Gavin Hardkiss‘ track “3 Nudes In a Purple Garden” always seemed like an initiation, an “invitation to the voyage” as Baudelaire put it — a track that simulates the passage from one spiritual space into another.

So I was delighted to hear it leading off on Planet Love: Early Transmissions 1990-95. This new compilation for the first time seems to codify something I’ve been writing about for a long time here: that moment — a gasp really — in the 1990s when the makers and especially the audience for electronic music embraced a depth of spirituality via music and dance, of the benediction coming from the music itself. You could then say (and in fact it was often said) that music could be the catalyst to draw a person into a higher state of consciousness. Words and concepts like “kundalini” were half-understood at best but that half was more than most people knew. The music was frequently experimental, un-managed (and largely unmanagable) by the kind of cured meat anatomical nightmares from CAA that massage the careers of electronic artists today. Restrained only by the limitations of vinyl, tracks would stretch as far as the artist could imagine, the music like a liquid that took the form of whatever head it was poured into.

Years later they would call this “proto-Trance,” and I guess the Safe Trip label does too, but it didn’t seem like that to me. If they were all born at this precise instant, “3 Nudes” and Tranquility Bass‘ “Cantamilla” and Off & Gone’s “Kopli” would all still be split up into separate and somewhat opposing genres. I don’t know if you’d hear a DJ play them all but you’d definitely hear them all in the same night. This is what the “rave revival” of the last few years has missed, that the music didn’t all sound the same, that throwing breakbeats and orchestra hits into every track isn’t what held everything together. They were united more by spirit than sound or BPM and that is thankfully something that shines through on Planet Love.

And Safe Trip really did a deep dive. Glam, an Italian project I haven’t thought about in years, appears with “My Mother Said.” Holy Ghost, Inc (not the DFA Records act) is another real gem, with their “Mad Monks on Zinc.” It’s not nostalgia, or not just: I went through this track by track, two or three times, and each time found something new. You’ll recognize a few names if you know this era of electronic music but even aficionados and graybeard DJs will find something that either tickles their memory or draws them toward a new inspiration.

V/A: Planet Love Vol 1: Early Transmissions 1991-95 (Safe Trip / June 2021 / 12″ Vinyl / Digital)
1. Hawke – 3 Nudes In A Purple Garden (07:14)
2. Mindgear – Don’t Panic (Transpanic Mix) (06:55)
3. Glam – My Mother Said (Cosmic Trance Mix) (06:50)
4. Young American Primitive – These Waves (06:46)
5. Holy Ghost – Mad Monks On Zinc (07:42)
6. Morgan Wild – Dionysian Dream Sacrament (04:54)
7. Epsilon Nine – Life Formation (05:25)
8. Spooky – Orange Coloured Liquid (05:10)
9. Extasia – Alegrya (Virtual Mix) (04:36)
10. Humate – Love Stimulation (Love Mix) (05:46)
11. Oneiric Vortex – Oasi (05:11)
12. Human Beings – The Matrix (06:32)
13. L.S.G. – Lonely Casseopaya (Club Mix) 06:35)

⚪️ Disclosure Statement: This record was not submitted as a promo.



This was originally published in 5 Mag issue 191: The Mission with Soul Clap, Nona Hendryx, 15 years of Burial & more. Support 5 Mag by becoming a member for just $1 per issue.