What do you get when you cross this:
Schaffelbeat was a funny little phenomenon that popped up somewhere in the mid 90s in Cologne, Germany (hence the flag), reaching a height of popularity in the early noughties with Schaffelbeat chart hits from the likes of Goldfrapp and Rachel Stevens. Then it kind of tailed off, though it still resurfaces now and again.
It’s what happens when you set your sequencer to do triplets instead of 16th notes. So instead of the usual doof-doof-doof you get doof-de-doof-de-doof. Something about that little extra semi beat makes people smile and do a goofy dance. Perhaps it’s the association with the G word – GLAM. Bowie’s Jean Genie, T Rex’s Hot Love, and above all Gary Glitter’s Rock N Roll.
But who did it first? The prime guilty party is surely Wolfgang Voigt, AKA certified Dad Hero Mike Ink – check out his amazing hair.
Around 1995 most techno was baws to the wall taps aff stuff with mad 303s, or minimal looping a la Jeff Mills. Not really scoring high on humour. Serious blokes with shaved heads, a lot of frowning and sweating and people going on about ‘purism’. Then on his 1995 Force Inc LP, as Love Inc, Voigt lifted a big sample out of T Rex’s Hot Love, and made this:
Now some other Colognials must have instantly spotted the potential for dancefloor tomfoolery in this triplet shenanigans, with Wolfgang himself using it to good effect in some of the arty musique concrete type stuff he put out on his mysterious Profan label. Back before the internet, people could put out records with just symbols on them, and nobody would have a clue who they were by. Profan was one of these. It was followed up in 1999 by the Kreisel 99 series of 7″s. There was one a week for the whole of 1999 and they all had a spinning top on the cover. They were lovely little objects, we have a few of them. At the time we thought there was a Schaffel scene happening in Cologne, with lots of faceless artistes with names like ‘Grungerman’ and ‘Mint’, but actually almost all of them turned out to be Wolfgang Voigt.
It’s a similar story to The Hoover or acid house, or indeed jungle’s endless reusing of the Reese bassline and the Amen break, and it’s one of the fascinating things about the post-rave electronic music scene generally. One tiny little idea can spread around various producers who take the ball and run with it, creating pretty much all shades of light and dark, going from the total ambience of GAS to the gnarly punk techno of T Raumschmiere’s Monstertruckdriver.
The other very notable thing is how German it sounds, which is odd when the original inspiration was a rock scene from England involving Slade and a future paedophile. It’s probably something to do with the old Bavarian oompa loompa parping folk/dance music – check out this from Jurgen Paape. Or should we say, Jurgen PAARPE!
Mr Voigt and Michael Mayer (another fine purveyor of the Schaffel) went on to start the great Kompakt label/shop/distributor which quickly went on to world domination and indeed still rules much of the world today. Kompakt dancefloor offshoot Speicher launched initially with loads of Schaffel. And more Dad Heroes, The Orb, also got in on the act with a series of Schaffel-laced Kompakt releases. (Half of the Orb is of course Thomas Fehlmann, who is indeed a German).
As with so much in techno, the KLF actually got there first. They spotted the potential in the Glitter beat long before Wolfgang and his chums, and even got a number 1 hit single out of it.
Look out for a Schaffelbeat Dadcast, just as soon as we pull our fingers out. Hopefully by next week.