In 1996, sixteen-year-old Jasmin Wagner–using the stage name Blümchen (“little flower”)–released her debut album Herzfrequenz (“heart rate”), which immediately captivated the rave-obsessed German youth of the 1990s. This blisteringly optimistic record pings between seemingly disparate moods with a deeply manic energy–jumping from sweet melodies about love and flowers to acid, breakbeat or gabber samples effortlessly. Blümchen embodies a corny kind of earnestness that may seem naive to some but which I find incredibly charming–and which is embodied perfectly by that amazing cover art! There are some weak spots on this album (I find the Queen cover very confusing) but “Herz an Herz” and “Boomerang” are ear worms that are basically impossible not to dance to. These songs were made for DDR.

Herzfrequenz and other trance/hardcore really taps into one of the things I love most about dance music–like disco, it dares to dream of a better world, of a utopia full of love and community and people getting together just to get down. Halfway through “Liebe Liebe”, the cheerful synthesizer gives way to a darker acid beat and the sounds of a wild crowd as Blümchen cheers them on–to dance, to love, to be free. This record takes you by the hand and drags you into the middle of the dance floor, where it’s too dark to see anything but flashing lights and too feverish for any self-consciousness. It makes so much sense to me that, before she was Blümchen, Jasmin Wagner was a cheerleader. This is a record that feels like it’s on your side, pumping you up with a raving energy suitable to keep you out till the wee hours of the morning. Listen here.