Gone To A Rave #30: Tim Taylor – From Hardcore To Acid, Classics All The Way
It's the alias's that do it. The first two decades of rave treasured the idea of recreation; of new ideas, new names, new identities. It makes sense- 90s parties were flooded with the feeling that a new dawn was just around the corner – not just becuase of pill muching (although, obvs, that played its part), but also because of this increasing sensation that we were rushing towards a new millenium, this huge date that stood obilisk like at the end of some sort of long pathway. I know I felt it – having formed half my world view from devouring the anarchic comic 2000AD as a kid, I still couldn't get my head around the fact that we were soon, actually going to be living in 2-fucking-000 AD: The future! So whether it was for reasons of re-invention, of shedding off old personas, of giving yourself a name that annonuced your alliegence to the underground, of looking to the future, or simply because being called Hype sounded a fuck sight cooler than Kevin, hardly anyone went under their government name in the 90s rave scene.
This means that as I've been writing Gone To A Rave, pouring over credits on records, trying to spot the dusty links, I've been surprised time and again by how many producers wrote amazing tunes in a multiple of styles, constantly switching names in some trickster attempt to outrun history. Today I'm going to cover one such producer – Tim Taylor.
Until about 5 minutes ago I'd listened to countless records by Tim Taylor without ever once knowing his name. House killers from The Chosen, hardcore classics from Egyptian Empire and 1st Prodject, acid techno bangers as Pump Panel, proto jungle with DJ Tactix, they've all got well worn sleeves on my record shelves, who knew they were all the work of one American guy who seems to have a hotline into what makes UK dancefloors go nuts. For example:
Oiiiiiiiii!!!! Fuck me!! That 1991 banger may not be the first track Taylor wrote, but it's the best introduction to his total chaos music I can think of. The horn that kicks it off was a jungle staple for years to come – and if anyone can tell me where the sample is from I'll be forever grateful… it comes steaming in with Egyptian Lover vocal stabs and synth sounds that I swear he's stolen from the intro of Human League's Love Action before all hell breaks loose with the Funky Drummer rhythm, Public Enemy bites and a tempo fast as a bullet. I've no idea how The Horn Track was received Statside upon it's 1991 release, but over in the UK it became an instant classic, reissued through FFRR and rinsed by every DJ.
Prior to The Horn Track, Taylor had been working with Frankie Mitchell – who later got involved producing the Bones Breas series with Frankie Bones, and famed NYC DJ Tommy Musto. Based in New York, the trio went under the name of Wired. Their first production was a 1986 knock off of the Willesden Dodgers track Gunsmoke Breakout, renamed as To The Beat of the Drum – it's a great little piece of pre-house body popping shit, all snapping claps and stuttering samples:
It took 4 years, but eventually Wired followed this up with New York New York in 1990. It was a quantum leap in terms of production, with the boogie Beat of the Drum replaced with a harder rave sound; meaner, moodier, darker. Looking at the label on New York New York and it seems Frankie Bones was involved. This was round the time Bones was travelling over to England and having his mind blown by the M25 rave scene, so it seems fair to assume he had some role to play in switching Taylor onto the UK love of breakbeat – it's pretty telling that this cut of the track is called the Out In London Dub…
Taylor then released a track under the name Bad Behaviour – by this time he must have found himself over in England, as it was produced at London's Spike Studio. To be honest, it's a weak joint, somewhere between house and rave, but with none of the raw energy of the Wired 12" that had come out earlier in the year. He followed that with another team up with Musto and Bones, this time under the name The Chosen, and back on some sort of form with a rushy Detroit influenced crowd mover called Vision of Life–
So far so decent. None of these releases really prepare you for what comes next – Taylor knocked out a series of tunes that redefined the English rave scene step by step. First up, in 1991 came this:
Tucked away on a B Side, Taylor wrote the definitive rave version of a tune that still gets kaned today. Right Before My Eyes first appeared on the Drop The ? EP – the lead track, Drop The, is in itself a pretty sweet slice of tribal house – it's groove still stands up well, although placed against the sheer explosive joy of Right Before My Eyes it's very much the side show-
Around the same time Taylor produced the Horn Track, which I started this piece with. he also managed to executive produce She's Breaking Up by Bitin Back – Mickey Finn's introduction to the wider world, and another all time breakbeat staple. Who knows, or cares, what 'executive producing' meant in this context- the fact that Taylor was involved in Right Before, The Horn Track and She's Breaking Up in a matter of months is, quite simply, staggering.
And, to be fiar to Taylor, he knew when to move on. Having laid down a trio of pretty definitive hardcore statements, he switched up. First there was an attempt at ratcheting the breaks up faster to make some darkside hardcore in 1992 – sometime ahead of the scene's general shift towards darkness round 1993 – still using the name 1st Prodject. On the track Intereference, one of the only other 1st prodject releases Taylor put out, you get the hyper speed breaks, the manic samples, but crucially you get the first hint of his new obsession; the 303.
Let's just take a quick detour – around the same time, Taylor appeared on a split EP with DJ Tactix. This was one of the few cases Taylor used his own name, giving Tactix his track Istanbul to remix into a hardass early jungle stepper – the track on the flip was Tactix's The Way, which any junglist worth there salt will know as the track that starts – on the VIP mix anyway- with the immortal time stretched shout out "ARE YOU READY FOR SOME BLOODCLAAAAT JUNGLE TECHNO… BLOOOOOOOOOD CLAAAAAAAAAAAT". Yeah it's off topic, but let's listen anyway. It's fucking immense:
Taylor, however, was movig closer and closer to techno. After a couple of mis-firing early steps, he joined up with a dude called Dan Zemani, they took on the name Pump Panel (they'd previously released a single 12" on XL as Dome Patrol – it's not all that) and between them absolutely nailed it. In 1994 they delivered their first collaboration, released through the Missile label Taylor had set up – the stomping, raging Detroit style of To The Sky. There are similraties with Dave Clarke's Red 2 and Jeff Mills mid 90s work, but To The Sky has enough tricks and turns to stand alone – like a brutal tunnel of concrete smashing through the rave, it's a relentless, heartless beast, and sounds skull crushing to this day.
But it was the underground killer Ego Acid, memorably featured on Carl Cox's first F.A.C.T. compilation, that broke the Pump Panel name. It was a big step away from the sample heavy breakbeat work of Taylor's previous couple of years – a reduction down to pure pumping energy. The tune is as simple as classic acid house – just one strong 303 line working working working then building building building. It's revered today on both the techno and acid scene, and laid the foundations for Pump Panel to create possibly the most famous acid techno tune ever written. Can you guess what that is? Listen to Ego Acid and have a think…
in 1995, New Order, always close to the dance scene, were commissioning an album of remixes. Someone along the way decided to ask Pump Panel to take on Confusion. Here's the original, and it's great; arsey, dischordant Manc disco for scallys and dancers –
Pump Panel took Confusion and turned it into something entirely different – a filthy acid beast, a horrific assault on the ear drums designed to drag bodies onto floors and pummel them into submission. Someone in Hollywood pricked up their lizard-like ears, and here's how it became the most famous pure, unadulterated acid techno tune(we're not counting Higher State cos it's got a breakbeat, mmmKay?) ever written:
Yep, in a scene that literally every 90s kid remembers, Confusion soundtracks the intro – and blatant high point – of Wesley Snipes' classic vampire cheesefest Blade. It turns out that a militant 303 made the perfect accompniment to watching candy yank ravers squealing as they get doused in blood and chomped on, and a bazillion shitty hard house mixes followed- although if I'm honest, I've a guilty soft spot in my heart for Public Domain's truly cheesy, route one (and chart topping) Bass in the Place. Click the link and watch my credibility evaporate.
After the high of Confusion Taylor continued to prodcue acid techno through til 2008, when he put Missle records on a hiatus t(which I believe they've recently returned from). I'm going to close with another one of his mid 90s acid numbers though – Bang the Acid. It's lesser known than Ego Acid and Confusion, but in many ways sounds more contemporary than either, just stripped down machine music jumping with energy and crazy, carnival joy. I can't think of any set that wouldn't benefit from having this track slung in (admittedly pitched down- I'm getting old..) hope you enjoy it…