Blissed out pumped up algorithms across the board in one of Peacefrog's Crown jewel releases.
Look no further than Peacefrog Records if you want examples of some of the most forward thinking, cutting edge and exploratory dance music that came out of the 1990s. The label seriously curated a vibe, with a knack of always churning up new artists to display their newly honed talents, or bringing in heavyweights to further their significance. Founded by Pete Hutchison and Paul Ballard in 1991, the label has a multitude of records to get through when it comes to top quality dance music, that always seemed to fill little slots that seemed unfillable at the time and probably today within the spectrum. The fact that it is still releasing new records today is a testament to its longevity and the label heads ability to unearth the most significant of sounds. At a simple glace, its hard to not be overly impressed by the sheer number of heavy weights that have released tracks on this seminal label. Early releases include masters of the techno craft such as Dan Curtin, E3, Planetary Assault Systems/Luke Slater, Neil Landstrumm, Stasis and Mystic Rythem, of which confirmed the label as one of the UK's most important techno labels. The quality of these releases is contained within the breadth of experimentation applied, with the pedigree of UK techno really refined during the labels early years. Deconstructing the 1st wave Detriot sound, these artists really took the genre to new realms, with an emphasis on progressions as much as emotive feels, it took techno to further realms. Not only the techno side, but the record has a special place in house heads hearts the world over. Theo Parrish released his stone cold classic debut, 'First Floor', in 1998, along with Glenn Undergrounds timeless records 'Atmosfear' and 'The Jerusalem EPs', to Paul Johnson's 'Bump Talkin', to Warmdue Kid's 'These Branching Moments', celebrate the very best in house. They joined the dots here thats for sure. To top it off, Moodymann released five records on the label, including a previously reviewed LP, 'Mahogany Brown', from 1998. Plaid, Placid Angles, Suburban Knight, Gemini, yep we could go on, but lets draw focus to an EP all the way back from 1994......
This website could spend days and countless reviews focusing on the very best of Peacefrog, but today we will turn to an EP, a single EP, St Vitus Dance, with their record, 'Come of Age'. What makes this one stand above the rest, the rest being stone cold classics? well, there is something quite remarkable about this record. Its perhaps the blend of progressions mixed with well balanced timed switch ups, or its covering of every emotive and dancable base imaginable, or its beautifully dense core that opens up in the most complete and remarkable of ways. This record brims confidence, timelessness and beauty, in a way that the 80s Detrioters would be most proud. It honours their quest for sonic fulfilment, but at the same time looks to incorporate the riddims that came with the second wave of Detroit Techno. Whilst many tread the path that focused more on the relationships between paired back beats and tonally simplified basses and keys, the UK lapped both up and churned out tracks that exemplified both eras qualities, into one neat little package. This is why many revere the UK techno scene, in that the heads within would provide the world with their own interpretation of the Detroit sound, rather than re name it as their own. Records like 'Come of Age' represent the pinnacle of this morphology, taking a formula that is tried and tested and pushing it to its sonic limits, pushing through and beyond to create tracks that bliss you out before ramping it up once more for all the pleasure in the world. So lets jump in!
Things kick off with 'Bliss', and as the title suggests, we begin with some soft keys that hint at things to come. As such, the riddim section comes into play, the cymbals signifying the beginning of exciting things to come. The track opens up here, with the keys still doing their thing as the drums push forward, pulsating as fuck, as the vibe kicks up a few notches. The slightness in changes make for total engagement, as small elements are added here and there, before the pads come into play. The drums take a step back, as the pads are allowed all the room in the world to announce their arrival. The drums once again fall away slightly, as a beautiful little key line just floats through time and space into its rightful place. The contrast between the fullness underneath and this little butterfly are so on point, and continue in the fashion of all the small things adding up to create something overtly significant. The way it descends back into its pure energetic stage towards the end, just highlights the harmonic aspect of the track, giving weight to the pads and the chords. Next comes 'Tunnel Vision', that begins off with the jumpy chord sequence we were all waiting for. As with before, this is joined by a line of percussive elements, solid lines of cymbals and hi hats all joining in with this most brilliant of intros. The layering of drumming is so hypnotic, just begging you to take its hand and bathe in its infinite glory. The chords come into play, providing that head in the clouds moment, before it transitions without breaking a sweat into the acidic break from the gods. From this point the riddim takes over, before it breaks down once more. The pads are layered up, with some high ends taking charge, leading the way to eternity. The drumming ups the ante, building and building, before it all remarkably strips back to show us the inner core of proceedings. The drums and cymbals kick back in, as further melodies and chords abound with ease. What a stunner.
Next comes 'Catch the Sun', that begins in somewhat unfamiliar surroundings. The notion here on the full piano chords, paired with some deep and swelling chords, looping over and over, with background noises just looking to get their nose in front. The cymbals again lead the charge for the percussion, but this time the build up is more subtle, more slow and steady, as the track blossoms underneath with the introduction of small bass notes and further kicks and snares. By the time we look at everything, the track is moving on wards, transitioning between scenes with absolute ease and peace of mine. The density of sound never comes across as intense, with a balance between the bedrock of percussion with the soft pads on top. Its a remarkable feat, but the producers pull it off with such skill, that we just loose ourselves in the multitude of it all. To finish proceedings off, we have perhaps the finest of this most fine of musical offerings. 'Mystic Vibrations' begins off with the drums, reverbed and tonally placed to achieve the sense of urgency that will become apparent within this most beautiful of tracks. Symbols join the hunt, adding weight, before the deepest of pads swings into play. it floats there, propping up the beat with its enormity of presence, its solidness of sonics, as the chord switch up moves the beat forward into a more rhythmically solid pattern. Out of the background come the stabs, the melodic keys that create a sequence on the vastness of the pads. The track creates a world of emotional landmarks, where we recognise our feelings before passing onto other sites where we might fall in love or grow to feel in new ways. The sound is mesmerising, and it could continue on til the end of time.
When it comes to demonstrating the power of 90s techno, this EP has to be up there with how to do it right. Touching on all the keystones, this epic contains all the calling cards of the sublime, the absolute, and the energy filled. We remain in awe at the experiences we have been given, and feel lucky to have gained power and knowledge from a dance record that smashes through and offers you its hand. Records that inspire are sometimes hard to connect with and often you don't find them. Instead, they find you, they present themselves to you. They knock on windows, they turn on the street lights, they connect your experiences for you. What. a. Record.
check out the record here: