Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Got any hardcore?

As 1991 was a key era of discovery for me, I loved reading Warlock’s 20 best ‘Euro' on FACT. Brings back memories of the first large-scale nights I went to (Park Prewett Mental Hospital in Basingstoke!), knowing that the music was quickly turning direction away from what we thought we were getting into, into something bigger, brasher, bolder and wired for prime-time rave effect. Still we looked at each other and grinned as the big riff of ‘Vamp’ came in. This stuff from the mainland lowlands was nutty alright. T99’s Anasthasia (Three Blind Mice before we knew its name), was an early barometer of taste, for many once it became too big it was considered too cheesy. That was the cue for some to drift as quickly as they had joined into slinky house/US garage, hip-hop and acid jazz; generally this emergent sound cemented the divide between the ravers and the non-ravers (the rockers, the drinkers – play it to some of them and they genuinely thought it was terrible).

But I have to echo the comments that the ‘euro’ tag for this bunch of tunes doesn’t sound quite right, though certain cliques would have different names for it and all the evening Kiss DJs that were playing it (Colins Favor and Dale, Steve Jackson, etc; too far out for the pirates) were keen not to call it ‘hardcore’.

Yet me and my fellow home counties 17-year-olds only knew this as hardcore, hardcore like S.U.A.D, hardcore like the Prodge, all part of that potent,but still reasonably diverse brew. Indeed, as the Rag and Bone man remarked this stuff was a major influence on the later hardcore/jungle of 92/93. ‘Rave’ harked too closely to the original days and the scene wanted its own identity. ‘Techno’ was too cap-doffing to the Belleville Three at a time when Atkins and May were very quiet (much of it in horror at developments in the UK) and only Saunderson was beginning to shun purism and explore more brutalist timbres himself (soon though the breakbeat-schlock elements within the sound would diminish and it would more appropriately begin to be claimed as techno, as I suggested in the piece about the music weekly covers). Wasn’t ‘euro’ some of the sophisticated non-US stuff they would sell in Flying and elsewhere?

Perfect fodder this may be as an ongoing facet of ‘nuum talk – what does and what doesn’t constitute hardcore is especially hard to define in the early days – but these euro-centric productions were clinically engineered for an ever increasing cognoscenti who literally did not care what non-believers thought of it so hardcore seemed an appropriate term as any. An inspiring selection, whatever you call it.

More on label R&S around an aborted comp last year
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