BBH: Glenn Underground, Future Shock

[Djax-Up-Beats]


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Within the scope of Chicago’s early/mid ’90s house renaissance Glenn Crocker, aka Glenn Underground, played a strong role in helping to define what was an emerging new sound for city. Along with fellow artists Boo Williams, DJ Sneak, Tim Harper and several others they formed a dichotomous current that for several years was defined by the direction of the Cajual and Relief labels: disco-styled house for the former and banging raw tracks for the latter. European labels quickly picked up on this and plucked nearly all of the aspiring new faces on the scene for at least one 12″ and at most two albums. Crocker was one such artist that technically got his start on Eindhoven-based label, Djax-Up-Beats, with the Future Shock 12″ in 1993.

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Djax had already licensed classic Chicago tracks from Mike Dunn, Armando and Ron Trent, so it was a short jump to getting fresh talent on board. The direction of the label was clearly more techno-oriented and consequently the four tracks on Future Shock have a much harder edge than what Crocker’s sound has evolved to today. “Real Space” is driven by twitching bass loops and syncopated 909 drum programming but never fully develops. At first glance “Madzone” appears to suffer from a similar fate but closer examination reveals more. The outlandish nature of its jarring video game effects and bursts of feedback is somewhat off-putting, but the underlying muted bell melody gives a meditative feel amongst all the chaos. Crocker sends a nod to Rhythim Is Rhythim on “May Day” using dramatic string builds but never attaining the same type of melodic strength. It is really on the title track where Crocker shines brightest on this release. “Future Shock” employs dueling bass lines, finger snaps and cowbell to set the rhythm straight before introducing all manner of melodic flourishes: moody strings, incandescent bird chirps, ringing synth lines and finally a digital trumpet melody that emerges. At the time “Future Shock” only hinted at the soulful house direction Crocker would eventually move in but it stands as a startling reminder of an artist who is often overlooked these days.

James  on April 7, 2010 at 3:26 PM

So glad that someone has finally shown some respect to Glenn Underground and Boo Williams. They both put out some of the most amazing deep house! In my view so much more funky and deep than 90% of the this new deep house revival nonsense – Sascha Dive looking at you missy! GU’s mashup of I Feel Love is still one of the best tunes ever!! Release more music guys we love you!!!

tom/pipecock  on April 7, 2010 at 9:24 PM

the new Glenn Underground tune on Rick Wilhite’s Vibes comp is really nice, as is the new 12″ by him on Moods & Grooves. didn’t know this one, i need to get it!

kuri  on April 7, 2010 at 10:52 PM

Thanks James. I know, I slept on GU’s “I feel love” bootleg and shelled out massive $ for it many years later. But that shit kills the crowd everytime it’s dropped. Those guys had so many great release, real shame more people don’t recognize. Glenn’s output has been fairly steady but can’t say that I like all of it, sometimes a bit too Shelter vocal or too straightforward jazz leaning house, but he still does come up with some great deeper house styled tracks that show his musical virtuosity.

bootsy colin  on April 8, 2010 at 9:02 AM

last year’s digital only ‘Frequency 303’ was a highlight for me.

Glenn Underground  on April 8, 2010 at 11:30 AM

You guys are a big muse for me with your comments, i feel you all & i have been on a quest to start doing my old sound its about that time in time to bring it back, thank you for sheding light on me this is much inspiration for me

kuri  on April 8, 2010 at 12:53 PM

Bring it back Glenn! It would great to hear you go down this path again and see what new production techniques and musical ideas you can bring to this style.

Jordan Rothlein  on April 11, 2010 at 6:47 PM

Huge! So glad to know about this one. More, Glenn!

mick welch  on April 15, 2010 at 8:12 AM

Yep ! good choice, Future Shock is superb, still always spinning this one.

noleian  on July 22, 2010 at 11:53 PM

I am very glad to see the future shock 12″ getting some love. My copy is burnt, would love to hear this played more…

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