Ah, 1995. Bill Clinton was President of the United States, Windows 95 was released by Microsoft and music was issued on CD, vinyl and cassette. In terms of the arc of electronic music, it was a pivotal year which saw a legion of now legendary artists draw from the lessons they learned from disco in the ’70s and techno and house in the ’80s and evolve the genre in truly innovative ways. Though the music industry attempted to market the sound to the masses as “electronica,” these albums managed to transcend past slick marketing.
With ’90s revivalism currently being embraced by a new generation of music-makers and the fact that today is the middle of the year, we thought the time was right to pay our respects to some of the style’s most influential releases released two decades ago.
Animated GIF created for Big Shot by Christian Petersen
Leftfield – Leftism (Hard Hands)
Bathing their bass-heavy debut album with elements of tribal, dub and trance, Paul Daley and Neil Barnes forged a revolutionary, almost otherworldly sound on an LP featuring cameos by John Lydon from Public Image Ltd./Sex Pistols and Toni Halliday from Curve.
Released: January 30, 1995
Leftfield & Lydon – Open Up by enkil_
Goldie – Timeless (Metalheadz)
As jungle, drum ‘n’ bass and the underground rave scene percolated in Bristol and London, Goldie, a breakdancer/B-boy with gold teeth and swagger, stepped to the forefront with Timeless, an intense album blending crisp breakbeats and angelic vocals with lush strings and atmospherics. Timeless stands as a turning point for the genre, an album that paved the way for his peers to release album projects though it left many wondering how exactly to dance to this new beat.
Released: September 12, 1995
The Chemical Brothers – Exit Planet Dust (Astralwerks)
Once known as the Dust Brothers, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons forged their creative template on this classic debut album. As electronica was starting to become a buzz word in America, the Brothers squeezed 11 party-rocking tunes into an album boasting gargantuan beats and cameos from Tim Burgess (“Life Is Sweet”) and Beth Orton (“Alive Alone”) that intrigued clubbers and the indie set alike.
Released: June 26, 1995
Nightmares On Wax – Smokers Delight (Warp)
A devotee of soul music who eventually ventured into hip-hop, George Evelyn hit his creative downtempo stride at the same time trip-hop was evolving in the UK. Smokers Delight is a funky romp, but he went beyond the pale with “Nights Introlude,” a smooth, hazy affair sampling Quincy Jones cover of “Summer in the City,” the song rightfully found itself on just about every chill out compilation worth its salt. Ca-ching!
Released: October 24, 1995
A Guy Called Gerald – Black Secret Technology (Juice Box)
On his 1990 album Automanikk, Gerald Simpson, one of the co-founders of Manchester’s 808 State, vowed “I Won’t Give In” after exiting the group. Five years later he leapfrogged over his former bandmates, evolving from his housier origins to breaking new ground in the burgeoning world of drum ‘n’ bass. In the same way Goldie’s Timeless rewrote many of dance music’s musical rules, Simpson went deep, crafting insanely complex rhythms and drawing from the music he heard from his Jamaican parents.
Released: February, 1995
Move D – Kunststoff (Source)
On this triumphant effort German ambient-techno deity David Moufang crafted a sublime album referencing house, chillout, IDM and downtempo issued on his and Jonas Grossman’s Source label in 1995. The grooves he created were fluid and limber, slinking effortlessly from one style to the next with grace. Often overlooked, this one’s right up there artistically with Autechre’s Incunabula.
Aphex Twin – I Care Because You Do (Warp)
Musical iconoclast and recent Grammy winner Richard D. James’ work has always eschewed musical boundaries while winning a legion of faithful fans. On his third album, I Care Because You Do, James explored ambient techno, infusing each song with intricate percussion loops layered with analogue synthesizers peppered with shards of caustic noise.
Released: April 25, 1995
Autechre – Tri Repetae (Warp)
“Incomplete without surface noise.” Those four words comprised the liner notes for Rob Brown and Sean Booth’s third album. Released as Tri Repetae++ in the U.S., the full-length found the duo moving well beyond ambient music into a sound including grinding beats and machine-driven textures.
Released: November 6, 1995
The Black Dog – Spanners (Warp)
One of the leaders of the IDM scene, this British trio’s album served up heady rhythms and beats that were unafraid to go above and beyond the norm for the time. Though the album was a critical it, the threesome broke up after its release.
Released: January 16, 1995
Electric Skychurch – Knowoneness (Moonshine)
SoCal group led by James Lumb (a former Big Shot contributor) infused ambient, dub and trance along with spirituality into their mix, creating a soundtrack for a raging party and the eventual comedown. This was thinking man’s rave music, one which drew from a spate of genres and somehow managed to revolutionize its own in the process.
Released: July 18, 1995
Banco De Gaia – Last Train to Lhasa (Planet Dog)
Touching ever so lightly on the complicated politics of Tibet while finding a beautiful common ground between ambient music and world music (particularly the sounds of Asia), this massive, three-disc album delicately crafted by Toby Marks features chanting and spoken word passage. All these years later it remains a must-have album for downtempo devotees.
Released: June 21, 1995
Carl Craig – Landcruising (Blanco Y Negro)
Various Artists – Hardkiss: Delusions of Grandeur (Hardkiss)
Model 500 – Deep Space (Sony)
Rockers Hi-Fi – Rockers to Rockers (4th & Broadway)
Moby – Everything Is Wrong (Elektra)
Björk – Post (One Little Indian)
Vanessa Daou – Zipless (MCA)
Mouse on Mars – Iaora Tahiti
Oval – 94 Diskont (Mille Plateaux)
Basic Channel – BCD (Basic Channel)
Tricky – Maxinquaye (Island)
Ballistic Brothers – London Hooligan Soul (Junior Boy’s Own)
St. Germain – Boulevard (FCommunications)
T.Power – Self Evident Truths Of An Intuitive Mind (SOUR)
Dave Angel – Tales Of The Unexpected (Blunted)
Joey Beltram – Places (Logic)
Massive Attack vs Mad Professor – No Protection (Gyroscope)
The Advent – Elements Of Life (Internal)