If you survived the ‘90s rave scene, give yourself a medal. Make it a large one. For those who were there (and probably don’t remember), it was a Renaissance, the space between indie and the early, hallowed Hacienda days, the grimy warehouse parties of the late ‘80s and the megaclubs of Ibiza.
Your headspace was filled with 303s, and lager lager lager. DJs became superstars. Carl Cox was (and still is) the king. The Prodigy were the tearaway electronic punks. You partied all night, your “recovery” was another party. You were an insider. It was a time when hardcore would never die. EDM wasn’t yet a thing. And your night could be made by a single, belting tune.
The knees might be sore, and the hearing ain’t what it used to be, and we could all get out a bit right now. But these ten monsters will lift the spirits of anyone stuck inside who made it through the dance scene of the ‘90s.
Yves Deruyter, “Feel Free”
A full-night’s party, boiled down into 12 tasty minutes. Deruyter’s panning effect in its hook makes this one essential for a big floor.
Emmanuel Top, “Ecsta Deal”
Trance and acid was huge on the rave scene. And not the bubbly stuff of today, with clean vocals over the top. We’re talking dark energy. Emmanuel Top’s “Ecsta Deal” is a freak, an acid trance tune with a drop so enormous, it can crush a person. Shout out to Justin Robertson for his exquisite mix for a Select Magazine covermount, in which he mixed this filthy tune into Plastikman’s “Spastik.”
Marmion, “Schöneberg (Marmion Remix)”
Berlin’s Love Parade was mecca for clubbers in the ‘90s. “Schöneberg” is a time capsule, a blast from one of the biggest party towns on earth, enjoying the biggest summer party of the year. Any year.
Commander Tom, “Are Am Eye”
Tech-trance artist Tom Weyer took us on a journey with “Are Am Eye,” a muscular mid-‘90s classic which enjoyed the remix treatment last year on the Noom label. The journey is still rumbling on.
Oliver Lieb, “Subraumstimulation”
Mention Frankfurt to a seasoned traveller, you won’t get much feedback. Banking city, massive airport. Mention Frankfurt to a ‘90s raver and their eyes will light up.
Sven Väth’s legendary Club Omen was the beating heart of Germany’s techno scene, Oliver Lieb one of its production masters. Lieb has created more than 300 recordings under dozens of aliases. Many are absolute beasts. For some extra meat in your diet, take a bite of “Subraumstimulation.”
New Order, “Blue Monday” (Hardfloor remix)
Hardfloor, a German techno duo of Oliver Bondzio and Ramon Zenker, had a knack for building walls of sound with Roland TB-303 bass synthesisers. Symphonies of acid. “Acperience 1” is a prime example and it’s without peer. The pair also had a habit of turning in astonishing remixes. Their cut of Mory Kante’s “Yeke Yeke” appeared on the soundtrack to Danny Boyle’s The Beach. And their version of New Order’s “Blue Monday” is a floor filler. Want 303s? You got ‘em.
Olaf Dieckmann, the German producer and DJ, has a Grammy nomination to his name for the “Only Road (Cosmic Gate Remix).” Many years before his Grammy nod, he unleashed a monster on dancefloors around Europe with “Neurodancer,” released under his Wippenberg moniker.
Ask any kid today their thoughts on Drax, you’ll probably be hit with some dialogue from Guardians of the Galaxy. Ask a kid from the ‘90s with a good ear for great techno, you should hear tales about “Amphetamine,” Thomas Heckmann’s absolute rock that Carl Cox mixed into Cygnus X’s brilliant “Orange Theme” on side two of F.A.C.T.
Josh Wink, “Higher State of Consciousness”
If “Higher State of Consciousness” was a good indication, Josh Wink was a sick man. The Philadelphia native (real name Joshua Winkelman) was behind a long list of ‘90s remixes and fresh cuts under various guides. “Higher State,” with its shuffling beats, dirty 303 and ridiculous buildup, was made to melt faces.
DJ Misjah and DJ Tim, “Access”
Probably the big daddy of them all. Dutchman DJ Misjah had his finger on the pulse with a string of bangers including “The Club,” “Trippin’ Out” and “Access,” a track meatier than an abattoir. Its 303 crescendo is the stuff of legend.