In our commentaries, we’ve rightly (or wrongly, depending on who you ask) proclaimed Drumcodeism to be the predominantly influential form in the world of Techno today. Candied, yet euphoric, it feeds the symbolism of what social media represents today. Fleeting yet memorable. 10 years ago though, that face was a different beast. Integral to the rise of the Berghain sound, Sandwell District was Techno’s tour de force. An international supergroup made up of Function, Female, Silent Servant and Regis. Needing no greater accolade, Billboard Magazine, of all places, give the underground heroes props where it is due stating ‘Sandwell District’s influence on underground techno can hardly be overstated’. Going on to say their style is ‘deep, dark, hypnotizing beats that kick up an introspective and brooding energy with minimal clutter’ it accurately describes this magnus opus of mixing. They gave all Resident Advisor fanboys a Holy Grail of a mix with this one.
Overall, the podcast carries an over arching droning yet epically cinematic feel to it. We know that the term ‘journey’ gets brandished about, but this is the definition. The deep space feel reaches a peak when Marcel Dettman’s edit of the crew’s ‘NA/VVARIENCE III‘ makes the listener feel like they’re on the dusty desert planes of a post apocalyptic moon that’s just been devastated by war. Bleak yet beautiful. The thing that makes this mix so great is it spans many eras of Techno. Kicking off what must be a top contender for greatest sequence of 6 tracks mixed. First, Choice’s iconic 1992 track ‘Acid Eiffel’. Second, Moritz Von Oswald’s rework of ‘Watamu Beach‘. Third, Peter Van Hoesen’s ‘Face of Smoke‘ which by this point you’re saying to yourself ‘Lord save me, this is so good my brain is melting’. Fourth, a track by Robert Hood released once again in 1992 ‘The Vision‘ before mixing in the fifth and sixth – DVS1’s ‘Running‘ with the acapella of Daniel Bell’s ‘Losing Control‘. Heavy Duty much? You betcha. Continue reading →
“The mysterious Hugh Betcha who features on Pan-Pot‘s newest single most likely takes his name from Canada’s sketch comedy masterpiece SCTV” writes RA reviewer Todd. L. Burn. ‘Hugh Betcha’s Night Gallery’, [an episode from the show], is an apt name for the type of atmosphere that ‘Charly’ creates over its nine minutes’. ‘Charly‘, was the now Techno-Don Pan-Pot’s first mega-hit. Released in 2007 on Anja Schneider‘s Mobilee it encapsulated the underground scene in it’s inveterate and spiralling style. Who is Hugh Batcha you may ask? None other than Mike Shannon. The Montrealer has been one of the most prolific producers and even pioneers. His name stands strong alongside the likes of Luciano, Akufen, Steve Bug & Jay Haze of the super early breedle Minimal sound synonymous with the mid 2000s underground scene. As well as releasing on his own label ‘Cynosure‘, Shannon’s prowess has linked him up with fellow Canadian labels Plus 8 Records, Wagon Repair and Dumb Unit, alongside international labels such as Half Baked and Meander. His collaboration with the Berlinian duo, however, isn’t his first love letter to ‘Charlie’, with ‘Charlie’s On The Dancefloor’ being a powerful display on what made the Minimal style explode.
Released in 2003 under his John Shenanigans alias, the track embodies a cardinal sense of funk that accents no matter the rations of analogue and digital within his production. Like in the Pan-Pot version, his vocals on ‘COTD’ is cheekily cocksure, making it’s presence known brashly. The vocals utter the words of the title slimily in repetition. As it’s spoken over a simple 4/4 kickdrum, an organic distorted piano bassline ricochets over four notes. It’s an incubating sound, evoking the feeling of finding oneself in front of a cackling fire in a decadent castle dining hall. Speaking with Deep Transitions he name-checks Soft Cell and Thomas Dolby as early inspirations. Certainly such eccentricity found in these artists can be relayed in this track. The Jazziness of the bass can be effortlessly overlaid on a Theo Parrish or Moodymann cut. Whirrs and springs murmur in the background. As a double-time snapping kicks in, the bass then adds a top layer as it ascends into the higher octave. The breakdown provides a section where the sub-bass hits on and off the beat, introducing an element of unpredictability. During the final half of the track, Shannon filters the kicks and a delay is added. Alongside the potent vocal, it is a peach of a finish. Continue reading →
Schneider & Galluzzi feat. Florian Schirmacher – Too Late To Land
In Maceo Plex’s recent Time Warp mix, the American DJ played a track dedicated to the festival’s 25 Year Birthday. He’s certainly not the first to have dedicated a track for such special occasion. Think Da Hool’s ‘Meet You at the Love Parade‘ or Mike Huckaby’s ‘The Tresor Track‘. Heck, type in Berghain into any streaming platform and you’ll come across hundreds of tracks titled after the notorious club. Already having the maestro Moritz Von Oswald dedicate the track of the year to their label, Cocoon really outdid themselves by dedicating a whole LP to the concept, Cocoon Morphs Tokyo. Hosting three parties at Japanese venue Womb, it featured exclusive bangers by Ricardo Villalobos, Tiefscharz and Guy Gerber. The highlight of these cuts, is Galluzzi and Schneider’s weapon of mass Minimal Techno destruction, ‘Too Late To Land’. Hearing the two collaborate for Minimal heads equals the creation of a DC vs Marvel movie for comic book fans.
The LP is also a celebration of the world-renowned German photographer and artist Andreas Gursky and Sven Väth. Andreas has been responsible for the design of Cocoon Club in Frankfurt, as well a many of the set designs featured at the Cocoon Parties. The cover art features a shot of the crowd below a poker-dots laced silver sheened curtain that draps over the dancefloor. The aesthetic is sonically replicated in the track. It starts with an ascending filtered chopper noise that harmonises with the modulation. Clever. Any producer wanting to learn more about the art of subtle glockenspiel percussion needs to rampantly study this track. The two so effortlessly displayed here click perfectly to give it soul. The muddied bass line bobs up and down in toe. Capping the track off though is the metallic, wonky, robotic synth stabs that darkens the tone. Similar to Schneider’s collaboration with Jay Haze ‘Acai‘, these are dialled up fifty notches to give the listener a jolting experience. Coupled with the drawled vocal saying ‘It’s too late to land‘ it leaves you in agreeance that you’ve gone way too far to stop the trip into outer space. Continue reading →
Neversea, like Sunwaves is the annual mecca for all Minimal Techno aficionados. Neighbouring the Black Sea, both festivals are in the beating heart of the scene Romania. Mixmag chronicles “the compelling power of Romanian minimal, a lean and intricate style popularised by frequent Ricardo Villalobos-collaborators RPR Soundsystem (Petre Inspirescu, Raresh and Rhadoo)”. It comes as no surprise therefore that the country has become the “staple in the planet’s finest dance parties, placing the nation firmly on the dance music map‘. This Premiesku set, recorded live by the Mixmag team in 2018 is a mirror reflection of such grand depiction. Celebrating the scene, the mix is infectiously groovy.
Livio, Roby & George G comprise Priemesku and bring an avant-garde perspective when it comes to the ‘Live’ performance DJs. Speaking with Electronic Groove they asserted to ‘really believe that a live act should be based on live jamming and using real instruments‘. Well these fellas take it to the supreme by designing three distinctive, custom-made hardware consoles. Each consists of parts from various machines that have been completely rewired, modified and re-patched. The recording first starts out with some intricate filtered synths and a muddied rolling bass. After some Chicago House influenced jams, at 16th minute comes their own release ‘And Other‘. It opens up with fluttering delayed horn stabs with echoed sonar sounds to create an epic soundscape. Continue reading →
Guillaume and The Coutu Dumonts – Fair Is the Field
DJs such as Floating Points, Francesco Tristano and Oliver Coates reached the peaks of the Underground by transferring their formal musical training into the Electronic sphere. Another fine example is Guillaume and The Coutu Dumonts. Montreal-born DJ and producer studied latin and classical percussion, and even played in a live funk band prior to undertaking the decks. Now a recognised name in the scene, his previous education has granted him an edge when it comes to his production. Unsurprisingly, his byzantine sound has seen him perform alongside Luciano, M.A.N.D.Y and Visionquest’s Cesar Merveille. His enticement for experimentation has been noticed by the DJs who share his enthusiasm. Released in 2018 on Musique Risquée as A2 of his ‘Shouts, Moans And Significance’ EP, ‘Fair Is The Field’ is a wizardous marvel that demonstrates the level of Guillaume’s savoir faire.
At its simplest terms, ‘Fair Is The Field’ is Ibiza‘s answer to John Coltrane. The sense of freedom exercised by the floating key notes that are with the skill of Bill Evans is only matched by the accompanying saxophone. Less than a minute in, the listener is introduced to a bass you’d expect from Serialism Records. Guillaume’s sophisticated percussion work landed him a release on Watergate Records with 2015’s ‘The Drums‘. What is heard on ‘Fair Is The Field Field’ come to be no exception. The samples of wild birds hooting evoke a tingling sense of finding oneself in a venue situated out in the jungles of Ecuador. ‘I love this music..and it’s 24 hours a day…You hear the same?‘ asks a husky narrator’s voice, the music fading out into oblivion. The returning amalgamation of components throws a ramshackling synth into the mix. With a potency that would take Alice back down the Rabbit Hole to the Wonderland, the track is intoxicating even at the most sober state. Continue reading →
Although we don’t like to emancipate in the underground, there are a still a few ‘trophies’ one can nod too. Closing at Time Warp. Playing at CircoLoco, DC10. And, of course, playing at Room One fabric. To get an even better nod, was to get a slot on their acclaimed Mix Series. Omar S, Shackleton, Ricardo Villalobos and Peter Inspires all had mixes that featured their own cuts. Mathew Jonson’s is different however. Not only did it feature exclusively his own production, it came from a recording of him playing live at fabric. His set was so good that the fabric team decided to put it on a mix cd. Being in awe of such a producer and DJ, the quality of his tracks made this decision easy. From the genre-defining ‘Decompression‘ (released on Minus), to ‘Dump Truck‘, a product of his collaboration with Danuel Tate and Tiger Dhula as Cobblestone Jazz, Jonson has many strings to his bow. And they all shine the brightest. His 2017 collaborations with The Martinez Brothers and Martin Buttrich were certainly an escapade in unadulterated dancefloor fun. What Jonson is most notable for, however, is his brand of emotive, bare-laden, minimal cuts. ‘Typerope‘, ‘Learning To Fly‘, and ‘New Identity‘ all summon such branding. None more than ‘Marionette’ though. Released in 2005 on his own Wagon Repair label, the track is the ultimate in chiaroscuro disposition.
Don’t get it twisted, Jonson is the major-domo of inculcated synth stabs and manipulation. Where others bearing such style may seem a tad ostentatious, knowing his background indicates he is one for for untrammelled experimentation. Beginning with a splurge of synth stabs, the melody is played with the subtlety of a classically-trained pianist. These notes are, however, performed with the sinisterness of Sergei Prokofiev. Syncopated in the highs, mids & lows they’re a reflection of Jonson’s freewheeling Jazz heritage. In conversation with Roland he remembers receiving his first piece of analogue back in 1986, a collection of MT-32 sound module, PR-100 sequencer and an HP-3000 electric piano. The SH-101, however, is the main weapon of choice for his music and was ‘used in combination with the JX for Marionette’. If you hold a preference for blippy minimal, I would steer clear. An ample kick then kicks in giving instant vivacity. Using an Ensoniq DP4+, ‘Marionette has a modulating distortion that slowly mixes between wet and dry signals’. It’s a momentously disorientating effect. Chopped hats with a touch of reverb flutter to add to the headiness. His tracks ‘Symphony for The Apocalypse’ and his remix of Joel Mull’s ‘Begun The End Has’ are moulded with similar mordant tones. Eery string synth pads warp in and out munificently, adding to the cinematic effect. To describe it as mystifying would be a criminal understatement, even sibylline one might say. Continue reading →
Hitler. Churchill. Mussolini. Some of the deceased names Latvian writer and intellectual Konstantin Raudive claims to have spoken to. A luminary of his field, Konstantin used Electronic Voice Projection – a parapsychological tool to apparently help hear from the dead. It’s something that must’ve stirred Londoner Oliver Ho to don the moniker Raudive. ‘There’s the idea that certain rhythms used in voodoo can evoke spirits’ he tells The Ransom Note. ‘I love that, and I like to approach making my music in a similar way’. Oliver is a multi-dimensional experimental musical genius. As one half of Post Punk-New Wave band The Eyes In The Heat, his love for Alternative Rock certainly has seeped into his music. He first made belting Techno under his birth name, his debut EP The Gathering being released in 1996. Now making music under his Broken English Club alias he’s playing more Noise and post-Industrial tinged Techno with the likes of Regis, Silent Servant and James Ruskin. Under his Raudive name, however, he strikes some of the most potent minimal concoctions. Steeped in hypnotism, they certainly harks back to the Raudive spectre. His remix of ‘Please Easy’ may not conjure spirits in a supernatural sense, but it certainly will help any DJ tighten their grip on a dancefloor locked in the groove.
Under his Szenario monkier, Ed Davenport’s original is full of plonks, wonks and a bassline synonymous with mid-noughties Minimal Techno. Raudive takes things a bit deeper, using his interlocutor skills to regenerate the track. Stripped back to a off-kilt percussive ‘pop’ noise, it is played in double time, then triple time. Ho has done similar on his Audio EP banger, ‘Turn It Off‘. The bass is perfunctory, but works well with its simple, rippled squelchy jabs. It’s similar to Phil Keiran’s smash record released on Cocoon ‘I Think I’m A Monster’. A presence of random laser shots, bell chimes and alarms jolt at the ear. The USP of the track is the Middle Eastern vocal sample. A bit more than just a vocal, it is twisted to become a chant which Resident Advisor says ‘make the hairs on your neck stand up.’ It is as seductive as a UKIP Leave Campaigner door-knocking in Middlesbrough. Oliver claims to love it when ‘a human voice gets mutated and we loose the linguistic part of it, that the more animal parts of our brains get activated; that we still know it is a voice even when we can’t tell what word is being said’. With the way it’s mixed, these vocal mutations carry the track in this instance. At 124bpm it spellbinds and the DJ will certainly show no penitence for releasing this sultry caprice.
Robert Hood is credited with inventing Minimal Techno, but Ricardo Villalobos surely can be accredited with defining it. Listening to his first ever release, ‘The Contempt‘, you knew you were in for something special. The Chilean’s ‘Alcachofa‘ album has been referred TO as the nirvana of Minimal Techno, the fulcrum pinnacle which all will refer to as the high point of the genre. Ricardo’s legendary status as a proponent of the abstract, sees him only affiliating with a few to keep the creativity flowing. He told Crack Magazine that he only likes to chill with ‘10 to 15 people’ including Raresh, Rhadoo, Zip and Dorian Paic. If you know the Rominimal scene, you know it has followed his lead. It’s an analogue, vinyls only affair, for those who are serious about the genre by paying for it. The warbly bass and extraterrestrial noises you find on your average Trømmel and Meander releases aren’t here though. ‘808 the Bassqueen’ is a love song to the famed Roland machine. Released in ’99 on Playhouse Records, it’s a tough yet elegant track. It’s not a regular showing for Ricard to release something as such, but if he was going to release only one record, this game-changer would be enough.
The TR-808 is famed for its expressions of the bass note. As much as it is loved by Electronic music enthusiasts, Hip-Hop producers have loved it just as much. Kanye West made a whole album from it, ‘808s and Heartbreaks‘. Lil Jon’s Crunk-induced tracks were defined by the booming bass produced using this machine. Such mastery is also found within Villalobos’ track. A rigid, throbbing bass verging on the borderlands of Dub begins the track. It is a strident sound which can also be found in the productions of Subb-an and Tuccilo. Chords with the sheen of Caribbean steel drum are stabbed with precision of a harpist. Warped drones plague like a dark mist over the track. Half way through the track beautiful strings are drawn out to give the track a warmth akin to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake soundtrack. His LP with Max Loderbauer on RE: ECM has shown his dabble in avant-garde classical and this experimentalism, surely inspiring others such as Petre Inspirescu. The warbles, delays and reverbs at different parts add to the fascination. All in all it leaves the listener musing, whilst remaining in the groove. The cut is Ricardo’s exegesis in less is more. Continue reading →
In the 00s Carl Craig really could do no wrong. Which hits such as Sandstorms, At Les and Throw under his Paperclip People guise already under his belt, it was difficult to think anything could top them. And then his 2005 remix of Theo Parish’s Falling Up got dropped. Just as Spin Magazine called it, the track was more in sight on DJ setlists than cretins on a Fabric dancefloor at 7am on a Sunday. Then when you thought he could top it along comes this weapon. Released in 2007 his remix of the Junior Boys track was an absolute monster. Originally a slowed indie electronic track, the Planet E Communications boss uses his genius, expanding certain elements and dubbing it out to craft yet another ubiquitous hit. He once stated ‘the Carl Craig stuff is a new, ambient, avant garde concept that comes directly from being how Carl Craig is.’ Like A Child, Carl is innovative, encompassing all of these concepts and it shines most on this track.
It’s embodies other Minimal tracks of the 00s. Emptied out like a supermarket in a flood, it’s stripped to the bare bones. Starting off with single note percussion that pings back and forth, you realise this was intentional. The track is one that crescendos with the ascendence of a 120m hill on a 30% gradient. Taken from the original, the bleeps hit at pace played like a looped 8-bit arcade machine. Minor chord stabs, play in 3 note decent, before a 4 note hit on the end of the beat. At the same time panning apps sounding like they’re from the X-Files sweep in adding to the bizarreness. Carl uses the wispy vocals of the first half of the originals to set things up by adding in the kick. Then half way through the 10 minute journey, a dubbed out muddied modulation underpins the whole thing. It’s more hypnotic than Uri Greller. The bass is then given the lead role ensuring the dance-floor is still swaying, with quick ghostly snippets, before bringing the bleeps and arps back in.
6.3, a 2008 digital only release on their own label, remind one that Swiss Mountain People surely must be in the top 5 of Deep House music producers. Always consistent, and carrying a dancefloor minded boogie. We’ve seen both Fred P and Youandewan drop 11.2 at The Pickle Factory and let’s just say the crowd didn’t know what hit the. The low slung nature of their productions make the listener feel hazily relaxed. Use of synths however show their mastery at piercing the deepest depths of ones mind.
Gorgeous and petite kick drums sound straight out the school of Matthew Herbert, and are classy yet understated knowing it’s position on the team just as a comms master in a spy thriller. On a team however, just like LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, there’s always the ‘main attraction’. The synth is so beautiful it’s like a lovechild of all winning Victoria Secret models in one. Regal and grandeur it sweeps across your ears like an eagle high up in the alps from one mountain to the next. Continue reading →