Trance Europe Express was a double cd or triple vinyl compilation of early 90s dance music that came with a 192 page booklet (or it was a 192 page booklet about early 90s dance music that came with a double cd). It was an offshoot of the Volume series of compilations which had a broader focus musically. Both series were excellent, high quality songs, often unreleased or different mixes/versions. Trance Europe Express wasn’t really trancey at all, more progressive house, ambient and techno. But none of them made sense in the title- Techno Europe Express ?

I think I’ve expressed this view before but it struck me again- at the time we took this music for granted, imagining it would always be this good, that the innovation and leaps forward taking place here would be sustained (for most of the artists the culmination of several years work, of getting the best out of new technology, of watching what was happening on the dancefloor in clubs and at raves). Across disc 1 there are easily 5 or 6 tracks that are as good as anything else released at that time in that area- Orbital’s Semi-Detached, Spooky and Billie Ray Martin’s Persuasion, Celestial Symphony by Scubadevils (a David Holmes project), a jaw dropping track by Xeper (The Black Dog) and Midnight In Europe by 030. Outstanding work from everyone involved but the one from disc 1 that has turned my head the most is this one from Bandulu.

Gravity Pull (Remix)

A different version from the one on their Guidance album (released on Creation offshoot Infonet). Oscillating synths. Clattering rhythms. Abstract but with a sense of forward motion. Mind popping stuff.

Here is their remix of The Times’ cover of Blue Monday, something I’ve posted before but which is ripe for a re-post. A remix that makes me feel like I’m gliding around underwater through bubbles and bliss.

Lundi Bleu (Bandulu ‘Smiling’ Remix)


Run Run

A friend posted this tune on social media yesterday. I could place the title but not how it went. A lot of Bandulu’s mid 90s techno worked very well at the time but does sound, two decades later, very thump-thump-thump techno. Bandulu were also capable of moments of ambient magic and Run Run is one of them, a righteous piece of ambient dub from their 1994 ep Presence (and 1994 album Antimatters) with a vocal from John O’Connell. The dub swirls and storm clouds gather. A piano fades in and out. Smoke bubbles. Half time, off beat rhythm. Seven minutes where all is good.

Run Run

The picture was taken on a visit the other weekend to Mellor, in the hills above Stockport. I read a reference to an iron age hill fort and burial mound up there, out beyond Marple Bridge but before you get to New Mills (Half Man Half Biscuit once told us ‘No frills, handy for the hills, that’s the way you spell New Mills’ and this caused some excitement when we detoured through it, as you can imagine). The photo was taken within the boundary of the hill fort, partially excavated, looking back towards Manchester. You can see for miles, way beyond the city and out to Cheshire and Merseyside. A 5 minute drive away, down the dip and up again, is the field where the barrow is (sadly on private land so not accessible but visible). We stood on the hillside looking at the same landscape, give or take a large city, that local people 10, 000 years ago would have been looking at.

Bleu Bandulu

In the second hand record shop the other day I picked up a 12″ of Lundi Bleu by The Times. The Times was Ed Ball’s (note NOT Ed Balls) acid house project and Lundi Bleu was his cover version of Blue Monday which I posted here several years ago. The 12″ had two remixes of the track by The Grid which were what caught my eye and at £2.00 I decided it was worth a punt, having heard none of the remixes before. The two Grid remixes are both good, dubby with vocal samples, chugging away nicely. Here’s The Grid’s World Communications remix. It’s a Youtube video only I’m afraid- my computer issues continue and ripping anything is a bridge too far at the moment.

I enjoyed both The Grid remixes, especially as being off this week I had the house to myself and could turn it up loud enough and sit back with a cup of tea. But the real treat is on the flipside with Bandulu’s remix. Bandulu were from London, also on Creation and made reggae influenced dub/techno. Their remix of Lundi Bleu is a delight which defies description really- bubbling sounds and bouncing bass with an otherworldly, underwater groove. Futuristic in ’92 and still sounding so today. Properly making something wonderful and new out of a track.