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Artist Tue Oct 14 2008
Now in the midst of a new European tour, Chicago's electro-tribal "irritainment" pioneers Mahjongg are releasing a new single via the K Records label. The a-side, "Free Grooverider," features a different sound from that of their recent album; with the group serving up some a dose of bouncy, Kraftwerkian synth-pop. The track's title, however, is intended as a topical protest and homage devoted to one of techno's leading innovators, DJ Grooverider.
As one of the premier architects of the "breakbeat hardcore" sound on the early '90s rave scene, Grooverider (aka Raymond Bingham) is an iconic figure in the international dance-music community, playing big events around the globe while hosting a high-profile radio show on BBC Radio One. But in November of 2007, he was arrested upon arrival in Dubai, charged with carrying a small amount of cannabis into the country. Given the United Arab Emirates' zero-tolerance laws against drug possession, Bingham was handed a four-year prison sentence. A "Free Grooverider" petition campaign and negotiations between the British and Dubai governments quickly followed.
Given the delayed workings of the hardcopy indie music industry, however, things move a little slower than some current events. The Mahjongg track originally leaked on the internet on September 8; one day after Grooverider was pardoned and released -- along with 776 other prisoners -- by the king of Dubai on the advent of Ramadan. All of which makes you wonder if the "free" part of the band's anthem was meant as a celebratory adjective rather than an imperative verb. But given Grooverider's cultish status in the European dance scene, there's a chance some folks across the Big Water will appreciate the sentiment -- belated or not.