CultureClash – ‘CultureClash’ LP / Cassette [Lost Futures]

Cracking release here courtesy of Semtek and Ben Morris, bringing forth unreleased material from a makeshift group calling themselves CultureClash. Launching a new imprint called Lost Futures, it’s a properly done package in every way from the full colour sleeve and notes to the sheer quality of the music dug up from a one-off radio recording.

The release info below covers off the whole story of how the three artists came together, recorded and departed, leaving us not much to add except about the music itself. It’s off the scale in terms of coverage and genre blending, working as individual experimentations as well as a full cohesive set. It’s pretty incredible.

The music was originally recorded live in 1992 on basic equipment. This was a proper golden-age for new club sounds, with new influences going worldwide as cities across the world started staking the unique scenes that they birthed, making them not only more identifiable but also easier to share and draw down on. Tracks on CultureClash sit between primitive acid house and Middle Eastern dub styles. Heady as Burial in some spots and capable of taking that in to Suns Of Arqa spacial dub and then flipping it in to DJ Qu Chicagoe styles and back to early Floorplan machine patterns.

This is what reissues should be about. Not rehashing classics with b-sides never fit for the original release, not reissuing in a different colour vinyl or on 45 or 10″ as opposed to LP, and certainly not putting some additional packaging around it as a “limited edition.” 

This is off-kilter music that wasn’t released, the likes of which you’ve probably not heard before and hence needs to be shared. Available on wax as a double LP of eleven tracks or as a mixed cassette, it’s probably worth picking up both.

Youtube playlist below, extensive release info underneath again.

Lost Futures is a new label that explores experimental and often radical approaches to dance music from the past. In a musical landscape that increasingly claims to seek and reward new forms and ideas, Lost Futures delves into the recent past to revisit forward-thinking, optimistic projects that, owing to the social, musical or outright political climate, perhaps struggled to find an audience. Allowing only time to re-contextualise these leftfield, sometimes misunderstood and ultimately human bodies of work, Lost Futures taps into the inherent idealism of rave.

LF001 trips back until the early nineties to revisit the alternative scene emerging from the Dutch city of Utrecht. Here, three young men – DJ Zero One (Sander Friedeman), TJ Tape TV (Arno Peeters) and DJ White Delight (Richard van der Giessen) – joined forces to form ‘The Awax Foundation’. Inspired by the transcendent and revolutionary electronic music arriving on their shores imported from Chicago and Detroit, combining their knowledge, gear and ever-expanding vinyl collection allowed additional freedom in paying sincere tribute to these intoxicating sounds, while also developing their tastes in a more personal, eclectic direction.

The musical flavours of Awax initially leaned toward acid house and the roots of techno. However, with three different mindsets in the mix, their tastes were rarely fixed. One thing each shared in common was a devotion to collecting rare sounds, specifically more adventurous and international samples than those emanating from the increasingly-hard, masculine dance music emerging from the Netherlands during the period. Inspired by the cross-over global sound of bands like Suns of Arqa, or ‘World Music’, as it was perhaps patronisingly termed at the time, the trio became interested in the idea of making techno with ‘ethnic instruments’.

Of course, this being 1992, none of The Awax Foundation had access to such instruments; instead, they had a vast, collective library of samples from all over the world. There were no collaborations and no clear plan. Instead, they set to work using a Yamaha TX16W sampler, the legendary Atari 1040ST computer, a cheap mixing desk and a couple of low-end synths and FX machines. When Richard mentioned the project to his friend, Akin Fernandez, the London DJ and owner of cult label Irdial Discs, Fernandez was intrigued enough to invite the trio to record a one-hour show for his ‘Monster Music Radio’ series on London’s then-burgeoning Kiss FM.

Forced to come up with a name, ‘CultureClash’ seemed like the obvious choice, even if the members of Awax were only creatively sparring among themselves. Along with the term ‘ethno-techno’, slightly dubious to a hopefully more conscious Western audience in 2017, these were the only guiding principles to the quietly ambitious project that soon combined cutting-edge machine rhythms with samples sourced from everywhere from Bolivia to Togo, and inspired by everything from Ravi Shankar’s epic soundtrack to the Oscar-winning movie Ghandi, to the technical limits of their own setup requiring a dazzling degree of cut-and-paste work. Some tracks even emerged out of academic studies within the ethnomusicology department at The University of Amsterdam.

The show aired on October 2nd, 1992, recorded in one blistering take and without any rehearsals, traversing a huge variety of tempos and styles. If the performance wasn’t seamless, it was undeniably thrilling, fresh and ambitious. As such, several labels, including Fernandez’s aforementioned Irdial Discs expressed an interesting in commercially releasing CultureClash, while another imprint proposed a series of twelve-inches and an album. But the sheer complexity of the project meant that it never saw the light of day, while the trio embarked on different journeys ahead, both creative and personal.

Twenty five years later, and the original CultureClash lineup and founding members of The Awax Foundation provide the sound of the first release from Lost Futures. An otherworldly, ambitious and optimistic compilation, accompanied by extensive sleeve notes from the trio, CultureClash is a timeless ode to experimentation in dance music’s ever-overlapping culture.