This 1993 Mix by Armand Van Helden Will Bring You Back to the Glory Days of NYC House
In this first installment of Mixtape Memories, we remember Armand as some plucky young kid from Boston trying to make it in the Big Apple.
Before he remixed Tori Amos, released seven albums, and toured the festival stages of the world with A-Trak as half of Duck Sauce, Armand Van Helden was a Boston-based club kid trying to make his bones in the Big Apple. He had already achieved nominal club success with several early records, including The Funky Shell Toe EP and "Move It to the Left" (as Sultans of Swings), but was still looking for a way to solidify his reputation in a city more enthralled by the outrageous antics of the club kids than by AVH's hip-hop-headed house sound.
1993 was also a time when label loyalty was stronger pull than almost any underground DJ alias. Perhaps that's why Armand decided to release his Rise Vol. 1 mixtape as DJ AV8, a nod to the Boston house and hip-hop label affiliate with the already influential X-Mix remix service which had also issued some of Van Helden's so-far slim discography.
The 90-minute mix itself was a crafty compilation of the house sound that had been cradled in NYC's club scene since the end of the disco era, and many of the communities key players a featured repeatedly, including five cuts connected to by Bronx- and Brooklyn-born Masters At Work, two-touched recent Michigan transplant MK and more by Roger S. (for Sanchez), Robin S, and Todd Terry (as his rarely-used House Of Gypsies alias).
The vibes are a potent mix of deep house drums (in the original sense) and Club MTV high-steppin spandex songs that will sound familiar to anyone over the age of 30 (errr...40). Soon after, this would be usurped by a darker tribal sound—notably Van Helden's breakthrough hit "The Witch Doktor"—that took over the turntables and left most of club music's crossover sensibility behind. It would be almost two decades until EDM experts (including Armand again) would bring things back around.