23 Hop was one of the most crucial hubs for the techno scene in the early nineties. Formerly a warehouse space located at 318 Richmond Street West in Toronto, it started hosting regular techno events in 1991, making it one of the rare pioneer establishments in North America, featuring local and international djs on a regular basis. The following are some of the classic anthems you would have heard back then.
So grab your glowsticks, whistles and any party favours you might need. It’s going to get sweaty. Get ready to feel the bass and smell the dry ice and vick’s vapo rub.
This article is a re-mix of a communic8r classic, re-mixed with permission from Jimmy J. View the original cut here.
Selections by Jimmy J @ communic8r, lyrics by Colm Hogan @ sketched out productions. Thanks also to James St. Bass. Photo courtesy of: Chris Gray.
1. Altern 8 – Infiltrate 202
This track was originally off the Vertigo EP, released in 1991 through Network Records.
Altern 8 was comprised of Mark Archer & Chris Peat, previously known as Nexus 21.
As if it really needed it, the track opens with a recording of a frenzied live crowd and the horns you’d hear at a crazed football match that announces it’s arrival. It sets the tone for a banging track guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. Contains the sweet vocal stylings of Candi Staton. Another one of my all time favourite tracks samples her in a track called You’ve Got the love.
2. Coco Steel and Lovebomb – Feel It
First dropped in 1991 through UK Acidhouse label Instant Records.
Comprised of Chris Mellor (Coco), Lene Stokes (Steel), and Craig Woodrow (Lovebomb).
A determined beat begins this journey of a track, and it builds slowly, teasing you until it hooks you and before you know it, you’re on the floor. It’s a really simple beat that baffles you in it’s complexity, maybe because although CS & Lovebomb were officially known as a techno ambient outfit, they were also known to include elements of Soul and Garage. It’s an intense, driving track that takes you somewhere new every time. If there’s something to take home, it’s the following solid advice: Don’t jerk it – work it. I absolutely adore this track. A bona fide classic.
3. The Prodigy – Charly
Released in 1991 by London’s XL Recordings.
This track really captures the insanity that The Prodigy harnessed in exploiting auditory hallucinations, and the vocal samples from a children’s BBC PSA campaign to “Say No to Strangers” only adds to the wickedness. It makes sense that this was the debut title track off their debut record. This track represents total purity of essence. They would of course go on to make some other techno classics including Out of Space, and No Good among others, but this is where it all started.
4. Dominator – Human Resource
Released in 1991 through R & S in the UK, and across Europe by 80 Aum & Logic Records.
The opening sounds like the roar of Formula One cars flying by, but it’s really called a “hoover” effect, which is a complex waveform where you need 3 oscillators to achieve the desired result. But all you really need to know is this track will blow your mind. Or your ear drums. “I`m bigger and badder and rougher and tougher. I`m the only one and only dominator.”
5. Cubik – 808 State
This track dropped in 1990 by US label Tommy Boy.
Originally formed by Graham Massey (Biting Tongues from famed Factory Records label) Gerald Simpson (a.k.a. A Guy Called Gerald) and Martin Price.
This track is great because it balances the intensity of classic techno with some dreamlike experimental elements that give it an interesting complexity. It’s obvious here that 808 State were techno pioneers that would later inspire people like Aphex Twin.
6. Tuff Little Unit – Join The Future
Released in 1990 through Warp Records.
Comprised of Glyn Andrews, Isaiah Hill & Sean Maher. This was only one of two releases the trio would collaborate on. The other track was called Inspiration.
A snappy determined beat signals the start of something fresh, clean and new. It’s called the future. Don’t be shy – come and join it. Love the housey piano riff here too.
7. Kicks like a mule – The Bouncer
First released in 1991 by UK’s Tribal Bass Records.
Kicks Like a Mule were Nick Halkes & Richard Russell.
Not much to say here except the obvious – the samples contained in this song would spawn an entire generation to quote it for years. Maybe because we’ve all been outside a crowded club trying to get inside with no luck at least once. “Your name’s not down, you’re not coming in. Not tonight”.
8. Psychotropic – Hypnosis
This track first dropped in 1990 by 02 Records.
Psychotropic AKA Airtight & Freefall, were comprised of Gavin Mills and Nick Nicely.
A slight breakbeat that pulses with a beat that hypnotizes you almost immediately, it’s no wonder they called this one Hypnosis.
9. Bass Construction – Check How We Jam
This was off Bass Construction’s self-titled debut EP, released in 1990 through London’s Elicit Records, owned by Skratch Music Publishing.
Bass Construction was a creation by a guy called Darren Pearce.
This track has all the elements of a classic techno, with a slight breakbeat interrupted with jamaican dancehall style vocals and a variety of beeps, bleeps and samples to keep you moving, no matter what the cost, until the dawn’s early rise.
10. Bizarre Inc – Such A Feeling
First released in 1991 through London label Vinyl Solution.
Bizzare Inc first formed in 1989 by Dean Meredith and Mark Archer.
The thing that stands out for me in this the track the most is the continued sample of the Twin Peaks track. That same sample would later be used in Moby‘s Go. But what starts out as a somewhat ominous tone for the track that starts out transforms into something kind of joyful. Wait! was that Salt-N-Pepa’s Push It in there? How much better can this track get?
You may also want to check out:
15 of the Very Best Classic House Anthems.
To find out more about Toronto’s early Techno scene, check out:
The Communic8r which is an excellent blog that chronicles the golden age of raving.