DUST OFF: Top 15 electronic tracks from 1996

Detroit, 1996, Saturday, retro
Detroit at noon, a Saturday in 1996

It’s time for the end-of-the-year lists and this one is of different type. About 12 months ago I selected some almost vintage tunes, my favourites from 2005. Already then it was hard to resist the temptation to delve into the nineties, a really golden era of electronic music. Now it really happened – the leap back to the year 1996 that was rich of excellent sounds. I still plan a wrap-up for 2016 but it’s also important to see what tunes have really stood the test of time. Here we go with my favourite tracks from 1996 in alphabetical order, most of them rooted in Chicago and Detroit.


Aux 88 – I Need To Freak (Direct Beat)
From the album “Is It Man Or Machine”, it’s one of the most well-known tracks written by the electro duo from Detroit. Direct Beat boasted an impressive catalogue that is worth of being repressed, the sooner the better.


Boo Williams – Home Town Chicago (Relief Records)
Chicago’s Relief Records coupled techno’s roughness with house music’s warmth and artists like Green Velvet, Gemini, Glenn Underground, Paul Johnson and Boo Williams were the heroes of the decade. This is the title track from Williams’ LP that was reissued in 2011.


Cube 40 – Bad Computa (Force Inc Music Works)
Weird electro hop and fearless funk from Khan and Jammin’ Unit who had emerged from the Cologne school of acid.


Digital Justice – Alternative Reality: Part 1: Shapes (Fragile Records)
A lesser known signing on Transmat’s sublabel that provided the sincerity of ambient for full body relaxation. Haven’t heard about Digital Justice later.


DJ Valium – Massa 1 (Teknotika)
Once a hardcore artist known as Vdd-Energise, the Belgian dropped hydraulic tribal on Gigi Galaxy’s label that was faring exceptionally well in mid-nineties.


Dopplereffekt – Speak & Spell (Infophysix)
Blueprint electro straight from the lab, written for the second 12-inch of the Detroit act run by Gerald Donald. An absolute classic.

Drexciya – Rublick’s Cube (Underground Resistance)

All has been said. ∞∞∞∞ …

Helical Scan – Index I (Chain Reaction)

Kicking off with nautical hum and minimalistic beat, it arises into a complex dub construction hammering like a robust hydraulic press throughout entire 10+ minutes. My favourite tune on Chain Reaction.

Jeff Mills – Java (Purpose Maker)

The Wizard launched Purpose Maker imprint in 1996.


Panasonic – Murto (Blast First)
Later forced to be called Pan Sonic, Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen defined annihilation with this track from the “Osasto EP”.


Phuture The Next Generation – Times Fade (Djax-Up-Beats)
Ron Maney aka DJ Skull and Roy Davis Jr were behind this inspirational acid experience. Would still decorate any club night.


Regis – We Said No (Downwards)
There was no looking back after Regis’ debut album. Loud, uncompromising fat burners that helped to shape a legend of Downwards.


Tim Harper – Enter The Dragon (Relief Records)
The inclusion of another Relief artist is a proof of the label’s dominance. Loving that tune by Tim Harper, one of Relief’s mainstays.


The Vision – Detroit: One Circle (Metroplex)
When looking for a Detroit anthem, this deepness conceived by Robert Hood is a strong contender. One of my favourite releases on Metroplex.


Woody McBride – Wall Of Confusion (Bush)
From the EP “Come In …”, it’s a devastating attack of killer bees on acid. Rough and hypnotic track from the artist also known as DJ ESP.


Junior Vasquez – If Madonna Calls (Multiply Records)
And number 16 in this list comes from my guilty pleasure folder. The answering machine recording and fat, Latin-tinged beats made it an overground hit but an enjoyable one. Go for the long “X Beat Mix”.

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