HARDKISS – 1991
Label: Hardkiss MusicScore: 9/10
It’s now a year since Scott Hardkiss was suddenly and shockingly taken from this world, leaving a massive hole in music and hearts all over the world. Since Scott’s death, his brilliant legacy has been homaged in radio shows, DJ sets and print (this writer has managed all three), while former loved ones, friends and those his music touched are drawn together to celebrate his talent and beautiful soul.
The Hardkiss sound was more than just the normal earthly components of beats, vocals and melodies, Scott’s unique path blossoming amidst the alchemical sonic experiments he started conducting in early 90s San Francisco with brothers in aural mischief Robbie and Gavin after they debuted with the Magic Sounds of San Francisco EP. The Hardkiss label immediately made an impression with UK underground DJs, who embraced its demolition of the rave stranglehold with psychedelia and breakbeats. Amidst the hallucinogenic delights exhaled by the brothers, Scott’s ethereal acid soul outings as God Within, including ‘Raincry’, ‘The Phoenix’ and ‘Daylight’, sent dancefloors to heights of rarely-glimpsed emotional catharsis.
At the time of Scott’s death, the Hardkiss brothers were working together again – Gavin and Robbie at respective home studios in the hills of San Rafael, California, and Scott in Brooklyn, where he spent his last years with widow Stephanie and their daughter. Robbie and Gavin have brought the project home in tribute to their fallen brother, naming it after the year they formed in San Francisco, at the same time managing to pick up where they left off and make a modern dance classic.
For first single ‘Revolution’ and its remixes, Hardkiss hooked up with San Diego’s Siesta Records, which has already released reworks by Rong Music’s DJ Spun, Sleazy McQueen, Atnarko and Adam Warped. These are being followed by three Hardkiss versions, including a special opener which sees the remix Scott was working on at the time of his death in his Brooklyn studio brought to fruition by Robbie and Gavin combining it with their own treatments. Unsurprisingly, this call-to-arms floor-burner most fully invokes the trio’s special spontaneous combustion and magic, in a new club anthem for the 21st century.
Then there’s the sexy electrolysed future funk of ‘RETROACTIVE-FUTURISTIC-PSYCHEDELIC-FUNK-BUMP’, here in its original version and being released on Austin label Whiskey Pickle with remixes by Gavin’s Hawke’s persona, Q-Burns Active Message and James Curd of Greenskeepers.
The album also straddles Hawke’s ethereally melancholy take on ‘It’s Right‘ (a masterclass in subtly-subversive spiritual soul with gossamer 80s sprinklings), steamily Prince-goosing ‘Don’t Worry’, ‘Flowers Blooming’ heisting the opening lines of Change’s ‘Glow Of Love’ for a shiny love anthem and ‘Forever Forever’ showcasing Tameca in a modern disco which still allows emotions in through the door.
A personal fave is the 12-minute ‘Feeling Scott Through Romanthony’, a lustrously pulsing joint tribute to the singer who passed away a couple of months after Scott, also in his early 40s. On an emotional level, ‘Broken Hearts’ is the past-referencing outing which will inspire the kind of welling up inevitable in any exposure to Scott’s more poignant earlier outings. The love and memories of a fabulous past are indeed here, along with a vibrant feel for the present and future which, for Scott, would have been the most vital ingredient. They’ve done their old friend more than proud but this set can be highly recommended on any level.
For the ultimate tribute to Scott check out the SCOTT HARDKISS & HARDKISS MUSIC LEGACY – DEREK RANDOM aka STEVE ‘GRIFFO’ GRIFFITHS ft TEE CARDACI radio show on Soundcloud below, which says much more than I ever could.