Hardkiss

Freewheeling through time and space, Kris Needs ventures out on his further adventures in sound. This month: Hardkiss

With time on my hands in the current climate, the release of the epic ‘The Dark Art Of Light Work’ by Hawke (aka Gavin Hardkiss) – two glorious hour-long electronic suites accompanying his book of the same name – has prodded an overdue revisiting of the Hardkiss tunes that rank among the most treasured in my whole record collection. 

For younger readers, the three non-familial Hardkiss brothers, Gavin, Scott and Robbie, spearheaded San Francisco’s early 90s psychedelic love-charge – one that brought mind-expanding playfulness and transcendental breakbeats to seduce and disrupt the banging techno party with a devastating spiritual counter-punch. As collected on 1995’s consummate Delusions Of Grandeur compilation, God Within’s ‘Phoenix’ and ‘Raincry’ and Hawke’s ‘3 Nudes In A Purple Garden’ could reduce a having-it crowd to tears of euphoric joy.

A lifelong bond was sealed with the Hardkiss brothers when Secret Knowledge appeared at Billboard’s 1994 dance music conference in San Francisco. Scott took me to a proper mansion party with hot tub action and kindred spirit Derrick Carter DJing at 10 in the morning. When I hooked up with them again at Miami’s Winter Music Conference it was sheer carnage for days (unsurprisingly they were also firm faves with Leeds’ infamous Back To Basics crew, who were also there). The Hardkiss clan exuded this laidback cool we all fell in love with, along with the beautiful music they made. Gavin produced a track called ‘Dracula’ on Secret Knowledge’s ‘So Hard’ album and Scott remixed our single ‘Mojo’. In between, Hawke and God Within collided to make the riotously great ‘Acid Funk’ album.

Andrew Weatherall’s recent passing brought back more memories, including Scott slaughtering our clubs in the summer of 93 with his fearlessly-eclectic DJ sets, including a crazed night at Sabresonic. I remember standing behind the decks with him at one niterie as he gleefully grabbed Primal Scream’s ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’ from his record box, then coolly used it like a weapon of mass destruction on the heaving dancefloor. Most of all, Andrew’s death brought back unexpectedly losing Scott in 2013. It would be fair to compare him to Weatherall in terms of maverick genius and dazzling DJing – another sweet soul who went too early.

That leaves Gavin flying the tattered Hardkiss flag, releasing singles and albums since 1998’s ‘Namaquadisco’ and now his masterpiece that takes their unique vibe to modern times, 25 years after Delusions Of Grandeur. If you haven’t yet checked the intoxicating Hardkiss vibe, that compilation would be the place to start. Then leap to Gavin’s new album. 

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