Mystic Bill
Mystic Bill at Soul Foundation's Darkroom residency.

There are a lot of people the average House Music DJ should know about but they don’t, and I’m thrilled beyond belief to see the rapid expansion of the Mystic Bill mythos throughout the danceosphere. It’s become kind of rote these days for blogs to copy and paste from bios, and that’s a shame because the stock answer doesn’t begin to trace the outlines of what Mystic Bill has meant to Chicago.

That there even is a “House Music” recognized globally today has a lot to do with Billy. That’s a big statement and it’s also a true one.

In the early 1990s, when the first wave of Chicago producers and star DJs had in most cases left the city and sometimes the country, it was guys like Bill – as a DJ, and as a promoter – that brought this sound to a new generation and to much of a demographic that never had much exposure to House Music the first time around. They breathed life into the underground when they didn’t dig it out themselves. They made sure that random kids that didn’t grow up with WBMX and thought Dave Medusa might be the brother of the guy that presented horror movies on Channel 32 were exposed to something quite unlike the AOR and pop that surrounded them.

Who knows what the glacier leaves behind as it passes? He might not be proud of all of it (no founding father would want to take credit for something like this bullshit) but Bill made a positive difference in this city, that’s for sure. And like Moe Greene, there isn’t even a plaque or a statue… but there are some records.

Crimes of the Future has released a record of tracks from those days, reputedly from a cassette tape recorded in the mid-1990s. These raw, mental as fuck tracks that just reek of burning silicone. More on the Techno and harder side, it reminds me more of Mike Dearborn and DJ Skull’s records from the same era than those of the House Preservation Society that Bill was a part of.

Many of the producers who DJ’d in those days (a statement that’s almost redundant now, but then a pretty slim minority) often recorded new tracks on cassettes. Paul Johnson was the master of this, though many of his wound up on Relief. Cassette decks with pitch controls could be rolled out for gigs and a DJ would have a poor man’s (literally a poor man’s) version of the disco dubplate stuffed with exclusive tracks no one else had.

So that’s enough history, I can’t ask you for more than to go and give it a listen, because there’s still more to learn from a piece of dumb black wax than from a thousand words describing it.

A1: “Frequency 9” (7:02)
A2: “Frequency 9” (Scott Fraser Mind Control mix) (10:54)
B1: “The Ship Is Sinking” (7:34)
B2: “The Ship Is Sinking” (instrumental) (7:16)