PPK's "ResuRection" Sounded Like the Soundtrack to Whatever Strange Science Fiction Was Playing Out in my Friendless Ginger Head
When I was ten years old I made best friends with a Russian trance anthem.
Photo via Discogs.
In the Heartbreakers series, we look at the dance floor tearjerkers that make your night special, whether that's at the height of your high or the plateau. Electronic music has the power to break hearts and this is an appreciation of those songs that get us all misty eyed. This time round it is the turn of THUMP staff writer Angus Harrison.
Children are, somewhat famously, idiots. But their empty brains also make them a useful barometer of music's emotional effectiveness. Possessing an open-mind to basically anything they consume, they let sound pass into them unfettered and judgement free, responding in much the same way as a cat distracted by a moving torch-light, or dog hearing a whistle. Which is probably why, aged ten years old, I had a profound human awakening to PPK's "ResuRection".
It was something of a routine in our house that my Mum would buy me and my brother every installment of the Now That's What I Call Music series. It made complete sense. There wasn't a huge amount of money in our house, so the opportunity to cut out the middle-man and bulk buy pretty much every banger from the previous few months in one go was a no brainer. Yet, as anyone who owned these compilations when they were younger will know, their scattershot approach to compiling every major track in the charts resulted in a bizarre patchwork of genre and tone. Now That's What I Call Music! 51 was no different. It was a pretty tumultuous affair all told, bunging Rik Waller next to Afroman, Beverley Knight underneath Alien Ant Farm.
The basic practice whenever we got our newest copy of the Now series, was to hunch over our tinny stereo for the entire duration of both CDs, impressing the music onto our minds and the grooves of carpet onto our knees. One Sunday in March, 51 was in the mix. Having initially rolled through with some Kylie, followed later by R Kelly's "World's Greatest", the track-list descended into what was presumably a stretch of four or five slots dedicated to currently charting electronic music. I first remember being struck by Lasgo's "Something". While I wasn't completely bowled over by it, there was something distinctly otherworldly about the experience. As if I wasn't supposed to be listening to the track as much I was supposed to lie back and just let the Belgian trance fill the room. I didn't know then that it was easing me up, so I was ready to fly. Ready for "ResuRection".
Listening now, I can see how "ResuRection" sounds like tacky trance music — it is tacky trance music. But aged ten, piercing out of the speakers of a terrible stereo, it sounded like a signal. A signal from outer-fucking-space. A dish hovering on the nether-reaches of an orbiting dystopia bleeping and wailing, endlessly and hopelessly out into the universe. It sounded like data finding symmetry and melody in complete empty blackness. It sounded like a beacon with an unimaginably sad message that nobody would ever respond to. As I've said, listening now, I can see how to another more weathered set of ears, it wouldn't have sounded like all of those things at all, but when spiralling out, pinging off the plaster-cast dimples and curves of my yellowing bedroom ceiling, it practically hurt.
Normally writers taking on the heartbreaker series will pick a track that has had an emotional effect on them in a club, and this has also happened to me with plenty of cuts, yet I am fascinated by the ageless, almost timeless quality dance music has. I had no idea that this magnetic music's functional value was in a rave scenario, played out to thousands of people under laser beams. Equally I had no idea that "ResuRection" was the first track by an act from Russia or the USSR to ever enter the UK singles charts. To me, without context, it had nothing to do with a party, or even dancing. I'm not sure I even heard it as music it. It was instead this pummelling, experience. It was the first time I realised a piece of music didn't just have to be something you heard, it could be something you lived in for a while.
Another important detail here is that I didn't necessarily fare particularly well when it came to making friends in primary school. This isn't a sob story in the slightest. I wasn't bullied. I just spent a large portion of time on my own. As a result of this imagination was a crucial playmate, something particularly stoked by days and days working through schlocky 80s sci-fi — think The Neverending Story and Labyrinth and you'll be close to my general aesthetic. For whatever reason "ResuRection" soundtracked that period — not necessarily close to many other people, but enthusiastically and unstoppably aware of bizarre possibility. I should also add that I used to play a game on my own at lunch where I hung my head upside down over the back of a bench so it looked like everyone in the playground was running on the ceiling. This probably contributed to me getting picked last for football.
I'm happy to say I cracked the friends thing properly once I got to secondary school. A few years and I was assimilated, and rolled into the standard practice teenage experience of wearing shit trainers, trying to buy alcohol and revising for exams. I worked my way through genre-defying phases of a My Chemical Romance obsession, via Arcade Fire, on my way to rediscovering club music in its intended setting. Yet, I still believe, my early interaction with "ResuRection" to an extent still informs how I hear dance music today. Not just something to move to, but something to move inside of. To occupy. To be occupied by.
I was interested to discover, while writing this piece, that the tune at the centre of "ResuRection" is in fact lifted from the soundtrack to a Soviet film called Siberiade, composed originally by Eduard Artemyev. The movie spans the best part of the 20th century, and is centered around an epic feud between two families in Siberia, placing their human squabbles against the context of a globalizing, quickly changing world. Not quite the same as the only kid whose Mum made him wear the uniform in a uniform-optional state primary school, but still, somehow fittingly, a theme for finding a place somewhere grey.
So the long and short of this is: weird child was briefly into a trance song because it sounded like the soundtrack to whatever strange science fiction film was playing out in his friendless ginger head. True. But I personally feel that is the strange point of all of this. We trap music in environments, or with audiences. We associate them with clothes, or attitudes, or whatever else. Only, really, they are just noises, and sometimes if you don't know any better, you can see a lot more.