Monday, July 13, 2009

Equinox, London
Melody Maker, spring 1994

by Simon Reynolds

The host: Moving Shadow, the UK's leading "intelligent
hardcore" label. The line-up: jungle's top DJs, including
the ubiquitous Randall, Grooverider, Ray Keith, Brockie and
LTJ Bukem, plus PA's from Moving Shadow's three most popular artists,
Foul Play, Omni Trio and Deep Blue. The venue: Equinox, a
slightly cheesy disco on Leicester Square usually full of tourists, whose
balconies and upholstered alcoves provide welcome rest and
respite for the combat-fatigued and shellshocked.

For hardcore is warzone music; its jagged breakbeats are
treacherous, a simulation of the minefield that is modern
life. Hardcore strafes the listener's body with percussion,
so that dancing is like striding into a stream of machine-gun
snares and ricocheting paradiddles, while bass-bombs send
shockwaves through your intestines. But, with Moving Shadow's
brand of hardcore, the danger-beats are incongruously swathed
with soothing, silken tenderness: strings, harps, jazz-fusion
chords, soul-diva sighs and gasps, plus the kind of woogly
textures you'd usually hear from The Irresistible Force.

This "ambient hardcore" sound was traiblazed on tracks
like "Music" by LTJ Bukem (who plays a brilliant set, finding
an extra five notches of volume to really detonate the night)
and "Open Your Mind" by FOUL PLAY. Sadly, FP don't include this sublime song in their PA, but they do debut their fab
new single ["Being With You"], all phuture-jazz synth-clusters and diva
beseechings, while lazers scythe and slash the crowd. Foul
Play also 'play' their remix of Hyper-On-Experience's "Lords
Of the Null Lines", demonstrating how fluid the notion of
'authorship' is in this scene, where an anthem's life is
prolonged by endless, drastically altered versions.

After Bukem's set, Andy C keeps the music rollin'.
Junglists and junglettes do a palsied version of 'steppers',
originally a roots reggae dance that involves skipping on the
spot like a manic jig'n'reel. But with jungle, it's like
they're Morris-dancing on bullets. The crowd tonight mixes
chic, style-conscious sophisticates (usually black or Asian)
and dressed-down white kids who mostly look like they're well
under the 18 age limit emblazoned on the flyer. There's all
sorts here tonight, friendly luv'd up types who probably
secretly mourn the days of "happy 'ardcore", and the moody,
self-contained junglists into dark tunes, who despise the
rave ethos with its Vicks, white gloves and gushing euphoria.

OMNI TRIO hit the stage, or rather a proxy does, since the true creator behind this country's sublimest dance-pop is
a 38 year old Can fan who prefers to remain an enigma. The
stand-in pretends to knob-twiddle as Omni's classic "Renegade
Snares" tears up the floor, with its soul-shocking cannonades
of polyrhythm, hypergasmic chorus "c'mon, take me UP!" and
sentimental verging on twee piano motif. Then the MC
announces "the one 'n' only, the livin' legend", DEEP BLUE.
The latter is a unassuming bloke whose "The Helicopter Tune"
is still massive after 6 months floor-life. Recently reissued
with 4 remixes, it sold 22 thousand and became the first
hardcore track to go Top 70 in years. Based around a
geometric Latin beat cranked up like some crazed clockwork
mechanism, "Helicopter" gets the crowd seething like a

A few hours later, we stumble bleary and squinting into
a viciously crisp dawn, battered and bruised but still
glowing with the beauty-terrorism of "Voodoo Magic."


delboy said...

you lucky b@stard!

Anonymous said...

Haha yeah the Helicopter tune is still bangin

akumad said...

renegade snares still sends shivers down the spine when i hear it now!
bukem is still doing his bukem thing with conrad and has still got the magic!