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Mixed in Berlin, February 2019
(44:51, 102 MB, 320 kbps MP3)
Style: New Skool Breakbeat Hardcore
Direct link to the mix:
01. Try Unity – Time To Believe (Rave Radio)
02. Soundbwoy Killah – Tell Me (Warehouse Rave)
03. Manix – Hold Dis (Reinforced)
04. DJ Jedi – Acid Test (Rave Radio)
05. Trigger Happy – Vol. 2 (Side A2) (Trigger Happy)
06. Pete Cannon – Here We Go Again (Kniteforce)
07. Systec – Dreams (Peace On Wax)
08. Boykz & Chapman – Relapse (Enormous Mouse)
09. TenTun – Bass Drum (Rikka Jam)
10. Innercore – Suspense (Peace On Wax)
11. 2 Bad Mice – Gone Too Soon (Sneaker Social Club)
12. DJ Jedi – Utopia (Jedi Recordings)
13. Thumps & Bumps – Hardcore Sound (KHK)
14. Systec – Hardcore Generation (Peace On Wax)
15. Stormski – Come Selector (Stay On Target)
Hot on the heels of Get It 003, my selection of modern ragga jungle, is this mix you have here, Get It 004, my selection of modern breakbeat hardcore. Regular listeners will know that last summer I did a mix called Future Proofed, which covered … modern breakbeat hardcore.
So what’s the difference this time?
Well, there isn’t a huge difference, to be honest, but whereas Future Proofed was (mostly) more oriented to 1993-esque sounds, dark synths and tearing breaks, this mix is closer to the kind of euphoric, hands-in-the-air sounds that dominated 1992, the year that author Simon Reynolds has called rave’s annus mirabilis.
As with the other mixes in the Get It series, this mix is on some level about me throwing together recent vinyl purchases into a single mix for convenient listening … as dragging around a record player and mixer on the U-Bahn is not a really feasible commuting option!
One thing that was pretty cool about Future Proofed was that the mix itself and my accompanying blog post sparked some interesting commentary, first from Simon Reynolds and then from The Next Groove. It’s worth reading both of their posts, and now that I have done a new mix in this vein, I thought it would be worth considering their points, and then writing a post to respond (of course, it’s only six months too late!)
First up, these are Simon’s thoughts, which he expressed when I asked him what he meant by the tracks being ‘philosophically suspect’:
well it’s exactly what you talk about in your mix-text – going back to a moment when the music was about not going back, but surging forward
it’s the same as all those post-punk revivalists in the early 2000s
they were reactivating the sonic substance of postpunk, rather than the operating principles of postpunk
so they would bring back the not-very-good-guitarist trying to sound like Nile Rodgers and producing something thrillingly scrappy and scratchy and angular thing
whereas the postpunk-in-spirit thing to do would have been to respond to what grime or crunk or then-current R&B were doing and come with some hamfisted-yet-compelling twist on that
it’s like the trad jazz people in England in the early Fifties, deciding that they prefer the wild dance energy of New Orleans hot jazz of the 1920s, as opposed to the current state of jazz that its internal dialectic of evolution had produced.
you can see why they prefer it – how it functioned for them in a Fifties Britain of grey austerity and rationing and restraint, as a release (they used to have All Night Raves, the trad jazz people).
but ultimately it’s a regressive move – or at least a dead end for the music.
but i’m only really extrapolating on what you wrote in that text and what you know at heart
which is not say that these jungle-replicas and hardcore-reenactments are not great fun – certainly they are something that i’m too weak to resist
but i know it’s weakness
There’s a lot here to agree with – rave music was about pushing the boundaries, and the rave revival tracks of recent years (mostly) don’t sound like they would have been out of place in the early 90’s, and the early 90’s were now, well, quite some time ago! I’m 38 so even I was too young to experience this stuff in a context besides pirate radio (my first rave was in 1996), so for my younger co-workers this music must appear from ancient history.
One difference between then and now is that production standards have clearly improved – these tracks sound crisp in a way that relatively few 1992 rave tracks do. High-end audio mastering technology was a luxury for the few back in the day, whereas every random bedroom producer today has access to the kind of tools that would have been an impossible dream for all but the wealthiest old skool rave producers.
Another difference is that the march of time has ensured that producers are much more aware of how to program their tracks in a dj-friendly way – I flipped this mix together in one take and everything slid together quite nicely, which is emphatically not the case with many tracks back in the day, as they are often plagued with random bars throwing the mix structure out, strangely-triggered samples, sudden drops and the like. You could certainly make a living then as just a producer, and there were far fewer tutorials and the like, so many producers were self-taught and basically unaware of how to structure their tracks to make life easier for a dj. For the listener, this unpredictability is part of the charm, but for a dj it can be hair-tearingly frustrating, as you think you have safely navigated the mix in for landing only for something incredibly weird to appear out of nowhere and send the whole mix flying off into fiery oblivion.
So in the end with this kind of ‘new old skool’ you basically have to accept the paradox, that it (mostly) ignores 25+ years of subsequent musical history and just enjoy it for what it is – fun party music.
One thing I find a little bit sad is that it doesn’t quite have to be like this. I’m interested in hearing breakbeat hardcore that is clearly rooted in the original sounds, but then also takes on board more recent influences, whether grime (not that new any more itself!) or dubstep or juke or trap or drill, or whatever, really.
This is a point that was nicely made on The Next Groove:
Old school Hardcore has a specificity to it, its own vibe. So why not bring it back? Why not give it one more life? Maybe that specific sound has more left into it, maybe not everything has been exhausted from it? Maybe by recreating those sounds there’s a way to bring back the energy of that era – to find whatever it is some are looking for.
But, in my opinion, imitation (and nothing but imitation) can only take us so far. It seems to me that if we want to recreate the energy of the old school Hardcore era, we have to dig deeper than its plasticity, to unveil what its spirit and approach were, rather than its specific sonic palette. Hardcore was a bastard genre, a sort of Frankenstein’s Monster taking bits and pieces from other genres of that era. Techno of that era. House of that era. RnB of that era. Hip hop of that era. Dancehall of that era.
If we want to bring back the sense of catharsis that the older generation experienced, we have to start by creating our own bastard genre of today. Taking bits and pieces from the music of today. Techno of today. House of today. Dancehall of today. Etc. And we also have look at new genres that have sprung up in the last two decades: Dubstep, Grime, Funky House, Alternative RnB, Drum n Bass, Afrobeats, Afroswing, Gqom, etc, etc. Only then, I think, can we get our own “being there”, our own “being part of something new and special”, and our own “feeling of freedom and reverie”.
I totally agree, with the one proviso being that the artist doing so has to integrate these sounds in a way that makes sense, where it doesn’t sound like some kind of wacky hipster experiment, but where it is clearly designed to fulfill the primary function of rave music: make people dance like a gibbon on an electric fence.
Because that’s exactly the impact these tracks have on me – sure, my colleagues might think I am a heavyset late 30’s guy impassively staring at my computer, but in my head with the music roaring it’s a multicolored frenzy of beats and riffs. Play this shit loud to a crowd that has been chemically, um, ‘lubricated’ and watch them lose their minds.
On one level, I would love to get into production and integrate all these different ideas and influences into one sound, but I work full-time in a reasonably demanding job and (more importantly!) am married with two young children, so the amount of time and effort that I would need to expend to get any good at production simply is not available to me. With mixing, well, I’ve been doing it for over twenty years now, so while I am not the greatest vinyl mixer ever, I can hold my own well enough to throw down a half-decent mix in the little blocks of spare ‘me time’ that I can get. Getting started in production is a whole other kettle of fish, and so it’s just not realistic. So really I am stuck advocating for other people to do the work, hoping that they will somehow anticipate my desired outcomes and make it a reality.
One track that really did hint at it, was this one from FFF that I featured on ‘Future Proofed’, which is some kind of very now mashup of footwork, jungle, and old skool hardcore. I love it! More like this, please.
So that’s it, enjoy the mix, and coming soon will be either a Havok Records tribute or a Get It 005 devoted to dark 1993-esque rave sounds.