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Time Warp… the way we were. The first part of the esteemed Sheffield label’s tenth birthday celebrations is a pass-the- parcel compendium of the choons that bind us. From genesis in 1986 - an independent record shop swimming against the prevailing tide – to revelation in 1989… hey, we can do that… and the formation of the Warp records label, these are the sounds that tweaked the ears, inspired dreams, and soundtracked the days as they filled the Warp shop racks with early US house.
This selection by shop/label founders - Steve Beckett and Rob Mitchell - takes us back to more primitive times with cuts that are sometimes quaint – scarcely surprising given the mind-numbing fragmentation since; often seminal – Summer of Love anyone?… illustrating a quiet – well, off the dance-floor anyway – democratic revolution; built from the underground up with a white-label culture of anonymity that effectively bypassed the ‘Stars’ and PRs culture. Refreshingly, it was the music and nothing but the music - at least initially: no pretensions; no preconceptions; no presumptions and no barriers to excess/success.
These two CDs split between the clean simplicity of those very early days - with nowhere to go other than the scene/places you, and a few like you, made yourself - to the all grown-up darker daze of - jeez… which club/field next!? At first it was an all-American ploy: the inspiration was on draft from the land of the free - house. It wasn’t long before the local brew was up to industrial strength.
The first disc is culled largely from the Trax Records archive and covers 1986-1988. The spartan, relentlessly rhythmic simplicity of the opener from Nitro Deluxe does as it says in its title – ‘Let’s Get Brutal.’ The collective pulse is then picked up and quickened by a multitude of fellow bleep boosters. It’s hypnotic, sometimes robotic, but even from this jaded distance the sense of excitement is still discernible – a new frontier for the inner ear.
Master C&J give us angularity mixed with breathy sexuality on ‘Dub Love’: Fallout - a dose of fuzz-edged phatness on ‘Morning After (Sunrise Mix). High drama preen? Model 500 and ‘Off To Battle’… the North versus the South – both putting on the style with a different emphasis. But the first skirmish was almost over… Acid appeared the victor. And to end this disc is a sight of plays to come; a glimpse of the future, er… even if they spelt it Phuture – the scallywags. ‘Acid Tracks’… waves out of the ether; furious, surreal – the new big deal. Taking the pulse for the tracks of those years.
It’s a precursor of the state of the Nation on disc two. 808 state in fact: ‘Let Yourself Go.’ And from 1988-1990 the dance legions did just as it said on the title and with equally outrageous confidence. The raw, primitive gnaw replaced/mixed over by something as potent though with a discernibly darker intent. Something more grave for the weekend rave sir? A Guy Called Gerald - ‘Voodoo Ray’ - set the controls on the heart for stun - and the shit hit the fans. Wilder and wackier: ethnic voices dubbed with floaty synth segments and hard, insistent beats all topped off with free-flowing wibble, bibble and peep. Witness No Smoke from ‘Koro Koro;’ Plez with ‘Can’t Stop [(Acid) Rain Forest Mix’ – just amaze-on; and Ital Rockers’ ‘Ital’s Anthem (Treble Down/Bassup Mix.)
Overt sexuality? Join up for the dance party… Bang The Party and ‘Bang Bang You’re Mine.’ For chundering heavy vibes cock an ear to the subterranean sheer drop of ‘The Acid Life’ from Farley Jackmaster Funk: a deep dark trip to the next morning. As day broke, Steve Beckett and Rob Mitchell made big plans…
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