Articles tagged with techno

August 25

It’s Get Strange week at YDH2S.  The bar is set high because every DJ likes to think they have the craziest stuff and well, some of my fellow YDH2S DJs have turned in some killer oddness.  But I think I have something to out freak their freakiest beats.  

Coming from the fashion world of late 70s Germany, Patrick D. Martin embarked on a music career, birthing one oddball EP and a few 7”s of eccentric new wave, punk and disco, before moving on to video art.  He perfectly encapsulates everything that I love about that time period — musical mongrelism, international cross-pollination, a bit of robo-futurism, and implied sexual and cultural deviance.  It’s Devo and Nina Hagen with a bit of Moroder and Bowie and whatever else was lying around.

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite, and that doesn’t imply that all Martin’s songs were good.  They’re just all… interesting.  Most of them aren’t likely to set off a dance floor, but all will get you some strange looks.  These are the songs DJs play for other DJs — the ones you put on a mix tape to test how cool someone is.  

Luci ‘Lectric might be the go to jam for most people.  It has a slapped baseline and other obvious disco-isms under an ode to the dark prince himself, Lucifer.  It’s not quite wild enough for my tastes.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s probably still too weird for most sets and the bridge has an awesome springy robot laser battle.

However, compared to Martin’s other offerings it kind of pails.  ?, (Question Mark), is an all-out space war with a bass burble that may have inspired Cosmic Cars.  If that’s true, then this track may be the blue print for techno.  As cool as that is, the song gets smothered in ridiculous saxophone that hasn’t stood the test of time.  If that weren’t bad enough, it goes sort of piano house at the end.  I mean doing techno and piano house on a record in 1979 is sort of incredible, but I can’t say that it sounds good.

Luci ‘Lectric’s B-side, Mutant sounds like the B-52s on PCP.  It’s all slinky cowboy guitar, discordant riffiage, sound effects and Martin ranting in his best Bela Lugosi impression.  Three minutes in, the bridge happens and the entire song dissolves only to rise again zombie like.  It’s astounding how many ideas this guy can pack into four minutes.

Martin has a few more “hits” in his arsenal, but for my taste, the one to go with is “I Like ‘Lectric Motors”.  It’s basically screaming guitar, Martin rapping in his english accent over a pulsing arpeggiator.  At times the frequency opens up and the synth gets a bit acidy.  This one is actually pretty danceable and even had a video.  Drop it if you’re feeling brave!

-Dope Werewolf

July 19

Clear (Tony Johns edit) – Cybotron

Englishman Tony Johns has been putting out some killer edits lately, and this is one of my faves. He takes Cybotron’s Detroit anthem “Clear,” and throws some rumbling latin percussion under it. It might sound kind of crazy but it sounds like a perfect match for mid 80s early electronic music. Can’t wait to unleash this one on the floor.

While we’re at it, here’s another Tony Johns edit, this one of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Rage Hard,” a fun little late 80s romp hovering somewhere between new wave and early house. Johns has a lot of fun looping pieces of the track in silly ways, it’s a lot of nerdy fun.

Check out Tony Johns’ Soundcloud for more tasty edits

Blawan – "What You Do With What You Have"

June 23

Blawan – What You Do With What You Have

Blawan aka Jamie Roberts is  a producer from Sheffield, UK.  Last year he released a slew of  dark, weird techno tracks, all of which were good.  It’s hard to pick a favorite, but What You Do With What You Have is probably my go to track.  It’s got a vocal hook that’ll keep non-dance music crowds on the floor and it’s not as atmospheric or IDM-y as some of his others, Shader or Iddy for instance.

The pitched-down witness protection program vocals recall Bam Bam’s Where’s Your Child.  A slab of sickly acid goodness, it’s is the type of record that instantly sets the dance floor bouncing.  Creepy and druggy, it’ll make you feel good and bad at the same time.  You can almost smell angel dust in the air.  This one turns any party into a badly lit 3am warehouse jump-off.  remember, It ain’t what you do, it’s how you do it.

-Dope Werewolf

April 19

Coming into the DJ scene in the mid 90s, I was inundated with soulful, spacey music.  Lounge was king, Techno was dark, House was deep and most tracks seemed geared more for after hours parties than for the peak of the evening.  In contrast, my tastes ran more towards straight-ahead bangers — music for ass shaking, glass breaking and pill taking.  I wasn’t looking for smart music, I was just looking to get the party started.  Because of that early over-exposure, it has taken me a long time to come round to subtler dance music sounds.

Detroit’s Moodymann has built a career crafting the kind of music I never really dug.  He famously said “I don’t make music for the masses to dance to, I make music for the small majority that listens.”  Well, I finally started listening, if only because I got tired of everything sounding the same.

A devoted and vocal proponent of Detroit’s Jazz, Soul and R+B heritage, Moodymann, aka Kenny Dixon Jr., champions Techno’s early stripped-down sound and the Black artists who built the genre.  He’s also a huge supporter of vinyl, often stoping tracks in the middle of DJ sets to proclaim that his women prefer 12”s.  This made his choice to release his newest “record” digitally via Scion A/V a surprise, but a pleasant one.

The opening track 9 Nites 2 Nowhere features a driving disco pulse, blaring synth stabs and super dry white noise snares.  Moodymann saves the reverb for the unexpected horn interludes.  It’s as if the door to a hole-in-the-wall jazz club has swung open as a drunk stumbles out.  Just as he moves out of the lamp light and into the darkened streets, we’re back to the tight, hypnotic beat.   

If you’re not having fun yet, then you need to join the crowd that sets off Basement Party.  The funkiest cut of the 8 tracks, it’s got a Parliament feel to it, propelled by a wild swinging LFO sample and a nasty fartastic bass synth.  The production is purposely mixed so it sounds like it’s coming through the floor boards.  In case the name didn’t tip you off, Moodymann is more interested in creating a mood than anything else. 

Saturday at the Rock is upbeat and creepy in just the right Detroit techno way.  There’s a background melody burbling like curbside muck or drainpipe runoff from some abandoned industrial building.  The interplay between the snare hits and the sci-fi synth stabs is both seedy and robotic.  It’s Kraftwerk on food stamps.

U Ranaway opens with a stray R+B a cappella that runs for 1:36 before a clicky Minimal Techno metronome and druggy organ noodling enter.  Discordant spaced-out House pads complete the track, which was designed to be played in places with no sign out front that don’t open till every place else is closed.

Uplifting and simple, Pray 4 Love is a dubbed out Space Disco track.  Catchy hooks and a positive vibe are like the comedown after an all-nighter with the P.L.U.R. crowd.  It recalls the 70s via the 90s.  It’s Donna Summer but cooler and with less production muscle.  Think Paradise Garage Sale.

Hold it Down is like listening to a Smooth Jazz band playing along to Prince’s answering machine message.  The flute solos and glistening cocktail hour piano contrast oddly with the soul shout-outs to various cities.  The singer’s insistence that we hold it down is almost comedic considering how down everything already is.  In fact, if things get held down any more, I might need to order a cheese plate and some red wine.

With a rubber band rhythm, slinky guitar riffage and various vocal samples., Got 2 Make It is what Daft Punk might sound like if they were produced by DJ Shadow.  The opening and closing of the track break down to the underlying infectious beat.  It’s a bit like Mylo’s Drop The Pressure but unplugged.  It’s so simple, yet so good, you are left wishing the whole track sounded like this.  That’s probably why there’s also a dub mix.

Picture This is a love letter to Detroit music, be it Soul, Jazz, House or Techno.  It’s Black, sexual, spooky and … well, moody.  But it’s also fun and danceable, at least at moments.  This is not music to be ignored or relegated to the wee hours and back rooms of places you shouldn’t be in the first place.  This is headphone music, car music and dance floor music that proves every record doesn’t have to be 128 beats per minute.  More please — some of us are actually listening.

-Dope Werewolf

March 29

Stockholm based Daniel Savio aka Kool DJ Dust is perhaps best known as the man who coined the term Skweee.  The name, derived from squeezing wild sounds  out of his Roland Alpha Juno synth is what the swedes call their bleepy blippy techno hip-hop hybrid.  With his new self-titled release out on Dodpop, Savio manages to show maturity and restraint in a genre that was built on over-doing it. 

My biggest criticism of 8-bit music has always been that the palette was too small.  When every instrument is sampled off a game boy, it winds up sounding like it.  Savio avoids this by striking a balance between lush production (you know, reverb), and upfront acid leads.  It still sounds like Skweee, but the floor is a little heavier, the synths a bit creepier and the string parts more epic.  Savio has always been forward thinking and generally funkier than some of his cohorts.  The track, Inseminoid is a perfect example.  With jagged syncopated synth arpeggiations, crunchy bass and trashcan drums, it wouldn’t be out of place on a Mr. Oizo album.

The album’s single, Revolt is built on Kraftwerk Robot stile bloops and a driving 16th beat electro high hat.  On top of everything are metallic stabs and searing SID leads.  The video is weird, dark and awesome.  

Voice of the Voiceless is like Trans Europe Express’s fucked up brother that no one talks about.  Let’s Split revs to a start with a Rad Racer engine sound before dropping into ethereal Yellow Magic Orchestra funk.  The whole album owes equal debt to video game music and early techno and house.  It’s Megaman meets Megatron Man.  Hopefully Savio continues to push his music to darker places and defy the boundaries set by the genre that he helped create. 

-Dope Werewolf  

March 14

I’m here in Austin, TX for SxSW, so it seemed like a good idea to write about something related, since I am here. After one day of music, the highlight has been Austin’s own Bodytronix.

For the most part, Bodytronix does not seem to release recordings of their music, other than in a live form. You see them live, or listen to a recording of a performance, or you never hear them at all. There are two guys in the band, but the amount of electronics on stage dwarfs them. The mass of cords alone could probably be a stand in band member, as I documented here last night.

The music is whirling vortex of acid house, odd samples, 80’s low-budget horror soundtrack sounds, blaring vocoders and early Detroit-era techno sounds. The crowd here in Austin, young types who look like they’d be more interested in dancing to Siouxsie Sioux or Crass, immediately began to gyrate as the set started, and within minutes a full-on dance party was going on below the stage. It would careen between ebb and flow as the songs devolved into cacophonies of squelches and reformed into a massive, thrumming beast of acid sounds.

Here’s a 50 minute live set of theirs, which you can also download. It will take some time to get into the meat of it, it’s not for everyone, and it’s nothing like seeing them live. I recommend you all heed my advice and if they play a live show in your town, make an effort to catch them.

// Brian Blackout