Have you heard the news? There’s a new compilation in stores from Musique Pour La Danse, who previously issued a retrospective of tracks released by Ozone Recordings. It’s called Bleeps, Breaks + Bass, and it offers an in-depth dive into bleep techno and formative breakbeat hardcore, mostly made and released in the time before the latter genre sped up and became the frenzied soundtrack to many raves up and down the land (and well beyond).
Like the Ozone compilation the same label releases, Bleeps, Breaks + Bass features extensive liner notes from yours truly. As I did for my own Join The Future compilation, I delivered a contextualising essay – loosely based on the arguments made in my book – and a track-by-track rundown featuring information about, and in many cases quotes from, the featured artists.
It would be fair to say that the compilation is a labour of love. It’s the brainchild of Mental Groove founder (and Musique Pour La Danse co-founder) Olivier Ducret – one of European techno’s longest servants, and an all round lovely fella – bleep and hardcore collector Eric ‘Bunkerheadz’ Hart, and Musique Pour La Danse co-founder Ed Isar. The track listing is pleasingly varied and balanced, with sought-after rarities such as ‘Blowing My Mind’ by 4 Hero side project R-Solution sitting side by side with personal favourites, overlooked classics and arguably forgotten gems (see the Moody Boys remix of the KLF’s ‘What Time Is Love’, appearing on vinyl for the first time since 1990 – a bit of a coup since Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty very rarely agree to license music from their catalogue these days).
The music, and the vinyl versions in particular, sounds incredible, in part because it was all remastered by bleep’s premier sonic pioneer, Warp Records co-founder (and Forgemasters member) Rob Gordon. The vinyl versions feature heavyweight vinyl, cut at 45rpm to guarantee a louder, more bass-heavy, DJ-friendly sound. They’re also lavishly packaged, with gatefold sleeves and printed inners that boast design from a legendary figure: Trevor Jackson. Known to many of my generation as a producer (his hip-hop influenced remixes as the Underdog partly soundtracked my teenage years, and his later work as Playgroup has appeared frequently in my DJ sets), Trevor’s day job has always been as a graphic designer – and one of the best, too. Early in his career he designed the ‘look’ of key acid house, bleep and hardcore era labels such as Champion and Network, and it’s that look that he’s returned to for these compilations. His work makes the physical versions of the comps look and feel as good as they sound.
Bleeps, Breaks + Bass is available on two double vinyl albums, CD and digital download, via the Mental Groove bandcamp store or – should postage costs from Europe be a worry for readers in the UK – a variety of online and physical stores based in Britain and across the globe. I’ll be exploring the ‘bleeps and breaks’ era, and the role played by bleep in inspiring some of the earliest breakbeat hardcore records, on the April edition of Join The Future on Noods Radio, which airs on Wednesday 26th April at 15:00 GMT. It will be available to stream on demand via this website, Mixcloud and Soundcloud later the same day.