Liner Notes 17: Tornado Wallace

Melbourne born, Berlin based Lewie Day, better known as Tornado Wallace is renowned for his organic-electronic, dreamy but direct dancefloor music, released on ESP Institute, Beats in Space and Music From Memory’s sister label Second Circle.

His Liner Notes podcast is almost like a time capsule, containing mostly UK allied hybrid house and techno tracks from the early, mid nineties. “With a ‘trance-not-trance’ connection”, Tornado Wallace adds. “All of the tracks in the mix come from an interesting period in electronic music where for the first time a bedroom producer could make a track to play in a club with little more than a computer or a sampler. Looking back on it now this really pushed music forwards and sideways. This mix contains a lot of music from this time of ‘naive’ experimentations, that in turn helped create various sub-genres we know today such as breakbeat, trance and hardcore.”

It is surprisingly difficult to define the origin of contemporary trance music. The style might already have been seeded in the early eighties, when for example Klaus Schultze composed ‘space music’ albums such as “Trancefer” (1981), and “En=Trance” (1987). We learn from several articles that the song “Age of Love” (1990) by the German group The Age Of Love played an important role in the maturation of trance.
However, Tornado Wallace’s mix reflects the early years of the genre pretty well. A mix, in which elements, such as the typical synthetic sound, the fizzy basslines and the spacious euphoric strings, are blueprints.

Words: Mijke Hurkx

  • Track 1Journey To MictlanJorge Reyes

    Tornado Wallace starts his excursion with Mexican musician Jorge Reyes. His indigenous sounds take us gently to another dimension. The late Reyes was an intriguing musician and composer, who made pieces influenced by the indigenous music and instruments from his country. Using ethnic instruments, acoustic percussion, vocal field recordings, and electronics, he builds cinematic, hypnotizing atmospheres.
    “A La Izquierda Del Colibrí”, the album he made with Antonion Zepeda, revived recently, probably because of the unheard fusion of organic Mexican sounds, odd atmospheric vocals, with electronics. Tornado Wallace chose a lesser popular (very affordable) Reyes album here, which is pretty much another masterpiece.

  • Track 2Tarenah (Sleepwalker Mix)Psychedelic Research Lab

    Tornado Wallace gives Reyes’ hypnotizing sounds a more artificial dimension, by subtly mixing in Psychedelic Research Lab’s repetitive electronics. Psychedelic Research Lab were mystery man Scott Richmond together with John Selway – the latter co-produced early music of the American electronic music duo Deep Dish. Under their Psychedelic Research Lab guise, the duo only released two EPs, both on NYC based Gyroscopic Recordings, the label that also released music by the better known Layo & Bushwacka! tech-house duo.

  • Track 3On The SlyVango Noir

    Vango Noir were Joseph Cicero, Paul Cutler, Robert Murray, Tyrone Reece. “A bunch of Hardcore/IDM guys associated with cult label Radioactive Lamb making this cool druggy, jazzy, broken beat thing”, Tornado Wallace adds. “I bought the record for these two other tracks on it, but have found myself listening back to this one more.”
    “On The Sly” in particular, was written and produced by the somewhat anonymous producer Paul Cutler. The track was also featured on the first “The Future Sound of Jazz” (1995), an influential series of compilations, released on the German Compost imprint. The first volume heralded styles and categories that have since become adopted into the electronica vernacular. Next to “On The Sly”, which is the one of the more obscure tracks on the compilation, Volume 1 also features Montezumas Rache’s tribal discoid house track “Wu Du Wu”, a Second Circle label classic.

  • Track 4Callas (Mystica Mix)Vox Mystica

    Vox is a true mystica, also Tornado Wallace doesn’t have much info on the artist. Callas was released on the German Low Spirit Recordings in 1990. The label remained active till 2006. “I found this in one of my favourite record stores in Melbourne that I've been going to for 13 years, Alley Tunes. I don't really know anything about it but I love the deep-sparse-Chicago feel with that Operatic vocal that almost turns it into a progressive house track.”

  • Track 5R2 D2Speedy J

    “R2 D2” is taken from Speedy J’s classic and influential “Ginger” LP, originally released in Canada on Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva's Plus 8 record label in 1993. The Dutch Speedy J, given name Jochem Paap, had a clear purpose on Ginger - to take his music out of the rave and into the home-listening environment.
    The bubbling-forward bassline “Basic Design”, a track from the same album, ‘would become a hallmark of early proto-trance recordings’, Joshua Glazer writes for AllMusic. ‘As a vehicle of the times, Ginger singled a furtherance from techno's dancefloor mandate that would be followed by revered groups such as Autechre and the Black Dog. This advancement in techno's sound would advocate the first use of the Intelligent Dance Music.’

  • Track 6Eau RougeNuron

    Tornado Wallace continues his synthetic early/mid nineties saga with a deep techno track, sounding in the same vein as Autechre’s first album “Incunabula”, released in 1993, three years before the release of this track. Malaysian mystery producer Nurmad Jusat produced “Eau Rouge” under his Nuron moniker, which ended, next to “Slipstream”, on the fourth EP in the wanted “Likemind” series, run by Paul Smith from London. Other artists who released in the series, were the influential Stasis and Redcell aka B12, Kirk Degiorgio as Elegy and As One and Tura aka Plaid from Black Dog.
    On the Discogs release page someone comments: “[…]Nurmad Jusat the Malaysian dude who left us with glimpses of his mind/soul/personality, probably said more in those few tracks than most say over their whole musical career. And then he just stopped, returned to his homeland and was never heard from again. Apart from the stories of him driving racing cars in the Malaysian equivalent of the Grand Prix, and rumors that he was making music again.”

  • Track 7Principia SymbolicaSensurreal

    The Dutch techno duo Gert-Jan Bijl and Dirk-Jan Hanegraaf recorded under the names Marvo Genetic, Sunshower, It's Thinking, but most often as Sensurreal. Their “Principia Symbolica” was released on the English Op-ART label, the sublabel of Kirk Degiorgio's Applied Rhythmic Technology (ART) label, a label that released the early works of artistic luminairies like Carl Craig and Photek. “Principia Symbolica” was Sensurreal’s debut release and features three tracks of warm, melodic ambient techno. The first track on this 12inch is a mix by Gert-Jan Bijl under his Gerd guise.

  • Track 8Down In A BubbleIt's Thinking

    Tornado Wallace sticks with the Sensurreal producers. “Down In A Bubble” was released under their It’s Thinking moniker on Malego Records, a side label of Plus 8, the label that also released Speedy J’s “R2 D2” track. “Afterglow” (1991), the EP that holds “Down in a Bubble”, was Gert-Jan Bijl’s very first record, released many years before Gerd crafted bangers as NY Stomp and Geeeman. Gerd explains on Facebook: “Often people come up to me and say there's not much info on me available on the web (not many quality interviews, articles, etc.) I am often asked what my first record was. The few articles and reviews out there mostly state “Arkest’s Blaze” from 1995. This is incorrect. Actually my first record as Gerd was released in 1994. It was called “Vorpal Blade”. But this wasn't the beginning for me. Before I started to record under my "Gerd" name, I released about 20-30 records (and albums) under various other names (Sensurreal, Sunshower, Marvo Genetic, etc.). My first ever record was released in 1991 as It's Thinking (a project with two friends). […] Malego Records was a Plus 8 side label, to focus on more deeper/housier stuff... I still have warm feelings for this release.”

  • Track 9Tiny's First Journey (Bonus Track)Ministers Of Dance & GSP

    Tornado Wallace plays another track from the UK. Ministers Of Dance & GSP released “Tiny's First Journey” on Boogie Beat Records in 1992 - a breakbeat/hardcore/Jungle imprint, set up by George Power, Daniel Poli & Kid Andy, named after Kid Andy’s radioshow. “This cut is really out of place with the rest on this early trance/ambient house ditty”, Tornado Wallace adds.

  • Track 10In Your Soul (Trans Mix)Mission Control

    Mission Control are Aldo Hernandez & Ralph Falcon. Especially Ralph Falcon has an impressive discograpgy. As an emerging house scene began to spread throughout the U.S. and Europe, NYC DJs Timmy Regisford, Merlin Bobb and Bobby Konders became a considerable influence on molding Ralph Falcons sound. Signed by Atlantic records, Ralphs Mission Control Outta Limits became a hit at the famous NYC club Shelter and was featured on Altantics UDM Underground Dance Music Album alongside fellow artists Michael Watford and Rudoulpho.
    Early in his career, Falcon, as one half of Murk, began to delve into the world of remixing as well by remixing songs for artists Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Royksopp, Mary J Blige, Seal, Moloko, Depeche Mode and many more.

  • Track 11Something WonderfulThe Arc

    Tornado Wallace continues with “Something Wonderful” (1994), an old-school down-tempo trance cut, released on Inter 1 Records, a trance/ambient label from the UK that was active between 1993 and 1996. “The Arc are two guys, probably from the UK, who really didn't seem to make much more music. I think they made about 5 releases under different project names, which is really surprising due to the level of awesomeness of this track. This is a nice and cruisy broken ambient house track with a healthy dose of acidity. Thanks to Piers from Soft Rocks for putting me onto this one”, Tornado Wallace says.

  • Track 12PastSub Sub

    This white label record is an unofficial release and comes with no information at all. Also Tornado Wallace doesn’t know anything about the producer/s behind it: “I heard this on a Nick Warren mix CD from maybe early 2000s and really liked it. The rest of the EP this track was originally released on is really cool too with these ambient house things, but this is just a beautiful if somewhat stereotypical 'Ibiza'/Cafe Del Mar track.”

  • Track 13Open MindJosh Wink

    Tornado Wallace closes with an ambient track by DJ/producer veteran Josh Wink.
    Wink was a pioneering DJ in the American rave scene during the early 1990s, and became a most prominent exponent of the tribal forms of techno and house in the U.S.
    Everyone must have heard Wink’s “Higher State of Consciousness” somewhere around the world. “An Open Mind” is more of an ambient track, with a logical title considering Wink’s character. In several interviews, he talks about an open mind without particularly referring to this track ;)
    Wink has always been happily sober, and is known by some almost as much for his vegetarian, spiritual lifestyle as for his career as a DJ and producer.