Last night I tuned into Mumdance‘s radio show on London’s Rinse FM online from my apartment in Ljubljana. I knew Mumdance had some very special guests (for him) on the show. I would learn that Mumdance as a kid/teen (much like myself in the nineties) was heavily into UK Rave music. So many cool memories came flooding back!

You might wonder how kids in the UK would hear about underground rave music.

By 1992 the illegal acid house raves were pretty much over & new sounds had infiltrated the rave scene. The people called it Hardcore (not to be confused with US hardcore punk). Hardcore was an exciting combination of acid house styles & the rolling breakbeat sound of Jungle. XL Recordings (now known for Adele’s success) championed Hardcore early on in their career and got it into the charts with the likes of The Prodigy and SL2.

I only heard this sound when a friend passed me a twin tape pack called Rave Classics or something in 1998. it was 3 years old but I loved it. Then shortly after that, rave tape packs (collections of real DJ Sets recorded at real rave events) were circulating the schoolyard. The tape packs would have a handful of hardcore DJ’s alongside Jungle and Gabber DJ’s so there was a history to learn about. Some of our Dad’s owned Dual Cassette Recorders and we would swap tapes & copy for ourselves. They had us wanting to attend real rave events but we were far too young.

UK Hardcore made me discover Sampling and Synthesizers.

I remember listening on my Sony Walkman on lunch breaks thinking “how did they make these sounds?” and being super confused. I had to make it my mission to learn how. Luckily around 1999/2000 I was on the internet & could begin to search forums. I found that most of the music was made on AKAI Samplers like the S1000, S950 etc. The producers would buy bootleg sample CDs of expensive synthesisers because it was cheaper. Similar things were happening in Chicago Detroit as early as the 80s with House & Techno.

What can be learned from UK Hardcore?

The limitations of the technology are what made the Rave sound possible.

I am for the argument that the producers of this time were mega Pioneers. They worked with their limitations and made music that was super exciting. They used the limitations to their advantage to make something of a culture. People like Paul Woolford aka Special Request and Zomby are still putting out albums using these limitations. It won’t suprise you then that XL who originally championed the sound have worked with both artists 🙂

To hear a glimpse of this sound – listen to last night’s Mumdance show feat. the legendary Slipmatt, Billy Daniel Bunter & DJ Vibes in the mix.

If you’re super interested – here is an archive of ripped rave tape packs from the 90s covering all styles – D n B / Jungle / hardcore / gabber etc.

To try making 90s hardcore – sample CD here.