Spiral Tribe were a sound system and an art collective, their members made music that was, in its own way, revolutionary. But, more than this, it was a way of life. Closely aligned with the acid house revolution but with its roots in the anarcho-punk movement, they were fiercely politicised, radical, and, for a time, genuinely rattled the system. Their label, Network 23, could be linked musically, spiritually, and artistically with the Hague's infamous Bunker Records, and you can still see their influence today in labels like L.I.E.S.
Berlin's Sound Metaphors are reissuing some of Network 23's prescient recordings. These still vital, startling pieces of music document a particular time and place but still feel eerily relevant in today's musical and political landscape. Decades on, this scabrous, angry, urgent techno still packs an almighty punch. So listen up, Instagram DJ, with your current 'extreme dance' tropes; this is the real deal. And, in keeping with the Tribe's ethos, Sound Metaphors have set up a not-for-profit sub-label, especially for these audio emissions from the free party scene.
First up is 'Sprial 1' from R-Zac. R-Zac were (are?) Sebastien Vaughan (also of L.S Dub) and Simon Carter (sometime member of Earth Leakage Trip) and they released a sprawling, confusing (often untitled) number of releases on various labels from the early 90s right through to pretty much the present day. So it's actually quite hard to pinpoint exactly where these three Tekno tracks are pulled from, but, needless to say, they encapsulate the Spiral Tribe sound. Rough, dirty and distorted, deeply psychedelic but in the least flowery way possible, you can hear the grit, grain and nuance of hardware gone wild. Ranging from 121 bpm right through to a punishing 160, this is lo-fi music made out of necessity and is as anarchic as those who made it.
The 'Untitled EP' from Spiral Tribe's brothers in arms Unit Moebius is a crushing exercise in distortion and dread. Opener 'Summertime' (spoiler, it's not exactly Hed Kandi territory) manages to both feel enormous and pulverised into submission. As it progresses, everything is pushed near the point of total collapse. A breakdown of sorts, clanging and metallic, emerges briefly before you're plunged back into an obliterating tunnel, tapering away to a smudgy bass tone. 'Millenium' and 'Imperator' are more refined, leaning on doomy, atmospheric synths. 'C.P.U' is just madness, building to a squall of borderline atonal noise sitting somewhere on the pleasure/pain axis.