Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sacred Selections

This was a concert in Christchurch Cathedral. Someone had the great idea of transcribing for the organ a load of Happy Hardcore tracks and then having them performed in a Church. This seems to have originally been intended as part of series of organ versions of underground music popular in Northern Britain, with Black Metal and Northern Soul being also scheduled for the treatment. On this occasion, though, it was all Happy Hardcore almost all the time. The tracks were apparently selected by DJ Sy of Quosh Records and transcribed for the organ by John Riley of St. Paul's & St. George's in Edinburgh, with Paul Ayres of St. George's Church, Hanover Square, London performing.

This Matt Stokes bloke introduced the event from the cathedral's lectern, his careful Northern English voice no doubt deliberately modulated to call to mind the measured tones of a preacher. After discussing the ideas behind the programme and outlining what rave music was all about, he gave two readings, one from a newspaper in the 19th century on the organs of Edinburgh, another from an Internet review of a Happy Hardcore compilation written by one Ned Raggett esq.. I was kind of hoping there would then be a third reading by TEH AMAZE RANDY but this was not to be. Stokes also called attention to those who did not make it through the world of rave, bringing to my mind my old pal G-Boy.

The slight problem I had with the music was not being that familiar with Happy Hardcore as a genre, and certainly not with the tracks themselves as named. Some of them did actually sound like I had heard them before, but none of them had the air of total familiarity. Nevertheless, it was easy enough when listening to imagine them as monster rave tracks, with it being obvious enough from the organ-playing when they were breaking into full-on epicness. One funny thing was the way the tracks all reminded me of Philip Glass music. I wonder is this because anything played on an organ sounds like Glass, or could it be because of Glass's music has been influential on that of rave producers?

I will now list the tunes covered, mainly in the hope that someone can advise on how original versions of them might be acquired:

Bang 'Shooting Star'
Hopscotch 'Midnight Express'
Joining of the Clans 'Braveheart'
Sy & Demo 'Stay With Me'
Q-Tex 'Power of Love'
Force And Styles 'Heart of Gold'

& the special bonus non Happy Hardcore, track, trance classic 'Perfect Day' by Paul Van Dyk.

I will not play favourites with the tunes, though I think maybe 'Midnight Express' was the most endearingly mental, 'Braveheart' the most epic, and 'Stay With Me' the most hauntingly familiar (but perhaps it was just reminding me of 'Sleep The Clock Around' by Belle & Sebastian).

Surely what the world needs now is mash-up remixes of the organified versions with the original tunes.

So yeah, deadly stuff. The concert has inspired me to listen once more to my Illegal Pirate Radio III compilation and made me wish I had bought all of those BONKERS! compilations as they came out. I am nevertheless proud to be able to say that I once saw the legendary Happy Hardcore MC Dougal doing his stuff.

I acquired a CD of a previous performance of these selections (though without the Paul Van Dyk piece). It is enjoyable to listen to at home. Less exciting is a CD of the organist's own compositions. I failed to look closely enough at the record before buying, and instead of being voice and organ it is voice and piano - not really my slice of cake.

On a final general point - this concert took place on 14th February, when social conformists troop out to restaurants with their significant other. I think the organisers were expecting hardly anyone to show up, for when I inquired about booking tickets they said that this would not be necessary and asked if I could tell everyone I knew about the event. Yet, the concert was rammed full, with many people turned away. I have heard that this is because it was previewed in The Irish Times, with the result that many event and trend people came along to it. Some people I know were particularly annoyed at how this led to the real fans being crowded out of the event. That is perhaps a bit rockist - I am not a real Happy Hardcore fan, but I did go to the concert and thought it was G*R*A*T*E. However, my disaffected friend (who arrived too late to get in, hence his disaffection) may have had a point. Surprising numbers of people left the concert after the first couple of tunes. You would have to wonder what were they expecting and what was it about what they got that disappointed them. But that's event people for you.

More stuff on this: Sacred Selections - Happy Hardcore


Kealo said...

Has the black metal concert gone ahead? I would be most in going along to that?

ian said...

I am not aware of the black metal concert ever occurring, either here or in the UK. I think it might exist only in the realm of the aspirational.