Looking back at some of John Peel’s 90’s techno selections


John Peel loved his techno records, and as the nineties took hold he began to drop them more into his programmes, to the chagrin of a section of his indie followers, no doubt, who’d prefer him to play nothing but Wedding Present and Pixies soundalikes (at least until an LP came along by the actual Wedding Present and Pixies). I wasn’t one, as before too long– after originally tuning in to hear Wedding Present and Pixies– I soon took these mysterious and most happening techno tunes into my world, and over the coming years would forego many a Friday or Saturday night down the pub– dancing to the music of the Stone Roses and Smiths whilst getting knocked back by countless gals–, in order to sit in and listen to these mighty beasts. As well as the comforting, dulcet-yet-anxious tones of Mr Peel, of course.

It was quite time-consuming trying to get as much of this stuff onto C90s as humanely possible. (in fact much more than the 90 minutes that was marked on the box). Unfortunately, jotting down any producers or acts involved was never really considered. At least not for long. Even track titles. Finding some of this info online since has helped massively, as well as led to some little surprises and memory jolts.


Lunatic Asylum — The Exodus

Released via Headshot early part of 1993, ‘the Exodus’ is purely magical, no question about it. Not much paradise to be had in a lunatic asylum but we’ll forgive them that odd contradiction.

Harpoon — Pine

One of the more interesting finds has been the track ‘Pine’ by Harpoon that John played around April 1994. It turns out that Tom Rowland (who would later in the same year release his first stuff as one half of the Dust Brothers–nee- Chemical) had a big hand in its production. (Although just how big his hand is I’m not entirely sure). In hindsight, I guess it does sound a bit Chems-y. Small world and all that. Find the track in question beginning at around the six-minute mark here. Props find.

Alcatraz — Peyote

‘Peyote’ came out in 1992 but i think John played it early the following year, describing it as perfect to have on whilst relaxing in the bath, or something. It’s a bit of a tribal-‘n-trippy friendly techno beast. It plays like a techno equivalent of a native American filmic masterpiece, revealing itself slowly and intriguingly, back and forward. Above all, the thing still stands up today most impressively.

Zimt — Better Than Your Dream

This dreamy little number released outta lovely Belgium late 1992, via Outrage.

Capricorn — 20 Hz

Likewise ’20 Hz’ by Capricorn. I remember John playing this around the same time (or maybe this was the bath friendly tune? hmmm… ). Again, it’s similar in that it features a timeless communal slant, multiple-player drumming, a straight-up beat, swirling notes, synthy bells, and a surefire uplifting rhythm. Okay, I’m beginning to ramble. Top tunage, though.

150 Volts — Hi, I’m Chucky

There was, if you recall, an unwholesome news story associated with this one that, unfortunately, has taken the edge off the track somewhat. The ragga rave-up and dark slant here make ‘Hi I’m Chucky’ a minor classic of its time. Sadly, a listener emailed during John’s last ever show, asking if the top man recalled this very track, and if John did uncover the 12″ could he feature it at some point when he returned from holiday. John indeed said he’d look for it, and hopefully play it when he returned.

QA 0-127 — Multi-Colored Diodes

‘Multicoloured Diodes’ is one of the more obscure tracks that I recall walking the streets with in my ears, playing on a loop. (okay, that was kind of tricky on a Sony Walkman cassette player but, believe me, if i could have i would have). This would’ve been May / June 1994, just as the rest of you were listening to nothing but those first Oasis singles. Anyhooz, recently– and finally!– uncovered this on YouTube. Though still not sure how. F*ckin’ love this tune!

Dhss — Hutch Barn

Progressive trance is how this music is usually referred. Also a popular jig at certain festivals. John played lots of this stuff at the time, and i purchased several compilations put out by various labels. the tracks were usually about between eight and ten minutes long, and I gorged on every last minute. Almost. Just love the way it pushes along, subtly changing all the way. Quite uplifting sounds too.

New Decade — Statue of Gold

Pete Smailes from Essex was the bloke behind the hard trance goodness of his New Decade pseudonym. The seriously mighty 1992 tune ‘Statue of Gold’ still stands up the hairs on my neck– and John was a big lover of the track, too. It’s that powerfully hammering house-y piano bit, especially.  Emo techno, anyone? We salute you.

4 Voice — Catching the Scent

Not sure what genre this is, exactly; trance-y house? Another corker though, and another released in 1993, and another life affirming slice of almost otherworldly, busy, beautiful, racing techno. 4 Voice included among its production setup one Pete Namlock, who passed away in 2012.

Fix — God’s House

House of Limbo was a cracking label around the mid-90s, a sharp and deep house imprint. ‘House of God’ was arguably its classicist tune from the period. The way it reaches that peak around the four-minute mark. Wowee! This one really calls for your dancing shoes.

Safe Deposit — You Can’t

Do not attempt to act in a rational manner. You can’t. This beaut put out in 1995, and found on Network Analysis vol. 1.

And finally, here John plays a top trance track in 1993 that he knows nothing at all about. Is this at the wrong speed? Quite possibly; but 1, it is kinda appropriate, and 2, it sounds bloomin’ blinding at this speed. In other words, John called it correctly (again). This track gets more and more mental, and crucial, as it kicks on. Again, this ‘un still sounds fresh.

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