Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present Fell From The Sky: Downtempo and After Hours 1990-91.

Label: Ace Records.

Format: CD. 

Release Date: ‘1st’ July 2022.  

House music arrived in Britain in 1987 and instantly transformed the musical landscape. Just like disco a decade earlier, it went on to provided the soundtrack for a generation in clubs across Britain. The genre that was born in the Windy City of Chicago was embraced by a new generation of clubbers. This was the case during the long hot summer of 1989 and right through to the start of the new decade.

Then two records were released during February 1990 that turned out to be gamechangers and  once again, transformed Britain’s musical landscape. They were The KLF’s Chill Out and Andrew Weatherall’s  remix of Primal Scream’s album track Loaded. Both tracks were much slower than house music and were just 98 beats per minute and turned out to be hugely influential.

Chill Out and the remix of Loaded slowed the tempo on the dancefloor way down. Both tracks also caught the imagination of DJs and dancers  who, it seemed, preferred the slower tempo tracks.  No wonder after three hedonistic years dancing to frantic 4/4 house tracks. The times they were a changing.

It was no surprise that within weeks, an array of similar mid-tempo, chilled out tracks were released. They were atmospheric, dreamy, lysergic, smokey, spacey, floaty, and fuzzy sounding. Many of these tracks charted in Britain. 

Some lacked originality and sounded as if they had been heavily inspired by Soul II Soul, who at the time, were at the peak of their popularity. However, other artists and groups released innovative, genre melting tracks that would quickly become favourites of DJs and dancers. This included another Primal Scream remix as well as tracks by Sheer Taft, Q-Tee, The Grid, Saint Etienne, One Dove, BBG, The Aloof and Moodswings. Tracks by these artists feature on the new compilation Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present Fell From The Sky: Downtempo and After Hours 1990-91, which will be released by Ace Records on the  ‘1st’ of July 2022. 

Opening the compilation is an Extended Remix of Primal Scream’s Higher Than The Sun (Higher Than The Orb). The original version featured on the group’s 1991 classic album Screamadelica where they fused acid house and rock. However, this spacey, lysergic remix marries dub with elements of neo-psych and the pastoral sound of the second side of Pink Floyd’s 1969 album Ummagumma. Listen carefully, and even the influence of Steve Hillage’s 1979 ambient album Rainbow Dome Musick  can be heard on this genre-melting remix. It was later hailed a genre classic and  has definitely stood the test of time.

Thirteen of the fourteen tracks on Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present Fell From The Sky: Downtempo and After Hours 1990-91 are by British artists and groups. The exception is the Essential Trance Hall Mix of It Could Not Happen by Critical Rhythm featuring Jango Thriller and Vandal. It was produced by New York-based production duo Brooklyn Funk Essentials and released in 1990. However, with its breathy, dreamy vocal and understated, spacey arrangement it sounds as if could’ve been made in London.

Thomas Taft, who originally, was from Greenock, not far from Glasgow. By 1990 he was living in London and recording using the moniker Sheer Taft. He recorded two singles with vocalist Ingrid Kudos and the album Cascades.  However, it’s the Hypnotone  Mix of Cascades which features on the compilation. The track was reworked by Manchester musician Tony Martin aka Hynotone with Thrash from The Orb helping with the final mix. The result is an ethereal, dreamy example of mid-tempo trance.

The Grid was a production duo of David Ball formerly of Soft Cell and Richard Norris. One of their finest productions was the original version of Floatation. Straight away, the influence of acid house with squelch synths to the fore can be heard. So can the new-age relaxation influence that was proving popular in 1990 when this track was released.  The tempo is slower with space left between the grinding beats which is joined by a breathy, sensual and suggestive vocal. It’s no surprise that the track found favour with DJs and clubbers across Britain.

The only unreleased track is a Radio Edit of Speedwell which was the third single Saint Etienne released during 1990. The group were still a duo as Sarah Cracknell wasn’t officially a member. For the single, gospel house samples were used and combined with the hook from a piano house tracks. For the backing track, parts of  Andrew Weatherall’s Mix Of Two Halves were reused.  When all this is combined the result is an uplifting and anthemic hands in the air track that brings back memories of 1990.

One Dove originally released Fallen in 1991. The version on the compilation featured on the album Morning Dove’s White which was released on Boy’s Own Productions in 1993. It’s a genre-melting track where elements dream pop, dub, techno-pop and trance melt into one. Play a leading role in the sound and success of the track is Dot Allison’s vocal.

After leaving Manchester’s School Of Sound Engineering, Graham Massey embarked upon a career as an engineer, producer and remixer. His first project was the Massonix single Just A Little Bit More.  It was inspired by I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little Bit More by The Love Unlimited Orchestra, which was written by Barry White. Graham Massey had come across the track in a charity shop. For the recording session, Denise Johnson who worked with Primal Scream, A Certain Ration and Fifth Of Heaven takes charge of lead vocal duties. However, it’s the Electro Instrumental Mix that features on the compilation. This hypnotic and mesmeric slow jam from 1990 is a welcome  inclusion, and is a timeless reminder of a new musical era. 

By 1991, The Shamen’s star was in the ascendancy and they were about to release Pro-Gun (Move Any Mountain). However, Will Sinnott aka Sill Sin decided to work on a side project, using the Elsi Curry pseudonym and recorded and produced U Make Me Feel. Sadly, before the single was released, Will Sin drowned and the single was only released as a promo. The Running Water aka Workhouse Mix has a sensual, Balearic sound that’s truly timeless. 

In 1990, BBG produced and mixed Snappiness which was released on the Urban label.  However, it’s the 7” Edit that features on the compilation. The original version was an airy, atmospheric piano-led downtempo instrumental.  Then when Dina Taylor’s vocal was added the track became a top thirty hit. 

Closing  Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present Fell From The Sky: Downtempo and After Hours 1990-91 is The Moodfood Megamix of Moodswings’ Spiritual High. The track incorporates elements of Jon and Vangelis’ State Of Independence and Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech. The result is a track that’s hypnotic, mesmeric and lysergic, and the perfect way to close the compilation.

The fourteen tracks on Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present Fell From The Sky: Downtempo and After Hours 1990-91 all have a modernist sound. However, a number of the producers sought inspiration from music’s past. This is something many producers have done in the past.

There’s everything from the pastoral sound of Pink Floyd right through to Barry White, Jon and Vangelis, Soul II Soul and Steve Hillage. Add to this Neo-Psychedelia as well as acid house, ambient music, Chicago house, dream pop, electronica, gospel house, piano house, soul and trance.  These influences can all be heard on  Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present Fell From The Sky: Downtempo and After Hours 1990-91 which was the start of a new chapter in dance music.

After nearly three years dancing to house music, it was time to slow things down and enjoy some chilled out, laid-back and lysergic sounds. It was the perfect anecdote to the three hedonistic years.  Dancers found themselves dancing at 98 beats per minutes as a new breed of producers and remixers took dance music in a new and exciting direction that’s documented on  Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present Fell From The Sky: Downtempo and After Hours 1990-91. It’s another lovingly curated compilation which is sure to bring back memories of what was the start of a new musical era.

Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present Fell From The Sky: Downtempo and After Hours 1990-91.

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