Shades of Rhythm are Rayan Gee, Nick Slater and Lanx (Kevin Lancaster), a trio who met when they were very young. Aspiring producers who made music for themselves and for their DJ gigs in their home town of Peterborough (Cambridgeshire), they hit it big in 1989 when multiple tracks from their self pressed album “Frequency” took hold of the emerging Rave scene.
Subsequently signing to ZTT, SOR went through at least six different chapters of their history during their ZTT years and four of them – possibly the four most important – are covered by our Extacy Edition of their classic self-titled (2nd) album on the label.
The Soundtrack to chapter one is Homicide and Exorcist – two chilling bleep overtures to the last days of Acid House that originally appeared on Frequency. The Frequency disc also contained tracks the band would revisit when they signed to ZTT: Techno Dream, The Summer of ’89 and Sweet Sensation. And when ZTT signed Shades they began issuing a stream of classic dance singles that completely side-stepped rave’s cheesy, sample-driven novelty singles in favour of a unique disco/electro/techno collision.
The original edition of their ZTT album would go on to sell more than 50,000 units – incredible in an era when their peers were lucky to score the option on a second single. By the end of 1991, S/O/R were at number 16 in the UK singles chart with the Extacy EP (ZANG 24) and the album was reissued as – coincidentally – The Album, adding SOR classics Extacy, Everybody and Armageddon.
Chapter Four of the Complete History of Shades of Rhythm, when it’s finally written, will cover the post-Album period. It’s 1992, rave is over. As they did with Homicide/Exorcist at the end of acid house, Lanx, Nick and Rayan recorded what might happen next. It was future rave, with an upside (Happy Feelings) and a deep, entrancing downside (Fear of the Future). Both are equally enthralling and both finally available on CD2 of our reissue.
All the tracks from a planned (but cancelled) single, Happy Feelings (ZANG 32CD) are also included: the 7” A-side, the complete meltdown of rave in Holocaust, and Make It Better. And like Happy Feelings, the promo-only Fear of the Future 12” has also become the stuff of legend.
SOR are still active, headlining raves around the country, so check their website for details.