“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.