Release Date: 6th November 2020
Hardcore has survived three decades. Will it never die? Mutate to survive, as the saying goes. There were outliers back then who remain misfits now, and it’s hard to tell whether what they’re making now is so different to what they were making then. Maybe the machines are slightly smarter, but they just find ways to rough the sound up elsewhere in the signal chain. What rings true is the sound hasn’t aged – in the right hands it still jabs at the frontal lobe and tickles the pleasure receptors with ferocious precision.
If anything the passing of time has only helped filter out the filler. True ‘ardcore evangelists have had longer to ruminate on the sound – what maximises the potency, what dulls the impact. Tempo and aggression are not the only tools to devastate a dancer – they rushed in an upward curve for years, to dubious ends. Now you might as likely be rolling at a sedantry 130 as tearing your face off at 180.
The clattering of breaks remain an imperfect vessel for these weird juxtapositions. There’s no standard backbone, no unanimous groove. Depending on the angle of the edit, the same two boom-baps can come out looking so different as to be unrelated. There might not even be any original breaks left in there. An amen begat a tramen begat the sound of a chair being thrown down the stairs. The pool of cultural codes remains open and accessible though – the call of the loom bird is not off limits, and neither are any of the unlicensed licks that hit the streets on the first sample CDs. Make the tune hot enough, you can use what you like.
Of course tired snobbery prevails amongst revivalists who would sneer at anything made after 1996 (or 1994, or 1992 – choose your flavour), but as a cultural movement hardcore (and its many wayward offspring) is as inclusive as it’s ever been. It’s about the joy of splicing, bricolage, the cheeky punt that leads to something profound. But more importantly, it’s about the culture of those who made it – an honest expression of the times, which go in cycles outside the sound not dissimilar to the ones within it.
e1. Horsepower Productions - DREAMWITHINADREAM Pt.2
e2. Ashford Knights - Sinkhole
f1. SHD - Drop
f2. Interplanetary Criminal - Loss of Self Identity
f3. Soundbwoy Killah - Something Special
g1. Konx-om-Pax - Shibuya Sunset (Hardcore Mix)
g2. Appleblim - Limbic Riddim
g3. Coco Bryce - One
h1. Dead Man's Chest x Sonic - Sneaker Rhythm
h2. Hooverian Blur ft. Slarta John - Highgrade Music
h3. Anz - Rave Casual
Release Date: 9th October 2020
Is this the sound of the future or fragments of the past coming back to haunt us? Is a remix of a classic thirty years after the fact an exercise in hauntology or a time loop closing? When hardcore came bowling out of the UK underground, it was sci-fi postulating rendered on wax, but it also reflected an inescapable reality at street level. Idealist, escapologist music that said as much about decades of inner city pressure as it did about outer space fantasies. A sweet refrain underpinned by a necessary ruffness, the elegant ballet of a break dissected 16 different ways over 16 bars, the protest pulse of the subs carrying the torch from one soundsystem culture to another.
What hardcore successfully struck on was so definably alien it set a new paradigm which has been cast back and forth in dialogue ever since. Whole scenes have risen and receded around these principles, and the constant remains – masses of bass carrying angular rhythms, unnerving echo chambers of disembodied voices and moments of staggering beauty and masterful ugliness. These principles have a universal appeal that burns bright generation to generation, never seemingly diminishing but rather fortifying with time. Sometimes a surge of inspiration finds the principles reinterpreted in head-spinning new ways, but the ethic remains the same.
Those shaky, intrepid years of lo-fi samplers and narrow band broadcasts were defined by their lack of definition. Take a punt on a rare groove lick and work out how to get the low end louder. Then everything got organised – in the face of mass appeal scenes started splintering and preferences catered to. It may not have been a force for unity, but it engendered more intensive investigation. Years of scenes, styles, subgenres, niches, furrows, corridors, avenues, detours, each more hyper-specific than the last. Eventually though, everything breaks down so much it all becomes one mass again – a constant cross-contamination between these intensely cultivated strains, creating ever more potent hybrids that simply feed back into the temporal swirl.
a1. SK-1 - Shockout Fass (X-Altera remix)
a2. Etch - Monoxide
b1. ZULI - 3ankaboot
b2. Manix - Special Request (DJ Guy version)
b3. ELLLL - Sooty Tern
c1. Peder Mannerfelt - Small Faces
c2. Christoph De Babalon - Where Are You Going?
c3. DJ Butterfly - Shorty
d1. Clouds - Can't Anticipate
d2. Forest Drive West - Para
d3. Dream Cycle - ESP
Release Date: 21st August 2020
Basic Rhythm returns to Sneaker Social Club with new EP "I Don't Know What I Would Do". A side opener, What I Would Do, starts with a stepping percussive melody line and sampled vocal before dropping into a 4/4 stomp and warm bassline, drawing upon Detroit Techno of old in his own inimitable style. The second track, I Just Don't Know, opens with lush keys and female vocal refrain of "I just don't..." gradually building up the percussive elements until dropping into his trademark percussion and sub bass work out.
The B side opens with Annihilate. Worn out pads and sparse percussive stabs gradually open up and make way for a slow build up before dropping into a gritty bass line that stumbles headlong into clattering percussion and the unmistakable howl of Grace Jones as the vocals switch and pan and swirl into a disorienting haze. Closing the EP is Plodding Along, a slow yet upbeat vibe pervades the track, with Basic Rhythm's trademark percussion and a happy go lucky bass line that lilts along content to exist in its own world.
a1. Basic Rhythm - What I Would Do
a2. Basic Rhythm - I Just Don't Know
b1. Basic Rhythm - Annihilate
b2. Basic Rhythm - Plodding Along
Repress Due: 21st August 2020
From the slamming science of “Ricochet,” through the jittery ghost-rave of “Survival” and the outer-space lover’s rock of “Dubbing You,” to the manic magic of “Finest Illusion,” this collection of early EPs by rave legends Foul Play tracks an astonishing evolution across barely more than a year. Some of the top tunes to come out of the hardcore > jungle > drum & bass journey? Yes, but also some of the most thrilling and gorgeous music of the entire ‘90s.
Simon Reynolds, author of Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture.
Re-mastered by Beau Thomas of Ten Eight Seven Mastering and re-issued for your aural pleasure. Don't sleep on this one!
a1. Foul Play - Finest Illusion
a2. Foul Play - Survival
b1. Foul Play - Dubbing You
b2. Foul Play - The Alchemist
c1. Foul Play - Feel The Vibe
c2. Foul Play - Feel The Vibe (Again)
c3. Foul Play - Screwface
d1. Foul Play - Ricochet
d2. Foul Play - Ricochet (No Stopping The Remix)
d3. Foul Play - Ragatere
Repress Release Date: 7th August 2020
Ben UFO b2b Joy O Recorded at XOYO in August
Kaiya at 8:08
begging for the ID on this one
typographic at 8:36
What's this? Absolute Weapon!!!!
emilyrachelwatson at 8:36
@typographic: init! fuckingneeeeed this!!!
Jinny Spinner at 8:36
@typographic: also looking for this ID
Ressika at 8:36
@niykov: this is a very silly song and I also require the ID
rohan at 8:49
christ, id on this one?
alexcelac at 9:40
salute at 10:29
what the fuck is this tune?
nikolai at 10:37
tundra at 10:49
ressika at 10:56
JLT at 11:21
Excelente. [bomb emoji]
a1. Hooverian Blur - Old Gold
b1. Hooverian Blur - Eyes Closed
b2. Hooverian Blur - Laluviah
Release Date: 13th December 2019
"Eski style Hardcore reductions, served up from the rave archivist Filter Dread."
a1. Filter Dread - Ice B8ss
a2. Filter Dread - Space Conga
a3. Filter Dread - Time To Let Go
a4. Filter Dread - Heat Depth
b1. Filter Dread - Ice Rave
b2. Filter Dread - Crush Sphere
b3. Filter Dread - Tekker Wave
b4. Filter Dread - Afterlife
Release Date: 22nd November 2019
The latest transmission from Sneaker Social Club welcomes Low End Activist into the fold for a record that draws heavily on soundsystem culture and in particular its social function in the Afro-Caribbean communities it stemmed from.
The source material for this record of fractured bass pressure is a VHS recording of Muzikon Sound System, captured in 1988 on the Blackbird Leys estate in Oxford, UK. The vibe pours out of the scenes captured – it was a famously hot summer, and Earthy Irie’s crew set their rig up at the Blackbird Leys summer fair, gifting the community with a wall of sound blasting out ruff n’ tuff 80s dancehall while the local deejays toasted over the top. Elsewhere Street Level would have had their system set up playing UK Soul, Hip-Hop, Proto Rave and Acid House, while further down the field (known locally as ‘the wreck’) the annual five-a-side football tournament took place.
The fair was a symbol of the unity of the estate – a multi-ethnic working class community bound together both by the looming presence of the car factory (where a massive portion of the residents worked) but also the long simmering social divide in Oxford. Since the founding of Oxford University, the country’s elite have needed people to do their dirty work, predictably exploiting and marginalising them in the process. As the city and its colleges expanded, so these communities were ushered out of town. The tensions between the classes reached a flash point repeatedly throughout the centuries, and it was no different during the 1991 riots on
the Blackbird Leys estate. As with similar riots elsewhere in Britain – Brixton, St Pauls, Toxteth, and elsewhere – heavy handed, not to mention misguided, police tactics loom large in the story, where the elite and the authorities fail to understand the community, how and why it functions the way it does.
Drawing on this snapshot of Oxford life, far from the international facade of the city’s privilege and power, with a deep-rooted, personal perspective, Low End Activist channels the raw energy and expression of Muzikon’s sound and frames it in the dread bass pressure that such soundsystems directly led to. It’s not dark music, but rather an intense one, defiant and proud like the Blackbird Leys community and so many of the social situations that gave rise to rave culture in the late 80s and early 90s.
The people from the estate would take their skill, knowledge and access to ‘the factory’ and use it to joyride high-end sports cars – a celebration of personal liberty in the face of social barriers enforced by the very people who would buy such things. Now Low End Activist applies his own craft to an amazing artefact from decades past, not so much joyriding with it as respectfully doffing his cap to the community in a show of solidarity, letting the jubilant sound play out once more
a1. Low End Activist - Street Level
a2. Low End Activist - Signal To Noise (Ratio)
a3. Low End Activist - Signal To Noise
b1. Low End Activist - Low End Activism
b2. Low End Activist - Neighbourhood Nationalism
b3. Low End Activist - Muzikon 90
Release Date: 18th October 2019
Dream Cycle returns for the third instalment in his series of EPs on Sneaker Social Club. 4 tracks cover a range of moods from the tough, club ready 2 step on “Told You” to the slo-mo ambient throb of “Untitled Dream”.DJ Support
Dusky, Deadboy, Breaka, Changsie, Barely Legal, LMajor, Foul Play, Jackie House, Jossy Mitsu, Kate Miller, Etch, Kornel Kovacs, Coco Bryce, Delfonic, Octo Octa, Avalon Emerson, Silvia Kastel, FaltyDL, Ciel, Gigsta, 2 Bad Mice, Etch, Kornel Kovacs, Coco Bryce, Michael Serafini, Chris Farrell (Idle Hands), Interplanetary Criminal, Turbojazz, Molly, Alec Falconer, Vera, Raresh, Edmondson, DJ Fart In The Club, Re:ni, Rey Colino (Kalahari Oyster Cult), Banoffee Pies + more
a1. Dream Cycle - Told You
a2. Dream Cycle - Long Time
b1. Dream Cycle - Sensa
b2. Dream Cycle - Untitled Dream
Release Date - 23rd August 2019
Through a misty, nostalgic lens of long days and nights lost in front of sound systems, Soundbwoy Killah delivers his much anticipated debut album to Sneaker Social Club. True to previous drops on this and other labels, this is rave romanticism with a bite, as much viewing the good old days with a wry smile as longing for their return. Just listen to the opening strains of “Escape Velocity,” as the MC manages a sticky situation and tries to keep cool while sending the crowd on their way “in an orderly fashion.”
As much as hardcore, jungle, acid, techno and house inform Halcyon Daze, the sonic signifiers of that ‘golden era’ of rave culture are bedded in a poignant, reflective shroud. From lingering pads to distant, reverb drenched vocal snatches, a hint of melancholy hovers over these scattered but vivid memory triggers. Reese bass has never reverberated so deep, sirens never sounded so lost at sea.
The real art in Soundbwoy Killah’s craft lies in the juxtaposition between these languid, introspective elements and bright, sharply rendered arcs of sound that bring the music right into the foreground. This isn’t a pure exercise in nostalgia – stripped of their aggressive armour plating, a lot of these familiar elements take on a new expressive identity. Whether it’s the strafing arps in “Tom Loves To Rave,” or softly nudging the rolling breaks of “Under The Influence” into a downtempo, chill-out room headspace, Halcyon Daze proves how much mileage there still is in these battle-scarred sonic tools.
It’s not all one-dimensionally downcast either – “Heartbeats” is a rude n’ ruff celebration of amen choppage, while “Wanna Hold U” channels the ghost of UK garage with one eye cast back to its US house roots. “All Night Long” finishes the record on a charging high, all tightly clipped tech step beats and bright synths that cast their gaze ahead with optimism. The themes of lost love and fuzzy memories echo throughout Halcyon Daze, but rather than wallowing in the past, this open-ended finishing move springs forward with purpose. One gets the feeling there’s plenty more to come from Soundbwoy Killah.
a1. Soundbwoy Killah - Escape Velocity
a2. Soundbwoy Killah - Pang
a3. Soundbwoy Killah - Tom Loves To Rave
b1. Soundbwoy Killah - Wanna Hold U
b2. Soundbwoy Killah - Under The Influence
c1. Soundbwoy Killah - Heartbeats
c2. Soundbwoy Killah - Loiner Dub
c3. Soundbwoy Killah - Halcyon Daze
d1. Soundbwoy Killah - Yours (Break Mix)
d2. Soundbwoy Killah - All Night Long
Repress Shipping - 14th June 2019
Heavy, effective 1990s UK Hardcore/ UKG revival cuts from Soundbwoy Killah on his debut Sneaker Social Club 12"
a1. Soundbwoy Killah - Yours
a2. Soundbwoy Killah - Come My Selector
b1. Soundbwoy Killah - Abra Cadabra
b2. Soundbwoy Killah - Turn Off The Lights
Release Date - 15th March 2019
Shout out to my Barry’s ‘Da Mix’, Leon, Vonnett, James, Tilde, Jamie K, Edem, MR2, Fugee, 88.2 Crew, Leon at Music House, Loxy, Mike P, Logos, Parris, Mickey Pearce, Scratcha, all the silent listeners and all the bedroom ravers.
Run out groove etching “I’m oldskool like Stratford Rex, I’m oldskool like Temple”
a1. Basic Rhythm - New Style
a2. Basic Rhythm - Too Nuff
b1. Basic Rhythm - London Warehouse
b2. Basic Rhythm - Ready Again
Released 30th November 2018
Pure raw unfiltered Hardcore, just like it was back in the day. Stepping up here on contemporary UK rave imprint, Sneaker Social Club - Jerome Hill re-animates his Hornsey Hardcore alias for a third time. The object of the Hornsey Hardcore project is to make early 90's style Hardcore tracks but without using any extra production frills or modern twists. It's legit!
DJs - The Black Madonna, Special Request, Minimal Violence, Serge, Octo Octa, Kate Miller, Gigsta, Jackie House (Honey Soundsystem), Happa, Coco Bryce, DJ Guy, Dixon Avenue Basement Jams, Alan Fitzpatrick, Object Blue, Extrawelt, Len Faki, Stenny, Mark Archer, Deft, Julia Govor, 96 Back, Ciel, Johanna Knutsson, Neville Watson, Perc, De Sluwe Vos, Nick Craddock, JD Twitch (Optimo), Billy Nasty, Solid Blake, ASOK.
a1. Hornsey Hardcore - Don't Get Strange
a2. Hornsey Hardcore - Locked Groove 1
a3. Hornsey Hardcore - Locked Groove 2
a4. Hornsey Hardcore - Locked Groove 3
a5. Hornsey Hardcore - Locked Groove 4
b1. Hornsey Hardcore - The Wiz
b2. Hornsey Hardcore - Locked Groove 5
b3. Hornsey Hardcore - Locked Groove 6
b4. Hornsey Hardcore - Locked Groove 7
b5. Hornsey Hardcore - Locked Groove 8
Release Date - 19th October 2018
Etch's 'Ups & Downs' album is a collection of dubs which date as far back as 2014 and up to the present day. The album's tracks are united by being examples of the artists' efforts to escape the shackles of reality by using music as a vehicle.
The theme of space recurs across the material - both the 'outer-space' of the universe and galaxies that surround our planet and the 'inner-space' of exploring the infinite recesses and depths of our mind's imagination.
However these creations were made during a period experiencing a (not-uncommon) lifestyle of mad peaks, joy and optimism, and yet also, times of struggle, adversity and depression. That is of course a familiar human tale - but expressed here through Etch's own singular musical vision. Etch's music is informed by psychedelic experiences, sci-fi, occult and horror themed films and the evolution of gaming - (these being tools often used to escape the prescribed tedium of society's rules and roles).
This is then combined with a deep love of sampling vinyl and rearranging breakbeats in an unforced homage to his family roots in UK hardcore breakbeat, jungle and d'n'b. Furthermore, these hybrids are often filtered through a keen understanding of current musical developments which are then explored and deployed where it feels appropriate. Add to this a smattering of teenage Goth influences that rear their heads within the dark sound of certain tunes and you've got a serious distillation of culture being explored within these beats.
e1. Etch - Lost Orbit
e2. Etch - Out There
e3. Etch - The Siren
t1. Etch - Groove Control
t2. Etch - Snell's Law
t3. Etch - Hope For The Worst
c1. Etch - Black Rainbow
c2. Etch - Swirls & Spirals
c3. Etch - Ince Climbers In Flat Land
h1. Etch - Shine On (Zero Gravity Mix)
h2. Etch - Fluid
h3. Etch - Outsider ft. Farrah