crew like Sugar Ray, Phil Smart and Ken Cloud I was at a loss to describe it.  Their music was slower than 140 bpm, so it couldn’t be techno.  It was a little bit trancey, but it wasn’t trance.  It was harder than house, but it sure as heck wasn’t hard house.  It wasn’t quite progressive either, and it was a bit minimal, like techno.

Of course, it was just techno all along but it took me some years before I worked that out.  This Sabotage tape from ’98 sums up the 'uncategorisable'  style of techno from that time.   There were two equally fantastic tapes in this series; one from Ray, one from Phil. Phil’s excellent tech-funk mix has been posted online elsewhere already, but as far as I’m aware Ray’s deeper, edgier tape hasn’t seen the light of day until now.

I’d love to get a track-list of this tape.  Most of these tunes I’ve never heard elsewhere and have no idea what they’re called or who they’re by.  The first and last tracks of side A are particular favourites.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Here's Johnny!

What better way to kick off this little blog than with a tape that had a wonderfully profound effect on me.  On the June long weekend in 1995 I was bouncing away to some serious hardcore at a rave deep in Western Sydney.  Hocus Pocus, most only famous for their ARIA number one hit "Here's Johnny" were billed to play but, as was not uncommon for raves at the time, never showed up.

Back on the East side of town at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art there was a markedly different party going on featuring legendary New York house DJ Johnny Vicious.  Despite my love of all things hard and fast, I was just beginning to flirt with house music and it was this tape, picked up from Music Zone in Chatswood a few months later, that showed me just how amazing, and amazingly diverse, house music could be.

Ironically, this set kicks off with  "Here's Johnny" but a strange, almost beatless version that's somehow even 'harder' than the original without being recognisably 'hardcore'.  This perverse opening sets the tone for something big as the set morphs into a crazy journey through the predominant house styles of the day - US garage, progressive, 'handbag', even trip hop.

For the first hour or so the set is truly flawless.  Tracks are ordered to ramp up the tension, starting minimally, almost acidy, then building ever so slowly until Vicious, like a bomb, drops an anthem that provides an ultimate hands-in-the-air release.  This formula is repeated a few times throughout the hour, then kind of dissipates at the final peak into a joyously laid-back comedown.

The last half-hour or so of side B is a fairly formulaic mix of anthems that I suspect is not Johnny Vicious at all. (Perhaps it's the DJ who followed?)  The mixing style is much more 'who cares' and the remainder of the tape just seems to lack the charisma of that first hour.  But that first hour....wow.

Download Johnny Vicious Live in Sydney Side A
Download Johnny Vicious Live in Sydney Side B