On Record: L/F/D/M
When asked to write about some music that means a lot to me, my mind immediately went back to the hardcore scene in the UK, tracks like New Direction by Wax Doctor, Flashback by Lemon D, Gangster by Peshay, the list goes on. I guess though, as a 12-13 year old, I was mainly coming across these tracks on mixtapes which made me think a live DJ recording would probably be the best representation of the music that has stayed with me the most. There’s a lot of tapes i wore out at the time but one has remained a constant in my mind, Dave Angel’s 1993 Obsession mixtape.
I can’t remember where I picked this tape up, there were a few places we used to get tapes from at the time. Our first exposure at the time was a local music shop called Music Craft which was not a dance music specialist but they used to stock the early Eclipse tapes. I think I got this tape however from Vinyl Rhythms in Chelmsford. We used to head up there on a Saturday and pretty much sit in that smokey shop all day, perched on the side next to their massive speakers, feeling somewhat intimidated, reading and collecting the latest flyers and listening to all the latest releases full tilt. Proper busy shop.
At the time the shop had a separate techno room but we used to sit in the hardcore room, the hardcore room was the busier and ’92-’93 was an interesting time for that scene, burgeoning into jungle and happy and darkside. Techno at the time felt kind of exotic to me, kind of another world. In between needle drops in our side you’d hear this weird “slow” music coming from next door.
Having said that, from pretty early on getting into hardcore I had come across Easygroove, a favourite DJ, and in particular his acid techno sets. That’s why I picked this tape up: it was a double tape pack with Dave Angel, Trevor Rockliffe and Easygroove.
I got home, put the tapes on and the Easygroove one is amazing, of course, but I can distinctly remember putting the Dave Angel one on and not being into it at all – odd start to what would become a tape that I love so much! It didn’t take long though before I was “in tune” with it. I think when I’d heard odd bits of techno before it would’ve been within a hardcore set, Jumping Jack Frost playing The Art Of Stalking, 21st Kong or Doc Scott playing F.U.S.E, but all mixed together, as was the way with early hardcore. This was different, it was hypnotic, still to this day one of the best sets I’ve ever heard, great mixing, full of energy, and all the tracks sequenced perfectly.
At the time all the tracks were new to me, I hadn’t heard a single track before. Later on in the mid 90’s when I had turntables and I was buying techno I could re-evaluate what was going on in this set, which was a lot of Detroit techno mixed in with hard European stuff, acid and a bit of trance. The more techno side of it is what I’d become obsessed with, but here it was all mixed together in a way that gave all the tracks a kind of grandeur, they all belonged together.
The tape starts in perfect fashion with Vapourspace – Gravitational Arc of 10, a whirling swirling siren like track that slowly builds in rhythm which drifts into a couple of harder H&M tracks, echoing elements of the previous track but moving things a bit harder before abruptly crossing to the vocal intro of Structure – We Are Structure, a big building acid track.
I think of the plotting of this set as a kind of benchmark, it flows so well, I don’t want to use the terms ‘journey’ or ‘peaks and troughs’ but yeah, all of that. Should mention as well that there’s an MC on here, quite reserved for the time really, just a bit of crowd hyping, I think it might be MC Scratchmaster Techno. I’m not big into MC’s, but at the time, and on this tape, it really added to the feel of the rave and listening as a 13 year old it was like a document, a link to a world that was beyond me, and I could just lay back and imagine it all.
Next up is Nico – Darkstar, love this track, so big sounding, a really atmospheric acid track – a lot of the music on this tape kinda sounds ‘big’, like i don’t really imagine it as sweaty basement music, it sounds quite cosmic, and i guess the whole tape has that feeling.
Darkstar then follows into Red Planet – Star Dancer. A lot of these tracks would become favourites of mine that I’d stumble on later when i was out buying records, completely unaware of their names. Star Dancer in particular, completely enveloping, love this, a permanent favourite from a faultless label. I found out a couple of years later when I picked the 12” up for myself that he mixed it out before the crazy lead comes in, sacrilege! I remember being in Underground Connections in Colchester and Andy bunging this on and me just being dumbstruck that it was that track from that tape, and it was gonna be mine.
Some tracks in this set are still unknown to me, like the next one, this whole section now kinda becomes quite hypnotic, some tracks that if I heard in isolation might not be to my taste but mixed here, and with how Dave Angel sequenced them, they all work.
Next were into Holographic – Klyston then Drax – Interior before Dave Clarke’s Directional Force tears through in total destruction, boy would’ve loved to have been at this rave! – meanwhile on the same night, at this same rave, DJ Sy is also playing an amazing set and DJ Ratty’s Obsession is another blinder. I always think, just one hour in their lives and it lasts so long, split second decisions made, selections, cuts and spinbacks all preserved and listened back to endlessly. I loved DJ Ratty back then, loved his jungle techno selection and his rough chopping up style, but Dave Angel manages something different altogether here.
After Alphalink is cut the beautiful Koenig Cylinders – Carousel starts up, a palette cleanser, time to catch your breath, into a few more tracks unknown to me, more trance like, quite delicate, this all leads into the intensely hypnotic sci-fi sounding Teste – The Wipe where the set fades out.
I never went to Obsession, I think it had finished by the time we were old enough to get out so this set kinda remains in my mind like a fantasy set.
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