Boomkat Product Review:
Volume 2 of the Happy Land compilation, featuring British electronic music from 1992-1996.
"From an electronic music perspective, the period 1992 to 1996 in the UK that this compilation celebrates, was one of dizzying sonic diversification. It was also a particularly turbulent time in the UK, not only politically and economically, but also culturally too. Economic catastrophe in ‘92 was followed by widespread poverty, a cost of living crisis and countless political scandals. Meanwhile, John Major’s Tory government pandered to its political base via unpleasant, authoritarian legislation that seemingly sought to crush rave culture, alternative lifestyles, and traveller communities. The UK was not so much a ‘Happy Land’ – to quote the name of this compilation – as an angry and divided one. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Throughout, the music created by producers based across these Isles remained uniquely British, speeding up a process begun in the late 1980s through the emergence of street soul, bleep & bass and breakbeat hardcore – musical styles whose roots in multicultural inner-city communities made them distinctly different from the Black American sounds that had inspired their creators. It was here, rather than in the indie pubs of Camden, that real musical revolutions were taking place.
This deep diving selection brings together some truly adventurous and original electronic music from this period, much of it very hard to find. Major label outings connect with white label oddities with ease. Perhaps it could even be argued that many of these unearthed gems fit more easily into DJ sets in 2023 than they ever did at the time. The off-kilter swing of Richard D James’ obscure and highly sought after Strider B outing, ‘Bradley’s Robot’ is joined by further rare cuts from Cabaret Voltaire and the Black Dog, and artists as diverse as Ultramarine, Herbert, Fretless AZM, and Radioactive Lamb, amongst others."