The 100 Greatest Australian Dance Tracks Of All Time
#60 Pnau – Embrace [etcetc, 2007]
Pnau’s Nick Littlemore and Peter Mayes have always had a knack for timing. Their turn of the two thousands debut Sambanova struck an indelible chord with its home stitched, sample-driven house loops and when Pnau came back with their third and self titled LP in 2007, Littlemore and Mayes hit on a sound that distilled the indie-dance movement that had been developing so promisingly in Australia. Back then the black-clad rock kids were venturing to clubs in search of more electronic sounds, following from the pioneering efforts of The Presets, Cut Copy et al, and in Pnau they discovered an album of danceable and vocal driven belters, with Embrace the jewel at its centre.
Continuing the album’s theme of bringing in helping hands (see collabs with Sam Littlemore, Van She/Touch Sensitive guy Michael Di Francesco and future Empire Of The Sun frontman Luke Steele) Embrace features the vocals of then-ubiquitous Kiwi import Ladyhawke, who stirs and soars as Littlemore and Mayes hit the euphoria button. It rightly registered at #12 in the 2008 Hottest 100, with plenty of punters recalling a surely shirtless Littlemore writhing along with Embrace on-stage; Pnau’s live presence on the festival circuit was so heavy in its wake. [Dave Ruby Howe] Listen now on Rdio.
#59 Regurgitator – ! (Song Formerly Known As) [Warner, 1997]
A good seven years before Midnight Juggernauts and Cut Copy started playing dance music with drum kits and guitars, Australia’s finest pop provocateurs Regurgitator put out Unit, an experiment in tongue-in-cheek electro that earned them five ARIAs and a triple platinum plaque. The best track on the album (and arguably the best track the ‘Gurge has written yet) is undeniably ! (The Song Formerly Known As) – a dance track played by a live band about how dancing around your living room with bae wearing ugly pants is so much better than going out to loud, smoky clubs. Never change, you cheeky pranksters. [Nick Jarvis] Listen now on Rdio.
#58 Ground Level – Dreams of Heaven [Vicious Vinyl, 1992]
Andy Van scored Australia’s (then) biggest international dance hit with Madison Avenue’s Don’t Call Me Baby in 2000, but eight years before that, his label Vicious Vinyl’s star duo collected a big UK dance hit with Dreams of Heaven. There were seven mixes on the original 1992 seven-inch release, but the only ones that exist on the internet now are this Candlelight mix and the uptempo Gooey remix for Vicious’s recent 21st anniversary compilation. There’s little wonder that this was a big UK hit in the early ‘90s, though – it’s perfect retro dance-pop: inspirational diva vocals, jacking beat and hands-in-the-air synth arpeggios. Dreams of Heaven is one baggy sweatshirt and a pair of Kappa jeans away from starting a warehouse rave every time you hit play. [Nick Jarvis] Listen now on Rdio.
#57 Jamie Lloyd – All The Honey (Jimi Polar’s Red Earth Mix) [Future Classic, 2008]
Back before Future Classic found Flume, they were a small two man operation, working from the lounge room of founder Nathan McLay’s apartment. In a story they’ve told a few times since blowing up, McLay worked a day job at another label then used the money he made DJing at night to pay right-hand-man Chad Gillard’s wages.
Jamie Lloyd was one of the artists they championed from the beginning and the Jimi Polar remix of All The Honey remains one of his best. It arrived in 2008 (in stark contrast to the Australian dance music blowing up the charts at the time) on a CD with ten other remixes of tracks from Lloyd’s album Trouble Within, the same release that gave us Quarion’s classic Morning Rave Remix of May I?. Quarion calls Berlin home, meaning the May I? remix wasn’t eligible for this list, but the entire More Trouble remix album will be remembered as one of FC’s defining moments. [Katie Cunningham] Listen now on Rdio.
#56 TV Rock vs Dukes of Windsor – The Others [Sony, 2007]
The mid 2000s will be remembered for some questionable fashion developments and similarly questionable Australian political slogans. Likewise, the convergence of indie rock and the dancefloor is a touchstone of the halfway point of the noughties, and between albums from the Midnight Juggernauts and Klaxons, and crowd-uniting hits like Cut Copy’s Hearts on Fire and The Presets’ My People, 2007 was something of a watershed year for the ‘indie dance’ troupe.
On a similar tilt that year was the meeting of all-star production duo TV Rock and Melbourne indie outfit Dukes Of Windsor. The pair of Grant Smillie and Ivan Gough followed up their mega-hit Flaunt It by resurrecting The Others from Dukes Of Windsor’s 2006 LP and reheating it with a thick slab of big room electro-house attitude. The mix of TV Rock’s pumping production and a yelping indie vocal proved a timely success, storming into the top ten of the ARIA singles chart, as well as plenty of clubs country-wide. [Dave Ruby Howe] Listen now on Rdio.
#55 Honeysmack – Walk On Acid [DanceNet, 1999]
Maverick acid-house and techno producer David Haberfield, aka Honeysmack, is one of the constellation of talents who gave Melbourne the name Techno City in the ‘90s. His dedication to the art of analogue wizardry is legendary, especially as he was one producer who believed the essence of dance music was in live performance, not DJing; and he was known for bringing a punk-rock spirit to electronic music. His 1999 classic Walk on Acid is instantly recognisable for its sample of Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach’s Walk on By, but it’s a cut far above the usual rave mashup, with its techno-soul keys, its sick drumkick and, of course, its electrifying 303 action. [Jim Poe] Listen now on Rdio.
#54 Ivan Gough & Feenixpawl – In My Mind [Neon Records, 2012]
It might have been Axwell who took In My Mind to the world stage with his chart-topping remix, but Ivan Gough and Feenixpawl’s original is still every bit the tune. No wonder the Swedish House Mafia don opted to edit it, drop it on the Madison Square Garden stage during their history-making set and make it one of the biggest commercial dance tracks of the year in the process. For Ivan Gough – the versatile mastermind behind everything from classics Ã la the Don’t Believe Anymore remix to bangers as TV Rock – the success of In My Mind was just another feather for an already overstuffed hat. [Katie Cunningham] Listen now on Rdio.
#53 Infusion – Radar (Earthlink remix) [Thunk, 2004]
Picking your favourite Infusion track is no easy task. This isn’t the first time the iconic Melbournites have appeared on this list and – spoiler alert – it won’t be the last. When local legend Phil Smart sent us his picks of Australia’s greatest dance tracks, Radar was the tune he singled out as Infusion’s best. “We even did an Earthlink remix of it and it still never gets old,” he told us, referring to the ‘90s alias he and Brett Mitchell released two EPs under. But we think Smart’s being modest, because as brilliant as the original edit of Radar is, Earthlink’s is even better. [Katie Cunningham] Listen now on Rdio.
#52 Flume – Sleepless [Future Classic, 2011]
The first time he hit play on Sleepless, Future Classic founder Nathan McLay couldn’t have known he was listening to a track that would lay the foundation for a new era in Australian dance music. The label had run an originals comp and a 19-year-old Harley Streten, encouraged by his then-What So Not collaborator Chris Emerson, had sent in three tracks: Sleepless, Over You and Paper Thin. With warm, wrap-around bass and and blissed out melodies, the beats were totally incomparable to anything else around at the time, and completely different to the deep house releases Future Classic had made their name on. “I remember sifting through all the submissions in SoundCloud and starring this Flume guy,” McLay told inthemix when we documented the beginning of Streten’s meteoric rise three years ago.
The song was good enough for Future Classic to sign him – “we met up with Harley and just started from there,” McLay told us – and make Sleepless the lead single on Streten’s debut EP. So in mid-2011, “this Flume guy” started playing his first shows, supporting New Navy at Oxford Art Factory and handling the early slot at Future Classic’s Vivid studio party, two billings that are hard to imagine now. The big time was still a way off yet – those sold-out Hordern Pavilion shows wouldn’t happen for another year and a half – but Sleepless was the track that tipped everyone off to Australia’s big new talent. [Katie Cunningham] Listen now on Rdio.
#51 Muscles – Ice Cream [Modular, 2008]
Muscles came swinging out of nowhere in 2007, taking everyone by surprise with the self-aware, funny and very of-the-moment electro-pop of his debut Guns Babes Lemonade, and then vanishing just as quickly as he’d appeared. He returned in 2012 with follow-up Manhood, but by that time the zeitgeist had passed; that’s of little consequence, though, since Muscles had already contributed tunes like Sweaty and Ice Cream to the Australian canon. Ice Cream really struck a chord at the time – it shot to #14 in the Hottest 100, and the album hit number one on the dance chart. Maybe it was the lines about just wanting to “dance with your shirt off” or the catchiness of its lo-fi vocoder electro-funk; whatever it was, Ice Cream was the flavour of the moment. [Nick Jarvis] Listen now on Rdio.
#50 Sneaky Sound System – Pictures (Tonite Only remix) [Whack, 2006)]
While Sneaky Sound System’s original version of Pictures was like a funk song that had its funkiness surgically removed via some invasive procedure, Tonite Only’s remix rebuilt it entirely. It started with fat bass that suited Connie Mitchell’s voice perfectly, and then surprised you with a strummed acoustic guitar before sneaking that bass back in and then adding synth beeps and lasers, almost every moment of the music packed with incident. The patient emerged from the procedure in robust health. It was such an immediate and massive improvement that the remix made it to number one on the club charts and number six on the overall charts, while the original stalled at number 19. [Jody Macgregor] Listen now on Rdio.
#49 Tommy Trash – Monkey See Monkey Do (Tommy Trash re-edit) [Mau5trap, 2013]
Australia’s produced plenty of dance heroes, but few have reached the mainstage-scaling heights of Tommy Trash. It was his tune The End that took Thomas Olsen from a dependable Sydney DJ to a titan in the league of Aoki and Alesso – and we have Tiesto’s support of the track to thank for that – but Monkey See Monkey Do, re-edited for a release on Deadmau5’s label Mau5trap, is our pick of Olsen’s discography. He and Sebastian Ingrosso’s mammoth hit Reload would have made this list too, if it weren’t for the fact that his production partner is a Swede. [Katie Cunningham] Listen now on Rdio.
#48 Sonic Animation – Theophilus Thistler [Global Recordings, 1999]
Take one pair of Royal Elastics sneakers, one pair of three-quarter-cargo-pants, one copy of Fatboy Slim’s You’ve Come A Long Way Baby, a liberal sprinkling of Propellerheads Take California, blend them all together and you have the mixture that surely went into baking Australia’s first massive big beat track.
Adrian Cartwright and Rupert Keiller (AKA Sonic Animation) have released over 100 tracks in the course of a five album career, but it’s this one novelty-ish earworm of a song (and their signature dancing TechnoTubby mascots at live shows) that earned them slots near the top of the Big Day Out’s Boiler Room line-up for most of the years between 1999 and their finale in 2006, when they stepped in to headline for an ill Mylo. Nearly ten years later, the only other Sonic Animation music we’ve received is a three-track EP in 2011, but Theophilus Thistler has already secured their redoubtable place in Australian dance history. [Nick Jarvis] Listen now on Rdio.
#47 Jaytech – Pepe’s Garden [Anjunadeep, 2008]
By 2008 James Cayzer AKA Jaytech had already become established as a progressive house maestro who was attracting his fair share of international attention, particularly from Above & Beyond, who’d snapped him up to become somewhat of a mascot for their Anjunadeep sublabel. Seven years later, Pepe’s Garden still stands as his defining masterpiece and signature record.
“In many ways, Pepe’s Garden exemplifies what Jaytech is all about: a great balance of driving rhythms, a gut-thumping bassline and wonderfully textured melodies,” inthemix wrote of the track when it later made an appearance on Cayzer’s debut album Everything Is OK. “I am not sure where Jaytech met this ‘Pepe’ character, but you can tell he had a pretty damn nice garden.”
As it turns, Pepe was a friend Jaytech had met while touring through Central and South America with his progressive brethren Matt Rowan, Kosmas Epsilon and Tom Morgan. The track was laid down in Brazil, and funnily enough, a video surfaced on YouTube later that year of Sasha dropping it at the country’s famed Warung Beach Club, with the veteran superstar DJ enamoured with the record’s charms. “I’ll never forget seeing the video,” Jaytech told inthemix. “At one point he turns to the camera with this ‘yeeeeah!’ look on his face. That was pretty cool.” [Angus Paterson] Listen now on Rdio.
#46 Pendulum – Tarantula [Breakbeat Kaos, 2005]
“We’ve never made a tune that’s a ‘DJ Tool’ so to speak,” Paul “El Hornet” Harding told Brisbane street press Time Off in 2005. “Everything’s got to have a theme or it’s got to have a purpose rather than just being music for the sake of being music. People outside the drum’n’bass world need to have something more than just an endless five-minute loop.”
Thus the template was set for Pendulum’s breakout 2005 LP Hold Your Colour, with the relentless chopping and changing of Tarantula one of many tracks which sent the band screaming across radio dials and festival stages upon its release. Ironically, it’s one of the few tracks on their debut which goes close to fitting the ‘DJ Tool’ format – should any DJ fancy their chances of mixing that lilting reggae intro into whatever track is currently rinsing their dancefloor. Even at this early stage of their career the Perth outfit were able to call in some big name favours, with the legendary DJ Fresh (of DNB supergroup Bad Company) on the boards and MCs $pyda and Tenor Fly on the hook. The result, much like its arachnid namesake, is big, nasty and unforgettable. [Kris Swales]
#45 HMC – LSD [Juice Records, 1995]
However reclusive he is by nature, Adelaide’s Cam Bianchetti (AKA House Master Cam, AKA Late Nite Tuff Guy) ruled the techno and acid scene in Australia in the ‘90s with a furious artillery barrage of dope jams that conquered dancefloors worldwide. I remember his stuff on Dirty House Records flying out of the bins in New York’s shops at the time. 1995’s Southern Cross double-vinyl EP is Cam at the prolific peak of his powers: right up there with the output of, say, Laurent Garnier or Underground Resistance from the same time period, its six tracks ranging from warm liquidy deep tech to the hard stuff, all of them bangers that hold up to this day. LSD is the standout though. In typical HMC fashion, its drum kit has a funky feel that would almost sound garagey if it were slowed down, but the acid bassline, freaky filters and dark atmosphere have a hurtling energy that’s been shaking the techno tent for 20 years. It’s as epic, peaky and trippy as its name. [Jim Poe] Listen now on Rdio.
#44 The Avalanches – Since I Left You [Modular, 2000]
15 years. 15 goddamn years. That’s how long it’s been for Avalanches fans, withering in hope of a sophomore LP, trying to quell any pangs of excitement with every sporadic morsel of rumour, every unsatisfying remix released under the Avalanches’ banner. Truth is, the landmark brilliance of Since I Left You came from a different era. A maelstrom of artisanal, unhinged samples, an erratic energy that could only come from a youthful lack of inhibition, the fertile grounds of sharehouse living. The title track, lifting its gleeful, repetitive hook from The Main Attraction’s Everyday, marks a triumphant highlight on a faultless album. It’s dance, carving a wormhole through to ‘50s doo-wop, coming up with something truly beautiful in the process. 15 years on, nothing has come close. [Lachlan Kanoniuk] Listen now on Rdio.
#43 Yolanda Be Cool & D Cup – We No Speak Americano [Sweat It Out, 2010]
No Australian dance track has swept the world quite like We No Speak Americano. Yolanda Be Cool and D Cup’s bouncy hit beat out the likes of Katy Perry and Eminem to take #1 in 16 countries including the UK, France and Germany, sold a million singles in the US, went twice Platinum at home in Australia and earned the boys the 2011 ARIA for Best Dance Release. In Sweden, it went a whopping six times Platinum. In Russia and Argentina, Americano spawned parody versions, while Germany delivered its own unforgettable televised rendition. Pitbull even sampled it for a track.
So large was the beast that two years after We No Speak Americano first hit clubs, Yolanda Be Cool issued a very funny mock “recall” for the track. “After careful analysis, we have concluded that our hit song has been grossly overplayed and in some extreme cases, misused,” the pair announced with the resigned expression of two DJs who knew their tune had hit saturation point.
It should have been a big pay day for Sweat it Out – the label helmed by the late, great Ajax – but in a story that’s become industry folklore, the track’s now-famous sample wasn’t cleared before the release and it cost the duo big time.
“We knew it had a big sample in it, but certainly never in a million years did we think it would hit the charts, let alone go top 10 in countries like Germany and the UK, so we didn’t bother clearing it,” the Yolanda boys told ITM five years later. “But, as luck would have it, it went to number one on Beatport and then labels from all around the world started enquiring, wanting to sub-license for their respective territories. It was then that we decided to clear it (which unfortunately left us with zero publishing). But at least we were allowed to keep the track out there rather than take it down.” Heavy. [Katie Cunningham] Listen now on Rdio.
#42 Sgt. Slick – White Treble, Black Bass [Vicious Grooves, 1997]
The ARIA Awards don’t always get it right, but they of the pointy trophies nailed it in 1998 when Sgt. Slick walked away with the Best Dance Release gong for White Treble, Black Bass. At the time, it was the third ever release on Vicious Grooves, the house-oriented offshoot of John Course’s long-running imprint. Seventeen years later, Course told inthemix, it still stands out as one of the label’s milestone tracks.
“We loved the groove and signed the track, but it had a sample which we had to clear,” Course reflected. “Ironically the spoken words it samples saying ‘White people turn up the treble, black people turn up the bass’ was from a music documentary and ended up being the voice of a prominent music business lawyer. The lawyer was amused that he had worked in the business for years and it was the first time he ever appeared on a record, so he was happy to clear the vocal.” That same sample went on to be used by Chris Lake and the Trophy Twins in their track Babaloo, but it’s Sgt. Slick’s original that remains the undisputed classic. [Katie Cunningham] Listen now on Rdio.
#41 The Presets – Are You The One? [Modular, 2005]
After The Girl and the Sea introduced us to The Presets and their game-changing live-electro-pop sound in late 2004, the next year their debut LP Beams dropped and with it three aggressive dance-punk tracks custom made for sweaty basements, a world away from the wistful melancholia of the The Girl and the Sea. Down Down Down, I Go Hard, I Go Home and Are You The One all brought rave and punk rock energy to Beams, but Are You The One earns its place here for perfectly capturing the keen anticipation and anxiety of a loose night spent getting to know a potential new bedmate: “baring our souls, out of our heads and ready to go.” [Nick Jarvis] Listen now on Rdio.
#40 Astral Project – Come With Me [Vicious Vinyl, 1992]
A long time before he was involved in Don’t Call Me Baby, DJ Andy Van Dorsselaer (of Vandalism and Blackout as well as Madison Avenue, to be fair) teamed up with Arden Godfrey for Hi-NRG outfit Astral Project. Their track Come With Me is a perfect time capsule of 1992 – especially the video, filmed in a Richmond warehouse and frozen forever in the amber of VHS recording. Goth girls in chokers, dudes with long-sleeves under their short sleeves, lingering 1980s shoulderpads, that one unwanted guy in chinos muscling in on two girls dancing together, and every one of them proper old-fashioned arms-in-the-air raving to those undeniable duelling keyboards. [Jody Macgregor] Listen now on Rdio.
#39 Deep Funk Project – 2 Heavy [Zero Tolerance Recordings, 2001]
“We had a minimal kind of aesthetic, I suppose,” legendary Melbourne DJ/producer Ivan Gough told inthemix in 2014 – in reference not to his chart-topping TV Rock project of the mid-to-late ‘00s, but the Zero Tolerance label and turn-of-the-century dark Melbourne prog sound he sat at the epicentre of.
Nowhere is this manifesto laid out more clearly than on 2 Heavy, one of a handful of tracks released under Gough and Gab Olivier’s Deep Funk Project moniker in 2001-02. “Minimal” is something of an understatement. Detractors of ‘bog prog’ would hold 2 Heavy up as an example of all that’s wrong with the sound just as quickly as fans would sing its virtues. But the slow burn of the opening five minutes has its payoff as a synthesiser ‘pedal note’ (the musical term for a sustained ‘drone’) opens up across the breakdown into a chord which destroys everything in its wake once the beat returns. “The rest of the record is simple and straight,” Gough says, “but it works a treat.” Indeed. [Kris Swales] Listen now on Rdio.
#38 Pnau – Baby [etcetc, 2007]
Remember that weird moment in time where dance bangers weren’t bangers without a schoolyard singalong? Pnau’s Baby is undeniably, and admirably, obnoxious, its horn-addled beat blasting like a brat with tongue out and thumbs in ears, the chant compounded by brilliant lyrical simplicity. As if the burgeoning fertile platform of the blogosphere wasn’t enough, the self-titled album which contains Baby was given a feted tick of approval from none other than Elton John, who later collaborated with the Sydney duo on the full-length remix LP Good Morning To The Night. While Pnau’s Nick Littlemore went on to join Luke Steele (in an on again, off again dynamic) in international festival headliners Empire Of The Sun, Baby stands as a cute, humble artefact from the weird and wonderful indie dance explosion of the mid-to-late 2000s. [Lachlan Kanoniuk] Listen now on Rdio.
#37 Cut Copy – Saturdays [Modular, 2004]
The first time I heard Cut Copy play in Brooklyn, I felt like I was having a flashback to the peak of the Madchester explosion of the ‘90s – one of my generation’s musical turning points. Only instead of Northern England, these guys were from Melbourne; and I wasn’t tripping, it really was the nearly flawless fusion of indie, pop and dance I’d been missing for years. It also provided a glimpse of the future: Cut Copy were in a way prophets of the Australian Sound that would ascend to dominance in the next decade. I soon got really obsessed with them in an obsessive fanboy way that belied the grey hairs in my beard.
After I moved to Australia, I kept my fetish secret, lest the embarrassment distract from my usual business as a discerning fan of serious electronic music. I was amazed and relieved to discover how many of my Aussie mates, no matter how cool they are, will admit to loving Cutters – and how many go apeshit for Saturdays in particular. It’s like the millennial Australian Billie Jean.
Saturdays astounded me when I heard it that night years ago. Its juicy groove and sugary-sweet keys and guitars fold decades of influences together with arrogant ease – take Pills ‘N Thrills-era Happy Mondays with the best ‘80s white electro-boogie (Tom Tom Club, Dan Hartman, Thieves Like Us by New Order). The lyrics are the best: two rhyming couplets so earnestly silly a child, or Joey Ramone, could have written them. It is a perfect indie-dance confection, and perfectly addictive, with universal appeal. Play it at a wedding and everyone from 2 to 72 is up and dancing. Funny how time works: this über-noughties hipster-ironic riff on the classics is now a classic itself. [Jim Poe] Listen now on Rdio.
#36 Riot in Belgium – The Acid Never Lies [Relish Records, 2006]
Beni Single (Bang Gang) and Joel Dickson’s mid-00s collab’ group Riot In Belgium only spawned two original tracks, but both of them have well-deserved places on this list. Further down towards number one you’ll find all-time classic La Musique, but its sibling is this quintessential indie-electro banger from 2006 – all filtered Daft Punk-esque vocal and pulsing robo-funk beat. It’s a time machine straight back to the era when Hipster Runoff was king of the internet, Uffie was the ultimate sex symbol, Hype Machine was everything, and French and Australian electro ruled dance floors all over the world. In ten years’ time when kids are throwing ironic ‘00s parties, this will be on every peak-hour playlist. [Nick Jarvis] Listen now on Rdio.
#35 Wa Wa Nee – Stimulation [CBS, 1985]
There’s a ton of amazing ‘80s Australian funk/synth/pop out there – most of the back catalogue of INXS, for starters – but Wa Wa Nee’s 1986 hit Stimulation makes it in this list for its dad-dance-inducing extended mix, a seven-minute slap-bass odyssey that rivals Prince’s finest work for generating dancefloor fire. The original single helped Wa Wa Nee’s debut album go platinum in Australia, although their career foundered after 1989 (their major highlight since has been supporting Rick Astley on his 2012 and 2014 tours). But this straight-fire extended mix more than deserves its place in the Dance Classics pool room. [Nick Jarvis] Listen now on Rdio.
#34 Andy Page – Serpent [2005, Blueprint Recordings]
Although it had a fairly short lifespan, Numinous and Habersham’s Blueprint Recordings can lay claim to releasing one of the best progressive breaks tunes of all time – Australian-made or otherwise – in the form of Andy Page’s monstrous Serpent. Page always had a knack for testing the limits of sound design within a club music framework while still making his music danceable, often inserting completely out-of-this-world, utterly bent sonics into his tracks that somehow didn’t detract from the groove, but actually enhanced it.
On Serpent, Page sets up a beautiful, rolling kick-snare beat pattern, complemented by a simple, modulating bassline and lush chords, washes and atmospherics, before totally flipping the script in the breakdown and experimenting with outrageous edits to a distorted guitar lick, absurd glitches and bass growls, and a cacophony of metallic clangs, warbles and bleeps for the remainder of the track. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who was clubbing during the “golden era of progressive breaks” who can’t recount a story about a time they heard Serpent on the dancefloor without involuntary breaking into a stupid grin as they remember the track in their heads. [Andrew Wowk] Listen now on Rdio.
#33 Seekae – Void [Rice Is Nice, 2008]
Seekae’s genius seems to have entered the world fully formed, like Athena springing from the head of Zeus, with their scintillating 2008 album The Sound of Trees Falling on People.
Fusing the glitchy electronica of Warp Records titans like Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin with a live space-rock approach, they created a work that in some ways one-ups its influences for listenability and atmosphere. Live electronica doesn’t often work – it always seems like a band is shackled to earth compared to a producer who can create any sound – but Seekae have the best of both worlds, with truly adventurous sonic constructions that always coalesce into real songs. (Their latest album and first for Future Classic, 2014’s The Worry, is in a different vein: more accessible, vocal-heavy and “pop,” but in the most excellent way.)
Void, the second track on The Sound of Trees, is a highlight among highlights, the track that kicks the album (and maybe Seekae’s career) into overdrive. In many ways it anticipated the lush glitch-hop of Flume and countless others that’s now the dominant sound of the airwaves in Australia. The melancholy synth-harmonium and wistful nonverbal sighing vocals create a heartachingly gorgeous ambience as glitchy half-formed beats clatter around; it’s truly magic when the song shifts gears and the trip-hop beat drops in earnest. This is the kind of tune you want on the radio when you’re driving home at sunset, the kind that stays at the top of your playlist for years because it always triggers a feeling of well-being. [Jim Poe] Listen now on Rdio.
#32 Groove Terminator – One More Time (The Sunshine Song) [Virgin, 2000]
Take one iconic 1960s vocal snippet, add a block-rocking sample-heavy backing beat and you have the recipe for Australia’s greatest-ever contribution to the big beat canon. (The memorable film clip with model Annalise Braakensiek getting all Barbarella didn’t hurt either.) Adelaide’s Groove Terminator was a force to be reckoned with in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, and these days he’s still killing it as one half of Tonite Only, but One More Time will forever be a Rage classic. [Nick Jarvis] Listen now on Rdio.
#31 Touch Sensitive – Pizza Guy [Future Classic, 2013]
One day when music historians excavate the Great Australian Sound of the twenty-teens to piece together how it took over the world, they will no doubt decide that Pizza Guy is the key to the whole mystery: 21st century Aussie quintessence in four midtempo minutes of snapping bass, echoey claps, gurgling vocal stabs and swooshy synths so bright and sunny you need shades. As an expat I can tell you that this tune is an audio snapshot of everything I love about the music scene and life here: as warm, inviting, laid-back and overloaded with fun as the iconic Sydney beaches that guest-star (along with Flume and Chet Faker) in the hilariously cheesy video. It’s a track made to give you nostalgia for summery good times you haven’t had yet.
The Oz factor aside, the question to ask yourself about an indie-dance record you think might be great is this: no matter how pasty-white the producer is, would Larry Levan have played it at the Paradise Garage in 1985? Is it worthy of I Can’t Wait by Nu Shooz? With Pizza Guy, the answer is a resounding hell yeah, thanks to Touch Sensitive’s way with his rubbery live bass, chugging boogie groove and melodic flair. Future classic indeed. [Jim Poe] Listen now on Rdio.