As the Belgian, Brussels based, Crammed Discs label turns 42 this year, they are taking this opportunity to focus the spotlight on certain areas of their catalog that have been somewhat obscured in recent years. Some music trends which are back popular now were originally explored by the label in the 80s and 90s, but were never released digitally before.
We are speaking of 250 tracks that were once only released on vinyl (or on CDs that have been discontinued for a long time) via SSR Records (Sampler & Sans Reproche) which released music covering a range of styles, from early new beat to downtempo, techno, house and hip hop.
These digital reissues will be released in different phases in the coming years, each consisting of a compilation plus a number of related EPs. They’re introducing the series with a sneak peek, the “Appetiser: Rare Early SSR Electronica” EP which is out today, May 27 and holds material from the era 1989-91.
This release will be immediately followed by the “Phase 1: Rare SSR Electronica”, which focuses on the early days of the ‘electronic’ SSR label from the period 1988-94 with a 24 track compilation and five standalone EPs or albums, all of which come out on June 17.
Here is the complete list of scheduled release waves:
- Appetiser: Rare Early SSR Electronica EP 1989-91 (Crammed Archives 0) out on May 27 – 22
- Phase 1: Rare SSR Electronica 1988-94 (Crammed Archives 1) out on June 17 – 22
- Phase 2 : Rare Global Pop 1980s (Crammed Archives 2) out in Autumn 2022
- Phase 3 : Rare Electronica 1994-01 (Crammed Archives 3) out in Spring 2023
- Phase 4 : Rare Electronica B-sides 1988-97 (Crammed Archives 4) out in Autumn 2023
What’s on the first EP out now?
Here is a description of the tracks on this first EP.
“Hallucination Generation” by The Gruesome Twosome : The GT were an outfit formed by Samy Birnbach/Morpheus with Norwegian techno whiz kid Per Martinsen, and later joined by Bertrand Burgalat. This track – as well as the Mr Big Mouse track mentioned below – enjoyed considerable club success in the US, where they made it into mainstream and underground charts, from Billboard to Rockpool etc..
“A Byte of AMC” by Bleep : Bleep aka Geir Jenssen was a member of Bel Canto. After several EPs and a debut solo album on SSR (as Bleep), he went on to become a leading ambient electronic composer under his Biosphere moniker. This track pays tribute to Manchester hip hop duo Kiss AMC and their cheeky track “A Bit of U2” and also includes an – authorized – sample from the Sussan Deyhim / Richard Horowitz album “Desert Equations” (recently reissued by Crammed). The debut singles by Geir Jenssen and Per Martinsen on SSR are considered as the first Norwegian techno tracks ever. You will notice some Bel Canto sounds too on it.
“Drop That Ghetto Blaster” by Mr Big Mouse feat. Karen Finley : Mr BM were none other than Crammed’s Vincent Kenis and Marc Hollander, and this song was conceived as an ‘answer track’ to the hit single “Theme from S’Express” (and to several other tracks) which had made extensive use of vocals by provocative NY performance artist Karen Finley (lifted from her “Tales of Taboo” EP, released by Crammed in 1986).
“Danger” by Alegria : This was the debut release by Bjørn Torske who, alongside the aforementioned Per Martinsen, is one of the godfathers of Norwegian techno. “Danger” came out as part of the T.O.S. EPs, which laid the foundations for what later became a vibrant electronic music scene, with the likes of Todd Terje, Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas, Röyksopp et al.
“Security” by Farida International : A track created by Mr Big Mouse aka Kenis and Hollander from elements of a song by Middle Eastern rock band Foreign Affair (a Minimal Compact splinter group) and from a bunch of other things.
About The Early Days Of SSR
The story of SSR in a nutshell: As soon as the first wave of Detroit techno hit Europe, and playful, sample-based electronic dance music started popping up in the UK, the people at Crammed Discs were immediately excited about these new combinations of sounds, and started their SSR division in on 1988.
In those early days of SSR, a Belgian-Norwegian axis emerged, when a handful of young Norwegian musicians and producers came to Brussels (in connection with Bel Canto, the electro-pop group then signed to Crammed), and sat down with central figures of Crammed Discs such as Minimal Compact vocalist Samy Birnbach (later known as DJ Morpheus), label owner Marc Hollander, and Vincent Kenis (Marc’s former partner in Aksak Maboul).
A series of hybrid electro EPs were released, mixing early techno styles with influences from around the world.
SSR (and its sub-labels Language and Selector) would release more than sixty albums and dozens of EPs, spanning various styles (from house and techno to downtempo, ambient, broken beats, drum’n’bass and hip-hop), featuring artists such as Carl Craig, Snooze, Juryman aka Ian Simmonds, DJ Spinna, 4hero and Tek 9, Bleep aka Biosphere, Telex, DJ Morpheus and many others.
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