Progressive house - the subgenre defined by an upwards drive for euphoria without forfeiting its robust foundations - started to take off in 1990 and soon became a booming movement spreading peak vibes on the dancefloor. 1992 was something of a climax for the first wave. And then came the backlash. But despite the cynicism, there continued to be great progressive house released through the mid 90s and that’s what we’re shouting out with this list. Following in the anthemic footsteps set by the likes of Leftfield and Gat Decor, here’s 10 of our favourite uplifting cuts released between ‘93 to ‘97.
Bedrock ‘For What You Dream Of’
A more than 10 minute epic, this track warrants its length with its enticing build through subtly electrifying synths and impactful kicks that soon takes off into rolling anthem territory. The vocal then kicking in with blasts of brass and uplifting chords following takes it to a whole ‘nother level of energy.
The Grid ‘Crystal Clear’
A little bit moody and a lot bit groovy, this sits nearer the low-key end of the progressive spectrum. But it’s just as irresistible as the genre’s most expansive cuts. The main synth melody prances like a pixie above the pulsating core, making for a record that strikes a neat balance between foot-tapping and transcendent.
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Spooky ‘Little Bullet (Gargantuan Mix)’
As its gung-ho label “Gargantuan Mix” indicates, this one is big, bold and dynamite for a dancefloor. Go through a progressive house checklist and it has the lot. Punchy drums, potent bassline, soaring vocals, sprite-like synths: tick, tick, tick, tick and tick.
Disco Evangelists ‘De Niro’
As the second release on the legendary Positiva imprint, this record has a seminal place in dance music history. It’s well worth being canonised, and pleasingly wiggy for a mainstream club record. The latter stages which see an ancient sounding flute melody combines with the rotating sounds of a helicopter teeing up Big Ben-esque bells sequenced into a pumping melody are next level.
Sasha & Maria ‘Be As One’
The obligatory Sasha selection, This collab with Maria manages to sound slightly filthy via its murky bass elements without taking away any of the shine of its magnificent vocal and bright chords. The competing elements entwine together as one in a manner befitting of the song’s theme.
Crescendo ‘Are You Out There’
A number of comments below this video reference lost loved ones and funerals. That it feels applicable to moments of such emotional weight in people’s lives gives a clear indication of how much of a gut punch to the amygdala this record is. Powerful music.
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BT featuring Tori Amos ‘Blue Skies’
It was a toss up between this and ‘Embracing The Sunshine’ for our BT pick, but we went opted for the Tori Amos featuring number. In stark contrast to the previous selection in this list, ‘Blue Skies’ is strictly good vibes with an energy that feels akins to the unlimited potential offered by tantalising weather and free schedule for the day.
You can practically feel the heavens above you opening as the piano notes and throbbing bassline combine in this record from Italian producer Giancarlo Loi aka Junx. This is what I imagine is playing out the speakers in St. Peter’s waiting room.
A goosebump-raising anthem which fizzes with dancefloor potency. Deployed a sunset this one would most likely move a dancefloor to simultaneous tears, grins and hugs between best friends.
Way Out West ‘Ajare’
The essence of progressive house in distilled form: an eyes closed, lose yourself in the music type track. While listening you’re in nirvana, and sure, when you open your eyes again you may be in a basement in Birmingham. But what a moment while it lasted.
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Features Editor, follow him on Twitter
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