12. Liquid – Sweet Harmony

I mentioned in the introduction that my sister made me this tape whilst she was at university, and I had very little idea as to what ‘student life’ entailed other than making me mixtapes and never having any money. Did she ever find herself hugging random dudes on the dancefloor, or hallucinating giant rotating pineapples in a field somewhere in Northamptonshire*? As a conservative eleven-year-old I didn’t even contemplate that recreational drugs could have any effects other than instant death. Like what happened to Natasha off Hollyoaks.

So it may seem odd that despite Grace and myself being sixty-odd miles and ten years apart, we were both dancing the same way to ‘Sweet Harmony’ – eyes closed, sparkly fingers, feeling on top of the world. This song was magical, almost rapturous – I’d never heard something so sad and beautiful at the same time. This was the first song I played on repeat not to learn the words, but to totally immerse myself within it and drift away, imagining clouds and sunsets and all sorts of mystical hippy bollocks. It gave me whatever the reverse of a slap round the face was, but with a similar polarising effect on my musical tastes. Suddenly Bizarre Inc seemed childish and basic. I wanted music that would transport me off somewhere mysterious and grown-up.

Unless someone had been spiking my Frosties, then all this psychological upheaval must clearly be attributed directly to the intense vocal sample, the claustrophobic buzzing** and the spacious minor-key strings. Or something. At any rate, my transformation into moody adolescent had begun!

The magical aura that made me mildly obsessed with this song for weeks is no longer present for me today – it’s still a cracking tune, but I’ve heard plenty of spooky dance since and ‘Sweet Harmony’ has been buried underneath it all.  But about six years ago I discovered one of its rave cousins, ‘Break Of Dawn’ by Rhythm On The Loose (recently murdered by an Out Of Office remix) – and I experienced the same ethereal feeling all over again. Bleak and lonely, but poignant and beautiful. This time I was a student myself, but I still danced round the room with my eyes shut.

Watch the video to ‘Sweet Harmony’ on Youtube

*Grace mentioned much later that the few dodgy raves she had attended were spent grimly watching her mates get smashed on dubious substances, and having to steer them back to digs at 5am.

**On my first listen to the track, I wondered if a) there was an evil wasp in the room b) my stereo was broken.