“I’ve owned this CD for 2 years and would nearly kill anyone who would do harm to it.” — “A Customer”, October 15, 1999
It was 1995, and if you were young, underage and drifting toward the rave scene, your options on the musical front were pretty damn bleak.
On the one hand, vinyl was plentiful and usually pretty cheap. But Americans had just spent the previous 10 years replacing record players with cheap Japanese CD players and making kitschy wall art out of their old vinyl. Independent record stores were often intimidating (High Fidelity was a rather cheerful take on some of the jagoffs who took out their lack of garage band stardom on customers). And chain record stores dominated anyway, and their collection of electronic music usually consisted of a handful of cheesy European compilations made up mostly of music nobody would willingly want to listen to on its own.
“you guyz out there who own this CD could really put it to use and make some copies! I’ve physically been all over the world looking for this, and it’s not to be found anywhere..and yes, people have heard about it EVERYWHERE, and yes! people are willing to buy it! and yes..authenticity no longer matters… so if anyone who has it wants to sell me a copy. e-mail me.” — “A Customer”, December 18, 2000
Into this stepped Hardkiss, the San Francisco DJ collective that with a few other like-minded souls (Wade Randolph Hampton, Frankie Bones among probably hundreds of them) were building a new culture on the fruited plains like outlaw Johnny Appleseeds. While some were balancing their ambition to throw bigger and bigger events with the desire to stay out of jail, Hardkiss worked on a different front – the modest (at the time) decision to release a double album not just on vinyl but compact disc as well.
That CD was Delusions of Grandeur, and you can read the history of the album in my story about Hardkiss published last April. Delusions wasn’t the first electronic music album marketed this way – but it was probably the most ubiquitous, likely the most mysterious and definitely the most fun.
“I gave this CD to a friend about 3 years ago and I have regreted it ever since. Julia if you still got it I want it back.” — “eban”, July 18, 2000
As difficult as it is to believe, Delusions of Grandeur has never been digitally released. It’s nearly as old as the mp3 itself, but after falling out of print altogether the general burnout among the Hardkiss brothers in the early ’00s made Delusions a subject best avoided.
2015 marks the 20th anniversary of Delusions sneaking into your local record store next to the grunge and Foghat’s Greatest Hits albums, the surviving Hardkiss family is back together again and the time is ripe for a re-issue. To that end, Robbie & Gavin Hardkiss have put together a rather remarkable looking PledgeMusic campaign to re-issue Delusions of Grandeur with many exclusives that aren’t available anywhere else ranging from signed Double CD and Double Vinyl packages on up to the concert experience – the latter revealing plans to perform the whole of Delusions live in San Francisco with extended Hardkiss family members David Christopher (Rabbit In The Moon) and DJ Three. And among the other packages is something called the “Vault” which purports to contain damn near everything the Hardkiss collective made between ’91 and the end of the century.
“This is the reward for those who have been following the genre for many years… you’ll have collected classics like this when they weren’t going for $30 a copy long out-of-print and out-of-memory. Downtempo techno at its best ever! Is it wrong to feel smug that this will likely never be reprinted, and soon will likely be lost forever to all those who weren’t there when it all happened?” — “merzbow”, June 11, 2014
I still have my copy of Delusions of Grandeur, the original jewel case scuffed and and scratched and grimy. I’m not sure if I ever felt “smug” about it but like these other cats in these spontaneous amazon.com reviews from 15 years ago I know I’d never give it up willingly. If you lent out what Gavin called “the most stolen album in history“, here’s a chance to get it back.