A Manchester Soundsystem special, compiled from original recordings made at house & Blues parties between 1988 and 1996, fully connecting dots between early Manchester pirate radio culture and its latter-day experimental fringes - spliced together and dubbed into the void. Trust - it’s the lick.
Capturing the fabled Manchester soundsystem scene in its 1988-1996 heyday, the tape follows a sort of meta-narrative culled from multiple mixtapes recorded at the legendary Broadway, Stereodan, Soul Control and Splinta Blues Parties, slinking between sections of boogie soul and R&B, mad bashment edits and proto-house lit with MC chat and sloshing over with sirens and FX.
Anyone that lived in the area at the time will know that the story goes much deeper, Blacker, and far more eccentric than the standard Factory/Madchester narrative makes out, and this set of recordings reinforces the importance of those mostly undocumented days. Crammed with underground tunes that were run parallel to the hardcore, house and techno mainstream, played in a soundsystem style and notably slower, heavier in a way designed to hold the pressure in smaller spaces - there was no looney dancing for fear of jawing the lass next to you, or spilling Black Velvet on the next man’s new leather creps.
Space Afrika's Josh Reid recalls hearing Broadway tapes vibrating through his childhood home when he was growing up - in his bedroom he'd just hear traces of bass and the interconnecting sirens, crashes, and shout-outs, all elements that later went on to form the backbone of the duo's own compositions. It's music that addresses a sound and a community that's been low-key directing Manchester's creative energy for years - we're not overstating this; MCR musical royalty and the producer behind the greatest jungle album of all time A Guy Called Gerald cites Moss Side's soundsystem parties as a formative influence.
Listening now, decades later, it's easy to put the pieces together. Tracks cut between pliable riddims and ethereal, soulful calls; into blunted proto-trip-hop grooves lost in dense spirals of bouncing space echo. Bristol might get credit for placing its cultural foot forward as soul, reggae, and funk was filtered thru the collective British wyrd melancholia, but Manchester's stamp is made plain here. It's a different vibe altogether: cloudy, poetic, with an edgy whiff.
Best believe there’s no other tape quite like it, the closest you’ll get to a night out in Moss Side 30 years ago.