Best of 1996

It's actually quite silly to put out these "Best of" lists at the end of year. Like, who cares, huh? I've made my best effort, though -- feel free to agree or disagree but here they are. (Check also another Best of '96 list @ Helsinki Underground.)

As you see, my tastes in 1996 were quite diverse, everything from Detroit techno to some more experimental jungle of Photek to this "neo-electro" genre of which the acts as differing as Drexciya, Jedi Knights, Underground Resistance, Octagon Man (and everything on Electron Industries label) and I-f/Interr-Ference (with his "dope from the sewers of Hague" I specifically learned to know and fell in love with) all caught my fancy. Also of some more downtempo stuff, that particular brand of cyber-cocktail jazz of Clear Records and the abstract hip-hop jams of Mo' Wax and Ninja Tune labels were still regularly spinning on my plate, though there was a distinct feel of imminent trip-hop backlash in the air (with Chemical Brothers virtually making one same track release after release, and all those inept "Brithop" imitators)... All in all, a very interesting year, though.


Al's Records - Volume 1 (Al's Records/Island UK)
Robert Armani - Blow It Out (ACV Italy)
As One - The Message In Herbie's Shirts (Clear UK)
Axis - The Other Day EP (Axis US)
Drexciya - Molecular Enhancement (Rephlex UK)
Drexciya - The Return of Drexciya EP (Underground Resistance US)
Empirion - Narcotic Influence (Meat Beat Manifesto remix) (XL UK)
Eon - Phaze Test (Electron Industries UK)
The Ganja Kru - Super Sharp Shooter (Ganja UK)
Richie Hawtin - Concept series (Plus 8 Canada)
Robert Hood - The Pace (M-Plant US)
I-f - Portrait of a Dead Girl (Disko B Germany)
I-f / TN - Murdercapital MC 001 (Murdercapital Holland)
Maurizio - Maurizio #6 (M6)
Ian O'Brien - Monkey Jazz (Ferox UK)
The Octagon Man - Phonic Maze/Rimm (Electron Industries UK)
Paperclip People - Floor (Open UK)
Andrea Parker - The Rocking Chair (Mo' Wax UK)
Photek - Hidden Camera (Science UK)
Photek - UFOs (Photek UK)
Steve Poindexter - Work That Motherfucker (ACV Italy)
Purpose Maker - Java (Purpose Maker US)
Steel - Heavy Listening (Mille Plateaux Germany)
UR - Electronic Warfare + Remixes (Underground Resistance US)
X-Asp - Terra Ferma (Rephlex UK)


B12 - Time Tourist (Warp UK)
Dr. Octagon - Dr. Octagon (Mo' Wax UK)
Alec Empire - Hypermodern Jazz 2000.5 (Mille Plateaux Germany)
Fred Giannelli - Telepathic Romance (Sähkö Finland)
Jacob's Optical Stairway - Jacob's Optical Stairway (R&S Belgium)
LFO - Advance (Warp UK)
Meat Beat Manifesto - Subliminal Sandwich (Play It Again Sam Belgium)
Red Snapper - Prince Blimey (Warp UK)
Squarepusher - Feed Me Weird Things (Rephlex UK)
Stereolab - Emperor Tomato Ketchup (Duophonic UHF UK)
E mmanuel Top - Asteroid (NovaMute UK)
Tortoise - Millions Now Living Will Never Die (Thrill Jockey US)
The Two Lone Swordsmen - The Fifth Mission (Return To The Flightpath Estate) (Emissions Audio Output UK)
Viewlexx - Testpilot Vol. 1 (Electro-Nix Holland)
V/A - Blech: The Next Phase (Warp UK)
V/A - Dave Clarke: X-Mix Electro Boogie (K7 Germany)
V/A - Headz 2 (Mo' Wax UK)
V/A - It's All Becoming... (Clear UK)
V/A - Jeff Mills Live At The Liquid Room (React UK)
V/A - Ninja Cuts: Flexistentialism (Ninja Tune UK)
V/A - Platinum Breaks (Metalheadz UK)


Dave Clarke - No One's Driving (from the LP Archive One, deConstruction UK)
DJ Shadow - The Number Song (from the LP Endtroducing, Mo' Wax UK)
Jedi Knights - Noddy Holder (from the LP New School Science, Universal Language UK)
Orbital - The Girl With The Sun In Her Hair / Somewhere Out There? (from the LP In Sides, Internal UK)
T-Power - Bionic Chronic (from the LP Waveform, S.O.U.R. UK)
Underworld - Pearls Girl (from the LP Second Toughest In The Infants, Junior Boys Own UK)


Dave Angel - Classics (R&S Belgium)
Joey Beltram - Classics (R&S Belgium)
Infiniti (aka Juan Atkins) - The Infiniti Collection (Tresor Germany)
Jeff Mills - Waveform Transmissions Vol. 1 (Tresor Germany)
Paperclip People - Secret Tapes of Doctor Eich (Planet E US)
Plug - Plug 1+2 (Blue Angel UK)
V/A - Classic Acid (Mastercuts UK)
V/A - IT 1: Electro (Psychic UK)


DJ Entox - Ataxia (The Skreem US)

Amongst the overflowing commercial super-DJ crap there was one man who dared to fight it all. DJ Entox and the mighty Skreem posse from Hampton, New Hampshire, U.S.A. ruled supreme in '96 with those hard-hitting and dark noize sounds straight from the bottom of hell. (Check also The Skreem's excellent "mother site" Circuit 8 for more info on the world of harder techno.)


CJ Bolland - Sugar Is Sweeter (Internal UK 12")

You couldn't believe that Bolland who had created a bunch of techno classics in his time should now churn out this tinny-sounding Prodigy/ChemBros imitation. Such a shame.



Like Jack Dangers put it in the Meat Beat Manifesto song 1979: "I'm living in 1979 / It's a crime" -- Britpop looking back, not in anger but in nostalgia, became the biggest nuisance (Babylon Zoo or Firestarter not included) of 1996. Whether you called it Noelrock (according to one of those gruesome bros. Gallagher of Oasis -- for those of you fortunate enough to live out there on Mars and missing it all) or Dadrock, you couldn't escape those retro guitar sounds stolen from the Beatles/Bowie/Kinks/Madness anywhere. It was safe, it didn't offend anyone and even your parents could listen to it. What a bore.


1996 was another good year for Finnish techno scene. Sähkö label, Panasonic and Jimi Tenor continued with excellent releases home and abroad; Dum Records/Mono Junk man Kim Rapatti surprised with his release for the California label Plug Research; new Helsinki label Function, founded by the scene veteran Gamma-G, showed great promise with such acts as electroish Pineapple Circle and Jörg Mager; Jori Hulkkonen of the now-defunct Lumi Records released his brilliant Selkäsaari Tracks for the French F-Communications, sampling among all the Finnish yesteryear pop favourite Fredi ('3rd Line') for his smooth housy tracks. Marko Laine both released (on Djax-Up) and spinned heavy mono-trax stuff, and also kept the best import techno record store in Finland, Mind Records of Turku. The droney guitar act Circle from Pori, Finland kept fascinating with their Krautrock-esque, hypnotic live sets (covering, among their own material, Spaceman 3's Revolution) and albums (total two of them during 1996: Zopalki for Bad Vugum label and Hissi for Metamorphos). All this to prove that Finland really has some heavy-duty things going on, well comparable even on an international scale. Here in Tampere a new rave society Spinni was founded by a group of enthusiasts, with their dance magazine The Mag which should fill the gap that has been in Finnish press with what comes to commenting the dance scene in general. Also a long-awaited specialist techno/house record store Mono Records was started here in Tampere by DJ Karri, who also organised the Finnish autumn tour for the Hungarian techno act Massturbina.


Jimi Tenor - Can't Stay With You Baby (Warp UK)
Jori Hulkkonen - Selkäsaari Tracks Vol. 1 & 2 (F-Communications France)
Kentolevi - Keimola EP (Cheap Austria)
Kosmos - Kosmos EP (Puu)
Marko Laine - Mosaic EP / Shuffled EP (Djax-Up-Beats Holland)
Panasonic - Osasto EP (Blast First UK)
Kim Rapatti - Mood EP (Plug Research US)
Sasse - Freestyle Man EP (Puu)
Tekonivel - Sirkus EP (Puu)


Circle - Hissi (Metamorphos)
Circle - Zopalki (Bad Vugum)
Pineapple Circle - Distant Adrifting Circles (Function)
V/A - Funktio 1: Finnish Techno Collection (Function)
Ø - Olento (Sähkö)


DJ Infekto - The Deadly Beat Infection (Cosmos)

The Best DJ:

Marko Laine

The Best Local DJ (Tampere):

DJ Infekto

In 1996, Riku Pentti aka DJ Infekto kept busy and was responsible for spinning all the best parties in Tampere (and also in Helsinki) with consistent quality jungle/trip-hop sets, put out a great mixtape, and performed with his live actof the same name (featuring sidekick DJ Vinston on turntables). 1997 should be another big year for Infekto, with the forthcoming Pyssy Records label.

The Best Live Acts (Tampere):

Circle (Tullikamari/Yo-Talo)
Infekto (Hotel Pinja/Yo-Talo)
Massturbina (Hungary) (Tulliklubi)
Panasonic (Tulliklubi)

The Best Parties (Tampere):

Garden Club Opening Night, May 1996
Panasonic Afterparty, October 1996
Scratch Bonanza, November 1996 (Tulliklubi)
Tribes, April 1996 (Tullikamari)

Parties - The Disappointment of Year:

Cancellation of Jeff Mills at Planet of Love, May 1996

The Best Record Store:

Mind Records, Turku

And now for something completely different...


Dead Man
Get Shorty
La Haine
Heavenly Creatures
Kauas pilvet karkaavat
Little Odessa
The Long Kiss Goodnight
Pillow Book
To Die For
The Usual Suspects

NOTE: for those of you who may wonder why there are a couple of older movies (e.g. Little Odessa) included, all these films premiered in Tampere during 1996.


Independence Day
Johnny Mnemonic
Judge Dredd


Absolutely Fabulous (reruns on Finnish TV1)
Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (reruns on Finnish TV2)
Colditz (reruns on Finnish TV2)
EuroTrash - tasteless and hilarious!
A Glorious Accident by Wim Kayzer
Ren & Stimpy
Space: 1999 (reruns on Tampere-TV)


Irvine Welsh

I read Welsh's all published output (Trainspotting, Acid House, Marabou Stork Nightmares, Ecstasy) during 1996, and his stories about losers, junkies, ravers and Eurotrash with their mixture of black humour and absurdism were rough stuff, making Welsh one of the strongest contemporary writers.

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Copyright © Erkki Rautio 1996