Where were you in 1999? For what it’s worth (and at the risk of dating myself a bit here) I have oddly in-focus memories of Blue by Eiffel 65 premiering on Top of the Pops and frightening news stories about “the rave generation” that were slightly beyond my comprehension.
But according to an article by Junkee’s Jack Tregoning, 1999 was a criminally underrated year for electronic music. I am also happy to say that writing this article allowed me to listen to a whole lot of 90’s Eurodance and throwback tracks without an iota of shame.
Tregoning argues that “1999 cemented the names that would go on to headline dance festivals for at least the next decade. The year’s key albums also set a blueprint for coming trends and inferior knock-offs.”
Underworld’s Beaucoup Fish dropped in March 1999, followed by Orbital’s The Middle of Nowhere in April 1999. Twenty years later both albums still hold up extremely well in terms of technical production and listenability. They contain unique sounds amongst bouncy dance-pop and trance cadences proliferating the airwaves.
For a more niche audience, Aphex Twin’s legendary harsh experimental track Windowlicker in sharp contrast to the gentle chimes of Nannou blessed and perplexed many eardrums. He also uses The Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, and Moby et al as great examples of artists who bloomed in 1999, and of course, Daft Punk.
In the United States, electronic music took longer to get a foothold in a scene dominated so heavily by pop and rock and roll.
It took even longer in Canada: Shambhala was first thrown in 1997, by the time 1999 rolled around, it was still a far cry from the internationally renowned festival we know and love today. Meanwhile, genres like trance have never had quite the same grip on the West Coast as it does in Europe, save for the popularity of the Dreamstate series and specialized, singalong-friendly acts like Above and Beyond.