The state of Chicago skating two decades ago in the early nineties certainly was very different to what it is today, labelled a pursuit aligned more with punk rock and grunge than the legacy of local electronic pioneers such as Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles. But it embodied a DIY aesthetic and experimental edge that would soon come to define the iconic skate label that came to be known as Shifty Science. The label was founded by lifelong skateboarding friends John Kardaras and Chris Ike.
Steve Mizek, co-founder of Chicago’s leading house light Argot records, has just released an in-depth retrospective of their music, Lab Work 91-96, and in fact only came across the label earlier in 2016… when he was handed their material at a house party. Outside of collectors’ fairs or the record bags of Chicago’s most underground, Shifty Science were completely unknown after the nineties up until now.
By the early nineties, house, acid, and techno were an established if not spent force, even becoming an elemental part of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. The dystopian vibes of Detroit techno and the transatlantic influence of experimental labels such as Warp were creeping into the club landscape. By their own admission, the spaced out duo weren’t attempting to subvert the scene or preferred music genres, but their trippy adaptations of popular party beats at the time certainly achieved this.
Digivox – Versions for Modern Dancefloors (Shifty Science)
Lab Work 91-96 is out now on Argot.