Every week, an average of a thousand albums are issued. They’re a mixture of new albums, reissues, box sets and compilations. Then there’s albums that are only released as a download. As you can see, competition is for the record buyer’s pound is fierce. That’s an understatement.
Never before, has so much music been released. Partly, that’s because no longer is it so expensive to record an album. That’s no bad thing. It’s democratised the making of music. No longer do you need either a huge budget or a record company behind you.
Instead, it’s possible to record an album in the comfort of your own home. All you need is a computer and digital audio workstation. You don’t even need to be able to play an instrument or sing. Instead, you can sample and use loops. After you’ve recorded your album, it’s possible to release it on your own label. It’s a return to punk D.I.Y. ethos. That’s all very well. However, for music lovers, all this music presents a problem.
Whether you make a weekly exodus to your favourite record shop, or shop online, this proliferation of music presents a problem. How you separate the wheat from the chaff? After all, not all music is equal. The music released on a weekly basis can be described as the good, the bad and the ugly. So how do you find the best music?
The best place to start are reviews. Blogs like this one, are constantly searching the best in new music and reissues. Then there’s weekly and monthly music magazines and some newspapers. Some radio shows take pride in breaking the best new music. Other radio shows seek out the best in new music and reissues. They’re often presented by DJs who see it as their raison d’être to educate their listeners. However, just like bloggers and journalists, even the most dedicated DJ can’t review all the music released every week.
Sadly, many albums released each week aren’t even released. Nothing whatsoever is written about them. These albums could be crammed full of quality music. However, they still find their way into some people’s record collection. The reason for this, is the album cover.
Often, a bold, striking or imaginative album cover has resulted in me buying an album. Sometimes, I’ve discovered some incredible, sometimes, life-changing music. Other times, the cover proved to be the best thing about an album. These albums are in the minority. Thankfully, I’ve a high success. That may change though.
Recently, I noticed a compilation entitled Analog Dreams was due to be released by DAT Records on 28th July 2014. I saw it advertised in an online record store. What drew me to Analog Dreams was the psychedelic cover.
I knew nothing about the music on Analog Dreams. There was no description of the music on the record shop website. So, I tried to find out more about the compilation. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t find any details of Analog Dreams. So, I decided to take the plunge. I paid my money and the next day, a copy of Analog Dreams dropped through my letterbox.
I was like a kid on Christmas Day, desperate to discover the delights within Analog Dreams. Would it be a compilation of rare sixties psychedelia? Secretly, I hoped it would be. When I opened the parcel, I was greeted by a lurid green CD box. Strangely, it seemed to setoff the psychedelic cover. Opening the box up, I discovered that Analog Dreams was an album of psychedelic trance. Okay.
As regular readers know, I’ve a pretty eclectic musical taste. I’ll listen to anything from ambient to zydeco, and anything in-between. That includes trance. However, that was a long time ago. Back then, the whole dance music scene was in its infancy. Since then, I’ve heard a lot of music. That includes psychedelic trance.
Looking at the track listing to Analog Dreams, I recognised some of the tracks. There’s contributions from Hallucinogenic, Space Tribe, Doof, Slinky Wizard, Total Eclipse, Etnica, Prana and Nervasystem. Some of the tracks aren’t the original version. Instead, there’s remixes, extended mixes and evan a live versions of Total Eclipse’s Free Lemonade on Analog Dreams. In total, there’s nine tracks on Analog Dreams, which I’ll tell you about.
Hallucinogenic’s LSD ’93 opens Analog Dreams. LSD was the first Hallucinogenic track produced by Simon Posford. Recording took place at Butterfly Studios in 1993. The following year, LSD was released on the Dragonfly label. For sample spotters, it’s a sample of Ken Kesey talking about LSD that opens futuristic, trippy sounding track. After fifty seconds, the track explodes into life, and pounding drums and hissing hi-hats propel this anthem along. For the next five minutes, the sound of LSD assails you.
The original mix of Space Tribe’s The Great Spirit was produced around 1994 or 1995. Again, it was co-produced by Simon Posford at Butterfly Studios. The hallucinogenic remix if The Great Spirit then featured on Sonic Mandala, Space Tribe’s 1996 debut album. However, the original version was never released, Until now. With a thunderous kick drum at the heart of the track, it’s a relentless and mesmeric assault on your senses. Having said that, there are similarities with the previous track.
It was in 1995, that the original mix of Doof’s We Are Free was first released. It featured on the Return To The Source’s very first compilation of Deep Trance and Ritual Beats. The version on Analog Dreams is the desk mix. It has a futuristic, moody and hypnotic sound.
Many people won’t have met a Slinky Wizard Before. They didn’t go to Hogwarts. More likely a rave, where they’d provide tracks like Funkus Mukus. Slinky Wizard recorded Funkus Mukus at Butterfly Studios in January or February 1996. One of the samples allegedly features a US Army or Air Force Press Officer, discussing Area 51. That’s fitting. Again, there’s a robotic, futuristic sound before thunderous drums pound. They propel the arrangement along at 143.8 beats per minute. Sci-fi synths bubble above the arrangement before the big, bouncy trance chords enter. By now a 21st Century hands in the air, lysergic anthem has began to unfold.
Green Nuns Of The Revolution sounds like a character from a sci-fi B-movie. Their contribution is the extended version of Ring Of Fire. It bares no resemblance to Johnny Cash. Ring Of Fire was released on the B-Side of the Flying Rhino’s Afterburner E.P. A high energy, atmospheric track, the TR-303 is omnipresent throughout the track. At the start, the track builds and builds. That’s until the arrangement is almost ready to explode into life. When this happens, banks of synths are at the heart of this epic.
Total Eclipse’s live mix of Free Lemonade, is something of a first. It’s not live tracks feature on a compilation. The track was recorded at a Trance Body Express party in 1993. Free Lemonade which would later feature on their 1995 album Delta Aquarids, was the finale to what’s remembered as a memorable set.
Ethica showcased Full On at the Voov festival in the summer of 1995. It gave Ethica the opportunity to make use of their SH-101 synth. After the festival, the track was extended. When it was recorded, Ethica decided to make use of their newly acquired JD800 synth. Just like the SH-101 synth, it features on Full On, which was released by Blue Room. Although several mixes of Full On were released, the original, acid-tinged version which features on Analog Dreams is the best.
Prana released Voyager 2 in 1993, on the POF label. The track was recorded by what was the first lineup of Prana. This included Nick Taylor and Tsuyoshi Suzuki and Chris Deckker on percussion. Together they combine an Eastern influence with analog synths. There’s even a sample Om Namah Shivayah included. This is the perfect accompaniment to the ethnic influence. When all this combined, the result is a ethnic tinged track with a spacey, lysergic influence.
Closing Analog Dreams is Nervasystem’s Whirling Dervish. The version included is the kaleidoscope mix. It was released on Matsuri’s 1996 compilation The Truth Of Communication. This version if much more understated and laid back than the original version. There’s even an ambient influence to this atmospheric, haunting and moody track.
So that’s the story behind Analog Dreams, a compilation I bought without even knowing anything about. It wasn’t the psychedelic compilation I’d expected. Instead, Analog Dreams features nine psychedelic trance tracks. Many connoisseurs of psychedelic trance will remember these tracks fondly. However, some of the tracks haven’t stood the test of time.
Instead, they sound dated. That’s especially the case with Hallucinogenic’s LSD ’93, Space Tribe’s The Great Spirit and Total Eclipse’s live mix of Free Lemonade. In their day, both tracks sounded fresh and innovative. Twenty years later, they’re a reminder of part of electronic’s past and its music rich musical history. That some of the tracks on Analog Dreams haven’t aged well isn’t not unusual.
Many dance tracks haven’t aged well. Far from it. That’s also the case with many tracks from the Acid House era. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. The tracks on Analog Dreams were made to dance to, not listen to at home on a stereo. Instead, they were meant to be listened to at high volumes in hot, sweaty nightclubs. Nobody expected the music to be remembered twenty years later. Not even the producers who made the tracks. Instead, they believed the music would be almost disposable, part of an evening’s soundtrack. Soon, it would be replaced by another track. However, that’s not the way things have worked.
Nowadays, nostalgia is a profitable business. People want to remember the music they danced to in clubs twenty years ago. They want to relive their memories and relive their youth. That’s what Analog Dreams, which was released by DAT Records is an opportunity to do.
The nine slices of psychedelic trance will bring memories flooding back. Twenty years will fall from your shoulders. Instantly, you forget your forty not twenty. You forget that the music isn’t timeless. It never was meant to be.
Instead, the music on Analog Dreams was the soundtrack to your weekend when anything was possible. Not any more. You’re older, wiser and supposedly grownup. Long ago did you retire from the raving scene. You leave that to another generation. However, if you want to relive your youth, then Analog Dreams will bring back memories of another musical era come flooding back.