Monday, February 20, 2006

Let Us Pray...

The Hypnotist - Pioneers Of The Warped Groove

I've just finished reading Simon Reynolds' book 'Energy Flash', which documents the evolution of dance music and the surrounding drug culture. It was an excellent read, encompassing everything from the early Detroit techno pioneers, through the Acid house movement, gabba, jungle, right up until speed garage and big beat. It had me digging around in my box of C90s to pull out some choice rave mix tapes, and even resulted in me resuscitating my dying walkman*, which had been lying unloved in a drawer for a fair few years.

Having narrowly missed the first explosion of acid house, my halcyon raving years covered the period 1991-1994 (The Second Coming of Rave according to Reynolds). This was when the free party scene really exploded and sound systems like Spiral Tribe and DiY were in full effect, before the advent of the Criminal Justice bill. I was lucky enough to be at Castlemorton, although I did spend a fair portion of it sat in a car, avoiding eye contact with anyone. I went to Spiral Tribe parties in barns in Dorset, drove in convoys to parties in farmer's fields, danced in the woods under the light of one strobe wedged in a tree, and watched the sun coming up to the strains of banging techno on many occasions. I digress…

It's amazing how quickly the majority of the music has dated. It really was the soundtrack to a specific moment and movement, and out of context, a lot of it sounds like the sort of shit pumping out of fairgrounds while you’re trying not to be sick on the waltzer. There are pockets of quality though, and for me, one man was responsible for a vast amount of the best tunes – the late, great Caspar Pound. As the head honcho of Rising High, he masterminded the release of tons of great music, and as a recording artist in his own right produced some classics. Under his alter-ego The Hypnotist (alongside producer Peter Smith), he practically invented the genre of hardcore rave, creating a "British brutalist" sound which combined driving percussion, insane hoover noises, religious chanting, ominous chord sequences, throbbing basslines, samples from films and demented 303s to create dancefloor mayhem. The man was a pioneer; he blazed the trails for many others to follow. The album 'The Complete Hypnotist 91-92' is a concise round up of all the best bits and is well worth tracking down. He died on April 30th 2004 at the age of 33, due to heart complications, coupled with a brain tumour.

[* - Kids, ask your Dads. They're basically ipods but you have to put things in them.]

Buy - The Hypnotist releases from eBay
Buy - Simon Reynolds - Energy Flash
Visit - Caspar Pound Obituary @ Benbecula
Visit - Rising High Records Discog @ Discogs
Read About - The Castlemorton Rave
Read About - Spiral Tribe


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