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"Obsession is a mix-tape"

Posted: 13 September, 2023

Back in the early ‘90s my friends and I were on constant lookout for quiet places to toke, talk shite, and listen to music. Often times this meant a secluded parking spot, preferably with a view, that wasn't going to be interrupted by dog walkers or the f'ing police. 

We found the perfect place, for a while, sometime in early '94. A quiet side-road with two empty bungalows at the end, surrounded by trees, between the motorway and a spur road leading back into town. We parked there regularly, and when the sun was out, occasionally wandered through the trees to see what we could find.

And one day we found something. A third derelict. Probably home to other caners, based on the camp-fire ash and litter lying around. Never ones to share, we bounced, but someone (I forget who) saw a cassette on the ground and pocketed it. We got back to the car, the tape was eventually rediscovered, inspected (wet, slightly chewed, but probably fine) and pushed into a Blaupunkt.

What followed was 90 minutes of the best house, progressive and trance, any of us had heard. The tape was a copy. Of who, we didn't know. Sans MC. No shout-outs. No clues. A complete mystery, that we took to be a karmic blessing as we labelled it "Best of House" and copied it amongst ourselves. 

It's no secret that I'm a white-glove wearing, card-carrying raver -- a gentleman of a certain vintage -- or that the music of the early 90s has, and does, influence me greatly. But this tape? Even for the time it was special. A great selection, and flow.

Copies have lived in friends cars. It's lived in my car. It followed me through Uni and was the first cassette I ripped to MP3, back when ripping cassettes was a fucking ballache. It's lived on Minidisc, and now it lives on my NAS. A copy of a copy of a tape that got a little damp, and a little chewed, but is loved like Bagpuss.

You know how it was in the 90s; a constant stream of new, exciting music, often on bootleg tapes, with no real clue as to who was making much of it, or even what it was called. Many, many times I walked into record shops, with my Walkman paused, in the hope they'd “know what this absolute banger is". 

When CDs started coming out, and Radio One turned its attention, things became easier. But those first few years of the 90s? When we had no money, or decent pirate radio near us? Trainspotting for tunes could be random pot luck. And I wasn't adverse to hovering over the DJ booth, either.

In the 28 odd years since we found Bagpuss, I've stumbled across, or crate-dug my way, to a third, maybe a half(?) of the tracklist, and grabbed what I could on vinyl. But some of those vocal ones have completely eluded me.

Every so often I'll be bored, or waiting for something, so I'll have another little go... Wave Shazam at the speaker (if only) and type the names of the tracks into Google and see what pops up. It's rare that anything does. 

Yesterday I was moving Unreal versions, so I had a lot of time to burn. The entire toolchain (and platform extensions) needed building from scratch, then rebuilt a couple more times because I arsed things up. It was a long, slow day, that I spent mooching through Discogs, while listening to Bagpuss. 

And to my complete shock, as I was digging through sale items (which normally means jumping over to YouTube, so I can listen to them) I bumped into a couple more, tucked away in a random playlist!

It's my lucky day! Time to buy a lottery ticket...

I typed what I knew of the tracklist, in order, and pasted it into Google. 

And I got a fucking hit. 

A full hit. Of the entire tracklist. A sweet, sweet, HTML1 looking web-page, that someone, an angel, left for me to find. 

One of the greatest progressive mixes of all time -- I'm proud to present -- is Mike Cosford's Hyperspace Mix, from the Obsession 6 pack. Summer of '93. A full year before Sasha and Digweed's Renaissance and a holy banger of vocal house, proto-prog and trance-techno. Discogs Link

Dear sbradyman of Angel, I fucking salute you, whoever you are! You have NO idea how much joy I took from finding your corner of the web, and finally solving this mystery. I honestly thought I'd go to my grave never knowing who mixed this. Mwah! X

So yeah, now I need to source the tracks I'm missing, re-do the mix, and I'll (finally) be able to listen to this as it was meant to be heard(!), instead of the crusty, 192mbps MP3 of a 2nd gen tape copy, that I’ve been treasuring for all these years.

Watch this space.