the first 10 years of my « career » as a DJ and a producer were spent in the illegal rave scene, known as « teknivals » and « free parties » in Europe.
Teknivals are a larger scale version of free parties and emerged in the early 1990s, when acid house parties and travellers in the UK became the target of political repression, culminating in the Criminal Justice Act in 1994. Section 63 of the Act gave the police new powers to close down illegal parties.
sound systems then started travelling to countries in Europe where laws were less restrictive and the authorities were uncertain how to stop the festivals. One of the most famous of these sound systems was Spiral Tribe, which was at the forefront of the free party movement in Europe. Other systems were called Bedlam, Circus Normal, Circus Warp and Vox Populi. Desert Storm sound system organised teknivals in France and Spain and brought raves to war-torn Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1996.
01. R-Zac 23 Apocalyptic Heroes
Maelstrom: "This was recorded on the road in Spiral Tribe’s mobile studio, which they put together with the major label money they got from their first (and only) album deal back in the early '90s. This EP summed up everything about the sound we were into at the time : psychedelic yet hard and uncompromising, with a post apocalyptic vibe that connected to our decaying urban environment and the state of the late '80s to early 90’s economy."
Maelstrom: "One of the best hardware live sets I’ve seen during this period. Most of their machines didn’t even have MIDI or weren’t connected together, which gives it a weird feel with samples starting out of time or phasing out of loop. I loved their ‘punk’ approach to (hard) techno."
Maelstrom: "This track is the weirdest combination ever, but at the time it seemed normal. It features Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk fame with Manu Le Malin – the lord of French hardcore."
Maelstrom: "I’ve always wanted to achieve something like that – a track made from just one element (here, a kick drum) running through various fx pedals and distortion units. Marc Acardipane is one of the most prolific German hardcore producers, having released hundreds of EPs under just as many aliases. He is the creator of the first hardcore track ever, Mescalinum United's We Have Arrived and is one of the best producers in the world."
Maelstrom: "An example of « speedcore » – the fastest, most extreme form of hardcore. This is from Liza’n Eliaz, a Belgian producer often called 'The Queen Of Terror' who – after being involved in industrial bands- started producing hardcore in the early '90s. She passed away in 2001 but is still considered as a shining reference to anyone interested in hardcore or speedcore."
Maelstrom: "Not my favourite record from the era, but one that defined a new sound that emerged in the late '90s as Free Tekno. As fast as hardcore (170-200bpm) but most often without the depth and the darkness. It suddenly took over the whole scene around 2000, whilst hardcore and acid techno that were present in the early years slowly faded away. Sad story."
Maelstrom: "A mixture of hardcore, acid and electro from Somatic Responses which is still one of my favourite records ever. I’m sure it could be re-released by PERC or TRUSS today and still feel relevant. One of the most innovative records from the era, released on Drop Bass Network – a classic acid and harcore label from Milwaukee."
08. Joey Beltram Mentasm
Maelstrom: "A Joey Beltram classic on R&S that was widely popular in the illegal raves of my youth. Hoovers and 909, not as fast as most of the stuff we played, but this kick drum still hits hard on a good sound system."
I remember seeing Laura Grabb live in a warehouse lost in the east side of France, at least a 5 hours drive from where I was living at the time. She came with floppy disks that she loaded into an MPC that someone else lended her, and she killed it. I can’t imagine what it felt like for someone like her, coming from Detroit, playing in a rave like that lost in the mountains in the winter, to a thousand kids loosing their minds to 180bpm beats.
this is the track she was know for in Europe. Everybody played it.
Curley was a legend in the teknival scene, he had a sound like no other, a way of making the most simple things sound interesting. Most of his tracks had this spacey, outer space vibe that made his music stand out. A true master of underground techno.