Magazine Recommends… Black Secret Technology
It has come to our attention that we have so far only recommended albums from the mid-nineties. We aim to rectify this, but to round things off we’ll introduce you to one more. And it’s a gud’un.
Gerald Simpson is an unassuming character, whose humble persona belies his broad impact on various music scenes, emphasis on impact.
Notoriously responsible for the proto-Jungle track 28 Gun Bad Boy, which at the very least played a seminal role in the explosion of heavy dark breakbeats that ensued subsequently. Some would say he virtually invented the genre. That track features on the album of the same name released in 1992. Skipping back from that year to the huge movement that lead to pretty much all the dance music of the 90’s - Acid House - Gerald also played a formative role here too with the tracks Voodoo Ray and Pacific State. The former, massively influential, inspiring an incipient generation of producers and DJs within what would become known generically as ‘dance music’, and remains iconic and fresh to this day. The latter, as part of 808 State - who upset Gerald by denying him the credit he no doubt deserves for his crucial part in it’s production. Whichever side you come down on, the piece has undeniable hallmarks of his sound and anticipated the later ‘chill out’ days of house by more than a decade. It too maintains its status as a classic having been endlessly sampled and copied since.
I once met him backstage at a gig and I can attest - he’s a really nice guy, called Gerald. I said I enjoyed his performance and his genuine response was “thanks for coming”, spoken truly as if I’d just given him a lift somewhere or something. I’m still amazed that I got to meet him. Someone once told me “never meet your heroes”, as it’s always an unpleasant experience - in this case: a definite exception.
Thus Gerald had already established himself as a key originator - pushing things forward and breaking new ground - with three long players under his belt by the time he released the subject of this post.
Released in ’95, Black Secret Technology is one of the finest expositions of deep bass and acerbic rhythm driven music. It stands at the cusp of the genre transmuting into the more refined and increasingly homogenous sound which became known as Drum’n’Bass. While there have been many fine tracks of that genre detonated onto dancefloors globally, its progenitor1 Jungle still holds the imperfect heart of soundsystem-rumbling spliff-toting sonic warfare. Itself being the weaponised offshoot of rave/hardcore that evolved from the Acid House revolution that Gerald also played a crucial role in.
Goldie, a famous name associated with this scene collaborates on one of the tracks, having egged on Gerald to journey down to London (from Manchester in the north) to partake of the fresh developments that were underway. Goldie was a player in the healthy graff, b-boy and footwork scene in which crews would travel between cities to dance or paint with a competitive and ultimately comraderly slant - other luminaries include Massive Attack and Winston Hazel.
The album isn’t the clean cut EDM of today, yet within its grimey presentation glimmer and glint all manner of treasures that creep into your soul like a hammering on the door at five am. The ethereal soundscapes echo through thundering articulations of bass and beats culminating in a beautifully perpetual sunset that is at once a dawn. It drills into you leaving nothing but a faint smile and recollections of a distant future that already happened and a scintillating present that is yet to come. En route presaging the development of UK garage and dubstep to boot.
How can something that is now quite old still sound so futuristic? Because, to paraphrase William Gibson, it gives us everything we ever wanted, and that’s all it can give.2
Adolescent hyperbole aside, treat yourself to an audience with a Guy Called Gerald.
For those unfamiliar with the style this mix is a good introduction. If the link becomes unavailable, search “slimzee jungle mix”. ↩︎
This isn’t wholly correct. The line “I gave you everything you wanted, and that was all I could give” is from the BBC radio dramatisation of Neuromancer, and as far as we can tell doesn’t appear in the original text of the book. In this context it makes even less sense, but hey, we like the poetic feel of it. ↩︎
∞ Last edit/update on: 19 / 3 / 2023