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Lost Paradise: Blissed Out Breakbeat Hardcore 1991-94

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Format: 2xLP

$49.99

Audiopile Review: Huuuuge new comp from the blessed souls over at Blank Mind, taking us on a deep dive into the cushier end of the breakneck strains of UK techno during its ascendent ’91-94 period. The producers here, most of them well kept secrets or favourites of the connoisseur, sprung off from the heady zones cultivated by Warp Records and their recent launching of IDM. Those exploratory, chill-out textures are twinned with the emerging jungle, hardcore, drum & bass and breakbeat scenes were popping off at the time. The rather simple formula of spastic breaks fused with euphoria-inducing ambience is the kind of stuff that must have driven the ravers absolutely silly back in those heady days. Hell, even 30+ years later, it still sounds invigorating! The timing of this comp could not be better, as the interest from the incoming generation of club-goers and DJs (at least around here at the shop) in the higher BPMs explored in the early 90s is on the rise, and now we’ve got this handy primer to send them off in the correct direction.

 

With an intrigue for a particular niche of old UK hardcore which takes cues from Sheffield bleep ambience, heady rave futurism and soft, almost new age synth pads, Blank Mind presents ‘Lost Paradise: Blissed Out Hardcore 91-94’. Though the records gathered for the compilation span a short three-year period and bridge the gap between scenes, the collection manages to find a sweet spot where the influence of Warp’s Artificial Intelligence, back room chill out sonics and the nascent jungle boom meet with elements of Italian piano house and slower breakbeat cuts.

Opting to focus on atmosphere to highlight shared connections; in this case the duality of often serene and calming soundscapes with frenzied breaks and bass (see Hedgehog Affair’s ‘Parameters’ and Luxury’s ‘Twirl’ respectively); Lost Paradise is a formidable collection of tracks plucked from a thriving time for British dance music experimentation. The general themes of ascension and escapism channelled through digital samplers are also inescapably linked to a turbulent time in politics, beginning in the post-Thatcher years and culminating in the year the harshest anti-rave Criminal Justice Act came into force.

Initially building the compilation around DJ Mayhem’s track ‘Inesse’, Blank Mind label founder Sam Purcell and Amsterdam based producer Tammo Hesselink began a process of swapping favourites and deep cuts to spread across this 2×12” doublepack. The compilation avoids any obvious centrepieces through masterful sequencing, allowing for moments of refrain and tempo changes in a way that helps add to their overall vision of what this music is and can be; “We wanted to frame hardcore in a different light, looking at this idea of ecstasy through the traditional meaning of the word and exploring that symbolism”. By drawing from what some might consider the softer edges of the movement, the pair offer a look into the relevance of these tracks in the contemporary era, where the past years have seen both an explosion in popularity of old ambient/new-age music and a certified jungle revival.

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