Tom Ewing’s Top 100 Singles Of The 90s

If you asked me to pick just one figure to stand as the most underrated act of the decade, Acen Ravzi would be it. His series of 12″ singles, tossed out into the seething dance marketplace of ’92-’93, are without exception stunning. Acen is the lushest, and most lyrical, of the great hardcore producers, and if his gleeful inventiveness and wicked way with a sample are more typical of the time, that just goes to show what an unbelievable time it was. More than anyone else making records, Acen for me encompasses the beauty, velocity and freedom of hardcore. His “Window In The Sky”, a dizzying breakbeat-handbag fusion which nearly made this list, is just plain rapturous: no other contemporary producer would have ever made something so unashamedly joyful.

But “Close Your Eyes” is Acen on a trip to the darkside for once, territory he maps with the same hyperkinetic vivacity he brings to his more optimistic tunes. “Close Your Eyes” is heavy-handed, but idea-rich: a medical music-box keyboard line dances around the choppy breakbeat thunk, Beltram stabs sluice down a plughole of quease, a sample splices LL Cool J with 4 Hero (“I’m ready – we’re ready – I think I’m gonna…overdose.”), and through it all this helium nursery voice coos to you: “Just close your eyes…forget your name…just go insane…”. Right at the end, as the “overdose” sample slows to a horrid crawl, the voice is reduced to just a tic, a tiny “eh” before the dark falls: chill, and out.