Produced by Tony Confusione and Joaquin “Joe” Claussell, under the alias Instant House, Lost Horizons was originally released in 1993. The song’s 17 minutes start with a gentle shower, and the sound of distant thunder. Atmospherically. Then the beats begin, dubby, and tribal. A gong is struck. Keys mimic woodwinds, whistles, and flutes. It’s a jazzy, improvised jam, that was highly likely mixed live. Phased, filtered, and subjected to Joe’s famously phreeked E.Q.-ing. It’s spiritual house music to totally lose yourself in. Lost Horizons must have sounded absolutely amazing at David Mancuso’s loft. It’s the sort of track that I imagine Sapporo’s Precious Hall using to test their system.* I’ve still never been. Circuitry sends in showers of computerized congas. Counter rhythms. The epic cut, a sort of collision of classics by Marshall Jefferson’s The Truth – “Open our eyes” – Ben Cenac’s Push / Pull, and the warriors dance of No Smoke. I’m not sure if the sax is “real”. Its voice seems too nuanced to have been manufactured by a machine. Like a NYC take on The Orb’s “ambient house”, it also seems to reach for the same “paradise” that many of its Italian contemporaries were searching for. An aural adventure super suitable for psychedelic travellers, the piece paints clear images of somewhere tropical. Has you strutting your stuff under the stars, in the open the air, regardless whether you’re in a strobe-lit basement, or at home in the bath.** Then the music stops, leaving you to soak in a final 4-minute symphony of monsoon rain.
I know why I have this record. It was / is listed as a “Loft Classic” in the back of Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton’s scene / life-changing book, Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, first published in 1999. I carried an edit of this list, and several others, at all times. I`d once been a boy scout. I know where and when I bought my original copy – at the dance music branch of Japanese chain, Disk Union, in Shibuya, back in 2007.*** When I moved to Tokyo, late in 2006, this shop blew my mind. Up on the walls of the basement were promo 12s of classics that I had no idea existed. I still had a proper job then, and like the proverbial kid in a candy store, I greedily went about replacing a lot of my bootlegs with OGs.****
Lost Horizons was pretty much impossible to find in the UK, but it was commonplace, and cheap, in Tokyo. I found, and sold multiples. Claussell was a king out here then, he probably still is, with many of his productions, and special edits, receiving Japan-only releases – which sell out in a blink. So, I could never understand why the Instant House 12 cropped up so often. It was reissued, via legendary Japanese store, Cisco, in 1996.***** Maybe they’d pressed up a shit load, or it had been overplayed. It’s such a unique piece of music. It’s not something that I`d ever consider, for a second, getting rid of.
Instant House’s epic Lost Horizons is available to pre-order from Isle Of Jura. It’s an absolute essential for anybody interested in the history and evolution of house music, and it slots right alongside the label’s previous repress of Holy Ghost`s Walk On Air, which is another certified Loft classic. There’s a nice history of Instant House, featuring quotes from Joe Claussell, put together by Martyn Pepperell, over on the Bandcamp page.
*According to the sleeve notes on the 1996 Japanese reissue, the cover photo was taken by Joe Claussell and Chiyo Mamiuda as they travelled to a Larry Levan memorial party at the Vampire Club, in Sapporo, in 1993.
** As I am now.
***What I don’t remember is buying the triple LP Instant House compilation, released in 2003. At the turn of the millennium I was firmly focused on being a dad. I don’t recall going out, partying much – which is why Steve Terry and Phil Mison’s afternoon sessions on Brick Lane were such a godsend. I might have been still DJing at The Medicine Bar – but the one in Shoreditch. I definitely had a Saturday night gig at The Salmon & Compass in Islington. This was linked to the record shop, Disque, located a little further down Chapel Street, where I was writing reviews for their weekly mail-out. Maybe my copy of the comp comes from there? The only other stores that were constants – as I was still Hoover-ing up tons of vinyl – for new stuff, were Honest Jon’s, Soul Jazz, and Selectadisc. I`m not sure if the Covent Garden Rough Trade, below Slam City Skates, had shut. I currently seem to have big, sizable, holes in my long-term memory. I hope it’s not the onset of dementia, and that simply it’s been a while since that muscle`s been properly flexed. Since COVID hit I haven’t really had the luxury of looking back. From that comp, Instant House`s Asking Forgiveness, is another absolute essential.
****That basement was also bursting with cheap Brazilian LPs. There’s a large Brazilian population – well, at least there used to be – based in Tokyo’s suburbs. I guess they must have ditched their old vinyl. Just up the road, in Recofan, you could also pick up classic jazz dance records for pennies. I’ve always assumed that this was due to duped collectors switching to the “superior” CD.
*****The Cisco in Tokyo was more like a village. Three separate stores, each specializing in different sub-genres, occupying a corner at the far end of Shibuya’s main parade.