Saturday 12 March 2022



4HERO - Make Yah See Spiders On The Wall (1991)
A paranoid Cabaret Voltaire-esque electronic frequency kicks this off and the darkness continues despite the twinkly xylophone motifs throughout. The bass drop at 0.34 is massive, fucking heavy and enthralling. The "You Should Do Some Voodoo" sample is a catchy but creepy nursery rhyme. The atmospheric horror soundtrack synths and menacing groans all add to this exquisite nightmare of a tune. Hearing this on the dancefloor under the influence of ecstasy could have sent you on a delirious downward spiral.  Nobody ever says this is one of the best tunes of the 90s but Make Yah See Spiders On The Wall IS definitely one of the best tunes of the 90s!

4HERO - Cookin UP Yah Brain (1992)
The beat science on this is magic. The drum choppage is all backwards then forwards top which bedlamises your mind. These unfathomable rhythms are what became so exciting about JUNGLE the emerging genre here, although I guess this is really a hardcore classic. 


4HERO - Students OF The Future (1993)
Gloomy drones, apocalyptic dialogue, funky drumming veering off the rails, punishing icy cold synth stabs amongst a plethora of weird atmospheric samples from unknown sources make this one hell of an illusive tune. A brain melting darkside masterpiece. 

4HERO - Journey From The Light (1993)
Spiralling concussive synth and percussion, luscious strings, bleeps, chipmunk vocals, acid squelches like bubbling cauldrons, otherworldly contorted drummage, noisey jolts and soul divas wailing into the future bring this sonic jigsaw to life. 4HERO's innovative quantum leaps in a period of less than 2 years is astonishing. Marc Mac & Dego, 4HEROs masterminds, covered so much territory by pushing into new zones it's amazing that they also had an slew of aliases creating an abundance of great music too. 


4HERO - The Power (1993)
Amazing. Some of the sounds here are so abstract it's hard to tell what their original source was. Putting your finger on swirly synths, mentastic stabs, skittering beats and an array bleeps is one thing but what the hell are these other elements that make up the rest of The Power's sonic collage. This shit was so visionary. That I'm saying this 30 years later is a testament to 4HERO's inspiring innovation.

In the midst of a purple patch that really began in 1991 4HERO seemed to hit another creative pinnacle on 1993's JOURNEY FROM THE LIGHT EP. The duo's ingenuity smashed through into another dimension. In the context of today these tunes are overwhelming in their stature. The amount of good ideas, inventiveness and the fact these ideas coalesce crabwise into masterpieces is still fucking thrilling.

4HERO - The Element (High Noon) (1993)
Still just freakily exhilarating in 2022. Really strange. Odd musical structures. Undeniably accessible though.

They do a thing here that's like the opposite of time-stretching, where it feels they they've squished too much sonic information into a space where it doesn't quite fit because there's not enough time/room but it does end up fitting somehow. This outcome is something akin to jump-cut edits in Nouvelle Vague. That in turn creates a weird discombobulating affect - compressed/folding into itself/disappearing spiral staircase/dream logic sort of thing. Maybe Simon Reynolds or Kodwo Eshun had a word for it, I can't remember.

It's hard to believe that 4HERO were, if I remember correctly, pretty straight edge. These insanely bedazzled trax with elation & paranoia smeared all over them seem designed to take maximum affect whilst under the influence of psychoactive substances. You would think inside knowledge of ecstasy, acid, speed, marijuana & coke's mind altering properties would have to be a requirement to make such successful psychedelic music but....

4HERO - In The Shadow (Sundown) (1993)
All backwards drumz, psychedelic mentasm scratches and an esoteric sequence of brutal abstract sci-fi keys that just seem to hang in the murky air make this a disorientating excursion into darkness like no other in hardcore jungle. A necromantic black hole of a tune.


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  2. It's the greatest label of the '90s innit, Reinforced.

    A few months ago, I did a thing where I laboriously assembled all the Reinforced releases from the start up to the end of '95 I think it was - thereabouts. And then I played them. It took several days. Just astonishing. Not 100% gold but astonishing number of classics, weird offbeat things and outlier tunes, and an unbelievable sense of full-tilt evolution. The core of is obviously 4 Hero and its various aliases and offshoots. I particularly liked the Cold Mission stuff. The Tek 9 rmx of "London Sumting Dis" by Code 071. But so many.

    I didn't go further into the late '90s partly because it's harder to find on YouTube and streamers but also the Reinforced sound does get to get a bit convoluted for me with your Vortexions and Arcas etc. But I would like to do that stretch as well as some point.

    The full lengths like Parallel Universe and the Jacob Optical Stairway also great.

    And then you got the whole side stream of Tom & Jerry tunes, more soul-jazz samplige oriented and aimed at the dancefloor, but glorious stuff, and even then they couldn't stop themselves experimenting.

    And you are dead right about the mystery of how they created all this mindbending stuff with minds that weren't actually bent by psychedelics.

  3. Arcon 2 I mean!

    I bought all that stuff at the time - Sonar Circle et al - but didn't go back to it really. It's that zone where it's so complex that it defies memory. You listen and are enthralled but then afterwards nothing sticks with you.

  4. Yeah it's THE label for sure!

    When the great Reinforced compilation CALLIN FOR REINFORCEMENTS was released on cd in 1992 I didn't realise that more than half of it was taken up with tunes by 4HERO aliases until 2 or 3 years later.

    95 was tops precisely because of debut cds from 4HERO & Jacob's Optical Stairwell. I couldn't afford expensive import hardcore/darkside/jungle vinyl in the first half of the 90s. It was all about taping a monthly radio show off Melbourne's 3PBSFM and getting cd compilations.

    I totally get that "sure it was enthralling while I was listening but now I'm devoid of any memory of the actual music" thing. Complex/Progressive whether in electronic or rock genres usually means we've progressed so far we've left out the hooks.

    I suppose for me the only other 2 labels that come anywhere near close to Reinforded are Moving Shadow & Suburban Base. Do you have a particular favourite smaller, less well known hardcore/darkside/jungle label?

  5. They are not smaller - might be bigger in fact than Reinforced Shadow Sub Base - but I think Production House are up there with the other 3

    Ibiza is probably the next most iconic / dependable for me - Noise Factory and all the Chris Mac aliases (like Bad Girl) and 3rd Party is a kind of offshoot of it, I think.

    White House is a good one. And I suppose you'd have to say RAM had a good run although somehow they don't have the magical aura of the others.

    Formation is a bit like that - it has tons of good releases, and some really cool oddities. But a lot of the output has a sort of almost 4-4 banging, techno-ish vibe.

    There's lots of little ones where just the label name and logo gives me a special tingle, but usually that's largely down to just one artist on it and their string of releases.