One of the most popular proponents of German trance techno during the early to mid-'90s through both his recordings, epic-length DJ sets and his ownership of the Harthouse family of labels, Sven Väth reserved his mid-'90s full-length albums for epic-length concepts that did nothing to bolster his standing in the sometimes consciously unartistic dance community.
Originally the lead singer of a dance-pop group named OFF (short for Organisation for Funk, which included future members of Snap!), Väth hit the big time in 1987 when OFF's "Electric Salsa" became a number one hit around the world. The band later disintegrated, leaving Väth free to pursue his interest in the hard trance underground of Frankfurt. Väth became a DJ of note for his marathon sets (which sometimes approached 24 hours) and his founding of Harthouse Records in 1992 with Matthias Hoffman and Heinz Roth. (His own releases on Harthouse included those by Barbarella, Astral Pilot and Metal Masters with the help of his partner, Ralf Hildenbeutel.) Blessed with an agreement connecting Harthouse (plus its subsidiaries Eye-Q and Recycle or Die) to the American major label Warner Bros., Väth released his first solo album -- again with contributions from Hildenbeutel -- in 1993. An Accident in Paradise was a solid debut, illustrating Väth's concern with connecting techno and trance to the concept-album ideas of prog-rock. Signs of excess are generally frowned upon in the dance community, however, and An Accident in Paradise died a quick death on American shores. His second album, The Harlequin, The Robot & The Ballet Dancer, was released in Europe in 1994, but its American release was delayed more than a year and sank much quicker than its predecessor. After recording an album with Stevie B-Zet as Astral Pilot, Väth laid low for several years, severing his connections with Eye Q/Harthouse and preferring to concentrate on DJing instead. Finally in 1998, he returned with a contract to Virgin and his third album, Fusion; Contact followed a year later. ~ John Bush