It started with a hankering. Other music addicts and record nerds get these as often as I do, I expect; it’s obsessive, slightly mental and probably a wee bit creepy for those who aren’t used to our slightly more, err, focused outlook on life, but it’s got to be pretty common in our gang. I’m guessing this is magnified to a terrifying and hilarious level for those of us who like to pretend we’re DJ’s. For me it usually starts when I begin to notice something missing from my listening, a sound or vibe that doesn’t seem to be there.
For DJs I guess this feels like missing a piece of the jigsaw; you know there needs to something else in a mix, but you can never find it. Often something else does a similar job, maybe even taking things off in a new direction, making it better than it would have been. Sometimes, though… It’s even worse when you know exactly what your after, but don’t know where to start looking.
I tend to be relentless when I can’t find something I know I need. With music I’ll watch entire evenings disappear in a weird and almost out-of-body way as the tiny sensible part of my mind stands back, witnessing with growing horror the sight of a sweaty, swearing me frantically clawing through stacks of vinyl for a tune – not a record, but a single bloody tune – that I realize I need to hear more than I need the sun to rise in the morning. To make things worse, it might be a tune I only ever listened to a couple of times, occasionally in passing, in the midst of a mix when I was just seeing what went where. Worse still, my long break from electronic music means those fragile memories have long since been buried under a lot of complete and utter nonsense: Put bluntly, I can’t remember the names of anything, even though the basslines might be seared into my brain.
This happened a few months ago, a sudden need for some vocal tunes in a style I didn’t really have available. This has been a bad one, and one that still has no resolution. Endless record listening, stalking various websites, and setting up camp on Discogs and Youtube have yet to scratch that itch. That’s how it goes. If anyone has any ideas for some techno-ey, dirty, fast, acidy, raw tunes with vocals let me know. Older the better in this case, I think.
I had an easier time of it a couple of weeks back. I knew the tune inside out, but couldn’t find it anywhere. I was convinced it was there in the stack, smirking at me from the wax, but every possibility found itself quickly ground down to a dusty pile of ‘nope’. I almost conceded defeat, resigning myself to a probably life long irritation that would make me even more horrible to live with than I am now. Then I remembered something. I forgot to check the CDs. I always forget to check the CDs.
And there it was, not front and center on a 12″, or leading the charge off an album, but nestled away in the middle of a mix CD by Claude Young that I hadn’t really listened to in a decade. The CD is Young’s DJ Kicks mix from 96, and the track is Backyard from the 1995 record Escape from Venice by the Skinless Brothers, an Austrian duo who are perhaps better known as their other guises, Ratio, and The Memory Foundation. It’s a blinding track, and I couldn’t believe I had never owned it. It’s not so much raw as in possession of a fine, no bullshit toughness that puts it at odds with a lot of the early minimal crowd who were beginning to make their presence felt. It morphs constantly, swaying in several directions at one before being gifted focus by the dramatic crash of the chords. It’s a peach.
I sorted out my oversight quickly via Discogs. Well, you need to don’t you? Got to scratch that itch. And I think you have to hand in your badge and gun to Music Obsessive HQ if you don’t. Turned out even better than expected, because there were another couple of tracks on the record I’ve been after for many years but never managed to find any information on. I’d love to say there was a moral to this little story, something about beating the odds and sticking to your beliefs, but there isn’t really. It’s just a bit about an idiot and his idiotic itch, and how good it is to finally get right at the little swine. And when it’s backed up by fine techno, it beats any amount of profound philosophizing hands down.