Trevor Jackson -Metal Dance #2 – Reviewed


August sees the release of volume 2 of Trevor Jacksons Metal Dance compilation on Strut Records. This time he digs a little deeper and takes things a little darker to offer up a selection of tracks from the arena of Industrial, New Wave and EBM spanning the years 79 to 88. There seems to be more and more interest in this often overlooked area that influenced so many of the key players in the forms of electronic dance music that are so ubiquitous today. For example Little White Earbuds recently did a series of great features on the influence of industrial on the music of techno artists Surgeon and Perc. Its great that someone with the depth of knowledge and extensive record collection of Trevor Jackson is giving us a sonic tour of the genre.  

I must admit Im no expert in the field. My experience of this music mainly stems from the rare moments when DJs and producers I respect slip some of their more obscure influences into their sets. DJ Hell dropping Liasons Dangereuses in a mix. Carl Craig re-working Throbbing Gristle. Felix da Housecat cracking out the Nitzer Ebb. You pick stuff up over the years. Then you get to work on Youtube, hit Discogs. But thats how it starts I suppose, for some this comp will be like a gateway drug.   

The sonic pallet here ranges from the stomach churning to the boogie inducing, from the hypnotic to the chaotic, angry, lost, weird. There are electro soundscapes, clunky punk-funk jams, bizarre experimental offerings with screeching sax and churning synths. And, you can really see how this fed into the  early days of Chicago House, Acid, Techno etc.

The biggest highlight/discovery for me was The Secret Life by Material which is a total jam. Ultimately danceable, clunky disco with a killer hook and a chaotic, crash bang bridge. You can see the influence of this in the likes of Paperclip People a mile off. Then youve got Tanki Tanki by Lebanese artist Rene Bandaly Family (reedited by fellow countryman Ranih Beaini). Its not often you come across a track described as intense political Arabic proto-techno. But this isnt just some obscurists prize to brag about in a weird-off. This is a powerful, brooding track with the clattering machine claps of a 1987 Chicago acid track but this is from the other side of the world and from 1982. Other highlights include the lush electro of Chris and Coseys Driving Blind and Doris Nortons Personal Computer, the intro of which is pure Detroit.

This compilation not only shines a light on a fine selection of music that inspired the originators of dance music as we know it today, but also forces us to give up the notion that this was a purely an American and European phenomenon. Weve got early, influential tracks on here by artists from the Middle East and Japan. As usual, the accepted narrative tells only part of the story.

Trevor is giving us a collection of music that can rekindle the memories of the old timers and also open up the minds of the youth who may not know about this weird, chaotic reservoir of sound that fed into the underground clubs of the 80s, mixing with the more commercial sounds of disco to ignite the dancefloor and create the sounds that were still getting down to today.

Joe Europe

Heres a minimix of from the album…

Metal Dance Vol 2 Various Artists (Compiled by Trevor Jackson)

Strut Records

2x CD, 2x 12, Digital

Released August 19th