This blog is defunct! Check out my new music blog at Sonicrampage.org.
A while back in my speed of sound post I talked about how the freeform/hardcore sound was partially the result of the happier side of UK hardcore going from good/amazing to god-awful/brain-meltingly bad. Want to hear some examples of what it was like when it was good and fun? Yeah, you do. :)
Billy Bunter - Let It Lift You - Bunter was one of the main dudes in the emergence of trancecore as an alternative sound to the cheeseathons that then dominated the UK hardcore rave scene. His label, Great British Techno, produced many frankly astonishing tracks and was a key figurehead in the fusion of hardtrance with UK hardcore. This track, however (nicked from DJ Luna-C's Breakbeat Old Skool Sessions mix) is from when he was still making happy hardcore. This has all the elements of a classic hardcore track. A happy-go-lucky piano riff, a phantasm of a diva vocal, some chopped-up breaks over a pumping kick, and then some stabby chords. Simple, effective, an anthem. A classic example of the fun that happy hardcore was at its best.
Slipmatt - Breaking Free - Slipmatt (or 'Slippers' as he was often known haha) is one of the godfathers of hardcore. He's been around since the earliest beginnings of the house scene in England (and I'm a bit hazy on it, but I think he might have been involved in the soul-funk scene that preceded the Summer of Love and the Ecstasy Revolution). When the rave scene split between jungle and hardcore, Slipmatt stayed with the happy vibes of hardcore and became a key player in happy hardcore. This track was one of the latest ones that criss-crossed both scenes. It has the heavily-chopped amen break that the junglists were beginning (this was 1993) to take in all sorts of fantastical new directions, but it also has a lovely sweeping pad riff and a cooing wordless female vocal. A ginormous anthem in its time, and if you ever hit an old skool night you're guaranteed to hear it.
Slipmatt - SMD3 - Here's another Slipmatt tune, pretty similar but still total dopeness. Cookie-cutter hardcore: driving bassline, bouncy piano, some silly strings, divagasm, ragga sample, ginormous stabs, chopped-up breaks. Still awesome though.