All Systems Gone

Compiled by Parisian duo [B]The Micronauts[/B], touted as this year's [a]Daft Punk[/a], these cuts are all taken from the back catalogue of the [B]Celluloid[/B] label...

Compiled by Parisian duo The Micronauts, touted as this year’s [a]Daft Punk[/a], these cuts are all taken from the back catalogue of the Celluloid label, which specialised in mostly Bill Laswell-produced electro-funk back in the early-’80s.

Incredibly, it wasn’t until Afrika Bambaataa‘s Kraftwerk-besotted ‘Planet Rock’ in 1982 that American funk discovered synthesisers big-time. There then followed a joyously robotic spate of 12″s crammed with elaborate electro-squiggles, scratches, bleeps, boosts, clap-trap rhythms and farting Moog bass, topped with olde-worlde ‘Hey Ladies’-style rappology. Electro-funk was abruptly abandoned like a hardly-used vehicle with the arrival of Run-DMC and the Beasties, whose more vicious, minimal style did to electro what punk did to prog rock – ironic, really, as both John Lydon and Mick Jones worked with Celluloid, Lydon with Afrika Bambaataa on Time Zone‘s ‘The Wildstyle’ and Jones with his Futura 200 project, The Clash playing at being B-Boys back in 1982. Now that hip-hop has eaten itself, we’ve come full circle and the unspoiled treasures of this music are being rediscovered.

Some of these tracks, like Phase II‘s ‘The Roxy’, sound lethargic compared to the fleeter-footed electro-adventures of Arthur Baker and Mantronix. But Fab 5 Freddy‘s ‘Une Sale Histoire’, punctuated by a series of zapping electro-shocks and Grandmixer DST‘s ‘Crazy Cuts’ and ‘Mega-Mix II’ still convey the jamming, spinning and dazzling cut’n’paste excitement of those early days, when dance music let itself loose in a whole new toy shop of possibilities.