Richard Sen

Freewheeling through time and space, Kris Needs continues his adventures in sound. This month: Richard Sen

My 45 years covering electronic music for assorted publications has led to meeting and interviewing countless DJ-producers, including a select few who became instant kindred spirits in obsessive vinyl junkie behaviour.

These include Richard Sen, the former graffiti artist and DJ on London’s early acid house scene who I met when he designed the cover of ‘Smokebelch’ for Sabres Of Paradise 30 years ago. Richard’s deep knowledge of old skool hip hop, early Chicago house and obscure UK techno was reflected in his Bronx Dogs creations, like 1998’s ‘Tribute To Jazzy Jay’, and 2012’s set ‘This Ain’t Chicago: The Underground Sound Of UK House & Acid 1987-1991’.

Veterans of trawling NYC record bins, we could chat fevered trainspotting minutiae for hours and even collaborated on a track based on IRT’s ‘Watch The Closing Doors’.

Like its predecessor, Richard’s sparkling new anthology, ‘Dream The Dream: UK Techno, House And Breakbeat 1990-1994’, swings the focus from classic chestnuts to lesser-known nuggets released in that tumultuous period in electronic music. Many of these have often been overlooked until now.

During this period, I was writing my original Needs Must column for Echoes and recall reviewing much of its menu, including Mind Over Rhythm’s super sexy ‘Kubital Footstorm’, Bandulu’s ambient ‘Amaranth’, As One’s ‘Isatai’ and UVX’s ‘Elevator (Trancefloor Transporter)’. These were compellingly holding their own against the incoming floods of stonking US-Euro vinyl (a pleasant shock to find ‘Bombers Over Baghdad’ by my late Aylesbury mate and Bucks Fizz songwriter Warren Harry – here trading as Biff’Um Baff’Um Boys – with the unashamedly opportunistic track!)

“The selections for this compilation are my own personal favourites from that era,” explains Richard. “Back then, electronic dance music was young, innocent and fun – it hadn’t been analysed, theorised and fragmented into the multi-genre industry it is today.

“What you hear on this compilation reflects what I was playing at that time… joining the dots between ambient, techno, tribal house, breakbeat and early trance productions from the UK. Much of the house and techno from the USA, Belgium, Germany and Holland has been well-documented, but some of the more obscure British productions are lesser-known and need to be showcased.”

Absolutely agreed, and there’s no finer man for the job. Talking about electronic pioneers, the last two episodes of my ‘Into The Cosmic Hutch’ podcast with Nina Walsh on YouTube boast previously unseen interviews with Suicide and Andrew Weatherall joining Nina’s music and cult-stoking Sweep spots.
Watch the skies.

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