Nowadays, when you can have virtually every little detail about a record or its producer dragged in front of you at the touch of a button, it’s almost possible to forget that away from the big names and the big labels, and the coverage they were getting in the handful of major dance music magazines (or in NME if you were the Aphex Twin), it was not quite so easy to find out where the music was coming from. Word of mouth; the bloke in the record shop; annoying a DJ at a club – these were pretty much all the methods available.
Originally, back in The Day, we weren’t really supposed to care who the music was by. There was an idea that the anonymity afforded by the underground was important to how the scene would exist and flourish, that we should leave the fame and trappings to rock and pop because house and techno was all about a consensual group experience soundtracked by a faceless DJ who we wouldn’t even see because he was in another room or hiding in a box or something! Cool! As an idea it was pretty cool and deliberately eschewing the personality also fitted in the aesthetic of hard machine music; you could strip the scene of all the extraneous flesh, reduce it down to sound and abandonment of the super ego.
The problem was that it wasn’t actually possible to do this, humans being human after all. All the talk of ‘it’s not about the person’ was often blurted by the DJs or producers themselves from the pages of those glossy mags, irony being easily quelled by good publicity. Even at ground level, with the local DJs in the local clubs it was never as true as it could have been.
Often it was the records alone that retained the sense of mystery and distance. It’s easier now to go through the piles of old records and match them up on Discogs. Even those white labels you found in a bargain bin in your local record shop probably have something – an etching on the run-out for instance – that allows you to identify them. Occasionally, though, even the internet is helpless. Sometimes the secrets are lost.
‘The Land Of Dreams’ was put out originally in 1990, one of only two release by G Strings, a short-lived Chicago label set up by Gregory Sims and Jennifer Hampton, and re-released a few years ago by Scottish label Seventh Sign Recordings. A classic release, with four storming cuts, it remains a testament to the old belief that it is the music that actually counts – even more so because the producer remains a mystery.
I like that. What I like even more is the fact I’ve searched through the net without much success to find out what was known about it, which turns out to be pretty much what I wrote above. It just is; existing on its own merits. There is a suggestion that it might be Ron Trent; It might be but it doesn’t matter.
What does matter is this track itself. Woozy, deep and achingly beautiful it stretches endlessly out. Pastel shade fading into darkness, it’s like someone recorded a sunset to wax. The drums too, proper machine rhythms thickened with the interplay of the percussion, sometimes running slightly ahead of the deep throb of the bass, sometimes falling back as if catching its breath. What brings it together is the wonkines, like its been mastered from a crappy and worn cassette bestowing it with a life and flavour of compression that no expensive plug-in for Ableton would be able to give you.
Should you know something about this record and this track, do me a favour and keep it to yourself. I know everything I need from these five odd minutes of rolling beauty. Everything else it just noise.