If you couldn't figure it out from the title, Jamie xx's new one, "All Under One Roof Raving," is an unambiguous paean to the golden age of rave. To make his point, the erstwhile indie-dance brooder injects the tune with a little old-school cred in the form of period-specific found-sound samples: looped MC chatter, crowd noise, rave whistles, and interview snippets, including one that gives the track its title.
The mood is misty-eyed ("We were all under one roof raving, laughing and joking, you know what I mean?"), defiant ("We do not need anybody; we are independent"), and fiercely British, too, with multiple samples reinforcing a sense of national pride ("And we kept it U.K.," goes one). Less rave-oriented, but presumably just as British, in the wider, multi-cultural sense, are Jamie's customary steel-drum melodies. (Again with the steel drums!)
Some of the samples, he says, came from Mark Leckey's Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, a 1999 piece of video art built out of found footage, mostly from TV documentaries, of bug-eyed British ravers, along with clips of Northern Soul dancers and football casuals.
Given its pensive air, "AUORR" is an exceptionally Jamie xx-ish track — it couldn't be more Jamie xx-ish if it had, well, even more steel drums on it — but it also slots into a trend in rave nostalgia that's been on the rise for several years. Watch the video for the song above, and read on for a tour of key landmarks in the rave-revival continuum.
Joy O, "Ellipsis" (Hinge Finger)
If there's any one song that created the template for "AUORR," it's Joy Orbison's 2012 track "Ellipsis," a rollicking piano-house cut that flips a sample from a hemming-and-hawing 1996 interview with drum'n'bass producers Source Direct into a nostalgic reverie for a golden era when "We just used to, like, do our own thing... and all that sort of thing," and the serotonin rush trumped, apparently, articulate self-expression.
Burial, "Raver" (Hyperdub)
The idea that Burial's music might have anything to do with raving feels counterintuitive, given that it's such private music, made for headphones and cheeks pressed against rain-streaked windows. But titles like "Pirates" and "Ravers" make explicit his debt to the U.K.'s original rave culture, just as his music comes off like charcoal rubbings of exhumed slabs of early breakbeat hardcore and garage.
Zomby, "Where Were U in '92?" (Werkdiscs)
The British producer Zomby was around 12 years old in 1992, but that didn't impede his osmosis of all manner of early rave tropes — the thundering piano chords, rolling breakbeats, Jamaican-accented MCs' voices, and, above all, blaring airhorns. All of them come into play in this exhilarating title track from the 2008 album that also included such nostalgic paeans to getting sorted as "Get Sorted," "Euphoria," "Daft Punk Rave," "We Got the Sound," and the self-explanatory "Pillz." Lately, Zomby has been coming down hard on other producers making use of similar period pleasures, reserving especial vitriol for Four Tet's pirate-radio referencing "Kool FM."
Four Tet, "Kool FM" (Text Records)
From Four Tet's 2013 album Beautiful Rewind, an homage to the iconic London pirate radio station that played a central role in the spread of jungle, complete with roughed-up breakbeats, mic-testing MC chatter, and vinyl spinbacks.
Special Request, "Hackney Parrot VIP (feat. Tessela)" (Houndstooth)
Paul Woolford's 2013 album leaned so heavily on breakbeat hardcore and jungle tropes that it often scanned almost as pastiche (albeit, an often thrilling one). The VIP mix of "Hackney Parrot," a collaboration with Tessela, went so far as to incorporate live-in-the-mix spinback sound effects and a hilarious snippet of MC banter: "Listen! I've just been told that anyone's got a Ford Fiesta parked inside the market, you'd best move it or you're walking home!" Pace James Murphy, "I was there!" moments don't come much more vivid.
WK7, "Do It Yourself" (Evar / Power House)
I like to think of Rene Pawlowitz (a.k.a. Shed, Head High, STP, Wax, et al) as the Bernd and Hilla Becher of techno; every one of his releases feels like an investigation of rave music's typologies. This stunning piano-house stormer from 2013 originally came out as an anonymous white label, unlabeled but for the word "RAVE," scrawled in silver ink across the center sticker; to add that extra touch of authenticity, faint coffee stains had even been sprayed across the generic white paper sleeves. It was less a record than an objet d'art. (His new double EP, Megatrap, is fresh out, and equally delirious in its evocation of '90s breakbeat-techno rush.)
Ferenc, "Yes Sir, I Can Hardcore" (Kompakt)
The influence of breakbeat hardcore was at a low ebb in 2002, at least as far as stylish, Continental techno was concerned. But Barcelona's Ferenc brought it back with his winkingly titled "Yes Sir, I Can Hardcore," which came complete with a charging acid-breaks bridge. The Michael Mayer remix, meanwhile, loaded up on "Mentasm"-style Hoover synths, to jubilantly unhinged effect.
Ivvvo, "Hardcore World '94" (Fourth Wave)
Released last fall, the Portuguese producer Ivvvo's grinding, laser-strafed track also draws from Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, according to Boomkat. The soundtrack to the video piece was released in 2012, which might explain why it's turning up in actual rave tracks all of a sudden.
Lone, "Cloud 909" (Magic Wire)
The U.K. producer Lone has been flashing back to the halcyon days of free parties in muddy fields since 2009's Ecstasy & Friends, at least in terms of his choice of imagery. (Actually, he's arguably been fixated on the period since his previous band, Kids in Tracksuits, whose name might as well be a tribute to the Sergio Tacchini-clad casuals of Leckey's Fiorucci.) Musically, Ecstasy skewed towards lysergic, Dilla-inspired beat music, but with 2010's Emerald Fantasy Tracks he dove headlong into piano house ("Cloud 909"), Sheffield bleep ("Moon Beam Harp"), and loosely Balearic house ("Ultramarine," presumably named after the duo of the same name).
Lee Gamble, Diversions 1994-1996 (PAN)
If you heard this album blind, you'd probably never guess that its smeared, grainy ambient drones are sourced from the artist's collection of jungle mixtapes, but knowing the provenance somehow just makes the whole thing that much more awesome. Proper concrète jungle, innit?