The NRG Box Set [Kniteforce]

If you love Breakbeat Hardcore, you have almost certainly heard several NRG tunes if not more. The juggernaut of modern rave, Kniteforce have released a 6 vinyl box set of 24 tracks, originals and remixes. All rave completists need this!!!

In my 30 year Rave obsession I heard many NRG tunes often without knowing. The most famous of all has to be ‘He Never Lost His Hardcore’, a track with a legacy that stretches from early Hardcore to Hard House. The foreboding sounds of ‘HNLHH’ are an instant call to arms, the sounds of a B Boy turned Raver, the soundtrack to a Sci Fi Horror epic that remains unwritten.

‘It’s Ruff’ conjures up a vision of 1991 with the optimistic Eurodance influenced backdrop, bleeps and the most Hip Hop of breakbeats. The remaster brings out the crispness of the tune while preserving the quintessential rawness that makes it sound great. This is a track you would have heard from Land’s End to John O Groats before the split that gave us so many sub genres of Rave.

I can remember when I first heard ‘The Music Makers.’ It was part of DJ Phantasy’s set from Dreamscape 4 and the Dreamscape ‘A Decade Of Dance’ Mix album from 98′ (once again part of Phantasy’s mix). This reminds me of the period of tunes by The Scientist (The Bee/The Exorcist), a kind of post Bleep N Bass Proto Hardcore sound with the tightest of arrangements and a sense of pure eeriness. The sample that appears to be the voice of Gene Wilder in ‘Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory’ is a great example of how NRG turns a benign vocal sample into something very dark and creepy.

‘Funky In The Place’ is another I am now able to Id from my well worn DJ Phantasy Dreamscape 4 cassette. Classical keys meet frantic Belgian Techno (complete with horns and whistles), and a bit of early Jungle exemplified in the rising chords and Think break in the drops. Think Manix and Suburban Base on this one and you’ve got the vibe!

‘Feel The Fury’ feels and sounds like a faster, harder successor to ‘HNLHH’ on the Fantazia tip in that it could have been a track on The First Taste album. Late 92 pressure all the way!

We drop back into 90/91 for ‘Unity.’ This gets a special mention for the gorgeous intro, a remake of one of the best film themes ever- I am of course talking about The Terminator theme. Like Arnie himself, the music soon switches to an exhilarating blend of annihilating rhythms albeit very musical ones that never stray away from that beautiful film score.

‘Promised Land’ once again samples Willy Wonka turning the voice of Gene Wilder into a flute powered powerhouse of Breakbeat Techno with a bit of self aware fun. This one sounds a bit like NRG’s alias, Liquid Crystal and has the added benefit of being a lesser known banger to drop in your next oldskool mix.

‘The Terminator’ opens with a sample from OG Terminator before launching into an Uzi 9mm blast of Funky Drummer, rugged bass and intricate bleeps with appearances from Kyle Reese warning us about the T1000. Mix this one into Timebass ‘Fireball’ for maximum carnage!

‘Domino’ is the fastest track so far on this box set with more epic film score business, a bit of R&B and a sped up n’ cut up Hot Pants break to ram up the dance!

Then just like that we are back in the land of early hardcore with the hoover rave of ‘Trip Switch’, a more UK centric take on the T99 formula with loads of cool effects in the breaks such as what sounds like the sound of shaking spray cans.

I did a Discogs search for ‘Feels So Good’ and according to the site, it’s a CD only track from the Domino EP released in Germany back in 1994. The only conclusion I can make is NRG was way ahead of his time! Try to imagine Hard House before there was Hard House, a bit of Hard Trance and Hardcore way before the Freeform sound of the late 90s.

So you’ve got super rare tunes but you also get remixes! The bar is set high with Al Storm & Diakronik’s remix of ‘Why Can’t We See’ on the Nuskool Happy Hardcore tip! Hyper sped-up Dope On Plastic drums and constant key changes and progressions ensure this rework really brings the fire!

The piano mix of ‘Feel The Fury’ is well…. Furious!!! Not to mention the pure joy euphoric style and use of one of my favourite breaks as used by Manix, Meat Beat Manifesto and The Prodigy! A pure feelgood moment that speaks to the power of early rave.

As one Discogs user rightly states, ‘Get Funky In The Place (Mozart Remix)’ is a great tune to start a set. A nice skanker of a tune with bouncing electro style beats and stabby vocal samples. Once again this tune signals to the many aliases of NRG and his productions in House music and other genres.

The Hyper-On Experience remix of ‘Feel The Fury’ is strikingly unique yet retains the cadence of the original completely. It’s tough to describe this track, you really have to hear it suffice to say it mixes up 4×4 beats with breaks and funk. Any DJs lucky enough to get a copy will surely integrate it into their sets as it suits a variety of moods, tempos and genres.

Leave it to the bossman himself, the one they call Luna C to turn ‘He Never Lost His Hardcore’ into a monster tune of the pandemic era! That marching intro is a great set opener and a great tune to drop right from the intro in the middle or the end of a set. The word is the Berlin Love Parade is due to return in 2022 (albeit safer after the tragedy of 2010) and to me, this remix screams Love Parade from every pore! Teutonic, riotous and slamming!!!

Altern 8 remix ‘The Music Makers’ with fresh, clean breakbeats and emphasis on the spooky lead riff. It all gets very dark around the 4 minute mark and I will never hear Gene Wilder’s voice the same ever again!!! Mr Archer does a great job of teasing out the scary chills of the original!

Bay B Kane gives ‘Domino’ the Jungle treatment and those Godzilla like cinema sounds are a perfect fit! Mr Kane adds in atmospheric sweeps Oldskool Jungle style and G Rap vox with a sleek build up of drums and subs as deep as the bottom of the ocean. Listening to this exceptional rework will make you feel like you are slap bang in the middle of the dry ice and lasers of AWOL or World Dance.

From golden era Jungle to a pristine reconstruction of the Hoover Hardcore that is ‘Trip Switch’ reconstructed by New Decade. There is so much to love about this remix. Lets start with the essential foundation of every great Hardcore tune- the drums!!! Crystal clear breaks, beat boxing, the ‘Straight Outta Compton’ version of the Amen Break, this is the business!!! The subs sit perfectly in the mix with the drums and sections of vengeful Hoovers!!!

Paul Bradley gives ‘HNLHH’ the 4 Beat reflip and boy does he do a fantastic job! In terms of style, this remix fits well in both 4 Beat and European Bouncy Techno with precision claps, Hi Hats and Kick Drums. It’s those clever touches that really enhance a remix such as playing the rap samples at normal speed and chipmunk as Mr Bradley does.

El hombre de España, Wislov delivers a first class revibe of ‘Dope E Dwarf.’ I will be honest and say I haven’t heard the original but I get a feel of the macabre ‘Ice Cream Van From Hell’ on this chilling rework. The seven dwarfs make me want to hide behind the sofa and the trippy 303s, hair raising stabs and the pugilistic beats are terrifyingly good!

Doughboy puts a quality spin on the Snow White sampling tune with a Powerstomp/Hardcore version full of sharp, polished production techniques that combine a plethora of styles from DnB to US style Bass music.

Shoreman’s interpretation of ‘Dope E Dwarf’ is a piece de resistance slice of Oldskool Hardcore absolutely loaded to the brim with layer upon layer of cool effects from scratches to the spacey ’31 Seconds’ like chimes that kick off this beaut!

Scartat applies some Neurofunk DnB glistening muscle to ‘Dope E Dwarf’ balancing the line between DnB and Hardcore Techno with switches into Half Step and bass from the belly of the beast!!

Available to purchase as 6×12″ Vinyl +Digital at Kniteforce Revolution

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