Thursday, November 6, 2008

Blame It On The Boogie Part 2

It seems that we are indeed on the cusp of a new era, but will that mean a new era of music also? There are definitely rumblings in the underground — an underground that can’t stay underground for too long these days — Balearic signals, promises of future party euphoria, and perhaps a move away from the raucous irony that has befallen us, and the bling that won’t stop.

If a wave of the type of music on the record pictured above fell on us I wouldn’t be complaining at all. Virgo Four’s album from 1989 is essentially a UK compilation of two separate EPs on the infamous Trax Records label out of Chicago. One of the EPs is credited to Virgo Four, the other to M.E., but both are by Eric Lewis and Merwyn Sanders, who moonlighted as Ace & The Sandman. Virgo Four was often confused with the Chicago project that featured Adonis, Marshall Jefferson and Vince Lawrence, and which gave us the magic EP that featured the stellar, abstract house/boogie creation "R U Hot Enough." Wrongly naming the Virgo Four album Virgo by Virgo didn't help matters either.

I read a review of this record in the fall of 1989 in an electronic keyboard magazine that also featured an interview with Derrick May and a review of the Techno 1 compilation on KMS. I was intrigued by the description of the music and also by the fact that the reviewer used the word 'electronica' to describe tracks on the Virgo Four record and Techno 1 as well, R-Tyme’s “Illusion” in particular. Electronica wasn’t a word that was in general use in 1989, 1999 maybe but not ten years prior, and even if wikipedia says it wasn't used until the early 90s in the US, it is incorrect because it is used in that review in a British magazine from 1989 and I'll wager the term was floating around in the pre house/non-dance electronic music scene from the '70s onwards.

It’s use in this article was in relation to the fact that both records featured tracks that had a dreamy mood, an ambience much like that of the heady German music of the mid to late ‘70s. To me this is the real meaning of electronica, not the bastardized version of the word that popped up in post rave America as the perfect tool to sell dodgy compilations to dotcom yuppies. Ashra, Cluster and Kraftwerk; this was the electronica that the review referred to and to place the lusher and more abstract Detroit techno and Chicago house tracks in that realm was interesting to me at the time — though everyone around me was too busy having a good time to indulge my earnest chinstrokery, and a typical reaction to any poignant thoughts by me on the subject was a salty, Irish wave of "shut up Orr, quit the pontificating and put on another record, ya bollix." Nice, huh?

To be continued



Eric Lew said...

Great stuff!! We had a great time doing the music. It great that people still enjoy it. Thanks for the kind words. EricLew

merwyn sanders said...

Wow! This article hits it right on the head! Where we were comin' from. Thanks for the acknowledgement and support. It feels great to hear someone appreciate our music.
Merwyn Sanders

BananaSpam said...

Thank you, thank you. I bought this record for one pound sterling in a Woolworths store in Ireland on a wet Saturday in 1990 ! Comments like this make the blog worth writing.

Boom boom, shakin' room indeed!

merwyn sanders said...

Check out Merwyn Sanders, Virgo 4, Ace & the Sandman or M.E. at We will have never released music available soon!