You technophiles will need no introduction to the man behind Public Energy — Speedy J, a.k.a. Jochem Paap. However, many may not be as familiar with his early work or the Probe label. Paap was one of the first in the Euro dance scene to pick up the 1990s global Detroit explosion, and Richie Hawtin’s Probe label was designed as an output of harder, more globally focused tech and trance music, mostly featuring 12″ 45rpm singles. Interestingly, this release, Velocity / Slumber, is noted as 45rpm but most definitely was pressed at 33. When spun at 45, it’s simply mind-numbingly annoying even by early hardcore/gabber standards.
I’m personally intrigued with this single as it helps us understand how the relative gap between techno and trance may have begun. In the earliest era of techno, it was all “techno.” By the mid-1990s, electronic music had fractured into dozens of genres and sub-genres, and many shows, raves, doofs (whatever else you want to call them) had multiple rooms or time slots for many different styles. With the splintering of electronic music came more exploration but also more segregation and separation. As with today, there were cult-like followings of certain DJs, producers, and promoters. And in many cases, the scene was largely one in which the DJ thought of his records as his own songs. He was meant to create a journey and searched for the elusive ‘third track,’ hidden somewhere in the mix as expertly blended behind the ‘altar’ of two turntables and a mixer. DJs kept their ‘secret weapon’ tracks hidden from each other not only for the element of surprise but because, really, what DJ would want their rivals playing the same record before he went on?
Anyway, back to the techno/trance dichotomy. It was once all techno, but then splintered… for better or worse. This single as with many from the Probe label demonstrate what we might now consider a more trance-like approach to techno (e.g. more complex synth lines) which is notable for a few reasons: 1) it puts Richie Hawtin’s burgeoning dynasty on the global map as an early innovator not only in techno (techno being most all he is known for today) but also in trance music, 2) it could be considered proto-psytrance, if only as an accidental and remarkable semblance of what was just starting to be considered “psytrance” by few others during that time, and 3) it is evidence that some techno artists of today had an ear for much more straightforward, trancey music some 20+ years ago. Essentially, the artists behind this music all came from the same basic ideological perspective. So perhaps we can go back and listen and find new meaning and enjoyment from these old gems, no matter how dated they may sound.
More about Public Energy on Discogs.