Aussies have always loved to rave. Since the arrival of acid house in the late '80s, we've been obsessed with jarring minimal grooves, wearing ridiculous (yet comfortable) outfits and going to some bush doof in the middle of a paddock with the sole purpose of spacing out. For many it's a rite of passage, for some, it's a way of life, and for those who've sworn to rave forever, nothing hits the spot quite like it did in the '90s. Today, we're donning our Reeboks, filling up our drink bottles, and winding the clock back to the 1990s to revisit some of the best deep cuts from the golden age of Australian rave.
B(if)tek - ‘We Think You’re Dishy’
Hailing from Canberra and comprised of Kate Crawford and Nicole Skeltys, B(if)tek were associated with the Clan Analogue collective in the early ‘90s, which birthed a great many of the decade’s best acts. ‘We Think You’re Dishy’ was one of the duo’s defining tracks, marrying a funky house groove with a cascading synth sequence, string stabs and icy vocoders to create one bizarre dance floor odyssey. The music video, filmed at Sydney’s iconic Club Kooky, is an absolute hoot as well - it absolutely screams late ‘90s Rage.
Honeysmack - ‘Walk On Acid’
A world-recognised authority in the art of acid house, Honeysmack’s knack for hardware and give-no-fucks attitude saw him become a bona fide hero of Melbourne’s electronic scene - a status that lingers even to this day. ‘Walk On Acid’ saw Honeysmack sample Burt Bacharach’s classic ‘Walk On By’ and obliterate it with a thumping kick and slippery 303 bassline, and was so adored by the scene that it was nominated for an ARIA in 1999. If you’re a keen electronic fan, be sure to check out his live hardware sets on YouTube: this man’s an absolute master of his machines.
Zen Paradox - ‘Say Goodbye To The Dark Place’
Trance music might not be viewed favourably by today’s critical consensus, but back in the day, it was all the rage - remember, these were early days for ravers. One choice cut from this era is Zen Paradox’s sublime 1994 track ’Say Goodbye To The Dark Place’. Zen Paradox is considered an OG of Australian trance, and on this track it’s easy to tell why, with the artist utilising twinkling arpeggios, a heavy bass groove and droning, suspenseful strings to create a transcendental experience unlike any other.
Endorphin - ‘Satie 1’
Sometimes, even ravers have got to take it easy. Arriving to the scene amidst the trip-hop boom of the late ‘90s, Endorphin’s breezy productions became a favourite comedown soundtrack for many punters, and ‘Satie 1’, the first track from his 1998 debut Embrace exemplifies this. Driven by a IDM influenced beat and embellished with washy new-age pianos, ’Satie 1’ is absolute post-rave euphoria of the finest kind, and sounds way ahead of its time: as if those synths don’t sound like they’re torn straight from the Kevin Parker playbook?
DJ HMC - ‘6 AM’
DJ HMC is regarded by many as the godfather of Australian techno, and was a pivotal force in the ‘90s scene. ‘LSD’ and ‘Marauder’ might be bigger club hits, but it’s the hypnotic squelch of ‘6 AM’ that takes the cake for me. Here, DJ HMC works with the bare essentials, pushing a very low corrosive bassline and a TR-909 drum machine to their limits to make one of the nastiest acid techno tracks of the era. Listen to the way the 303 is panned throughout the track: it's absolutely genius. These days, HMC makes funky disco edits under the moniker Late Nite Tuff Guy, a beloved project that even further asserts his legendary status in dance music.
FSOM - ‘Track Six’
Naming your group Future Sound of Melbourne could be considered as cocky to some, but FSOM were just that. The combination of Steve Robbins, David Carbone and Josh Abrahams were reponsible for some of the South’s filthiest techno cuts of the decade, a prime example of which is 1993’s ‘Track Six’. While ‘Track Six’ is a good 15-20bpm slower than most techno cuts today, there’s no denying that its evil bassline and classic 909 hi-hat pattern would have been dangerous on the dancefloor.
Vision Four 5 – ‘Everything You Need’
Formed at Queensland’s Griffith University in 1990, Vision Four 5 fused hard-hitting electronic sounds with cutting edge visuals, utilising a live camera feed and interactive animation system to create a lucid backdrop for ravers to trip out to during their live performances. You can see graphic prowess this in action throughout the video for ‘Everything You Need’, a true late night Rage classic and a club stomper in its own right. Featuring a classic Detroit-inspired vocal sample and psychedelic synthesisers courtesy of some cleverly sequenced SH-101s, ‘Everything You Need’ is peak ‘90s techno.
Chili Hi Fly – ‘Is It Love’
Disco might have been a bit of a dirty word in the ears of most techno purists, but you can’t argue against the universal appeal of Chili Hi Fly. Although it didn’t achieve major chart success overseas until the new millennium, the Sydney collective’s signature track ‘Is It Love’ originally dropped back in 1998, and is considered by many as a certified standout of Australia’s late ‘90s house bloom. Of course, you’ve got to give credit to that irresistible sample from Kool & The Gang’s ‘Be My Lady’, but man does this one slam.
Voiteck - ‘Corkscrew’
Another Melbourne electronic stalwart, Voiteck was renowned for his furious improvised techno sets at institutions like Lounge and Revolver Upstairs, and held a fruitful collaborative relationship with the aforementioned Honeysmack: the duo even appeared together on ABC’s Recovery in 1996. ‘Corkscrew’ is one of the artists earlier cuts from 1992, but it might just be one of his hardest, with Voiteck pushing the tried and true 909/303 combination to electrifying heights for a heavy dosage of acidic techno.
Itch-E & Scratch-E - ‘Point Of No Return’
It goes without saying that Itch-E and Scratch-E are one of the most legendary electronic groups Australia’s ever produced. While many know the duo for their mighty ’94 hit ‘Sweetness and Light’ (to which Paul Mac dedicated to the ecstasy dealers of Sydney upon winning the inaugural ARIA Award for Best Dance Release in 1995), you can’t go past the hypnotic trance of their 1993 track ‘Point Of No Return’. It’s furiously rhythmic yet oddly melodic, and I’ll pay any track that samples Russel Crowe and turns it into a rave anthem. Superb stuff.
Revisit our ten favourite deep cuts of Australian '70s rock.