Revisit: “The Science Behind The Circle”(1996)

As I tear through my Weatherall collection and rip every record where his name appears, here’s a comp I basically purchased because of him being on it. It was released by a London club of the same name meant to draw attention to dance culture, and features a pretty fool-proof cast of peeps who bring the exclusive goods for the most part here. I remember only really focusing on the Weatherall and Aloof tracks at the time, but listening to it 24 years later, I can’t say I feel too much differently about it — I liked it then and I like it now:

1. Sound Clash Republic-”Dub Thunder In Progress

I was never a huge Fabio Paras fan as his tracks always sounded same-y to me. Those tribal drums, the jungle without being drum-n-bassy vibes…meh. His track here is pretty cool, though. It still sounds like him, but he tones down all the ethnic face slaps in favor of just grooving. He slows it down and gives us a nice little gut-rumbler without getting too aggressive. A nice solid effort, and probably the best Paras track I’ve ever heard. 

2. Rocky & Diesel-”Just A Groove

The guys don’t lie — this is just 9 minutes of pure groovin’. This basically sounds like an X-Press 2 B-side, for very obvious reasons. Beedle isn’t here, but it still sounds like a track straight from a Boys Own 12″. It’s simple and minimal, but it works. If this came on in the mid-hours of a club set, I’d be dancing my balls silly. 

3. Andrew Weatherall-”Caught In The Car Park

Alas, the reason I acquired this here album. This is alright, sort of a straight ahead techno banger without a lot of deviation. This came out post-Sabres, pre-Swordsmen, so it’s interesting to hear where Weatherall was on that day he recorded this. It sounds like a Lords Of Afford track actually — nosebleed minimalism with just enough quirk to keep you listening. It also has some Detroit vibes in there with the bass-stabbing pulses and driving monotonous beats. Not his best, but Weatherall had a knack of making even his boring tracks sounds intriguing. 

4. Secret Knowledge-”Drive Me Crazy (Phoawr Circle Mix)

Good ‘ol Kris Needs. You could sniff out his tunes a mile away which is no bad thing. Those snappy drums, the ear-piercing hi-hats, the vocal samples, and Wonder wailing away to give his techno that disco funk. I was never a massive fan of Secret Knowledge, but I definitely understood the appeal. This track is really excellent in comparison to his canon of songs. What always turned me off a bit was the trance-y element to Needs’ work, which is just a personal thing, but he tows the line well here, keeping the trance bubbling at the surface in favor of keeping the groove firmly in place. A cool track that balances house and techno and disco and whatever the hell else you hear here. 

5. Vinyl BlairBoom Banging (In Your Area)”

This is aight. Vinyl Blair were fun in the same way Secret Knowledge was in that they threw everything into the pot and somehow, it worked. They tended to get a bit too trance-y for me, but it was also part of their charm. This track chugs along nicely, adding some dub elements to the stew that gives it a unique feel. Kinda forgettable, but not at all bad. 

6. Ashley Beedle”Time For Music”

Listening to this all these years later reminds me of what a bad ass Beedle has always been. He’s one of those guys who should be a household name, but because he sticks to his guns and makes music that means something to him, he keeps it beautifully real. This reminds me of something he might have done as Black Science Orchestra, jazzy, noodly, but on-point as fuck with piercing vocal samples and a jungle-y atmosphere. Is Beedle still around? I sure hope so. 

7. David Holmes”Grumpy Flutter Pt.1″

One of my favorite things to say about Holmes now is, “remember when David Holmes used to be good??”. It’s an old and tired thing to say, but I sure amuse myself when saying it. I’ve always felt a bit betrayed by Holmes. His first album is a full-fledged, top-to-bottom classic that he refuses to rival with the rest of his work ever since. I guess he’s enjoying the sweet life in Hollywood now, hobnobbing with actors and producing yawn-inducing soundtrack cues for overrated directors, but I still remember those “Johnny Favourite” days, oh, yes I do! I digress. Listening to this now, I have no recollection of it, and I have to say, I really dig this. I love the jazzy vibe with the techno beat and the swelling strings. It’s a builder, and Holmes used to be soooo good at those. The track winds and climbs for nearly ten minutes which I always love when it comes to building tracks that know they’re on to something good. This is a great surprise on an album where I shifted my focus elsewhere at the time –unearthing this 24 years later makes me feel relieved that my swelling collection of vinyl is large enough where I can’t focus on every note of every record at any given time. But seriously, Holmes, cut the shit with the soundtracks. 

8. Phil Perry & Clive Henry-“Double Sphere”

No idea who these dudes are. As I look them up on Discogs, it appears they’re DJs who worked at the Full Circle club that put this release out, so the inclusion of “Double Sphere” is more than likely a way for them to cram their wares on to their own comp. Slick. This track isn’t bad, just 90’s style Detroit-ism with banging beats and echoing synths. Not a ton of depth to it or creativity, just a pleasant but forgettable discursion. Next.

9. Slam“Sick Organ”

Without cheating and looking this up, this was the B-side to the “Dark Forces” single if memory serves. There was a time when Slam was completely unable to produce anything less than magnificent, from their first releases up through the year this compilation was released. They lost the magic as the years went on, and this song represents how their luster started fading a bit. It was only intended to be a B-side, I get it, but so what. This track is a decent nod to Detroit techno with its slapping hi-hats and alien rhythms, but it comes and goes without giving us much to remember.

10. Sound Enforcer“Audio Wave”

You can pretty much smell a Dave Angel track from a mile away, regardless of what alias he’s recording under. This is a cool song, and exactly what you’d expect — basically a DJ tool, but a ton of ass-kicking power coming out of the speakers with some strange vocal samples keeping the listener off-balance. A nice track to bridge the gaps in a DJ set as the energy levels rise up.

11. The Aloof“A Taste (Chips In A Basket)”

Man, I miss the Aloof. They were so unique and cool. I can’t think of another band in history that sounds quite like them. From slow-grinding and swelling ballads to balls-out techno madness all within the space of a few songs. This track is more of the latter, with very little vocals from Ricky Barrow and more of the acid tinges that marked their earliest material. With the exception of the Holmes track, “A Taste” is by far the best on this compilation. The acid mania lurking in the background as Barrow whispers about what he wants for lunch is about as weird as it is danceable. A simple yet effective machine. Memories of the early 90s are hard to fight off while listening to this.

12. Carl Cox“Acid Charge”

It’s Carl Cox. You know exactly what this sounds like without even hearing it.

This compilation has done a decent job of standing the test of time with some cuts that haven’t aged too much at all, and others that sounded dated even back when this was released. Handing out a Monty-rating here in 2020 regarding a techno comp from 1996, I would give this a solid:

Python rating: 7/10

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