As the Crammed Discs label turns 42 this year, we’re using the opportunity of this not-round figure to launch a new digital reissue series featuring around 250 tracks of rare electronic music from our archives. These tracks were originally released in the '80s and '90s, on vinyl and now-deleted CDs. The ongoing series will roll out in several phases over the next eighteen months, each consisting of a compilation plus several related EPs.
The series kicks off today with an introductory release entitled Rare Early SSR Electronica 1989-91 (Crammed Archives 0), an EP containing five tracks which depict the inception of our SSR imprint. The story in a nutshell: as soon as the first wave of Detroit techno hit Europe and playful, sample-based electronic dance music started emerging in the UK, Crammed was excited by these new combinations of sounds and started the SSR sub-label in 1988.
The early days of SSR saw the advent of a Belgian-Norwegian axis, when a handful of young Norwegian musicians and producers came to Brussels (in connection with Bel Canto, the electro-pop band then signed to Crammed) and rubbed shoulders with central Crammed Discs figures such as Minimal Compact singer Samy Birnbach (later known as DJ Morpheus), label boss Marc Hollander and Vincent Kenis (Marc’s former associate in Aksak Maboul). A series of hybrid electronic EPs were spawned, blending early techno stylings with flavors from around the world.
SSR (and sister sub-labels Language and Selector) would then go on to release over sixty albums and dozens of EPs, exploring a variety of styles (from house and techno to downtempo, ambient, broken beats, drum’n’bass and hip-hop) with artists including Carl Craig, Snooze, Juryman aka Ian Simmonds, DJ Spinna, 4hero and Tek 9, Bleep aka Biosphere, Telex, DJ Morpheus and many more.
Rare Early SSR Electronica EP track/artist breakdown:
1. "Hallucination Generation" by The Gruesome Twosome
The GT were an outfit formed by Samy Birnbach/Morpheus with Norwegian techno whiz kid Per Martinsen and later joined by Bertrand Burgalat. This track as well as the Mr Big Mouse track mentioned below enjoyed considerable club success in the US, where they made it into mainstream and underground charts from Billboard to Rockpool etc.
2. "A Byte of AMC" by Bleep
Bleep aka Geir Jenssen was a member of electro-pop band Bel Canto. After several EPs and a debut solo album on SSR (as Bleep) he went on to become a leading ambient electronic composer under his Biosphere moniker. This track pays tribute to Manchester hip hop duo Kiss AMC and their cheeky track "A Bit of U2" and also includes an authorized sample from the Sussan Deyhim/Richard Horowitz album Desert Equations (recently reissued by Crammed). Noteworthy fact: the debut singles by Geir Jenssen and Per Martinsen on SSR are considered as the first Norwegian techno tracks ever.
3. "Drop That Ghetto Blaster" by Mr Big Mouse feat. Karen Finley
Mr BM were none other than Crammed’s Vincent Kenis & Marc Hollander and this number was conceived as an ‘answer track’ to the hit single "Theme from S’Express" (and to several other tracks) which had made extensive use of vocals by provocative NY performance artist Karen Finley (lifted from her Tales of Taboo EP, released by Crammed in 1986).
4. "Danger" by Alegria
This was the debut release by Bjørn Torske who alongside the aforementioned Per Martinsen is one of the godfathers of Norwegian techno. Danger came out as part of the T.O.S. EPs which laid the foundations for what later became a vibrant electronic music scene with the likes of Todd Terje, Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas, Röyksopp et al.
5. "Security" by Farida International
A track created by Mr Big Mouse aka Kenis and Hollander from elements of a song by Middle Eastern rock band Foreign Affair (a Minimal Compact splinter group) and from a bunch of other things.
Rare Early SSR Electronica 1989-91 (Crammed Archives 0) will be followed by Rare SSR Electronica 1988-94 (Crammed Archives 1) out June 17, which includes a 24 track compilation and five standalone EPs.
supported by 4 fans who also own “Rare SSR Electronica 1989-91 (Crammed Archives 0)”
I can't put into words how it feels to listen to this album. The sensation of increasing anxiety and dread throughout the stages is unique. It makes me want to keep listening and theorizing about what's happening in the songs, especially in the post-awareness stages. D0DGAMES