single // Can You Feel It / Spiral Trance
novamute | 12″/cd nomu3 | 1992
Ask any dance music fanatic what word they would associate with the year 1992 and the chances are they will reply, without hesitation, ‘hardcore’. Hardcore dance music was a fusion of sped-up breakbeats, thudding drums, speaker-wrecking dub bass, crowd noise, whistles and a synth effect that could only ever be described as sounding like a hoover; the effect was a sort of bludgeoning euphoria. Hardcore was, at times, ridiculous and the genre was ultimately short-lived, mutating quickly into a multitude of other genres, not least of which was the even more breakbeat-heavy jungle.
Elevation, a pseudonym of producer Shaun Imrei, has all the trademark hardcore traits listed above, plus housey piano and some gutsy, euphoric vocals courtesy of an unnamed contributor (she sounds a little like Sylvia Tella, who guested on Pop Will Eat Itself’s 92ºF) which rescues ‘Can You Feel It’ from the nihilistic quality of some other hardcore tunes, and also ensuring the track could work in a variety of DJ boxes. Okay, so the piano sounds a little weak and the whistles, bells and crowd noise may feel a bit contrived twenty odd years later, but there’s no denying the uplifting energy that ‘Can You Feel It’ possesses, marking the track out as a major highlight in a dance music style that rapidly went off the boil. And that manic ‘hoover’ sound still sounds as thrilling today, even if its potential as a rival to the TB303 was limited. The 12″ and CD released by NovaMute contains mixes taken from the tune’s original release on Creative Rhythm earlier in 1992, as well as a previously unreleased version (the Mutation Mix) which contains a breakdown filled with an excellent King Tubby-style dub passage.
For its NovaMute release, ‘Can You Feel It’ was backed by ‘Spiral Trance’ which was produced by Imrei and John O’Halloran. Starting with some ethereal vocals that sound like they belong on a Clannad record, ‘Spiral Trance’ retains only the barest trace elements of a hardcore aesthetic in some of its sounds, instead offering a deep, entrancing cut which doesn’t sound dissimilar to early Orbital or Juno Reactor. There’s not a heavy breakbeat in sight, Imrei and O’Halloran opting instead for a carefully-constructed 4/4 beat and a bass sound that could spill over into acid madness, but doesn’t, and for once this song is all the better for it.
A1. / 1. Can You Feel It (Mutation Mix)
A2. / 2. Can You Feel It (Extended Mix)
B1. / 3. Spiral Trance (Into The Light Mix)
B2. / 4. Can You Feel It (Remix)
Originally posted 2012; re-posted 2015.
(c) 2015 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence