DJ DB has been a fixture in dance music through every renaissance the style has experienced. His archive of DJ mixes and flyers from the '90s rave era are a time capsule of electronic music's first worldwide explosion, and in NO SCHOOL LIKE THE OLD SKOOL he shares some of these treasures. Hear new shit he likes here, or connect with him here.
If you really want to know about the underground, then you need to know about Cologne, Germany in the 90s. The whole scene was actually run by five or six guys but under about 100 different pseudonyms. Air Liquide are Jammin' Unit—aka Cem Oral—and Walker—aka Ingmar Koch.
I don't remember exactly how it happened but sometime around '93 I formed a connection with two of them, Dr. Walker and Jammin' Unit. Prolific artists in their own right but collectively known as Air Liquide, they had a magic chemistry that made them unstoppable. What I loved most about Air Liquide, and the whole Cologne scene in general, was their open-minded, DIY attitude. Rarely does one meet German analog techno snobs who weren't also total breakbeat haters, but here you have it!
Dr. Walker, pictured below, describes himself on Discogs as a "Kraurock-rooted German producer of various styles, specialising in experimental acid."
Here's Jammin' Unit looking like he'd been at the mixing desk with a few too many cups of coffee:
We signed them to the Sm:)e Communications label and produced a bunch of singles and albums with them for the US, which I loved working with our art department on. These are just the ones I could find at home but there were more:
Sm:)e staged Robot Wars, a live robotics competition / art event in SF in 1995. We invited Air Liquide to play live during the battles.
This inspired them to create quite a few Robot Wars-themed tracks. I think this is my favorite:
We became close and they brought me over to Cologne to DJ and stay with them for a week. Together with Jammin' Unit's brother Khan, we even became partners in a record shop in NYC called Temple Records. They would regularly bring in suitcases full of underground vinyl goodies from Cologne. The store was in the basement of another infamous shop called Liquid Sky. Thats a whole other DJ story I'll save for another post.
They were also fellow vinyl junkies and used the medium to create beautiful art objects:
While writing this I stumbled across this video from 1996 that I'd never seen. Looks like it was shown on Germany's alternative version of MTV:
This mix from 1995 is part of a live set played at What Is Ambient Festival in Munich. Note the combination of 303 synthesizers and breakbeats!
Here they are performing live in the 90s with their insane hardware setup:
Walker and Jammin' Unit make the normally high amount of pseudonyms that techno artists have look tiny!
Individually, or with others, they are also known as: Madonna 303, Black One, Digital Dirt Inc, Ingy-Babe, John Amok, Unit 700, Acid All Stars, Der Tote, DR. Echo, Free Radicals, Flüssige Luft, G 104, Message, Oral Experience, Alpha Unit, Basstards, The, Bionic Skank, Cipher Code, Cube 40, Denpasar, Electronic Dub, Ethik II, Even Brooklyn Grooves, Fridge Pro 1, Future Shock Project, Futuristic Dub Foundation, G.L. Posse, German Electronic Foundation, M.F.A., Mental Bazar, Multicore L.T.D., Non Toxique Lost, Outernational Steppers, Restgeraeusch, Rub-A-Slide, Set Fatale, Slime Slurps, , Time Tunnel, Titanium Steel Screws, Tone Manipulators, Trancemagma, Dzeta Walker, Ultrahigh, UMO, Vene, View Point Odyssey, Zulutronic, Black One, Digital Dirt Inc, Dr. Walker, Ingy-Babe, John Amok, 370°, Acid Force, Air Liquide, Alternate States, Atlantic Trance, Bleep, The, Brotherz In Armz, Cipher Code, Commando, The Creature, Denpasar, Dr. Walker & Electro Atomu, Dr. Walker & M. Flux, Electrochic, Electronic Dub, Elevator 101, Ermionis Phunk Crew, Ethik II, Fridge Pro 1, Future Shock Project, German Electronic Foundation, Gizz TV & Walker, Global Electronic Network, Helden Der Revolution, House Hallucinates, GEF, Khan & Walker, Lovecore, Mental Bazar, Mono-Tone, Multicore L.T.D., Pierrot Premier, Planet Love Ink, Planet Lovecore, Psychedelic Kitchen, Radiowaves, Recall IV, Red Light District, Rei$$dorf Force, Resist 101, South 2nd, Stardate 1973, Structure, Tantra-M, Technoline, Time Tunnel, Trancemagma, Trip 2001, Unbelievable, Unlimited Pleasure, Vermona, View Point Odyssey, Dr. W and X-911.
I've probably missed a bunch too!