1993 was a unique year in dance music, an unforgettable one for me personally, and I think one of the high water marks of British electronic music.
New York and London were power houses. On the US east coast you had crew 'hardcore' rap blowing up (Leaders of the New School, Wu Tang, Lords of the Underground etc), whilst on the house scene there were the first tunes with a clear garage shuffle (Todd Edwards, Masters At Work, Swing 52 etc), which would go on to seed the UKG sound a couple of years later.
In Britain the full-throttle-techno scene was booming with the infamous Club UK opening in London and Spiral Tribe doing illegal acid techno damage, ambient techno hit a new gear with classic releases from Aphex Twin, B12, Black Dog etc, but for me the most exciting music came out of the breakbeat rave scene, with a new wave of innovations that took things faster, wilder, and off in new directions. By the middle of 1992 the average rave track had zoomed away from house grooves to around 140bpm, but by the end of 1993 160bpm had become the new standard.
And within that new tempo bracket a slew of sub genres were born. There were tunes that kept with the rave stab and piano feels of 1992, but also deeper, so-called intelligent rollers most associated with Bukem and his Good Looking label, stompier jungle techno cuts championed by the likes of Tango & Ratty, the first classic no-longer-proto jungle tunes, happy hardcore was in its infancy, and above all there was a huge amount of darkcore tunes, squeezing bizarre new sounds out of the available technology. Whilst it was not uncommon to hear tunes from all of the above on a night out or played together on pirate radio in my experience the dominant sound were tunes that lent towards the deep the dark and the dirty.
It has to be said that a lot of people bailed out of the rave scene at this point, due to the darker turn in vibe and direction. One reason for the change in mood that doesn't get talked about much was a change in drug use. The pure loved-up empathy inducing MDMA of the second summer of love was replaced by "pills", which could have all manner of drugs within them. One infamous and common batch in 1993 was the Snowball. Supposedly these weren't MDMA but MDA - a very different, more psychedelic thing it turns out.
I read once that the source of these snowballs came from a government laboratory in Latvia. After splitting from the Soviet Union, Latvia needed Western currency and had the advantage of no drug laws, so they joined up with a German businessman to produce MDA for export as Ecstasy. This went well for a couple of years until a consignment of 10 million tablets was intercepted in Frankfurt airport, since when MDA has been rare. This along with increased use of coke and crack must surely have had a partial effect on the sound, leading to a new intensity and I would go as far as to say profundity....some serious tunes in 93!
So yeah, the mix here focusses on some personal favourites in that deep dark and dirty vein - these are the kind of tunes that spring to mind when I think of 93....sounds like had never been heard before, nasty drum programming and a mystical ruff ride down long dark tunnels and occasionally back out into the light.
I love 93 to bits so I really wanted to get this mix just right and ended up putting several weeks into this, tweaking the track selection and order, working out double breakdowns and double drops and practising the long mixes...hope you enjoy it. Big dedication to everyone who likes it dark and to all the 93 heads, 30 years on and still rolling... x