By the early nineties the game had begun to change. The warm glow of the previous decades Acid House summer was beginning to fade and a very different vibe began to rise in the shadows. The free party scene was well into full swing, but the problematic elements, the gangsters, the heavy drugs, the shooters and more, were making their presence felt. With all the predictability of day following night, the red tops got incensed on behalf of middle-Britain and the first questions that would eventually lead to the 1994 Criminal Justice Bill were being asked in parliament.
I was not long out of school and the closest we ever got to the danger of tooled up gangsters was when the fat, drunk farmer who rode his tractor to the pub on a Friday night would threaten to shoot us for taking the piss out of him. Clubs, let alone proper raves in abandoned shoe factories somewhere in the hinterlands beyond the M25, were something distant, something that we were only vaguely aware of. We heard stories about places like Pure in Edinburgh, but it never seemed to occur to us that we could actually go. All that would, of course, come in time, but back then our links to the music was the music itself, stripped of all the accoutrements. CD’s, tapes (especially mix tapes) and the occasional slab of vinyl was our entire education.
Guidance by Bandulu was one of the very first proper Techno albums I think I ever bought. I listened to it religiously for almost a whole summer between school and college. It fought for space in my head with various other records, amongst them a slew of Punk and Indy, and Plastikman’s still never bettered Sheet One. It was almost as far from Sheet One as it was possible to get. Where that album was a claustrophobic collage of alien sounds and beats, Guidance seemed to be part of something larger and far less insular.
Although Guidance is most certainly Techno, its parentage is not so certain, and there is no way it would have sounded the same if it wasn’t for the vast array of influences that were already making themselves felt on British electronic music. The sounds of the two big US cities are there, but so are the rolling grooves of the peculiarly British rave scene and it’s juxtaposition with ragged arse traveller sound systems and mainstream clubbers. The thick soup of the London musical cauldron bubbled in its veins as well. It was a proper education in the sort of sonic mixing pot that British House and Techno owes its existence to.
Better Nation (Carl Craig Innerzone Mix) isn’t actually my favourite track on the album (that honour goes to Tribal Reign, or maybe Revelation) but I’ve chosen it because of the way Craig has added a verve and energy that was still the hallmark of Detroit and virtually nowhere else. The original tune – a hefty, dubby, corkscrewing thing – is sheared of its excess, becoming a loose-limbed mover that clatters and skips its way along. Really the only real mark left of the original is the dub nature of the bass. But its in the way that Craig lightens it and gives it wings that it has become such a good tune, the rolling, funky as all hell synths punctuate the throb and rattle. It a rave anthem born in the Mid West, and I bet it could still do a job today.