DJ Solitare – The Future Was Now: The Tracks
The long-awaited track list for DJ Solitare’s mix The Future Was Now is finally revealed! More than a mere track listing, read on for Mark’s incredibly thorough recounting of each of the 30 tracks in the mix, with trivia and personal anecdotes that really lend this mix historical value.
“Below are my notes for the tracks that I have used in this mix. There is a lot of detail here, but there are lots of musical details in each of these tracks, and everything we work with in our lives has lots of associations like these.“
One of the things that used to make trance parties so great was that in the heyday of the scene each track was a story unto itself, an event as opposed to ‘just another track’… ‘all killer, no filler’. I have some personal history about my own experience with pretty much all of these tracks, and occasionally some details about the tracks from the artists themselves.
When I first came into contact with this music, there was not the current artificially contrived categories for different genres – there was an awareness of what music worked when and the different languages (for example, the ‘alien voices folding out of sheet metal’ sound that was favoured by Transwave and the Pleiadians), but categories like ‘Goa’ or ‘full-on’ that have been retroactively created by fans of the music were not there and in fact these are not always entirely appropriate descriptions. The music was like light – there were different shades and different expressions, not boxes in which to place them. (Actually, just as I was reviewing these notes, a discussion started on one artist’s Facebook page after he posted one of the tracks in this mix and someone referred to it as ‘Goa trance’, and he said that he hated labels. Something worth taking note of, from the mouth of the artists whose music we love…)
I believe that DJs bring their personal history with and experience of the music that they play into their sets, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to share my love of this music with you.
Astralasia: Astral Navigation
I was record shopping in Tokyo with Jay of the Odyssey parties in late 1994 and when he saw this CD, he put it in my hands and said, “Buy it, you’ll love it, and if you don’t I’ll pay you for it.” As usual, he was right. At the first outdoor party I went to in July 1995, this track was the first one played, and I’ll never forget how it sounded echoing through a valley in the Japanese countryside. I have only used the opening of this track to set the tone for this musical trip.
Juno Reactor: High Energy Protons
Juno’s first album ‘Transmissions’ was a groundbreaking disc, as it doesn’t fit as neatly into musical categories as many more conventional electronic releases do, and it has stood the test of time. This was a sound favoured by the Equinox crew, with its harder edge and rock-inspired sound. It’s incredible that this is only 131 bpm – one-thirty-one, folks! – which just goes to show that it is not just speed that gets a dance floor moving.
Voodoo People: Quadsep
This fantastic track by Paul Jackson, one of the originators of the early ‘Goa trance’ sound, was released on Blue Room’s first compilation in 1995. I recall getting this CD in Tokyo in September 1995 and shortly afterwards going to a now-legendary party thrown by Equinox on the Autumn equinox that month, and this being the first dance track that Kuni played in that awesome all-night set (after boring us by playing the *entire* TIP ‘Mystical Experiences’ album, which he probably thought was still unreleased at the time – something that led one British partygoer to yell out, ‘Oy, I’ve got some Juuuno Reactah in the car…’). I remember being thrilled to read in the booklet that the track was from his ‘forthcoming album’ – there were no artist albums out yet, Hallucinogen’s ‘Twisted’ being released only a few weeks later – and sadly the Voodoo People album, in true Blue Room tradition, never manifested. A wonderful groovy track with a unique rhythmic element and sonic framework, both of which make it a challenging track to mix. (Actually I’m not happy with how the mix-in went in this particular mix of mine, but that’s the way it goes sometimes…)
Kox Box: Loads of Flow (Molecular Mix)
Kox Box’s first album is an absolute classic, and all the tracks still sound fantastic. Kuni played this one early in his set at that Autumn Equinox party, and I tweaked out a friend of mine at the party when I leaned over and whispered into her ear the track’s spoken sample ‘Welcome to my world’ in unison with the track. She eventually recovered. 🙂
This is Tsuyoshi Suzuki and Nick Taylor at their high-energy peak. I first heard Tsuyoshi play at one of Jay’s Odyssey parties in November 1994, his first return to Tokyo since moving to London to found Matsuri Productions. As the name ‘Matsuri’ implies (it means ‘festival’), the dance floor can be an uplifting place and Tsuyoshi was a master at whipping it up to a frenzy. He had a sound which has sadly disappeared: upbeat but strong, spaced out but grounded. This track truly sounds digital and electronic (ironically unlike a lot of electronic music nowadays), and the whooshes (which have sadly become a thing of the past) and the sounds of shooting stars give this piece a cosmic vibe, even if the engineering and one of the melodic riffs sound somewhat dated.
Johann: Life’s Games
I got this track from Chrisbo (of Medicine Drum) in the summer of 1997 when I was living in London. He always had the best tracks and was a generous trader (unlike so many in the DAT Mafia). The track had a different title and was a different mix from the one released on Johann’s album on Blue Room. I don’t know whether Johann’s music got a lot of airplay, but it has a wonderful vibe that bridges uplifting with night-time energy. Great, great track. (I’m using the released version here – sorry…)
Blue Planet Corporation: Xoco
This fantastic track has a unique combination of being upbeat and lightly textured while still having a hardish edge with its synthesized quasi-guitar sounds. I love the geometric patterns (which used to be more common), the up-and-down movement (which also used to be more common), and the driving upward momentum (you guessed it…which used to be more common). Not overly complicated and yet mind bending in a wonderful way.
This collaboration between Tsuyoshi and Gus Till is a dancefloor ripper. It was on Matsuri’s ‘Resonance Mood’ compilation, which is the first comp I was giving a pre-release copy of: label manager John Perloff greeted me in the DJ booth at a Return To The Source party at the Fridge in Brixton and slipped me a copy, completely unexpectedly. I was floored by the selection, and this track in particular caught my ear. I used to DJ at the Daniel Poole shop in Soho in London, and one day Tsuyoshi and I had a bite to eat before my ‘shift’. I played a Jaia track (‘Brainstorm’) straight into this one, and his ears perked up. I remember thanking him for playing the track after a party and him saying ‘I thought of you cuz I know you like it’. It is super-high-energy and reflects the amazing triumphant energy that this Japanese master was able to bring to a party.
X-Dream: Panic in Paradise
This track used to get the biggest response on the dancefloor in London, where the crowds were notoriously fickle, and I couldn’t get it… I mean, it’s a good track and all, I love it, but considering how cold they were to so many amazing tracks, I was surprised that this one would consistently have them howling. I recall having a discussion to this effect with Mark Allen and Tsuyoshi after a Return To The Source party, and Mark saying ‘Well, it’s a great track’ and me saying, ‘Yes but is it THAT great?’ and Mark laughing… Well, it IS pretty darn good – I guess I just wanted to have more of what the rest of the crowd was having. X-Dream were at their uplifting peak when they produced this (though I think ‘Coming Soon’ is the jewel in their crown).
Kox Box: Point of No Return (Ionizer remix)
A fantastic remix of an amazing track, with a really strong driving vibe and lots of brilliantly tweaked electronic sounds. The sheet-metal sound is head-bending and it’s a full-power track – unfortunately a short one.
Crop Circles: Antonomasia
The appearance on the scene of Crop Circles music was a major event in my experience of trance. I remember copying the first vinyl onto DAT at ‘Purple’ Richard’s house; this track I actually received from the owner of Auracle Records. I visited him at his home shortly before moving back to Tokyo in early 1998, and he was copying the soon-to-be-published-but-it-actually-wasn’t album onto demo cassettes. He asked me if I would be willing to give some CD singles out to contacts in Japan to try to get distribution going, and he gave me about 8 of them (he wouldn’t give me a cassette of the album, unfortunately). I did give some to some record stores and DJs there, and still had a couple for myself. Then the album didn’t come out, Auracle folded, and these singles became major collectors’ items. And it was this experience that connected me with Federico Rossi, who would go on to found DAT Records and release this album, and make me a label DJ. As for the music – this is a brilliant track, with a wonderful marching rhythm and a repeated-note mid-riff that hypnotically intertwines with the other voices. Music for outdoors under the stars.
Doof: Destination Bom
This track is connected to one of the most amazing musical experiences I have had in my history with trance. Tsuyoshi had asked me to DJ at his home moving party, and there were a lot of people in the industry there. I can’t remember why one DAT player wasn’t working, but I remember Dick Trevor providing the extra player and Simon Posford getting some batteries from his car because there wasn’t the AC cable (seriously, I’m not making this up…). I played after Tim Healey’s eclectic mash-up, and was getting requests for ‘oldies but goodies’ (already back then). I wasn’t quite in the vibe – not many people around his living room at the time, most off in the kitchen – and then Tsuyoshi came to play his set. After a short while he came up to me and asked me to take over as he was getting tired, and talked about what track to mix out with – I suggested Prana’s ‘Aquaspace’, which he thought was a great idea. Partway through that track, Nick Doof comes up to me and says ‘I have a track that would mix really well out of this if you’re interested’ and I was like, ‘You bet!’. He opens up his DAT bag and pulls out a live set mix. We cued up the mix of this track, and I blended it in, and out came the most gorgeous, flowing, beautiful track I can remember hearing. It was magical – slower (if memory serves correctly) than this original and more of a sunrise vibe than the original’s night-time edge. I mixed it smoothly into the next track – the same next track as in this mix – and the DAT went back into Nick’s bag and that was that. While the vibe is different, I do love this original mix – a really relentless but uplifting track that takes you on a wonderful journey.
There was a lot of talk about the upcoming Pleiadians album on Dragonfly in the summer of 1997. I visited label manager Darren at the office one day in July and it had finally arrived – possibly one of the ugliest covers in trance history but wow, what an album. This first track has always been one of my favorites (Tsuyoshi opted for Alcyone, and Electra was the first I had heard played out pre-release). This is the one that has always appealed to me most (followed closely by Asterope), as it is much more emotionally deep. It’s a true middle-of-the-night track that features a beautifully haunting melody and explosions of emotional outpouring, screams that call out to the deepest corners of both outer and inner space. This is not a track, to my mind, that can simply be mixed in through kick-matching anywhere in a set, and so I have opted to mix in with the melodic connection with the preceding track, and a pitch-matched baseline on the way out.
The first of five tracks produced by the team of Ray Castle and Nick Taylor, this is one of my all-time favorite tracks for so many reasons. It was a favorite of Kuni’s, and some friends and I used to completely trip out on it at his parties, and whenever we said ‘Did you hear it?’, we knew this was the track we were talking about. What is so clear in this track and what has been lost in recent years is how each voice is *speaking* to you – it is easy to imagine that each line is an alien voice that is communicating essential information. (Nowadays, the voices are coming from the dumbest corners of the galaxy – those aliens don’t have much to say.) The ‘guitar from outer space’ riff is fantastic, the electronic noises are amazing (as if tuning in a giant intergalactic radio), and then there’s that Pleiadian-Egyptian ‘downloading from the mothership’ riff that is simply one of the most amazing lines in any trance tune ever (keep in mind that this was written before the term ‘downloading’ was created – there was no internet at this point, but the energetic concept was clear). The way Ray and Nick present the introduction as a chopped-up mixture of elements from the full track is terrific (there’s a metaphysical truth in there), and then all the brilliant voices that were built up throughout the track fit together amazingly (another metaphysical truth): perfect counterpoint that Bach would have admired. While I heard this track a lot in 95-96, it wasn’t until mid ’97 that I got my hands on a copy. For this mix here, I am using a WAV file that Ray Castle sent to me earlier this year, and am happy to present this incredible track in full-frequency fidelity and I think well-placed in the story, as one starts to enter the deepest part of the night. Like the preceding track, it is an event more than just another track, and has to be well programmed and introduced in context.
Byte 1: Byte 1
The only track by Graham Wood and Xavier Morel, this is a classic. It was released on Flying Rhino in 1998 (Graham had already parted ways with Raj and TIP) and was an immediate addition to my Top 10. It is relentless and has that brooding, moaning, whining sound that old-timers will say is the real Goa sound (as opposed to the cheesy Indian melody kind of stuff that the internet groups have labeled as such). There is a level of emotional depth in the anguished cries in this track, as well as a really grounding four-on-the-floor element. To those who think that Raj and Simon alone created the sound of The Infinity Project…think again.
Hallucinogen: Thugs in Tye Dye
Simon’s music has always been among my top picks – LSD was the one that used to get the party totally rocking, and ‘Astral Pancakes’ was widely played at the time – and I try to have one of his tracks in each set. While his was the first artist album and has become synonymous with Goa/psychedelic trance, his sound is actually an anomaly and is really unique. This full-power night-time stormer appeared on a CD single and has always been one of my middle-of-the-night go-to tracks.
Psychaos: Chaos to Order
Joti at his darkest and most brilliant. The thrash-metal vibe here is fantastic. He always had the grooviest melodic baselines, even when things were as dark as they are here. Again, the voices of the melodic elements are very clear and a key component to this track’s success.
The Groupie Syndrome: Pacemaker
This was my number 1 track from mid-1998. I first heard it in the summer of that year when Tsuyoshi opened his set at the legendary Equinox Strong Sun-Moon party. I had left the main music area because Miko had ruined the opening set with some nasty cheesy melodic rubbish, but when I heard the pulsing heartbeat and descending cascades from this introduction, I immediately raced over to the dancefloor, bumping into David from Hikari. We had both recognized that it felt like Tsuyoshi was starting even though he had been scheduled for later. As it turns out, Tsuyoshi was apparently pissed off that his time slot was changed and that his manager wasn’t yet there, and his anger found a perfect vehicle in his amazing track (what an appropriate vocal sample). The Delta had been one of my favourite sounds (I was the only Tokyo resident DJ other than Tsuyoshi to have ‘Traveling at the Speed of Thought’ prior to its release, and I played it loads before it got overplayed), and I could sense their handiwork here; Tim Schuldt’s presence adds an extra level of intensity. Domino then played it at party we both played at that August – I had a DAT player recording the whole night, but she mixed it in a way that I couldn’t use it … ‘curses, foiled again.’ I can’t remember when I did get it, but I know I played it a lot when I did. A classic.
An absolutely blinding track by a project that is certainly not on most collectors’ Top 10 lists. Their album on Spirit Zone is very eclectic and has that organic feel that a lot of German trance does, but this one is a high-power night-time stormer with a massive anthem and rhythmic march that is a perfect under-the-stars transformer.
Sun Kings: Starbuck (Anatomae Fabricus mix)
An amazing, beautiful track that I’ve never heard anyone else play out. Just before I left London in early 1998, I was getting my hands on as much music as possible. Someone told me that there was a new guy working at Blue Room who was fantastic (naturally, he didn’t last too long) – I’d never had any connection with them, despite having done an interview for Cydonia in Dream Creation that they were all thrilled with, so I called up and told the guy I was moving to Tokyo to DJ and a few days later a package of amazing CDs arrived: the remix of Radio (called ‘Radiohead’) by X-Dream [I’d never liked the original – this one I played a lot], Cydonia’s ‘Mindhunter’ single, I think Johann’s album, and a single by Sun Kings. This track is the epitome of the essence of DMT for me, and bridges twilight perfectly with a funky, earthy, cosmic, harmonically twisted, and beautiful sound. I opted for a long intro and outro here as I think that at outdoor parties it is important to take a breath and notice the second-by-second change in light that occurs at this time. A track that makes time stand still.
Psychaos: They Tried to Grab Me
A track that surely would have been on Joti’s artist album if Blue Room had had their act together. This is an early one – the flip side of his ‘Science Fiction’ single. I got this particular copy from a DAT that Joti had sent to Serge from Total Eclipse that was dated 1994. (Alas, Science Fiction wasn’t on the DAT…) The relentless jackhammer repeated-note riff in the intro is mental, and then that immediately recognizable groove in the baseline is fantastic.
Etnica: Astral Way
Another early Blue Room classic from the early days, one that Kuni used to play a lot. It is quite a different sound than usual for Etnica, though I hadn’t realized that when I got it back then. Again, if you listen as though each melodic line is a voice, the track really does speak to you.
The Saafi Brothers: Internal Code Error (X-Dream remix)
A fantastic mix by the fantastic X-Dream of the fantastic track by the fantastic Saafi Brothers. Their ‘Mystic Cigarettes’ is an absolute classic and this remix of one of the key tracks by one of the top producers of the genre is an important track. Perfect for that change in direction that takes place as daylight approaches.
The Infinity Project: Stimuli (Man With No Name remix)
I first heard this track towards the end of an indoor Equinox party played by Kuni (though I have it on good authority that he was playing DATs premixed by Masa at that event). I love TIP and I *love* Man With No Name, and the arpeggiated opening immediately appealed to me – it keeps the wonderful bounce-up riff from the original and adds a deliciously groovy and beautifully patterned baseline that Kuni was able to play in a way that others simply could not (even if he couldn’t really do so himself).
Space Tribe: Geo-Matrix
Dragonfly’s Order Odonata Volume 1 was such an important release that everyone was naturally waiting for Volume 2. I thought it was a bit of a disappointment, but that wasn’t immediately recognizable because this corker was the first track on the comp. One of the four tracks that Simon Posford and Olli Wisdom produced under the ‘Space Tribe’ moniker, it is also the best-produced of their collaborations. Fantastic rubbery baseline and super pitch bends for a great mind melt, and a spoken sample that reiterates what I said in the ‘Stellium’ notes above.
The Infinity Project: Alien Airport
Another track I first heard at an Equinox party – the same Autumn equinox party of September 1995 I wrote of earlier, played in the daylight as the party was not quite ready to wind down. I recall thinking that it was pretty good while some friends were thinking it was the most amazing thing ever. I now pretty much concur with them. As the track was made not just with Graham and Raj but also with Man With No Name’s Martin Freeland, it has an extra kick to it. The spoken sample is a really well-chosen one.
Slinky Wizard: Wizard (Kox Box remix)
The original mix of this track is a classic, the first one the Flying Rhino boys had made, with Simon Posford desperately trying to meet all their ‘do this! do that!’ suggestions. The remix by Kox Box was very highly anticipated and from what I gather not entirely well received, and while it bears very little resemblance to the original, it sure is an incredible track. The bouncy vibe and upbeat mood eventually leads into a wonderfully voiced riff that sounds like it is played on cosmic Jamaican steel drums.
Killing Joke: Jana (Hallucinogen remix)
An amazing track by the Guvnor, one which I tried getting my hands on early in 1998 but which failed in two DAT sessions with massive glitches. I love the rubbery base, Posfordian harmonies, and driving momentum that whips things up into a frenzy.
Gong: Isle of Everywhere (Total Eclipse remix)
Identified on Stef’s DAT as ‘Gong remix’, this track is a beautiful morning track, the likes of which Total Eclipse were peerless at producing. I had the opportunity to hear this amazing project many times, first in Japan in 1996, and got to know them personally and their particular flavour of music very well over the years. As was the case in the day, each project had their own sound, even when it was a different style of track from their own ‘norm’. Total Eclipse had a variety of sounds appropriate for different parts of the journey, though they did particularly well with morning music (whereas others wrote mourning music…). I passed this track on to some Japanese and Canadian DJs and it worked its magic at several events in the morning.
Encore – Psyko Disko: Mon Ami
A wonderfully paced track that is perfect to end a party: groovy and funky, yet somehow fusing a hard rock-ish edge with an upbeat vibe, with oscillating patterns and major drive. A track with a slower tempo like this can actually bring out a lot of energy. The sample at the end is perfect for bringing the set to a close.