Archie Hamilton Picks 10 of the Best Old-School UK Tech House Tunes
The late ‘90s and early noughties were a great time for London clubbing. Hedonism was at a fore and nightclubs and after-party scenes thrived. I remember when I first moved to London in 2003 hearing a DJ on Passion FM sayin, “‘out to the Retox crew! They go out Thursday and don’t come home til Tuesday!”.Sadly those times are all but gone for London. But the musical legacy left behind has always been a huge source of inspiration to me.
The term “tech house” is often thought of with disdain in certain circles. But those who deride the genre often forget about original form pioneered by UK artists like Mr. C, Nathan Coles, Eddie Richards, Terry Francis and many others from the US and beyond.
When I first went to The End and fabric in London, I’d never heard music like it before. Rugged beats and bass laced with soul; subtle vocals, some jazz elements, dub and plenty of percussion. I could not stop dancing to this music, and it inspired me to start making and playing it myself.
I’ve struggled to choose just 10 favourites, but here’s a good selection.
Flow – Keep Comin Back
This is one of those tracks that works at literally any time. Sped up or slowed down, the bassline is so funky and the hooky vocal that sneaks in sends people wild. I remember playing this b2b with Rossko at BRET in Amsterdam a few years back when the sun had just come up and the room was filling up with the morning light – goosebumps!!
Grant Dell, DJ Deano – Acid Bubble
This is the more techno side of the sound for me. Heads-down with pumping beats and bass and these bubbling acid licks and filtered vocals that swirl around your head. Big 4am fabric room 1 stomp energy!
Gideon Jackson – Give A Little (Terry’s Dirtfrog Remix)
One of my all time favourites from Terry Francis; it’s so driving and simple and the diva vocals create a real moment on the dancefloor. I’ve played this to death and it works so well to bring the mood down without losing any energy.
Chris Pascoe – Eco Acid Dub
This is the most eerie, groovy tune ever. The rhythm track is killer and that acid hook just locks you in. It’s got what I like to call ‘mystery hooks’ – these synths that hint to something that you never quite find out by the end of the record…file under halloween specials.
Pure Science – Useless
You couldn’t reference this sound without a nod to Pure Science. Such innovative, fresh production! I love the way Useless bounces along and with the little snippets of lushness that never quite open up fully.
JTH – Something
Absolute monster of a track this one. Stripped back to beats and bass, so simple and so effective and the mix is so powerful!
Eddie Richards – Soul Is Life
The clue is in the title with this one. I am a huge Eddie Richards fan and I’m pretty sure I own his entire back catalog, with this being a personal favourite; driving baseline, soaring synths and a vocal sample that brings everyone together. A great mood lifter to end the night with. Or start the morning!
Housey Doingz – Brothers
What an all-star lineup of tech house heavyweights! Hard to choose a favourite of theirs, but I love the positive mood in this track. The playful beats and the switch up at the end – more ‘mystery hooks’…
Get Fucked – Dreams Are Made
Nils Hess and Nathan Coles teaming up here as Get Fucked. This is the opening track from their ‘Wet Dreams’ album. Some amazing names here which lead to hilarious reactions when people ask you the names of the tracks you’re playing. Dreams Are Made has such a gentle and familiar feel to it; a really nice track to play early on in the night.
100hz – Whisper
I love this one from 100hz, it’s got such a nice organic, live feel to it. The vocals are so trippy and the beats just roll around and all the elements play with each other beautifully. Another sunrise special.
The Higher Repurpose remix EP is out now. Buy it here.