1989 had been a long hot summer, but 1990 felt longer and hotter. Since the house music explosion of 1987, Britain had had a whistle in its mouth, and it needed a lie down. February 1990 brought two records that were made to accompany the sunrise and would shape the immediate future: The KLF’s “Chill Out” was a continuous journey, a woozy, reverb-laden mix; and Andrew Weatherall’s drastic remix of a Primal Scream album track – ‘Loaded’ – slowed down the pace on the dancefloor itself, right down to 98 beats per minute.
Within weeks of ‘Loaded’ and “Chill Out” emerging, a whole wave of similarly chilled, floaty, mid-tempo records appeared. The charts were full of chugging Soul II Soul knock-offs, but further out were amazingly atmospheric records such as the Grid’s ‘Floatation’, which married the new-age relaxation method du jour with Jane Birkin-like breathy sighs; BBG’s ‘Snappiness’, which was all sad synth pads and Eric Satie piano; and the Aloof’s ‘Never Get Out Of The Boat’, which re-imagined Apocalypse Now as if it had been shot in Uxbridge.
“Fell From The Sun” gathers the best of the 98bpm records that soundtracked the summer of 1990. It has been compiled by Bob Stanley, whose own group Saint Etienne makes an appearance alongside acknowledged classics (Primal Scream’s ‘Higher Than The Sun’) and forgotten beauties (Soul Family Sensation’s ‘I Don’t Even Know If I Should Call You Baby’).
This was a modernist sound, grabbing bits of the past, the feel of the immediate now, and creating something entirely new. There was a notable 90s-does-60s vibe, a neo-psychedelia that didn’t involve guitars. For a moment, or at least for a summer, it felt like the perfect future had already arrived. “Fell From The Sun” encapsulates that moment.