About dance and electronica in Wales


While Wales is conventionally - and deservedly - known for a surfeit of bands wielding guitars, its underbelly of deck-bothering, keyboard-twiddling dance and electronica has been quietly getting on with packing dancefloors.

If one takes the post-disco, new wave-era New Romantic scene as the starting point of recognisable clubbing (going-out clothes, a discernable identity and a true party atmosphere), then Wales really punched above its weight.

Steve Strange - the Visage singer from Porthcawl - ran London's Blitz club. He was just one of about 10 Welsh club-owners in London stamping their imprint on this new phenomenon. Other Welsh people merely supplied the drugs.

By the late 80s, acid house and rave music was sweeping the country, carrying people of all classes into a world of ecstasy and repetitive beats; in Wrexham a group of men were putting their music onto wax and getting behind the decks at clubs in North Wales and the north west of England.

K-Klass, down in their 'Bunker' outside Wrexham, eventually crashed the top 10 with Rhythm Is A Mystery in 1991.

Other people were getting excited by the possibilities of self-producing and -releasing music, and by the mid-90s a collective of Cardiff musicians and producers were providing sweaty fun in the city's bars, clubs and warehouses. Phantom Beats, Vandal and the rest of the Plastic Raygun roster were combining acid techno with the increasingly-prevalent big beat scene.

Some of the parties were legendary, with attendees including Howard Marks and Super Furry Animals (whose techno roots are well-documented). Manchild, a production duo with a full live band, came out of this scene to release one album, Untied States, for One Little Indian.

One of the Plastic Raygun team was one Steve Robson, aka Jean Jacques Smoothie, who would in 2001 score a massive hit with 2People.

Meanwhile in Swansea, the Hybrid duo of Mike Truman and Chris Healings were putting together their first album, Wide Angle, which was released in 1999. In tapped into the post-trance world of prog-house and nu-skool breaks.

A slightly jazzy tinge can also be seen in the work of Penarth's drum'n'bass godhead Lincoln Barrett, aka High Contrast; three well-received albums for Hospital Records have been released so far.

Newport's Culprit One is another producer melding genres - in his case techno, hip hop and breaks. Debut album Running In Order showcased his talents well.

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