“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Techno Tune

I've been looking for it for twenty-one years (since 1989). House music was so anonymous then, and I was so shy to ask in the one record store that would've known (no-one did house then, not actual 12"s). I remember EXACTLY where I was when I heard it (in Land of Oz, spring 1989). It had this sweet, strange, childlike voice (now I realize it was probably Kevin Saunderson's sister). If you want to know what I've been thinking about ALMOST EVERY DAY since, you can bet that some of the time it was this.

It's the Mayday (Derrick May that is—what else?) remix of Reese's (Kevin Saunderson's) “Rock to the Beat.” At the time it was mixed into “Your Love” by Frankie Knuckles (also an amazing one, with the sound of breathing and the guy going “I can't let go”), and that confused me for a long time. My friend (the guitarist of Senser, Nick Michaelson) who was dancing next to me at the time got confused himself. That strange, melancholy, young girl's four-note riff. Just wow.

Land of Oz was an extraordinary place that temporarily replaced Spectrum. Aphex Twin span sand paper—as immortalized by David Toop and as seen by me. Before they were The Orb, Alex Paterson and Jimmy Cauty looped Sueno Latino and ambient sounds in the VIP lounge. The club was on this perfect cusp between the “what the fuck is this?” amazement of 1987–1988 and the outdoor rave scene that started picking up. Orbital's “Chime” or Derrick May's remix of “Sueno Latino” sums it up quite well. “Ambient” before “ambient” was a regular word (and not just a Brian Eno one). Strange, sacred, mysterious—yes there were powerful chemical reasons why this was the case but some scenes really are that way in any case. How did Oakenfold and Fung get a thousand people to dance to someone singing that line in the Mayday remix of “Rock to the Beat”?

So I've scoured through Discogs, through YouTube video footage of clubs in 1989, asking people who knew, and on and on and on.

It's THE techno tune. I speak as someone who has them ALL from that era—because many are incredible. But that was THE one. You probably have another one.

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