British Rave culture was a many-headed beast at one time. Acid House, Breakbeat, Jungle and everything in between were to be found under its suitably anarchic banner, and found everywhere from basement clubs to traveller sound systems setting up in Tory backyards. Up here in Scotland, though, rave really only meant one thing: The monolithic, fairground ready thudding of Happy Hardcore, replete with chipmunk vocals, speeding 4/4 beats and cascading synths.
Given this singular and misleading experience of Scottish Rave, I’ve become interested in the growth of contemporary music that harks back to the other strands that remained distant and exotic up here. Unknown To The Unknown Chief DJ Haus is obviously a man familiar with the more interesting elements of a scene that arguably ended up spawning some of the most vital and important genres in British music for decades.
Space Jams Vol 1 is a record in two parts. The A side devoted to more straight up pounders that have evolved from Acid and Garage into a pair of Hybrid Techno-ey beasts. Hey Now Wait A Minute rolls up first on some seriously detuned toms before dropping the sort of riff that you imagine Haus might have nicked out of the back of Altern8’s tour bus. Dextrous, which follows it, is the more alien of the pair, perhaps surprisingly given it’s more conventional House stylings, the intro clattering into life like it’s 88 and pitching into a wonky, trampling machine blast which wonders around in circles with a gleeful smile plastered all over its sweaty face.
It’s the B side, though, that’s even more fun. Tell Me is all scattered strobes, bleeps and huge synths over a pitched up vocal snip and one of the funkiest breakbeats you will have heard in years, coupled to a massive warbling bass. It’s about as Old School as you can get. You’d love to set this loose on some of the boomy, over produced, sub Berghain fare that’s been clogging the clubs up for a wee while now. Likewise, it’s partner-in-crime, Hurfdy Jam is a loved up chunk of proto-jungle that wouldn’t have sounded out-of-place in a Grooverider or Bukem set once upon a time. Both tracks are monsters that do their thing and get the hell out before outstaying their welcome.
It sometimes seems that there are producers kicking around who are more interested in curating the heritage of half forgotten genres than they are creating new ones. I don’t think that’s a complaint you can lay on DJ Haus. Although he’s delved deep into the muddy currents of the Mississippi wide river of British Rave culture, he’s come back up with some real pearls. Space Jams Vol 1 is revivalist in the best of ways: You can call it Old School if you want, but I don’t think it cares.