The (Dance Floor) Return of Hugo Nicolson

All hail the heroic – dance floor – return of Hugo Nicolson. Hugo, of course, has had a hand in countless “alternative” dance classics. Not only did he play a part in seminal African Head Charge sets – Songs Of Praise and In Search Of Shashamane Land – but, incredibly importantly, from 1989 to 1993 he also “ably assisted” Andrew Weatherall in creating absolute essentials by A Man Called Adam, Big Hard Excellent Fish, Bocca Juniors, Finitribe, Galliano, The Grid, Impossibles, Jah Wobble, James, Love Corporation, My Bloody Valentine, One Dove, Primal Scream, S`Express, and That Petrol Emotion – redefining what balearic was / is. Solo, Hugo had ravers raising the roof to the sounds of Wolfgang Press, TPE`s Hey Venus, Jet Free`s Harphead, and Julian Cope`s brilliant Beautiful Love. This success prompting a push toward the pop charts proper, and work with bigger acts such as Bjork, Dido, Embrace, Ocean Colour Scene, Radiohead, and Shakespear`s Sister. All the while, the mirrorball, and its associated excess, moved further and further away. Last year the esteemed engineer / producer composed the score for Katharine O’Brien`s Lost Transmissions, and, encouraged by my friends at The Flightpath Estate, Hugo finally released 1999`s cracking Crank. Now he has a new E.P. ready, aimed directly at dancers, plus a refreshingly rollicking remix.  

The Lost And Found E.P. features two new tracks, plus a rework by fellow former Weatherall studio partner, and On-U Sound-er, David Harrow. Fly Pie sets kosmische keys colliding. Raising a ringing motorik wall of sound. Pulsating prettily as if Phil Spector were producing La Dusseldorf, in a manner similar to recent releases by Hugo`s spar, David Holmes, and Holmes` long-time collaborator, Gary “Vendetta Suite” Irwin. Finally Fading is a ferocious tribally tinged thumper – arpeggiated and phased to fuck – like a Cali`d-up take on Moroder`s I Feel Love, with Don’t Fight It, Feel It slightly reprised in its coda. To my ears the track recalls the pop dance MDMA experiments of Stephen Duffy`s Dr. Calculus, William Orbit`s Torch Song. It`s too sophisticated, and layered, too complex, to really be compared to Psychic TV`s Jack The Tab project, but the vibe`s kind of the same – i.e. not acid house but heavily influenced by the idea, its energy, and psychedelic potential to promote individual and collective change. Mr. Harrow’s mix is sparser and squelchier – a flashback to late `80s second summer of love sonics such as ACR`s Good Together. Simultaneously bubbling and banging, beautifully bending boogie-ing minds out of shape. 

hugo-nicolson-lost-and-found

Rude Audio`s Railton Ruckus is a righteous robotic ode, dedicated to Brixton`s former frontline. The original is super high quality, occult, Chris N Cosey-esque synth pop. Think proto-new beat, early balearic beats – stuff that might have been spun at Future or Shoom. Authentically crafted, uncluttered, but coloured by shooting star, comet-tailed, detail. The Bedford Falls Players` revision is a wicked, wired rumination, rife with reverb and echoed percussive rattle, but Hugo`s remix goes one step beyond and starts tonking timbales like there’s no tomorrow. Effervescent sound effects – a la The Scream`s Come Together – surround hallucinatory vocal harmonies. Everything is pushed through trippy gates. Stimulating senses to the point of overload, adding panpipes and a veritable virtual rainforest of fractal fauna. It`s a celebratory shot of electronic psychedelia that owes as much to Joe Byrd`s United States Of America as it does to Chicago jack. A riotous rave ritual that really exists in a world of its own, it can’t help but invoke those unique productions, reimaginings, Mr. Nicolson undertook with Mr. Weatherall some thirty very odd years ago. Strange, weird, wacky, inventive, totally individual, and addictive, forging a path free of rules and fashion`s vagaries.

Hugo Nicolson`s Lost And Found E.P is out now. Rude Audio`s Railton Ruckus will be released on August 6th.

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