Sunday, April 22, 2007

Urban Hype - A Trip to Trumpton

Urban Hype - "A Trip to Trumpton"

The golden age of acid house and rave is an era that I've always pined for, but even though it was centered a few thousand miles away from me at the time, it didn't completely elude me. Crossover hits from Smart E's, Messiah, 2 Bad Mice, LA Style, Utah Saints, Alpha Team, and (gulp...) 2 Unlimited were common on pop radio in America (or at least in Chicago), so much so that they were easy to take for granted at the time, especially for a kid with no real knowledge or reference points to go by. Nevertheless, there were countless classics from this time that never came close to breaking through in America. Certainly nothing from Moby, The Orb, Orbital, or the Prodigy (at least until the late 90s, when they finally got their due, if only for the wrong reasons). Classics from Liquid, Quadrophoria, LFO, Sonz of a Loop Da Loop Era, and 808 State never really saw the light of day here, though I'm sure they all received minimal club play to one degree or another. But anyway, this is all old news, a story that's been retold thousands of times, and probably with actual authority, too.

I think that "A Trip to Trumpton" could have broken through in America, at least as much as "Sesame's Treat," "James Brown is Dead," and "Speed" did. It might have been maligned in its day as being a copycat track, or at least a track that paved the way for a lot of novelty songs, but I've always loved it for how much it tries to do in just three and a half minutes. The irreverent samples, the trademark of cheesy toytown, gives way to a swirling techno riff, pretty standard stuff at the time, but if there's anything more archetypical of that sound and the moment it took place in, I've yet to hear it. The track morphs yet again into what's either the most brilliant or the most shameless homage to the golden age of acid house ever made, complete with canned crowd noise and fantastic piano riffs/stabs. Maybe the real heads out there would call bullshit on this, but it blows my mind every time I hear it and makes me genuinely wish that I could have experienced it before it became a cultural artifact for people to pick apart and reminise over.

I eagerly await the eventual toytown revival, which I was sure was on its way following the death of "serious" IDM at the turn of the century. It never happened; it still could. But if the backlash that Klaxons received this year just for waving glowsticks was any indication, you could expect the authenticity police to swoop down on it like a swat team on an illegal rave. Actually, it's probably happening right now, but I probably won't find out about it until it's over.

Excuse my gross simplifications and glittering generalities here. I was pretty drunk when I wrote most of this.

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