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Senser

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Biography

In the early '90s, when the cross-pollination of rock, rap, and electronica swept through the popular music industry, Senser emerged as one of the more promising groups, garnering plenty of attention and hype before the London band's lineup splintered following only one album. Began in South West London in the late '80s, Senser boasted a large and diverse roster of musicians: Andy Clinton (DJ), Heitham Al-Sayed (vocals), Kerstin Haigh (vocals), James Barrett (bass), Nick Michaelson (guitar), John Morgan (drums), and Haggis (producer/engineer/programmer). These artists would integrate numerous styles -- hip-hop, hard rock, dance, psychedelia, electronica, and more -- into their music, drawing comparisons and affiliating themselves with other bands who took a similarly eclectic approach such as Ozric Tentacles. An appearance at the 1992 Glastonbury Festival was the culmination of Senser's early gigs. Soon, the press began championing, or at least hyping, the band, and a record deal soon followed. Senser's first single, "Eject," went straight to number one in the NME independent singles chart in early 1993 and went on to become the NME independent single of the year. Two more singles followed "Eject" -- "The Key" and "Switch" -- along with the band's first full-length, Stacked Up, which entered the national charts at number four. The band toured Europe behind the album, making a sincere effort to bring such issues as racism to the fore, expressing its sentiments with both the lyrics of frontman Heitham Al-Sayed and the band's support of such organizations as the Anti-Nazi League. The band toured through 1993 and much of 1994 as well, following its high-profile appearance at the Reading Festival with another European tour, this time in support of the Rollins Band. After so much touring, tension began to take its toll on Senser. There was a brief sabbatical from touring before Moby invited the band to support him in the U.S. and the band accepted the offer. This stateside visit proved to be the band's breaking point, and several members -- John Morgan, Heitham Al-Sayed, and Haggis-- parted ways in August 1995. Despite these major losses to the band's ranks, Senser continued with Haigh as its sole vocalist. There was yet more touring in 1996 and a new album in 1997, Asylum, recorded with producer Arthur Baker. However, during the album's recording, Haigh became pregnant, ending any possibilities for touring. Showcasing yet again its resilience, Senser soldiered on as De-Senser, an electronica off-shoot experimenting with strictly electronic music. One drum'n'bass-styled single appeared in summer 1997, "Om." After this brief venture into dance music, Haigh returned to the fold, and Asylum was finally released in summer 1998, followed by a two-month tour of the U.K. and Europe. ~ Jason Birchmeier

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