Rave history moment: those who know me well know my reverence for Wicked–not the revisionist tale of the witch, or the Bostonian expression of delight (though those are good too), but the San Francisco party crew by that name. When the early 90s electronic music movement broke on the left coast, Wicked (along with Dubtribe, Basics, Funky Techno Tribe and others) were primary among the crews throwing amazing parties up and down the coast, notably their free full-moon parties on the beaches around SF. Wicked, composed of DJs Jëno, Garth, Markie Mark and Thomas, also have the designation of being the first soundsystem on the playa at Burning Man, though they haven’t been in years to my knowledge.
Though I missed the early years of parties on the beach, I was fortunate enough to lose my mind at some of their parties at the DNA Lounge and their Come-Unity Wednesdays at 1015 Folsom in San Francisco in the late 90s. Their particular sound was a defining one in the San Francisco music scene, weaving a uniquely San Franciscan acid-laden psychedelia and reggae texture into house, techno and early electronic dance music. For the Wicked boys, house was more a “tempo” than a genre, and the permeability of their approach to dance music kept it vital enough to legitimate their truly “legendary” designation among heads in the know. Today, it’s with delight for me to recognize a number of young modern DJs fascinated by the sounds of early 90s emulating Wicked’s voices and textures, sometimes without even knowing where it came from.
Jëno just released an early, rare CD mix he did from 1996 which exhibits a lot of this sound at its finest–from the church-like to the psychedelic, incorporating political samples. This one has been rocking me hard lately, especially the track with the Malcolm X samples 24:30, the glorious repeating ethereal textures over drums at 40:00, and the inclusion of dubby psychedelic rock at 54:00. SO old school San Francisco. Listen and download:
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