Where to start with this? Well, a good place would be that this set pretty much nails what tech house really is. I remember reading an old interview, probably from Muzic, in which Terry, or Eddie Richards, or Nathan Coles defined tech house more or less as good music which we play, irrespective of genre. Those were not their precise words, but more or less what was said. Going to Wiggle around that time meant bathing in the best of house and techno, but with a majestic groove ruling all.
This was a great time to be alive. In 1997 I moved back to The UK from France, having been living in Paris for the previous three years. While over there I had been a Rex Club regular, attended the Soma parties put on by British ex-pats in and around the French capital, went to The Queen on les Champs Elysees A lot, both midweek and at the weekend sometimes, ‘Respect is Burning’ anyone? And loads of other stuff. I digress; I’d only been living in London for a month when I bumped into Terry in a bar in Clapham, one Friday evening, had a chat with him, (he’s just been named Muzic’s “Best New DJ” a few months earlier), and was given a spot on the guest list at the 414 in Brixton for later the same night. (The close at the end of last month I believe).
Sorry to waffle, but context is very important. This little appetizer was an important step on the road to Wiggle, somewhere I didn’t go until a couple of months later I think, maybe early December? It was after going to watch Crystal Palace 1 3 Liverpool on the same day. (I had come over to London the Christmas before to go, but while staying at Hursty's flat in Camberwell, came down with as bad a case of the flu as I've ever had, and had to watch while everyone else went). Myself, John (Hassay), maybe Jim (Irving), maybe others, I don’t know, went to the London Bridge arches that night and got infected by the vibe. A rave in any other world, a temporary autonomous zone, somewhere to get battered, make friends and listen to great music as it should be played. Sure, the bpms were often maxed out, but this helped to bridge the gap between house and techno. I can still remember tunes from around that time, although not necessarily from that night: ‘Web of Deceit’ by Primary Colours used to get a caning, as did almost anything with the stamp of Charles Webster on it. The 20/20 Vision remix of ‘Lovelee Day’ by Blaze was omnipresent, as well as ‘When The Funk Hits The Fan (Mood ll Swing When The Dub Hits the Fan’. Heads down banging techno didn’t really feature, but that at the funkier end of the spectrum did. It was really all about making the music being played as syncopated and zippy as possible, while keeping control of the funk. Vocals came mainly in the form of snippets and samples, but often broke through in their own right, as shown in the mix by the peerless Francois K remix of ‘Tout est Bleu’, and the great thing about ‘Architecture’ is that it perfectly encapsulates this. Easier said than done, which is why it’s never been managed as well since.
The mix in question is a roster of everything that caught fire back then. As well as those already mentioned, the quintessential tech house sound of the time is represented in the shape of Gideon Jackson, Pure Science, Two Right Wrongans, Skymaster aka Mark Ambrose and Aubrey. This was such a purple patch for British house music that it’s difficult to put into words how burgeoning the scene was. Moreover, Its influence cannot be understated; so many of the records released back then, and in subsequent years, either by specific artists or on record labels associated with them and the scene generally, regularly pop up in the sets of DJs trying to reproduce that vibe. These releases are also an investment too, regularly fetching top dollar on Discogs: Wiggle, Eye 4 Sound (recently revived), Plank, Surreal, Swag, End Recordings, London Housing Benefit, etc; This is a sound that has stood the test of time well, mainly because it fed the primal urges which were helped to flourish by the best MDMA. And that’s another thing: mind-bending psychedelics were always part of the equation. I have some incredibly vivid memories of so many of those nights, and remember so many of the people that populated the darkest recesses of the party, and I wouldn’t be able to, were it not for copious imbibition. But who was that girl with the scorpion tattoo from Ipswich?