A recurring theme throughout my past year of music has been: good things fall through the cracks. Why? And is that really bad? Zoe Muth, iLoveMakonnen, and Juiceboxxx—my three most-played artists of 2014 and ’15—each had years' worth of creatively on-point careers before landing on my radar. As a music writer, I feel like a failure for overlooking them (and I feel that my peers have failed in turning me on to good stuff), but missing out on a few releases also produces a rare and beautiful thing: the thrill of finding not just one diamond in the rough but a whole cavern's worth. A lot of this job can feel like prospecting—it's nice to sometimes hit the motherlode. Like this, debuting right now in all of its remastered glory:
That's The Children We Were, the 1997 debut album of the British trio House of 909, out again on vinyl next week thanks to an inspired reissue by Cascine. While this is the first I've ever caught wind of the album, Cascine's founder Jeff Bratton was a longtime fan—though a quiet one. (In full disclosure, I've released my own music on Cascine, but more important to this story, have known Bratton for a few years without his ever so much as mentioning House of 909.) If only I could've spent more of life knowing how ridiculously smooth this band was.
"The record originally came out when I was in college and living in Boston," Bratton explained over email. "Those were magical—but also heavy—years for me. The rave scene was on its way out, and it left a lot of us with our ears ringing and some very bad habits. There was something about this album and its gentle edges that acted as a salve during that period. I found real comfort in its melodies and movement. There’s a soft, rudimentary elegance to it that I’ve always connected with. No question that it’s influenced both my personal tastes and A&R decisions over the years."
When it comes to reissues, commentators always say the thing was "under-appreciated" in its time. So I asked the members of House of 909—Affie Yusuf, Trevor Loveys, and Nigel Casey—whether they felt they'd been overlooked. They said of course not; that they were just busy partying their eyes out and releasing timeless tracks.
"Back in the ’90s," they collectively told The FADER over email, "there was a Nu Brit House thing going on. We had colleagues in London like the Swag bunch, and Mr. C and his club The End, which was our London HQ and an energetic stomping ground for many of us DJs and artists. There were also warehouse parties that we got down to like Heart n Soul, Wiggle, and Whoop Whoop, which all contributed to future sounds with beautiful sound systems designed from the core up specially for BASS, and for having a right ole tear up! These punters were there for one reason only 'THE MUSIC' with no hipsters in sight! We loved playing at these!"
They're psyched, of course, for the reissue, even if the world these days seems a bit less fun. "As House of 909, it was always about making music for a lifetime, which we hope this reissue demonstrates wholeheartedly. It's awesome that labels wish to invest in reissuing our music and choose to bring in their crew and give a chance to buy something sweet and real in this throwaway, mixed-up digital era of paid-for likes and hype." Bless the band for the first go around, and more power to all the labels and blogs and digital archivers with an ear for what's vital and perfect, whenever it was made.